November was a month best forgotten for the Vancouver Canucks, managing only four wins in 13 games leading up to their 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 1. They’re one point back of eighth-place Phoenix the competitive Western Conference standings.

A lack of scoring is largely to blame for the Canucks’ struggles. Since the end of October, all of their losses were the result of scoring two goals or less per game. Coach John Tortorella lamented his club’s scoring woes following their 5-2 loss Saturday to the New York Rangers.

“We’re getting the chances,” he said. “We just haven’t finished.”
The stats back him up, as the Canucks are third overall in shots per game (32.9) but 16th in goals per game (2.62), while their power play (13.7 percent) is 26th.

Outside of the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, Canucks forwards are struggling to find the back of the net. Center Mike Santorelli collected nine of his 17 points in October. Wingers David Booth, Jannik Hansen and Zack Kassian have six points each, while former 35-goal scorer Alex Burrows had three assists before he was sidelined with a broken jaw.

Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province feels the Canucks are in danger of fading out of the playoff race if they don’t make a significant upgrade, but he doesn’t know where it could come from. Unless Booth and Kassian improve soon, Gallagher believes the only solution is a beneficial trade or “a very long wait” for prospects Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk.

Making a beneficial trade, however, means parting with those promising youngsters. Gallagher’s colleague Jason Botchford doesn’t believe GM Mike Gillis is willing to do that, having been burned in “quick-fix” deals in recent years. Even if Gillis is willing to make such a move, there’s not much talent in the trade market to help them.
Botchford recently reported the Canucks had “some tepid interest” in right winger Martin Erat, who requested a trade from the Washington Capitals. Given Erat’s declining production, he won’t provide a significant boost to the Canucks offense, while his $4.5-million cap hit doesn’t fit into their limited ($2.3 million) cap space. Forget about asking Capitals GM George McPhee to pick up part of Erat’s salary, as he’s unwilling to entertain that option.