Canucks Army Postgame: Not a Great Night

So tonight, my daughter and I sat down to watch the Canucks face off against the New York Rangers. 

In cute news, I’ve never seen her more excited than she gets when the broadcast team says “Luca Sbisa”. 

In less cute news, the Canucks lost 7-2, meaning the team still has only two wins after their impressive start to the season. Y….ikes. 

Game Rundown

Final Score: Rangers 7, Canucks 2

The game started off surprisingly even, possibly even tipped in Vancouver’s favor; the first three shots went to the home team, and the first period was an excellent 20 minutes of give-and-take hockey between one of the Eastern Conference’s best and the Canucks. 

Then the Rangers scored their first goal, and everything went downhill from there. 

A few bright spots popped out – including a nice tally for Brandon Sutter and another for Markus Granlund – but ultimately, the final 40 minutes was just the Canucks playing catch-up while the Rangers wiped the ice with what was left of Jacob Markstrom in net. 

JT Miller and Kevin Hayes walked circles around the Canucks defense all night, scoring two goals apiece. Mats Zuccarello continued to be lethal with a goal of his own, and Brady Skjei was one of the most noticeable defensemen for the Rangers – and that says something on a team with Ryan McDonagh. Add in goals for Brandon Pirri (oh, that’s where he is this year) and Nick Holden (who??) and that’s a wrap. 

Both teams left a lot to be desired on the blue line, but good goaltending ultimately won out – and Henrik Lundqvist allowed just two goals in a tough loss for Vancouver. 

High Points

Brandon Sutter. If you remember anything I said last year, you’ll remember I was a fairly vocal skeptic of the Sutter deal. It still could have been better – I think the Canucks could have gotten Sutter for less – but what I’ve seen of him so far this year has been pretty all right. He was a great offensive presence during the game, and scored the team’s first (and almost only) goal. 

Troy Stecher. What a treat! Is he this year’s Ben Hutton? Too soon to tell, but I wouldn’t be mad about that.

Brendan Gaunce. My first thought about him – this dude skates like he’s got lead painted on his toenails. My next thought – oh, he knows where to be in enough time to lift up his lead feet and get there. I’m not convinced he’ll ever be a high-line forward, but I liked Gaunce’s game enough in a poor showing for Vancouver. 

The Sedins. (Duh. They’re always good.) 

Low Points

Jacob Markstrom has plenty of potential starting power. The Canucks are going to be perfectly fine with him and heir apparent Thatcher Demko in the coming years. 

That being said, this wasn’t his best game. I thought he played his depth wrong from start to finish, and he got burned on a few goals because he just didn’t look comfortable enough with his reads. Probably just a bad game, but still a low point nonetheless. He finished the game with a .720 save percentage, stopping just 18 of a measly 25 shots faced. 

The Defense. Oy. At best they were inconsistent; during Mats Zuccarello’s third period goal, they were outright absent. The team’s biggest problem seems to be scoring, but their defense sure ain’t great, either. 

Ben Hutton. If Troy Stecher is this year’s blue line darling, Hutton has struggled – big time. It could just be his pairing, it could be he’s in a slump, but he looked not great. It’s hard to pinpoint how to fix him, because he looks almost like a different player from last year – but it hurts to watch him failing to shine like he did as a rookie. 

Numberz

chart

The Canucks held possession for most of the game – but it’s also indicative of them losing. 

They did well in the first period, keeping things even against a tough New York team. Then, they outshot the Rangers the rest of the way because of score effects – and with Henrik Lundqvist across the ice, that just wasn’t good enough. 

The positive to this, though, is that the Canucks at least pushed to try and even things up, even when they got really out of hand. 

Looking Ahead

The Canucks this year, when they’re playing well, look significantly better than when the Canucks played well last year. Peak 2016-17 Canucks is a decided improvement over Peak 2015-16 Canucks. 

Last year, though, the team found themselves trailing off in the third period fairly regularly; this year they’ve done the opposite, but that’s almost certainly been because they head into the third period trailing so frequently. 

Maybe every move Jim Benning has made so far has actually made the Canucks a better team. If that’s the case, though, it certainly doesn’t show every night. The defense is still a bit of an unmitigated disaster, the offense couldn’t find a way to capitalize on second scoring chances (not that Lundqvist allows many of those, but still) and the goaltending was atrocious. It was a bad game, but the team can’t just be judged on how well they play in their wins – with just two in 13 games, it’s more indicative to look at how the team plays when they lose. 

The bottom line is that the Canucks are only ahead of Arizona in the west – and with three games in hand, they should be just three points ahead of the divisional rival. 

  • Killer Marmot

    I say the Canucks petition the league to have the team with the best Corsi, not the most goals, be declared the winner of each game.

    I can smell Stanley Cup.

