The Vancouver Canucks aren’t getting enough support from their role and depth players. If that doesn’t change, they’ll miss the postseason once again.
On Wednesday night, the Vancouver Canucks were dealt their second painful and disheartening loss in four nights, this time a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes.
This took place three days after Sunday’s colossal meltdown against the Columbus Blue Jackets, where a 3-1 period lead somehow ended as a 5-3 loss. Vancouver somehow squandered away four coulda-shoulda-woulda points. And they didn’t pick up a single one.
The Canucks have now lost four straight games. They are barely hanging on to the top wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets are tied with Vancouver in points (74), but they’ve both played two extra games. The Minnesota Wild (73 points) and Nashville Predators (72 points) aren’t far behind, either.
And if Vancouver’s role/non-star players don’t start producing more down the stretch, it’s hard to envision this team making the playoffs.
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You can only blame Thatcher Demko so much. I can’t see how many other goalies would fare better given all the shots and high danger scoring chances he’s faced. Demko can only do so much, and his players let him down on Wednesday night.
Core players such as J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Alexander Edler, Quinn Hughes and a red-hot Tanner Pearson have consistently kept the Canucks in games. But they’re going to have to get some support over these final 16 contests.
Fan favorite Jake Virtanen has one assist in his last four games. He’s gone pointless in 11 of his last 15 outings. Adam Gaudette doesn’t have a single point in his last four, and he only has one goal in his last eight games.
Brandon Sutter hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 12, and he has one point in his last seven games. Despite a surprising amount of ice time over these past two weeks, Loui Eriksson has been held off the score sheet in five straight outings. He only has two points dating back to the start of February.
Remember when general manager Jim Benning generously paid Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel to supposedly add more grit, toughness and leadership? The Canucks haven’t seen enough of that lately. Now’s the time for them to come through.
Of course, the blue line also warrants some blame. Edler, Hughes and Tyler Myers (three points in his last five) have performed nicely from an offensive standpoint. It’s a different story from a defensive perspective. Everybody on the back end has got to cut back on the turnovers and breakdowns.
There’s no denying this: Vancouver has been one of the worst defensive teams for large stretches of the season. Jacob Markstrom simply managed to mask the flaws of the blue line before he got injured.
At the end of the day, Vancouver’s star players can only carry the load so much. During the first half of the season, head coach Travis Green was seeing tremendous production from top to bottom.
But that hasn’t been the case in the second half, and if the Canucks continue to rely solely on the stars over the final month, they simply won’t make the playoffs. It’s time for Vancouver’s depth and role players to step up once and for all.