Trent Leith / February 14, 2021
Saturday night the Vancouver Canucks snapped a 6 game losing streak with a decisive win over the Calgary Flames. The team looked much different than in the previous games, even if you consider how they have been playing better over the last few contests. The difference on Saturday night was a mentality change. The Canucks’ new blue-collar approach to their game is what could lead them down the path of success.
Simpler Get Up, Simple Game
As a team, the Canucks decided to show up to Saturday’s game, not in a suit and tie, as is standard, but instead in casual clothing. The one rule, they had to wear work boots. Now, it’s debatable if some of these guys know what work boots look like, but the sentiment stands.
Post-game, after scoring the game-winner, Tyler Myers commented on the attire:
“Guys are pretty excited to switch it up and wear some casual clothes. We made a thing that we all had to wear work boots coming into the rink and it showed on the ice, in that we were ready to work,”
Some players wore jackets or hoodies, some looked business casual, meanwhile, Jake Virtanen and Nate Schmidt went full Johnny Canuck on his way to chop down some trees. It worked, Virtnanen looked fast and productive in his 10:29 of ice time. He has 4 shots and 2 hits. Schmidt had a good game too, with over 23 minutes of ice time. He was joining the rush and had a good transition game.
Whatever it Takes
Often all a team in a slouch needs is something strange to rally behind, whether it’s “Gloria” by Laura Branigan, or a garbage can with your opponent on it. The 2021 Canucks have chosen boots. As strange as it might be, it worked. The Canucks outshot the Flames 20-4 in the first period and ended the game with a 3-1 lead and 46-19 lead in shots.
The Canucks looked much more defensively sound, and that was necessary in this game, as the Canucks’ initial lead only lasted for a minute and change. After that Calgary tied it in the second period and didn’t take another lead until there was a shade over 5 minutes left in the third. Markstrom posted a .956 sv% and gave the Flames every chance to stay in the game, despite the lopsided shot totals. The new found team mentality was effective as the Canucks played some of their best defensive hockey all year, while not compromising offense. They played a full 60 of smart positional hockey.
The players made the decision to go casual on their own, Travis Green didn’t even find out about it until we did, seeing it for the first time on Hockey Night In Canada. This was an initiative driven purely by the team, which is nice to see as a fan.
Before the game Francesco Aquilini sent out a string of tweets stating that he has full confidence in Travis Green, Jim Benning and the team. Aquilini said that he has no plans to make any changes. While we were watching the game, we thought the new found gear the team was playing in, came from the vote of confidence, tweeted out by Francesco Aquilini. However, we learned post game that the players and head coach found out about these tweets after the game, and they likely didn’t affect their on ice performance.
With hockey players being such a superstitious bunch, we should expect that these new lumberjack outfits will continue moving forward. Coaching staff has no problem with it, the players seem to like it, and the mindset associated with it garnered the Canucks a much needed win. Keep an eye out for more flannel and AC\DC sweaters moving forwards.