Vancouver returned home after an impressive eastern road swing that offered a minor blimp in the trip but that wasn’t until the end that saw them being blanked 4-0 to the Jets on Pride Night.
While many focus on the game at hand being an official I am saddened to hear of the passing of long-time NHL Official Swede Knox who suddenly passed away from Cancer.
Swede was proud to call Edmonton home and officiated over 2,248 games since 1972 and officiated in five (5) Stanley Cup Finals and one All-Star game.
He was one of the first to wear a helmet dating back to the mid-80ties until he retired in 2000 and filled in as a ref in only one game in Toronto when Koharski was unable to finish the game and no it wasn’t the one regarding the “Have Another Donut” with Jim Schoenfeld.
Many continue to ponder the play of Holtby and fail to mention in travel fatigue that has taken its toll regardless of how well they play.
\This time of the year albeit the long grueling COVID-19 year at best, everyone seems to think that the Canucks should manage to pull out a win in every game, but that’s mainly due to a lack of understanding of the game in general.
There is no question that the key to the Canucks success to date has to be the exceptional play of Demko who has literally stood on his head and then some, but he can’t do it alone.
This game see’s Connor Hellebuyck (13-9-2) through 24 games with a SV% and a GAA of 2.83 of .911 while Demko (12-10-1) through 23 games with a SV% of .921, 1 SO and a GAA of 2.66.
The loss of key players out of the line-up for Vancouver has clearly taken its toll but given the in and out additions to the roster are we really questioning the play of those who give 110 % night in and night out.
The game saw an end to end rush and it wasn’t until the 10:19 mark that saw the Jets break in on the right side taking what seemed to be a simple shot that Wheeler got an unassisted marker being his ninth of the season giving the Jet’s the early lead.
The battle continued and it wasn’t until the 4:09 mark that saw the Jets have a cross ice passing play on the right side only to be turned aside by a sprawling Demko keeping the Canucks in the game.
The first ended with the Jets making more of their chances than Vancouver only to be hemmed in their zone for the last 20 plus seconds forcing Demko to stand tall coming up with two key stops.
The second saw Vancouver come out with more jump bu just unable to get any shots on net and it wasn’t until the 12:11 mark that saw the Jets manage five shots while the Canucks only managed two.
The best chance was when Zack MacEwen came out of the “sin bin” after a holding minor that saw him break down the right side after stepping back on the ice pulling the puck back sending one top shelf only being turned aside by Hellebuyck.
Both tenders were up to the task facing several long shots only to have them go wide, high or out of play off the netting.
Given the chances each team had one might wonder why players simply can’t hit the net rather than send it wide and again I digress; this is where Delta’ Ron Johnson’s clearly needed to help perfect these.
As much as the Canucks threw pressure at the Jets they only managed to get six shots for a two period total of 15 while the Jets again managed eleven while getting 22 after 40 minutes.
Vancouver’s focus in the third was to not just throw pucks at the net, but challenge them attacking the net, but the best laid plans are often set aside and never materialize and such was the case tonight.
Winnipeg grabbed three goals in the third with Lowry getting his first of the period that saw his first shot deflect off Demko going high that many, including the broadcasters thought was hit in with a high stick, but upon video review it was determined that it was just a deflection that put the Jet’s up 2-0.
As if one wasn’t enough Lowry collected his second of the period and eighth of the season at 8:42 on a play that Copp started behind the net sliding one to the point that went side to side with a shot from the point sending one on net.
The initial shot was stopped by Demko but with everyone focused on the right side the shot bounced to the left on the stick of Lowry who easily tapped it in the yawning cage putting the Jets up 3-0.
The final goal of the period and game came off the stick of Paul Stastny who got his 10th of the season and his 977th career games who tied his Hall of Fame Father Peter by playing in his 977th career NHL game.
Four was all they needed and being realistic, one was all they needed on this night catching a sluggish team that’s filled with injuries.
Quite possibly they could be adding yet another serious injury to the already depleted roster as Horvat who limped off after blocking a shot from Edler and failed to return.
Following the game Demko mentioned to the media “It was a tight-checking game and we were down one going into the third and I thought we were in a pretty good spot to push and tie it up.”
He continued “Not a lot you can do on a couple of those plays and Hammer makes a good play coming over and blocking the pass. I knew the puck went up in the air, but most times it just goes over the net or something. I tried to find it as quick as I could.”
1st) Connor Hellebuyck
2nd) Adam Lowry
3rd) Blake Wheeler
Vancouver gets set to host the Jets Wednesday March 24th in the second of two games followed by a week break which will give them time to rest the injuries in hopes of getting some back in the line-up.