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Game #14 Vancouver Canucks (6-8) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (8-2-1) – game recap

After a rough start to the week with decisive back-to-back losses in Montreal, the Canucks were looking to get back on the winning track against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are off to a 7-2-1 start. They possess a league-high 43% success rate on the PP. The Canucks haven’t won in Toronto since December 2011. The Maple Leafs won both season meetings last season, outscoring the Canucks 8-3. Jake Virtanen was back in the lineup in favor of Zack MacEwen. Thatcher Demko was in net. Could the Canucks finally win again in Toronto? Here is tonight’s game  recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Maple Leafs opened the scoring just under 3 minutes into the game as Auston Matthews blew by JT Miller and snapped it home five-hole on Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko
  • Three and a half minutes later, Tanner Pearson whacked home a rebound in a goalmouth scramble past Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson
  • Just under four minutes later, Jason Spezza slapped a shot far side through a crowd, far side, on Demko for a PP marker
  •  The Maple Leafs added a goal three minutes into the 2nd period as Auston Matthews, unchecked, tucked a slick pass from Mitch Marner past Demko
  • Twenty-two seconds later, Bo Horvat completed a pretty tic-tac-goal play, wiring the puck over a sprawling Anderson’s glove
  • Just over five minutes later, Spezza wired one over the shoulder of Demko
  • Just over nine minutes later, an unchecked John Tavares  tipped home a centering feed
  • Jason Spezza completed the hat trick on a very similar move that Brandon Sutter did to complete his hat trick last week, powering past a Canucks defender and beating Demko with a forehand move
  • Just under 4 minutes later, the Canucks got one back as JT Miller walked in and snapped it past Anderson
  • Just over 3 minutes later, Mitch Marner sent a seeing-eye shot through a crowd and by Demko
  • Thatcher Demko stopped 30/37 shots
  • Final score: Maple Leafs 7 Canucks 3

My Take:

  • For the umpteenth time, the Canucks beat themselves with turnovers (13) and poor coverage. The Canucks were also letting players go on defense, leading to a couple of unchallenged goals by players who had all the time in the world. Further, you can’t give an elite team like that so much time and space.
  • Goaltending was not the main issue tonight. Pretty much every goal against Demko had no chance on. He was screened on a couple of the goals, a few of the goals resulted from Canucks not checking their man. Again, the Canucks need a goalie to steal a game right now, but Demko is not why the Canucks dropped their third straight game this week.
  • The real troubling trends for me are their response in the middle frame. The Canucks were outscored 3-1 in the 2nd period tonight to put the Maple Leafs up by 3 with 20 minutes to play. Tonight was just a bad night all round against a team coming off three days rest. The team has schedule a press conference ahead of practice tomorrow. Could their be some big changes coming? Was there a major injury from tonight? Stay tuned…
  • Why are the Canucks not blocking more shots? Yes Chris Tanev regularly led the team in blocked shots last season, but the Canucks acquired defenders known for their shot blocking
  • The Canucks won 44% of the faceoffs, led by JT Miller, Jake Virtanen, Tanner Pearson and Adam Gaudette, who all won every draw they took. Elias Pettersson (67% success rate) also had a good night in the faceoff circle. It should be noted that Manny Malhotra is facing his former teammates behind the Leafs bench. He was responsible for helping the Canucks centers last season. Keep an eye on faceoffs this weekend.
  • The Canucks outhit the Maple Leafs 27-15, led by Tyler Motte, who banged out 6 hits
  • The Canucks blocked 8 shots, led by Jalen Chatfield, Tyler Myers, Alex Edler, Jay Beagle, Motte, Pettersson, Brandon Sutter and Brock Boeser, This is an area that REALLY needs improvement. As goalies like to say, block the shot or get out of the way.
  • Up next, the Canucks try to put this one behind them and get their first win in Toronto in more than a decade. There’s a press conference scheduled for the morning before practice, so someone may be about to take the fall for this bad start.
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