Anaheim 9 Vancouver 1: Where do the Canucks go from here?
'I'm not even going to try and explain it,' says coach John Tortorella
ANAHEIM, Calif. — We now return you to your regular-scheduled programming.
That Spite Night feature was must-see TV on Monday. Bad blood. Good fights. And plenty of backbone. But all the belligerence and bite in a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings masked the obvious. The Vancouver Canucks can't score. When reality TV kicked back in Wednesday, the sobering statistics in a 9-1 drubbing by the Anaheim Ducks dominated the screen. Seven losses in the last eight outings, a 1-7-3 record against California clubs and just 16 goals in that span.
If that isn't bad enough, the Canucks got a rare shaky goaltending effort from Eddie Lack. The reliable back-up was pulled early in the second period after a soft short-side floater by Corey Perry and he allowed three goals on 13 shots before being replaced by Joacim Eriksson. In his NHL debut, he was beaten by the second shot he faced — a Nick Bonino screened power-play slapper to the glove side — and the beat-down was on as the Ducks easily improved to 20-0-2 on home ice with their eighth straight win and 18th triumph in the last 19 games.
"I'm not even going to try and explain it," said Canucks coach John Tortorella. "It was one of those nights, so we plough on to the next game and get ready to play. There's no sense dissecting anything. It does me no good and the players no good to discuss anything that happened here."
The onslaught left the Canucks grasping for offence and gasping for air. They couldn't keep up. Their coach called a time-out to regroup and they promptly surrendered a 5-on-3 power play and goals by Bonino and Jakob Silfverberg in less than a minute as Eriksson was left defenceless.
"Tough game," understated Eriksson, who allowed six goals on 31 shots. "They have many good players and we were not awake today, and it was a tough game and it was tough to come in like that. Not the best game for me."
And it's not like the Canucks can recall a goal-scorer. Kellan Lain is a big fourth-line grinder and will probably play Thursday in Phoenix.
"It got away from us," said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. "We started taking penalties and we weren't quite there as we were in L.A. We didn't get the hits or the forecheck and you could tell from the get-go that we didn't have the mindset. We were stick-checking too much."
One of the few Canucks who looked engaged Wednesday was David Booth. After sitting out four games, the winger looked like the message from Tortorella to be hard on pucks and go hard to the net sunk in. He nearly jammed home a goal in the first period and then made a power move in the second period and almost scored before Zack Kassian deposited the power-play rebound. But that was it, before Perry got his second of the night in the third period on a spin move as the Ducks tied a franchise record with six power-play goals.
The Canucks will tell you this is a different team with a different coach and a different system. They're not built to fill the net and are convinced that a pressure forecheck will cause turnovers and opportunities and that playing well defensively will fuel a transition game. It sounds good, but something has clearly been lost in translation. The Canucks can create opportunities — Ryan Kesler rang a shot off the post on his first shift — and Dan Hamhuis then nearly converted a cross-ice feed that tested Frederik Andersen. But the 18th-ranked offence can't finish and have scored one or fewer goals on 14 occasions.
When Andrew Cogliano opened scoring early in the first period when left alone in the slot, the Canucks had a chance to get back in the game, but the sputtering power play was of no help before Teemu Selanne made it a two-goal bulge. The latest alignment featured Kevin Bieksa as the down-low net presence with Daniel Sedin manning the point. It produced one shot by Kesler and plenty of confusion. It was Kassian's effort that ended a three-game drought and made it a paltry 5-for-37 showing in the last 13 games.
The Canucks tried to take something out of the night with late-game fights by Tom Sestito and Jannik Hansen, and the mess left the Ducks with a 5-on-3 power play for seven minutes, with Selanne and Sami Vatanen capping the scoring.
It was easily the worst loss of the season and you just wonder where the Canucks go from here. They turned a corner in beating St. Louis and had a moral victory in Los Angeles. And now they've run into another brick wall.
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