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Canucks Army Post-Game: Beginning of a Great Adventure

The biggest rule change this season? It seems like the NHL wants to crack down on five-on-five.

In a sloppy, power play-filled opener to the NHL’s pre-season, the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings brought us a little bit of everything. The two teams combined for 15 minor penalties, good for seven power play opportunities apiece; both teams scored but once with the man advantage.

In Canucks head coach Travis Green’s first game behind the bench, his team came out of the gates with gusto. Markus Granlund deflected a Troy Stecher point shot to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead in Los Angeles less than ten minutes into the game. Despite spending almost the entire second period in their zone, a Jake Virtanen goal on a rare foray into the Kings zone had the Canucks in control with a two-goal lead and less than half a game to defend it.

Focus was an issue, though. The Kings clawed back to even at two before the second period came to a close and took the lead just over a minute into the third frame on an Oscar Fantenberg goal. Sven Baertschi deflected an Erik Gudbranson shot with just a handful of minutes left in the game to force overtime, though.

The two sides traded chances in the extra frame before Brock Boeser snapped a deft wrister past Darcy Kuemper to secure the Canucks 4-3 overtime win with under a minute left in play. Talk about getting your money’s worth.

Stats

via: @NaturalStatTrick or www.NaturalStatTrick.com

Quick Hits

  • The youth movement might not be on hold after all. Some of the Canucks best players today all qualify as players at the forefront of that supposed movement. It was Virtanen who doubled the Canucks lead in the second with a heads-up play to put the puck on net past an unsuspecting Kings goaltender; Boeser, meanwhile, secured the victory with less than a minute to play in overtime with a wicked wrist shot. Both players were strong defensively. Virtanen led the Canucks in five-on-five Corsi percentage, and Boeser was just three spots down the leaderboard — neither were on the ice for a goal against. Spots on the Canucks opening night roster are limited, and competition is fierce. It’s going to take efforts like today’s to vault either of these two into the Canucks lineup. To their credit, both showed exactly what they needed to show in this game.
  • Tonight’s best player? That honour is probably Jacob Markstrom’s. The lanky Swedish netminder was solid as a rock in goal, stopping all 19 shots the Kings sent his way in the half-game he played. Markstrom’s positioning was sound, and he seemed as focused as ever. There was a tonne of pressure on the Canucks in the second period, and Markstrom was up to the task. In the battle for the Canucks’ crease, the advantage is Markstrom’s for now.
  • I don’t think there are many more intriguing players in the Canucks lineup this season than Alexander Burmistrov. Before Burmistrov left for the KHL, he was a dominant player by underlying shot and goal metrics who couldn’t score. By the time he returned to the Winnipeg Jets after a brief stay in the KHL, Burmistrov could neither score nor tilt the ice. The one break of daylight for Burmistrov last season? When he met Newell Brown and the Arizona Coyotes power play last season. Burmistrov lit the lamp four times in 26 games with the Coyotes on the man advtange. Tonight, Burmistrov played just off the half-wall as the second triggerman on the Canucks’ first unit, playing over six minutes on the power play. I’m looking forward to following Burmistrov’s season. Tonight was a good start.
  • If Philip Holm is going to win a spot on the Canucks’ crowded blue line to start the season, he’s going to have to get past tonight’s effort. The Swedish free agent, who’s playing his first year in North America, looked every bit the part of the former Canuck to don the number five, Luca Sbisa. That’s not a good thing. The Canucks need reliable, defensively sound puck-moving defenceman to round out their roster. Tonight, Holm didn’t look the part.
  • Tonight was a bad night for the professional tryouts. Ryan White and Scottie Upshall combined for six penalty minutes and were mostly ineffective in the rare moments they weren’t in the penalty box. Upshall had the lowest Corsi percentage on the team; White was ineffective in every phase of the game.
  • RIP

    I echo the Burmiatrov comments. He was strong on the puck, confident and made some great plays. Was a nice showing by Markstrom just didn’t like his pick handleing out of the net but that will come. Granlund was one of our best out there tonight. Just top notch. Was not impressed with Guddy and I have high hopes for him. Oh well hopefully he gets it going.

