Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from 4-2 loss to Flames

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 9: Garnet Hathaway
CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 9: Garnet Hathaway /

The Vancouver Canucks played a near-perfect 40 minutes against the Calgary Flames, but everything fell apart in the third period. Here are three takeaways from a crushing 4-2 loss.

Saturday night was by far the most important game of the Vancouver Canucks season up to date, so they didn’t exactly pick the right time to let the mistakes out.

Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser supplied the goals, Anders Nilsson did all he could (29 saves on 32 shots, many of them highlight reels), and the blue line did an excellent job neutralizing Calgary’s high-powered offence.

Leading 2-1 with eight and a half minutes to go, the Canucks managed to allow three goals and let two crucial points slip away. It didn’t help that the Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks also won on Thursday night, with the Canucks now out of the playoff picture.

Vancouver will now travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets on Monday. But for now, let’s dive into three takeaways from the Canucks 4-2 loss in Calgary.

“D” for disappointing defence

No matter how the rest of 2017-18 goes, it’s becoming more and more evident that the Canucks are going to need to add a couple of shutdown defenders in the offseason. Just look at mistake on Matthew Tkachuk‘s game-tying goal.

The Canucks then had multiple chances to clear the puck out, but instead Sam Bennett had all day to pot home the game-winner:

Moving on…

Centre problems

The Canucks are clearly missing Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter. General manager Jim Benning was so desperate to fill the voids, he traded young defenceman Jordan Subban for fourth-liner Nic Dowd.

But once again, the Canucks got very little production from their centres on Saturday night. Henrik Sedin, Markus Granlund, Michael Chaput and Dowd combined for three shots on goal. Granlund had all of them, and he got the only point between the four centres.

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Replacing Horvat isn’t possible with this current roster, but the Canucks have the depth to offset it in some way. Sam Gagner also hasn’t been able to regain his form since moving to centre, so he’s no long an option for head coach Travis Green.

If one of the centres can’t step up while Horvat is out, then the Canucks can forget about the playoffs. At least Team Tank For Dahlin will be happy, but that shouldn’t be the goal for this team.

Third period woes becoming costly

The Canucks are currently in a very tight playoff race, where every point matters. But they let two big points slip away here, while handing two of them to a division rival. Really, the Canucks have been very leaky in close games over the final period this season.

On Nov. 26, the Canucks blew a pair of third period leads against the New York Rangers before losing in a shootout. A week earlier, the Canucks led 3-1 over the St. Louis Blues before dropping that game in overtime.

They also blew a third period lead to the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 10 before losing in a shootout. On Nov. 6, they allowed the Detroit Red Wings to score the game-winner with 1:14 left.

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There, that’s seven points they could have had that were lost because of sloppy play in the third period. Instead of challenging the Kings for the Pacific Division, they’re now outside of the playoff race. This team simply has to adjust its third period game plan, because whatever they’re trying to do isn’t working.