What could stand in the way? Indifferent play, poor defending and a perplexing power play?
The math isn’t complicated.
The Vancouver Canucks were on pace for 97 points entering a Saturday night struggle with the Calgary Flames. They know that could be the performance bar to ensure the NHL club advances to the postseason for the first time in five years.
They also know if momentum is maintained on home ice — the Canucks were riding a nine-game win streak — then a six-game homestand should be the catalyst to keep the club from losing ground to a tightly-packed group of Pacific Division pursuers.
What could stand in the way?
Injuries? Brock Boeser got tied up with Andrew Mangiapane on the sideboards in the third period and left the game holding his arm and supporting his shoulder. Coach Travis Green wouldn’t only say that the winger “is going to be out a little bit — we’ll know more tomorrow (Sunday).”
How about indifferent play, poor defending and a perplexing power play?
There was enough of that Saturday. Add it up and it could turn the stretch drive into a daily deliberation of what has gone wrong.
Here’s what we learned in an edgy playoff-style tussle as the Canucks were clobbered 6-2:
The defence simply can’t rest
One of the improvements in Jacob Markstrom’s game is his ability to track the puck.
It gets complicated when players at top of his crease take away his vision and when that comes from his own players, the problem is only magnified. And it simply happened too often Saturday and raised concerns about down-low coverage because the Canucks have surrendered 18 goals in what is now a four-game losing streak.
“They looked like a team that had been in this situation before and looked more like the mature team,” said Green. “We made some mistakes and didn’t sustain pressure in certain parts of the rink and a lot of that is puck battles. They had a lot of rush opportunities and jumped out of the corners and got up the ice.
“Little details matter. We looked like the younger team a little bit tonight and we have to learn from it.”
After Tanner Pearson gave the Canucks the lead after just 35 seconds, Derek Ryan got an assist from Jake Virtanen. Instead of sprawling to stop the shot, ensuring that Markstrom would see the release, the Canucks winger stood straight up for the block and Markstrom didn’t see the wrister find the far side.
That was followed by a coverage problem that left Markstrom miffed.
When Johnny Gaudreau fed a cross-ice pass to Matthew Tkachuk, the winger had ample time to decide whether to shoot or deke. Troy Stecher and Alex Edler where prone at the far post and Tkachuk went to the backhand. Markstrom got a piece of it before it trickled across the line.
After Adam Gaudette pulled the Canucks even with his first goal in 15 games, there was another vision problem for Markstrom. When Dillon Dube wheeled into the high slot to let a shot fly, Ryan was being tied up by Quinn Hughes just long enough that the puck found the stick side before Markstrom tracked it.
To his credit, Markstrom maintained his poise and tough third-period saves off Tkachuk and Gaudreau kept the Canucks within striking range.
“I have to come up with some stops — that’s not good enough,” said Markstrom, who debated the tracking narrative. “It’s my job to see the puck, no? I have to look around. It’s my job to stop the puck. This is crunch time. I have to step up and find another gear.”
Then came the dagger. Milan Lucic was allowed to set up shop at the top of the crease on the power play and Jordie Benn couldn’t get position to prevent the hulking winger from re-directing a point shot to make it 4-2. Sean Monahan was then all alone to easily deposit a 2-on-1 before Tobias Rieder got an empty-netter.
“We have to tighten up everywhere and obviously that (defensive coverage) is a big area because we have to limit scoring chances,” said Bo Horvat. “And it’s definitely not Marky’s fault — he has been great for us all year. We have to get better at chipping pucks in and getting pucks out at our line. Tonight, we lost that battle.”
“We got too much into a track meet against that team,” added Pearson. “That’s the kind of game they wanted and that doesn’t give up success and have to get back to the way we play. We’ve got to buckle down.”
Added Gaudette: “They wanted it more. We kind of got sucked in a bit and got away from our game a little bit and tried to play their style and it hurt us. We have to get back to basics and not panic.”
Call another power-play meeting
J.T. Miller called a huddle of the first power-play unit before the morning skate.
There was talking and pointing and nodding. And there was reason to believe striking twice with the man advantage Thursday in Minnesota was reason to believe that a critical element of the club’s game needed a tweak or two and not an overhaul.
However, before those PP efforts against the Wild, the Canucks had gone 4-for-36 in a 13-game span for an 11.1 per cent efficiency. So, there’s an obvious need for improvement. Whether it’s the drop pass wasting time or being too predictable and setting up the perfect pass for the perfect goal, it’s hurting PP1 that went 0-for-3.
“It’s just being more confident with the puck because we have so much skill in our unit,” said Horvat. “It’s a matter of making the right play when you have the opportunity and the confidence thing is the biggest thing for us right now.”
The Canucks had a chance to erase a 2-1 deficit in the first period. They put Elias Pettersson on the left dot, Boeser on the right dot, Horvat in the bumper and Miller as the down-low presence. The Flames collapsed to negate Pettersson and Boeser. And when Hughes let a point shot fly on the second power play of the period, there was nobody at the net.
Why not get into a rotation in the O-zone? Why not get the speedy Hughes going down low to be open for a backdoor feed?
