Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from 4-1 loss to the Jets

WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 18: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks and Brendan Lemieux #48 of the Winnipeg Jets exchange words during a second period stoppage in play at the Bell MTS Place on October 18, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 18: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks and Brendan Lemieux #48 of the Winnipeg Jets exchange words during a second period stoppage in play at the Bell MTS Place on October 18, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images) /

A lot to unpack here. The Vancouver Canucks finish .500 on the road trip, falling to the Winnipeg Jets, 4-1. Video games, responding to hits and more.

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end. The Vancouver Canucks completed their first road trip of the season in Winnipeg after a surprising wins in Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Vancouver kept the game close through the first two periods, but the flood gates opened for Winnipeg, scoring three times in the final frame.

Head coach Travis Green operates on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, riding the hot hand in net. Unfortunately for Anders Nilsson, he wasn’t as sharp, letting in four goals on 32 shots. He was outplayed by Connor Hellebuyck, who turned away 26 of the Canucks’ 27 shots.

For Nilsson, it’s hard to predict much right now. Last season, he was lights out early on, but played dismally from December thereafter. October, as Bob McKenzie puts it, is a mirage. We make too much and too little of the early games and Canucks fans are all too familiar with the ride of a good start that plummets hard. However, the games are more fun to watch, especially with Elias Pettersson in the lineup. Pettersson won’t be playing Saturday, but hopefully he is back soon. With that, here are the three takeaways from last night’s game.

Chalk one up for video games (sort of)

Patrik Laine did make the video game controversy interesting when he joked that he would stop if the Jets were as bad as the Canucks. After tonight’s game, the Jets are 4-2-1 and Vancouver is 4-3. Again, it’s October, so we can’t say anything definitive. However, let’s just say Winnipeg can and will show better and the Canucks are hoping they haven’t already peaked for the season.

More from The Canuck Way

The Finnish Sniper drew first blood, beating out Anders Nilsson. Because the story writes itself, none other than Bo Horvat was the one to tie the game in the second period, championing his cause against the interactive form of entertainment. Kidding aside, Horvat’s goal was pretty sweet. Using his signature toe drag, he turned a bobbled puck into a knuckler to beat Hellebuyck.

But the video game king (seriously, look up Laine’s Fortnite stats) got the last laugh as his team downed the visitors to win the game. Although, the Canucks went 3-3 on the trip, so maybe there is something to this video game thing. Then again, when Pettersson got hurt, there was a rather tepid response, so it’s hard to say if the team is a tighter knit group regardless of the road policy.

The Canucks were better than I expected

So, I will say this. The Canucks are not as bad to start the year as their preseason indicated. Games are not usually grinded down to a halt and most of the wins were fun to watch. The Canucks even had a fun game without their star player in Pittsburgh. You had to wonder how much of that game was charged with emotion after the criticisms the team received on Saturday.

Turns out, that emotion stopped short today. The Jets are far better than the Canucks on paper, but so where the Penguins and Lightning. Over the years, you notice strange things from the Canucks. They had a habit of playing up to the level of good teams, but down to the level of bad teams. Depending on the time of the year, you weren’t sure which team we were going to get on a given night.

The problem is compounded during the roulette wheel that exists in October. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the fun for now. You’ll need that when the numbers even out. I just wish this rollercoaster was different each year, but that’s just my personal preference.

Even strength play will catch up to them

Speaking of numbers, let’s talk about even strength. As of right now, the Canucks have scored and surrendered the same number of even strength goals (23) this season. However, there is a reason why we don’t use raw goal totals to make longer term predictions.

Of course, I would love the sample size to be bigger than seven games. But having some of the worst shot shares in the league is going to be painful to watch. Some of that was masked tonight since the team was outshot 32-27, but in terms of attempts and high danger chances, this team sits in near the bottom of the league in both categories. Heck, looking up the total shots taken and surrendered so far does not paint the Canucks in a favourable light.

Again, stop me if you have heard this before. But this is why people criticize a team that commits so much money and term to players that don’t drive play. You can say the team has no choice since it’s bad, but we are in year five under Jim Benning. The excuses are running thin and besides being a poor team at even strength, it still feels like the team progresses slower than molasses.

I don’t see an identity. Do you? What is it? There are not the fastest, the most skilled or the toughest. Their blue line sure tries, but is mediocre. Goaltending is a coin flip. It just seems rather messy. We have three really good young forwards and an army of prospects. That sounds oddly familiar, like we watched a certain Alberta team do that for a decade.

Next. Vancouver Canucks: Where is Mason Raymond now?. dark

Most of this game is played at even strength and the Canucks continue to dig themselves deeper and deeper into a pit. One player carrying the team has changed that early, but what happens when the other teams make adjustments? I’ll tell you what happens. The same thing that happens every year that results in picking in the same range. The Bruins come to Vancouver this Saturday and I can’t say it will be a pretty game. It will be the third game without Elias Pettersson, so we will say what a brief return home does.

*Stats provided by and Natural Stat Trick*