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Canucks Army Postgame #70: Them Kids

For the first time in the Jim Benning era, the Canucks entered a game without the express purpose of winning. With the team now firmly out of the playoffs, the Canucks’ GM made it clear that reality has set in and that the focus of the the team should be on giving younger players more audition time.

While Desjardins’ probably didn’t go as far in that direction as some may have hoped, the Canucks looked more like a team in a rebuild tonight than they ever have under Jim Benning. They got a pair of goals from two of their younger and more promising players, and of course, they lost. In that sense, it was a perfect game for fans looking to see the team embrace the rebuild.

It wasn’t pretty at times, but it may have been a step in the right direction as the Canucks fell 4-2 to the Stars.

STATS

HIGHLIGHTS

 

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GAME NOTES

  • Given Benning’s remarks about “playing the kids” in advance of tonight’s game, the ice time allotted to the team’s youngest players was understandably under heavy scrutiny. The results were mixed. Reid Boucher saw more minutes than he ever has in a Canucks uniform, but other than that not much changed. To be fair, that’s in part because the Canucks simply haven’t many kids to play at this point. Players like Stecher, Horvat, Granlund, and Baerstchi have been logging heavy minutes for most of the year, and a significant chunk of their other young players are either out or in Utica.
  • In all honesty, I think Desjardins struck a fine balance tonight. I wouldn’t have minded to see a bit more of Tryamkin and LaBate and a little less of Luca Sbisa and Brandon Sutter tonight, but the truth is that it remains in Desjardins’ best interest to win as many of the remaining games as he can. He obviously has to keep his superiors happy, but the truth is, he’s auditioning for his next gig at this point. Given that context, it was nice to see some small adjustments like Boucher playing almost 17 minutes and handing over the bulk of the team’s PP time to the younger players.
  • Boucher’s spike in ice-time also had the benefit of pushing Jayson Megna down to the fourth line, where he absolutely crushed it alongside Mike Chaput and Joe LaBate. The line had a couple of notable shifts where they sustained pressure in the offensive zone and even generated some chances. They were also the Canucks’ best line by even-strength corsi. It really goes to show that Jayson Megna isn’t a bad player nearly so much as he’s been poorly utilized.
  • Troy Stecher had a brutal turnover in front of the Canucks’ net late in the game that led to the Stars’ fourth goal. Stecher’s night was fine otherwise, but that’s the type of mistake that has the tendency to stick in people’s mind. For a rookie that plays the type of high-event game that Stecher does, it’s actually surprising that type of thing hasn’t happened more often.
  • Ben Hutton had a rough game at even-strength, but he scored the team’s lone PP goal and was tied for team-high in shots. He’s had an up-and-down season, but I’d expect a strong outing from him in 2017-18, especially if he gets more looks on the man advantage. He looked great there tonight, and from a qualitative standpoint he should be the type of player that can excel in that role.
  • It was great night for Team Tank. Not only did the Canucks lose to the Stars, who were one point below them in the standings heading into tonight’s game, Detroit also leapfrogged the Canucks in the standings as well. If that wasn’t enough, that game went to overtime, giving Arizona the loser point, and the New Jersey Devils won their game too. As a result, the Canucks now sit only 4 points back of 29th. The dream of a top-4 pick lives on.

  • TheRealPB

    I hadn’t been to a home game in years, so it was a bit of a shock to see the sheer number of empty seats after the glory years half a decade ago. It felt like it was the late 80s all over again, not least the product on the ice. A pretty entertaining game overall, but it’s hard when half your team is comprised of AHL players. The most impressive by far was the Horvat line — he drove as hard as ever, Baertschi was shifty and making great plays, and Boucher was extremely noticeable. I don’t know what he did to earn so many waiver wire looks this year from his last two teams; maybe he can only thrive in a top-six role? He was hard on the puck, made some excellent passes to clear the zone, and that entire line was disruptive throughout the game. Actually I thought both the Horvat line and the Sedin line looked great. Granlund has looked better than anyone other than Hansen or Burrows on their wing in a while. Not as fast as Hansen but pretty determined on the puck and seems to mesh well with them. The fourth line was ok — Megna and Chaput were decent (though again, what in god’s name was Chaput doing out there with the goalie pulled?) but Labate I found pretty disappointing. Sutter’s line was a disaster. Yes, Cramarossa and Shore are considerably inferior to Eriksson, Gaunce, Goldobin or even Rodin and Skille. But for all that I’ve tried to be fair about Sutter and his actual play, he looks terrible out there. I don’t know if it’s an injury but he barely looked like a fourth line centre never mind a putative 2C or “foundational” player. Sbisa was also terrible — so many pizzas, so much missed coverage. Hutton was uneven too, though it’s far more forgivable in a young player. Edler was where good momentum went to die in a blocked shot. Tryamkin looked great and Stetcher looked gassed. And Miller let out the biggest rebounds right into the middle of the ice on numerous occasions.

