Welcome Matt: Are the Canucks learning how to win low-scoring games?
If the Vancouver Canucks are going to be contenders in the next two years (as per Jim Rutherford’s timeline), they’ll need more weekends like this past one.
Low-scoring victories where the goaltending is great (as it was against the Los Angeles Kings), the defence robust (as it was against the Anaheim Ducks), and the stars carrying the offensive workload to push the team across the line. Wins over teams you absolutely should beat even as the second-end of a back-to-back, and road wins over teams atop the division/conference — and had the Kings won Saturday, they would’ve ended the night as the top team in the Western Conference.
There are continued good signs that this group is learning to win low-scoring, defensively-oriented games that we haven’t seen a lot of over the last two years. The Canucks are starting to insulate their goaltending more with better play in front, and they have the type of high-end skill and skating — hello Quinn Hughes — to pick up their fair share of overtime and shootout points.
- You might also like:
- Bye bye, Bedard? Canucks dangerously close to 0% draft lottery odds
They are still going to have to win some of those fire-drill games like against Los Angeles Saturday, as they don’t quite have enough offence from their bottom-six or back-end, nor do they quite have enough defending from their 18 skaters.
The Western Conference, as we’ve seen this year, is the weak sister with no clear-cut favourite heading into the home stretch. I imagine that changes next year because if the Colorado Avalanche are healthy, they are a formidable challenger to anyone in the Eastern Conference.
But if you’re into quick turnarounds and contention from out of left field (and the Canucks are, it’s their mission), this weekend — and seven wins in the last eight — has lit this narrow pathway.