After letting crucial points slip away in Boston, the Vancouver Canucks will turn to Jacob Markstrom and hope to bounce back against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Vancouver Canucks have seemingly given up on the playoffs, if their efforts on this road trip are an indication of anything.
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Sure, they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, but don’t forget their uninspiring effort against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. That late third period meltdown against the Boston Bruins was also inexcusable, and it’s likely the final dagger in their hopes of being a postseason team.
The main question at this point is just how much will the Canucks struggle down the stretch? Will they be a top-five worst team once again? Or will they barely be on the outside looking in?
Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres could bring an indication. They’ll turn to Jacob Markstrom on Sunday. He has struggled along with the entire team, but a win would perhaps put him in the driver’s seat to regain the number one job from the fading Ryan Miller.
Alexandre Burrows: Burrows had his best game in (insert last great game here), in quite a while. He had a goal and an assist against the Bruins — every point he scores drives up his trade value at the deadline (wink, wink).
WHO’S ON DEFENCE:
Chris Tanev: He’s been the team’s lone consistent defenceman in 2016-17. Tanev’s the only blueliner on the Canucks well-geared to slow down this prolific Sabres offence led by Jack Eichel.
WHO’S IN NET:
Jacob Markstrom: Markstrom has lost seven of his last 10 starts — but it’s not like he’s been struggling that much. He’s allowed just 10 goals on 117 shots faced in his last four games.
Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Loui Eriksson Markus Granlund — Brandon Sutter — Jannik Hansen Reid Boucher — Bo Horvat — Alexandre Burrows Jayson Megna — Michael Chaput — Jack Skille
Alexander Edler — Troy Stecher Luca Sbisa — Chris Tanev Nikita Tryamkin — Ben Hutton
The Canucks haven’t been great in any aspect of the game this season. Their offence is extremely limited, the defence is inconsistent, the special teams are terrible and the goaltending has been lackluster at best.
If you see Carey Price in Montreal, you see a goalie that can cover up all of the flaws on a team. But Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom are not Price, and it’s hard to fault both guys for not playing like real number one goalies.
Thing is, Markstrom is playing much better this season than 2016-17. His goals against average sits at 2.59 — a significant improvement from the 2.73 he posted last season.
With Miller turning 37 in the offseason and slated to become a free agent in the offseason, one can only wonder if Vancouver is prepared to trade him at the deadline. That would certainly mean that this is Markstrom’s crease for the foreseeable future.
But regardless of whether or not Miller remains a Canuck for the rest of the season, Markstrom controls his own destiny to be the number one. A string of quality starts might give him the starting job he’s waited on since making it to the NHL six seasons ago.