At some point, the Vancouver Canucks are going to get a bounce or two. The Canucks are shooting at a five percent clip at even strength. The list of teams in that range last season is a short one, insofar as nobody shot lower than six.
They had no such luck tonight. Vancouver bucked the goalless trend of two games prior, but aside from a last minute push, the Canucks were mostly toothless.
They launched 25 pucks at Philip Gruabauer and even converted on two such occasions. At the opposite end, they made Jacob Markstrom suffer the Capitals offensive onslaught to the tune of 35 shots, many of which were ten bell chances.
The Canucks can hang in most games if the events are low enough. At that point, all it takes is the elusive bounce. Going blow for blow with one of the league’s most potent offences, well, that’s playing with fire. And the Canucks were burnt. Burnt on many occasions.
It wasn’t just the goals, and they surrendered more than their fair share of those. The odd-man rushes, numerous as we’ve seen them this season, converted at a rate low enough to belie the offence this club bled shift after shift. It’s not often one can say this without a hint of hyperbole, but the Capitals 5-2 victory really undersells the extent to which they dominated this game.
Were it not for Markstrom standing on his head, particularly in a rapid fire second period, this game could’ve got ugly, and fast.
And Willie Desjardins tried to stop the bleeding. He shuffled his pairs. The Canucks power play, which has operated with four forwards and one defenceman for much of the season, was adjusted to include local hero Troy Stecher on the first unit alongside Philip Larsen.
To little effect, unfortunately. The Canucks power play went 0-3 on the night, going a fourth straight game without converting.
A team can survive an ineffective power play, though. It happens. It’s a lot harder to do so when you’ve 2/3 as many shot attempts as your opponent. Not a single Canuck was in the black by raw Corsi For%, and Brandon Sutter suffered an abominable 23% on the night.
Then again, it wasn’t all for naught. Desjardins went to the Jannik Hansen well, pairing the Dane with the Sedin Twins, and reaped instant rewards in the form of an even-strength marker. Hell, amidst a whirlwind of controversy surrounding Jake Virtanen’s ice-time and usage, he found himself on the Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi line, and wouldn’t you know it, he played a role in their second-period tally.
That’s really a spotlight into this season, though. For the Canucks to win on even a semi-regular basis, they’re going to need almost everything to go right. Two touches of deployment magic aren’t going to be enough, and it wasn’t tonight.
Most teams can come at you in waves offensively, and the Capitals did. They had goals throughout the lineup, on the power play and with the empty net.
When the final horn went, that firepower reflected in the score. For the most part, anyways. The Canucks lost 5-2 and it could’ve been worse.