Canucks Army Post-Game: HockeyTown Beatdown


Photo Credit: Raj Mehta- USA TODAY Sports

There’s no place like home. Surely that’s the Canucks’ rallying cry in the wake of today’s 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. That’s their tenth loss in eleven games; the fifth loss they’ve suffered on this six game Eastern swing.

The Canucks brought their best tonight. At least the best they can muster without their premier shutdown defender and arguably their most dynamic forward. They outshot the Red Wings 37-27; out-attempted them 46-33 at even strength.

Playing in his third straight game — an anomaly in the post-Petr Mrazek landscape — Jimmy Howard was up to the task. For every Canucks charge, there was a Howard answer — all except one, I should add.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring 32 seconds into the opening frame for Detroit. A nifty behind the net, no-look pass by Gustav Nyquist set up Henrik Zetterberg in the slot. Ryan Miller was dandy on the spot for Zetterberg’s try but was caught out of position when the speedy youngster Larkin picked up the rebound.

From there, it looked like the Canucks were on their way to another lopsided loss. The Canucks didn’t muster their real first shot until about seven-plus minutes into the game.

Vancouver found its game. By periods end they’d tilted the territorial battle in their favour handily. How much of that was score effects is a fair question, though. Especially with the Brendan Smith marker near the end of the first doubling the Red Wings lead.

Two players who didn’t ride the Canucks territorial swing were Erik Gudbranson and Ben Hutton. As a pair, the two were hard-matched against Larkin for about half of the game before Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins conceded defeat. The pair controlled 37% of unblocked shot attempts at even strength. Vancouver controlled north of 58% of shot attempts from that switch onward.

After two periods spent primarily in the Red Wings end, Vancouver broke through. Troy Stecher stopped an attempted clear to feed the Sedin twins in the slot. They worked their magic, and three passes later the Canucks were within a goal of tying this. 

The Sedinery on the play was nice, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Jason Botchford’s in the wrong assigned a great deal of credit on the play to Stecher for his hold at the blue line. The still he captured is very telling.

That’s as close as the Canucks came to knotting this game at two. Steve Ott deflected a Jonathan Ericsson shot past Miller for a 3-2 lead midway through the third. Though Vancouver pressed late, pulled the goaltender and mounted a final charge, they couldn’t break through Howard.

In fact, it was Miller who stole the show in the final minutes. This was probably the finest of his 24 saves.

  • clutch fan

    For young guys, I thought Stecher, Tryamkin looked decent. Get the sense that the opposition isn’t really taking Canucks too seriously these days, though.

    Obviously winning and losing comes down to the players, but you can fault Willy Desjardins on player deployment again.

    For example, another silly penalty by Skille but he’s seeing more ice than Gaunce, the guy we want to develop you would think.

    Also, in the last two minutes, he had Hutton on ice before giving Stecher last couple of seconds, that is a dumb move, Hutton was crapping the bed all night, Stecher was awesome, you want the guy who is playing well out there when the game is on the line.

  • Braindead Benning

    Absolutely great goal by Sedins, these guys are still top end players too bad old “Dim Jim” and yes man Linden are running this team into the ground.

  • GLM

    A suggestion for the writers of these game recaps is to give more emphasis on their thoughts/analysis of the game. Writers like botch, and I see oilersnation write their recaps presuming the audience has already watched the game.

    Otherwise you’re not offering content that’s much different than the recap the Canucks post on their youtube channel. And as someone who’s already watched the game, I’m just reading a summary of events and clips I’ve already seen, learning nothing new.

    Idk just a thought.

  • wojohowitz

    I really like Tryamkin`s game. He knocks people down like he`s swatting flies and the other team gets upset like he`s playing dirty. Also as a rookie he`s playing against players he know very little about – it`s all instinct and fundamentals. When he`s been around the league a couple of years and knows the teams and players better his confidence level is going to go up and he just might be the second coming of Chara or, dare I say Shea Weber or Pronger. I mean that`s how much upside I`m seeing with this guy.

    In tonights game I noticed Edler (4 shots) and Stecher (6 shots) were really involved but what about Guddy and Hutton – it`s like they are lost at sea. Maybe they are just trying too hard or maybe Guddy should be with Stecher. Guddy and Hutton is just not working out.

