Vancouver Canucks: 3 things we learned from loss to Flames

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 14: Brandon Sutter
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 14: Brandon Sutter /

Following a disappointing loss on Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks came out flat in every area against the Calgary Flames in a frustrating 5-2 loss. More (negative) lessons were learned from the game.

Well, the Vancouver Canucks are already running out of time to show the fans that 2017-18 will go better than the last two seasons.

Thus far, a new head coach, the promotions of Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen, plus some new faces in free agency haven’t been enough to help the Canucks score nor defend. Believe it or not, the power play already looks worse than last season, as if that was possible.

The Calgary Flames came out and crushed the Canucks 5-2, and the score could have easily been worse. Vancouver fell to 1-2-1 on the season, and they now embark on a five-game road trip that begins Tuesday against the red-hot Ottawa Senators.

With the loss, the Canucks haven’t left fans a lot to be excited for thus far. Here are three (not so positive) takeaways from the loss.

Alexander Edler is missed dearly

Talk about an understatement.

Alexander Edler is out four-to-six weeks after suffering a knee injury against the Winnipeg Jets. Though injuries have slowed down his production a bit, he still remains arguably the top defenceman on the roster.

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Without Edler, the Canucks had zero answers for the Flames high-flying offence.

They scored five goals on 27 shots, as Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan completely took control of the game by skating circles around the Canucks.

The Canucks lack a defenceman who can move the puck and quarterback the power play like Edler. He’s by far their best defensive player not named Chris Tanev, and there’s just no way of replacing his talents right now.

Vancouver hasn’t had a solid defensive unit in quite some time, and it’s hard to be optimistic about them turning it around any time soon.

Before Edler’s injury, Vancouver’s defence looked just fine. They shut down the Edmonton Oilers top guns, and held the suddenly high-scoring Sens to a pair of goals. But since his injury, the Canucks haven’t been able to contain the opponents top players.

It’s safe to say the Canucks really miss Edler, and his return can’t come soon enough.

“Man advantage” isn’t an advantage

The Canucks brought back Newell Brown to fix one of the league’s worst power play units. This is supposed to be an area of expertise for Brown, but the results haven’t been there yet. Vancouver had seven power plays in the game, and couldn’t score on any of them.

Not only that, but Mark Giordano scored a short-handed goalie in the first period to put the Flames up. Calgary took five penalties in the first period, and the Canucks couldn’t score nor muster quality scoring chances.

This team is running out of solutions on the power play. New coaches, new players, new combinations. And the results aren’t changing.

Vancouver may want to figure out something soon. Otherwise, opponents may legitimately feel inclined to take penalties, knowing the Canucks are just going to waste these opportunities instead of capitalizing.

Anders Nilsson deserves a chance

After a pair of strong showings to open up the season, Jacob Markstrom has fallen back to earth. You can’t blame him for the 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, as he was hung out left to try on those goals.

But Markstrom had a very disappointing game against the Flames. He surely would love to have some of the goals he surrendered back. The last one — a weak point shot by Dougie Hamilton with no traffic in front — essentially put the game away.

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Markstrom has never showed that he’s ready to be a No. 1 goalie, so why not give veteran Anders Nilsson a chance? The Canucks struggles can’t be entirely pinpointed on Markstrom, but he’s not making enough saves to keep his team in games. Let’s see what Nilsson has. At this point early in the season, what do the Canucks have to lose? Absolutely nothing.