Despite holding a 3-1 lead late in the second period, the Vancouver Canucks fell apart and lost an overtime heart-breaker to the St. Louis Blues. We break down three key takeaways from the loss.
The Vancouver Canucks have to be pleased about their effort against the top team in the Western Conference, but blowing a 3-1 lead and losing into overtime limits the optimism of how well they performed.
On one hand, Anders Nilsson was once again sharp — not to be blamed for any of the goals that came via awful positioning from his defencemen. Markus Granlund busted his slump with a short-handed goal, while Brock Boeser and Sven Baertschi also lit the lamp. The Killer B’s Line is still surging.
But on the flip side, the blue line once again continued to falter. Too many sloppy turnovers, careless penalties (Ben Hutton had two delay of game penalties), and all four Blues goals came from the slot — the most vulnerable area on the ice. Simply bad positioning, and Chris Tanev‘s return can’t come soon enough.
We already knew that, though. Here are three other takeaways from Vancouver’s 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis.
The Canucks boast one of the best road records at the NHL, sitting pretty at 6-3-0. This includes wins against top teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild.
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But Vancouver continues to play sloppy all-around hockey at Rogers Arena. This includes losses to not-so-great teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Vegas Golden Knights.
They’ve also put up some very porous efforts, yet even after playing a strong effort tonight, the Canucks couldn’t come up with the two points.
Only two teams have fewer home wins than the Canucks, the Arizona Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres. Yet the Canucks are right in the playoff race. Go figure.
The Canucks now embark on a six-game road trip, which apparently is good news for this team. There’s no problem with playing well outside of your own arena. But to play this poorly on home ice? Concerning and comes without explanation.
Loui Eriksson is coming around
$36 million man Loui Eriksson is still looking for his first goal of the season, but things are coming along nicely. He had two assists on Saturday night, setting up Granlund’s beautiful shorty. Eriksson played a tremendous two-way game, and was arguably Vancouver’s best forward on the night.
Eriksson was excellent on the penalty kill, staying on his check and not giving them any room to work with. He set up a handful of other scoring chances, but no such luck.
That’s now two great outings from Eriksson in as many games. He’s been hit with bad luck, and is bound to start scoring more. Last season, he looked lost and uncomfortable in Willie Desjardins’ system.
But Travis Green is getting the most out of his $6 million-a-year guy. The stats aren’t showing it, but Eriksson is finally playing like a productive forward. Judging by his 7.5 shooting percentage as a Canuck (per Hockey Reference), Eriksson has just been completely unlikely. He’ll start scoring more, at any time now.
Too many defensive breakdowns
As someone who was at the game to get a firsthand look, allow me to tell you how easy it was for the Blues to enter the slot area and generate their scoring chances. It’s like playing against the computer on easy mode in NHL 18.
As said above, all four Blues goals came right in the slot area — three of them with a player all alone. The overtime winner from Brayden Schenn was a great shot with two men on him, so we won’t fault the defence there.
And boy, we all saw how sloppy the play in Vancouver’s zone was against Vegas on Thursday. We know it’s not easy without your top defenceman, but there are just way too many mistakes that don’t belong in the NHL.
Vancouver is going to have to learn from their last two games. The blue line has to turn the puck over less, and they have to protect the slot/front of the net. Those are the high-danger scoring areas, and that’s where other teams will make you pay the price.