Last season, the Canucks scored first in 49 of their 82 games. They had a 41-2-6 record when scoring first. When they didn’t score first, their record was 13-17-3. And you might recall that the team that scored first won every single game in the Stanley Cup Final.
This season, the Canucks have scored first in only 2 of their first 10 games. They have won both of those games. They are 2-5-1 in their other 8 games.
Scoring first is essential for a number of reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that it’s easier to play with the lead. The opposing team needs to take more chances to try to come back from a deficit, leading to more opportunities going the other way. The team with the lead can settle into their structure, confident that playing their game will produce goals. And a goalie can relax, knowing that he won’t necessarily have to pitch a shutout to pick up a win.
One of the problems I’m seeing, however, is that the Canucks sometimes seem too eager at times to score the first goal, taking unnecessary risks leading to odd-man rushes and other defensive breakdowns. At other times, the Canucks are trying to force shots through. The Canucks have had 190 shots blocked so far, an average of 19 per game. While the number of blocked shots is frequently credited to the team doing the blocking, no one team has blocked more than 150 shots.
While this sheer number of blocked shots is indicative that the Canucks have excellent possession (you must have the puck in order to have your shot blocked), it’s also indicative that the Canucks are having trouble getting their shots through traffic, which frequently happens when a team is trying to force low-percentage shots through instead of looking for better chances.
The Canucks are certainly aware of the problem. ”It feels like, right now, we are hoping to get the first goal,” said Daniel after their 3-0 loss to the Blues. “This is not a league where you can hope to get goals. You have to work extremely hard to get them.”
When you hope to get a goal, you shoot from everywhere, even if it’s not a good scoring chance and that’s not the Sedins’ game. Is it an issue of confidence? Is it a lack of trust in their goaltending that they are too eager to score first? Is it a lack of trust in their own ability to score? Is it a lack of trust in the shifting defensive pairs? It’s up to the Canucks’ leadership to sort this out.Tags: Canucks, featured, scoring first