The Vancouver Canucks have lost the first two games of their homestand by one goal each time, to the Minnesota Wild and the Philadelphia Flyers. Both times the losses came in regulation, so no “loser point” for forcing overtime. With the high flying Edmonton Oilers hitting town Saturday night, the pressure ramps up.
This needs to be a very desperate Vancouver Canucks team, because another loss will mean the moaning and groaning among the constituents, fans and potentially management alike, will start getting real.
Forget for a moment that it’s still the first nine or ten games of the season, a homestand is where one ideally needs to win around 2/3rds of one’s games. A loss to the Oilers would make reaching that ratio an impossible task. The Canucks have the 5-2-and-1 New York Rangers heading to town on Tuesday November 2nd, then the unpredictable Nashville Predators on Friday, the challenge that is the Dallas Stars on Sunday the 7th, and then the Pacific Division Anaheim Ducks to wrap up the home cooking on Tuesday the 9th.
So far, grandma has burnt the soup. The Canucks don’t seem that far off, but they need to whip up the hockey equivalent of a Château Briand and they need to do it quick.
Here’s the challenge.
The Edmonton Oilers have only lost once. They’re 5-and-1 on the season and boast a power play that cranks along at an absolutely absurd 42.9% conversion rate. That against a Canucks penalty kill that ranks 21st in the NHL at 78.3 percent. How to prevent that power play from overwhelming you? Head Coach Travis Green said it best after practice Friday.
“Don’t take any penalties,” he said. Not a bad idea.
In simplest offensive terms, the Edmonton Oilers average 4.33 goals per game, the Vancouver Canucks 2.50. Keep in mind, the Oilers have had home ice and last change in four of their games and didn’t have to travel far for the other two. One of their road wins was against the absolute mess that is the Arizona Coyotes and the other against the injured, slow-out-of-the-gates Vegas Golden Knights.
Head-to-head the Vancouver Canucks did well in Edmonton on October 13th to open the season, staging a third period comeback and forcing overtime. The BC boys ended up losing in a five-round shoot-out. The Canucks were 1-for-5 on the power play in the game while the Oilers were 1-for-2. There it is again, two power play chances. That’s a manageable number. Any more and you’re playing with proverbial fire on the home stove.
The Canucks have also played into the cliche’, “come-from-behind-hockey is losing hockey.” In eight games the Canucks gave up the first goal in six of them. They’ve fallen behind by two goals twice.
Oh, and do we need to mention a Mr. McDavid and a Mr. Draisaitl, one leading the NHL is scoring with 15 points and the other tied for 4th with 12? No. I believe we’re fully aware of their capabilities. Like they did two-and-a-half weeks ago, the Canucks will be shadowing number-97 in particular.
The Canucks have spoken recently about their offensive high-enders getting off the snide and starting to produce. A “Petey” and a Brock come to mind. This would be an excellent situation in which to have that happen.
Win, and the Canucks are back to .500.