The Canucks need to play a full 60 minute game in order to start winning

The Vancouver Canucks this season is like trying to get into first place in Mario Kart but you keep getting hit by items and eventually fall off the racecourse.

The Canucks are coming off another loss. This one was a 4-3 defeat to the visiting Edmonton Oilers after their 3-0 first-period lead evaporated.

Fans voiced their frustrations on post-game radio, live streams, podcasts and social media to the point where nihilism is a common theme.

Vancouver has two wins in their last twelve games (both against the Calgary Flames) and eight wins in 23 games (8-13-2 at the time of this writing). They have a .391 points percentage, which is third-worst in the NHL ahead of the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings.

One bright side to Tuesday night’s collapse was that it provided more meme material for Twitter. In fact, the Canucks are becoming a meme that just writes itself.

The Canucks started off really well against the Oilers with Bo Horvat scoring 1:06 into the game. Tyler Myers and Elias Pettersson also got on the board before the Oilers got one in the frame.

The Canucks got plenty of scoring chances in the second but the Oilers looked threatening, especially on the power play, and more goals were coming. Vancouver gave up three unanswered in the third period.

Second periods have been a problem for the Canucks this season as they have been outscored 32-20 in the middle frame. The Canucks are better in the third, as they’ve only being outscored 26-25 but have been outshot 246-233 this season in the final frame.

Per Daniel Wagner of Vancouver is Awesome, coach Travis Green wasn’t too pleased with the outcome.

“Bottom line is, we weren’t good enough to win. In some of the games where we haven’t come out on top, and I’ve said that we’ve played well, we probably deserved a better fate, that might have been the case. But tonight, we just didn’t flat-out play well enough to win this hockey game and we deserved what we got tonight.”

The thing about Vancouver this season is that they really need to play a full sixty-minute game. They have shown they are capable of doing that. The 5-1 win in Calgary and 3-1 win in Winnipeg are examples as well as the 2-0 loss at home to Winnipeg, a game in which they did everything right but score.

On Tuesday night, the Canucks started off well but couldn’t keep that momentum going. In the second and third periods, the Oilers looked more dangerous and they capitalized on their chances while Vancouver decided to let the foot off the gas pedal.

The Canucks’ expected goals percentage went from 57.75% in the first to 10.22% in the second to 40.67% in the third. The Oilers xGF went from 42.25% to 89.78% to 59.33%.

In the past few games, when the Canucks have the lead they look flat and play too conservatively, almost relying on the goaltender to bail them out once again. Their best offensive weapons become quiet and the team has shown that once they are down a goal again, they wake up (see games against Winnipeg and Calgary for example).

There are times when the Canucks do start off well but when a goal against happens, the team deflates and the score just gets worse. There are other times when Vancouver gets blown out but they rev up the engine when it is far too late.

It is frustrating to see losses where leads disappear and blowouts where the Canucks turn it up late. The team needs to play a full sixty-minute game and keep the foot on the gas pedal. The last ten games or so have been filled with “what-ifs” and valuable points were lost. Playoff hopes are fading fast.

I’ve had it with the whole “moral victory” thing. Yes, there were games where the Canucks got good bounces and played well but still lost. At the end of the day, everyone will remember the score and who won the game.

The Canucks have to keep up the energy and use it for the whole game. There shouldn’t be any sitting back because of the lead and they should just keep adding to it. When the team is down early, they should use it as motivation to get back in the game to tie it up or even take the lead because in hockey, momentum can change quickly.

There is an old saying: it ain’t over until it’s over. The Canucks should take note and play a full sixty-minute game because good things happen when they do.

*Stats courtesy of NaturalStatTrick, HockeyReference and NHL.Com