Vancouver Canucks fall to Blues as Christmas break comes at right time

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Loui Eriksson
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Loui Eriksson /

Following yet another uninspiring loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks get a much-needed Christmas break as they try to regain their focus.

The Vancouver Canucks now get to spend some quality time with their family members and friends, and the Christmas break couldn’t come at a more opportune time. They won’t play again until Thursday, when they host the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.

Heading into the Christmas break, the Canucks have lost four-straight, and eight out of their last nine overall. And it’s not just the losses, but the way Vancouver has been dominated all over the ice.

Jacob Markstrom made 31 saves against an elite Blues squad, but the Canucks could only provide him with one goal on the night. On the bright side, it came from rookie sensation Brock Boeser — who now has 20 goals on the season.

But the Canucks once again looked lost all over the ice. They turned the puck over 11 times (the Blues did so just twice), lost 56 percent of faceoffs and went 0-for-2 on the power play. Boeser was the only player providing any offence.

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The Canucks won their first two games in December, sitting nicely at 14-10-4. They are 15-16-5 heading into the Christmas holiday.

With the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers winning on Saturday, Vancouver is now the fifth-worst team in the NHL.

There’s nothing in this game we didn’t learn that we already know. The Canucks miss Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. They badly need shutdown centre Brandon Sutter back, and Chris Tanev‘s absence is felt more and more each game.

It’s further evidence that this team has such a long way to go during its rebuild. Playoff contenders don’t fall apart once three top forwards and one defencemen go down. It’s a next-man-up system, where players come in and do their job.

The Canucks simply can’t score goals, and you can only blame the goaltending so much. Yes, Markstrom and Anders Nilsson have regressed after both posting strong performances in October and November. But it’d be hard for any NHL goalie to win with this banged-up, inconsistent Canucks blue line.

Head coach Travis Green is going to want to change up the lines a bit. Perhaps Nikolay Goldobin should see top-six minutes. Perhaps it’s time to reform that Markus Granlund and Loui Eriksson shutdown line.

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The last two weeks have been frustrating for the Canucks, to say the least. But they have four days off, and it buys time for players like Sutter and Tanev to rest up and get healthy soon. The Canucks can enjoy the brief Christmas break, because they really need it more than ever as they try to get on track again.