The Vancouver Canucks’ road trip continues with an afternoon game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Canucks lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night in a game in which the Canucks left Ryan Miller out to dry.
Well…. that happened.#Canucks
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 16, 2015
It has gone from bad to worse in a hurry for the Canucks. After starting the season better than most expected, the Canucks find themselves winners of just 5 games in their last 20. It isn’t so much that they are losing, but how they are losing. Suffice it to say, outside of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the Canucks are getting lacklustre play throughout the lineup.
Game Time: 4:00 pm
TV: Sportsnet 360
The Canucks schedule isn’t doing them any favours. After getting badly beaten in Minnesota, the Canucks face a Philadelphia Flyers team that seems to have found it’s game. The Flyers are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are coming off of an OT win against the hapless, Eddie Lack-led, Carolina Hurricanes.
The Flyers are led offensively by their captain, Claude Giroux. Giroux leads the team in goals (11), assists (17), and overall points (28). The Flyers were a two-headed monster with Jacob Voracek and Giroux last season, but Voracek has had an extremely slow start to the season and has only tallied 2 goals this season thus far.
Keep your eyes on Flyers defenceman Shane Gostisbehere. The 22-year-old defenceman is enjoying a bit of a break out season with 6 goals and 5 assists in 15 games. Gostisbehere has a flair for the dramatic as half of his goals have been game winners.
1. Depth of defence lacking
Markstrom in goal — finally. Miller allowed six goals on 36 shots. Could have been a dozen. Zero support. #Canucks
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) December 16, 2015
It isn’t often that a goalie lets in 6 goals in 2 periods, gets pulled, and those watching feel it could have been worse. That was Ryan Miller’s night against the Wild.
Dan Hamhuis has been a shell of his former self, but his injury is exposing the lack of depth on the Canucks’ defence. Hamhuis, even at this stage of his career, is a useful defenceman who can eat up big minutes and be played in all situations. Tuesday night against the Wild, Yannick Weber had 23 minutes of ice time. This is too much ice time for a defenceman like Weber, but Willie Desjardins does not have much choice.
The Canucks have little choice but to play the defencemen they have in extended roles that they are either not ready for. The results of this are often what Tuesday night’s game in Minnesota looks like.
2. Auston Matthews a possibility?
When you see the Canucks on your schedule: pic.twitter.com/DBa242NNEs
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 16, 2015
Are the Canucks legitimately going to be in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes at the end of the year? It’s certainly possible.
The Canucks are precariously close to sitting last in the Western Conference. In the entire league, only the Toronto Maple Leafs have fewer wins (10) than the Canucks (11), and the Canucks have played 3 more games.
Key injuries to Brandon Sutter and Dam Hamhuis have exposed the Canucks’ lack of depth.
This may be a blessing in disguise.
The ultimate curse in the NHL is to have a competitive team that just misses the playoffs. Last season the Canucks were consistently above the playoff bar and there was little doubt for Jim Benning on what to do come trade deadline. This season, expect the Canucks to sit well below the playoff bar and Benning to be a seller.
3. McCann to World Juniors?
Rob Williams wrote a good piece on whether or not the Canucks should loan Jared McCann to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships and it looks like the Canucks are going to wait until the last possible moment to make a decision.
In my opinion, the Canucks’ dismal road trip thus far is making this decision an easy one.
The premise behind the rebuild-on-the-fly model is to develop their young talent in a winning environment. Last season, Bo Horvat benefitted greatly from a full season of growth on a team that racked up more than 100 points. This season, McCann, and fellow rookie Jake Virtanen, haven’t been so lucky.
The best decision long-term for both the Canucks and McCann is for the team to loan McCann to Team Canada. This will give McCann a chance to star in the high profile tournament, get feeling good about his game again, and win.
Let’s be honest, the Canucks aren’t winning games with McCann in the lineup and losing him for 8 games isn’t going to make or break the season.
Based on practice, the Canucks lineup appears to be unchanged from the Minnesota game, other than in goal. Jacob Markstrom will start, with Ryan Miller presumably getting tomorrow’s game in Detroit.
"I'm not putting any extra pressure on myself. We need to win as a team and I want to be a big part of that" – Markstrom, who starts Thurs.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 17, 2015
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Hansen|
The Canucks are coming off a disastrous effort on the road and the Flyers are playing much better of late. Canucks lose 4-1 and McCann gets sent to Finland on the 19th.