Canucks Army Post-Game: With A Vengeance

There’s no sense mincing words: for the past few years, there hasn’t been much to cheer for in Vancouver. The team has been, at best, mediocre since 2014, and many Canucks’ fans have been more concerned about where the team is in the draft standings than where they rank in their division. 

Tonight, however, was different. Between the shenanigans in the Canucks’ last matchup with Toronto, and Patrick O’Sullivan mouthing off on Toronto radio this afternoon, Team Tank and Team Playoffs were able to unite. For just one night, the bickering about the team’s direction was put aside, and Canucks fans sat with bated breath hoping for a win. 

And wouldn’t you know it, they got one. Did they deserve it? Nope. Will we take it? Hell. Yes. 

STATS 

chart (14) 

chart (15)

FIRST PERIOD

The Canucks struggled to get their footing early, allowing six shots in the opening eight minutes. The majority of the Canucks struggled to get zone time and were caught chasing the Leafs on many occasions. During a particularly ugly shift, Luca Sbisa was penalized for a slash on James Van Riemsdyk. Surprisingly, this was a bit of a turning point for the Canucks, who had a great kill and generated the best chance of the leaf’s powerplay, thanks to a shorthanded rush by Bo Horvat.

From that point forward, the Canucks came roaring back and managed to put themselves up 1-0 off a rare slap shot from Daniel Sedin.

The Canucks continued to press, finishing the first period with a 9-7 lead in shots on goal, but the score remained 1-0 after 1. 

SECOND PERIOD 

The Canucks struck early in the second when Alex Burrows threaded a beautiful pass to Sven Baertschi, who slid it through Frederik Anderson’s 5-hole to make it 2-0 for the home team. Erik Gudbranson quickly followed that up by making good on his promise to “kill” Matt Martin… kind of. There was a fight, and Gudbranson got a couple of licks in on Martin, which is good enough.

The Canucks sat back for the majority of the time remaining in the second, and it cost them when James Van Riemsdyk scored to put the Leafs within a goal. Luckily for the Canucks, they were able to hold on to keep the score 2-1.

THIRD PERIOD 

It was the Leafs’ turn to strike early this time, as the Canucks were caught looking lost and overwhelmed in their own zone. None of the Canucks players had eyes on Auston Matthews, who was able to get open in the slot and tie the game at 2.

Things didn’t improve from there. The Canucks had a few chances of their own, but the Leafs dominated for most of the final frame. They couldn’t put it away, though, so the game was headed to overtime. 

OT/SHOOTOUT 

Overtime was more of the same, with the Leafs beating the Canucks 7-1 in the shot clock. They just couldn’t beat Ryan Miller, though. The game was settled with a shootout. In the end, the Canucks came away with the win thanks to 2 saves from Ryan Miller and goals from Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund. 

NOTES 

  • It wouldn’t be Canucks Army if I didn’t start off on a sour note. Please, for the love of God, get Brandon Sutter off the Sedin line. It’s just a bad fit. On the surface, the decision actually makes a weird sort of sense. Sutter is a right-handed shot who possesses the type of speed that can increase the Sedin’s options while entering and exiting the zone. I even defended the move early on. But it’s just not working. The line had a goal tonight, but got their teeth kicked in at even strength. Each member of the line had a CF% south of 40 on the night. 
  • Predictably, Gudbranson fought Martin tonight. It wasn’t an especially memorable bout, but each player got a few punches in and can sleep soundly tonight. The real winner of the fight was Erik’s father, Wayne. He coined a phrase I’d wager will live on in our collective memories much longer than tonight’s fisticuffs.
  • Gudbranson’s always seemed like a kind, intelligent guy. Fighting seems so out of character. My personal theory is that Erik knew violence only begets more violence, and tried to bury the hatchet with Martin by showing him the one thing he’s never seen: love. 
  • The Canucks’ best line tonight was the Baertschi-Horvat-Burrows trio, as it has been on many occasions this season. Burrows got an assist on the game’s second goal, making it 10 points in 12 games for the 35-year-old. That’s pretty astounding given that even he thought his time in Vancouver might be over at the end of last season. It’s also good news for anyone hoping for a fire sale at this year’s deadline. Burrows only makes 3 million dollars in actual salary this season, and could be very attractive to an internal budget team, especially if he continues to play this well. 
  • Ryan Miller was the hero in a losing cause the last time the Canucks and Leafs faced off against each other, coming in to defend Troy Stecher in a scuffle with Matt Martin. Tonight, he played the hero again, but in a winning cause, stopping 38 of 40 shots. In a nice bit of poetic justice, it was Stecher who helped Miller out this time around, yanking a puck off the goal line with just a minute to go in regulation.
  • In all honesty, the Canucks probably got lucky tonight. They were out-shot and out-chanced handily at even strength, and their goaltender bailed them out on numerous occasions. That being said, tonight was as entertaining as it gets, and it was nice to see the Canucks  get a win in a game that felt like it meant something for once. 
  • Roy

    It is always fun to win a game you don’t deserve because your goaltender owns that night. Also because it is so annoying the other way around.

