The Vancouver Canucks are heading home after what can only be called a catastrophe of a road trip.
The Canucks dropped all three games on the swing, including a monstrous 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday afternoon. Vancouver was outshot by the home team 48-19, with goalie Jacob Markstrom putting on a performance that was not at all rewarded.
“We looked overwhelmed,” head coach Travis Green said. “We were not very good. We couldn’t handle them. That’s what happens when you get a team that’s a Stanley Cup contender (against) a team that didn’t play well.”
And with that, the Canucks blew it at just the wrong moment.
All season long, you could at least argue that Vancouver put in good efforts. They were often outmatched, but they showed up. Not so, Sunday.
The Canucks are now tied with the Edmonton Oilers with 63 points, although they’ve played one more game than the Albertans. For a time, it looked like Vancouver might be capable of sneaking into the final wildcard spot and maybe making a go of it.
That’s over now.
Now Vancouver looks like the team it is, a squad with a good goaltender but a squad that can’t hold the shots down. Markstrom has faced more than 37 shots in five of his last nine starts with the Canucks. Only four times in his last 15 has he faced less than 30.
Markstrom has faced more vulcanized rubber than anyone in the NHL this season and he’s started the third most games. That makes him the best player on the Canucks. Without a doubt.
Talking about doing more, defenceman Ben Hutton is masticating major minutes. Since February, no blueliner has charted more minutes than the 25-year-old. Sunday, he logged 26:41. Two games ago, Hutton put in over a half hour of work against the Colorado Avalanche across the better part of 37 shifts.
Unfortunately, more isn’t a theme. Elias Pettersson has been held pointless in five of his last six games and is petering out, pun unconditionally intended, at the wrong time. Ditto Bo Horvat, who’s got just six points across the last 13.
And now Vancouver, with just three wins in their last 14, it’s probably time to bone up on the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. It’s a shame, but it’s also time to get real. Beyond the early glimmer of hope this season, the Canucks are once again right where many of us thought they would be.
(Photo credit: NHL)