The Vancouver Canucks fell 6-2 to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. Here’s what we learned from the game.
It was Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday, an event that brought attention to the game which has become a thread in the fabric which is Canadian identity. All seven Canadian teams were in action, including a showdown between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames.
The points up for grabs were crucial, as both the teams are still fighting for a playoff spot. It also signified the first rivalry game that the Flames were playing since their fight-filled affair with the Edmonton Oilers on Feb.1. Those were some of the factors that made the game especially important.
Those two important points ended up in the hands of Calgary, who dealt the Canucks a blowout 6-2 loss on their home ice.
There were so many storylines in this game, it’s very difficult to just highlight three. It was skilled hockey, complimented with fights and a sprinkle of injuries. It may not have been the “old-time hockey” that was so endeared by many in the Battle of Alberta. However, it was a game that was the epitome of the exhilarating sport.
3. Negative: Brock Boeser’s Injury
A common question asked in life is “What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?”
Well, I’m going to give you the bad news first. While Elias Petterson returned to the lineup against the Flames, Vancouver another one of their young studs forwards.
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Brock Boeser left the game in the second period after being checked into the bench. The Canucks tweeted out that it was an upper-body injury, with head coach Travis Green later saying that he could be out for “a little bit. It could very well be a wrist injury, something which Boeser has a history of, going back to his rookie year.
If the former NCAA national champion is out for an extended period of time, it presents even more problems to the Canucks. First of all, they will be missing one of their elite scorers. Although he has not lit the world alight lately, Boeser remains an important factor in the hockey club.
Replacing him will likely be either Justin Bailey or Sven Baertschi. Bailey has had a strong year in the AHL, whereas Baertschi has experience in an NHL playoff push. Both players bring quality to the roster, although far from the quality lost from Boeser’s absence.
2. Positive: Puck luck and being aware
For a good portion of the game, the bounces were going the way of the Canucks. Tanner Pearson got the team on the board early, and his goal was an example of how aware a player he is.
The puck randomly popped out of the corner, and Pearson made no mistake by putting it past David Rittich. Pearson’s quick shot caught the Calgary defenders off guard, as the Canucks got the important first goal.
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The lucky bounce and awareness also showed itself on Adam Gaudette‘s goal, which tied the game at two apiece. The lucky bounce came off the back board, and the former Hobey Baker winner was all ready to cash in on it.
Awareness is a trait which the Canucks have had in the past, it’s also something that can be taught. Although all of that is true, the lucky bounces are not something that can be practiced. Vancouver seems to rarely get the puck luck, but in their two goals against Calgary, the puck cut them a little bit of slack.
1. Canucks were prepared, just not for the right players
The Canucks did very well when they were matched up with the stars of the Flames. Bo Horvat did his work on the draws, winning half of them (9-for-18), and J.T Miller was his usual physical, forechecking self. The matchup of the two lines even included a fight between Miller and Flames forward Matthew Tkatuck, which was the escalation of the night’s rivalry.
What the Canucks did not do was prepare for the depth the Flames had in store. The line of Dillon Dube, Milan Lucic and former University of Alberta player Derek Ryan haunted the Canucks all night, and there was no plan to stop them.
The Canucks do have a number of so-called shutdown lines, but none were able to find any luck against Ryan’s line. Those three aforementioned players scored a goal each, while combining for four assists.
Vancouver simply doesn’t have a line like this to counter. It was expected that offseason acquisition Micheal Ferland could have added some more scoring and grit, but the riddling injuries have made that possibility all but a dream.
Depth scoring has been a long mentioned topic in Vancouver , and it is something the team will need if they are going to find success in qualifying for the playoffs.
This game had more bad than good. Boeser got injured, and the Canucks allowed six goals in a crucial home game. That being said, there were also some positives, and Vancouver knows what they have to work on.
While the loss against the Flames certainly stings and adds another layer to the recent struggles of the Canucks, all of that will be evaporated if they can start stringing together some wins again.