There’s no hangover, but there’s definitely pain following the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 St. Patrick’s Day loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
It wasn’t devastating, but it was close. The Canucks setback proves once again that you can never take anything for granted and there’s very rarely an easy night in the NHL.
“Their goalie played good, there’s not doubt about that, but that first period may have been our worst period all year, including the games we gave up five goals” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said postgame. “It was almost like we were arrogant, that we were like, ‘we’re gonna take care of this game pretty easy’, and we were like, ‘la-dee-da’. They would knock pucks down and we were just casual, that’s the word I was looking for, and anytime you’re casual and you’re not sharp and you’re doing things quickly, teams are going to knock down (pucks).”
The game became a bit of a track meet with both goalies, Alex Nedeljkovic for the Red Wings and Thatcher Demko for the Canucks, forced to make numerous big saves. It wasn’t the brand of game Boudreau was seeking.
“This (Detroit) team has always been a good skating team, compared to New Jersey, they play the very same way, and we just didn’t have anything,” Boudreau added. “I think there was a lack of effort in the first period, like we were going to win eventually so it didn’t matter.”
“I thought we gave up a bit too much,” Canucks forward Tanner Pearson said. “They created some good chances in the O-zone, extended shift lengths, and they were buzzing pretty good. I thought we gave up too much for it to be a 1-0 game and obviously ‘Demmer’ played like Demmer and kept it so we could have a chance.”
Now the Canucks face the challenge of trying to run the table in back-to-back games at home over the weekend, the first of which is against a team that might still be a bit ornery from their last visit to Vancouver. The Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames return on Saturday very aware of the 7-to-1 pasting they took at Rogers Arena back on February 24th.
The next night the Canucks host the Buffalo Sabres.
The St. Pattie’s scoreboard didn’t favour Vancouver either as the rest of the Western Conference playoff pack were victorious. The Dallas Stars, two points ahead of the Canucks with 69 points and three games-in-hand, defeated the Montreal Canadiens in overtime 4-3.
The Vegas Golden Knights, winners at home against the Florida Panthers 5-3, sit in the 2nd wild card spot with 70 points. The Canucks own a game-in-hand on Vegas. The Edmonton Oilers have a game-in-hand on Vancouver and occupy 3rd place in the Pacific Division with 72 points following a 6-1 win over those Sabres.
One other tantalizing question arises as the weekend unfolds. If the team craps out against Calgary and/or Buffalo does management decide to pull the trigger on a deal or two that they’re otherwise riding the fence on, after waiting to see what happens with the dressing room’s playoff aspirations? Not entirely out of the question with the NHL trade deadline Monday afternoon.