During their three-game losing streak, the Vancouver Canucks have displayed far too many flaws that they may not be able to overcome. Thus, their chances of making the playoffs continue to decrease by the day.
The Vancouver Canucks have played some of their best hockey in recent memory since the start of the new year, but the flaws we saw earlier in the season have once again been exposed amid a three-game losing skid.
It all started when defenceman Alexander Edler got injured in Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, when he fell face first into the ice. Edler was diagnosed with a concussion and is out for at least one week.
Vancouver was sloppy in its own end during Tuesday’s loss against the Washington Capitals, and Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was truly one of the worst performances from the blue line all season long.
Careless penalties, bad turnovers, poor defensive zone coverage, you name it. The Canucks haven’t had any of their other defencemen step up in Edler’s absence, so it’s no coincidence that they’ve dropped three straight now.
Of course, the blue line has been Vancouver’s weakness all season long. But Edler was able to mask many of the flaws from the rest of the defencemen, and he’s enduring arguably his finest season as a pro. His loss is paramount, and the other guys aren’t stepping up during his absence.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
Then there’s the lack of secondary scoring, which has plagued the Canucks over the past five years. Brock Boeser scored the lone goal on Monday. Markus Granlund and Elias Pettersson were the only ones to find the back of the net on Tuesday.
Granlund simply isn’t doing enough to the point where general manager Jim Benning should consider keeping him after this season. Nikolay Goldobin isn’t going to reach his full potential as long as his ice time continues to be extremely limited.
So when you have a team that commits too many mistakes in its own zone, and a club that relies solely on three players to do the scoring (Boeser, Pettersson and Bo Horvat), it’s hard to view them as a playoff contender.
The St. Louis Blues now occupy the final wild card spot, having won four straight games now. They also have three games in hand on the Canucks. Advantage, Blues. That’s life when you have secondary scoring and strong defensive play.
Of course, other Western Conference hopefuls like the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks rely entirely on their top two or three stars to carry them. The Canucks are in that same club. Horvat, Boeser and Pettersson can relate to Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins right now.
The Western Conference, thankfully, is more wide open than ever before. There will be two or three fairly average or mediocre teams getting into the postseason. But it’s hard to see how the Canucks will get there, unless the secondary scoring arrives — and if the blue line can start limiting the mistakes in their own zone.