The Vancouver Canucks began their season on a tough road trip. Starting the season against the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Minnesota Wild before their home opener, was going to be brutal from multiple viewpoints. After the first three games, the Canucks are 0-3-0 and all three losses are in an embarrassing fashion.
The Canucks are the “first team in NHL history to lose each of their first three games of the season while blowing a multi-goal lead in each contest” (@SNstats on Twitter). This raises a lot of questions and concerns. While it’s easy to look at the negatives, you have to also consider the circumstances.
The Canucks started the season at Edmonton. Starting the season against Connor McDavid is no easy task. It’s even harder when you look at the injury report for the team. They don’t have off-season acquisition forward, Ilya Mikheyev, or top defensemen in Travis Dermott or Tyler Myers. This has caused a lot of lineup shuffles. Defensemen Tucker Poolman left Saturday’s game against Philadelphia after an undisclosed injury, which lead to Noah Juulsen being called up from Abbotsford.
Performance has not been perfect for the Canucks. There have been sloppy plays all around the ice, there have been unnecessary penalties that they have taken, and the play needs to step up if the team wants to be successful in the Pacific division.
The power play needs to capitalize on power play opportunities. In Wednesday’s game against Edmonton, the Canucks went on the power play eight times, and they only capitalized with one power play goal (Andrei Kuzmenko). In Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, the Canucks went 0-5 on the power play. In Mondays game against the Capitals, the Canucks went 1-1 (J.T. Miller). In Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, the Canucks “allow short-handed goals in back-to-back games to begin a season for the first time in franchise history” (@SNstats on Twitter).
There have also been bright spots this season. In their game against Edmonton, the Canucks “set the franchise record for the fastest two goals to begin a season (2:40), which beats the previous mark of 3:55 set in 1983 against the Flames.” (@SNstats on Twitter). Andrei Kuzmenko also became the first player in Canucks history to score a power play goal in his NHL debut, and he was also the 21st player in Canucks history to score in his NHL debut. (@SNstats on Twitter). Elias Pettersson also set the 3rd fastest goal to start a season in Canucks history when he scored 1:52 into the game. (@SNstats on Twitter). While the Canucks set three franchise records against Edmonton, they still blew a 3-0 lead after the first period.
The season is not in panic mode. Though Twitter may be speculating on how much longer Bruce Boudreau will be the coach with Mike Yeo being an assistant coach, there is no reason Boudreau should be replaced any time soon. The Canucks need to work out some issues on the ice and off the ice. After Monday’s 6-4 loss to Washington, there was a player-only meeting in the locker room. Hopefully, this meeting will have kick started the motivation to compete for a full 60 minutes.
This team is good, do not give up yet on this squad. Once they get going, they will be competitive for the Pacific Division. Once the team is healthy, they will have normal lines and normal NHL-level players on the team. This will allow for a normal power play and a normal penalty kill unit to happen. Fans just need to step back and look at the roster and realize this is not our full team right now.