Why Is Vancouver Off To A Terrible Start?

(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks find themselves near the bottom of the North division standings. Their start is quite surprising after the finish in 2020. They managed to surpass the Minnesota Wild in the play-in round and upset the defending Stanley Cup Champions, St. Louis Blues in the first round of the NHL 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vancouver Struggling On The Road

February has been a brutal month. So far, they hold a 1-6-0 record this month. Their home-away splits are quite intriguing and explain their start. In away games this season, Vancouver is 2-8-0. At home, the Canucks are 5-3-1. Five of six games during their losing streak were on the road. In fact, they snapped it during the first homestand of this month.

The North Division has a unique travel schedule that the Canucks may have not gotten accustomed to yet. While all other divisions play within their regions—the West, Central, and East—the North plays from coast to coast. So the Canucks who play on the West Coast have to travel all the way East to Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa for twenty-seven of fifty-six games this season. Also, they play the Winnipeg Jets—who are in the middle of Canada—nine times.

Goalie Tandem in Vancouver

During the offseason, Vancouver lost star goaltender, Jacob Markstrom, due to his free-agent status and he signed with the Calgary Flames. Vancouver compensated for this loss by signing netminder Braden Holtby. Holtby is set to split time with Thatcher Demko who is playing in his fourth season in the NHL. The two goalies have failed to meet expectations so far this season.

Both goalies have a save percentage below .900 and a goals-against average above three. Demko has the potential to play exceptionally. Demko played brilliantly in the 2020 playoffs especially in their last two games against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. In four games, Demko held a .985 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 0.64 which was an NHL best.

Vancouver’s Power-Play

The Canucks have a multitude of scoring talent. However, they have been unable to capitalize on their power-play. The Canucks have scored on 17.39% of their power-play opportunities. While this is about 3% below the league average, it is ranked 20th overall in the NHL this year. The way the Canucks roster is constructed, they are supposed to have an exceptional power-play unit. They have superstars who have failed to produce on special teams. 

Overall Evaluation

The Canucks are a young team with a lot of talent who should quite frankly be performing better. They have played the most games in the entire NHL and find themselves 21st in the league standings. The Canucks must play better hockey away from home to contend this season.

They already have a steep hill to climb to get back into playoff contention. If the Canucks can get their power-play back on track they can outscore their opponents most nights. Can the Canucks contend after their subpar start? Leave your thoughts in the comments section down below.

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