“They’re struggling right now and it’s no secret and it (power play) is talked about every day,” stressed Green. “When you get down to these type of games, the difference is very small. Were we at our best tonight? I don’t know, but we worked and competed. Frustration sets in but you’ve got have a short memory.”
Miller packs a punch, too
Add willing pugilist to Miller’s resume.
As if there wasn’t enough to appreciate about the hard-working, tough-talking and driven winger — his 21 goals are one short of a career high — you can add another addition to his fight card after he scrapped with Tkachuk following the opening goal.
“He wanted to get the guys going and answered the bell and did well,” said Horvat.
Miller doesn’t drop the mitts very often, and has fought just seven times at the NHL level, but he also doesn’t pick his spots. When he was in Tampa Bay, he took on Brooks Orpik in the playoffs. And when he was in New York, he challenged Shea Weber in the postseason.
According to hockey fights.com, Miller didn’t win those bouts with Orpik and Weber, but he’ll score a lot of points with this teammates because Saturday was just another example of the temperature rising in these games.
Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks
7 p.m., Rogers Arena, TV: SNETP; Radio: SNET 650 AM
Alouettes trade for QB Trevor Harris – CFL.ca
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes announced on Sunday that the team has acquired veteran quarterback Trevor Harris from the Edmonton Elks in exchange for American defensive end Antonio Simmons.
In six games this season, Harris completed 135 of 192 passes, collecting 1,568 yards, adding six majors.
Harris (six-foot-three, 212 pounds) is in his ninth season in the CFL after playing in Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. In 139 career games, he completed 1990 passes for 23,750 yards, adding 126 touchdown passes. The 35-year-old quarterback has hoisted the Grey Cup twice (2012, Toronto; 2016, Ottawa). The Waldo, OH native was selected on the East Division All-Star Team in 2016. The former Edinboro University Fighting Scots suited up for the Jacksonvile Jaguars in 2010 and the Buffalo Bills in 2011.
“Trevor is a veteran who knows the league well and what it takes to win”, said Montreal Alouettes General Manager Danny Maciocia. “We are pleased to have been able to complete this transaction. We are confident that Trevor will work well with our quarterbacks. We thank Antonio for his services and wish him well.”
In 23 career games with the Alouettes, Simmons made 52 defensive tackles, five quarterback sacks and forced a fumble.
Simmons is currently in his second CFL season and joins the Elks after originally signing with Montreal in May of 2019.
The Georgia Tech product played all 18 regular season games for the Als in 2019, recording 45 defensive tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble. In five games this season, Simmons has registered seven defensive tackles and two sacks.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Simmons played four years (2014-17) at Georgia Tech, collecting 83 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and seven quarterback sacks. He spent time in 2018 with both the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Flames D Andersson fined $5K for roughing Oilers F Yamamoto – TSN
Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson has been fined $5,000 for roughing Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto.
Andersson was fined the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the Players’ Association.
The money goes to the players’ emergency assistance fund.
Andersson was assessed minor penalties for both roughing and elbowing at 14:33 of the first period Saturday in Edmonton.
The Flames lost their season-opener 5-2 to the Oilers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2021.
Report: Maple Leafs to ease up on dress code restrictions for game days – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Maple Leafs are apparently planning to loosen up on dress code restrictions for players on game day.
Players are required to wear jackets, ties and dress pants to and from the arena, as outlined in the CBA, however, teams can ease up on the mandate if they choose.
The Arizona Coyotes were the only team that opted to do so entering the season, but the Maple Leafs now plan to follow suit, according to Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun.
The decision comes just a few days after ESPN published an article on Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews, who has shown a flair for unique fashion while away from the arena, discussing his displeasure with the NHL’s strict dress code.
“I don’t mind wearing a suit, but it gets old pretty quick,” Matthews said. “I think it’d be fun to wear different things and be able to express yourself, similar to what the NBA does or even the NFL a little bit.”
The 24-year-old Matthews, who led the NHL with 41 goals in 52 games last season, missed the first three games of the season while recovering from wrist surgery and is expected to make his 2021-22 debut Monday night against the New York Rangers on Sportsnet.
How many lives have coronavirus vaccines saved? We used state data on deaths and vaccination rates to find out – Devdiscourse
Marlene Dumas: The art exposing the evil in the ordinary – BBC News
The new resurgence in tablet art – ArtsHub
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Media19 hours ago
'Don't squish them': Photos on social media show slimy, sticky salamanders in Labrador – CBC.ca
Business17 hours ago
Bank of England will have to act to contain inflation – Bailey
Business18 hours ago
UPDATE: U.S. expected to reopen border November 8, mixed doses eligible – BlackburnNews.com
Business16 hours ago
Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ estimated to be worth about $900 million – Bloomberg News
Investment19 hours ago
Turkey's Erdogan says U.S. proposed F-16 sales in return for its F-35 investment – Reuters
Science21 hours ago
NASA launches first space probe to study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids – Ottawa Citizen
News16 hours ago
China condemns U.S., Canada for sending warships through Taiwan Strait
Health16 hours ago
Former U.S. President Clinton leaves hospital, will return to New York