The Vancouver Canucks are winless in seven games, with a major reason being their play in the third period. So far, they have been outscored 15-2 in the third period and have only outshot their opponent twice in the final frame. Something needs to change, and quick. Otherwise, they could be heading for a historically poor season.
Canucks Overall Third Period Trends
As mentioned, the Canucks have given up 15 goals in the third period alone this season. For comparison, The Vegas Golden Knights have allowed 14 goals all season in the same amount of games. For whatever reason, the Canucks seem to give up after 40 minutes, allowing the opposition to dominate the game and either come back from multi-goal deficits or extend leads and take over games in the third.
So far this season, the Canucks have been outshot 76-57 in the third period through seven games. They have only surpassed ten shots twice this season and are averaging 8.14 shots per game. Eight shots per game sounds reasonable, but that number is inflated thanks to a 16-shot third period against the Blue Jackets. They have hit below eight shots in four of their seven games, which is more indicative of how they actually play during the final 20 minutes of regulation.
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On the flip side, the Canucks give up way too many shots against, which led to teams mounting comebacks in the third of their first five games. They have allowed ten shots or more in the third period during all but one game and average 10.8 shots against. Over their last two home games, they have allowed a total of 25 shots on goal in the third, compared to just 13 for, despite the team being tied or down by just one entering the third. There is little to no urgency when the team enters the third period, which is why they have failed to win a game in their first seven attempts.
Analytical Deep Dive
If fans thought the basic statistics were bad, hold onto your seat because the analytics are worse. Overall this season, creating high-danger chances in the third has been a nightmare for Vancouver. They have only produced more high-danger chances in the third than the opposition once this season, and against the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals, they produced a grand total of zero. In total, they have given up 35 high-danger chances (or five per game) while only creating 14 (or two per game). Vancouver needs to find a way to generate more high-danger chances in the third, plain and simple. Having multiple games where the team generates zero is unacceptable seven games into a season. Their high-danger creation, however, is just one of the many problems this team faces.
The other issues are scoring chances and the inability to create them. Like with most statistical categories, the Canucks have only had more scoring chances once during the third period this season. That was against the Flyers in a game where they gave up a two-goal first-period lead, with the winner coming in the third period. This game was also the only one where they had ten or more scoring chances registered in the third, finishing with ten. Overall, they have allowed 72 scoring chances (10.3 per third period) and created just 41 (5.9 per third period). They have also allowed 12 in each of the past three games while only creating 14 total over that same span. They need to generate more offence and find a way to get out of their zone. If not, the same issues will keep coming up throughout the rest of the season.
Canuck Fans and Organization Frustrated
Whether it is fans, the players or the front office, everyone associated with the Canucks is frustrated with their third-period play. Vancouver needs to remember games are not 40 minutes long, plain and simple. Their third-period play so far is not good enough and has led to them being booed off the ice in their first two home games of the season. They need to get better in the third and quick if they have any plans of fighting for a playoff spot this season.
All statistics provided by Natural Stat Trick