Final Score: Nashville Predators 3, Vancouver Canucks 2
The Nashville Predators had the better of the play in the first period and it paid off at the 5:49 mark on the power play, when captain Roman Josi blasted a slapper from the mid-point about a foot off the ice past Thatcher Demko stick side. The Vancouver Canucks gave up the first goal for the ninth time in eleven games.
The slow Vancouver Canucks starts have become habitual, as has the desperation and the come-from-behind nature of their play. It should come as no surprise that including Friday night, the Canucks have been outshot by opponents in first periods 127-to-90 and outscored 11-5.
On balance over the course of the season, 2nd periods have been even for Vancouver, with the team playing much better lately. The Pred’s managed to outshoot the Canucks Friday 11-9 in a 2nd period that Vancouver dominated at even strength. Some of the Canucks chances simply didn’t get through. Hand it to the Predators, they blocked 28 shots in the game.
A huge moment in this game actually came with the teams at five-on-five when Matt Duchene took a pass while streaking through the neutral zone, went in alone and pulled off a beautiful deke on Demko to tie the game at 12:26 of the second. Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes was trapped deep in the offensive zone when the puck turned over, and his partner Tyler Myers was backpedaling alone without sufficient backcheck assistance. The combination of factors led to Duchene taking advantage. We asked Myers about it postgame.
“That’s something we’ll talk about,” Myers said. “We have to make sure we stay on top of guys, not only on that play but all over the ice. We talk about it all the time, on all parts of our team game. We’ll take a look and talk about it together.”
Brock Boeser, one of the backcheckers, took the blame. “That second goal was on me,” he said.
Otherwise, the even-steven of the middle stanzas is displayed in the fact that the Canucks have out-shot their opponents just 119-114 and their goal differential through 11 games is even.
Third period, the Canucks have often trailed and have often been desperate. They’ve out-shot opponents by a whopping 127 to 96, but only outscored them 10-8.
Power Play is Blech!
Demko saved the power play’s arse early. The Canucks gave up a shorthanded 2-on-1 to the Predators at the 16:30 mark on their only power play of the 1st period. Demko robbed Tanner Jeannot with a left pad save. It was a sign of the failures to come.
The home ice power play percentage for the Canucks dropped to 5% (1 for 20) by the end of the evening after going 0-for-5. Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Travis Green summed it up with “the difference in the game was the power play.”
He also stated on a couple of occasions that two or three of the team’s best players needed to be better. Not unexpectedly he didn’t call them out specifically.
The Exhausting Chase
Continuing the theme, there is really no other way to describe it: It’s exhausting watching this team trying to come from behind every night. I can’t imagine the level of angst on and behind the bench.
Part of constantly trailing also comes down to the other half of the Canucks’ special teams. Nashville went 2-for-3 on their power play, while the Canucks home penalty kill fell to 59%. Painfully poor.
Green and his staff have jockeyed the personnel on both special teams units, but not so much the overall look. Ultimately, simplified, PP structure needs to include movement. All players moving, not just pucks. On the PK it’s about foot speed, hard work, and attacking the points, if the latter is part of the strategy.
Boeser at the Buzzer
Two of Brock Boeser’s three goals this season have come in the final 10-seconds of a period. On Halloween it was too little too late when he scored with six seconds remaining in the 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. He went shelfie on Mikko Koskinen for his 100th NHL goal. Friday Boeser pulled off the magic again, scoring at the 19:51 mark of the 1st period to tie the game against the Predators 1-1. It was a beautiful deke down low along the goal line as he tucked it in behind Juuse Saros.
Simmer’s Vancouver Canucks 3-Stars:
3) Bo Horvat – The Canucks captain put himself in scoring positions on numerous occasions, fired three shots on goal, two more wide, and had a couple more blocked. In 21:30 of ice time he finished at .500 on face-offs (13-for-26), tallied an assist and also blocked a shot.
2) Thatcher Demko – Broken record, but if not for him, the score could have been worse. Yes, Saros at the other end made a couple of ten-bell beauties for Nashville, but so did Demko, if not a couple more.
1) Nils Höglander – Considering he was the only Vancouver Canucks player named a star for the game in the building, we’ll go with him. It was nice for “Hogs” to get rewarded for all of his hard work with his first goal of the season. It actually gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead at 10:08 of the second period. They held the lead for two minutes and eighteen seconds. He led the Vancouver Canucks with five shots.