The faithful have been spared this hideous sight for the better part of four years but, like the crazy cousin no one in the family wants to acknowledge, it's in the Canucks' DNA.

And maybe that's a good thing. As they're currently constructed, the Presidents’ Trophy winners can't really run and gun, can't really play the speed-and-skill game and can't really outscore their problems. That leaves one alternative, and while there might be prettier sights — Haystack Calhoun in a Speedo pops to mind — it's not like the Canucks have a lot of choice in the matter these days.

“The last few years we've had something special here where we've been able to score three, four goals a night,” Alex Burrows said before Tuesday night's eyesore of a game with the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Now you look at the conference, and the way to win is to play well defensively. Phoenix and L.A. were in the conference finals last year and they don't run and gun with anyone. They play smart defensively, they block shots, they pay attention to detail. That's how you achieve success in the conference right now.”

Which is a pity, but it's also the reality.

Tuesday night, the Canucks and Blue Jackets hooked up in a game that was so bad, so offensive on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin, because this one was hockey in name only. OK, the Canucks won 1-0 in a shootout because someone had to, but through the first 38 minutes the Blue Jackets had six shots on goal and finished with 15 on the night. There wasn't one iota of spark or creativity. There wasn't any attempt to excite or entertain.

That was bad enough. What's worse was the officiating tandem of Kevin Pollock and Frederick L'Ecuyer allowed it to happen by applying a rules standard that would have been lax in the '70s. For three periods it looked like the rodeo had come to town, and Pollock and L'Ecuyer let it all happen. At the very least, they should be made to apologize to everyone who paid for a ticket. At the very most, this game should be shown around the league as an example of what happens when officials abdicate their responsibility.

But that too is part of the reality facing the Canucks. While no one was looking, the game has been abducted and taken back to the dead-puck era. That's left the Orcans with one choice, climb into the mosh pit with everyone in the West who isn't Chicago, Anaheim and maybe a couple of others.

And say this for the lads. They're better at this game than they were at hockey.

Eight days ago, you may recall, the Canucks were in a three-wins-in-11 games death spiral. There were calls for Alain Vigneault's head. They looked lost. They were in full-blown crisis mode and their season seemed to be hanging precariously in the balance.

It's funny what a hot goalie can do.

Five wins later, the Canucks are yukking it up like this has been the plan all along. Before Tuesday's game, Keith Ballard was talking about his transition to forward from defence and dropped this game on the media.

“As soon as I switched to winger I turned my brain off and started complaining to the D-men,” he said before Tuesday night's game with Columbus. “That's what forwards do, right?”