With the season continuing to dwindle down, the Canucks still themselves sitting at the same spot that they’ve been in for basically the last month. With 48 games in the books, the Canucks have 48 points in the standings which puts them right at the .500 threshold.
After easily defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-1 on Tuesday night, the Canucks simply ran out of gas against the Islanders in the second half of a back-to-back and ended up dropping the contest 6-3.
As far as the last 2 games are concerned, the main key for the team was goaltending, and while all-star goaltender Thatcher Demko did do everything asked of him, the performance of Jaroslav Halak was severely lacking to say the least.
With that, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks return to the ice on Sunday afternoon for what should be a very entertaining contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pro: Thatcher the snatcher continues to amaze
After participating in his first-ever all-star game this past weekend, Demko was thrust into action immediately upon the team’s return to the ice, as he started between the pipes against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
Like he has been doing on a consistent basis all season long, Thatcher Demko, once again, didn’t fail to impress at all.
Peppered with 36 shots from an Arizona team that came out flying in the first 20 minutes, Thatcher Demko was up to the task and turned aside 35 of them to secure a 5-1 victory for the Canucks.
Just 24 hours after that, on Wednesday night, Demko was unexpectedly forced to take over after Jaroslav Halak had a disastrous performance in the first 15 minutes of the game. Despite playing on back-to-back nights, Demko didn’t miss a beat and he turned aside 14 of the 15 shots he faced, which included a glorious stop on a 2 on 0 breakaway opportunity for J.G. Pageau.
However, for what it's worth, despite the impressive performance from Thatcher Demko giving the Canucks a chance, the team’s comeback aspirations fell short, as they dropped the game 6-3 to the New York Islanders.
If there’s one positive that fans can really be proud of this season, it is the fact that Thatcher Demko has given the team Vezina caliber goaltending. It is a long shot, but if the Canucks hope to make a last-ditch push for a playoff spot this season, they would definitely need their goaltender to step up to the task, and right now, there is no doubt that Demko is checking all of the boxes.
Con: What the Halak!
After the game against the Coyotes on Tuesday, one thing that Bruce Boudreau stressed was the fact that the Canucks weren’t good enough in the first period against the Yotes and they really need to have a good start in their games on a consistent basis.
However, in a nutshell, what happened early on in the game on Wednesday night was nothing short of a disaster.
It seemed like everything the Islanders put on net was going in, as Jaroslav Halak was lit up for 5 goals on 12 shots.
Ironically, this game also happened to be Halak’s 10th appearance of the season, which means that the veteran netminder would now cost the team $1.25 million against the cap in bonuses next season should the Canucks fail to trade it away.
From Braden Holtby to Jaroslav Halak, the Canucks just haven’t been able to get any consistent goaltending from anyone not named Thatcher Demko. After the vast number of unbelievable performances the 26-year-old has had between the pipes this season, it is imperative that Demko be awarded with the occasional night off.
However, at the same time, it is also important that the Canucks get good goaltending from the backup goalie in order to accomplish this. Unfortunately, as far as last night is concerned, that simply wasn’t the case, as Jaroslav Halak had a period that he would, without a shadow of a doubt, like to forget entirely.
Concluding thought: The home team streak against the Leafs
Over the last 2 years, one of the things that have been really interesting when it comes down to the Canucks playing the Leafs has been the fact that the home team has finished with the victory in each and every one of these games between the two teams.
In 10 games ever since the Leafs beat the Canucks 4-1 at Rogers Arena in 2019, the Canucks have won all 4 of their home games against Toronto while the Leafs have won all 6 of their home games against Vancouver.
It will be interesting to see if the Canucks can use this streak to their favor on Saturday and extend it to 11 games, by getting back to winning ways and finally hitting the 50 point threshold for this season.