    Also, the way this absurd season is going, I predict Burrows will be traded to the Blackhawks at the deadline.

  • chinook

    Disappointing to see Vancouver widely outplayed in the 3rd.

    Sutter should centering Eriksson and Granlund – that line would score.

    Sedins cycle the puck but can’t escape pressure to make a play – their only option is to get the puck to the point, as they did for their fortuitous deflection goal tonight. Most of the time their cycle doesn’t produce a shot. When Hansen gets back they should be able to do more.

        • wjohn33

          Look…I will admit I don’t know about Kadri’s faith or whether he is a practising Muslim or not. I would hazard a guess that neither do you. Using his name as a way of labelling him is about as “onside” as calling Neidermayer a fascist or Ovechkin a Communist.

          I am definitely not a fan of Kadri or his antics on the ice but bringing a persons family background or whatever into the equation when you criticize him is “always” offside.

          As I now look, it has been pulled. Moving on!

  • Bud Poile

    Goaltending is the most important position in the game.Tenders routinely control games and have won cups for endless teams.

    As the goaltender is the largest factor in most games the team with best tender ‘deserves’ to win.

    This is why Benning brought Miller in and also why the age-old strategy of building from the net out is a winning strategy.

    One point under .500 with the team’s two,top d-men and the Honey Badger out.

      • Bud Poile

        36 year old former Vezina winning goalies suck some nights.

        Some nights they look like their old selves.

        .911 SV% looks pretty good,given the ten game losing streak.

        • Freud

          ?!? You are contradicting yourself.

          .911 is well below average. How does it look pretty good? If you credit Miller for last nights win, you have to give him the blame for a 10 game losing streak.

          Every goalie sucks some nights and every crappy goalie has some good nights.

          But over the course of the season, Miller’s sv% has shown him to be well below average.

          How is having a below average 36 year old in net “building from the net out”?

          LA and Chicago just won 5 Cups with average goaltending, so your cliched statement that goaltending wins cups also appears to be just that, a cliche.

  • TheRealPB

    Entertaining game; they dominated from about five minutes left in the third to the end, but then so did we at times. I’m not as opposed to the Sutter first line experiment only because he’s able to retrieve the pucks for the Sedins and win face offs, but they’d clearly be better off with Hansen. That said I thought the Sedin line looked dominant at multiple points today, both off the rush and on the cycle so I’m not sure this is the best example of why they aren’t working no matter what the shot attempts say. Stetcher again seems like a revelation and I was really pleased to see that Tryamkin continues his strong play. How much better does the D look with them rather than Bartkowski and Biega?

    Those two penalties by our AHLers Megna and Chaput brought the Leafs back into the game. I am actually kind of amazed that we are having so much more success now than during that losing streak given how much weaker we are without Tanev, Edler and Hansen. Plugging the injured back in bodes well given how much some of the players have stepped up in their absence and we can put Larsen and Skille back to the press box and Chaput and Megna to the minors.

    I’m glad I didn’t see whatever comment Frogger made that will get him banned but I appreciate the moderators stepping in.

  • defenceman factory

    Willie wanted this win. Almost no minutes for the 4th line. Not sure how the lines get adjusted when forwards return from injury but it would be good to see Guance with better wingers.

    I think the Canucks should trade Larsen for any kind of draft pick but he certainly looked better than last game which in fairness was his first back from injury.

    December 3 was a solid performance by canucksarmy. There were 6 posts, all informative and with an appropriate balance of positive and negative. Even the much improved Sbisa got some love. Really appreciate the shift away from the vicious condemnation of Canucks management. Thanks.

    • DJ_44

      I have been a Larsen supporter for most of the season. This is beginning to wane. I liked him initially, specifically his ability to skate with the puck and make a solid first past. He still has these skills.

      I could put up with getting out muscled in the corners, as long as he is positionally strong and defensively aware. The Anaheim game showed that he was not. Bad game? Perhaps, but either he steps up his compete, or the Canucks should cut ties.

      I have also been critical of Hutton this season. It is not Gudbranson. He has been playing poorly with other partners as well. Watching last night it became clear. He is just being plain old lazy in his own zone: looses the puck and he continues skating (the equivalent of a fly-by); caught with the puck and does not have position in his own end? He tries some fancy stick-handling which of course fails and scoring chances (or goals) result.

      Both Larsen and Hutton should take a lesson from Stecher. Work you ass off at all times, think at all times and play each shift like your last.

  • Locust

    “It wouldn’t be Canucks Army if I didn’t start off on a sour note”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Now you guys are even making fun of yourselves… I guess my work is done.

