The first quarter of the Vancouver Canucks 2021-22 NHL season is painfully over.

20 of their 82 games have been completed and already the (6-12-2) Canucks are seven points out of the second and final wild-card playoff spot in the hotly contested Western Conference.

(Last year, in the pandemic season, where they missed the playoffs, the Canucks were 8-11-1 after 20 games).

In the Pacific Division, Vancouver is seventh out of eight, only a point ahead of the expansion Seattle Kraken.

Sure, there is lots of time to make up ground, but fans have been wondering whether it is time for a new direction.

Head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning have been taking the brunt of the heat and that comes with the territory when a team has been losing and badly underperforming.

The stats help explain why they are 27th out of 32 teams.

They have lost seven of their last eight and 11 of their last 14 games.

In addition, of their 10 home games, Vancouver has just three wins (3-6-1).

They are a Pacific Division worst -19 in goal differential (47 GF and 66 GA).

Their power play is clicking at just 15.9 %, which ranks 24th in the league.

Their penalty kill is dead last at 63.1 %, which is actually an increase of three percentage points from a week ago.

Surprisingly, they are 9th in shots on goal per game (33).

Vancouver is 13th in shots against per game (32)

Leading scorer J.T. Miller has been consistent, the only Canuck nearly averaging a point-per-game (7 G, 12 A) in 20 games.

He is also 0 in the plus-minus rating.

Defenceman Quinn Hughes is second in team scoring with 14 points in 19 games (2 G, 12 A) and a plus-three.

Another defenceman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been a welcome addition to the team this season and leads the team in ice time (22:17 per game).

He is also a plus one (to go along with two goals and two assists).

Now let’s look at some head-scratchers.

How are captain Bo Horvat (6 G, 5 A in 20 games), Elias Pettersson (3 G, 7 A in 20 games), and Brock Boeser (4 G, 4 A in 17 games) averaging roughly half a point per game while playing on average just above or a shade below about 20 minutes per game?

Horvat is also a -3 while both Pettersson and Boeser are -5.

At the start of the season, there wasn’t a Canuck fan anywhere that would have believed that Pettersson would fail to score an even-strength goal by late November.

Goalie Thatcher Demko has been okay which for a struggling team isn’t good enough.

He is 38th in GAA (3.07) and 32nd in save percentage (.906) to go along with a 6-9-1 record.

“Everyone knows where we are,” Hughes is quoted in the Vancouver Province. “At the same time, we can’t look at (the standings) and get down and feel sorry for ourselves. You just have to think positively and just worry about what you can control, and that’s the next game. Try to get this next game and then take it from there.”

Coach Green spoke to the media after that 1-2 homestand which was just before the 5-game road trip that began with Wednesday’s 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh.

“When you’re a good player in this league, you’ve got to have a good belief in yourself. And when things aren’t going well, you face it and look it in the mirror and dig in. We need to work. If you work, it’s easy to be confident. When you work extremely hard, confidence comes from that. And it doesn’t have to be necessarily scoring or highlight-reel goals. It’s just playing well and playing hard and playing for the team to win. And that’s a good start for getting confidence back if you don’t have it,” said Green.

The Canucks first-quarter results are worthy of a D grade and that might be kind.

If they were in school, the teacher would make them stay after class, and work on their assignments until improvement was shown.

The good news is there are 62 games left, but if their next 20 are anything like their first 20, they could be all but mathematically out of the race by early in the new year.

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Prince George Cougars defencemen Ethan Samson and Keaton Dowhaniuk are this week’s guests on the Cat Scan podcast.

During the episode, they discussed a number of topics including: 

  • Outlook on the BC Division.
  • Working with associate coach Josh Dixon.
  • Partnership and friendship.
  • The mood in the dressing room.
  • The highlight of their careers.
  • Experience in the Kamloops Hub.

 

Taking Note:

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK

QB Joe Flacco. who started last Sunday for the 2-8 New York Jets, has announced he’s not vaccinated: This makes sense; the Jets don’t have a shot either.

*Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg

Aaron Rodgers apparently was dealing with a broken toe during the Packers’ 34-31 loss to the Vikings. So during his COVID week off Rodgers somehow didn’t have time to do his own research to fix the toe?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

After a frustrating loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll abruptly walked out in the middle of his post-game news conference. Woody Hayes, who once famously said, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”, would have been proud.

 *Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford’s wife Kelly apologized for throwing a pretzel at a heckling San Francisco 49ers fan during a Monday night loss. It was unclear if she was sorry she threw it, or that it was incomplete.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

 

In Case You Missed It:

Unvaccinated Dallas Cowboys star receiver Amari Cooper was sidelined last week after a positive COVID-19 test and did not suit up in the 36-33 overtime loss against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday. So he had Thanksgiving dinner without dressing.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes)