The Canucks dropped their third straight in regulation and fourth in a row overall (0-3-1) with a 2-1 loss to New Jersey
G: Boeser (8)
Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 of 27 shots
1) As was the case in recent 2-1 losses in Anaheim and against St. Louis, the Canucks didn't play poorly on Sunday against New Jersey. But they struggled yet again to score and didn't win, so it's hard to get excited about solid performances. As Travis Green pointed out postgame, the way his team is playing looks much the same to the head coach as it did when the Canucks were lighting up lesser opponents like Los Angeles and Detroit earlier in the season. But after another 2-1 loss, the Canucks have now dropped three straight in regulation for the first time all season, are winless in four (0-3-1) and have just one victory in their past six hockey games (1-3-2). More than the results, though, is the fact the Canucks have five goals in their last four games and 11 goals in their past six. Sure, they're trying hard and battling to the final buzzer but clearly that isn't enough.
2) In an attempt to generate offense, Green smashed the buttons on his line combination blender in the second period Sunday. Never a coach to stand pat when things are stagnant, the man behind the bench went wild with his attempts to find a spark -- rarely using the same trio through most of the middle period. Much of the movement is being done to try to jumpstart Bo Horvat who has just one even-strength goal 18 games into the season -- and it came in St. Louis on October 17th. Horvat has gone six games without scoring and has only one goal in his past nine games. He scored on the power play in Los Angeles on October 30th. On Sunday, Horvat was reunited with the team's best left winger JT Miller. He took shifts with Brock Boeser, Josh Leivo, Jake Virtanen, Tanner Pearson and late in the second period even had a turn between Adam Gaudette and Tim Schaller. Through 18 games, the captain has 6+8=14, but only 1+5=6 at evens and is eighth on the team in even-strength point production.
3) It's certainly not just Horvat that needs to find a way to produce, but he means so much to the hockey club that the Canucks need to get him going. However, Tanner Pearson has now gone 14 games without scoring and most of that has been as a second-line winger and with some power play duty as well. Horvat and Pearson are 1-2 in shots on goal for the hockey club, but it's not amounting to much. They had some chemistry late last season after Pearson was acquired from Pittsburgh, but it hasn't happened for them nearly a quarter of the way through this season. It's probably time to keep them apart and see if there aren't better options for both of them.
4) I'd like to see Adam Gaudette get another run at centre. In 9:47 as a winger Sunday, Gaudette had some moments. He registered three shots and had another attempt miss the mark. The Canucks came out on the short end of shot attempts when he was on the ice (44% individual corsi), but as Travis Green spins his wheel of forwards, I'd prefer to see Gaudette get another opportunity to play his natural position. There will be some nights where he looks like a young player still finding his way at this level, but he has earned a spot on the team and deserves to be among the 12 forwards dressed. One of the biggest reason for the move is due to the fact that Brandon Sutter has gone 11 games without an assist. The knock on the affable veteran has always been he's not a playmaker or set-up guy and he's not making the players around him dangerous. And that appears to be the case once again. Slide him to the wing, let him continue to kill penalties, he can still take face-offs when called up and he can help a young player like Gaudette out defensively. But it's impossible to argue that they need Sutter as a centre because he isn't a puck distributor. Five of his eight points so far this season are goals and he can still score from the wing. Additionally, on Sunday, Sutter won just three of eight face-offs and for the season has struggled on the draw at 46.8%. Give Gaudette a longer look in the middle -- for now and for the future.
5) After such a solid start to the season, the Canucks penalty kill has -- perhaps expectedly -- come back down to earth. For the third straight game, the Canucks PK surrendered at least a goal. The Canucks also scored on the power play, so the special teams battle washed out in the end on Sunday. But the Devils opened the scoring with the man-advantage and gained momentum with that goal. On Friday night in Winnipeg, the Jets turned that game on its ear with a pair of second period power plays scoring on the second of the two and seizing momentum the Canucks couldn't overcome. A night earlier in Chicago, the Blackhawks scored their second and third goals of the night on the power play -- the third goal turning out to be the game winner. In the past three games, the Canucks penalty kill is 7 for 11 (63.6%) which is a far cry from the 85.5% season average the team entered the game with. Against the Devils, Brandon Sutter and Tanner Pearson were the penalty killing duo up front when Wayne Simmonds opened the scoring. Pearson has stepped in to fill the vacant spot on the PK left behind when Tyler Motte was injured. The Canucks miss Motte's speed, hustle and determination especially when a man down. Motte is out for a while still, so the Canucks need to find a way to tighten things up when a man short. Their penalty kill had been a huge part of their success in the early going. Right now, it's one of the reasons for their recent slide.