Canucks’ postponed games may have cost them the playoffs
The Canucks postponed two games in January due to capacity restrictions at Rogers Arena. Those rescheduled matches came back to bite them.
The Vancouver Canucks were on an incredible streak after signing Bruce Boudreau. They went 8-0-1 in nine games after he was hired, kicking off 2022 with the eighth of those wins over the Seattle Kraken on January 1.
Then they didn’t play another game for over a week.
The two games the Canucks had scheduled for the following week — a Jan. 5 game against the New York Islanders and a Jan. 8 game against the Ottawa Senators — were both postponed. Both games were postponed because of COVID-19 but not because the teams had too many players unavailable. Instead, they were postponed because BC provincial health orders limited Rogers Arena capacity to 50%.
In other words, both games have been postponed for financial reasons. It was hoped that by the time the games were played, Rogers Arena would be back at 100% capacity and the team would be able to sell twice as many tickets for those two home games.
The gambit partially worked. The capacity restrictions were not lifted when the Canucks played their rescheduled game against the Islanders on Feb. 9, but were lifted well before playing the rescheduled game against the Senators on April 19. capacity of 18,910.
The irony is that the Canucks would have made a lot more money with, at a minimum, two home games in the first round of the playoffs.
Postponed matches turned into back-to-back traps
If the Canucks had faced the Islanders and Senators at the scheduled time, it would have been two games in nine nights – a good balance between staying well rested while maintaining game speed midway through the season. In similar situations elsewhere on their schedule, the Canucks have beaten both the Islanders and Senators.
Rescheduled, however, the two games became the second consecutive game nights. These can be tough for any team, but they’ve particularly plagued the Canucks this season, winning just 3 of 12 straight games.
Games against the Islanders and Senators were among those nine losses.
The Canucks allowed five first-period goals against the Islanders on Feb. 9, with head coach Bruce Boudreau and captain Bo Horvat saying the team just wasn’t ready to play. Then, just last week, the Senators snapped a six-game winning streak for the Canucks, with Adam Gaudette scoring the game-winning shootout goal for the Senators.
There’s no guarantee, of course, that the Canucks would have won the games they were originally scheduled to win, but the odds were much better than in the second half of back-to-back games. A Canucks team on a hot nine-game streak could have continued their streak against two teams poised to finish below them in the standings in a friendly portion of their schedule.
Winning those two games would give the Canucks three more points, which would still have them just outside the Western Conference playoff picture, but there would certainly be a bit more hope that the Canucks could achieve the implausible and sneak into the playoffs. .
It’s not just these two games, though.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard.”
By the Canucks’ own admission, the long break between games after their 8-0-1 streak was a problem. A week of training is not the same as playing games and it can be difficult to get back up to speed immediately.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be tough,” Horvat said at the time. “We just have to keep training, keep our legs under us and get ready for the road trip.”
This road trip was nearly a disaster as it started with three straight losses before the Canucks seemed to find their legs and win the final two games of the trip.
Again, there’s no guarantee the Canucks would have won any of those three games — they were facing three of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Hurricanes. Caroline – but maybe they could have put on more than one fight if their previous two matches hadn’t been postponed. They would have kept their legs up to game speed and could have launched into the road trip on a hot streak.
The biggest problem came last week.
“You need mental breaks as well as physical breaks.”
It’s not just that the game against the Senators came in the second half of two straight games – it made the whole week even more difficult. The Canucks were originally scheduled to play three games last week, but the extra game against the Senators made it four games in six nights.
At the end of a season where the Canucks have had to treat every game over the past few months as if it were a playoff game, playing four games in six nights is both physically and mentally draining.
“Rest is important,” Boudreau said just before last week’s tough schedule. “At this stage of the season, rest – not just your body but your mind – we’ve been working for so long now that you need mental breaks as well as physical breaks.”
How can we not see fatigue as a factor for Thatcher Demko, who has played 29 more games this season than his previous career high? Demko was forced into the game against the Senators when Jaroslav Halak was injured late in the first period, destroying the Canucks’ plans to give him some more rest.
Subsequently, against the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames, Demko allowed five goals in each game, his first time allowing five goals in a game in over two months. Those two games weren’t the dominating Demko that Canucks fans know and love.
Again, there’s no guarantee the Canucks would have won either of those games — the Wild and Flames are two of the best teams in the Western Conference — but a little more rest for Demko and his teammates would have could give them a better chance.
Myopic and greedy
If the Canucks won those two games against the Islanders and Senators where they were originally scheduled, that would give them 90 points. Just one more win and an overtime loss on one of the games influenced by the postponed games would have the Canucks at 93 points – tied with the Dallas Stars for second place in the Wild Card in the Western Conference, with the advantage in the first tiebreaker, settlement wins.
If those two games had been postponed because too many players on the Canucks’ or their opponents’ rosters weren’t able to play due to COVID-19, that would be understandable — that would be the type of misfortune fans of the Canucks got used to it. over the franchise’s 52-year history.
But it was no misfortune. It was an intentional choice to postpone these two games in an effort to maximize ticket revenue. And that may have cost the Canucks the playoffs.