Watching the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night was a reminder of a lot of things.
Final Score: San Jose Sharks 3, Vancouver Canucks 1
In case you failed to watch this game, it featured Ryan Miller standing on his head for 60 minutes and the Canucks offense showing small bursts of effectiveness in between long stretches of dominance from San Jose.
Unlike their last meeting with San Jose, the Canucks would ultimately fail to record double digits in shots on net in any of their three periods, taking just 36% of the game’s overall shots to easily fall to 3-1 against San Jose’s backup.
There was a cool moment where Joseph Cramarossa got into a fight with noted goon Micheal Haley, although he kind of got his bell rung a bit. There was also a pretty cool, dirty, gritty goal in the crease from Bo Horvat to open up scoring and remind us that he was a well-deserved All Star representative.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) March 3, 2017
Other than that, though, it was an hour-long schooling by a divisional rival that resulted in yet another loss (and another step away from the postseason).
The Canucks, on Thursday night, were a reminder that they are not a playoff team.
I’ve had all kinds of yelling at me in the comment section for this whenever I step up to bat here at Canucks Army – but really, the. Canucks. Are. So. Far. From. A. Playoff. Caliber. Team. That. It’s. Almost. Funny.
The San Jose Sharks spent 60 minutes systematically dismantling Vancouver’s defense and exhausting their opponents. By the final period at the SAP Center, I thought the Canucks looked beaten; they weren’t keeping up pace with San Jose in terms of puck movement and foot speed, and they legitimately put up just five shots as the game wound down.
San Jose is a good team to watch, because they’re like an entire army of Sedin twins. Patrick Marleau knows exactly when to pass the puck to Logan Couture and Joe Thornton can find Joe Pavelski’s ghosty stick without even turning to look and Brent Burns can thread the puck through traffic to find Tomas Hertl while both players are moving at full speed.
The Sedins do that together, but the rest of the Canucks roster lacks that familiarity. I think that Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi are on their way, but they still have some work to do – and the rest of the roster has some clear talent (what’s up, Troy Stetcher, you had yourself a game) but lacks the overall cohesion they need to really compete.
Despite, that, though, we come to my next point –
The Canucks, on Thursday night, were a reminder that they are actually starting to rebuild correctly.
I don’t dislike this Canucks roster.
Would I like to see pretty much anyone but Philip Larsen on the ice? Sure. Dude was the team’s third-worst shot differential player during the game, ahead of only our old friend Luca Sbisa and Michael Chaput.
I also still have my reservations about the Erik Gudbranson trade (always will), and think that Jim Benning made some godawful decisions last year.
Adding guys like Nikolay Goldobin and Johnathan Dahlen, though? Excellent moves down the line. I’m also a big fan of the fact that the Canucks didn’t give up on Sven Baertschi, who has been a great puck mover in the games I’ve seen him – and Bo Horvat, while not my favorite former London Knight, really has potential to lead this team down the line. The team made the right move to keep around a veteran like Alex Edler to help the younger players on the blue line, and a prospect like Thatcher Demko isn’t being damaged by playing behind a team like the Canucks were against San Jose in the keeping of Ryan Miller.
With that goal – Bo Horvat sets a new career high in points with 41 (19-22-41)#Canucks
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) March 3, 2017
Is this a bad team? Yes. Point blank. But it’s finally starting to look like a team that’s being rebuilt the way it should be – which, since it finally looks like a team that is rebuilding, is cause for celebration.
The Canucks, on Thursday night, were a reminder that it’s hard to trade your (very expensive) goaltender to a team with a very reliable backup already in place.
Throughout the night, I think Aaron Dell only had to face what, 18 shots? Not exactly a heavy workload.
The Sharks have been giving Dell games like this. He played against the Arizona Coyotes a few weeks ago – inexplicably giving the Sharks their only regulation win against Arizona all season – and he’s gotten looks against the hapless Flyers and the floundering Jets, as well.
While he’s getting some softball games, though, an NHL game is an NHL game. Ultimately, he’s making the stops he needs to – and he’s winning games in the process.
It sounded a bit, from talks I had with those familiar with the goaltending situation in Vancouver, like Miller wanted to head to San Jose (or possibly Anaheim) as the trade deadline approached, and Dell is a big part of the reason that nothing got done.
There’s really no explaining why Anaheim didn’t want the insurance if Miller was interested (other than cap issues that maybe couldn’t get resolved), since they’ve shown a clear distrust for both Jhonas Enroth and Jonathan Bernier.
As Dell showed on Thursday night, though, he’s calm and consistent – he allowed just one goal against the Canucks all night en route to San Jose’s win. Don’t fix what isn’t broken; San Jose seems to get that.
There isn’t really much to say about this loss. It’s expected and it’s disappointing and there were a lot of gaps in how the team played.
Still, this wasn’t the worst Canucks team I’ve seen in terms of effort – even if the actual compete level to hold on to the Sharks wasn’t exactly there.
There’s plenty that could have been changed, and I’m sure you all hate every word I wrote. The Canucks finally looked like they had a future, though. I can’t hate that.