With 54 points in 52 games, the Vancouver Canucks still hoping to gain momentum and somehow claw back into a playoff spot.
While the Canucks were dreadful in a crushing 7-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, they were able to rebound on Monday. Against the Seattle Kraken, the Canucks displayed a sound effort both offensively and defensively as they defeated their Pacific Northwestern rivals by a score of 5-2.
In order to take a deeper look at the Canucks play over their last two contests as well as to thoroughly analyze what stood out, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks return to the ice donning the fan-favorite flying skate jerseys on Thursday, as they host the flaming hot Calgary Flames for the first time this season.
Pro: The Elias Pettersson confidence factor
If there is one thing that has primarily stood out for the Canucks, not just over the last 2 games, but rather over the last month, it has been the impressive play of Elias Pettersson.
After failing to produce on a consistent basis in basically the entire first half of the season, the 23-year-old now has 17 points in his last 15 games. Furthermore, 8 of those 17 points are goals, which is quite impressive given the fact that Pettersson only rippled the mesh 6 times in his first 35 games of the season.
On Saturday night, Pettersson was the best player for the Canucks in a 7-4 loss to the Ducks. The 23-year-old was able to fire a patent powerplay blast from the right flank past John Gibson in the 2nd period on 1 of his 3 shots registered on goal. In addition to that, Pettersson also put up a couple of assists, which combined with his goal, gave him his first 3 point night of the season.
On Monday against the Kraken, while the Swede failed to find the back of the net, he did register 3 shots on goal for the 2nd game in a row and was able to pick up a couple of assists to extend his point streak to 3 games and counting.
Con: Canucks surrendering too many high-danger scoring chances
While the Canucks were able to outshoot the Kraken by a substantial amount on Monday night, there were numerous occasions where they needed Thatcher Demko to come up big in order to thwart high-scoring chances.
While the 26-year-old netminder was undoubtedly up to the task in this game as he is on most nights, the pressure was simply too much against the Ducks on Saturday.
In the game against Anaheim, despite only facing 25 shots, the Canucks gave up 7 goals for just the 2nd time this season, with 5 being scored on Demko and 2 being scored on Halak.
Over the last 2 games, in particular, the main cause of this problem for the Canucks has been their lack of defensive coverage in the high-scoring areas.
On Saturday night, the Canucks defense was simply subpar in front of the net, as they could neither tie up the sticks of players in the high slot nor could they box them out. Instead, due to the lack of defensive coverage in these high-octane scoring areas, the Canucks surrendered 3 goals off of deflections, and 4 goals from chances right in the slot.
As far as Monday night is concerned, both goals scored by the Kraken were a direct result of the Canucks’ lack of defensive coverage off the rush.
Early in the first period, Tyler Myers failed to gather a loose puck outside the blue line which allowed the Kraken to get a 2-on-1. On the rush, Myers committed himself to the pass much earlier than he should have, giving way to Marcus Johansson to pull the puck around Myers and feed it over to former Canuck, Jarred McCann, for an incredibly easy tap-in.
Similarly, on the Kraken’s second goal, the Canucks failed to recognize the obvious threat in the neutral zone and allowed Mark Giordano to get behind them on a breakaway. After receiving the puck, the veteran defenseman made no mistake beating Thatcher Demko for a shorthanded tally, putting the Kraken up 2-1.
If the Canucks intend to embark on a run and string together a plethora of wins in order to have a chance for the playoffs, they must increase their level of defensive coverage, especially in the dangerous areas. Something they haven’t done a very good job in doing particularly over their last couple of games.
Concluding Thought: Can Vancouver snap the winning streak of the “Calgary Canucks?”
Interestingly, there are many storylines associated with the Canucks’ next game, such as the return of the flying skate jerseys, the first visit of Tyler Toffoli to Rogers Arena as a member of the Flames, as well as the return of former Canucks Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Erik Gudbranson, and Brad Richardson.
However, perhaps the most intriguing topic of all is the fact that the Flames are currently enjoying a 10-game winning streak, and they will have the chance to make a franchise record by extending it to 11 games when they take on the Canucks on Thursday.
On the other hand though, what happens if the Canucks beat the Flames in this game? What will that do for Vancouver’s confidence going forward? How will that impact the Flames in their quest of winning the conference down the stretch? Let me know in the comments down below!