This isn’t a swan song yet.
That being said...winning games when you get outshot 43-17 reminds me of the Canucks of years past, when they were able to eek out timely goals while relying on Jacob Markstrom or Ryan Miller to make 40+ saves.
But hey, this is the playoffs, and style points don’t count at this time of the year.
If there’s one message in the Canucks locker room, let it be this:
Just win baby.
Below is a smattering of thoughts, along with four questions I have about this team heading into Game 6.
Demko was brilliant...will he need an encore?
Thatcher Demko just saved the Canucks season.
There’s no other way of going about it. Demko made 26 consecutive saves before Shea Theodore’s jaw dropping goal gave Vegas the 1-0 lead late in the second period. At least half a dozen of those saves were of the highlight reel variety.
It makes sense that the Canucks rode Markstrom to this point, but it’s easy to forget that Demko is a damn good goalie with a ton of promise as well (as I’ve brought up on Nucks Misconduct nary a time before...)
The biggest question heading into Game 6 is...will he need an encore?
Even if Markstrom is good to go, and Markstrom wins Game 6, do they turn back to Demko for Game 7 on the second of back-to-backs?
If they start Demko in Game 6 and he wins, do they dare take him out for Game 7?
Lol legit if you look at the way the Canucks played......— Kyle (@kylebhawan) September 2, 2020
That was one of the best goaltenting performances in franchise history.
He's starting game 6
Don’t deny it. You know, just like the rest of us, that you love a good goalie debate in Vancouver.
Kyle Bhawan and Nick Bondi talked to Rob Jandl (Fan2Abby), who covers prospects here on Nucks Misconduct about the goalie situation on our network’s post-game show, Sippin’ On A 40.
POST-GAME SHOW— 40 (@sippinona40) September 2, 2020
Alright, now this is beginning to feel normal...
Much love to "scout" @Fan2Abby for telling us how he enjoys his coffee before those early games #canucks
Out Everywhere https://t.co/0L8yH3ipEX pic.twitter.com/VSlwtnwtP4
Can the bottom-six break through before this series concludes?
It’s been a common thought that the Canucks bottom-six needs to step up in this series if the want to stay alive.
So far through five games, they’ve survived IN SPITE of their bottom-six forwards.
At even-strength last night, only eight of the 18 skaters registered a shot on goal. Tyler Motte and Brandon Sutter were the only bottom-six forwards to tally a shot and in fairness, Sutter nearly broke the 1-1 deadlock in the third with this chance.
However, there were a bunch of guys who failed to create much of anything in this game. Motte, Sutter, Beagle and Virtanen were all hemmed in their own end at five-on-five. Virtanen in particular I thought looked incredibly slow in Game 5, especially for a player who’s known for his wheels.
Adam Gaudette has been playing with energy but he’s failed to create much throughout eight pointless playoff games. He has only four shots in those eight games.
Oddly enough, sixth defenceman Oscar Fantenberg looks hungriest to score among depth guys. He was one of only three players to register more than a shot in Game 5. Fantenberg is also pointless in 14 playoff games.
I can’t see the Canucks winning another games where they get outshot 43-17. One of these depth guys likely needs to find twine.
new old top-six formations pay dividends?
Up front, Brock Boeser was the most impactful Canuck in Game 5.
He registered four shots on goal, with another one of his shots being tipped home by Elias Pettersson for the game-winner.
It’s been a while, but it looks like Travis Green’s decision to reunite “The Lotto Line” paid off, both on the scoresheet and with the underlying numbers.
The #Canucks were nowhere near good enough this evening, but, one genuine positive: after flipping Pettersson back to his usual line with Miller and Boeser, and dropping Horvat back with Pearson and Toffoli, Vancouver's top 2 lines outshot Vegas 5-3 over the balance of the game.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) September 2, 2020
Pettersson, Toffoli and Pearson as a line had zero shots for and nine shots against in this contest. Pettersson with Miller and Boeser went a much more respectable 50% in the shots-for battle (3 for, 3 against), and that line was on the ice for both Canucks goals.
Another guy to keep an eye on in Game 6 is Pearson. After scoring three goals and six points in the first six Canucks playoff games, he has just one empty-net goal in his last nine games.
I said it before the playoffs started, but Pearson, Horvat and Toffoli together on the second line makes the most sense for this team. Let’s see if Green sticks with that, and if that holds true in Game 6.
Does Quinn Hughes still have another gear?
This seems like an unfair question after everything Quinn Hughes has done for the Canucks in these playoffs.
It also seems plausible that one of the smartest players on the ice will just continue to get better.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) September 2, 2020
Quinn Hughes has put the NHL on alert this post-season, he's the real deal. pic.twitter.com/6jGfZ551Ad
There’s no doubt that Hughes has been physically dominated in this series. In Games 3 and 4, it looked like he was getting rid of the puck a bit faster, worried that he might take a hit or lose the puck thanks for Vegas’s ferocious forechecking.
In Game 5, he looked like the future Norris-winning defenceman who used his instincts to make plays. He helped set up Miller and Boeser for the Canucks opening goal in the second. Earlier in the period, he nearly got in alone on Robin Lehner after skating with the puck nearly 200-feet.
It’s so unfair to rely on a 20-year-old defenceman to carry your team. However, if Hughes finds another gear in this series, the Canucks certainly have a shot at the upset.