  • I am Ted

    Good effort and all for the first 2 then it all kinda fell apart. Ah well. Let’s push for the rebuild and see what we can get for Tanev, Hansen and so on.

  • DJ_44

    The knives will be out after this game; the are mis-directed. The game got away quickly in the third, but the Canucks played a good game against a very good team.

    The bad…. well Markstrom had a bad night..if anyone deserves a mulligan it is Jacob…..he will be much better next time.

    Hutton was terrible. Give aways… terrible d-zone coverage and reads…..I know jd burke will blame it ‘mostly’ on Gudbranson…… but this is not the case. The second Pp unit is non-exsistent because they cannot gain the zone…which is 100% on Hutton. He is just struggling to read the play … and you can see this with hesitation. He can car-pool with Jake to Utica.

    The good…and I thought there was quite a few positives…Stecher looks like he wants the team on his back…did you see him demanding the puck on the three on two rush….I will accept his mistakes in the d-zone…there are not that many and he will learn fast.

    Tryamkin looks really good. Tonight it was his shots from the point…He can fire the puck …heavy shots….effortlessly. If he can play the left …then sit Hutton (or send him down to Utica for a bit) when Tanev returns.

    Sbisa and Edler were also good.

    The Sedins were good offensively…especially the first…but blew some d-zone coverages that cost them tonight.

    If Jake wants in…his effort..every shift…better match that of Dorsett and Burrows.
    If he can do that…with his size and ability….he will be top 6 ….probably top 3 easily.

    • Dirty30

      Hutton is also in his second year as an NHL D-man playing against the best players in the world. And I would agree with JD if he put Hutton’s woes on Gudbranson because he was brought in specifically as a top 4 D-man and he’not playing at that level.

      So not only is Hutton covering his own ass he has to cover for the guy who should be helping him. Hutton might be better off paired with Sbisa (just waiting for the sky to fall after writing that sentence) because he is a better D right now.

      This team certainly gets an A for effort — their stats from that game were nuts. But that still doesn’t address the simple fact that their margin for error at any moment is non-existent… that will take a bigger and bigger toll as the season goes on.

      The players play the system Coach puts out there. If that’s not working to Hutton’s advantage then isn’t it on the Coaching staff to work out a system that works to their players’ strengths?

      • DJ_44

        I realize Hutton is entering his second year; I am not advocating we give up on him, but there is no denying he is struggling. Blaming Gudbranson is not accurate. Hutton is not making mistakes trying to cover up for Gudbranson; they are pretty much all on him.

        Difficult to blame the D-partner for giveaways moving up the ice, terrible decisions/first passes and losing puck battles and then losing the man that beat you in the D-zone. The lack of a second PP unit is on him as well. He simply cannot lead the rush, which mean they do not gain the zone. He is ineffective (at best) or a liability (more realistically) on the PP so far.

        Compare that to the first unit, with either Larsen or Stecher, and you will see that attaching with speed and proper decisions will have favourable results.

        I think he is just not reading the play….at all. He seems to hesitate half a second everywhere and then is playing catch up.

        When Tanev returns, and assuming Tryamkin can play the left side, I would sit Hutton for a few games….not as a punishment but maybe he can see something from the pressbox……or a few weeks in Utica would not be the worst thing.

        As for blaming Willy….c’mom, the other 5 seem to understand it……short of Willy have the center take the puck from Hutton behind the net and start the rush (hello 1970’s) what can Willy do?

        Gudbranson does not get off with a freebie. I cannot believe the number of shots he has blocked …both clearing the zone and from the blueline. He can be better, and seems to have simplified his zone exits which is a good thing.

    • chinook

      Excellent game summary DJ. I liked Sbisa and Tryamkin’s game and support your recognition of Dorsett and Burrows efforts. Sbisa and Tryamkin (in fewer games) have the best +/- on the team.

      Also, CA seems to place ALL d-zone responsibility on the defenders but the centre has to do a better job down low and the wingers on the points. Its a team game, specially without the puck.

  • Rodeobill

    DJ 44 hit the nail on most of what I saw.

    Markstrom had a stinker.

    Tryamkin has got a SHOT, just needs to dial it in a bit.

    It seemed last year it was up to the forwards to always help out our clutzy defense – this year seems like even the offense has got to come from the D.

    Even off the PP they dump it in fight it out in the corners and cycle back to the D for a shot. I don’t think I saw them actually carry into the offensive zone more than a few times. It was always dump, crash, figure it out from there, or cycle back tot he D for a shot. The D effed up some tonight, but I think they were putting a lot of chips on trying to create offense (which makes some sense playing from behind).

    also Lundquist still is a wicked goalie.
    I would add that I was ready to sit burrows, as at the beginning he didn’t seem to add anything to the team, but he has gotten it back these last few games.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Greetings delusional window-lickers

    Well guys, what a NIGHTMARE eh… just as i told you. Heading towards 20 games now, a QUARTER of the season gone and we are ALREADY in the BASEMENT (as we ELITE experts told you).