    • Freud

      Maybe Gudbransen is what we were warned he is. A defensive defensemen. Code for a poor possession player who can’t transition the puck very well or score. A shutdown player who just got torched by young, speedy players in Toronto and Detroit. In his case, add slow of foot and yet to show us any or the advertised toughness as well.

      Progressive managers are getting rid of their defensive defensemen, Benning is collecting them. And he’s giving up very young forwards for them, plus draft picks. Next year he’ll be spending upwards of 9 million on them.

      Meat and potatoes…

  • Rodeobill

    Hutton and Tryamkin looked better together than with Guddy tonight. Detroit is so fast. All said it was actually a fun game to watch, nothing dirty or vicious, and even the detroit fans seem pretty cool. I like how they cheered miller on that catch. We are going to miss Hansen these next few weeks, Next time it’s Daniel’s turn to stick up for him with fractured ribs! but perhaps all for the best… I am excited for a rebuild – let’s get on with it!

  • Bud Poile

    Please,this was a one goal game where the Canucks outshot their opponents by 35%,out hit them and were in the game until late in the third.

    With Tanev back the Canucks have four shut down D along with Try,Guddy and Sbisa.

    On the offensive side we have Edler,Hutton,Stetcher and Larsen.

    You don’t have to be Freud to understand that the Canucks excel defending but can’t score from the back end.Hutton and Larsen are the weakest links.

    • Hockey Warrior

      “You don’t have to be Freud to understand that the Canucks excel defending but can’t score from the back end.”

      Guys what PLANET do fools like this live on. EXCEL in defending he bleats…

      This is a team 24th out of 30 in GOALS AGAINST

      This is a team with a MINUS 16 Goal Diff

      This is a team with 9 losses in the last 10 games

      Their supposed best defender is number one GOALIE Ryan Miller, making 6 MILLION US a season… his win-loss stats are 1 and 7 with a 2.80 GAA.

      Guys, i appreciate that weed is a daily ritual in the lower mainland but PLEASE, stop mixing it with koolaid – you wouldn’t want to end up like this basket case would you…

      • Bud Poile

        Dude,I hate to inform you that the defensive d-men defend rather well.

        I know you must think weed also has something to do with goalie stats.It does not.A great goalie,like Price, saves them all and your team,no matter how much you think they suck, wins-night after night after night.

        Sbisa,Tanev and Tryamkin all have 0 in their +/- column.
        Gubranson has been a train wreck,but that has a lot to do with the fact Hutton can not and does not defend well,TO PUT IT KINDLY.

        Larsen and Hutton rank as the team’s two worst at -8 and -7,respectively.

        So,when fanatics have little to no idea what they are talking about they start throwing around stats and comparisons that are meaningless.

        That team goal diff stat you are trumpeting would look a lot better if the offensive d-men start scoring.

        Edler,Larsen and Hutton have 2 goals and five assists between all 3 of them in their 42 man games played.2 goals,42 games played.That’s the PP and your offensive numbers haunting the team’s back end.

        So,the point/post I made was that the defensive d-men are not the problem this team has. I could be stoned out of my melon and still understand that obvious fact.

  • Steampuck

    I made it the Joe last night. It’s an awesome building, and I’ll be sorry to see it shuttered next year.

    Tryamkin does have the look of being something special. So big, strong, and efficient with that reach and raw power. I’m okay with being patient with his development–and sitting him here and there–but that’s a project well worth developing. Stecher was good with the puck, but he got pretty rag-dolled in every physical situation, and couldn’t move anyone from the front of the net. He’s learning, but his size likely will be an issue ever more so as the season progresses.

    Horvat had a forgettable game, which was a shame for the local boy. Lots of Horvat sweaters in attendance. And, boy: has Burrows lost a step or three. The poor guy seemed to be fighting the puck, his balance, and everything else. The drive and effort are still there, but the engine’s gone. That was a little sad.

    Other than the Sedins–and it was a treat to witness that goal live–Granlund stood out. He was active and dynamic throughout the game, with and without the puck. Perhaps the most noticeable forward. Until he shot the puck. He was really good at hitting Howard right in the crest every time.

