When people openly cheer for a tank, it can get a little uncomfortable – especially if they start to berate players for giving high levels of effort in a lost season.
That being said, I think we’re all in agreement: losing another game, well… it’s not exactly a travesty at this point, no?
FINAL SCORE: ST. LOUIS BLUES 4, VANCOUVER CANUCKS 1
canucks new goaltending plan pic.twitter.com/2kfCvdnA1S
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) March 24, 2018
What a way to start!
The Canucks kicked off their Friday evening game in peak Canucks form, allowing a goal a whopping: 40 seconds in before finally getting it together over the remainder of the period.
The goal itself, though, made it seem as if the Vancouver players – Anders Nilsson included – still hadn’t even realized that the game was underway yet. Both Vancouver defenders let Alex Pietrangelo toss the puck neatly to Patrik Berglund directly between them, then Nilsson all but freezes on his knees at the goal line while Berglund neatly fires a top-shelf backhand shot at the corner of the net.
It’s a fantastic shot, but definitely not how the team wanted to kick off the period – and although they would outshoot St. Louis 12-4 in that opening frame (despite taking two penalties and drawing none of their own), the game would head into the first intermission with Vancouver down 1-0.
The second period was where things really started to fall off the rails, despite Vancouver getting a tally of their own halfway through the frame.
The Canucks season, in a nutshell, was put on display a little over four minutes into the period, when a botched pass along the point by Derrick Pouliot got broken up by Kyle Brodziak, who heads back up the ice.
Somehow, Vancouver not only manages to let this happen, but Pouliot inexplicably manages to completely miss that Patrik Berglund – yes, he’s back – had snuck right back into his scoring position from the first minute of the game, receiving an easy pass from Brodziak to easily slip the puck under Nilsson’s pads for his second of the game.
Adding insult to injury was that the play happened on a Canucks power-play, but who’s surprised at this point?
Sam Gagner would put the Canucks on the board 10 minutes later, capitalizing on a quick centring pass by Henrik Sedin to earn the captain his 826th NHL assist (good for 26th all-time).
The plus side is that this was Sam Gagner’s 150th career goal, which is a nice milestone, and it was a pretty goal at that. Even if fans are all in on the #TankSZN, even Rasmus Dahlin isn’t worth the absolutely brutal effort that some teams somehow put into their tanks. Fun goals are still fun when the team loses in the end.
That being said, the Canucks would finish off the game with just eight COMBINED shots in the final two periods, allowing two more goals – a tricky shot by Vladimir Tarasenko and an all-in effort by Dmitrij Jaskin right in front of the net – when all was said and done.
The lack of Brock Boeser still hurts. The lack of Erik Gudbranson is what it is. This team is sometimes pretty miserable to watch. Sorry. Dem’s the breaks.
Normally I share the shot attempts chart here to evaluate whether or not the game was truly lopsided, but I thought this one was a bit more telling.
Courtesy of HockeyStats, this is a look at the shot attempts locations for St. Louis (shot attempts in black) and Vancouver (shot attempts in blue) over the course of the game.
Vancouver was held a little bit to the perimeter, sure, but just take a look at how close all of St. Louis’ shots are. Nilsson really did himself no favors, but man. That’s not a good look.
- Last game, the Canucks did nearly everything in their power to lose that game, short of firing completely wide of the net on each and every shot – but despite getting outshot 41-27 and picking up an obnoxious 23-7 penalty minute ratio, Vancouver was simply unable to freefall harder than the Chicago Blackhawks (who, really, woof). They really managed to kick it up a notch on Friday, though, taking just eight shots over the final two periods combined; there really, truly, is no way to adequately describe what that level of tank is. Sure, the Blues have been turning on the jets since they realized in late February that a playoff miss was very likely imminent, but that was shockingly lopsided down the back stretch of the game.
- A lot of flack has gone to the goaltenders this year. Some of it deservedly so – they’ve certainly had their off games when they really needed to be on-point, and neither are on bargain deals anymore – but some of it, really, has been simply the byproduct of playing behind one of the league’s most miserable teams. That being said, Jacob Markstrom told us after the last game in Arizona that every game here is an audition for next year, even if the team doesn’t win – and if tonight was Nilsson’s audition, he has to expect that he didn’t get the part. Even when the team has all but given up, this isn’t his first season in the NHL. It’s not even his first season on a lottery team. Seeing him give up some of the goals he did tonight was far from the reassurance that if he sticks around next year, everything will be just fine.
- Speaking of players who are auditioning for next year… it was incredibly frustrating to watch Sam Gagner have another successful game with the Sedins tonight, because it goes to prove an increasingly-valid theory that he’s only capable of playing any kind of quality NHL hockey when he’s on a line with players who can spoon feed plays to him. He’s got decent speed, decent hands, and isn’t afraid to take shots on net, but he all but vanishes unless he’s playing with legitimate talent. Given that angle, it’s worth considering whether or not he needs to be kept around for the price he’s getting.