The Vancouver Canucks “stole a point” two nights ago in Calgary by forcing the Flames to overtime and then losing 1-0 on a goal by Johnny Gaudreau 29-seconds into the extra session. What was most impressive about the thievery was overcoming a distinct lack of effort early in the game and the loss of big Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers to a hit-to-the-head match penalty at 13:02 of the first period.
It was the second straight game the Vancouver Canucks were short a defenceman for the bulk of the night. In their 5-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night Tucker Poolman became ill and left the game after the first period after playing 7:54.
That left matters up to Myers who played 27:25, Oliver Ekman-Larsson who logged 24:12, Quinn Hughes 23:49, Brad Hunt 19:19, and Luke Schenn 17:54. The penalty kill squashed all three Jets power plays.
Saturday a slightly different group handled the extra burden, led by Hughes’s whopping 31:07 time-on-ice. OEL played 25:06, Schenn 21:39, 24-year-old taxi squad fill-in Noah Juulsen 19:59 and Hunt 14:25. Myers is a key penalty killer and yet without him the group managed to help kill off the five-minute power play that ensued from his penalty and all four Flames man advantages on the evening.
The NHL passed on penalizing Myers with any supplemental discipline for his high hit on Flames forward Trevor Lewis, realizing that contact was first made with Lewis’s shoulder pad and that the main reason the hit continued into his head was a function of Myers’s 6’7″ height. Lewis is six inches shorter.
As for the defensive efforts, resiliency is one thing, Myers points to another factor.
“We found a way,” Myers said, “a big part of it was ‘Demmer’ (goalie Thatcher Demko), Demmer came in off a lay-off (Covid protocol) and played as good as he has all year. He’s played the same way the entire season. So when you have a guy like that behind you it’s a good feeling and it gives us confidence in front of him to try and defend as hard as we can for him.”
With Poolman remaining out it’ll be Saturday’s line-up, with the return of Myers, against the Blackhawks on Monday.
Figuring out the “skating in quicksand” performance in Calgary is a different matter altogether. That’s how Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau described the slow effort postgame. He just knows it can’t happen again.
“As a coach you sit there and you’d love all 82 games to be played at the best of their ability but that just doesn’t happen,” Boudreau said Monday morning, “when you run into trouble is when the team, everyone is having their off nights on the same night. I think that was the case in Calgary, I mean anytime you only put up one shot halfway through the game you know things aren’t going well. Everybody had an off day.
“It was something we can’t afford to have anymore, we’ve dug ourselves too deep a hole and we’re trying desperately to get out, but you can’t have those days.”
Jaroslav Halak starts in net in Chicago against a Blackhawks team the Canucks beat there 4-1 back on October 21st on Vancouver’s season opening road trip.
Demko gets the start in the second half of the back-to-back in Nashville on Tuesday night, exactly two weeks after the Vancouver Canucks won there 3-1 on January 18th.
Goalie Spencer Martin was transacted to Abbotsford of the AHL on Sunday while netminder Michael DiPietro was officially shipped the other direction, listed on the NHL taxi squad as of Monday morning.