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7 Canucks thoughts after split with Jets: To hell with the loser mentality

A split just ain’t good enough chief, unless your loser mentality is on point.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Adam Gaudette #96, Nils Hoglander #36 and Jake Virtanen #18 of the Vancouver Canucks are all smiles at the bench following a first period goal against the Winnipeg Jets by teammate Elias Pettersson #40 (not shown) at the Bell MTS Place on March 2, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Moral victory SZN is over.

Hell, the season itself is pretty much over.

The Canucks are now two games away from the halfway point in this brutal, bizarre and colossal disappointment of a season.

Speaking of disappointments, here are my thoughts after the Canucks split with Winnipeg.

The Vancouver Kings

After two straight blowouts to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canucks have been the sixth-best team at controlling shot attempts over their last 11 games.

In those 11 games, they have three wins and one of the worst on-ice shooting percentages in hockey.

Their performance over the last month reminds me of the 2019-20 Los Angeles Kings. Last season, the Kings were one of the best possession teams in hockey, but their lack of talent led them to have the second-worst on-ice shooting percentage in hockey.

So congratulations Vancouver for becoming the 2020-21 version of the LA Kings...

It’s not just us...

If you think the Canucks are having trouble scoring over the last month, maybe it’ll make you feel better to hear that they're not alone.

Here are the bottom-five teams in on-ice shooting percentage since February 8th (A.K.A... the day the Canucks “turned” their season around with a moral victory against Toronto)

27. Vancouver: 5.63% (11 GP, 3-6-2)
28. New Jersey Devils: 4.95% (9 GP, 3-6-0)
29. Nashville Predators: 4.39% (11 GP, 5-6-0)
30. Dallas Stars: 4.32% (8 GP, 1-5-2)
31. Buffalo Sabres: 3.59% (10 GP, 2-7-1)

That didn’t make you feel better? Comfort was never my thing.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Jake Virtanen #18 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a first period stoppage in play against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell MTS Place on March 1, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Virtanen ramblings

Did anyone else find it strange that the Anaheim Ducks were reportedly going to trade Langley’s Danton Heinen for Virtanen?

Heinen at least has some bottom-six production this season (17 GP, 3-3-6), and his defensive profile is better than Virtanen’s.

These rumours do bode well for the Canucks though. It means that old hockey men are still thirsty for size and speed...even if those said skills translate to diddly-squat on the ice.

For those that like some trade talk, I proposed another Virtanen trade scenario on The Quickie that (I think) makes more sense than the proposed Heinen for Jake swap.

The worst forward depth in hockey

Since February 1st, the Canucks top line of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller have combined for seven goals and 21 even-strength points.

The rest of the Canucks forwards (13 guys in total) have a combined six goals and 16 points.

Half of those goals are from Bo Horvat.

So to recap, in 15 games, that’s three goals and 13 points at even-strength from 12 players not named Pettersson, Miller, Boeser or Horvat.

Part of it is bad luck (how has Adam Gaudette failed to score recently?), but a lot of it is just bad contracts and poor roster construction coming back to bite this team in the ass.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
Brock Boeser #6 and Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate a third period empty net goal against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell MTS Place on March 1, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Wasting talent

The above point is why the Canucks have to be considered one of the biggest disappointments in hockey.

It’s why ownership needs to consider a change at general manager during the offseason.

The Canucks are wasting a triumphant comeback season from Elias Pettersson. They’re wasting a season in which Quinn Hughes could become the first Canucks defenceman to lead the NHL in points from the blue line.

They’re also wasting away Brock Boeser’s most dominant NHL season to date.

To back Benning at this point when he is nearly SEVEN years into the job just doesn't make much sense.

The loser mentality

To root for a Benning firing (if you’re sadistic enough to do such a thing) then you’re probably rooting for this team to lose.

Although a change at the top is likely needed at this point, I just find it really, REALLY tough to root for this team to lose games.

Not this year.

Not in this division.

J.D. isn’t wrong...but to cheer for the Canucks to lose in the one year we have a Canadian division is one of the saddest scenarios I can think of.

I’m all for the fugazi miracle run...

Is the miracle run possible?

The odds are unlikely.

One of the most frustrating aspects about the Canucks latest run of futility is that they’re wasting some glorious opportunities to move up in the division.

The Montreal Canadiens are 3-6-2 since their last victory against the Canucks on February 2nd. During that span, Carey Price has literally been one of the worst goalies in hockey.

The Calgary Flames are also in a tailspin, going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Things don’t look great for them now that Jacob Markstrom is injured, coupled with an offence that’s failed to click.

I also mentioned last week that the Oilers have been lucky thanks to a high shooting percentage and an incredible run from Mike Smith. That can’t last forever.

None of that probably matters for the Canucks, which is sad because this division is ripe with flawed teams.