    Which brings me to the overall sense that outshooting and out-chancing the opposition doesn’t count for much if you’re only playing warmup with the goalie. Howard didn’t really have to do much. Only Sutter seemed intent in going to the goal without the puck. Howard faced little traffic and let go some pretty terrible rebounds, but nobody was there to jump on them.

  • andyg

    Botch is floating the idea that Virtanen was the owners choice at the draft. They felt that they could sell a home town boy.
    This make sense if you think of it. He should have been sent to Utica right out of camp.It would also explain why he is getting special treatment.

    If this is true then when will they ever learn to stay out of the decisions?

    • Pat Quinn Way

      It always amazes me when the fans say the owners should stay out of it. Why should they?? they own the team for Christ’s sake! For the Aquilinis this is a business and a billionaires hobby of sorts, so they have every right to make hockey decisions from the top to bottom.

      As for Botchford, the guy is a stirring tabloid conspiracy theorist who revels in knocking the Canucks(hell, he is from TO isn’t he). However, again, it makes perfect sense to want a hometown hero to try and put bums on (empty) seats.. i for one would love to have seen the likes of Sakic, Paul Kariya or the Benn Brothers suited up for us it would’ve caused a lot less pain lol.

      Virtanen is only 20 and may well develop into a damn good player, so lets all just back off and let the kid sink or swim of his own doing eh.

      • Copperfinch

        Fans make the owners rich and so have every right to complain about the owners’ decisions. I for one, subscribe to the suspicion that Aquilini had a say in drafting JV. I like JV and think he will be a great middle six forward some day, but you just need to watch Mr.Nylander and Mr.Ehlers to see that ownership meddling, if it happened, robbed this team of an excellent chance to acquire a top tier point producer which is exactly what was needed. And those chances don’t come around often.

        For the amount of money I’m paying them to entertain me you can be damn sure I’ll voice my opinion about land developers making hockey talent decisions.

        • Pat Quinn Way

          Hi mate. Well first up the owners got rich from real estate not hockey, and likely won’t recoup their hefty investment and undoubted running losses until they sell the team. So let’s not kid ourselves there. Fans really don’t make owners rich.

          Secondly, as stated by many, there is no hard evidence or proof of the owners meddling in any player or draft decisions as it’s all been denied and is therefore at this point, all conspiracy theories from sports media and only something people like yourself admit to buying into as conjecture.

          However, ‘if’ the Virtanen draft issue is proven to be true, i agree with you, ‘but’ also, who really knows how things will pan out after a draft as there are plenty of busts among the Crosby’s. Kane’s and McDavid’s, just ask Oiler fans lol.

    • Steampuck

      Let’s not lose too much sleep on Virtanen. The kid can play. He just doesn’t really fit this team at the moment, in no small measure because the roster lacks identity. They’re not the skill team they used to be, although the Sedins are still around. They’re not the heavy team they want to be, although they’re taking strides in that direction. And they’re not the fast team they’re trying to be either, though that’s coming along, too. Virtanen checks all three of those boxes, but it’s not clear how this all gels yet. Too: the $64,000 question is how to best develop him. I buy the argument that he belongs in the NHL. And I also buy the argument that he needs time to mature in Utica. Detroit’s done plenty of similar hand-wringing with Mantha. In another year, they’ll be relieved they never dealt him. He looks like he could be the real deal. Big, fast, scoring power forwards are hard to come by and they develop slowly. Virtanen’s got the tools. I’m not too worried. Yet. Ask me again in 2018.

      • andyg

        Not saying that they should not have taken the kid at the draft. What most of us don’t understand is why he was not sent down at the beginning of the year.We have all seen that he is not ready and could use some time in the AHL. He has never even dominated there yet.
        Why two games?
        The oilers ruined some good young talent by pushing them before they were ready.

        We all agree that he needs time in the AHL so why can’t good hockey people see that it is the best for the long run.
        Something does not make sense. Over the years there has been a lot of decisions that make no sense. When you see a never ending scenario you need to look at the one thing that has not changed.

        Ownership is the only thing that has stayed stable.

