The Vancouver Canucks have had a difficult season on and off the ice. The recent COVID-19 outbreak forced the team to push back many of its games while players and staff recovered, and most of the players returned to action at the end of April. The Canucks restarted the remainder of the 2020-21 season in a positive way, winning back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but things soon deteriorated. Vancouver lost four of the next five games, conceded 17 goals, and dropped to the bottom of the Scotia North Division.
Careless defensive errors have hurt the Canucks throughout the season, but they have become even more evident in the last few weeks. The series against the Ottawa Senators showed a lack of defensive consistency, as the team suffered a heavy 6-3 defeat and made two significant errors that led to goals. Self-inflicted damage has been one main reason for the Canucks’ struggles this season, and defensive problems are a recurring theme that have haunted the team since the start of the season.
Defense Has Several Underlying Problems
This is not the first time that the Canucks have experienced a bad run of form this season. February was particularly concerning for the team, given that it had a 2-9-2 record and that it lost six games in a row. Many fans pointed the finger at the defense, calling it “next-level bad” and fearing that the team’s form would not improve. Heavy defeats were also a problem for the team’s confidence; the Canucks allowed 48 goals in one month and lost three games by a four-goal margin.
An aging defense has not helped the Canucks, both on and off the ice. Tyler Myers, Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic are all over the age of 30 and have been criticized for not keeping up with the pace of the NHL. Myers — who is signed to a four-year deal — has been under scrutiny due to inconsistent performances. Rookie defensemen Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield have been given a chance to show their abilities on the ices, but the Canucks fanbase has no clear opinion on Juolevi, and Chatfield has struggled to make an impact.
The defense’s leaky structure has caused the Canucks to concede too many goals, some of which were avoidable and careless. A poor defense has added extra pressure to the forwards to score more goals, another area that the team has found difficult throughout the season, and this has increased pressure on offensive and defensive units to perform well.
Canucks Have Too Much Dependency On Goaltenders
Canucks fans have admitted that goaltender Thatcher Demko has bailed the team out on many occasions because of his good performances. Some players have also praised him for going above and beyond to help the team; J.T. Miller has said that Demko gives the team a chance to win, while head coach Travis Green has stated that he expects Demko to play to the best of his ability. He may have been an excellent goaltender this season, but he has provided damage limitation because his defensive players have solely relied on him to stop pucks.
Vancouver cannot hope that good goaltending will help the team in the long run, especially if the defense is making errors that the goaltender is left to correct. The Canucks may have two reliable goaltenders in Demko and Braden Holtby, but these two players have been called upon many times to help the team win games. This is due to defensive inconsistencies and costly mistakes. The team has simply conceded too many goals in the 2020-21 season, and the defense has to accept a lot of responsibility for this.
James is a graduate of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), where he studied Broadcasting in the hope of becoming a sports reporter. He coincided his studies with a part-time job at Rogers Place and saw many memorable moments for the Edmonton Oilers.
James currently runs his own YouTube channel and its website, both called From The Anvil. He post regular content about West Ham United – his favourite soccer team – and has appeared on many soccer podcasts. He covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.