The Vancouver Canucks will rest Tuesday and jump back to the rink Wednesday morning in preparation for that evening’s rematch against the St. Louis Blues. Vancouver rolled out an uneven performance in its 4-1 loss to the Blues on Monday night.
Uneven more so in the fact that there seemed to be some passengers. It’s not always easy to get up for a game against a heavy team on its home ice and some of the Canucks legs might have been weary from the hard work done in the three games over the previous five nights.
Bo Horvat may fall into that latter category, seeming a bit disengaged after raising the bar with a four-game goal scoring streak. He had two shots on goal and picked up a two-minute puck-over-glass delay-of-game penalty. Horvat has raised expectations lately and skated a lot of hard minutes. He still managed to win 56% of his draws against a good face-off team.
For the most part, Conor Garland has been his usual pesty, effective self. Overall, he’s tied with Nathan MacKinnon for fourth best in the NHL for penalty-minute differential at minus-36. Simply put, while Garland has only taken 24 minutes in penalties this season, he’s drawn 60 minutes from opponents. In some cases that stems from him stirring things up after whistles, but more often than not it’s from tripping or stick infractions committed by players trying to catch up with him or trying to stop his one-man puck cycle.
That said, some frustration cracks might be starting to show for Garland, who hasn’t lit the lamp in 15 straight games. His possession numbers remain excellent, but his ability to actually put the biscuit in the basket has dried up. Monday wasn’t his best overall night.
Brock Boeser may have seemed a bit weary as well. He notched two shots-on-goal and no other participation statistics in 18:07 of ice time.
As a team the Canucks only blocked eight shots Monday night. Part of that may have stemmed from the limited number of power plays in the game. The Canucks finished 0-for-2, the Blues 0-for-3.
On that note, how about the improving Vancouver penalty kill. The Canucks have killed off 21 of their last 23 short-handed situations, 12 of 13 on the road trip including the last nine. Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche is the last man to score a power play goal against Vancouver, it came during the third period of the Canucks 3-1 victory on March 23rd to start the roadie. The Avalanche went 1-for-5 that night.
Brad Richardson has been solid in that department since joining the club before the four-game road trip.
The Vancouver Canucks power play has also heated up, four for it’s last 13 (30.7%) and 2-for-8 on the roadie.
Here’s how the playoff chase appears following the Canucks 2-1-and-1 road trip. It’s quite a log jam:
3rd Place – Pacific Division – Edmonton Oilers – 67 games played, 79 points
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 66 games played, 80 points
2nd Wild Card – Vegas Golden Knights – 68 games played, 76 points
Dallas Stars – 64 games played, 75 points
Winnipeg Jets – 67 games played, 74 points
Vancouver Canucks – 68 games played, 73 points