        • Steampuck

          I hear you. I think the problem is that however you slice it: he’s arguably one of the twelve best forwards we have. When he’s playing with confidence—skating, shooting, murdering—he belongs in our top six. The way the team is currently composed: you almost need that JV in the lineup right now.

          But I also get the short-term demotion. How do you convey the message to player and fanbase? Tryamkin won’t go down. I don’t know how you don’t crush Virtanen’s ego by saying: “what’s best for your longterm development and the team’s is for you to spend the season (or large portions of it) on a bus in Utica.” It seems as though, Virtanen’s greatest weakness is his headspace. This might happen three or four times a year. Sit him out, send him down for a few games, bring him back. Wash, rinse, repeat.

          Suboptimal, but the real curse is that he couldn’t have started last year in the AHL. It’s hard to reverse course on that.

  • Some good comments above. Good insight.

    Hutton and Gudbranson need to learn each others tendencies. If we scored more I could over look this, but with our lack of scoring, goal prevention has to be a top priority.

    I made a comment last night about letting in a goal early. Last night in the first minute. This has to stop.

    Tryamkin is such a unique package. Just love that guy. If his play continues like this, Jim Benning may want to sign him long term.

    • Cageyvet

      I really like Hutton, but I don’t see how anyone can claim he’s not had an extremely sub-par start to this season. From the outset, Gudbranson has been the steadier of the two in that pairing, and I’m not unhappy with what I see from him.

      To see if Guddy is a true top 4 guy, you’d have to pair him with one, and since he’s yet to play with Tanev or Edler, I don’t see him getting that opportunity. Tryamkin, Hutton and Stecher may all fit that bill, but not at this stage of their careers.

      The defence is improved from last season, and there’s plenty of time to let the kids develop. Stay the course, and focus on the forwards.

      • detox

        “To see if Guddy is a true top 4 guy, you’d have to pair him with one, and since he’s yet to play with Tanev or Edler, ”

        the problem with much of our lineup is we lack skill. we have too many guys that could play better with better players… but aren’t playing good enough on their own or when put with players facing similar challenges.

        I was a Hutton and Baertschi fan last season, but wouldn’t be against Hutton working on his d game in Utica for a short stint and Baertschi sitting in the press box for a game or so to get him going like he was at the end of last season.

        • Cageyvet

          I don’t disagree, but what are you going to do? Not play the kids? The team has few options, your suggestion removes them for short stints only.

          We can’t spare the assets or roster space for a veteran D, I just posted that as I think Gudbranson is getting a little more heat than he deserves. You can’t play both sides of the ice, and Hutton has disappointed.

          I do agree the phenomenon extends to the forwards as well. There’s a reason the young Blackhawks flourish, having a solid lineup around you insulates you from your mistakes, both immediately on the ice and cumulatively from the emotional impact of being part of a losing squad.

          Such is life with a team on the downward part of the cycle. I don’t see what you can do about it other than tough it out.

          • detox

            No quick fixes for sure.

            and yeah, the defense is in better shape than the forwards. I was thinking Hutton might only need a short stint in Utica just to work on his game and get his confidence back. It must be a different situation in his head to go from surprise at making the club one season to 2nd pairing and the expectations that come with it.

            I think of the forwards having the biggest issues with lack of skill, no real game breakers beyond the Sedins and I expect less from them at this point in their careers.

            With where we are in the standings, the lineup that struggled to get us there and was kept essentially together because we needed wins. I’m all for sending waiver exempt players to Utica to learn, play more, whatever. as long as it takes. Maybe Utica could become a winning environment in their development.

            yes, our options are limited. (need some emoticons to express frustration) but the club has to use whatever options are available.

  • wojohowitz

    I can understand why the Aquilinis would favour a BC boy like Virtanen. Besides the expectation of higher ticket sales by showcasing local talent there is also the frustration of BC talent available but not picked by management. Players like Weber, Gallagher, Keith, Lucic and Benn. Not all BC boys but if management went to every Giant game looking for talent they would find some.

  • Frogger84

    Ouch, this team just can’t buy a goal right now.

    The only consolation is watching Groot develop. Keep the hulking Russian in the lineup. In two years time, he’ll be a great player.