  • Steamer

    Thanks JD. Perhaps the PTO’s aren’t the lock many supposed. Pedan played well, think he warrants more of a look as he adds a forceful physical element. Agree about Burmistrov – very intriguing player with incredible skill – has the potential to be a difference-maker. Nice to see Virtanen mature & improve – still so young, tons of upside with Green as his coach.

    • Bud Poile

      Boeser a lacklustre participant all night and then becomes a game-changer.
      It will be a tough decision for TG not to have that advantage in his lineup.
      Virtanen is making the haters disapppear with five hits and a nice goal.

  • Cageyvet

    I didn’t see the game and only heard half of it, so no way I can comment other than I’m glad to hear Virtanen got off to a strong start, and I’m not worried about Holm. He’s in tough to make the team anyway, barring a stellar performance, as he doesn’t need waivers. Utica is probably the right spot for him as he needs to learn the small ice game before he’s ready to try his game at the NHL level, but I’m not counting him out once he gains that experience.

  • Crakupov

    The Canucks dominated tonight. The Sedins looked like they were 10 years younger and the team is really firing on all cylinders. It is going to be a great season to be a nucks fan!

    • Break The Canuck's Curse

      To be fair, the Sedins always look string at the beginning of the season. The problem is they are usually burnt by March and playing on fumes.

      I hope this year they are properly managed and given more rest.

      What will probably happen is that we will be close to a playoff position so that will be the excuse to play them more and then they will fade which will cause the team to fade

  • tiger1731

    Was at the game tonight. Got a puck from Marky. Great game thought Virtanen played well, Boeser hell of a game winner. Offence was a little frustrating though think we ended up with barely 20 shots.

    • DJ_44

      I didn’t trash you, but I disagree with your evaluation. It took a period for Boucher to get going, but he was noticeable in the third. To me, the worst Canuck was Dorset. All heart, god love him, but if it’s between him and Upshall, I go Upshall all day long ( and Upshall was not great either, but he has similar attributes but just better skill).

        • Sk0ly

          I would totally prefer Virtanen over both of those guys but I don’t know if the fourth line would be beneficial to him. Jake needs ice time, and he might be better served with another season in Utica than fourth line minutes with the big club. I also think Dorset is on a one way.

  • DJ_44

    I didn’t trash you, but I disagree with your evaluation. It took a period for Boucher to get going, but he was noticeable in the third. To me, the worst Canuck was Dorset. All heart, god love him, but if it’s between him and Upshall, I go Upshall all day long ( and Upshall was not great either, but he has similar attributes but just better skill).

    • IBTurner

      I thought Dorsett, was working his ass off out there. He create a lot of forecheck pressure and back checked harder than anyone out there. Boeser was very confident on the puck but used quick reversals that probably worked well at lower levels but not in the nhl. Agree that the PTO’s were ineffective. Holm seemed very passive, often blocking, arriving beside players he should have been checking. Overall a positive start considering the players not skating.

  • DJ_44

    Sorry about the double post.

    I think the evaluation on Holm was harsh. He gave the puck up on the board for the third goal, and the cut the guy off on the PK 2nd goal (that was Upshall man that scored). But he made some really solid plays with Biega, can be physical, and can skate and fire the puck. I like what I saw of him Thursday and Friday at camp. I think he will be one of the four or five that will also play tomorrow.

    Virtanen desires a lot of props. You can see the change in his attitude. Just look at his back checking effort. Goldobin only has to watch Jake and Brock if he wants to see the level of effort it will take to crack the roster.

    • Braindead Benning

      Fair overall evaluation DJ, Alex Biega reminds me of a Sergei Nemestcov or poor mans Scotty Walker type, seems to be useful in both forward or D but not well enough to be a regular unless injuries happen.
      I am
      Also staring to wonder why the Sharks gave up on Goldilocks and wouldnt be surprised if he ends up on the Utica roster come season opener.

