The Vancouver Canucks lost four straight games last week after winning three of their first four games since returning from a three-week hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Canucks took on the Ottawa Senators twice before finishing the week off against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Monday, the Canucks lost 2-1 against the Senators. Josh Norris opened up the scoring before rookie Olli Juolevi tied the game at 1-1 in the first period. Drake Batherson’s lone second-period goal ended up being the game-winner for Ottawa.
Two nights later, the two teams faced off for the last time this season. The Senators dominated in the final matchup, winning 6-3, scoring four goals in the second period. The Canucks received goals from Tyler Myers, Jake Virtanen, and Brandon Sutter in the loss.
The following night, they took on the Maple Leafs on the backend of a back-to-back. Toronto picked up a 4-1 win over Vancouver. William Nylander opened up the scoring in the first period. In the second, Auston Matthews scored his 36th goal of the season, followed by Pierre Engvall’s goal to extend the lead to 3-0. J.T. Miller scored the lone goal for his club to end the period. In the third, Mitch Marner extended his team’s lead to 4-1.
The Canucks played the Maple Leafs in the final game between the two teams on Saturday. The Canucks once again were blown out by Toronto, losing 5-1. Tanner Pearson scored to take a 1-0 lead before Matthews scored his 37th to tie the game in the first period. Matthews scored his 38th in the second to give his team the lead. In the third period, Adam Brooks, Alex Galchenyuk, and Joe Thornton scored to extend the lead and win the game.
Jake Virtanen on Leave
The Canucks placed Virtanen on leave following allegations of sexual misconduct on Sunday. The organization released a statement on Twitter.
The NHL is aware of the serious allegations and won’t comment until the results of the independent investigation are complete. The incident occurred in 2017. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous for “fear of public backlash,” has contacted the police, but there are currently no charges pending. The accusation marks a dark day in the franchise’s history.
Canucks’ Playoff Hopes
After losing five of their last eight games, the Canucks playoff hopes are now further out of reach than before. The club has 41 points in 45 games, and they’re now 14 points behind the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal has six games remaining this season, and if the Canucks continue to play the way they have the past week, the Habs will likely clinch a playoff spot. It is not likely the Canucks improve their play throughout the rest of the season. Their schedule is intense, and the effects of COVID-19 may still slow them down as time goes on.
Young Guns Get an Opportunity
The only upside to the Canucks missing the postseason is the club’s young guns getting an opportunity to play in the lineup. Juolevi has been one of the players who stepped back in the lineup when the team returned to play. So far, the Finnish defenceman has impressed, even scoring a goal against the Senators.
Kole Lind made his NHL debut on Thursday against Toronto, and he played on Saturday as well. In his first game, he played 17:07 minutes, had two shots on goal, and was seventh on the team in Corsi For % (CF%). He performed a bit better the following game, playing 15:12 minutes, and registered CF% of 52.63, up from the previous game (44 CF%). Lind was a 2017 second-round pick for the club, selected at 33rd overall, and has spent the last four years in the AHL. He played in eight games with the Utica Comets this year, scoring five goals and posting eight points. The club will get a good look at the 22-year-old to see where he will fit in for next season.
Along with Lind, Jonah Gadjovich is another forward who will get an opportunity with the main roster. The Canucks recalled the forward on Saturday. The other 2017 second-round pick, selected at 55th overall, has been impressive in Utica this season. In his third season in the AHL, he has scored 15 goals in 19 games. If he can bring his scoring touch to the NHL, he will be a welcomed piece to the roster next season.
The Canucks Take On the Oilers
Next week, the Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers four times. First, they play each other in a back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday in Vancouver. Then they head on the road to play in Edmonton on Thursday and Saturday.
Quinn Hughes – three assists
Tyler Myers – one goal, two assists
- May 3rd – vs. Edmonton Oilers
- May 4th – vs. Edmonton Oilers
- May 6th – at Edmonton Oilers
- May 8th – at Edmonton Oilers
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.