Canucks Army Post-Game: #BellLetsTalk About the Canucks 3-2 win over the Avalanche


Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy – USA TODAY Sports

Rarely does one broach the must-win narrative as early as mid-January, but such is the Canucks reality this season. If they’re going to make the playoffs, Vancouver absolutely must win each lay-up game as it presents itself.

This week offers two such occasions, and the Canucks passed the first tonight, as they dismantled the Colorado Avalanche to a score not quite fitting the pummeling they visited upon the down-on-their-luck hosts. Next, they face the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale tomorrow to head into the All-Star Break.

Back to tonight, though. Sven Baertschi led the way offensively with two goals, and a staunch Jacob Markstrom buttressed the Canucks attack with a solid if unspectacular performance. Markus Granlund contributed a second period goal himself, converting on a Nikita Zadorov miscue behind the Avalanche net.


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Quick Hits

  • So, Baertschi’s having himself quite the season. If he continues at this pace, Baertschi will finish with 23 goals and 46 points. In laymen’s, he’s on pace for fringe first line production. He’s the 41st most productive even strength scorer by Corsica.Hockey, and I doubt they’ve updated their database to include tonight’s results yet. That number could spike by tomorrow. Nothing new here, though. It seems every time I’m writing one of these I’m breaking down how obscenely productive Baertschi is. 
  • I didn’t catch this observation by Canucks Army alumni Patrick Johnston until after Baertschi lit the Pepsi Center on fire, but he might be onto something. If I’m reading this right, Johnston advocates for Baertschi to play a net-front role on the Canucks’ first unit power play. Intuitively, it makes sense. That’s where Baertschi seems to do the majority of his scoring. The data Johnston provides backs that observation up, too. If the Canucks are going to keep running the 1-3-1 setup with the man advantage, maybe that’s how they can best work within those parameters?
  • The Canucks defencemen were as active as I’ve seen them in some time tonight — though I must say for posterities sake, I didn’t catch Sunday’s game in Chicago. There’s one play by Troy Stecher that sticks out. Just a fantastic display of awareness through the neutral zone and using the space afforded him. He starts from his zone, then zig-zags through the neutral zone and about two or three Colorado defenders to get the shot off. Nikita Tryamkin had a nice rush in the middle frame too, and almost converted on the pass from Loui Eriksson two-on-one. Calvin Pickard was there to rob the towering Russian, and he looked none too happy about it.
  • Matt Nieto scored the Avalanche’s second goal tonight, knotting the score with Vancouver. Colorado claimed Nieto on waivers from the San Jose Sharks at the beginning of this month. Now, I’m not going to accost the Canucks for not grabbing Nieto, because we’ll never know if they or didn’t due to Colorado’s waiver priority over Vancouver at the time. They could’ve claimed Nieto and just lost out due to circumstance. In fact, The Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre thinks the Canucks had interest. The point I’m trying to make is that players claimed off waivers can help the claimant in short order. Nieto’s barely been an Avalanche for two-plus weeks. Vancouver has a worthwhile claim to their credit in January. They grabbed Reid Boucher from the New Jersey Devils, around the same time Nieto was waived and claimed. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins can exclaim he hasn’t the opportunity to experiment with his roster when pressed on playing Boucher, but it just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. And given the Canucks general inability to score, perhaps they could use a player like Boucher in the lineup? That’s something he’s proven to be relatively good at most levels.
  • I don’t think we can call the Canucks season a success just yet. Of course, with tonight’s victory, Vancouver is holding down a Wild Card spot in the moribund Western Conference, ahead of Calgary, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, etc. I tend to be at odds philosophically with the Canucks, but I’ll give credit where due; they’re far better off, in the standings, than I’d initially expected. I’ve serious questions about how long this will last, though. They’re don’t rank any higher than sixth in any of these key predictive metrics: Corsi, Fenwick or Expected Goals. By the latter and most ominous of those three, they’re the third worst team in the league. And this is after running through a most accommodating January. I’m all for tipping my hat to the Canucks success this late in the season, meagre as it may be, but I have grave and legitimate concerns about how well it will hold up when their schedule looks like this:
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Bell Let’s Talk

Today was the annual Bell Let’s Talk initiative for Mental Health. I won’t get into the specifics, but essentially, every tweet with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag raises five-cents towards mental health initiatives in Canada — among other methods.

It’s always been a tough day for yours truly. I’ve fought my own battles with mental health, related primarily to depression and the entirety of the consuming, wide-casting anxiety spectrum. This year was particularly challenging, though.

I found out last Saturday I’d lost a friend to a battle of this ilk. We were thick as thieves at one point, though we’d drifted apart these last few years. Hell, we called ourselves each other’s brothers for a time. He was as bright, charismatic, fun and inviting a person as you’ll ever meet. And now he’s gone.

His passing was so very preventable, and it’s eaten me alive these last few days immensely. I spent the entire weekend trying to socialize, work and get by without crying. I don’t know what I could have done on a personal level to prevent this, but if there’s anything I can do in his memory to prevent passings like this from reoccurring, I will try my damnedest.

