Bottom line, the Canucks picked up two points in the standings with their 6-3 win at home over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. The bad news; both the head coach and the players know they got away with one, to the tune of playing 20 minutes instead of 60.
“Great period,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said of Vancouver’s first 20-minutes. “Probably one of our best periods in a month. It was awesome. Aggressive, tracking, not too many mistakes, I just thought everyone … we were connected.”
Not so much after that.
“We didn’t play the right way, take the two points, but it’s a learned lesson,” Tocchet said of the 2nd and 3rd periods. “I did not like our final 40, I hope the guys didn’t. We won the game, loved the first period, so that’s basically my assessment of the game.”
“We’re happy we won, but if we want to get better as a team, we’ve got to evaluate honestly,” Canucks centre J.T. Miller said.
It’s an ongoing positive sign when the coaches and players all come to the same critical realization.
Canucks forward Phil Di Giuseppe left the game after just 2:13 of ice time after suffering a lower body injury. Coach Tocchet made it sound like PDG will not be back for awhile.
The 30-year-old lefty forward established himself as one of Tocchet’s favourites as the season got started, but his play has gradually slipped, particularly with his offence. PDG has three goals and five assists in 32 games this season.
The injury apparently isn’t that devastating if one listens to the coach’s plans. Tocchet indicated as if three, four, or five Canucks forwards will be rotating through ice time and opportunities until someone establishes themselves with strong play.
The latest in that rotation will be Linus Karlsson, called up on Wednesday from the Abbotsford Canucks. The 24-year-old, right-shot, Swedish forward picked up his first three games of NHL experience earlier this season. He failed to tally a point, but is just short of being a point-a-game player in the AHL.
The Canucks travelled on Wednesday and begin their seven-game road trip in St. Louis against the Blues on Thursday night. The journey then includes stops against the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Only one team in NHL or NBA history has ever won every game on a road trip of seven games or longer, and that was the Seattle Kraken (7-and-0) a year ago this month. Although a highly unlikely feat to repeat for the Canucks, one never knows. The first stop features a Blues team with a record of 18-17-and-1 record following an in-season coaching change.
The Rangers and Islanders games are back-to-back and the Canucks don’t have more than one day off between any of the matches.
D-man Carson Soucy will be back in the line-up at some point during the trip, likely replacing Noah Juulsen.
— Soucy’s Imminent Return Will Juggle Canucks D-Corps