Canucks: 3 takeaways from a 4-3 meltdown to the Edmonton Oilers

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 19: Antoine Roussel #26 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during the pre-game warmup prior to NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 19, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 19: Antoine Roussel #26 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during the pre-game warmup prior to NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena on February 19, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

With the Vancouver Canucks making up no ground in the North Division despite playing their best hockey over the past two weeks, it seemed the team was missing just a bit of puck luck to get themselves out of neutral and back into the win column. On Tuesday night, despite multiple blessings by the hockey gods by the way of fluky goals and Connor McDavid goal posts, the Canucks again found a way to blow a lead.

This joke just isn’t funny anymore.

Last night’s unravelling contained themes we’ve seen a lot recently but with a few twists: a quick start powered by the top six, before getting utterly overwhelmed by a faster team with superior depth. However, it was a mindless Antoine Roussel roughing penalty on Jesse Puljujarvi near the end of the second period with the Canucks still up 3-1 that surrendered the momentum permanently to the Oilers.

The Canucks are nearing the halfway point of the season still far away from a playoff spot or recapturing their form from last spring, and it’s no longer a stretch to say the results over the next couple of weeks will determine the fate of veterans on expiring contracts, and potentially management in the off-season. So much for the vote of confidence.

The bottom six is currently a train-wreck

Since the injury to Tyler Motte forced Travis Green to shuffle up what was an effective fourth line for the Canucks (Motte/Jay Beagle/Roussel), the subsequent line juggling has led to some poor results, and Tuesday night was no different.

Green went with a 3rd line unit of Roussel/Brandon Sutter/Adam Gaudette, and outside of a few one and done offensive shifts before Oiler clearances, they were a negative drag on the Canucks’ efforts. Roussel and Sutter especially looked multiple steps behind compared to the Oilers’ bottom six, and have settled into their mid-season form of providing next to no offence or forecheck for the Canucks.

As for the make-shift fourth line (Zack MacEwen/Beagle/Jake Virtanen), they were virtually unplayable for the last half of the game as the Canucks shifted from protecting their shrinking lead to playing catch up again. It speaks to the fragile nature of the bottom six when losing Motte has effectively turned the Canucks into a two-line team.

Tyler Myers continues to impress offensively

For a team desperate for offensive contributions outside of the top six, the uptick in output by Tyler Myers so far this season has been a pleasant surprise. While Myers is still susceptible to penalties when working on faster offensive players (see his game-ending interference penalty on Kailer Yamamoto at the back-end of the third) his overall game and confidence have improved with steady ice-time from Green.

Myers tallied the 2-0 goal with an absolute rocket from the point, and a commitment to emphasizing Myers more on the PP2 could be the key to generating more offence from the second unit. Something to note is that while Myers (now sixth on the team in points) logged 22:38 of ice time on Tuesday, Nate Schmidt continues to struggle to find his footing in Green’s rotation, logging under 19 minutes for the first time in a month.

The Canucks have reached peak fragility

Even with the Canucks racing out to a three-goal lead in the first, it just took another late-period goal to let doubt creep into the minds of Canucks fans that another blown game was in the works. Turns out, it was a similar feeling from head coach Travis Green as well.

"“There’s a couple of key plays that all of a sudden changes all the momentum of the game. And it doesn’t take much for a team (like the Oilers) that has the firepower with those players on their team to turn the tide quick. And you could feel it.”"

However, he wasn’t quite as transparent when it came to calling out underperforming players:

Other notes

  • On a more positive note, Elias Pettersson registered a goal and an assist on the night, and now has 16 points in his past 15 games. It’s safe to say that Vancouver’s franchise centre is back.
  • Brock Boeser took a shot off the ankle just before Edmonton scored their first goal and hobbled off the ice afterwards. However, he managed to finish the game, so it appears like the 23-year-old should be fine.
  • It definitely wasn’t Thatcher Demko’s best performance, but he probably played better than what the score indicates. According to Evolving-Hockey, Demko only conceded 0.15 more goals than expected, so the blame should be attributed more to Vancouver’s defence, as usual.

Next. Analyzing Braden Holtby’s Canucks performance so far this season. dark

With the two-game series against the Oilers concluding tomorrow at 7 pm, it’s time for Green to potentially head back to the taxi squad to inject some new energy into a team that hit a new low on Tuesday night.