Shadows of Last Season: A Tale of Two Losses for the Canucks

Credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars Hockey
Credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars Hockey

Over the weekend, the Canucks faced the two Ontario teams and suffered two straight losses for the first time since October 21. Actually, this is only the second time this season that they’ve faced two consecutive losses.

The weekend opened with a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs — who previous to this game had only beat the Canucks once since the lockout. For those of you who didn’t watch — or just need a refresher — the Canucks lost 5-2.

One has to note though, that the Canucks had 46 shots compared to Toronto’s 28. Sometimes the shot count doesn’t tell the whole story but in this case — it does. The Canucks outplayed the Leafs — and for a good portion of the game by a wide margin.

The Canucks even controlled the game shorthanded, on one Toronto powerplay controlling the puck as if it was their powerplay.

However, for one reason or another the Leafs got the bounces while the Canucks just couldn’t find the back of the net — enough.

Daniel Sedin saw this firsthand, on the powerplay right after Chris Tanev netted the second goal, as the Canucks looked to be making their way back in the game down 4-2, and he hits two posts. Had either of these gone in, the Canucks would have been down only one goal and would have likely gone on to tie the game.

Instead they lost the game as a game-sealing empty net caused the game to end 5-2 — which without watching looks like a dominant victory for the Leafs.

As unfortunate as the loss was, it’s one of those games that happens to every team. The shots just did not go in that night, and Ryan Miller had an off-night. Nothing too concerning.

The next day was a bit more concerning. The Canucks went out to a dominant 3-0 lead against the Ottawa Senators, only to have the Senators win 4-3 in overtime — with the one point seeming like a lucky break in the end.

The Canucks were decimated by a constant stream of penalties in the second period which served to both cool the Canucks’ offensive game (which had been great up until that point) and allow the Senators to score their first goal.

Then the Senators tallied two more goals before the second intermission to tie the game. The Canucks looked absolutely defeated.

However, the second period was not really the main problem — it was the third. Now, from the boxscore that doesn’t appear to be the case; the Canucks didn’t score, but they also didn’t allow a goal.

The problem is that they came out playing like they did at the end of the second — looking dejected, allowing Ottawa to control the game. Really at the beginning of the period it was a miracle that Ottawa didn’t score.

This season, when the Canucks have had a bad period they have been mostly able to rebound in the next — that’s one of the main differences between this year’s and last year’s Canucks team.

Last season, if the Canucks had surrendered the lead they were in all likelihood going to lose the game as they would let the momentum change just snowball. An intermission wouldn’t have made a difference.

Brad Richardson continued his hot streak with two points: an assist in Toronto and a goal against Ottawa. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Richardson continued his hot streak with two points: an assist in Toronto and a goal against Ottawa. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

This year, if the Canucks have had a bad period they seem capable of coming back the next period ready to claw their way back into the game. That’s why the Ottawa game was so bad. Unlike the game against Toronto where the Canucks continued to fight despite being down 4-0, the Canucks instead looked content throwing in the towel for the third period.

Luckily, Ottawa didn’t score and the Canucks did start playing better as the period went on. Last season, the Canucks likely wouldn’t have escaped with the overtime point.

In both games, funnily enough, we saw shades of the Canucks of last year. I can’t count the number of times last season where it seemed like the Canucks outshot their opponent by a wide margin (often with more than 40 shots) but just couldn’t score like in Saturday’s game against Toronto. And last seasons, it seemed like the Canucks would just give up if the other team tied the game up.

Should We Worry?

Probably not. Again it’s important to note that this only the second consecutive loss of the season — at some point the team is going lose more than just one at a time. And it’s important to note, the one game where the Canucks seemed to give up — for a few minutes anyhow — was on the second game of a back-to-back, a game in which the team is abnormally tired.

Although the 40+ shot game was reminiscent of last season, it did truly appear to just be bad luck — most nights that would have been at least three goals.

And in the end of the Ottawa game, the Canucks did start to claw back, getting a few opportunities of their own. That wouldn’t have happened last season. In the end, the Canucks even managed a point out of a game in which they should have gotten none.

Now, the Canucks just have to regroup against the Montreal Canadiens and stop the “losing streak” before it becomes actual news. And win or lose the next game, the game after will be at home on Saturday, a break which will allow the Canucks to refresh and look forward to a lighter schedule — a good recipe for returning to winning ways.