… and the lack of desperation from the Vancouver Canucks against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday is a scary sign.
One might have envisioned the Canucks coming out of the blocks in this game like gangbusters. Determined to win every battle, every race, hit everything that moved. Kind of like the miraculous performance against the Colorado Avalanche on the road March 23rd. They performed with a common goal, a chip on their shoulder going into maybe the hardest place to win.
Sunday seemed to pale by comparison. Not to slight the Golden Knights but they were the road team, missing very important bodies, and starting a goalie who might have been showing a bit of rust having not played since March 8th.
When you can’t find an answer time and time again, it always comes back to hard work, and consistent hard work comes from character and leadership.
Vegas didn’t do anything special, other than outwork the Canucks in the first ten minutes.
Oh, and have defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and his very under-rated shot walk in by himself from the right wing circle and bury a wrister top shelf, glove side. Oh, and then have sniper Jonathan Marchessault waltz down the middle and rip one home from the slot through defenceman Travis Dermott’s backpedalling screen.
Other than that there was nothing really that magical to contend with, other than Vegas wanting it more.
In the postgame media session with his teammate JT Miller, Canucks captain Bo Horvat made reference to the “hope play” that failed in overtime. Hope play?!
Not the time or place for one of those. Here’s the context.
During 3-on-3 overtime Elias Pettersson was battling for a puck along the right wing wall against Marchessault who had nearby support from William Karlsson. Pettersson was battling from the wrong side of the puck, up ice, so when he lost possession, Vegas had a head start.
Meanwhile, Horvat was also on the wrong side of the puck, floating in the middle, apparently ‘hoping’ Pettersson was going to win the puck and feed it to him through two Golden Knights. He was actually behind all three Golden Knights by the time the puck turned over.
When the inevitable happened and Vegas won the puck and started up ice, they started up ice with a 3-on-1. Then the backcheck seemed to die off just a wee bit too early. Game over.
“We talked about it before the overtime, we talk about it all the time, to stay on the right side of the puck,” Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said postgame, “and there was no reason for ’53’ (Horvat) to go on that side of the puck, we didn’t have control of it, and even ‘Petey’ could have checked from the other way (side).”
See attached video at top to see exactly what we’re talking about.
Here’s the playoff chase in the Western Conference after completion of play on Sunday.
3rd Place – Pacific Division – Edmonton Oilers – 70 games played, 85 points
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 68 games played, 82 points
2nd Wild Card – Vegas Golden Knights – 71 games played, 82 points
Dallas Stars – 68 games played, 81 points
Winnipeg Jets – 70 games played, 76 points
Vancouver Canucks – 70 games played, 74 points
At this point it might not matter if the Vancouver Canucks win Wednesday against the Vegas Golden Knights and Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes, but then again they still need to win ’em.