What was the score of the game again?
#Canucks are the first team in NHL history to lose 4 straight games by the exact 5-2 score
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 20, 2016
I hope every Canucks game is 5-2 for the rest of the season
— david (@dsportsandbrems) February 20, 2016
Canucks going to raise a 5-2 banner for their season finale @botchford?
— Todd (@Todd_316) February 20, 2016
It won’t be too long before Panago offers a buy 5 pizzas, get 2 free deal to ride the coattails of this losing streak.
Yes, the Vancouver Canucks managed to lose another game 5 to 2. Which if we’re being honest, isn’t that disappointing. With the amount of injuries this team has, the chances of them sneaking into the playoffs and making some noise was slim.
I know some people get their hackles up over the idea of #TankNation, but it isn’t so much #TankNation right now as it is #CantWinNation. The Canucks might actually deserve one of those top 5 picks.
And while it’s nice to sit back and start watching draft positions, it does leave us with many games that will probably end up like this one. Here’s the boiler plate for you:
- Goalies play pretty good, but can only do so much
- Defense scores an own goal
- Vrbata is dead inside
- Horvat, Baertschi and Virtanen provide some brief excitement
- Sedins look lethal for a few shifts
- Bartkowski does something stupid
- Willie yells about something
- The power play looks how Vrbata feels
Rinse and repeat at your leisure.
It almost becomes a disservice to break down the games individually at this point. There is not a whole lot you’re going to learn from games like this aside from the fact the team needs more talent.
Still, we can point out some common themes and try and have a laugh or two down the stretch, as the Canucks make their March for Matthews.
1. No Vrbata, No Cry
It seems like every game we see a gif of Vrbata slowly skating through a scene, watching a goal get scored. At least this time he kind of motioned at the puck, which at least lets us know he’s aware of where it is.
This is a far cry from the Vrbata of last year, the one who terrorized teammates and opponents alike.
See that? That’s a man with bad intentions. That’s the kind of guy with a particular set of skills that makes him a nightmare for goalies like you.
This year, though, his trade value has dropped faster than Manitowoc County’s credibility.
The theories for this range from he over achieved last year, to the team lost confidence in him during the playoffs so they took his Sedin toys away from him, to he is actively pouting due to his ice team and linemates.
Whatever the reason is, Vrbata is the biggest question mark for me heading into the deadline. If the Canucks convince Hamhuis to waive his NTC, he will fetch them good value in return. Vrbata, though? All you can do is hopes a team gets desperate at the deadline, because it is really hard to fathom a situation in which Vrbata returns to the Canucks next year.
Even if the Canucks only manage a 3rd rounder for Vrbata, you almost have to accept that deal to get something for him.
Again, though, let’s just hope the GM’s get drunk and panicky on trade deadline day and his value rises.
2. Virtanen, Baertschi and Horvat
One of the reasons Vrbata leaving could be a good thing, is it might force Coach Willie’s hand to keep playing Virtanen with Horvat and Baertschi.
Look, the Canucks are going to struggle to win games. Interest in the team is at a very low point right now. Even Fin has probably pondered cheering on the Dallas Stars.
One of the few bright spots this season, though, has been watching Bae, Bo, and Virtanen play together, and showcase that they belong in the NHL.
Why not ride the young kids and let fans have a glimpse of the future? The city will embrace a proper rebuild more than they will lip service about the playoffs being some magical substance that can turn their young players into stars.
We saw Space Jam Mr. Benning, we know it was just water.
3. The Unbearable Lightness of Bartkowski
OK, so that isn’t necessarily Bang Bang’s fault. Yes, it went off his skate, but hey, life likes to push you down the stairs sometimes.
It’s just the fact that aside from those bad luck bounces, Bang Bang continues to make garbage plays at least once a game.
That’s Bang Bang losing his guy. In a foot race.
Remember, Benning and Coach Willie love Bartkowski for his foot speed.
“The biggest strength of his game in how he skates and I need him to skate.” explained Coach Willie after the game against Minnesota. A game in which he also had a terrible turnover that lead to a goal.
Now this would be fine if he used his speed effectively. But how many times have we seen him try and swashbuckle his way out of danger only to cough up the puck and put his team in a bad position? You thought Kevin Bieksa was casual, Bang Bang Bart must be in a coma.
There is just nothing about Bartkowski this season that has screamed “full time player”. And if the Canucks learned anything from watching Edmonton during their umpteen rebuilds, it’s that you do need effective defense.
Right now it’s really hard to picture Bartkowski being a part of the solution moving forward. At least not as a full time guy.
4. Hurricane Hansen
You don’t want to trade away every effective player just because their value is high, as you do need to field a competitive roster next season. But people will be talking about if the Canucks should deal Hansen at the deadline to a team willing to pay for him.
He is honestly a perfect playoff performer for a team looking to add an affordable, impact player. He has 17 goals and 13 assists on the season so far, and would be an upgrade on many teams second line.
He’s gritty, he’s fast, he can score, and he talks really funny. What’s not to love?
If a team comes along and offers a high end prospect for him, it might be hard to turn them away. Look at Vrbata as an example of possibly selling high the year before being the better move.
That being said I have no problem if he goes nowhere. Look at that goal! Never stops working and one hands the puck to Cracknell for a goal? This is the kind of player you want teaching the young kids.
All due respect to the Safety Committee leader Derek Dorsett of course.
5. Sigh. Just sigh.
I think we can all admit that the games are hard to watch.
Playing against a lowly Calgary team, Vancouver ran into bursts of effort like this:
dump ins don't get any easier than this pic.twitter.com/tiZ3BVUUXb
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) February 20, 2016
Four guys, kind of converging on one player, while the other guy barely has to take three strides to coast to the puck in their own zone.
Own goals? You got it. Aside from that Bartkowski one earlier in the game, the Canucks had one go in off of Hutton as well. Bad luck? Sure. But in a season so devoid of highlights it sticks out like a sore thumb.
That kind of night pic.twitter.com/bQcz6ubpTg
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 20, 2016
Although I secretly think Daniel was trying to preserve the 5-2 scoreline, the Canucks have also struggled to score goals this season as well. As depressing as it is, the Canucks scoring two goals in four straight games is actually pretty good output from them.
#Canucks have 7 regulation wins in past 35 games
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 20, 2016
This is why tickets have never been cheaper in Vancouver. Yes, Rogers Arena might have been micromanaged to the point of deathly silence (boring presentation, same playlist every game, bad in game entertainment), but at the end of the day, wins fuel the excitement.
Without wins, and without a clear plan moving forward, the Canucks will struggle to sell tickets.
But good news for anybody wanting to buy season tickets, because now you can get in on the ground floor and proudly talk about how you “supported the team when they were awful” like everyone who bought tickets in 1997 did.
I just wanted to wash the bad taste out of our mouths with an absolute robbery from Jacob Markstrom.
Oddly enough, the goalies have been the best part about the Canucks this season.
6. The attempted assassination of Dan Murphy by the coward John Garrett
That’s a movie reference, please don’t write in angry notes defending John Garrett. I love that hot dog, cheese eating, mustachioed maniac.
Still, the best part of the game for me tonight was a delayed faceoff in which John Garrett broke up the awkward silence by seeing if Shorthouse would get in on a scheme to get Dan Murphy fired:
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) February 20, 2016
Obviously it was done in good fun, but after the “hot mic” controversy of CBC last week, you never know…