Canucks Problems Masked by Overtime Success

On Thursday evening, it looked the Canucks were about to succumb to another depressing and inevitable outcome.

In the second period, Brad Richardson skated down the wing and wristed home the game’s first goal. That storyline has become all too familiar for the Canucks, who have given up the first goal in 16 of their 18 games.

Shortly after, Anthony DeAngelo wristed home the Coyotes second goal of the game on the powerplay, with Markstrom caught drifting too far to his right. With the Canucks down two goals, they were legitimately facing the possibility of losing to the worst team in the league. That is, if you don’t already consider the Canucks the worst team in hockey.

However, two quick second period goals got them to overtime, where Ben Hutton scored on his first career penalty shot to win the game.

With the way the first 18 games have gone for the Canucks, that might be their brightest moment of the season.

Vancouver was facing an Arizona team with the worst record in hockey, who was playing their second game in as many nights. They made the Coyotes look like a playoff contender, surrendering 36 shots to the desert dogs.

Thankfully, the Canucks have only surrendered one loss in the extra frame. It was a shootout loss against the Los Angeles Kings, their first defeat of the season, and the first of nine straight losses.

The Canucks Without Overtime…

Are the worst team in hockey, no ifs, ands or buts. They’re almost in that position already.

They have only held the lead for an astounding 31:09, meaning that they have led during game action for less than three percent of the season. Sure, it’s fine and dandy that they’ve been able to muster some third-period comebacks, but they are going to dip below those dreadful 65 point predictions if they don’t start scoring first.

What might be an even more telling statistic is that the Canucks only have two regulation wins to date.

Brendan Gaunce chases Sami Vatanen during an October game against the Ducks. It seems like the Canucks have been doing a lot of chasing in games lately.(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Brendan Gaunce chases Sami Vatanen. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Two regulation wins, in 18 games played. Let that sink in for a moment.

Thankfully, the Canucks aren’t alone in their failure at winning games in regulation. Actually, a few of their division rivals are experiencing the same, horrific reality.

The Calgary Flames have only mustered four regulations wins, and they cannot boast about being the overtime champions of the league. The Flames have a shrug-worthy .500 record in the extra frame, thanks to a shootout loss on opening night against the Canucks.

The Coyotes are, for now, still the worst team in hockey. That’s in large part due to their three regulation wins.

What’s more surprising is that the Kings are the other team with only three regulation wins. The Kings are slightly better in regulation that the Canucks, with three wins and nine losses, compared to the Canucks two wins and ten losses.

Both teams boast identical records in the extra frame, with four overtime wins, one shootout win, and one shootout loss. The similarities between these two teams pretty much end after their records. Although the Canucks are only two points back of the Kings, their goal differential is -19, compared to the Kings -3.

The Canucks better keep hoping that the teams around them continue to struggle because it’s the only plausible way they will stay in the playoff picture. Don’t count on that happening unless something changes dramatically.

Better or Worse Than 2015-16?

Willie Desjardins
(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

This team is worse than last year’s mediocre version of the Canucks. Vancouver hung around the playoff picture for a while last season, before injuries to key players derailed their chances.

But was it really the injuries that did them in? For the most part, they have iced a healthy roster this season with less than desirable results. Even though Chris Tanev and Jannik Hansen are missing from the lineup, this team was lighting the lamp before their absences.

This Canucks team has struggled all year. They struggled during their four-game win streak, even though they found a way to win. They struggled even harder during their nine-game losing streak and really, they’ve struggled ever since.

Last season, the problem for this team was holding the lead. They had the worst win percentage in the NHL when leading after two periods last season, winning only 60% of those games.

At least they were playing with the lead then. So far this season, the Canucks only have one win when leading after the second period. In that situation, every team other than Vancouver has at least three wins.

Last year, the Canucks were so bad they couldn’t hold a lead. This year, they can’t even muster a lead.

You decide what’s worse.