Canucks out of playoff chase, roasted by Ducks
Vancouver to miss NHL post-season for first time since 2008
Vancouver Canucks Eddie Lack looks dejected as the Anaheim Ducks Daniel Winnik celebrates the team’s 2nd goal late in the 2nd period.
Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks have finally run out of playoff lives.
The end came at 9:30 p.m. Monday when the Anaheim Ducks beat Vancouver 3-0 at Rogers Arena and made official what we have known for weeks.
The Canucks, with just three games remaining, can no longer finish ahead of the Dallas Stars and will miss the NHL’s post-season party for the first time since 2008.
The Canucks didn’t exactly go out with a bang. They seemed devoid of emotion and certainly did not look like a desperate team trying to defy long odds and extend their season for at least another day.
“It’s not a good feeling,” said centre Ryan Kesler. “You don’t want to be standing here in April with meaningless games left and being out of a playoff spot. It’s not fun.”
This season, at least the second half of it, hasn’t been much fun for the team’s fans to watch.
Rogers Arena was half-empty with five minutes left in the game. Some of those who remained directed their frustration at general manager Mike Gillis with a boisterous “Fire Gillis” chant in the closing minutes.
“They were booing the players, too, which is understandable,” said winger Daniel Sedin. “They are as frustrated as we are. We should be in the playoffs. That’s the bottom line. We didn’t play good enough for 20 games after New Year’s and it is costing us right now. It’s understandable. If you can’t take boos you shouldn’t play in this league.”
It seemed fitting that it was the Ducks who finally severed the thread from which the Canucks’ extremely slim playoff hopes had been hanging. Anaheim has owned the Canucks this season.
Monday night’s win gave the Ducks a five-game season-series sweep of the Canucks. Anaheim outscored Vancouver 24-6 in those games. When you can’t beat one of your key division rivals even once, then you probably don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.
Like so many times this season, the goal-starved Canucks could simply not generate any offence. Facing 20-year-old rookie goalie John Gibson, who was playing his first NHL game, Vancouver had real difficulty manufacturing shots on net. They had just nine through two periods and their offensive attack was as lame as the blink-and-you-missed-it video tribute to Ducks legend Teemu Selanne, who played what is likely his last game in Canada.
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“It doesn't do anybody any good right now to be critical,” said Canuck head coach John Tortorella. “Obviously we didn't play well enough but I'm not going to criticize the hockey club right now. We didn't play well.”
Gibson was forced to make only 18 saves for his shutout. The Canucks actually fired 61 shots, but 22 were blocked and 21 others missed the net. Defenceman Jason Garrison had all seven of his attempts blocked.
“We see a guy playing his first game and we talked before the game about getting more shots at the net, but we weren’t able to do that,” said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin.
“Our execution was off. We were really good for 20 minutes. We made too many mistakes. You look at this game and think that we got out-battled, but it’s just execution, making mistakes, not getting pucks deep, turning pucks over in the wrong areas.”
The Canucks got an early power-play opportunity when Anaheim defenceman Hampus Lindholm was sent off for tripping at 6:01 of the first. Twenty-five seconds later, the Ducks had a 1-0 lead thanks to a short-handed goal by Daniel Winnik.
Winnik stripped the puck off Henrik Sedin inside the Vancouver blue line, skated in alone and beat Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack with a shot high to the stick side. You knew then it was going to be one of those nights that we have seen too many times this season.
Lack, who must be seeing odd-man rushes in his sleep, had thwarted the Ducks on another breakaway just 15 seconds into the game. Andrew Cogliano was sprung free when Garrison tripped at his own blue line, but he could not beat Lack.
Kyle Palmieri made it 2-0 at 17:03 of the second when he tipped a shot from the right point by defenceman Ben Lovejoy past Lack, who made his 19th straight start and may now finally get a rest.
Lack robbed Cogliano on another breakaway in the first minute of the third period, but Matt Beleskey made it 3-0 on a set-up from Corey Perry at the 1:20 mark.
The Canucks now have three mean-nothing games to play before the official autopsy can begin. The Colorado Avalanche visit Rogers Arena on Thursday night, the Canucks play in Edmonton on Saturday night and then close out their season Sunday night at home against the Calgary Flames.
“It’s extremely tough,” Henrik said. “We are playing now for the guys in here, for our pride and we have to show up and we have to play hard. It’s three games. Like I said, it’s about our pride.”
Backup Jacob Markstrom figures to get his first start as a Canuck on Thursday night. Tortorella said Markstrom and rookie defenceman Frank Corrado, who was a healthy scratch Monday night, might both play the last three games.
ICE CHIP: Tortorella did not have much to say about the “Fire Gillis” chants. “I didn't hear the chants but they pay big money to come to these games,” he said. “It's their prerogative how they handle themselves. That's their call. I don't know how to answer the question but I'm certainly not going to complain about it.”
HOW SWEDE IT IS
Canuck captain Henrik Sedin has been selected by the Vancouver chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association as the team's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication.” Henrik appeared in his 1,000th game this season but also saw his ironman streak of 679, sixth longest in NHL history, come to an end when he suffered a rib injury. He is the Canucks' all-time leading scorer.
The Ducks opened the scoring at the 6:26 mark of the first period when Henrik Sedin, one of the best passers in the game, turned the puck over on a Vancouver power play to Daniel Winnik, who promptly went top shelf on Eddie Lack. Kyle Palmieri made it 2-0 Ducks late in the second on a deflection and Matt Belesky erased any doubt of a Canuck rally when he scored 1:20 into the third. Rookie Ducks' netminder John Gibson, in his first career start, stopped 18 Canuck shots, few dangerous, for the shutout.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Canucks gave up the first goal for the fifth straight home game... The Ducks improved to 38-1-2 when leading after two periods and to 24-12-4 on the road... The Canucks' home record fell to 19-13-6 and their record against the three California teams tumbled to 2-9-3... Chris Higgins has gone 12 games without a goal while Daniel Sedin has one goal in 29 games and brother Henrik has one goal in 32... Ryan Kesler has gone 18 games without an assist.
DID YOU KNOW?
When Teemu Selanne, then with the original Winnipeg Jets, broke Mike Bossy's rookie record for goals back in 1992-93, the first assist on the play went to Tie Domi. The first player to hug Selanne after his celebration – he hurled his glove in the air and machine gunned it with his stick – was defenceman Dallas Eakins. The opposing team was the Quebec Nordiques. Bossy's record for freshmen goals was 53. The Finnish Flash finished with 76 that season, still an NHL record.
IN THE SYSTEM
Canucks' 2012 first-round pick Brendan Gaunce assisted on the game-winning goal Monday as the Erie Otters blanked the Soo Greyhounds 2-0 in the OHL playoffs. Erie leads the second-round series 3-0. Gaunce has 12 points in eight playoff games (5-7-12) to sit tied for fifth in OHL playoff scoring. Fellow Canuck prospect Dane Fox (7-9-16) is tied for the playoff lead while Bo Horvat (4-6-10) and Cole Cassels (3-7-10) are tied for eighth. Horvat and Cassels have played just six games to eight for Gaunce and Fox.
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