Instant Reaction: Canucks play with solid structure for 63 minutes and 28 seconds in loss to Devils

Photo credit:© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 year ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy in which we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask you to do the same! The Stanchies by Wyatt Arndt will be posted later this evening and the Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report, will be posted tomorrow morning.
The headline is slightly facetious, sure. But tonight, the Vancouver Canucks did play with solid structure, and for the majority of the evening, they looked like a team capable of hanging with one of the league’s best in the New Jersey Devils.
The first period was probably the best period the Canucks have played all season long. They played a sound defensive game and were solid in transition. They gave the Devils a serious run for their money in the first period and even struck first after a beautiful goal from Andrei Kuzmenko, which I’m sure we’ll all see at least three different angles of in tonight’s edition of The Stanchies.
It was a solid first period tonight, and quite frankly, it was a solid all-around effort from the Canucks. That is, except for a span of 50 seconds in the second period in which the Devils scored three unanswered goals in rapid succession. Sure, it would have been nice if Collin Delia made at least one of those saves, but let’s be honest — we’ve seen this before.
The only difference between tonight and the Canucks’ other handful of collapses this season is that usually there’s no recovery or pushback. Previously, the end result of a sequence like we saw the Canucks go through in the second period tonight is an embarrassing loss and a post game press conference where Bruce Boudreau is just as confused as the rest of us.
But instead, the Canucks regrouped during a TV timeout and clawed their way back. They tied the game up at four apiece and legitimately made this game closer than I think a lot of people thought it would be. Perhaps the biggest difference tonight was the Canucks’ demeanour after falling behind. Despite the somewhat monumental second-period collapse, the Canucks didn’t look like a team just trying not to lose once they had tied the game back up. They kept up their pace, kept their structure, and looked like a team that didn’t think for a second that they wouldn’t win this game tonight.
That being said, the penalty kill is still very, very, bad and you could say that that’s what ended up costing the Canucks in the end as they lost in overtime while shorthanded.
As for individual performances, Kuzmenko was his normal highlight-reel self, and Elias Pettersson was throwing hits in addition to being dangerous offensively. Vasily Podkolzin looked more confident than he did the last time we saw him at the NHL level, indicating that his AHL stint accomplished what the Canucks hoped it would. JT Miller made a few nice defensive plays that you hope to see him build off of as he gets more used to playing centre, and honestly, it’s hard to criticize any forward’s game tonight.
The defence and penalty kill remain an issue for this team, but really there’s not much to complain about tonight. If you’re on team tank (who isn’t at this point?) you’re happy that the team didn’t get two points in the standings. And if you’re a fan, you’re likely happy to see the team at least trying and putting together a solid effort despite knowing this season is basically over.
It was a valiant effort from the Canucks tonight, but this team is simply outmatched when they line up against the league’s top teams. And until that major surgery on the roster takes place, they’ll continue to be outmatched no matter how hard they try.
Tonight, the Canucks tried hard but lost to the Devils by a final score of 5-4 in overtime.
What’s your instant reaction tonight? Let us know in the comments section below!

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