Vancouver Continues Its Losing Ways

USATSI_8977708_154158418_lowresThe Vancouver Canucks keep on losing. On Saturday night, they were blown out by the hated Boston Bruins by a final score of 4-0, with head coach Willie Desjardins inexplicably calling it a “must win” game beforehand.

The Canucks have now lost 13 of their past 16 games. They hold a 9-11-8 record and only look afloat in the Pacific Division because the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are doing even worse. That won’t last, especially when the Ducks just a point behind.

It should be noted that the Canucks are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes with the fewest wins in the NHL. They’ve scored 72 goals, but they’ve allowed 79 and hold a miserable 3-6-3 record at home.

As expected, the Canucks are all about Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Daniel leads the team in scoring with 29 points in 28 games, including a dozen goals – five of which have been on the power play. He has 102 shots on goal. Henrik has 26 points in 28 games, including eight goals. He only has 39 shots on target, suggestive of his pass-first mentality. It balances out.

But it also levels off big-time after the twins. Jannik Hansen is next with 16 points in 28 games, including eight goals. Alexander Edler has 14 points in 27 games, while Radim Vrbata has a dozen points in 26 games. Alex Burrows follows with 11 points in 27 and that’s it for double-digit scorers in Vancouver.

Some of this is down to roster depth. With Brandon Sutter on the shelf, the Canucks don’t have a lot of options down the middle. This was apparent against the Bruins, as Jared McCann was on the ice against Boston’s top units and coughed up two goals while being outshot 6-2. Bo Horvat is popular in fan circles, but his eight points aren’t exactly going to propel Vancouver into the stratosphere.

The bottom line in terms of offence is that the Canucks need, at the very least, a third wheel. Gone are the days when the Sedins elevated another forward to some quality scoring. This year, they’ve struggled to find a viable linemate and are effectively carrying the team. But it’s not enough. And when the Sedins can be contained, like they were on Saturday night, the team won’t win. Period.

Goaltending hasn’t been strong, either. Ryan Miller has done his best, posting a .910 save percentage and a 2.59 goals against average over a 7-9-6 record. He has a shutout. But Jacob Markstrom hasn’t been able to step up and give him a break when needed. He made a series of mental errors and the Bruins took him for four goals on 22 shots, dropping his save percentage on the year to .904.

Markstrom admittedly didn’t have help from his defence, which has made life rather easy for opponents this season. Beyond Edler, Vancouver really has nobody to speak of when it comes to the blueline. Seriously. The next best defenceman is Ben Hutton. Maybe Matt Bartkowski is in the conversation with Yannick Weber (who is a minus-11 right now). What about Luca Sbisa? Let’s not go there.

Most Vancouver fans know by now that the process of addition by subtraction hasn’t worked. The Canucks are shells of their former selves. They have no depth to speak of, have been getting disappointing goaltending and have one of the most permeable defensive units in the National Hockey League.

As Henrik Sedin said on Saturday, “I would love to play against us right now.” Who wouldn’t?


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