Canucks: 3 takeaways from 1-0 shutout loss to Chicago

Nov 21, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Vasily Podkolzin (92) shoots past Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach (77) in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Vasily Podkolzin (92) shoots past Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach (77) in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /
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We’ve said it before and we’ll definitely say it again: it’s moral victory season for the Vancouver Canucks.

The team came into Rogers Arena on Sunday night, looking to cap off their three-game homestand with a win against Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks.

On paper, it was supposed to be a scheduled win for the Canucks, facing off against a fatigued Blackhawks squad who had not only played less than 24 hours before, but were also forced to play with just five defencemen for majority of the second half of their back-to-back.

Cue the moral victories.

Vancouver looked like the better team through the opening 40 minutes, outshooting and outchancing their foes by a fairly wide margin, but were unable to get anything past Marc-Andre Fleury, who has appeared to rediscover his stellar goaltending as of late.

With the loss, Vancouver fell to 27th in the league, only ahead of New York, Montreal, Seattle, Arizona and Ottawa. They remained seventh in the Pacific Division, still three points ahead of their Pacific Northwest rivals, but are now 13 points back of the first-place Calgary Flames.

Chicago was also able to leapfrog Vancouver in the standings after coming away with the two points.

The Canucks were able to achieve a slightly-more successful homestand this time around, notching two of a possible six points, but have now also lost 10 of their past 13 games, and will desperately need to figure things out before hitting the road on Wednesday.

Without further ado, here are three takeaways from Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Chicago:

Garland, Podkolzin continue to impress

Another game, another round of strong performances from Conor Garland and Vasily Podkolzin.

The duo were once again slotted besides J.T. Miller on the second line, and were easily the two best forwards for the Canucks on Sunday night.

Let’s start with Garland.

The former Arizona Coyote has been a fan favourite since arriving from the desert, and he showcased exactly why against the Blackhawks.

From his opening shift, Garland played with tenacity, speed and snarl, hoping to inject his energy throughout his teammates.

As we’ve seen before, Garland continued to be a wizard with the puck, spinning and cycling around his opponents until they got dizzy in order to create space and a possible scoring chance.

According to Natural StatTrick, the Canucks were able to outshoot Chicago by a wide margin of 9-0 at even strength with Garland on the ice, an impressive statistic for the small winger.

Garland was also able to make a strong impact on the powerplay.

The 25-year-old was recently promoted to the team’s primary unit, and didn’t skip a beat while on the man advantage.

In total, Garland logged just under four minutes on the powerplay, highlighted by a committed Superman dive to keep the puck in the zone that was capped off with yet another trademark Garland spin.

Podkolzin also performed quite well on Sunday.

The Russian rookie suited up for his 17th contest of the year and, much to the delight of fans and media alike, has been steadily improving each and every night.

Like Garland, Podkolzin also made sure that his gameplay stood out early on, bringing speed, size and determination every time he hopped over the boards.

The 20-year-old nearly broke the deadlock at the end of the opening frame after easily collecting the rebound in the slot to create a high-danger scoring opportunity. Podkolzin also wasn’t afraid to throw his wait around in the second period, as seen with his heavy open-ice hit on veteran blueliner Seth Jones.

The best and most exciting opportunity for Podkolzin and Garland came late in the second period when they were deployed on a line with Elias Pettersson. The trio were buzzing in the offensive zone, moving their feet quickly and cycling the puck in a dominant fashion, which led to two glorious chances for Podkolzin and Pettersson.

Podkolzin finished the game with two SOG, two hits and one block in 13:35 of ice time, and was able to hit the 20-shift mark for the seventh time this year. With Podkolzin on the ice, the Canucks were able to outshoot Chicago by a margin of 9-1 in the first 40 minutes, essentially mirroring the dominant even strength performance of Garland.

Podkolzin even won his second-ever face-off late in the first period, maintaining his perfect winning percentage in the dot.

No matter who they play with, it seems that Garland and Podkolzin are able to shine every night, and we’re hoping this will be the case for the rest of the year.