The Vancouver Canucks homestand wasn’t a disaster, but it was close. A record of 2-3-and-2 over the seven games falls well short of expectations. The performance was also somewhat surprising given the apparent positive chemistry in the Canucks dressing room and the club’s recent results on the road.
The loss to the Detroit Red Wings on St. Patrick’s Day was the pivot point. The Canucks psyche wasn’t right. Detroit, after giving up 5.5 goals-a-game in losing five-of-six before beating Vancouver 1-0, then went out and lost to the Seattle Kraken 4-2.
Distractions for the Canucks this past week may have played a part. JT Miller indicated it was a distinct possibility after the 5-2 loss in the next game, Saturday night to the Calgary Flames.
“I’m sure there is (distractions and angst in the room),” Miller said. “There’s been talk all year long and they’re mostly speculation and rumours, well, pretty much 100% speculation and rumours. I’m sure it’s hard for guys, I’ve told you guys before that back when there was more talk, I was having a little trouble staying concentrated, but it’s our job to show up and work hard, that’s the only thing we can control. We’re here, we’re all here, part of the Canucks team, we’re pushing for the playoffs. Effort should never be an issue this time of year.”
Miller transitioned smoothly from the trade distraction topic right back into the discussion on the poor performances. The latest, Sunday night’s unevenly played overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.
“If we had won today it would have been a 50-50 week and things wouldn’t have been as bad,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said postgame Sunday. “It’s a little bit of a wound.”
Miller spoke up again.
“I think it’s effort based, it’s will, it’s wanting to play in the playoffs and wanting to beat your opponent,” he said Sunday after the Buffalo game. “No excuses, I think they wanted it more than we did today.”
How is that possible?
Meanwhile, the team hasn’t been gutted. None of the key characters have moved on in a trade … yet.
It will be interesting to see what Vancouver Canucks team emerges after today’s deadline, literally and psychologically, as it begins its road gauntlet.