Vancouver Canucks: 3 things we learned from 5-0 loss to Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Barclay Goodrow
SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Barclay Goodrow /
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The Vancouver Canucks followed up their worst performance of the season against the Anaheim Ducks with an even more awful effort against the San Jose Sharks. Here’s what we learned in the 5-0 defeat.

After exceeding expectations through the first month of the season, the Vancouver Canucks have inexplicably been doing just about everything possible to lose hockey games. There is very little offence coming from outside the top line, and the defence has been cracking since losing Chris Tanev to injury earlier this week.

Every flaw on this Canucks team was exposed by the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. This is not the same Sharks team that swept the Canucks in the five-game season series last year. The Sharks don’t have Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns isn’t anywhere close to last year’s Norris Trophy form and Martin Jones got the night off.

So the Canucks have now lost five of their last seven games, and now sit 10th in the Western Conference. Here are three things we learned from Vancouver’s 5-0 loss.

Canucks are who we thought they were?

Let’s be honest, very few expected the Canucks to be a playoff team in 2018. Not only that, but envisioning them to be in the playoff race in the second half also seemed like a stretch.

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That’s why many got caught up in excitement when this team started out 8-5-2.

But now, the Canucks are starting to play like a team that many of us projected to see before the season started. Jacob Markstrom is already showing signs of fatigue and won’t be able to steal very many games on his own.

The offence is predictably struggling to score, and the defence really isn’t reliable unless Tanev is on the ice. Frustrating, but true.

Furthermore, teams like the Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames,  Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild are starting to regain their forms after slow starts. At this rate, it’s hard to envision the Canucks outlasting those teams in the playoff race.

Unless they can start turning it around, the Canucks will wind up being the team many thought they would be in 2018.

Top-paid forwards aren’t scoring

Daniel and Henrik Sedin make a combined $14 million. Brandon Sutter makes $4.375 million, Loui Eriksson makes $6 million and Sam Gagner makes $3.15 million, per CapFriendly.com. With all that money tied up into five players, you’d like to think they’d be earning every penny of their respective contracts.

But the Sedins have combined for four goals and 13 points. Sutter has one goal on the season, Gagner has two and Eriksson has one assist in five games so far. To put it into perspective, the Canucks top three scorers in Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Brock Boeser have a combined $8.275 million cap hit.

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We all knew the Sedins were on the decline, and they’re at least in contract years and won’t be taking up ample cap space beyond this season. But Sutter, Eriksson and Gagner are all under long-term deals, and we haven’t seen either of them perform in reflection to their salaries.

This is the last thing a rebuilding team should have: Plenty of veteran forwards making a lot of cash without scoring. It’s on either head coach Travis Green to jumpstart their games, or for general manager Jim Benning to find his way out of some of the contracts.

Power play is really hurting Canucks

The Canucks had five opportunities on the power play yesterday, and failed to score yet again. They now have a PP percentage of just 14.1 percent (27th overall in the NHL), according to ESPN.com.

So this is what the Canucks have done to get better? Power play guru Newell Brown was brought back to fix this up. Vancouver brought in guys like Gagner and Boeser to score on the man advantage, and it still hasn’t happened.

Vancouver’s inability to score on the power play is just costing them in so many ways. The Canucks are failing to capitalize on chances to get back into games. They’re giving the other team a reason to take as many penalties as possible, knowing the Canucks aren’t effective on the man advantage.

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As long as the Canucks continue to struggle on the power play, they’ll continue to falter in the NHL standings. It’s that simple.