The losses of Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi continue to hurt the Vancouver Canucks, who were increasingly sloppy in a woeful 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Here’s what we learned.
Well, the Vancouver Canucks will want to erase Monday night’s awful 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets out of their minds quickly. After all, it’s safe to say this probably was their most disappointing outing of 2017-18 so far.
The Canucks are without Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi for the next few weeks, and nobody but Brock Boeser has been able to generate much offence. Normally, a road loss to a team as dominant as Winnipeg doesn’t, but there were too many mistakes committed by the Canucks in this one.
Believe it or not, the Canucks are now 12th in the Western Conference — now two points behind the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot. With talented but underachieving teams like the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks also on the outside looking in, the playoff aspirations are quickly disappearing in Vancouver.
That’s for another time, though. Let’s take a look at three takeaways from the Canucks’ awful 5-1 loss.
Where’s the scoring depth?
Loui Eriksson was once enjoying an apparent renaissance season, but he’s now gone pointless in his last five games.
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Though each Sedin twin assisted on Boeser’s goal, they each have just 18 points in 31 games on the season. Getting back to that 45-50 point range is not very likely at this stage.
Big things were expected for Jake Virtanen, Sam Gagner and Markus Granlund — but all three were held pointless tonight. Those three guys have just 11 goals combined on the season. Remember, Gagner and Granlund were both near 20-goal men last year.
For the Canucks, it’s obvious that their offence revolves around the first line. If they’re not healthy or not producing, the Canucks fall apart. As it turns out, Horvat, Baertschi and Boeser were masking this team’s flaws.
It’s clear many of these Canucks forwards aren’t working out, and the team has to start finding ways to increase the depth. There is a draft in 2018, and prospects Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen just might be in the NHL by 2019. Time for optimism, I suppose.
Playoff hopes slipping away
We know many Canucks fans are hoping this team tanks for Rasmus Dahlin, so some are okay with this recent slump. But there’s no denying the Canucks have been fun to watch over the first two months of 2017-18.
Unfortunately, this team is starting to repeat its form of the last two seasons. That is, they stay in the playoff race but start to really slow down and fall out of the playoff picture by the new year. Well, 2017 is almost over — in case you didn’t notice.
Without Horvat and Baertschi, the Canucks simply aren’t capable of generating much offence. They also don’t have a shutdown defensive system in place, so they can’t play like the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks and squeeze out tight wins without top players.
We’re just being realistic here. With the Canucks having too many injuries, too many flaws and a lack of depth, their early playoff aspirations are slipping. And fast.
Anders Nilsson needs more starts
This loss doesn’t fall on Jacob Markstrom. Yes, that opening goal he surrendered to Dmitry Kulikov was one he’d love to have back. But truth be told, no NHL goalie can put up a Vezina-like season with this Canucks defence right now.
However, Nilsson has outperformed Markstrom for much of the season. He’s 6-3-1 with a 2.71 goals against average and .921 save percentage, and has two shutouts. Markstrom has struggled as of late, and is now 8-10-3 with a 2.56 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
There’s no reason for Markstrom to be getting the majority of starts over Nilsson. Both goalies have kept their teams in games despite not receiving much help, but Nilsson has been better and far more consistent.
Again, Markstrom doesn’t deserve the blame for recent losses. But if you have a proven goalie in Nilsson, perhaps head coach Travis Green should let him start two or three consecutive games? He has nothing to lose now.