It was hard to count the silver linings for the Vancouver Canucks after Saturday night’s 5-0 loss in Toronto, but we’ll try. Here are a good dozen. Fans of the team, however saddened they might be by the outcome in this tilt in the Big Smoke, will be cheered by the end of this story as they are by the beauties of nature abounding in their good burgh.
One: The Canucks don’t have a game until Thursday.
Two: That game, against the Coyotes, will be at home, where the Canucks haven’t played since before Christmas.
Three: Vancouver’s third loss in four games isn’t quite as gruesome as it looks at a glance, given the club is .500 on its six-game roadie.
Four: Given the performance of a select few Canadian teenagers this past week, the Canucks’ recent form can rate as only the second biggest disappointment in their environs.
Five: Goaltender Jacob Markstrom did keep the Canucks in the game through 40 minutes, turning aside 22 of 24 shots, which included an improbably high number of quality chances. Markstrom was utterly blameless on John Tavares‘ deflection of a Morgan Rielly shot about nine minutes into the game. Though you had a sense that the die was cast with that goal, Markstrom persevered.
Six: Brock Boeser won’t have to chase Mitch Marner on the cycle again anytime soon, which he did in vain for 17 awful, leg-sapping seconds on a single shift. Given that the game in Toronto was the Canucks’ third in four nights and sixth in ten nights with flights hither and yon, it would have taken only two to three seconds for Boeser’s legs to fill up with lactic-acid-soaked sand. Marner’s game of keep-away from Boeser was an extreme example but it was a piece with the rest of the night when the Leafs’ puck-possession game made the visitors’ night seem much longer than the standard 60 minutes.
Seven: Defenceman Derrick Pouliot won’t see Leafs’ rookie Trevor Moore again until March if: (a) he doesn’t watch any late-night highlights packages; (b) the Canucks’ staff doesn’t put together a gag reel. With a bit over five minutes to go in the first period, Moore, ostensibly a fourth-liner, picked up the puck above the circle in his own zone, built up a full head of steam as Pouliot gave ground and then absolutely blew by him without getting touched. Again.
Eight: Pouliot might not even see Moore in March because he could well be back with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate at that point.
(Nota bene: You can scratch through Nos. Seven and Eight if Moore is packaged up in a trade to a place where he might see something more than fourth-line minutes.)
Nine: The Canucks didn’t have to go directly to the airport after the game and will fly out Sunday, allowing them an opportunity to get fully rehydrated.
Ten: Bo Horvat says he isn’t worried about not scoring because he’s still getting scoring chances, which is our Silver Lining of the Game. He did register a couple of shots and he’s as game as they come, don’t get me wrong.
Eleven: Saturday night, the Canucks got a pretty good look at a team that they would like to be at some point down the line. “I thought there were mistakes on the first four goals and this team can make you pay,” Canucks coach Travis Green said of the Leafs.
“It takes time [to get where the Leafs are] to be honest. You can’t just turn 10-goal scorers into 20-goal scorers. Look at what Toronto has done for the last four or five years and now they’re seeing the rewards for it. They don’t have one good player or two good players. They’ve got a lot of good players.”
Twelve: Elias Petterson walked into the Scotiabank Arena last night. You might call it burying the lead but I think it’s better described as saving the best for last, which would be the injury update on Petterson.
In 38 reasonably sensational games this season Petterson established himself as the Calder Trophy favourite although the odds will now have to be adjusted given that he was knocked out of the line-up when he got tangled up with another rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi in Montreal Thursday night and fell awkwardly, twisting his knee in a way Our Maker had not intended.
Green called Petterson’s injury a sprain of an MCL and said “it’s not too bad.” This is, of course, a preliminary rather than an authoritative report, mind you. “Our doctors will revaluate him,” Green said. “Probably as good of news as you could hope.”