A team in serious contention for the playoffs simply can’t make the mistakes the Vancouver Canucks make, whether it’s horrid line changes, blown coverage, or shaky goaltending. There is no consistency from game to game.
The latest example came Saturday night as the Canucks scrambled around in a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at a dead quiet Rogers Arena. Vancouver’s only goal came late, somewhat meaningless in its impact on the game, but important in that it was captain Bo Horvat’s 22nd of the season. Every goal he scores makes the contract/trade talks regarding Horvat all the more tantalizing.
“If you look at any game when we’ve had success, we get the puck behind them and we beat them below the circles,” Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said postgame. “We’re not a team that comes up and scores a lot of three-on-two pretty goals with the fourth man coming up, it’s a grinding kind of team that works hard to get goals. That’s what our identity is supposed to be and when we don’t do that we have struggled, we have a hard time getting scoring chances.”
The Canucks were without forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser due to illness. ‘Petey’ is the team’s leading scorer with 34 points.
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes said of Pettersson postgame. “Anytime you take a guy like that out of the lineup, I mean, you’re probably taking away at least two Grade-A chances a game that he’s creating, and also in the D-zone, he’s been probably just as good as anyone on our team. So yeah, he’s obviously a vital part of the team, and take a guy out like that you’re gonna miss him, but at the same time, we still have a lot of good players in here and we’ve gotta play better than that.”
The Jets are in a similar if not worse boat. They had two players returning from absences on Saturday night and have six more regulars out with injury.
“Again, we’re not going to find any excuses, we’re going to find solutions and when you say that you’ve gotta have different guys stepping up and making a major contribution,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said after the game. “Two goals from the D and Axel’s (Jonsson Fjallby) goal, and that goal by (Sam) Gagner early in the third period, that was huge, it gave us a little more momentum and gave us a bit of a cushion. He hadn’t scored in a awhile so that was good to see.”
The Jets are back at it taking on the Seattle Kraken at 5 pm pacific down the road at the Climate Pledge Arena. The Canucks host the heavy St. Louis Blues on Monday night.