Canucks: 3 takeaways from the 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 18: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring the game winning goal on goalie Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs as John Tavares #91 looks on during the overtime period of NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena on April 17, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 18: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring the game winning goal on goalie Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs as John Tavares #91 looks on during the overtime period of NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena on April 17, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Sutter, Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Brandon Sutter, Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Canucks are playing smart, simple hockey

This statement might seem obvious, especially if you’re a fan of a team that is currently flirting with the top spot in their division and/or the entire league and has gotten to that position because of the aforementioned heading above. But, for the majority of Canuck supporters, this notion is a lot easier said than done, especially with how the club performed during the first three-quarters of the season.

There are, of course, a few obvious factors that led to the team’s system change.

First and foremost, the coaching staff had to consider their players’ health. No one is at 100% capacity right now, and the last thing they need is an up-tempo, high-danger style of play on a nightly basis. Throw in their extremely compressed schedule, as well as multiple rookie players on the roster, and it makes complete sense for the Canucks to slow things down as much as they can, whenever they can.

Regardless of how they got to their current situation, the Canucks have ran with their new game plan, executing it to near perfection on Tuesday night.

They clogged up the neutral zone quite nicely, forcing the Leafs to make difficult passes that led to multiple turnovers before they could even enter the offensive zone.

The Canucks only surrendered two powerplay opportunities and were able to keep the Leafs to the outside for much of their time on the man advantage. Had it not been for a perfectly-timed screen in front of Holtby, the Canucks might have actually been able to keep the Leafs and their offensive juggernauts at bay for the entire man advantage time (even though the Leafs have been able to do that on their own for the past 40+ powerplay attempts).

They were able to utilize risk-free and fundamentally sound plays on both ends of the ice, which led to very few high-danger chances for their opponents, and they didn’t panic or crumple up their game plan when they went down a goal early in the third period, much like we’re used to seeing this team do.

The Canucks dictated the tempo and style of play from the opening whistle, and it was a breath of fresh air to witness, especially when every fan is just hoping that the team can stay healthy and injury-free for as long as they possibly can.

Will they be able to keep this up for the rest of the season? Only time will tell, but we’re all keeping our fingers and toes crossed.

Other newsworthy notes:

  • Jake Virtanen and Nate Schmidt slotted back into the line-up after being removed from the NHL COVID-protocol list; Virtanen logged 12:44 of ice time, posting one shot on goal and four hits, while Schmidt registered one assist and two shots on goal in just under 19 minutes of ice time.
  • Newcomer Matthew Highmore made his Canucks debut after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks via trade on April 12th. He played alongside Virtanen and Travis Boyd on the fourth line, going pointless with a plus-two rating.
  • Antoine Roussel suffered a lower-body injury in the first period, after accidentally colliding with Marner near the blueline. He remained on the bench for the rest of the period but did not return for the second frame.
  • Jayce Hawryluk also appeared to be shaken up in the first period, but he was able to complete the game, logging 12:19 of ice time.
  • Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller were able to find their way onto the scoresheet, registering two assists each. Hamonic also posted one assist and four shots on goal, while leading the team in TOI with 23:06.

The Canucks will be able to enjoy a much-needed rest day before facing off against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at 7:00 pm PST.

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What were your thoughts on the Canucks’ 6-3 win against the Maple Leafs? Make sure to drop a comment below!