St. Louis Blues 5 at Vancouver Canucks 1 – 2022-12-19 recap

Oh boy, where do we even begin after consecutive 5-1 losses on home ice?

The fact that the Canucks have already set a record for 5-1 losses in a season on home ice is notable, but it veers more towards “trivia” than anything more nefarious. There would be no benefit to the Canucks allowing a sixth goal to avoid this scoreline, and hardly a benefit to scoring a late goal to make it 5-2. I doubt the ’22-23 Canucks are going to wind up being a worse team than some of the others on this list that I recognize, such as the Sabres and Coyotes during the McDavid tank year, the ’02-03 Thrashers, and the ’20-21 Ducks. Oddly, I remember the ’08-09 Hurricanes for one reason only, and that was because they scored twice late in Game 7 to knock off New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs that season.

Anyway, I’ll post a full autopsy later tonight. It’s a snow day, and most of Vancouver doesn’t have anything to do except wretch about how bad these Canucks have looked. You’re going to see the numbers below (if you subscribe) and note that the scoring chances in both games wound up being close to even. This is score effects, of course. With the game within at least 2 goals, the Canucks were out-chanced 20-10 at 5v5 over the course of the two games against the Blues and Jets. With the games out of reach, the chances were 15-11 for the Canucks. A goal at 4-1 counts the same on the scoreboard as one scored at 3-2, but with both teams kind of sitting back and not wanting to exert themselves for a game the following night in Seattle, it makes sense both took their foots off the gas pedal.

This whole operation is a huge problem. The penalty kill looks disorganized and I can’t even tell what formation the team is trying to run. On the third Blues goal, the Canucks moved between a Wedge-1, an I-formation, and a staggered box, before the whole thing broke down entirely. The team bleeds chances nightly off the rush. That’s not entirely due to structure, it has to do with the fact that there’s no incentive for any player to be disciplined. The team was out of the playoff picture 7 games in and have a long, cold death march before being signed or traded. It makes sense that the Canucks sent down Vasili Podkolzin and now Nils Hoglander, in effect to ensure that neither of the team’s two decent prospects are around this culture for any stretch of time. As great as the vibes were last season when Bruce Boudreau came aboard, started laughing and the team started winning games, this is as toxic as I can imagine an organization being. There seems to be levels of distrust between player and coach, coach and management, and management and ownership. If it’s not enjoyable to come to work, nobody is really going to give it their best effort.

I’m not in the business of making grand proclamations about any team, but we’re 31 games into this season. They’ve won 8 times and lost 15 in regulation. When they win, it’s generally been close. When they’ve lost, it’s been a game like this, where the only thing keeping us entertained is the masterful commentary and storytelling of John and John, possibly the best booth in the league even as they run out of words to describe the Canucks here. This was a team the last few seasons that was saved from embarrassment at regular intervals by Vezina-calibre goaltending, but that doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe the game would have been a little closer if Spencer Martin didn’t allow two clean shots to go in from outside the scoring area, but maybe the scoreboard would have looked worse had the Blues not missed the net on 7 glorious chances (both at 5v4 and 5v5) and converted a little better in tight.

The full autopsy is going to come after I get a little bit of Christmas shopping done. Subscribers will get it here. It will encapsulate all the data I’ve tracked this season, examine the major strengths and weaknesses of the Canucks, and hopefully I can provide a much harder answer on what the problems are other than “the culture is flawed”.

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