      • Fortitude00

        Sharks let Goldie go because he was passed on the depth chart by two other players who were drafted rounds later. Goldie has flashes of brilliance then tends to float or be invisible most shifts.

        • Sk0ly

          And his defensive game is non existent. He also has a rep for not listening to his coach and taking risks. That is why he was limited in his games last year by Willie.

  • LTFan

    Thanks for the report JD, right after the game. I watched most of the game and the players who stood out were Markstrom, Gudbranson, Stetcher and Granlund. A good effort by all the players. Looking forward to seeing the Golden Knights on Sunday.

  • Rodeobill

    Pedan looked better tonight than Guddy, the PTO’s looked rough. The team seemed to lack chemistry and was kind of all over the place. I wonder if tonight’s roster is the toughest they have ever iced, a lot of scrappers on the team today. I wonder if players were afraid to do anything due to how ridiculous the reffing was. Might explain some of the poor chemistry.

  • defenceman factory

    It was very different watching a Canucks powerplay without the Sedins. The 4 forward set is interesting but not sure what to think yet. Del Zotto looked alright but there is a lot of ice to cover. Hard to hold pucks in and vulnerable to giving up breakaways. It looked like Boeser doesn’t have a lot of experience running things off the half wall. Talented kid I’m sure it will come.

    Really encouraging to see Markstrom have a good game. Hopefully Nilsson finds his groove soon. Sure hope Jake continues to do well. Its a couple years away but the possibility of a 650 lb 3rd line of Jake , MacEwen and Gadjovich just sounds like a lot of fun to watch. Biega might not make the club but ya gotta love the try in that guy.

    • Break The Canuck's Curse

      It’s the first game of the season for many of them. Remember, the rookies have had a few games in the tournaments. It will take time for these guys to get their legs going before they can be properly evaluated

  • McRib

    I live in Calgary and attend a ton of Hitmen games and frankly I still can’t believe how much some Canucks fans and especially social media crapped on Jake Virtanen last year. The Canucks haven’t handled Jake Virtanen well the last couple of years I think we can all agree on that, as he was wwwwwwaaaaaayyyyyyy tooooooooo immature to turn pro before 20 or play in the NHL before 21-22, but that said I also saw him do things in his draft year that were so exceptional, I still have trouble believing it. For example, he scored a backhand goal with the Hitmen from way out on the blueline that was the nicest goal I have ever seen, period. He was also one of the fastest north/south skaters to ever come out of the WHL, as he used to just obliterate opposing players in transition.

    I get it, most feel the Canucks should have taken William Nylander or Nikolaj Ehlers, something I would have likely done because those two were far more consistent, but it was unfair to write Virtanen off last year, because in terms of raw skill he is arguably more talented than those two. We don’t know if he willl ever get to even the level they’re at right now, but if he can round out his game and remove some of the blemishes he’s faster, stronger and a far better shooter than both those two. Not that NHL teams are desperately looking for players who can score or anything.

    It’s funny. I saw someone out east last year compare Owen Tippett to Jake Virtanen and everyone freaked out jumping to Tippetts defense, but I watched both rather extensively their draft years and Tippett doesn’t have half the raw talent Virtanen had. Virtanen could literally skate circles around Tippett backwards at the same age and his shot was twice as good, plain and simple Virtanen never played with the caliber of players that Tippett did either. Anyway, I am a Flmes fan routing for Virtanen, that’s for sure.

    • Doodly Doot

      Thanks for the interesting post McRib. I like that Virtanen’s path in the NHL may be more incremental than most. Especially under a guy like Green, he will have a chance to earn his way and progress towards his potential. From the sounds of it, his potential may be much higher than many us may realize.

