Paterson’s Point: Canucks need more shots to have a shot at beating Oilers in Game 7

Vancouver Canucks Brock Boeser
Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
23 days ago
This article is a presentation of HelpStartsHere.gov.bc.ca
Throughout these Stanley Cup Playoffs the Vancouver Canucks have played a dangerous game. They have tried to win without shooting the puck. It’s a bold strategy, yet one that somehow has allowed them to win one round and has put them on the verge of prevailing in another. So there is a method to madness.
In Monday’s seventh and deciding game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks will undoubtedly stick to the game plan that has brought them this far. And that’s fine. Systems, structure, patience, protect the guts of the ice – you’ve heard all the hallmarks of Rick Tocchet hockey all season. And they are all important tenets of the way the Vancouver Canucks have had success. But, at some point, they need to generate offence – and not just puck possession and zone time. On Monday night with their season on the line, the Canucks need to direct pucks on net. The Canucks may not win Game 7, but they simply can not go mildly into the off-season. That would be unforgivable. 
Oilers goaltending remains one of the main storylines in this series and twice now the Canucks have inexplicably allowed Calvin Pickard in Game 4 and Stuart Skinner on Saturday night to ease their way into the crease. Pickard had never made an NHL playoff start when Edmonton decided to throw him into the mix. And the Canucks basically embraced the Oiler back-up with a warm hug sending just four shots his way in the opening period and only 21 shots on the night.
Last night, with Skinner back from his two-game team-imposed timeout for poor performance and with the hockey world wondering about his confidence and the faith of the group in front of him, again the Canucks sent four first period shots his way. It was way too easy for a goalie that has made the act of stopping pucks look so difficult at times. Overall, the Canucks mustered just 15 shots on goal in a game in which they had the Oilers on the ropes.
In both Game 4 and Game 6 the Canucks came out on the wrong end of the score and produced just three goals in the process. 
“Yeah, it’s not the recipe for success,” Elias Pettersson said post-game on Saturday. “Obviously we have won games with not many shots. It is what it is. It’s a seven game series for a reason and I’ll focus on that.”
Overall in the post-season, the Canucks have been outshot in eight of their 12 games so far. More than that, though, is the fact that the Canucks have been limited to 20 or fewer shots in half of their games and less than 22 shots in nine of the 12 outings.
What happened to making a goalie make some saves somewhere along the line? Rick Tocchet has stressed repeatedly he doesn’t want his team wasting shot opportunities, but the search for the perfect play too often leads nowhere. 
And now with one game remaining in this series and the Canucks facing elimination for the first time in these playoffs, they need Game 7 to look a lot more like Game 5 on Thursday when they peppered the Edmonton net with a playoff-high 35 shots on goal rather than last night’s disappointing and dispiriting performance which yielded just 15 – and only two shots on goal in 7:40 of power play time. 
Connor Garland and Elias Lindholm lead the Canucks with 13 shots apiece in this series. Elias Pettersson and Nikita Zadorov each have 12. The Oilers have six skaters who have registered 15 shots on goal led by Zach Hyman with a series-leading 25.
On Saturday, with a chance to plunge the dagger into the Oilers, Brock Boeser didn’t register a single shot on goal. Boeser has had a terrific playoff run and leads the Canucks with seven goals in the post-season. They need him to make noise and to do that he needs the puck on his stick in shooting positions. 
“I think we had a couple of good looks on the power play and we didn’t score on them and I think those would have been big goals for our team to get back in the game, but we didn’t execute,” Boeser said. “Obviously, I feel I can be better next game.”
The Canucks are tied 3-3 in the series despite being outshot 174-132. Monday night will produce the series winner and send one of these teams to Dallas for the Western Conference Final. 
The Canucks played all season to have home ice advantage in this very situation. They’ll have the fans behind them and have earned the benefit of the doubt with a 50 win season that they will rebound and respond to Saturday’s no-show.
They’re best shot of winning is getting shots on Stuart Skinner. Make the Oiler netminder sweat. And maybe just maybe a couple will sneak past him. Or through him. But there’s only one way to find out.

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