    To clarify, we are 28th in GF, 26th in GA (it’s ok though, the Defence is EXCELLING – Dud Poille), 28th on the PP and in the LEAGUE standings we are 29th (AZ is in last but has 3 games in hand)…

    BUT, I CAN fix it. I can make the Vancouver Canucks great again… my team for NEXT SEASON is as follows with either Bob Hartley or Marc Crawford at the helm. A new GM and Trevor Linden keeping his job as our esteemed figurehead..

    Through TRADE, FREE AGENCY and tanking to get that NUMBER ONE CENTRE it is Do-able. Read it and BELIEVE…

    G

    BEN BISHOP

    Markstrom

    D

    BRENT BURNS (C)

    Gudbranson

    Tanev

    Tryamkin

    Stetcher

    Joulevi

    L1
    EVANDER KANE
    NOLAN PATRICK
    Eriksson

    L2
    CHRIS KUNITZ
    Horvat
    Boeser

    L3
    Baertschi
    Granlund
    Hansen

    L4
    Gaunce
    Sutter
    Virtanen

    Guys this is a WINNING TEAM. Period.

    The Sedins HAVE to go. It’s time, thanks for the memories but you are done.
    Miller,Edler,Larson,Hutton,Rodin,Burrows,Sbisa, Skille,Dorset, see ya.

    JOB DONE!

  • Spiel

    For everyone that wants a complete rebuild, that is the kind of game you will see most nights – defensive mistakes and inconsistent play. Add in an off night from your goalie and you get a blowout.

    The average age of our d-men was 24.5 years old in that game. Everyone sure they want to go full rebuild?

    I’d argue it isn’t necessary. Team is already bad enough to have some of the best lottery odds.

    • detox

      yep,

      as long as JB doesn’t trade away picks, we get the rebuild.

      ffs, I wish the Kane rumours would just stop, he is ufa after next season and injury prone. If we were to trade for him he’d likely be hurt for half the time he is here and then walk at the end of his contract.

  • I turned it off after the 2nd. The 1st was excellent.

    Effort is there. Will to win is there. Chances are there, but we just can’t finish. How do we fix this?

    Several of my comments didn’t show up. Is this thing broken?

    • Jimjamg

      Agreed, team showed up and was hard luck not to be leading after the first. I don’t see any quick fixes here, Kane is certainly not any part of the answer. Gudbranson is disappointing, for a 6’5″ guy to make himself invisible most nights is pretty impressive. He plays like he’s 5’5″. And Hutton is obviously carrying the weight of expectations very hard, there are some games now when he is not even smiling!, its bad. Virtanen may be another Hodgson or Kassian and at this point Canucks management and scouting needs to look itself in the mirror, how do we keep putting ourselves in this position? On the bright side Horvat!!! at least we didn’t waste the best goalie this team has ever drafted. Stecher has great promise, Tryamkin hits people and has a shot and is pretty darn mobile if you watch him skate. Granlund looks good, Baertschi has found a step the last few games, Burrows looks like he is interested again and Sutter is providing something. Way too many holes in this roster though to turn this around quickly, we are in the rebuild whether they will ever say it out loud or not.

      • DJ_44

        “Virtanen may be another Hodgson or Kassian and at this point Canucks management and scouting needs to look itself in the mirror, how do we keep putting ourselves in this position”

        What are you talking about? If I recall, Hodgson had back issues, then was gifted the forth line center spot and second unit PP time and he was excellent in both roles. But then, receiving terrible advice from agent and parents, and even though he had Hendrik, Kesler and Malhotra ahead of him, thought he was a #1 center and wanted out. I am not a fan of Gillis, but I do not blame him one bit for Hodgson. Comparison with Kassian? Kassian had issues that went well beyond what Jake is experiencing.

        He has been sent back to Utica (which I imagine was the plan all along since they did not play between Saturday and today). He hopefully will be there for a while (three weeks to a month minimum) where he can steadily improve.

        • Jimjamg

          I intended the comparison in his (to date) level of professionalism only, none of the issues you mention. There are obvious qualitative distinctions between the individual’s and as you say drafting an 18 year old is a crapshoot at the best of times, but this and prior management ( and I personally have no issue with either group) profess to focus on character when drafting and trading for players, but the results keep showing differently. Do other teams have these types of issues with their draftees and their professionalism? Or is there a media smear campaign against Virtanen? It’s very difficult for a fan to discern what is happening except that it seems like we have seen this dance before.

  • Locust

    The penalty kill looked like the Nucks had feet of stone… very little push or consistent aggression. Some of the facial expressions were like “just hurry up and score…”
    A stinker.