This...this was rough.
Whether it was the team’s brutal schedule catching up to them or the understandable letdown after being officially eliminated from the playoffs on Monday, the Vancouver Canucks were just plain bad.
The Winnipeg Jets dealt the Canucks a 5-0 shellacking on Tuesday night, outplaying them in every single facet of the game. Canucks head coach Travis Green was blunt postgame.
“I think it’s pretty obvious: there’s not a lot of good things to find in that game, start to finish,” he said. “We weren’t good, plain and simple.”
It was in stark contrast to Monday’s hard-fought 3-1 win, as if they had exhausted all the reserves of good hockey they had left in them. Passes didn’t connect on the breakout and players were flat-footed all over the ice, so the puck spent too much time in the Canucks’ zone, where defensive breakdowns were far too frequent.
“We looked like we were a day late and a dollar short everywhere,” said Green.
“We didn’t play full-ice hockey, kind of played three-quarter hockey, and they kept shoving it our way pretty good and hemming us in,” said Tanner Pearson. “It can’t happen. Gotta get it in behind them and go from there.”
As a result, shot totals were tilted heavily in the Jets’ favour. They out-shot the Canucks 36-to-24 and even that paints a rosier picture of how the game progressed. Natural Stat Trick had the scoring chances at 39-to-17 for the Jets and high-danger chances were 14-to-6, as goaltender Braden Holtby repeatedly had to face grade A scoring chances.
“It’s kind of unacceptable, especially where we’re at in the year,” said Pearson. “We just can’t stop playing hockey for no reason or else we’re going to hang out our goalies to dry, which we did tonight.”
“I feel bad for Holts tonight,” said Green. “We were in our zone a lot of time tonight. We weren’t good in any areas of the game and when you’re not good in any areas, you’re gonna give up a lot of chances.”
Some might say this game was unwatchable, but that is factually incorrect. I know, because I watched this game.
- It’s tough to watch Tuesday night’s game and realize the Canucks still have five games to go, with four of them coming after the start of the playoffs. If this is the calibre of hockey we’re going to get, this next week is going to be agonizing.
- One of the few reasons to watch the Canucks at this point is that young players are getting their first NHL games. So, it didn’t help the entertainment factor that Kole Lind, Olli Juolevi, and Jonah Gadjovich weren’t in the lineup. Hopefully, we’ll see more of them in the coming week, as well as the currently-quarantining Will Lockwood, which will hopefully also spark the veterans.
- “We have a lot of young guys in the lineup that are trying to show themselves and prove that they can play in the league,” said Alex Edler. “They’re going to play as hard as they can and be excited, so it’s up to the older guys to get ready too for every game even though they don’t mean anything.”
- Bo Horvat, at least, was still fully engaged. He had a game-high six shots on goal while playing a match-up role against the Jets’ top line. Sure, he was also on the ice for three of the Jets’ five goals and completely blew his coverage on one of those goals, but at least he was engaged and trying in comparison to some of his teammates.
- Okay, let’s run through the goals. I’ll make it short and sweet, because we mustn’t dwell.
- The Jets opened the scoring in the first period when Kyle Connor got a step on Travis Hamonic on a long stretch pass. Hamonic didn’t recognize the danger and looped up to his own blue line, allowing Connor to move in alone and snap a quick shot along the ice to beat Holtby five-hole.
- Two minutes into the second period, Horvat got caught puck-watching and his check, Blake Wheeler darted in behind him with a clear path to the net. As Wheeler drove in on Holtby, Alex Edler committed to taking the backdoor pass away and allowed Wheeler to deke to the backhand unimpeded.
- On the 3-0 goal, the Jets were rotating around the offensive zone with impunity against the line of Jayce Hawryluk, Tyler Graovac, and Marc Michaelis. Eventually, Mark Scheifele tipped in a point shot with Graovac unable to tie up his stick in front.
- In the third period, Connor and Wheeler went in 2-on-2 on Edler and Nate Schmidt. As soon as the two Jets forwards made like Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac and criss-crossed, the Canucks’ defence pairing was lost: Shmidt chased Wheeler across but couldn’t keep pace as Wheeler drove to the net, while Edler couldn’t close on Connor quickly enough to prevent the pass to Wheeler. Holtby had no hope.
- A minute after, it was 5-0. Hamonic got tripped by Mason Appleton in a puck battle with no penalty call. A couple of quick passes later and Appleton had the space to rip a shot past a screened Holtby.
- Honestly, Holtby didn’t even play that poorly. He made some fantastic saves early on when it seemed like this might actually be a game. It’s just that, like Scorpion’s Kunai in 1995’s Mortal Kombat, this game got out of hand.
- Jack Rathbone did some nifty things, which was nice. He completely bamboozled Wheeler with a quick move to the backhand and drew a penalty in the final minute of the first period. That was a good thing.
- Another good thing: this big, open-ice hit by Tyler Graovac on Andrew Copp. So much for Green’s claim that there were not a lot of good things to find in this game. I found two!
- Uh, that’s it. I don’t have anything else to say about this game and I would like to stop thinking about it, please.