Canucks Army is committed to continuing to donate to mental health initiatives like (as we did at the end of last season) and if my personal budget allows it, I intend on making an unspecified donation of my own at month’s end.

Beyond that, I want all of this site’s readers to know you’re loved, cared about and what you’re going through matters. You have support. In lieu of anyone close to you, I want it known that my inbox (whether on Twitter or by email) is open and I will respond to any person who needs an ear or support. Mostly, I’ll listen. I want to imagine a world where we can prevent such fates as the one my friend suffered.

  • natevk

    I enjoy most articles on CanucksArmy, whether I agree with everything or not, but ones like this one are a great reminder that there’s a lot more important going on than the Canucks and our fandom.

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience; as difficult as it can be to open up these are the types of things that make the Smylosphere better.

  • Bud Poile

    With 52 points the Nucks have 33 games left in which to accumulate another 13 points and reach the pundits predictions of 65 points for the entire season.

    In that regard the Canucks have already done what the many surmised they would not and could not accomplish.

    I read here on this site just yesterday of the absence of 20-goal scorers and yet here’s Baertschi and Granlund ready to fill that role right now for but two second-round picks.

    If we are going to start giving credit where it’s due I think that praise begins with the President and especially G.M.,which is difficult for many to even begin to consider here.

    • Cageyvet

      This is a couple of times I’ve seen this posted erroneously, while I’m with you on the sentiment, Bud, Granlund was obtained for Hunter Shinkaruk, who went 24th overall in the first round of 2013.

      Of course, it’s a little different than giving up a straight pick anyway, they’d seen the player and had their chance to evaluate his potential. I freely admit to having to bite my tongue and try and keep the faith on that trade, but it looks better and better. Now I’m pulling for a Hansen trade, because I really want to be able to see the team protect both Baertschi and Granlund.

  • Bud Poile

    “They(‘re) don’t rank any higher than sixth in any of these key predictive metrics: Corsi, Fenwick or Expected Goals. By the latter and most ominous of those three, they’re the third worst team in the league.” J.D.

    And yet,the Canucks hold eighth place in the West and are but two points out of sixth place.

    This decent placement does not take into consideration the major injury period and nine game losing streak that resulted.

    Analytics have failed to provide CA readers with accuracy and reliability, as we have all witnessed.

  • Killer Marmot

    I don’t think we can call the Canucks season a success just yet. Of course, with tonight’s victory, Vancouver is holding down a Wild Card spot in the moribund Western Conference, ahead of Calgary, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, etc. I tend to be at odds philosophically with the Canucks, but I’ll give credit where due; they’re far better off, in the standings, than I’d initially expected. I’ve serious questions about how long this will last, though. They’re don’t rank any higher than sixth in any of these key predictive metrics: Corsi, Fenwick or Expected Goals. By the latter and most ominous of those three, they’re the third worst team in the league.

    CA could have reported that the Canucks are 33-30 in scoring over the last month, but that is just not the house style. Instead they go digging through their columns of statistics to find some reason why the Canucks stink.

  • sh1t4brains

    Just curious…when the Nucks went on a tear since Dec….did anything change with the 1st 3 lines? Reid will b collecting dust….WD is too stubborn to change right away…

    Is Subs or Pedan better than Biega? Maybe they want to expose Biega and need to play him the min amount of games…

  • RIP

    I have watched every game and great to see a win last night, but not their best effort. Colorado is all kids of bad, particularly on defence. Canucks let them back in it which was very frustrating. We still need to learn how to close out these types of games. Iginla had a good game though and seemed to be going after a Grandlund a bit. I really like how Grandlund sticks up for himself, he doesn’t seem to be to phased by the rough stuff and his effort is fantastic too.

    Our schedule definitely gets much tougher, so chances are slim we stay in the race but here’s to hoping! Any word on Hansen return? Could it be for the Sharks game?

  • TheRealPB

    First and foremost thanks for sharing that difficult story about your friend and especially for your sentiments in the last paragraph. It’s easy to get caught up in the life of being a fan and taking things too seriously. It’s not that sports aren’t or can’t be but it is important to remember it as (so often) a necessary distraction, especially when it sometimes feels like the rest of the world is going crazy around you.

    I also don’t think JD is wrong about looking at the post-break scheduled and wondering what we’re really going to be like. I thought we were unlucky not to win the Chicago game and in general our team — despite the injuries — has very rarely looked out of most games (that one against Calgary I thought was one of the very worst we’ve seen). And the bottom of our conference (not just division) is TERRIBLE. LA has not looked threatening all year, Calgary is in a slump which is really pretty poor, and Winnipeg has underachieved more than I was expecting. But that said, look at that February schedule. What games look like easy ones? I could see us coming out 2-10, not because we’re a bad team but because it’s a competitive league and almost all of those teams look like strong ones. Detroit, Buffalo, Boston seem like our best bets but all the rest really are questionable.

