It definitely wasn’t the prettiest, but Vancouver Canucks still managed to come away with a much-needed victory.
After a four-day hiatus, the team traveled to California to take on the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center, hoping to keep themselves in the playoff conversation. Heading into Thursday night, Vancouver was just two points ahead of San Jose in the Pacific Division, with both teams trying to close the gap with the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
Vancouver was ultimately able to secure the extra point in the end, thanks to J.T Miller’s overtime tally. But, despite adding one more “W” to the record, the 15th under the Bruce Boudreau era, fans should still be reminded of one key message about this organization.
They’re still nowhere near being a playoff team.
And here are three reasons why:
Special team shortcomings
There’s no surprise that the Canucks need help on their penalty kill.
In the first 25 games of the season under former head coach Travis Green, the team was establishing historical lows while being shorthanded, posting an abysmal penalty kill success rate of just 64.6%. The once-lethal powerplay wasn’t doing much better, executing at a mediocre 17.4%, good for 20th in the league.
Fortunately, special teams have improved overall under Boudreau’s new systems, with the Canucks posting success rates of 75.8% and 21.1% respectively over the past 25 games, but don’t let those numbers fool you.
Let’s use Thursday night’s contest as an example.
The Canucks were awarded four separate powerplays throughout the evening, with one of them taking place in the second period when the Canucks were holding onto a one goal lead. Had the Canucks been able to capitalize on that opportunity, they might have been able secure the victory within 60 minutes instead of handing out free points to a divisional rival.
Unfortunately, their penalty killing was even worse.
Vancouver managed to surrender only three separate infractions on Thursday night, but allowed their opponent to take advantage of those chances far too quickly.
San Jose only needed 29 seconds on the first powerplay to bring the score to 3-2, and were also able to tie things up just 45 seconds into the third period.
Vancouver was technically able to make up for their own man advantage struggles in overtime, potting the game-winning goal on a delayed penalty, but their current special team efforts aren’t nearly good enough if they want to make a legitimate push towards the offseason.