We give up! Trying to work out these Vancouver Canucks is a fool’s errand. They win when they’re meant to lose and they lose when they’re supposed to win. Saturday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues offered just the latest example of how the only thing fans should expect, is the unexpected (along with the need for a few strong beverages during and/or after any game.)
Entering the contest, Vancouver was given little chance against the top team in the Western Conference, especially after their embarrassing 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights who had a fourth-string goaltender between the pipes. (Another example of an unexpected result for the Canucks.) The Blues have been sensational so far this season, evidenced by scoring the most goals in the West, while also having the best road record in the conference.
Canucks Surprise Us Again
So of course, the Canucks caught a lot of people off guard by taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, courtesy of Brock Boeser. It was the youngster’s seventh goal and 17th point of the season, adding further credence to his case to win the Calder Trophy.
Normal service resumed late in the first, when the Blues tied up the game, albeit under controversial circumstances (which we’ll get to shortly). However, in keeping with the narrative of this article – and season – the Canucks again surprised the masses by taking an unexpected 3-1 lead just past the midway point of the game.
We should have added earlier that the Canucks’ unpredictability also happens during games. At 3-1, Travis Green’s team seemed to be in control. Unfortunately, it was an illusion and things soon started to fall apart. Not to take anything away from the Blues, who again showed why they’re the best team in the West by getting back to within 3-2 in the second period. Once they tied the game in the third, it was ominous for the Canucks.
When the game went to overtime, St. Louis clinched the extra point thanks to the red-hot Brayden Schenn, who was awarded the third star of the game. When it was all said and done, the Canucks found themselves just out of a playoff spot, albeit level on points with the Dallas Stars, who hold the precious second wild-card spot entering Sunday’s slate of games.
Frustrating Loss for the Canucks
All in all, you’d figure the Canucks would be happy with getting a point against a superior Blues team. Not exactly. To be honest, it’s tough to be happy when you’ve given up a two-goal lead, regardless of the quality of the opponent.
Defenseman Erik Gudbranson summed up the frustration after the game. As reported by Sportsnet‘s Iain MacIntyre, Gudbranson said:
We’re not happy with a point. We’ve got to find a way to close out a game like that.
It doesn’t help that the officiating was suspect, as it played a significant role in the Blues’ win. St. Louis’ first goal should never have been allowed, after a blatant too many men line change. Well, blatant for everyone, except the officials.
One of the biggest assets coach Green has been able to instill into the team is an impressive work ethic, arguably the number one reason the Canucks have played better than expected (so far) this season. However, even here something is lacking, as Derek Dorsett explained. Speaking to MacIntyre and other members of the media, the winger said:
Obviously, it’s a good sign that when we need a win we can rally together and play a good game, but the National Hockey League is all about consistency and we’ve got to be more consistent. We’ve got to find this mentality consistently.
Interestingly, the ability to rally together, combined with the Canucks’ search for mental consistency, may best explain their erratic form. It’s why they appeared to take the Golden Knights for granted but were then able to motivate themselves for a game against the top team in the West.
It may also explain why the Canucks have been average at Rogers Arena while having one of the league’s best records away from home. More than most, Green’s team seems to have embraced the “us against the world” mentality when they travel.
It is often said you can get an idea of where an NHL team’s season is headed when they reach the 20-game mark. However, that’s not the case if you’re a fan of these Vancouver Canucks. All you can do is expect the unexpected and reach over for another shot of whisky.