With just under a month remaining in the regular season, the Canucks continue their fight to ensure that these remaining 14 games aren’t the final ones they play for this season.
Currently sitting 4 points out of a playoff spot with 73 points in 68 games, the Canucks embark on a stretch that includes 10 home games over the next month as they look to get on a run and somehow work their way above the playoff bar.
On Saturday, the Canucks were in a do-or-die situation as they fought a battle on the road against the Dallas Stars. Courtesy of yet another spectacular performance from Thatcher Demko, the team was able to secure a 4-1 win in what was arguably the most significant game for the Canucks in the 2021-22 NHL campaign.
The team’s next game which was against the St Louis Blues on Monday also ended up finishing with a 4-1 score. However, it was the Canucks who were on the losing end this time as the team simply couldn’t find a way to get much past rookie Blues goaltender, Ville Husso.
With a brief recap completed, let’s take a look at 1 pro and 1 con, as well as a concluding thought before the Canucks take on the Blues yet again at Rogers Arena tonight.
Pro: Elias Pettersson playing with confidence
One thing that the Canucks would definitely be pleased with over the last 2 games has been the performance of Elias Pettersson in both these contests.
On Saturday against Dallas, the 23-year-old blasted home a powerplay marker to tie the game at 1 in the 2nd period, before sniping a wicked wrist shot top corner for what ended up being the game-winner early in the 3rd period.
Absolutely perfect snipe from Elias Pettersson using Pavelski as a screen pic.twitter.com/u7jkg3YmIK— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 27, 2022
The Swedish phenom finished the game with 4 shots on goal and a +2 rating, as his two tallies brought his goal total up to 20 goals for the season.
On Monday against St Louis, while Pettersson didn’t put up anything offensively, he was certainly buzzing all over the ice and did generate quite a few scoring opportunities for the team.
There is no doubt that the Canucks would need their top players to be at their best as they look to make the playoffs here in this final stretch of the season, as as far as the last 2 games are concerned, Elias Pettersson is certainly giving fans some reasons for optimism.
Con: What’s wrong with Conor Garland?
Despite the fact that this season started in a way no Canucks fan was happy with, one of the bright spots for the team early on was the play of Conor Garland.
In his first 6 games in the blue and white, the 26-year-old scored at least a point in each of these contests with his new team, and he was definitely one of Vancouver’s best offensive weapons in the first quarter of the season.
However, that offensive production has pretty much dissipated over the last considerable stretch, as Garland has now gone scoreless in 15 straight games, with his most recent goal coming on February 24 in the Canucks’ 7-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
As a matter of fact, even Bruce Boudreau criticized Garland’s recent play after the team’s 4-1 loss to the Blues on Monday. Here’s what the head coach said after the game.
“I think he’s pressing really hard to score because he hasn’t scored in a while, but the idea is you can’t do it all by yourself when you’re pressing. You’ve got to use your teammates and I think he could’ve passed the puck, he carried it a little too much, but he was one of the forwards I didn’t think had a very good game.”
Concluding thought: Will Demko’s impressive record against the Blues continue?
Ever since coming into the league in 2019, Thatcher Demko has started against the Blues three times and given up a combined total of just 6 goals in those starts despite being peppered with 110 shots.
Interestingly, despite this being the third and final time the Canucks and Blues will faceoff this season, Demko has yet to start a single game against the team.
The Canucks played the Blues for the first time this season back in January, and Michael Dipietro got the start in that game due to Demko and Halak being in Covid-19 protocol at the time. The last time these two teams played was obviously on Monday when Jaroslav Halak got the start against his former team.
As such, assuming that Demko gets the start against the Blues tonight, it will interesting to see if the red-hot goaltender can continue his impressive play against the Blues and help the Canucks get back in the winning column as they begin this final stretch run for the year.