With a dominating win over the Detroit Red Wings during their recent home stand, the Canucks had to answer many questions for the fan base as this still young season continues to unfold. Before this game it was where goals were coming from, where they weren’t and who was with whom when it was scored.
The facts are pretty solid on this home stand. A record 3-0 while outscoring their opponent 16 – 5. Goals were aplenty and they came from everyone. It’s almost as if the hockey gods wanted to give Twitter a break from users wanting to type in another “here we go again” rant on how this team didn’t get any better despite spending (and arguably overspending) to be a playoff contender.
So with that elation aside let’s just ask ourselves what just happened on the Canucks home stand.
All These Games Were Winnable
It was a very good schedule for the Canucks and one that can help build confidence as they looked to play the defending Stanley Cup champions on Thursday night. Three games against teams that, on paper, were favorable to a Canucks win.
LA was a blowout waiting to happen. Thank the over hype media and Brady Tkachuk for working an LA Kings squad into OT and with not much left in the tank for an effective start.
Philadelphia was the hardest of these three contests. Jakob Markstrom had to prove that his play last year wasn’t just a one off season by standing on his head while Chris Tanev and Tyler Myers contained a Flyers squad that bent, but didn’t break the Canucks as it went into a shoot out.
Detroit was the game that allowed the fans to stop complaining about two things. 1) The power play works, and arguably it’s been effective since game one of the season. 2) That games are winnable with Thatcher Demko in the net.
Special Teams Were on Point
For reference here is the heat map of how the offenses played out for both teams in Detroit. While Detroit did have a good amount of looks at testing Demko the Canucks kept their opportunities to the outside without traffic. The Wings did the same… except that giant red dot is Alex Edler, and when plays are set up this way? He’ll rocket shots through wickets.
This kind of presence from the Canucks can only be generated when everyone on the ice is a threat and every one presents a low-risk value for how they carry and move the puck. Edler here gets the space and the proper screens from his teammates because every forward out there with him on the PP is a threat to score. Canucks fans have long known he has an underestimated shot when he uses it, and right now that unit is giving him no excuses not to. It’s simply beautiful.
On the flip side the PK on paper is doing well, but not without the casual anxiety attack of a scenario. Against the Flyers, it led to both their goals and the coverage at times played chase.
Brandon Sutter is Proving his WorthEmbed from Getty Images
Put a cap hit and past seasons aside and realize that points-wise Brandon Sutter has the most points of any Canucks center. And he kills penalties effectively. And he forces zone exits. He’s not a team superstar, and we all want that bigger sample size, but he’s become the flexible depth that this team has needed him to be. Keep proving Canucks Twitter wrong, and they may just want to keep him around.
Vancouver’s playoff push will rely on continuing to win those “winnable games”. Following up their home stand, the Canucks have an upcoming road trip sees time against the Blues, Rangers, Devils, and Red Wings. Argubly the Canucks should win against the Devils and Red Wings, and aim to upset one of the remaining two. The quick factors here rely on the ability of this team to continue to keep goals against low while punishing mistakes on the special teams. Oh and please keep that grit we saw against Detroit… that’s the stuff old people love to remind us has left this team.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js