Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
I’d like to say that it’s been something like two months since general manager Jim Benning did something that made Canucks fans cringe, but I just saw Brandon Sutter stuck on the first line as a winger with the Sedin Twins.
I know the general manager doesn’t create lines, but Benning, I feel this one’s still on you.
There’s something about watching the Canucks get grossly outpossessed over the good chunk of a game by the Edmonton Oilers – even with franchise prospect Connor McDavid on the ice – that kind of hurts a bit.
I’d like to blame it exclusively on Brandon Sutter, because there’s a lot of salt that comes from being a long-time Radim Vrbata apologist and seeing him on a line with someone other than the Sedins (especially when he’s being replaced by someone who probably works best in a middle six defensive forward role). Honestly, though, the entire team just kind of… scored first, then fell off the map and had to scramble back at the end:
(This is what a hockey team looks like when they slave-worship score effects.)
There were a few good things to point out about Vancouver’s barely-there 3-2 overtime victory over the Oilers, but I’ll get to that in a second. Let me first point out a few fun stats:
- 9: the number of Vancouver Canucks skaters (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Christopher Tanev, Jared McCann, Jannik Hansen, Yannik Weber, and Alexandre Burrows) who finished regulation with a .50 CF% or better
- 12: the number of shots on goal that the Canucks put up in the first two periods combined (the Oilers had 14 in the second period).
- 14: the number of shots on goal that the Canucks put up in the final period of regulation, when they apparently realized that they were about to lose to the Edmonton Oilers.
- 0: the number of Oilers skaters who put up possession numbers that were as poor as or worse than Sutter’s
- 38: Brandon Sutter’s CF% throughout the game, despite playing on a line with BOTH SEDIN TWINS
- 1: the number of breakaways that Jannik Hansen capitalized on
- 1: the number of game-winning goals that the Sedin twins scored without Brandon Sutter’s assistance, because they play without him when playing 3 vs. 3.
For Starters, Ryan Miller.
I’ve never been a Ryan Miller fan. I’m a salty Buffalo hater who didn’t approve of his Olympic theatrics and thinks that he’s been regressing for a bit longer than he thinks he’s been. I think his game is slowing down, and he hasn’t adapted the way he plays to fit the way the league has evolved. I’ll get that out in the open right here, right now.
That being said, this was a good game for Miller. He did a good job of holding off Edmonton over the first two periods, only allowing goals in the final frame in a way that just SCREAMED “I want to be the next Mike Smith, and you’ve paid me enough to make it possible”.
The way that Miller played in the first two frames suggests that he’s still got a good read on the game, and his team just kind of made it too easy to wear him down in the forty minutes that he looked superior. Give Miller fewer starts – and Jacob Markstrom has been making a good case for carrying those starts that Miller doesn’t get – and he’ll probably be just fine this year.
Then, we’ve got Jared McCann.
I really really really really really like Jared McCann’s game.
I think he deserved the spot centreing Radim Vrbata in this game, which he did a few times (although I didn’t necessarily agree with that meaning that Sutter got some top line minutes as a result), and I think there’s a clear top six upside to McCann’s game already. He’s really making a push to see NHL action this year, although there’s no harm in sending him back to what’s looking like an extremely powerful Soo roster to finish off his major junior career.
Virtanen was also a strong possession figure in this game, and Vrbata and Tanev were quiet workhorses. It’s a game won (and really, that’s all that matters), and hey! Jannik Hansen actually finished and scored a goal! Things are going well in Canucks-land.
Just don’t forget: Ryan Miller is getting old, not every team will bleed shots in the third period like the Oilers did, and Brandon Sutter needs to get as far away from the Sedins as he possibly can. Stop that right now.