    I do have a question about the even strength shot charts you put up after the games. I do see the utility of using shot attempts as a proxy for performance but I do wonder when the narrative they suggest seems so at odds with what we see through the eye-test. Coming out of that game, would you say that Baertschi, Biega, Tryamkin, Granlund and Megna were the five worst skaters for the Canucks? Baertschi scored two goals including the winner, Granlund scored once and was involved all night, Tryamkin had some really strong plays both offensively and defensively (and laid a great hit though I hope he didn’t hurt himself), Biega I thought looked pretty strong for a third pairing D, and Megna for all the hate he gets was buzzing. I know it’s become popular to keep on bashing Megna (and Chaput) but I honestly don’t get it. Megna uses his speed and pushes the play on multiple occasions and Chaput has helped create one of the most effective fourth lines I’ve seen the Canucks ice in five years. Far from the rotating cast of misfits and enforcers we’ve seen on that line, now it’s defensively responsible and provides energy and pressure in the opposition end. I get why people want to see Boucher but at the end of the day he’s still a waiver wire pickup. Nieto is not a good comparison, from what people were saying just about every team was ready to put a claim in on him. Every now and then that will happen — Paul Byron was a great pickup for Montreal for example. But for most there’s a reason that Seth Griffith gets waived three times in a season or Frk or Pulkinnen.

  • Steamer

    Thanks JD – have lost both family members & best friends to suicide – it is not your fault. There is likely little you could have done that you didn’t do – very, very difficult to convince someone in desperate pain to continue living. We do what we can:)
    Congrats to Canucks for their perseverance & determination – & to the coach. Despite their recent good play, still believe team can be better with Boucher in for Megna/Chaput. BUT…
    the BIG TEST is coming next month: 6 road games in 10 days against top teams. We’ll have a much better picture of the playoff race & the teams likely to be there, by end of Feb. Side note: Eriksson’s defensive play is beginning to look very suspect – last two games
    ( Chi & Col ) he has repeatedly allowed opposition shooters opportunities they should not have. Lost Toews on the GWG in Chi – let McKinnon walk in all alone on Markstrom last night. 5 more years?

    • DJ_44

      I agree that Eriksson has had a couple of rough games, but his play overall has been good, especially in a defensively responsible way…and the PK.

      I want Hanson back with the Sedins, and I would like to see Louie with Sven and Bo. I think his sytle would compliment them. Burr can go on the fourth line or move up with Sutter, although I thought Megna had a good game yesterday….just no finish.

      Rumor has it a lot of teams put in a claim for Nietto, including the Canucks. For every Nietto, there are an equal numbers of { fill in the twenty waiver wire pick ups endorsed by CA } to choose from. Selectivity is the key, not the players junior stats.

      • Steamer

        Thanks for the feedback – while I will agree that Eriksson’s play has some up-side – I remain unconvinced that his value to this – or any team – is anywhere approaching $ 6 mil for 6 freakin’ seasons. IMO, Staal would have been a better fit & value. As for the waiver guys –
        some I like better than others ( likely same for you ); think Boucher’s pro stats ( not Junior ) warrant his acquisition AND a shot in the line-up to at least see what he may bring that Chaput & Megna aren’t. Chaput has been struggling & turning the puck over with increasing regularity, ditto Megna. Having a 4th guy subbing in on the 4th line might make a difference. Given Boucher’s time spent in the Devils org. suggests defensive awareness to go with his offensive abilities. Certainly did not look out of place in the one game he’s played.

  • JuiceBox

    Putting an itchy trigger like Baer in front of the net on the power play with the sedins, what a novel idea. Seems familiar though…. I feel like Ive seen a similar setup like that before but I cant quite put my finger on it….

  • apr

    I have Rick Rypien jersey (as well as a Daniel and Burrows jersey) – I was devastated when we lost him. I kind of feel like he represented us as a fandom when we were scrappy as hell.

    Colorado is a joke- that’s what happens when you tank and prioritize draft picks and marginal players (can you imagine if we picked up Weircock and played him over Tryamkin) over legitimate NHL players like Sutter and Sbisa.

  • Colorado looking at Krug out of Boston and Leddy out of New York as possible add-ons to their ailing defense. Really? They want to trade under achieving, second line forwards for top pairing defensemen. If that’s their plan, good luck.

    • Steamer

      YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have been watching Juolevi closely this year, have seen some great plays, but have also witnessed gaffes that would make even Jordan Subban blush. Was never that high on this player – I may well be wrong! – & other D-men coming. If Canucks manage a wild-card, there’s a chance they could get Jusso Valimaki at the 15/16 spot – think he is an equivalent to Juolevi – or perhaps better? But, it’ll take more than Juolevi – Col will want a fwd & another prospect or pick. Still possible & – IMO – worth consideration. Now, back to you – Duchene or Landeskog?

      • DJ_44

        Not a chance we should trade Juolevi. He is going to be a stud.

        I think he is probably a bit board in junior. I hope he improves his strength; everything else is NHL ready.

        As most say, his skills are better showcased when he is playing with players that are good, like NHL good.