Canucks Army Postgame: Nichushkin vs. Virtanen

I’ll make a confession: this Canucks post-game actually belongs to our good friend and Canucks Army mainstay, JD Burke. 

Unfortunately, we’ve all got bills to pay, and JD had to work tonight. So I’m going to pay him tribute, and give you a nice recap of the game the way he would have written it. 

That means I’m going to ignore that two goal blown lead for the Canucks. 


That’s right: here’s your game day recap, as told from reports of Val Nichushkin and Jake Virtanen. 

The Rundown

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I’m contractually obligated to give you guys a feasible run-down of this game, so here goes. 

Alex Burrows? Awesome capitalization of that penalty shot early in the game. The vet went into this game 0-4 in career penalty shots, and the league was 0-6 on the season in penalty shots across the board; by capitalizing on his windy, cleverly-executed shot tonight, Burrows earned his first career penalty goal and opened the season’s penalty scoring. Not bad. 

Ryan Miller? Still too reactive for my taste; he relies too much on his reflexes, which hurts him when there’s a ton of traffic in front of the net. It cost the Canucks two of their three goals, and that’s not an exaggeration. 

Luca Sbisa? Holy crap. He overskated a drop pass about mid-way through the game and cost his team a breakaway; that stuck out to me the most, because that’s pretty much how he looked all game. He also scored on Miller when the puck deflected off his skate and he just watched it go in. 

Val Nichushkin: Talking Offense

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The Dallas Stars have some clearly talented offensive skaters in their lineup, and Val Nichushkin was certainly one of them. 

Tyler Seguin is crafty, Jamie Benn is unREAL, and John Klingberg actually gives me little tingles when I watch him play – and I watch Oliver Ekman-Larsson 82 times a year. They’ve got some good little cookies on that team. 

What really made Dallas’ offense differ so much from Vancouver’s, though, wasn’t talent – the Canucks clearly have plenty of that, as well. The Sedins are still brilliant, Vrbata continues to be human perfection, Alex Burrows is still pretty underrated by 99% of the league, and I was pleasantly surprised by Brendan Gaunce – kid’s a little slow, but he’s a slow build that turns into a powerful shot from the point when he wants to be. He and Bo Horvat were both as noticeable to me in the game as Nichushkin, and that’s a compliment. 

No; what differs about Dallas’ offense is the way it accelerates throughout the game. Head coach Lindy Ruff doesn’t mind making changes on the fly until things click, and it shows in the possession charts: 


By the end of that game, the Stars had taken control; that’s a big part of the reason why they won. 

Jake Virtanen: Talking Defense and Toughness

I praised Dallas’ offense – but let’s quickly run through Vancouver’s defense, which I thought looked solid throughout the game. 

I’m a vocal critic of Ryan Miller, but I thought that Vancouver did a mostly-excellent job of playing to his strengths (and yes, that excludes you, Sbisa. Sorry, bud) throughout the game. The forwards and the blue liners both looked like they were holding Dallas’ most effective snipers to the perimeter, and it paid off – through most of the game, that is. 

I’m still falling slowly but surely in love with Ben Hutton, who had a few moments out there with Chris Tanev that actually made me squeak with excitement; he was able to read both his teammates and the opposition well for yet another game. 

Then, there was toughness – which brings me to Jake Virtanen laying down the murder midway through the game. 

(gif brought to us by none other than GIFBoy)

Never change, Jake. 

I was less impressed with Virtanen’s game than I was with guys like Hutton, Horvat, and Nichushkin, but he certainly had his moments. He’s perfected the art of the squeaky-clean but punishing check along the boards, and that’s fun to see. 



3 vs. 3 overtime is a gong show, and I’ll die on that mountain; it also seems like Ryan Miller’s worst nightmare, especially with a guy like Jamie Benn. 

I was also a bit unnerved by the fact that at one point in the third period, three separate Canucks were laying on the ice at the same time, trying to block shots. Maybe don’t do that. 

Overall, Canucks walked away with a pity point and solidified their spot as second in the Pacific Division by pulling a point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. They face them tomorrow night in Arizona (where I’ll be watching from the lower bowl at Gila River Arena, ready to bring you scorching analysis and my lukewarm taeks), so they’ll either pull farther ahead of the desert club or fall behind them in the standings. 

Oh, and the Anaheim Ducks lost again tonight. They suck. 

  • acg5151

    Pure lack of killer instinct. This is a team that needs to practice outside of the rink by wandering into random old folks homes, kindergartens or animal shelters and just start beating the crap out of the residents. If you can’t pick on the weak, helpless and infirm, you will never succeed.

  • acg5151


    Separate the Twins in 3-3 Willie! It took a while to figure out they don’t do PEnalty shots. They need speed and or someone that can finish. Always split 2s