  • Steampuck

    Bullet dodged. There’s no way the Canucks should feel good about that win, other than the fact the two points count. Mitch Marner made the Canucks look soft and slow all night. It seemed as though the Canucks didn’t want to touch him. When you have a guy like that buzzing around in your end, you level him. Hard and often. In the same vein, I’m really not a meat and potatoes hockey fan, but how Bozak can go after a Sedin and only Henrik responds?

    Tryamkin: I like him more every game. Once he gets his NHL legs and swagger going, he could turn into a real beast. You sense he’s almost holding back on the physical side of the game so he doesn’t get caught out of position at all. Good on him, but once he’s more confident? That could be a different ballgame.

  • Getting two points on a Saturday night is always a bonus. There was a time when Canucks played their worst games on HNIC. Nice way to finish at home and start five game road trip.

    Gudbranson did good last night. He’s on my A list.

    I said this before, and will say it again, we need to ask Ryan Miller to stay for two more seasons, or at least one. Good goaltending is a must. He provides security.

    • defenceman factory

      “I said this before, and will say it again, we need to ask Ryan Miller to stay for two more seasons, or at least one. Good goaltending is a must. He provides security.”

      It is likely there will be offers for Miller. How high of a draft pick would it take to change your mind?

      I don’t think there is any way Miller is still here the next time the Canucks make it past the first round. There is also a reasonable chance a California team’s interest makes Miller an expensive resigning. I agree Canuck goaltending is better next year with Miller than without him but moving Miller at the deadline this year is the right move.

  • wojohowitz

    In the last half of that game the Canucks were completely outplayed and outshot by something like 20-5. That`s what ten years of being lousy gets you – a young team with three or four guys with bright futures. The Leafs actually look like the Oilers with those talented young forwards.

    It makes me think Benning has blundered again. The Canucks did not need another young defenceman like Juolevi. They already have a solid group of young defencemen. What they need is three or four talented forwards like Tkachuk or Keller. Can Benning trade D-men for goal scorers?

    • Jimjamg

      A couple of years ago we were all worried about how thin our D was looking, and now its such a strength we can deal some for young forwards/scorers. Solid D are a far more rare commodity than forwards so we will be dealing from a position of strength (see Hall for Larsson, Russell for 1st rounder plus Jokipakka etc….). Megna and Chaput killed us last night with poor shifts and bad penalties, they were badly outmatched. We definitely need forward help, but hopefully Boeser, Gaudette and Lockwood will be part of the solution.

    • crofton

      You can’t have too many defense (men), and it’s a fairly wide held belief that you build from the net out. The net is looking good for the foreseeable future, and they now have the defense fairly well sorted. It will probably be tinkered with and good for that if they do. For all the talking heads that say Willie & co.have their heads …somewhere else…they also now have a pretty good defensive system in place, a much improved face off % and a PK that is night and day better than last year. Except for FO%. those things don’t happen without structure. So I guess bringing in Jarvis and Malhotra was a bad idea too?

    • TheRealPB

      The last half of the game was a combination of the Leafs skilled young forwards and our lack of depth due in large part due to injuries — we’re missing our top two D and at least 3 NHL-calibre forwards. The way some people talk it’s as if we’re the single worst team they’ve ever seen. We are 26th in the league with 24 points, one game below .500 — the miraculous Oilers at 9th overall have 6 more points than us. This is a league with a lot of parity. We aren’t particularly good but on most nights we are relatively competitive. How do you rebuild if you don’t luck into a generational player like McDavid or a very good one like Matthews? You build from the goal out, restock the d-corps and then build the forwards.

      None of this is rocket science but my god you have to have at least a tiny bit of patience. And by the way the Leafs aren’t good now because they’ve been lousy for ten years — they aren’t really good at all but they have potential because they had the fan base and financial might to actually strip themselves all down two seasons ago in a way that no team other than maybe Montreal can afford to do.

    • DJ_44

      The last paragraph is severely misguided. Juolevi will be stud; a fixture on the Canucks 1st pair for a decade. Give that up for second liners. Come on. This is only slightly better then the “Tkachuk is in the NHL this year and Juolevi is not, so Tkachuk was the better pick” line of thinking.

      Interestingly, when Sportnet, in one of their filler pieces and “redid” the 2008 draft (the Stamkos draft). All choose Doughty 1st overall, with Karlson and Josi in the top five. That speaks volumes to the value of a first pairing d-man.

    • Andy

      The young talented forwards were collected over 3 years (Nylander, Marner, Matthews).

      The other prospects with positivity came through trade (for contracts & cap space, as well as big-time player transactions like Kessel, Phaneuf, and even Laich) – (Carrick, Kapanen, Marincin, Hyman).

      My conclusion is that such a rebuild is predicated on good, sound processes, rather than long stretches of poor hockey performances.