Good teams don’t make mountains of mistakes.
They just don’t.
And right now the Vancouver Canucks are making too many mistakes.
At the NHL level, mistakes often end up in the back of your net.
Mistakes ended up being the difference in the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
Tampa’s first and fourth goals both involved bad defensive reads by veteran defenceman Tyler Myers.
Tampa is too good a team to give them extra space or opportunities.
You also can’t lose the defensive plot in the neutral zone for an entire period, which the Canucks did in the second period.
For the second game in a row, the Canucks were overrun in the second period.
And so the Canucks will be disappointed to lose as they did.
They played a capable game on the night. They were trailing after one period, but took a deserved 2-1 lead early in the second.
And their third period, as they battled to get back into the game after giving up their lead, was solid.
But those gaffes, and that period, are the story.
Sorting out the second
The Canucks gave up 22 shots in second on Tuesday, a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
They gave up 18 in the second to the Lightning.
The way the period devolved into one-way traffic was disappointing given how it started, with a fine goal by Brock Boeser and a howitzer from the point by Myers.
The Canucks had badly outshot the Lightning in the first and didn’t deserve to start the second trailing, but by the end of the period, though they’d opened the scoring they were lucky to be trailing by only a goal.
Thank goodness they had Thatcher Demko to bail them out.
That, of course, can’t be an ongoing story for this team this season.
Defending the neutral zone
The Canucks were great in the season opening controlling the neutral zone.
They were terrible on Tuesday.
When you watch the Michael Eyssimont goal in the second period, which tied the game at 2, you can see how Conor Garland takes a bad line and is completely lost at sea in helping his defencemen be aggressive in the neutral zone.
Big game players
What makes Nikita Kucherov a future hall-of-famer?
Two goals, both first-class efforts, on the night.
He’s always ready to score, always ready to impose his will on a game.
He scored Tampa’s third and fourth goals on the night.
Myers gives away
Myers’ bizarre play in the first period, ahead of the Nick Paul game-opening goal, overshadowed everything else he did in the game, including his second-period goal.
With the chance to clear the puck, Myers rushed and put the puck on Steven Stamkos’ stick instead of finding the acres of space up the middle.
That was the first goal.
Sure, he hammered home a goal in the second period to give his team a lead, but that was again overwhelmed by bad reads and execution.
With his team needing to kill off a crucial third-period power play, Myers got caught chasing up the boards and then fell on top of Elias Pettersson, creating a massive three-on-two down low, which ended with Tampa’s fourth goal of the game.
Meanwhile, across the Everglades…
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his first goal as a Florida Panther right around the same time as Myers was giving the puck away, wiring a point shot home as the Panthers hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla.
The Canucks are in Florida on Saturday.
The most consistent line this season has been the one with J.T. Miller — and then they got two goals because of their efforts.
Miller batted in the Canucks’ third of the night, getting his team into range late.
And Brock Boeser has his shooting hands back.
The veteran winger now has five goals on the season.
He needs 25 more to get to 30 for the first time in his career. There are 78 games left.
He’ll have to score at just under his career rate of 0.36 goals per game to get to the target.
Nils Höglander came into the season with a clear assignment: be an energetic forechecker.
He’s been that.
But it’s also notable that he was out on the ice late in the second period, with a faceoff in the Canucks’ end and the Lightning pressing for a fourth goal.
He’s a player the coaching staff seem ready to trust.
That’s a good sign — but he does need to find a way to get a little more offence going when he’s on the ice. The Canucks managed just two shot attempts while he was on the ice, but were outshot by 10 with him on the ice.
That’s not a good way to play.
To some observers, Elias Pettersson has struggled to start the season. He’s putting up points — he had two assists on the night and now has eight points on the season already. But there have been a few moments in the last two games — such as losing the board battle before Myers’ second big gaffe, which led to Kucherov’s goal early in the third — that make some wonder if he’s 100 per cent.
And while he might not be at his best, it’s hard to ignore the fact that in three of four games so far this season, the Canucks have outshot the opposition with him on the ice — even in Saturday night’s smash and grab win in Edmonton, when the Oilers badly outshot any Canuck who wasn’t skating with Pettersson.
He’s fine. And he’s probably going to get better.
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