Sunday night featured two teams on different ends of the spectrum. One team seeking a playoff berth, the other limping to the conclusion of a disappointing season. The Vancouver Canucks played the role of the least favorable, and it showed in a 5-0 defeat at home.
Luke Schenn, Unstoppable hitting machine
Being positive in a blowout defeat is never easy. But an optimistic outlook is supposedly good for the mind, spirit, and soul. Luke Schenn was that positive in a game full of the opposite. He hit virtually everything in sight on Sunday. Maybe a teammate put him onto a different pre-game playlist, or perhaps it was a change in pre-workout supplements. Whatever the case, he came out fiery from the opening faceoff.
Schenn set a new personal career high for hits in a game (12). He laid a couple of devastating hits to Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner and was the primary source for any emotion in the crowd.
The former fifth overall draft pick has seen his way in-and-out of the league over the last year. There’s a lot riding down the stretch for the 29-year-old defenceman who will be an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason. Using the best of his limited ice time is detrimental to sticking around a while longer in the NHL.
Thatcher Demko shaky under fire
The Canucks defense has done a horrific job supporting their netminders this season. And that’s being subtle. But having the luxury of a goaltender surviving offensive onslaughts from the opposition can conceal the teams glaring weakness. Jacob Markstrom has (on most nights) been able to overcome a weak defensive core.
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Markstrom was not playing tonight. Canucks fans have been desperately crying for Demko appearances since the premature end to their playoff hopes. We have not seen much of a sample size from the 23-year-old, and with the playoffs out of the picture—why not give him more looks in net?
Growing pains are a part of every young athlete’s development. Rarely we see someone come on the scene with maturity and poise well past their age. This will be a learning experience for Demko. He let in some questionable goals (more specifically three saveable wrist shots, but who’s counting?) But he also did not get help from his defense.
With just six games remaining in the season, it would be nice to see Markstrom and Demko split the work evenly. Allowing coaching staff and management to better assess what they may have in the young netminder.
Canucks power play comes back down to Earth
Vancouver’s power play has been ineffective for the duration of the season. They sit in the cellar in that aspect, ranking 21st out of 31 teams. However, they have turned things around recently. Entering Sunday’s contest converting on four of their last six opportunities with the man advantage.
For a team that has gone multiple games consecutively with a power play tally, that turnaround—be it brief— is impressive. The fire dwindled out, unfortunately. Never really getting into a solidified rhythm with the man advantage Sunday, they mustered six shots on the power play. Those six shots were never really threatening for Columbus netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky.
With Quinn Hughes’ debut just around the corner—being billed as a quarterback on the powerplay—there’s hope to maintain that upward swing. The Canucks host the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night, where they look to get back in the win column.