Vancouver Canucks Win Streak Broken In Vancouver Canucks Fashion

Canucks win streak
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The latest Vancouver Canucks win streak wasn’t the longest of the season. It wasn’t even the most surprising of the season. But it was, inarguably, the one that fans were the most enthusiastic over. And then, well…

Canucks Win Streak Gets Breaks

Before this run, Vancouver had busily buried themselves in whatever playoff chase they pretended to be part of. Before kicking off with a 5-1 win against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Canucks went 3-5-4. March was not a kind month. Fortunately for them, teams alongside them were also falling to the wayside. The opportunity was there, and they took it. Eventually.

In their six-game streak, the Canucks scored 32 goals and gave up just 11. They didn’t just win but won convincingly. In the sixth game, against a Dallas Stars squad chasing the same few playoff spots, Vancouver won 6-2. Missing Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson, and a newly resurgent Alex Chiasson – no, seriously – the Canucks still walked away with the game.

Lookin’ Good

The Ottawa Senators‘ last game, on the other hand, was a disaster. They lost to one of the few teams below them in the standings, with the Seattle Kraken limiting them to just 14 shots. Anton Forsberg played that one, so their backup would be playing in Vancouver the next day. The one break Ottawa could rely on was the likelihood of facing Jaroslav Halák rather than starter Thatcher Demko.

This game was the obvious choice for giving Demko some rest before hitting the road. Spencer Martin was even called up briefly before the game, though we don’t know why. Whatever it was proved to be a false alarm and Halák started the game with Demko on the bench. It wasn’t as much of a break as it seems, because although his numbers aren’t as good as Demko’s for the season he was doing just fine. Halák’s previous four games had him running a .942 save percentage.

The Canucks win streak was safe as safe could be.

Oh, Snap!

As you probably know, we don’t normally cover individual games or do recaps. There are loads of perfectly good sources for those, locally or nationally as your preference. But this one’s kind of special for just how the Canucks mythology is a cynical, self-fueling device. A sarcasmus ex machina, if you will. Why is that? Let’s go point-by-point.

Halák got off to a roaring start. Ottawa was embarrassed by their last effort and wanted to make up for it. Two of the Canucks stars – J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser – got through Filip Gustavsson in the first, though, while Halák was perfect. Unfortunately, that might be all he plays this season. An “upper-body injury” took him out of the game. He may have been injured by another Canucks star, Quinn Hughes, during a goalmouth scramble.

So a tired Demko started the second. He gave up a goal to Alex Formenton early on, but otherwise the Canucks totally dominated the period. They owned the Senators with high-pressure play and high-danger chances. Except for Gustavsson, who had a perfect period of his own. Still, a one-goal lead going into the third at home should be easy enough to close. But no.

Stacking Luck

Four minutes into the third and the Canucks were down a goal. Now, Demko held the Senators out the rest of the way, and Vancouver did manage to tie it up. But would Martin, if he stayed up, have won the game? We can never know, of course. The Abbotsford Canucks last played in San Jose on Friday, so he was rested. He’s been playing extremely well both in the AHL and in his few NHL appearances this year.

But when it comes to the skills competition, things get interesting.

The eventual winner in the shootout was scored by Adam Gaudette. He, of course, was drafted by the Canucks in 2015. He was moved to the Chicago Blackhawks for Matthew Highmore as an expansion trade dodge. Chicago gave him to Ottawa the next season, where he’s been used sparingly. In fact, he didn’t skate at all in the third period of the Vancouver match, totalling just 4:29 for the game. He ended up being their secret weapon.

Inside Information

Gaudette used to practice his shootout against Demko when he was in Vancouver. He has a specific move he likes to use, and Demko knew it.

So. Did Demko second guess himself on the shot? Could be. He knew Gaudette’s move, but he also knew that Gaudette knew he knew his move. So would Gaudette, knowing he knew his move – repeat as necessary – NOT do his move? Fake it? Fake not doing it? A goalie who starts thinking can get himself in a whole lot of trouble.

Add Another to the Pile

So the Canucks win streak was broken because:

  1. a player they traded away who was then given away was playing a very minor role;
  2. their backup goalie got injured;
  3. the star goalie was healthy enough to back up, despite an early health scare;
  4. that player just happened to practice his shootout on that star goalie who had two chances not to play.

And thus a six-game win streak at the most important time of the year dies. Of course, the Canucks still got one point out of it because the Hockey Gods get their kicks out of fans’ suffering.

On the plus side…

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