Jacob Markstrom set a Vancouver Canucks’ franchise record with a 49-save shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks in Wednesday’s 3-0 win. That sucks for the team because, hidden in the celebration of a franchise-record, is the stark truth that the Canucks are simply giving up too many shots on net and the record that Markstrom set – saving puck after puck – simply isn’t sustainable for any netminder.
Not Even Markstrom Is Good Enough to Withstand that much Rubber
Markstrom is good, but he isn’t that good. Really, no one is. But on this one game, Markstrom was amazing in goal as the badly outplayed Canucks were outshot 49-20. Two saves come to mind that were particularly noteworthy. During the first period, he made a pad-save on a shot from an open Dominik Kubalik; and, during the second period, he stopped a Patrick Kane shot from the high slot after a Quinn Hughes’ giveaway.
Markstrom’s 49-save shutout was his second shutout of the season and improved his record to 22-16-3 with a goals-against-average of 2.74 and a save percentage of .918 save percentage in 41 starts. By the way, Markstrom’s shutout was also the most saves by any Swedish goaltender in an NHL shutout. The New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist and the Ottawa Senators Anders Nilsson both have had 45-save-shutouts in the past.
Look for Markstrom to Keep Playing
Head coach Travis Green has been riding Markstrom recently, and the game against the Blackhawks was Markstrom’s fifth straight start.
Markstrom might even have a few more starts in a row because the Canucks have at least two days off between each of their next four games. Although backup goalie Thatcher Demko has been strong, with a 10-5-2 record, a goals-against-average of 2.93 and a save percentage of .909, the 30-year-old Markstrom was an NHL All-Star and has arguably been the team’s most valuable player. He’ll likely start most of the games during the team’s playoff run.
It seems that Markstrom will need to be strong in goal because the number of shots on goal he faced against the Blackhawks was not an aberration. The Canucks won the game, but they were badly outskated by a Blackhawks team that had played the night before.
Markstrom noted himself: “They were throwing a lot of pucks from bad angles, kind of from everywhere. It was a battle.”
Still, his attitude is posotive, and he noted: “There is nothing more I like than to battle for 60 minutes with these guys.”
What a Great Evening for Canucks’ Swedes
Markstrom’s great performance happened on the night that the team honored two other great Swedes – the Sedin twins, whose jerseys were retired and lifted to the roof. Markstrom reported that the win was “extra special” for him with the Sedins being celebrated.
”They (Daniel and Henrik) are such great people. They are quiet guys and they don’t really like to be in the center of the room. … They really deserve it and earned every applause. Everything that was said about them was well deserved.”
Something Has to Change if the Canucks Are to Keep Winning
The score flattered a Canuks team that was outshot more than two to one; and, as I’ve noted in this post, only an unbelievable game by Markstrom saved the day. One upside for the Canucks’ defense was that the Blackhawks didn’t get a lot of second chances; so, perhaps that’s something positive to take away about the Canucks defense. We will see as the rest of the season unfolds.
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