    The mistakes of the young kids I can deal with. It’s the poor play of some of the vets that’s harder to forgive.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Sbisa’s biggest problem seems to be finding the puck in his feet. On plays where there’s some space to work with, he usually does fine, but he always seems to lose track of it in close and opposing players can pick it out as he’s sort of turning around looking for it.

      Boucher has been a treat to watch, I really hope the team considers him part of next year’s plan. Good volume shooter, but also makes very nice, sharp passes.

      Also agree about Sutter’s line, though it is a bit of a Frankenstein creation, with two brand new acquisitions, and Sutter himself is hurt. However, as has been well documented, Sutter has consistently performed like an average 3rd line center, and his good scoring numbers are as much a reflection of his plum ice time as anything. Expose Sutter!

  • TD

    Tryamkin should take some fighting lessons. He manhandled Benn again tonight leading to a fight where he held his own, but can you imagine if he knew what he was doing. Add a mean streak to that and he would be feared throughout the league. I know the comparisons to Chara have been made too often, but Tryamkin looks like a decent NHL player already. Even if he only ends up as a middle pairing d man, he would be formidable if he developed a mean streak protecting the net especially if no one wanted to tangle with him.

      • TD

        I don’t want Tryamkin fighting all the time. But if he got nasty like Pronger, Weber or Chara in front of the net and could fight, then no one would want to mess with him.

    • wojohowitz

      Tryamkin looks great for a rookie. He thinks/anticipates the game very well, like flipping the puck out rather than making a high risk pass. He`s been criticized for that but his number of turnovers is probably the best of the D-men. He is not throwing punishing body checks but – like he did to Benn – he is swatting them like flies. Benn looked shocked, embarrassed and upset by that hit. Trotz said afterwards that Benn had suffered an injury in a previous game but I doubt he would go after BFG if he was already suffering from a shoulder injury. It wouldn`t surprise me if his season is over after that hit. BFG has been knocked down a couple of times – the last time maybe 30-40 games ago – and he got up with a look of surprise on his face like that won`t be happening again. If you watch him he almost never gets knocked off his feet. He is very solid. There is some serious upside here.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Well guys, that’s it for me, SEASON OVER, i can no longer suffer this JOKE team and I have a LIFE, so much like the TICKET BUYING PUBLIC at the ROG, I’m out – Absolutely DISGUSTED with this team, GM and coach as YOU all should be. Don;t kid yourselves blowhards… the future is BLEAK for YEARS too come under Bonehead Benning and co. FACT!

    I will return with my ASTUTE observations upon DRAFT DAY though… and here are some of my BEST moments that PROVE my high hockey acumen is UNRIVALED on this board. ALL stated BEFORE they happened…

    The Sedins are done as first liners

    Eriksson with the Sedins won’t last long under Willie D

    Rodin is done. No one bounces back from a serious knee injury. Waste of a roster spot

    The Oilers and Flames have upgraded, the Canucks have NOT even come close to either of them

    I can exclusively reveal that tomorrow Jannik Hansen will be… a Shark!

    If the Ca-sucks make the playoffs you will NEVER hear from the Hockey Warrior again

    Thanks for reading…

  • krutov

    they did exactly the same thing last year so it’s not the first time in the benning era.

    in fact, you could argue it’s a pretty crafty defiant stealth tank. get to 65 points early enough to prove the naysayers wrong, then let the kids do their thing in third periods.

    in truth though i think the boston game broke this team. they were trying and got annihilated in the 3rd anyway. with nothing to play for the core has now thrown in the towel. benning was just stating the obvious.

  • Double U Tee Eff

    The Sedins are so ineffective together now I’d like to see if their productivity would improve by splitting them up and trying them with different players. These last few remaining games would be a perfect opportunity to experiment. They are slow, stale and predicatable and other teams have a handle on how to play them and have for awhile. They are skilled and smart players though and may gel well with other linemates as well as offering the chance for the younger players to learn while playing with them. We have them for another season so theres nothing to lose right now in this experimental remaining part of this season.

  • Rodeobill

    I kind of got the feeling that Tryamkin is not afraid of fighting, but isn’t intrested in really hurting people, so he holds back. He is a gentle giant. The look on his face when he was fighting Benn looked disappointed and dismisive than angry or malicious. We will see what happens when he gets pissed one day. I think he is pretty devout (he is always kissing the pendant around his neck) and he looked pretty mortified after busting up Brad Richards leg that time too. Not yet having adequate linguistic skills, he tends to communicate with body language and gestures, and expressions alot (which is actually quite intelligent) but it also means that anyone watching (like us) is much more privy to the conversation. Most of what I read off of him is that he is just a really nice dude who tries hard and puts a lot of expectation on himself. Everyone has their breaking point though, and watch out for that day.