As he usually is after video games, head coach Travis Inexperienced was analytical and introspective following the Vancouver Canucks 3-Zero loss to the Vegas Golden Knights Friday in Sport 7 of their Stanley Cup Western Convention second-round collection.
Defenceman Chris Tanev, one in all two gamers remaining from Vancouver’s Sport 7 loss to Boston within the 2011 Stanley Cup remaining, was extra succinct.
“It sucks,” mentioned Tanev.
Vancouver’s sudden success on this 12 months’s unprecedented bubble playoffs confirmed the Canucks’ potential. It additionally uncovered weaknesses and enhancements which are wanted each time the brand new the brand new season begins.
WATCH | Golden Knights get rid of Canucks
Administration additionally faces selections on an inventory of free brokers, together with Tanev, goaltender Jacob Markstrom and ahead Tyler Toffoli, and restricted free brokers like ahead Jake Virtanen and defenceman Troy Stecher.
“You might be all the time trying to enhance your group,” mentioned Inexperienced. “As a company we’re going to preserve pushing till we get to that degree the place we need to win a Stanley Cup. That is our purpose.”
Canucks acquire much-needed playoff skilled
The Canucks had 10 gamers showing of their first playoffs. They misplaced the primary recreation of the best-of-five play-in collection to Minnesota then gained the following three. The underdog Canucks then wanted six video games to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues and battled again from a 3-1 deficit to drive a deciding recreation towards Vegas.
Not unhealthy for a crew that was on the playoff bubble, sitting seventh within the West with a 36-27-6 report when the NHL paused its season March 12 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you come right into a scenario like this, you’ve gotten 10 guys that have not performed playoff hockey earlier than, internally in your thoughts there are some query marks,” mentioned the normally stoic Inexperienced, who at occasions appeared on the verge of tears after the loss. “I’ve by no means as soon as not believed in our group and their capability to compete and need to win.
“I believed our crew grew because the playoffs went on. I believed after the primary loss towards Minnesota, our confidence grew and grew to the purpose that even after we had been down 3-1 on this collection we nonetheless felt they may come again and win.”
In centre Elias Pettersson, final 12 months’s prime rookie, and defenceman Quinn Hughes, a Calder Trophy nominee this 12 months, the Canucks have two of the NHL’s prime younger skills.
Easy and swift in the course of the common season, Pettersson confirmed he may shine within the extra bodily playoffs. He scored seven objectives, two of them recreation winners, and picked up 18 factors. Two of Vancouver’s objectives in Sport 6 got here off Pettersson screens and he wasn’t afraid to throw his physique in entrance of photographs.
Hughes led all playoff rookies with 14 assists and 16 factors. His pace and passing makes him an offensive weapon however he is additionally robust defensively.
Goalie controversy brewing
Markstrom was the Canuck MVP of the common season and playoffs previous to lacking the final three video games with an harm. Rookie Thatcher Demko stepped in and made 123 saves and recorded a shutout to push Vegas to the brink.
“I simply needed to maintain doing my job,” mentioned Demko.
Captain Bo Horvat led the playoffs with 10 objectives and was dominate within the faceoff circle, profitable 59 per cent of his attracts. Veteran J.T. Miller, obtained in a commerce final spring, confirmed management whereas including six objectives and 18 factors.
The Canucks are nonetheless a piece in progress. As they confirmed in the course of the common season, Vancouver wants excellent goaltending most nights to win a recreation.
Signing Markstrom will likely be a precedence for basic supervisor Jim Benning. Two accidents this season, and the emergence of Demko, may complicate the negotiations.
Benning additionally is aware of down the street he’ll want wage cap room for Pettersson and Hughes.
The collection towards Vegas confirmed how the Canucks battle towards a quick, bodily crew. Vancouver gave up 40 or extra photographs 3 times and had been outshot 127-54 within the final three video games.
Virtanen was the one backside six ahead to attain towards the Knights. The Canuck power-play, ranked fourth within the league in the course of the common season, was 3-for-27. Throughout a five-minute man-advantage within the remaining recreation Vancouver managed only one shot.
When the season began few predicted Vancouver would make the playoffs. The 12 months has been a studying curve however Horvat gave the crew a passing grade.
“Guys stepped up at totally different occasions right through our lineup,” he mentioned. “With a younger group we confirmed loads of guts.
“I am pleased with our guys and we’re going to study from it. We can’t wait to get again and play subsequent 12 months.”