Canucks ousted from playoff contention
VANCOUVER—The Vancouver Canucks aren’t used to this feeling.
After five-straight playoff appearances, including a Stanley Cup final Game 7 on home ice just three seasons ago, the club’s miserable 2013-14 campaign finally was taken off life support last night.
John Gibson made just 18 saves to record a shutout in his first NHL game as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the listless Canucks 3-0 to officially eliminate Vancouver from post-season contention.
“Not a very good feeling,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “Not too familiar. It’s been a while.
“We’re disappointed, for sure,” he added. “The last few weeks have been very disappointing.”
The Canucks played a decent opening 20 minutes yesterday, but couldn’t muster anything through the final two periods with their season on the line.
Once the hottest ticket in town, the lower bowl at Rogers Arena was dotted by hundreds of empty seats throughout the game—and many of the fans who did show up started heading to the exits long before the final buzzer sounded.
The night ended with some in the half-empty building chanting for Canucks’ president and general manager Mike Gillis to be fired.
Gillis seemed to criticize the style of first-year head coach John Tortorella in a radio interview last week, saying that he wanted the team to get back to the type of game that got it to the 2011 final against the Boston Bruins.
But it’s clear many blame Gillis for the team’s current plight.
“[Fans] paid big money to come to these games. It’s their prerogative how they handle themselves,” said Tortorella.
“As far as fans are concerned, that’s their call.
“They pay money to come see the games,” he reiterated. “They’re not happy.
“They can voice their opinion how they like to.”
Bieksa said the players heard the chants with the clock and their playoff chances winding down.
“Personally I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” he remarked. “But at the end of the day, the fans come and they can do whatever they want.
“Put it this way: we’re all going to take the blame for this,” Bieksa noted. “It’s not just one or two guys. It’s the whole team.
“We’re going to take what we get, move forward, push through this.”
Daniel Winnik, Kyle Palmieri, and Matt Beleskey had the goals for Anaheim (51-20-8), which is in a dog fight with the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division.
Eddie Lack stopped 20 shots in his 19th-straight start for Vancouver (35-33-11) since the Olympic break.
The Canucks’ post-season hopes had been reduced to a mere mathematical possibility in recent weeks, and it was fitting they finally were knocked off the cliff by an Anaheim team that looks primed for a long playoff run.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Minnesota nipped Winnipeg 1-0 and Calgary edged New Jersey 1-0.