It’s the same thing only different. Last year, asked repeatedly early on in the Canucks season about his own slow start, Elias Pettersson often used the word “frustrated”.
The word reared its ugly head last night postgame after the Canucks blew a two-goal lead in the third period in a 5-4 loss to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.
“We got the crowd into it, and then let them score one,” Pettersson explained, “kind of changed the momentum quick and then they scored another one. So it’s … I don’t know, we just can’t let that happen, it’s been happening way too many times this season … it’s just frustrating.”
Vancouver’s blowing-leads ailment has been acute.
“We don’t really know it’s 60-minute game yet, we still think it’s 50 minutes long,” Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said after practice Tuesday. “And the breakdowns, I think what we need is we’ve got to get mentally tough when we get those leads because it’s been frustrating when you know you’ve blown seven 3rd-period leads, and good teams maybe blow one or two in the course of a year.”
The Canucks set the stage in October. In the first three games of the season, Vancouver blew a three-nothing lead against the Edmonton Oilers on the season’s opening night, blew a two-nothing lead in Philadelphia three nights later, and two nights after that coughed up a 4-2 lead they had entering the third period against the Washington Capitals.
The next night, October 18th, the Canucks took a two-nothing first period lead only to lose 4-3 in overtime. Two nights later they had a single goal lead entering the third period and lost in overtime again, this time against the Minnesota Wild.
Take away the blown leads and the season looks different, Boudreau points out. Then again, ‘if and but’s were candies and nuts, it would be Christmas every day.’
“That would mean you know, we’d have 12 or 13 wins right now,” Boudreau said Tuesday. “And that would put us … everybody would be saying things differently about us, but it’s not. If we ever can, can find that, that potion that cures defending the lead, then I think you’ll see us winning an awful lot of games.”
Lack of mental toughness might be one thing, another might be the fact they’re just not good enough mentally and/or physically or system execution-wise when the opposition turns up the heat.