Well, that was… Something.
The Canucks looked home and cooled after 40 minutes with a 5-2 lead. Start writing your stories, beat writers!
Not so fast.
Pass it to Bulis’ers past and present knew something wasn’t right.
@passittobulis Last time the Canucks scored four in a period Donald Trump got elected. I don't like this.
— Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney) December 14, 2016
They were right…
The Canucks lost 8-6 in Carolina on Tuesday night in what was probably the wildest, most undisciplined game of the season for both teams.
Heck, tonight’s game had more goals than two Seahawks football games had points this season.
The Canucks allowed the first goal in this one, as is tradition with this edition of the team. They’ve allowed the first goal in 22 of 30 games, which leads the NHL. They’ve also allowed an NHL-worst 38 third period goals this season.
The teams traded goals before the end of the period, which Carolina led 2-1. The second period is where the Canucks took charge, outshooting the Hurricanes 17-10 and outscoring them 4-0. Vancouver went into the third period with a commanding 5-2 lead and looked to be in good shape to bring home a win to cap off their five-game road trip.
But with less than two weeks before the World Juniors kick off, the Canucks looked like nervous teenagers, fumbling and bumbling the game away to a Carolina Hurricanes team that sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Four goals in 4:40 from the Hurricanes gave them the lead, and 6:42 after that, they had an insurance goal.
It’s at moments like these where we usually get clarity from the SixPack godfather, Omar…
A high scoring loss is much more fun than the usual 2-1 loss, no?
— Omar A (@omarcanuck) December 14, 2016
What an eternal optimist.
1. Willie watch
Despite Omar’s surprisingly cheerful summation, this is a devastating loss for this group.
Yes, it was the last game of a road trip. They were tired. Yes, Ryan Miller was playing his first game after an injury. He was rusty. Yes, they’re still playing without Chris Tanev and Alex Edler. Their blueline is inexperienced.
These are excuses that bad teams make. This was not a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. This was Carolina.
The Canucks were praised for their structure early on this season. This did not look like a team playing with any sort of structure.
Florida blew a two-goal lead against the Hurricanes a few weeks ago and fired their coach.
During the third period barrage, Willie Desjardins refused to use his time out. In fact, he didn’t use it all game.
I wonder if someone’s calling Willie a cab.
— Kevin (@Gumpy88) December 14, 2016
2. The third period collapse
When things go sideways, fans look for scapegoats. It’s human nature.
Typically, fans find a way to blame their favourite whipping boy. Two years ago it was Luca Sbisa. Last year it was Matt Bartkowski. For a while it was whatever goalie was in the crease. This year, it’s Erik Gudbranson.
Gudbranson doesn't turn very quickly.
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 14, 2016
More on Gudbranson in a minute, because it wasn’t a good night for him, but this was a team collapse.
The players in front of him didn’t do their job well enough, but you’d like to see one more save from Ryan Miller, who let in six goals on 30 shots. You’d like to see a better outing from the Sedins and Jannik Hansen, who had the worst 5-on-5 Corsi ratings (Hansen was -13, Daniel and Henrik were -12 each).
Watch all five Hurricanes touch the puck as they pass through the Canucks PK box (Hansen, Bo Horvat, Luca Sbisa, and Gudbranson) with ease on the power play, before Jeff Skinner tapped home Carolina’s first goal of the third:
It was the Sedins and Hansen on the ice when they couldn’t get the puck for a lengthy shift, while Ryan Miller couldn’t track a Ron Hainsey shot that deflected off Daniel Sedin’s stick with Nikita Tryamkin standing in his way to make it 5-4.
Gudbranson got his pocket picked by Skinner before Victor Rask scored to tie the game at five:
And this is the play the Sedins made at the line, leading to Justin Faulk’s goal to give Carolina the 6-5 lead:
I wish I could pin this loss on a lone wolf, but I hear too much howling.
3. Not a good night for the big men
It wasn’t a good night for
anyone Vancouver’s two biggest blueliners.
Gudbranson was on for three goals against tonight, and took two minor penalties. Tryamkin was having a nice game through two periods but (along with his partner Alex Biega) was on for three of the five-straight goals against in the third period.
Tryamkin after that goal seems like the only Canuck who was genuinely pissed. He should because lately he seems like the only guy who cares.
— Ben Hickman (@BenDHickman) December 14, 2016
4. Back with a Svengeance
Let’s talk about some of the positives.
Baertschi got his swagger back
— Disco Stu (@TheDiscoStu) December 14, 2016
This was going to be a nice, positive SixPack after 40 minutes. “Back with a Svengeance” was going to be in the headline.
After being a surprise healthy scratch on Sunday in Florida, Sven Baertschi bounced back nicely in Carolina, scoring two goals and one assist. He showed nice hands, deking Cam Ward on a rebound to tie the game at one. He fed Alex Burrows with a slick pass through a defender’s legs to tie the game at two. He looked like a goal scorer, burying a chance off a feed from Henrik Sedin to make the score 5-2 with under six minutes to go in the third.
Cue the debate.
Memo to Willie Desjardins:
— Dee ☕ (@forevercanuck) December 14, 2016
If you’re a believer that coaches should dress their 20-best players every night, then this is evidence of a poor decision by the head coach to scratch a skilled player on a team that struggles to score goals.
Or, you realize that sometimes scratching a player is short term pain for long term gain.
Willie Desjardins needs to sit Sven Baertschi every game – MY COLUMN
— Lachlan Macintosh (@Mack_n_Tosh) December 14, 2016
So what was this the response by a motivated player receiving the message loud and clear or just the continued progress by a skilled guy? We can never know for sure, but don’t be so sure to dismiss the motivation factor. It’s one of the few cards a coach has to play.
5. Borderline hit
I’m glad I typed this up after the first period, because I would have surely forgotten about it after the barrage of goals in this game.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) December 14, 2016
This is the reason that Luca Sbisa fought Ron Hainsey in the first period. Hainsey caught Loui Eriksson with his head down and delivered a bone-crushing check.
Hainsey appeared to hit Eriksson in the head, and left his feet, although it’s hard to see whether his skates left the ice before or after the hit because of the referee blocking the camera’s view.
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) December 14, 2016
I’d love to tell you how many games this deserves as a suspension, but I’m not even sure what the standard is.
In the NHL, where the standard for suspensions changes on the daily, it’s impossible to say whether this deserves a suspension.
Let me remind you that this was deemed a shoulder-to-shoulder hit and not suspendible:
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) November 6, 2016
While this was deemed a headshot and a two-game suspension a month later:
— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) December 11, 2016
Was his head down? Was the player predatory? Was he low and athletic?
Does it matter? They’re making it up as they go.
6. Where are all the Caniacs?
There was talk today about this being potentially the last game the Canucks play in Carolina and it wasn’t hard to see why tonight.
— Doug Holt (@DougHolt1972) December 14, 2016
What, Tuesday night against the Canucks isn’t a big draw in Raleigh?
Have to admit though, the few fans in the lower bowl in Raleigh have a little more energy than your average fan in the lower bowl of Rogers Arena:
— Doug T (@buntard) December 14, 2016
Know where they’d fill the building every night? Quebec City.
— Clay Imoo (@CanuckClay) December 14, 2016
…Good point by Clay, but Markstrom must have known that he needed a seat near the door tonight.