The Canucks reach .500; Let’s Have Cautious Optimism

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With the Canucks back to a .500 record, and that I was having technical issues getting a Kings game review up, lets look at this from a wholesome two game perspective.

This two game stretch was something wildly interesting, both on the ice, and on paper. Scoreboards matter in terms of getting Vancouver into the promise land for the first time in 5 years. Yet, if they ignore what they’ve been doing wrong, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Both wins came against the Kings and the Flyers. Despite two wildly different scores, each game played out very similarly. The Kings gave the Canucks the gift of a Jonathan Quick who was reminiscent of those goalie screens you put over top of the net. The Flyers, a Canucks comparable in the East showed that to win games, this team needs to be good for a complete 60 (or 65) minutes.

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Images provided from hockeyviz.com

Period by Period Breakdown

In both games, the Canucks do what most overpaid coaches in Toronto want their team to do, start on time. They dominate the opening shifts of games, and are often rewarded for what they do. With LA, it was the early powerplay that led to Quinn Hughes firing a rocket of a shot for his league first. With Philidelphia Brock Boeser claimed that juicy rebound off of Carter Hart to get him his first this season. Anxiety for Canucks fans so far is not in the opening frame of the contest. Pressure combined with amazing puck control allows them to limit what the opposition is looking for, while converting on well set up meaningful plays.

The middle frame was less stellar than the first. The team is starting to get tired, but is still be effective in key moments. With the Kings, the Canucks simply scored goals when it mattered. With the Flyers, it was a competitive back and forth of a team looking to get back into it, and a Canucks team that had the drive to ensure that they took a lead into the third.

The Third is Where it Breaks Down

Despite the first two solid periods, the third is where this team looks tired and tends to chase plays much more. That’s what’s going to give the Canucks anxiety through this season. Markstrom makes up for a defense that is continuously caught on plays. With the Kings this didn’t matter because the Canucks just had to lob a puck in Quick’s general direction and Van Halen’s Ain’t talking ’bout love would play. With the Flyers, it meant that Jakob Markstrom had to be a lights out M.V.P. to drag this team into the extra frame and shootout.

Looking Ahead

This summer much was made about getting players that can transition a puck out of the defensive zone and into a scoring opportunity. That box has been checked. Stopping odd man rushes or shutting down opponents once they’ve gained possession? This is what will burn the Canucks. Look at the past two games here in how the Flyers and Kings generated their chances:

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Courtesy of hockeywiz.com

This means that to keep winning it’s a one two combo. Jakob Markstrom needs to be as good as he has ever been. Second, tight side D needs to stop chasing plays (Chris Tanev). They also need to stop giving too much space to operate (Tyler Myers). Next up, Red Wings are in town on Tuesday, a team that a playoff bound Canucks should beat.

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