Shot fatigue: Canucks know they need to step up defence in Game 6 versus Vegas

Shot fatigue: Canucks know they need to step up defence in Game 6 versus Vegas

EDMONTON — The Vancouver Canucks are still alive in the NHL playoffs by outlasting the Vegas Golden Knights in a game that, by all statistical accounts, they had no business winning.

Vancouver head coach Travis Green isn’t apologizing for it, but says he also isn’t blind to the fact his team has to step it up in Game 6 Thursday at Rogers Place.

“I didn’t think we were at our best, but I’m never going to criticize a win too harshly,” Green said when asked Wednesday by reporters on a Zoom call about his team giving up 43 shots on net Tuesday, but still beating Vegas 2-1 to cut the Golden Knights’ lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven second-round series.

“Especially in playoff hockey, when you find a way to win a game that you probably shouldn’t have, it’s not just luck,” added Green. “It’s compete. It’s buying in as a group. It’s blocking a shot.

“I expect our team to play a better game tomorrow, as far as with the puck and our skating. We weren’t quite skating the way we could. We weren’t great with the puck and when those two are in our game, it’s usually a recipe for playing in our own zone.”

It was recipe for disaster saved only by a storybook performance from backup goalie Thatcher Demko. Demko, making his first ever playoff start in place of a presumably injured Jacob Markstrom, made 42 saves in front of a Gatling gun of rubber as the Golden Knights repeatedly swarmed the Vancouver zone, aiming, firing, reloading and repeating.

Vegas had 22 shots blocked and missed the net on 14 more for a total of 79 shot attempts. Vancouver in response, mustered just 17 shots on net and 38 shots attempts at Robin Lehner.

Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers said they drew strength from fortuity.

“(Demko) did a great job of making some big saves for us to keep us in it,” said Myers.

“Basically after two periods, we said, ‘We’re not playing our best and it’s still a tie hockey game, so we talked about we just need 20 minutes. We’ve got to raise our level for 20 minutes.’”

Vegas forward Reilly Smith chalked it up to the breaks of the game.

“On the bench, we try to stay positive and maintain the idea that we’re going to stay patient and our opportunities are going to keep on coming and we’re just going to wait for the right bounces,” said Smith.

“It just seemed like we weren’t able to find any of those bounces last game.”

Markstrom started every playoff game prior to Tuesday, playing 14 games in 29 days. The NHL is not releasing injury information or status. Green declined to discuss who will start Game 6.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time during these playoffs that a Canucks’ goaltender has resembled a one-dimensional smiling duck inching from left to right in a carnival shooting gallery.

Vegas is averaging almost 38 shots a night through five games compared with 26 for Vancouver. In Game 2, the Canuck skaters stepped up and blocked 40 shots in front of Markstrom to preserve a 5-2 win. On Tuesday, not so much. They blocked 22.

Shot paucity is also a Canuck playoff theme.

Through 15 games they have outshot their opponent only twice — both times against the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round.

In the playoffs proper, through six games against St. Louis in the first round and now five against Vegas, they have been outshot 418-298.

When it comes to shooting attempts, taking into account missed and blocked shots, that disparity widens to 821 to 594.

Myers said the key to stopping shots in their own end will be decided 200 feet away Thursday.

“If we can get on them quicker, create some more stalls in their D-zone, we’ll have the puck more and that will eliminate a lot of the defending that we were doing,” he said.

Vegas is known for playing a heavy game, and through the first 11 post-season games in 2020, win or lose, had always outhit their opponent. But in the last two games Vancouver has outhit Vegas by a combined 85-70.

Vegas defenceman Brayden McNabb, one of the three big Golden Knight hitters (along with William Carrier and Ryan Reaves), reminded reporters of the double-edged nature of that particular metric.

“Playoffs in general you want to play a heavier game and finish all your checks,” said McNabb. “But last game we had the puck a lot, so it’s a little bit harder to get the hits when you have the puck.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 2, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Torrington School music program is one of 95 beneficiaries across the country of grants from MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity. (Black Press file photo).
Torrington music program gets grant to purchase instruments

A Torrington school will be able to replace worn out band instruments… Continue reading

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

The City of Red Deer said Wednesday that some outdoor activity rentals will be available starting Monday for households only. (Advocate File Photo)
City of Red Deer outlines activities available as new provincial COVID-19 restrictions set in

There will be limited recreation activities available across the City of Red… Continue reading

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

LtE bug
Letter: Restrictions are a crime against humanity

I was distressed to note the seemingly superficial understanding of the holocaust… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Follow restrictions so pandemic can be behind us

From one who feels that COVID could have been overcome long ago… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Westerner needs help now

I have spent the last few days sifting through many pieces of… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Most Read