So maybe the Vancouver Canucks really are what their record suggests they are: a ninth-place club unable to take care of business against the best in the Western Conference.

The evidence appears clear. In nine games against the eight teams above them in the standings, the Canucks have won two, lost five in regulation, one in overtime and one in a shootout. That’s 2-5-2 and no way to make progress.

They are having nightmares playing with the lead, the most recent one in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks led 1-0 after two periods. It was the same story against the San Jose Sharks nine days earlier. That one resulted in a 2-1 OT loss.

They had a lead in Phoenix and lost 3-2 to the Coyotes in a shootout. They had a lead against the Florida Panthers and lost 3-2 in a shootout. They’re 2-4-3 since their impressive 4-0 victory three weeks ago over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On Saturday, while they self-destructed in nine seconds against the ’Hawks, the Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche all collected wins. The Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks’ opponent tonight at Rogers Arena, didn’t win Saturday but picked up a loser point.

The Canucks trail eighth-place Phoenix by four points and the seventh-place Kings by five. Both hold games in hand on Vancouver. The gap is hardly insurmountable but when you can’t beat the teams above you, or protect leads when you have them, you’re usually in deep doo-doo. Or about to be.

“It’s tough to gain ground, for sure,” conceded Canuck winger Daniel Sedin. “We’re in for a battle and we have to show what kind of group we have in here. It starts right on Monday with the game against L.A.”

The problem Saturday — is this too early for Groundhog Day? — was an inability to score more than one goal. It has been the problem in all nine Canuck regulation losses. They pounded 37 shots on Blackhawk netminder Corey Crawford and had 61 attempts. All they could manage was a first-period, 5-on-3 power-play goal by Ryan Kesler.

“I thought we had chances to go up 2-0 and certainly that was our focus going into the third period, to push for that second goal and not to sit back,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “Once they got their goals on back-to-back shifts, which is tough to take, we put our foot on the gas the rest of the game. We just couldn’t quite solve Crawford.”