Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from 3-1 loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 9: Devante Smith-Pelly
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 9: Devante Smith-Pelly /

The game was not as close as the score indicated. The Vancouver Canucks found another way to hit rock bottom, and the disastrous 2017-18 found a new chapter. Here are three takeaways from their 3-1 loss.

When Daniel Sedin scored the game’s first goal, you couldn’t help but hope it would spark the Vancouver Canucks. But this team somehow played much worse after gaining a rare lead, and fell 3-1 to the Washington Capitals.

It’s now the fifth consecutive loss for the Canucks. They have also dropped 13 of their last 15 games. For those of you bad at math, that’s really, really bad.

We knew losing Bo Horvat would be a major blow for the offence. But it doesn’t mean Loui Eriksson should go 17 straight games without scoring a goal. Yup, $6 million a year and he hasn’t scored in well over a month.

For some reason, this is feeling worse than the last three non-playoff seasons in Vancouver. That’s despite Brock Boeser in line to win the Calder Trophy. Amazing. Now, let’s get to our three takeaways from this ugly loss.

Michael Del Zotto isn’t working out

Looking to add more speed and puck-moving skill to their roster, the Canucks gave Michael Del Zotto a two-year deal worth $6 million. Good on general manager Jim Benning for trying to make a move, but it’s not working out. At all.

Del Zotto had an awful game, posting a minus-two rating for the night. He really was lost and out of position too many times.

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The analytics aren’t lying. Coming into this game, Del Zotto owned a woeful 45.0 Corsi For percentage. He has a relative Goals For Percentage of -6.75, according to Corsica. His Expected Goal differential of -0.04 isn’t working, either.

Erik Gudbranson shouldn’t be the only defenceman the Canucks shop at the trade deadline.

Lots of teams could use Del Zotto’s nice burst of speed and ability to rush the puck up ice. Benning has to own up to the fact that this project isn’t working out.

Trade Del Zotto, bring up a defenceman from the Utica Comets.  Doesn’t hurt to clear out his remaining $3 million salary so that the Canucks can chase a different blueliner in free agency.

About that Nic Dowd guy…

Head coach Travis Green has made Nic Dowd one of his favorites, and nobody really knows why that’s the case. Dowd has one goal on the season, and has taken 14 penalty minutes in just 13 games. Not good.

Dowd wasn’t much of an impact player on Tuesday night, either. He didn’t have any blocks, takeaways or shots on goal. He only dished out one hit, and was on the ice for two Washington goals.

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And the Canucks gave up a young blueliner with decent upside in Jordan Subban? Dowd is a hard worker, but he is who we all expected him to be. There was no excuse to play 15:47 — more than Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund and Eriksson.

Dowd should be playing on the fourth line, where his grit and physicality can be used. But giving him more ice time than top-six forwards is a bit much. And few Canucks fans — if any — have changed their opinions on the Subban-for-Dowd swap.

This may be rock bottom

Have the Canucks officially hit rock bottom? Because it’s truly difficult to envision it getting much worse from here out. Losing five in a row isn’t easy to do in the NHL, but it’s even harder to lose 13 of your last 15.

And when teams go on long losing stretches, they at least find ways to improve in play. The Canucks couldn’t capitalize much despite registering 38 shots on goal. They also gave up 36, which isn’t exactly acceptable.

The Canucks can’t score, they can barely defend and Jacob Markstrom is not Carey Price or Andrei Vasilevskiy. Translation: Markstrom isn’t the goalie that can steal you games, even when the skaters aren’t on their games.

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It’s tough to see how the Canucks can hit a deeper rock bottom. But if they do, it at least helps their chances of winning the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes.

*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference and unless otherwise noted*