Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from 4-3 loss to Anaheim Ducks

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Ben Hutton #27 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on after a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on November 21, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Ben Hutton #27 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on after a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on November 21, 2018 in Anaheim, California. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Will the losing streak end already? The Vancouver Canucks came close but ultimately fell 4-3 to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. Here’s what we learned from the seventh straight defeat.

On one hand, the Vancouver Canucks can be pleased about their hard-fought game against the Anaheim Ducks, even if the result was a 4-3 road defeat that extended their losing streak to seven games.

But on the other hand, the Canucks will be frustrated about just that: The fact they’re now in the midst of a seven-game losing skid. The loss dropped them out of third place in the Pacific Division, with the Ducks surpassing them.

The Canucks will visit the San Jose Sharks on Friday before finishing up the California Road trip against the equally struggling Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. In the meantime, a look at three things we learned from the loss in Orange County.

1. Thatcher Demko time is looming…

I’ve defended goalie Jacob Markstrom plenty of times this season, and he once again can’t be faulted for this team’s slump. However, Markstrom didn’t make the big saves when Vancouver needed it most, and the third goal was one he would simply love to have back.

Following Wednesday’s loss, Markstrom is now 7-8-2 on the season with a terrible 3.42 goals against average and mere .896 save percentage. The Canucks shouldn’t give up on Markstrom completely, but it’s almost time to call up goalie prospect Thatcher Demko.

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He returned to the crease Wednesday after missing time with a concussion. Demko didn’t look like he missed a beat, making 19 saves and leading the Utica Comets to a 3-2 victory (h/t Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet 650).

Everyone knows Demko is the goalie of the future. What if he pulls a Matt Murray and ends up being more ready than anybody expected? Even if he’s thrown into the fire and asked to take over the starting duties?

It’s worth a look, simply put. The Canucks need to give Markstrom a rest, and maybe Demko will out-play him down the stretch. That would allow general manager Jim Benning to trade either Markstrom or Anders Nilsson.

But that’s for another day. The bottom line: After a few more starts in Utica, it’s time for the Canucks to bring up Demko and see if he is ready to take over the reigns.

2. Time to stop doubting Nikolay Goldobin

Well, head coach Travis Green has no choice but to keep giving Nikolay Goldobin the minutes. And the power play time. And the first line duties.

Arguably Vancouver’s best player on the night, Goldobin finished with a goal and an assist. The 23-year-old is now up to 11 points in his last 10 games — supplying the much-needed scoring while the bulk of the Vancouver forwards continue to struggle around the net.

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The Canucks now have three quality wingers to work around in Goldobin, Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser. But so far, ‘Goldy’ has showed what he can do when the coach gives him the proper amount of ice time. Maybe this guy really is ready to break out as a 20-goal, 50-something point player.

Vancouver coaches have to stop playing games with Goldobin. He’s stepped up in Boeser’s absence, and Goldy is the reason why Vancouver has been around in games during the losing skid. For the sake of Goldobin, the team and the fans, we simply ask the Canucks keep giving the kid his minutes. And don’t even think about taking them away any time soon, please.

3. Playoff hopes are sailing away

Well, the Canucks somehow held onto the third spot in the Pacific Division up until Wednesday, even though they’ve now lost seven games in a row. But with Anaheim surpassing Vancouver and the Edmonton Oilers bound to turn a corner under new head coach Ken Hitchcock, it’s looking like yet another non-playoff year in Vancouver.

I was being extremely optimistic in the early going, seeing an improved Markstrom, better performances from the blueliners and balanced scoring. That has all gone away, and the Canucks’ seven-game losing streak is not a fluke, harsh as it may sound.

Legendary NFL head coach Bill Parcells once said “You are what your record says you are.” Their record is 10-12-2, which says they’re a mediocre bunch right now.

The Canucks won’t be keeping pace with the San Jose Sharks or Calgary Flames. The Ducks and Oilers have better rosters and more talent to get bye. We might want to be careful in counting out the Vegas Golden Knights, who also have great roster depth and talent to turn it around soon.

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But right now, the Canucks look like they’ll repeat 2016-17 and 2017-18: Play like a playoff team early, then begin the unraveling when winter arrives. And though it’d always nice to be optimistic, there are few indications this unit will turn it around before it’s too late.