Although the fiscal cliff may have been averted, there's a different cliff that the Coquitlam Express are trying to steer clear of.
The B.C. Hockey League club has seen what was a very good start to the 2012-13 season head downhill, speeding up over the past week with a trio of losses to divisional rivals.
Falling 2-0 to the Surrey Eagles on Sunday wasn't the nadir of the fall but it didn't ease the vertigo, either, as back-to-back losses to the fifth-place Langley Rivermen spotlighted the Express' current path.
A stalled offence, shaky defence and a sputtering powerplay underscore a team in trouble.
"We mostly didn't perform to our capabilities," noted coach/general manager Jon Calvano. "I thought all three games we started well, showed some urgency, but we lacked execution. The opposition would gain momentum off a goal and put us behind the eight-ball."
Sent to the showers 6-1 by Langley in Coquitlam on Friday, the club gave a better effort 24 hours later but still found themselves staring at a 3-0 hole just 13 minutes into the contest. While the Express pulled within a goal on tallies by Zachary Pryzbek and Philip Zielonka, the Rivermen replied with 29 seconds left in the first period en route to a 7-4 win.
On Sunday, Surrey fired 62 shots at Coquitlam netminder Cole Huggins, who was chased from the net in Langley. The Colorado native stood on his head but didn't get any offensive support in a 2-0 loss.
Continuing to provide most of the goals was the tandem of John Siemer and Zielonka, with both counting twice and setting up another. The rest of the offence remained sketchy and inconsistent - a problem that has only worsened since star forward and New Jersey Devils draft pick Alexander Kerfoot was lost for the season.
"When Alexander went down, a lot of our players seemed to lose their confidence, their scoring abilities seemed to go with it," noted Calvano. "It may be an excuse but losing Alexander was like losing a big part of our identity."
He wants his players to stay focused on playing better as a team and look at catching third place and the Prince George, which has a seven-point lead.
Outscored 15-5 on the weekend, the Express now approach the Jan. 10 roster deadline date with some tough decisions.
They sit one point ahead of Langley in the battle for the final playoff spot - with the Rivermen holding two games in hand. While the club has limited cards to make improvements, Calvano is weighing the options as to whether dealing veterans for prospects may be the direction to go.
"We've had our meetings with all the coaches, our head scout and our ownership group and Darcy (Rota)," remarked Calvano. "We're in a race, but now we're one of three racing for two spots. We don't want to be sellers, as its not the message we want to send to our players or to the players we're trying to recruit. We'll have to see what happens next."
Coquitlam's next on-ice test is Friday in Chilliwack, followed next week in Surrey.
"We were the first horse coming out of the gate to start the season and we've faced a number of challenges since," said Calvano. "Since Game 11, we've had injuries and inconsistent efforts, to the point where we still don't know what we have here.
"With 21 games left and the position we are in, time is crucial."