Back in the good old days of the Northwest Division, the Vancouver Canucks didn’t have to worry much about the standings.

As captain Henrik Sedin was saying Thursday, they pretty much always knew where they were anyway.

My how things have changed. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Canucks find themselves playing catch-up in the Western Conference standings.

Heading into Thursday night’s schedule, the Canucks were ninth in the West and four points out of a playoff spot. They are fifth in the tough-as-nails Pacific Division. Their spot in the standings is serving as something of a reality check for a team that won the last five Northwest Division titles. The Canucks know they must snap out of this funk they are in as they simply can’t afford to slip any farther behind in the standings.

“In the past we always said, ‘we’re not looking at the standings,’ but that’s because we didn’t have to,” Henrik said after the Canucks skated Thursday at UBC.

“You look at the East and you see where you would be and then you look at the West, or even our own division, it’s so tough. That’s why losing to San Jose in overtime, not being able to beat Dallas, that’s three points right there and we would have been right in the pack. That’s what’s tough.”

The Canucks are now chasing the pack and will try to snap a five-game winless skid Friday night against Columbus Blue Jackets at Rogers Arena.

“We are very aware of where we are in the mix and we see how many good teams there are ahead of us, good teams that are around us and we definitely have our work cut out for us,” said defenceman Dan Hamhuis. “Every game, every point is really important to move up the standings.”

The struggling Blue Jackets are a team the Canucks should beat, but so were the Florida Panthers, who left Rogers Arena with a 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday night.

Coach John Tortorella was not at all pleased with the team’s effort and suggested after the game they had disrespected an opponent.

Given a day to reflect, Tortorella had softened his stand somewhat by Thursday.