Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from shootout loss to Maple Leafs

TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Loui Eriksson
TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Loui Eriksson /

An excellent 45 minutes went to waste for the Vancouver Canucks, who blew a 2-0 third period before falling in a shootout. Here are three things we learned from the loss.

The Vancouver Canucks have found yet another incredible way to let a win slip away. On Saturday night, it was blowing a 2-0 in the final 11:37 of regulation. They’d fall 3-2 in the shootout, letting a real big point escape their grasps.

At this point, Canucks fans are probably just cheering for losses at this point. Brock Boeser will always give them something to cheer about as he tries to win the Calder Trophy, but what other positives are there?

Nobody is surprised where the Canucks are right now, but this month-long slump is a reminder of how many flaws surround this team. On the bright side, they’re getting somewhat closer to Rasmus Dahlin. That’s worth celebrating.

Here are three other key takeaways from the loss in Toronto.

Defensive meltdowns are unbearable

For a while, it was easy to condone some of the Canucks meltdowns from their defencemen. After all, Chris Tanev is really this team’s only legitimate top-four blueliner. But after a while, it becomes kind of silly — and much harder to condone.

Look at the first Leafs goal, scored by none other than Auston Matthews:

You’ll see Boeser isn’t skating hard enough on the back check, while Sam Gagner loses his man quickly. One defender falls, and Troy Stecher doesn’t do his best job in blocking the 2-on-1 pass. Boom. Goal. Game on.

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We know head coach Travis Green doesn’t have an easy job in trying to win with a rebuilding team that’s been hit with the injury bug. But man, he has to find a way to implement a better defensive structure late in games.

There have been way too many late game meltdowns by the Canucks in the third. Don’t forget they led the Los Angeles Kings in the final from last Saturday, before allowing two quick goals to lose.

Completely inexcusable. Something has to change.

More shootout practice, please

With the loss to Toronto, the Canucks are now 0-3 in shootouts on the season. And no offence, but it’s not like their forwards are fooling the goals when they go in to shoot.

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Boeser, Thomas Vanek, the Sedins, you name it. They’re shooters, not danglers.

Gagner is their best shootout guy by far, and he undressed Frederik Andersen for the team’s lone shootout goal. But it wasn’t enough. We’ve seen way too many players skate in with little confidence in the shootout.

Too many times do we see a Canucks forward go in slowly and just shoot the puck right at the goalie for an easy save.

Coach Green really has to have his team try different moves in practice. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

Your latest reminder RE: Loui Eriksson

Well, $6 million-a-year man Loui Eriksson continues to struggle. Another reminder that the Canucks are handcuffed with one of the worst contracts in the league. Five goals and 13 points through 29 games.

Eriksson has been held pointless in his last five games. He hasn’t scored a goal since posting two against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 30. Is it just me, or is that not exactly great at all? The 32-year-old played 18:43 against the Maple Leafs, and only had two shots on goal. Hard to put the puck in the net when you aren’t shooting it towards the net.

Green has tried a lot of things. Putting Eriksson with the Sedin twins is never going to work. Putting him on a shutdown line isn’t going to do a whole lot, either.

Next: Canucks: 3 trade destinations for Erik Gudbranson

What can he do? We don’t know. Ask general manager Jim Benning to swap him for another bad contract? It may be time to consider that option. Because $6 million a season for four more years after this one doesn’t sound so appetizing.