Clock ticking for Canucks as Jets aim to regain form

NHL Hockey

The Vancouver Canucks are down to their last chance.

Heading into Monday night’s road clash with the also-struggling Winnipeg Jets, the Canucks are one loss away from being eliminated from contention for a playoff berth.

With seven games remaining, the Canucks (20-26-3, 43 points) are looking for a miracle. Especially since they have lost seven of their past eight games.

“We’re not clicking right now. I don’t want to dive into it more than that. We’re not on the same page,” forward J.T. Miller said of his team’s struggles. “It’s rough right now. We’re going to work hard to try and get out of it.”

The Canucks and Jets (28-22-3, 59 points) will meet on consecutive nights in Winnipeg. The Jets have won five of seven meetings with Vancouver this season.

The Canucks, who had high hopes before their season fell apart in late March due to a COVID-19 outbreak that affected nearly everyone on their squad, will arrive in the Manitoba capital after a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, a night in which Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, the league’s leading scorer, racked up four points to reach 100 for the season.

“I did like our first (period), but I didn’t think we moved our feet that well,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “We hung in there, it was still 1-0, and we regrouped after the first, talked to our team (about) what we needed to do to be better, and they played a lot better in the second. We started to move our feet, got to the net and got some greasy goals and got ourselves back in the game.”

The playoff-bound Jets, who could either finish third in the North Division and face the Oilers or drop one more spot and play the division-champion Toronto Maple Leafs, are in dire need of finding their form.

The Jets have lost eight of nine games, the latest a 4-2 decision to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday that was a step back from their playoff-berth-clinching win over the Calgary Flames earlier in the week.

“We looked like a team that just broke a seven-game (losing) streak and qualified for the playoffs — and beat the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year. We spent a lot in that game,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of emotion (on Saturday). The hard work was there. The effort was there. But the emotion was hard to find.”

After their games against the Canucks, the Jets will close the season with a home clash against Toronto.

Among Winnipeg’s problem of late has been the offensive attack. The Jets have only 16 goals in their past nine games — and four came in the victory over Calgary on Wednesday.

“We’ve just got to capitalize,” forward Mark Scheifele said. “At the start of (Saturday’s) game, we have a wave of chances and the goalie made some big saves. I think we’ve just got to sharpen up a little bit and bear down when we get those chances. And that can change the entire outcome of the game.”

Regardless of what happens before the regular season ends, the Jets must find that scoring touch, or their playoff run will be short.

“We need to get more guys in front of their goalie and create some dirty pucks around the crease and bang in a couple dirty goals,” captain Blake Wheeler said. “That would be a good place to start. I think as well, when you’re going through a tough stretch and you’re scoring one or two goals a game, you’ve got a hockey team full of guys squeezing the stick pretty tight as well. We’ve got three games to hopefully build some confidence going into the playoffs.”

–Field Level Media

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