Photo credit:© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Instant Reaction: Was tonight’s embarrassing loss in Boston the Canucks’ worst performance under Tocchet?
17 days ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction. You know the drill.
The game started the way that — somehow — the Canucks’ last three games have started.
The Canucks get a power play, and then they give up a shorthanded goal. If you recall (I certainly didn’t until I read it on Twitter), Columbus scored the first goal of the game against the Canucks whilst shorthanded on January 27th. As you’re more likely to remember, that’s the same script we saw play out on Tuesday night in Carolina as well.
And sure enough, that’s how this one got started too.
We saw some rough stuff between JT Miller and Brad Marchand, which somehow felt like justice for Marchand’s antics in 2011. No? Just me? (Please note this line was written when it was still just 1-0)
Thatcher Demko made some five-alarm saves early on in this game and was vital to keeping the Canucks down by just a goal.
The Canucks got another power play opportunity with just over five minutes remaining in the period, and you’re not going to believe this, but they gave up ANOTHER shorthanded goal.
At this point, this was on the Canucks’ best players. Both JT Miller and Elias Pettersson were caught puck-watching on the first goal, and on the second goal, Miller is stripped of the puck, and Elias Pettersson is too late getting back.
The Canucks’ stars needed to be better after that abysmal first period. Surely, the team had some great comeback in the works being down by two goals after 20 minutes of play.
If you watched the game, you likely can just scroll right to the comments at this point.
And that’s because the Canucks’ big second period comeback was killed before it could even begin.
These goals were just 15 seconds apart, and there are simply no words.
We saw an Elias Pettersson benching in this period, Tyler Myers missing the net on what may have been the Canucks’ best chance of the game, and a Nils Höglander goal waved off due to a high stick.
It didn’t get better at any point, and this game didn’t have any more goals.
Now, if you’re new here, the point of Instant Reaction is for me to give our readers a place to talk about the game as soon as possible. The Stanchies is our in depth recap, but because I try to get instant reaction out quickly, typically it ends up being a simple play-by-play of the game with a few thoughts sprinkled in. But on a night like tonight, where I know just 23 minutes into the game that the Canucks were going to lose, it gives me lots of time to write without worrying about the outcome changing in the final minutes. Everyone hates a rewrite, but it’s especially detrimental when your story is supposed to be out moments after the final horn.
But tonight was not one of those nights. This was a good old-fashioned 2016-early 2023 Canucks game, where the team didn’t show up, and it was clear that they weren’t going to show up at any point.
And who would have thought we’d get games like that this season?
The Canucks have lost a total of 16 games this season. Five of those have come in overtime. None have really been “embarrassing” in fashion.
If you asked Tocchet what the worst game the Canucks have played under him was before tonight, he’d almost certainly tell you about the second game he spent behind the Canucks’ bench. The Canucks were a disaster under Bruce Boudreau, and Tocchet got to really see it firsthand after game two. That was the game where Tocchet would later share he needed to take a literal breather to comprehend how bad his team was. Or as he called them that night: soft.
And while Tocchet would certainly be correct in that assessment, his star players completely no-showing tonight, giving up two shorthanded goals and getting caught with their pants down to open the second period has to trump that game in Seattle. Elias Pettersson being a -4 and getting benched for parts of the second period has to be a low point for both Pettersson personally and for the Canucks this season.
Of course, the biggest reason tonight was a worse loss for the Canucks than the one in Seattle just over a year ago is that the expectations are so, so much higher for this team than they were a year ago. Back then, nobody knew what kind of effect a coaching change could have on this team aside from ruining their chances at drafting Connor Bedard.
But now? We know full well the Canucks and their stars have so much more to give than they showed tonight.
Before this game, the Canucks had a 12-game point streak under their belts. All teams have stinkers like the Canucks did tonight, but doesn’t make tonight’s game any less embarrassing for the Canucks. This was a marquee matchup. The rights holder was pumping it up as a potential Stanley Cup Final preview, and that was fine because the teams with the two best records in the NHL were going head-to-head.
But tonight, the Canucks certainly didn’t play like a top two team in the league.
Thankfully, despite tonight’s stinker, the Canucks are still first place in the overall NHL standings.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!
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