The Vancouver Canucks fell 2-1 at home to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night and now sit at 3-4-1 through eight games. Vancouver had problems generating scoring chances, applying pressure to the Flyers, and most importantly, putting the puck in the net. There were even issues off the ice as reports from inside Rogers Arena said the 50/50 draw was postponed for unknown reasons. On and off the ice, this is a game the Canucks need to forget and move past if they want to snap this two-game losing streak.
Pettersson, Miller & Others Continue to Struggle at Five on Five
Once again, the Canucks top players could not generate anything five on five. This has been a common problem all season but was the main reason Vancouver fell to the Flyers. Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller combined for three shot attempts while five on five with zero hitting the net. Both players also finished below a 50% Corsi for the night and were outshot 2-0 while on the ice together five on five.
If there is one consolation to tonight, it was the play of Brock Boeser. He only had one shot on goal but created three individual scoring chances, blocked a shot, and threw a hit in 15:55 of five on five ice time. He was also Vancouver’s leader in five-on-five ice time amongst forwards.
This seems to be a theme so far this season. One of the top forwards has a great game, but the rest are passengers throughout. The team needs to start getting pucks to the net and creating chances. It is hard to win when a team can only generate 16 shots five on five in 42:31 seconds, and only one comes from the top line. The trio needs to find the chemistry they had two seasons ago. If this does not happen soon, it could mean another lottery pick by the end of the season.
Canucks Have Problems on the Power Play
The Canucks did not score on the power play going 0-5, including a six on four late in the game. The unit was stagnant once again and was only able to create three high danger chances. Although they finished with seven shots on goal, Martin Jones did not have too much trouble stopping the league’s 16th ranked power play.
The decision to keep Brock Boeser off the first power play is still baffling. The only time he got a chance with the first unit was when the net was empty, and the Canucks were desperate for a goal. Although Alex Chaisson has scored two power-play goals this season as part of the first unit, he does not provide much besides the screen in front. Having Boeser allows for an extra shooting option while allowing Bo Horvat and Miller to create the one-timer slot shot that was productive in 2019-20. That season, the Canucks ranked fourth in power-play efficiency and third in goals.
All five players from that power-play unit are still in Vancouver, so it does not make sense why the team doesn’t put them back together. There is little cohesion on the power play currently, and it cost them against the Flyers.
Need to Play Podkolzin More
Despite having a decent night, Vasily Podkolzin was once again stapled to the bench for long stretches of the game. He only played six shifts after the first period and ended the night with 10:42 of ice time. Despite the limited playtime, his final stat line was one shot, one blocked shot, one hit, and one takeaway. That is a good stat line, especially considering not many other forwards were stepping up. The question now remains, why is coach Travis Green limiting his minutes even when he is showing promise in a game?
One way Podkolzin can get more ice time is on the power play. The second unit has had issues generating scoring chances, and it could have used his creativity tonight. There is a reason he was taken 10th overall in the Entry Draft. If Vancouver continues to bench him even when he has a decent game, it may be time to consider sending him to Abbotsford, where he can be a top-line player night after night.
Moving On To Saturday
The Canucks need to clear this game out of their heads and focus on a big game Saturday night versus the Edmonton Oilers. Not only is this game a divisional battle, but it’s the first time the two have met since Tyler Myers hit on Ducan Keith that made Myers an instant fan favorite. Vancouver can not afford to drop these two points, so they will need to fix some of these issues before Connor McDavid arrives in town.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.