Poor starts are hurting the team but if you are a glass-half-full person, the Canucks are still in the playoff race
Poor starts in games against Islanders and Ducks revealing team’s shortcomings
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Should someone inspect the attendance records in the Department of History at UBC and see if any Vancouver Canucks players are enrolled in any classes? The reason is the team is very astute in learning to repeat the past. And this comes after another poor performance at home against the Anaheim Ducks on February 19. This culminated with a sold-out crowd at Rogers Arena for the first time since March 2020—after COVID-19 restrictions for large crowds were lifted by BC health officials on February 17.
And in return the Canucks served the home crowd a big bottomless bowl of “unmotivated” and “disappointing” soup, losing to the Ducks by a score of seven to four. Anaheim scored three goals in the first period. Then another two goals early in the second period to make it 5-0 before Thatcher Demko was replaced by Jaroslav Halak. Demko allowed five goals on 14 shots with Halak stopping nine out of 11 shots—as reported by Sportsnet. At the time of writing, Vancouver’s record is 24-22-6. They are sixth in the Pacific Division with 54 points, five points out of a Wild Card playoff spot.
The Ducks came ready to play and were motivated in trying to end a four-game losing streak. They sure did, with the Canucks being the perfect medicine. Poor starts are hurting the team but if you are a glass-half-full person, the Canucks are still in the playoff race. But unfortunately, Vancouver’s poor start against Anaheim mirrors their previous home loss to the New York Islanders (who led 5-1 after the first period)—making the glass half empty. Plus, Vancouver is trying to catch four teams ahead of them for a Wild Card berth. And those teams will also be earning points; so, Vancouver is unlikely to make the playoffs.
After the game, Canucks coach, Bruce Boudreau, was disappointed with his hockey club’s start. “I think it’s pretty obvious that Anaheim was way more of a desperate team, and they knew what was at stake,” he said as reported by Sportsnet. “And we were just thinking that it was going to be an ordinary game when they knew it wasn’t an ordinary game. That’s where it started. And then it just unravelled after that. We all knew the importance of this game. To not come out with that sense of urgency is bothersome.”
Boudreau also discussed his team’s preparation as he states that the team must change their bad habits now before it gets even worse. “I do this sort of graph and show them trends,” he said. “We tried to explain to them that we won the last two games, but we didn’t play great. So we’re trending in the wrong direction. In the Islander game, we allowed five goals in the first period. Not a good sign. And so I mean, the (bad) habits that they might have had earlier are creeping in.”
The Canucks would have a better effort in their next game against the Seattle Kraken on February 21, winning by a score of five to two. The game would be highlighted by the effort of Vancouver’s checking line of Tyler Motte, Matthew Highmore and Juho Lammikko. The line was on the ice for two goals, including Tyler Motte scoring the opening goal just 11 seconds into the game. Motte finished the game with a goal and an assist, Lammikko with two assists—and Elias Pettersson also had two assists.
Pettersson now has 17 points in his last 15 games. He is showing signs of the player fans have been expecting to see. “Obviously last game [against Anaheim], we don’t like that,” Pettersson said to the media as reported by Sportsnet. “That’s not our identity. We [wanted] to be ready from the start.” In addition, Pettersson discussed his struggles this season and how difficult it was for him to get his confidence back. “It definitely played a part of it,” he said as reported by The Province. “Coming into the season was a little weird. I still had my wrist taped—I feel like that’s going to cause headlines—but I didn’t play for eight months, so it was definitely a slow start for me. It took me way longer than I wanted this season but I feel in the last couple of weeks that I’ve been playing like myself again.”
Bruce Boudreau was pleased with the effort of the “Motto Line,” and for now the line will be staying together. “I think anytime the coach has trust in players and then they have trust back in the coach…it works,” Boudreau said as reported by Sportsnet. “And I think right now, we both have trust in each other. They do what you ask them to do, and they can all skate. They pressure, pressure, pressure. And where they used to just hold their own (defensively), now they’re starting to score some goals and that makes them even more valuable in my mind.”
Lastly, some sad news as the Vancouver Canucks is mourning the loss of a member of their alumni. Ernie Dougherty passed away at age 97. He was the last surviving member of the inaugural Vancouver Canucks, a minor league team that began playing at the Forum in the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) in the 1945-1946 season. Dougherty told the Vancouver Sun in October 2019 that he was not a regular player in the lineup that season. “You’ve got to let the people know I was strictly a utility player,” he said. “But I outlasted everybody else.” The Canucks posted their condolences on Twitter on February 22: “Today is [a sad] day for the Canucks family. Ernie was a wonderful man and loved by everyone who knew him. He was a legend and will be dearly missed. Our deepest condolences to his friends and family.”
Canucks’ schedule this week
Thursday, March 3 @ New York Islanders (430 pm)
Saturday, March 5 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (4 pm)