The Vancouver Canucks have played a lot better in recent weeks, the only problem being they’ve been unable to pull out wins. Through 22 games, the Canucks have an 8-12-2 record, which puts them in sixth place in the North Division. They also have the fifth-worst point percentage in the league at .409. Through four games this past week, they held a record of 1-1-2.
The Canucks started the week by taking on the Calgary Flames on Monday. After winning the previous matchup, the two teams faced off in a close game. The Canucks opened the game taking a 2-0 lead, but the Flames scored three goals straight to take a 3-2 lead entering the third period. Brock Boeser scored the game-tying goal with 31 seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime. Johnny Gaudreau ended the game on the power play 23 seconds into O.T.
The Canucks dominated the final matchup between the two teams for some time. They won 5-1 as Boeser led the way with a three-point (one goal, two assists), and Braden Holtby had one of his better performances in net. Holtby made 35 saves and finished with a .972 save percentage (SV%).
On Friday, the Canucks played the Winnipeg Jets for the second time this season. Jets’ goaltender Laurent Brossoit shut out the Canucks, leading his team in a 2-0 win. The Canucks played well on Friday night but were unable to answer Mark Schiefele’s first-period breakaway goal. Despite the loss, Thatcher Demko played well as he posted a .967 SV%, making 29 saves.
The two teams faced off once again on Sunday night. The Canucks opened up the game up 2-0 after the first period, but the Jets answered back, slowly chipping away at the two-goal lead. In the third period, Neal Pionk scored the go-ahead goal, but Elias Pettersson scored his second goal of the game in the last minute. For the second time all week, the Canucks scored a last-minute goal to send the game to O.T. Once again, they failed to secure crucial points in the O.T. as Pierre-Luc Dubois scored his second of the night to win it.
Demko as the Number One Goalie
The Canucks entered the season with the idea both of their goaltenders will split starts. With the way the season is trending, it seems it is time for head coach Travis Green to lean on the young Demko. Although Holtby was impressive in the team’s 5-1 win against the Flames, those performances have not been common in his 10 starts this season.
Through those 10 games, Holtby has a 4-5-1 record, with a .893 SV% and a 3.31 goals against average (GAA). To start the season, Demko has been the better of the two statistically. In 12 starts, he has a 4-7-1 record but a .901 SV% and a 3.31 GAA. Additionally, with the Seattle Expansion Draft this offseason, the Canucks will have to expose one goaltender. That goalie will likely be the veteran Holtby since Demko is younger.
With the way the season has gone so far, why not lean on Demko a little more? He is the goalie of the future and can use some playing time to continue developing into a true number one goalie for the team.
Canucks Fall Short
The Canucks held 2-0 leads twice last week but allowed three straight goals against. However, they forced O.T. in both games thanks to a last-minute goal twice this past week. Still, they failed to pick up the two points, losing in less than 30 seconds into the extra frame.
They are in a position in the standings where every point is crucial for them to pick up. By losing in O.T, they are giving up points to division rivals, who are extending their lead on the Canucks.
Only four teams will make the playoffs out of each division, and currently, it seems the Canucks will not be one of them. Additionally, they seem to be a bottom two team in the North Division, which is a big disappointment for the last Canadian team standing in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Hoglander Continues to Shine
Nils Hoglander has been one of the few bright spots for the Canucks this season. Through 22 games, he has started to make his mark on the league. With his two-point night against the Flames on Wednesday, he now has three goals and nine points on the season. Furthermore, he now has the fourth-most points in the 2019 NHL Draft class.
Along with his two-point night, Hoglander showed off his chippiness in the games against the Jets. On Friday night, the rookie threw a hit at defenceman Derek Forbort, who responded by crosschecking the forward. Forbort wasn’t done after the crosschecks as he grabbed Hoglander and the two teams got into it in the dying seconds of the game. Zac MacEwen stood up for the 20-year-old, fighting Forbort at the start of Sunday’s game.
Hoglander has had a promising start to his rookie season. Not only is he producing, but he is getting involved physically.
Canucks Have a Short Week Coming Up
The Canucks only play two times next week, as they take on the Edmonton Oilers. This is the first time the two teams will faceoff since the start of the season. The Oilers are second in the North Division, led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. McDavid is leading the league with 37 points, while Draisaitl has 30 points through 20 games.
Brock Boeser – two goals, four assists
J.T. Miller – one goal, four assists
Elias Pettersson – two goals, two assists
- February 23rd – vs Edmonton Oilers
- February 25th – vs Edmonton Oilers
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.