The Vancouver Canucks lost both games of a home-and-home series against the Calgary Flames. It was ugly in a sense that the Flames – and the Minnesota Wild – are now a single point behind our division-leading ‘Nucks, but also, the more offensive style of hockey we watched the first 22 games disappeared sometime between the first and second periods of Thursday night’s game. The Canucks were outchanced and outshot in both games, though truth be told, this isn’t anything new. (They have now been outshot in 15 of their first 24 games.)
On Thursday, what was noticeable was how much the Canucks sat back after taking their 1-0 and 2-1 lead. Their play in fact was reminiscent of the 2007/2008 season and it wasn’t until Calgary took a 3-2 lead that the Canucks started forcing the play again. They of course tied the game midway through the third period before surrendering the game-winning goal on a giveaway and a breakaway.
On Saturday, the Canucks sat back and generated little in the way of offensive chances. I don’t know if this was a conscious tactic – given that they were on the road and had rookie Cory Schneider in net for his first NHL start – but they rarely ventured into the Flames zone. And when they did, they rarely tested Mikka Kiprusoff.
If there were any positives from the two losses, it’s that Curtis Sanford and Cory Schneider proved that they are capable of filling in for the injured Roberto Luongo. Sanford had won 3 games in a row and stopped 78 of 83 shots before losing his start on Thursday. Schneider was cool, calm and very good in his start on Saturday; he stopped 28 of 31 shots.
Knowing that both goalies are alright, let’s see if Vigneault loosens the leash on the offense a bit again.