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Canucks Need to Play Simple Hockey in Order to Succeed

The Canucks had some obvious struggles Monday night against the Canadiens. Here’s what they need to do to bounce back on

There’s no mystery as to what the Vancouver Canucks will be reviewing in their video session on Tuesday. As play-by-play announcer John Shorthouse said during the broadcast of Monday’s game, the Canucks had “more turnovers than the Save-On Bakery”. Canucks fans watched hopelessly as their team fell 6-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.

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Too Many Turnovers

In addition to all the turnovers, it seemed like every time you turned around, the Canadiens were on another breakaway. Braden Holtby will be the one taking a tally in the “L” column, as well as six goals against and a .850 Save Percentage, but it was hardly his fault.

In the NHL, it’s often the fourth-line forwards and third-pairing defensemen making the worst plays. For the Canucks, however, this game was the complete opposite. Coach Travis Green was forced to split up the “Lotto Line” as well as the Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat- Nils Hoglander line, as those were the main culprits of dangerous plays. The most obvious example of this was the Canucks’ powerplay, which couldn’t make a pass to save its life, and allowed the Habs to score a short-handed marker.

Praise for Tyler Motte

If the Canucks want to be the team we saw against Ottawa and Winnipeg this past week, with four wins in as many games, they’ll have to follow the example of Tyler Motte. Motte has been the only consistent Canuck this season.

Brock Boeser, for example, has four different two-goal games this year, which has him tied with Connor McDavid for most goals in the league. However, throughout his other eight games this season, he merely has one assist.

Bo Horvat already has 11 points, but has only gotten on the scoresheet in five of his 12 games this year. Teams need more consistency from their top players- especially their captain.

Motte has also put up points in five of his 12 games, but he plays on the fourth line. He’s a regular Penalty Killer for the Canucks, which means a large portion of his time on the ice carries the intention of not getting scored on, rather than scoring. And he still puts the puck in the net.

Tyler Motte Vancouver Canucks

The thing that sets Motte apart from the rest of the team is his simplicity. When he gets the puck in the defensive zone, he makes a good pass to get it out. When he gets it in the offensive zone, he gets quality shots. When you do that, you leave little room for error.

His mentality can be compared to that of Carey Price: If you’re always in position, you won’t make many highlight-reel plays, but you will succeed. As the saying goes, “They don’t ask how; they ask how many”.

Getting Too Fancy

Too many Canucks have been trying to make fancy plays both as the last man back on breakouts, and as the guy at the point on the powerplay. This was exactly the problem on Montreal’s short-handed goal this game. Adam Gaudette, the last man back, didn’t make the simple play, which caused a turnover. We also keep seeing similar things from Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, making one-too-many moves at the blue line on the powerplay, which causes them to let the puck out of the zone. It’s no wonder the Canucks don’t have a single powerplay goal on the road yet.

The Canucks are now 1-3-0 against the Canadiens this year, but will have a chance to improve that record Tuesday as they take on the Habs again. If they can get back to simple hockey, and play that way the rest of the season, we’ll be seeing them in the playoffs. Otherwise, watch out Owen Power: the Canucks are coming for you in the 2021 Draft.

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