At this stage of the season, the Canucks cannot go through extended losing streaks; if they do, they will fall out of contention to secure a playoff spot.
Vancouver on the road with stops in Colorado, Minnesota, Dallas and St. Louis
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The Vancouver Canucks are reverting to old habits. In two back-to-back home games, Vancouver was down 2-0 to the Washington Capitals and the defending cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. Slow starts have been detrimental to the Canucks. At times, when Vancouver does show some form of engagement and is ready to be competitive in the game—they are already down several goals. It is like the team is trying to win only the third period, instead of trying to win all three periods.
However, the Canucks once again showed why they have been a resilient team all season. Vancouver ended their two-game losing streak by defeating the New Jersey Devils by a score of six to three on March 15. It was payback by the Canucks who were embarrassed by the Devils in New Jersey on February 28 (losing by a score of seven to two).
At the time of writing, the Canucks’ record is 30-24-7—good for fifth place in the Pacific Division. They have 67 points and are one point out of a Wild Card playoff spot. At this stage of the season, the Canucks cannot go through extended losing streaks; if they do, they will fall out of contention to secure a playoff spot. The appropriate analogy for the Canucks attempting to make the postseason is like a mountain climber scaling Mt. Everest. Whenever traction has been gained to climb higher, the next step will be treacherous, leading one to lose footing and descend even further down the mountain. For the moment, the Canucks still have their feet on the mountain.
Canucks coach, Bruce Boudreau, was disappointed with his team having another poor start against the Lightning. “There’s nothing more you can do other than warn them, show them, tell them,” Boudreau said in his post-game media scrum as reported by Sportsnet. “And then instead, the other team came out harder for the first 10 minutes. I think they had 14 shots in the first 10 minutes and then I thought that we finally said, ‘OK, let’s wake up.’ Sometimes when you’re playing Stanley Cup champions and they’ve got a 2-0 lead, they’re just not going to relinquish it.”
Boudreau continued on his team’s consistent lack of consistency with too many poor starts that are adding up like Kanye West’s strange postings on social media. “We, like fans, as people that watch the game, are going: ‘Why the hell don’t they start better?’ We would love to know the answer. I just reiterated it today and it’s something that you have to remind the guys…almost on a daily basis, ‘Let’s be ready at the drop of the first puck.’”
Canucks forward, Conor Garland, said falling 2-0 to the defending cup champions, Tampa Bay, in the first period is not how you should start a hockey game. “It’s obviously not a good start, especially understanding how hungry they were going to be,” he said as reported by Sportsnet. “They’d lost three straight, so definitely a big game for them as well. To not come out the way we should was disappointing.”
Sportsnet also reported that Canucks star Elias Pettersson did not play against the Lightning. Bruce Boudreau stated Pettersson is out day-to-day with an upper-body injury. EP40 had 18 points in his previous 13 games. Pettersson also missed the game against the Devils. Patrick Johnson, a sportswriter for The Province, posted on Twitter on March 17 with an update about Pettersson’s injury: “Source says it’s Pettersson’s wrist that’s causing him trouble again.”
Another Canucks player who, like EP40, is also receiving criticism from the media and fans is Brock Boeser. In 55 games played, Boeser has 35 points (17 goals and 18 assists) and is a minus seven. Boeser will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Ben Kuzma reported in The Province on March 15 that Boeser’s $7.5 million US qualifying offer “…concerns suitors who are consumed by balancing the books. There might be a market for Boeser if the Canucks don’t reach a contract extension that could reduce salary in exchange for the term. If the club can pry away a young and promising right-shot defenceman and futures, it might be worth kicking the trade tires. It might also be worth not giving up on Boeser.”
Lastly, Vancouver Canucks President, Jim Rutherford, entered the COVID-19 protocol on March 17 as reported by Sportsnet. Rutherford, who is 73 years old, will be working from home while he is in quarantine. Sportsnet also reported on the upcoming trade deadline on March 21 and whether the Canucks will be sellers or buyers: “The Canucks are at a crossroads ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline, with options to be both a buyer or seller available. Rutherford will have support from his diverse front office team as he navigates those decisions from home.” CBC News reported in March 2022, Rutherford was hired in December 2021 after being the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins for seven years—winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Canucks’ schedule this week (all games on the road)
Wednesday, March 23 @ Colorado Avalanche (6:30 pm)
Thursday, March 24 @ Minnesota Wild (5 pm)
Saturday, March 26 @ Dallas Stars (4 pm)
Monday, March 28 @ St. Louis Blues (4:30 pm)