TAKEAWAYS

 

1) Saturday night at Rogers Arena turned into the Nathan MacKinnon show. When a guy has three individual efforts that were all in the conversation as the Play of the Game, you know he put on a performance. MacKinnon absolutely wired a one-timer that Thatcher Demko is still looking for on a second period power play that gave the Avs a 2-1 lead. He then held the puck in the Vancouver end, fought off the check of Tanner Pearson, circled behind the Canucks net and drew a few defenders to him opening a passing lane and then he threaded the needle with a perfect pass that Andre Burakovsky converted to put Colorado in front 4-2 six minutes into the third. For his final act, MacKinnon took advantage of the ample time and space afforded by three on three overtime, picked up the puck at his own blue line, waltzed past JT Miller at the Canucks line and beat Thatcher Demko with a snap shot 27 into overtime to cap the Avs 5-4 victory. Outside of Connor McDavid, no one in hockey is as predatory in the offensive zone as MacKinnon is with the puck on his stick. He looks dangerous on every single shift on Saturday he was the unquestioned difference maker as the Avalanche rolled the Canucks.

 

2) It's been said before, but bears repeating, the Canucks don't go quietly. They start quietly a little too often, but for the fourth time in 21 games they erased a two goal deficit. After earlier wins in St. Louis and Detroit and a comeback from a 2-0 hole on Thursday against Dallas that ultimately yielded no points, on Saturday the Canucks pushed to the final buzzer and were rewarded with a single point at the very least. With Thatcher Demko on the bench for an extra attacker, the Canucks got goals from Alex Edler with 2:37 remaining setting the stage for Brock Boeser to score his team-leading ninth goal of the season with exactly 60 seconds remaining in the third period. The good news is the Canucks found a way to squeeze something out of a game in which it looked like they would get nothing. The troubling news is how often the Canucks are chasing the game. Their 5-3 win over Nashville on Tuesday was the only time on this four game homestand in which the Canucks ever had a lead. When trailing after 40 minutes, as they were against Colorado, the Canucks are now 2-6-3 this season. They've managed to secure at least a point in five of those 11 games. That's impressive. But the fact they've trailed after two periods in more than half their games is not.

 

3) The Canucks went 1-2-1 on their homestand and are now 1-4-2 in their last seven games and 2-4-3 in their past nine. In the past four games at Rogers Arena, the team scored 12 goals. Half of their offense on the homestand came on the power play with the Canucks going two for six with the man-advantage on Saturday and 6 for 15 (40%) on the homestand. They also scored three goals with a goalie pulled (two on Saturday when trailing and one on Tuesday against Nashville when Tanner Pearson sealed the victory into an empty net). That leaves three other goals. Yes, the Canucks struggles at even strength are real right now. In four home games, the team managed just three 5-on-5 goals: Elias Pettersson scored one against the Predators and Jake Virtanen and Troy Stecher each scored at evens against Dallas on Thursday. JT Miller scored a 5-on-5 goal in Winnipeg on November 8th. Brock Boeser's last even-strength goal came in Los Angeles as part of a hattrick on October 30th. Bo Horvat has yet to score a 5-on-5 goal in 21 games this season. The power play has been dynamite as it was again on Saturday. The Canucks need to figure out their even-strength scoring in a hurry. 

 

4) The Canucks were unable to beat a goalie making his first NHL start in nearly three years on Saturday. Give Antoine Bibeau credit. The 25-year-old looked like he was going to be able to cruise to victory with a 4-2 lead with four minutes to play. The Avs didn't to much to help their fourth-string goalie over the final few minutes, but in the end Bibeau got the win making 28 saves and having a very user-friendly overtime period in which he didn't see the puck. It was his second career NHL victory and his first since December 29, 2016 while with the Maple Leafs. The Canucks made life way too easy on Bibeau early in the hockey game testing him just five times in the opening period including parts of three power plays which generated just two shots (Adam Gaudette scored his first of the night at 18:27 of the opening period with the man-advantage). That came after an 11 minute stretch in which the Canucks were unable to generate a shot on goal. In the end, the Avs got better goaltending than the Canucks did and that shouldn't have been the case based on the pedigree of the starters. The Canucks also scored four goals on home ice and didn't win. Saturday was the first time this season, Thatcher Demko has allowed more than three goals in a game.

 

5) The Canucks are the only ones who will get themselves out of the rut they're in. But as has been warned for a while now, the schedule only gets tougher for them over the next two weeks. The team starts a season-high six-game road trip on Tuesday in Dallas. Over the course of the odyssey, they will face the top team in the NHL in Washington and the trip winds up with a game in Edmonton against the Oilers who currently hold down fifth place in the overall standings. Along they way, they will face the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins who shared 12th spot with Dallas at the completion of play Saturday (all three of those teams along with the Canucks have 24 points). The team will also visit Nashville and while the Preds have struggled of late, they still sit 20th in the overall standings. So all six of the Canucks upcoming opponents are in the top two-thirds of the standings. There are no easy games in the immediate future. Also, consider the fact that while it is officially a six-game road trip. It concludes with a home and home against the Oilers on consecutive nights effectively making it a seven-game sojourn. People have said since the outset of the season, we'll learn a lot about the Canucks in the month of November. It's been a tough go to this point -- and the hard part has only just begun.