This is supposed to be the road trip where the Vancouver Canucks get a better idea of what kind of team they could be in 2014-15.
Despite a decent enough start to the season, with 10-5 record, which has them second in the Pacific Division, this trip has perhaps exposed them as a team with plenty of learning and growing and improvement needed.
They may have been incredibly lucky against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. They were outplayed and that’s an understatement, but still came away with a victory thanks to the stellar performance of goalie Ryan Miller. Their good fortunes ran out, though, against the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings on Saturday.
Back to reality for the Canucks.
The Kings entered this contest with plenty of struggles offensively and sat near the bottom of the league in scoring. You wouldn’t know it by the way they ripped apart the Canucks by a final score of 5-1. Miller didn’t have his best night but got no help from the players in front of him and was pulled after two periods.
When it was over, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins ripped his team for their recent play.
“Our goaltending was fine, we didn’t show up. We are not good enough right now, that’s it,” said Desjardins, as per the club’s Twitter account.
“We won’t accept playing poorly, we always have to find a way. We have to get better,” he added.
There’s still one game left in this four-game road trip. Radim Vrbata and Derek Dorsett played only one shift each in the third period, both leaving the game in discomfort. The Canucks had already recalled winger Nicklas Jensen from the AHL. And, according to Vancouver Sun sports columnist Iain MacIntyre, Zack Kassian has been sent back to Vancouver for a treatment for an injury.
The Canucks, now dealing with some injuries it would appear, face Ryan Kesler and the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Still one more outing to salvage a pretty decent trip.
But the loss to the Kings, and a poor showing despite a win against San Jose, left a sour taste for players and coaches.
Chris Higgins, Vancouver’s lone scorer on the night, didn’t hold back, either.
“It’s probably what we deserved in San Jose, too,” he told The Province. “We gave up a lot of odd-man rushes and played right into their hands. We didn’t sustain any pressure and work on their defence and they only had five. It wasn’t a great effort and an appropriate scoreline. They play simple and straight ahead and there’s not anything extraordinary they throw at you.”