As frustrating as Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights was for the Vancouver Canucks, coach Travis Green said he was focused on the performance.
He was “pissed off” about the loss, but was philosophical as well, pointing to the big picture and his belief that his team has been getting better, even if they’ve not been getting the results (the Canucks have won just one game in their last 11).
“I’d take last night’s game 82 times and I’d be really happy,” he said. “And I know our record would be a lot better than a lot of people thought we’d be at the start of the year. If last night’s game is there every night we’re definitely making a lot of improvements.”
But the loss still stung.
Vegas’s winning goal came on a turnover during a power play, with three forwards guilty of not doing a better job to win the puck battle on the side boards and then not covering a pair of open Vegas forwards, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson.
Smith forced Jacob Markstrom to square up for a shot, then Smith slid a pass over to Karlsson, who fired the puck home. Ben Hutton was defending between the two but was caught in no man’s land and wasn’t able to deflect or hinder the pass.
Green said it was the kind of play where they didn’t need to video review it, though there would still be conversations about what needed to have happened instead.
The Canucks are a long way down the road that Green said he wants his team to be on. Wins are going to come, he truly believes.
“I felt great about last night’s game,” he said. “That was the kind of team I’ve envisioned us to play as. That’s why it was so disheartening to lose (the game).”
Despite expressions of concern post-game Thursday about his health, the big Canucks blue-liner was fit and raring to go Friday morning for practice. Edler was knocked to the ice during the third period in a collision with big Vegas winger Ryan Reaves. Edler suffered a cut above his left eye, which has been stitched closed, and left the Canucks’ bench to have a head-injury assessment.
There was no penalty on the play and the NHL didn’t contact the Canucks about any consideration of supplemental discipline.
“I think whenever you hit your head you have to take a second to see how you’re feeling,” Edler said after practice. “I felt pretty good right after, but I had to go through the protocol there. That’s why I left (the bench).”
As for the hit itself, Edler didn’t know what to think.
“All I know is I got hit from behind. I didn’t know he was there,” he said. “I can’t speak for him.”
And the question of whether it was the kind of hit the league should be looking to eliminate was a difficult one for him to answer.
“At the time I didn’t really know what happened,” he explained. “I don’t know what the ref saw. I’ve only seen one angle … you never want guys to get hits to their head.”
Head injuries can happen in clean hits, dirty hits or accidents, he pointed out.
Though there were calls in some quarters for the hit to be one that the league should look at, Green said he didn’t think it was a hit that needed to be looked at by the NHL.
“Reaves is a big guy. I don’t think he meant to hurt (Edler). I think he’s a fairly honest player, doesn’t go around trying to hurt a player,” he said. “It’s a game of hockey. Physical contact. Things like that can happen.”
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