    • truthseeker

      The Nylander, Ehlers thing is a total hindsight bias on the part of the complainers. Sure there were maybe a couple of commentators talking about guys like that and I’m sure the complainers will be here quick to point them out. But they were by FAR the minority.

      The vast majority of people commenting before that draft were whining about how the canuck had no “grit” and “sand paper” and “size” blah blah blah…for the “big heavy pacific”.

      Those two guys were a buck 70 at most in their draft year. Totally undersized wingers. I’m sure the complainers would have been whining about how weak the canucks would have been if they had taken either of them.

      Management obviously agreed with the “lack of size” sentiment of most of the media who was commenting and liked Jake the best out of what was available.

      Pay no mind to it. Canuck fans have a nasty history of self loathing, sky falling thinking. Every move the team makes is second guess right from the time it’s made by a least a portion of the teams “fans”. The vast majority of which have no patience either way to simply wait and see what a player might be or not be.

      The reverse of it was with a guy like Cody Hodgson. The vast majority of the fans loved that slug like he was the second coming of….I don’t know….a great forward, when it was pretty clear to anyone who wanted to scratch the surface that he was a bit of a locker room cancer, and lazy. Oh how management was vilified for “poor cody’s treatment”….lol…..yeah….Then do these people come out and say….”I was wrong and Gillis was totally right”? Of course not….they just move on to the next short sighted opinion.

      Jake hasn’t been perfect that’s for sure….but yeah….way to early to completely write him off. People need to chill.

      • Sk0ly

        Biggest issue with Cody was his own attitude…..and his Dad. The guy came off a WJC performance that had him looking like an incredible two way forward with a game similar to Linden. That is why Canuck’s fans were excited. That, and he came up to the big club and didn’t look out of place. Where it all went to hell is when him and his dad started whining about his ice time, pairings etc. Know your role when you are a rookie.

        Cody had the talent to be a second liner in the NHL but his attitude, laziness and arrogance single handedly torched his career.

        • truthseeker

          He was slow as molasses though. I don’t remember Linden been a slow player. Maybe not Bure, obviously, but he kept up.

          My favorite report about Cody was one I read in the province (yeah I know…but I believe this one) when during that time of whining about ice time some of the other players (I’m guessing Kes and Bieksa…lol) “jokingly” taped a “C” to his practice jersey. If that’s not a HUGE message I don’t know what is.

          And do you remember Kes’ game against Cody the first time he came back through Van? Looked like he was trying to kill him.

          Definitely “where there is smoke there is fire” with cody and his attitude. Gillis did amazingly well to get Kassian for that slug. Just too bad Kassian had his own issues here. At least Kassian looked like he was trying.

          But hey….at least Cody gave us that one boston goal…haha….that was pretty sweet.

    • Ken Priestlay Fan

      The thing I don’t really get about the Virtanen hatred is that his debut NHL season was pretty good. From memory he scored at around 25pts/82 games, which for a 19 year old kid who hadn’t played a pro game before is pretty good in my opinion. Sure he had some glaring weaknesses in both his game and his attitude, but find me a teenager in recent times who isn’t called McDavid who doesn’t? I appreciate that many people at the time would have preferred Ehlers or Nylander and the time has made that look an even more obvious choice, but the attraction of a 6’3″, 210lb teenager with a booming shoot and skates like a freight train is obvious. Hopefully Jake is a bit more focussed this year and proves people wrong because if he puts it together, the Canucks have one hell of a player

      • Break The Canuck's Curse

        I think he was made a bit of a scapegoat and whipping boy when the season started to fall apart last year. He didn’t help but he is just a kid and definitely needed steering. Honestly, dropping him in Utica probably was the best move since he missed the tire fire with the big club and got away from all the bright lights and distractions up here so that he could just play the game of hockey

        • LTFan

          You are right, he was just a kid when he played in the 2015-16 Season. There is a difference in maturity for most people between 18 – 19 and 21. JV may not make the team out of camp but he won’t play all season in Utica either.

      • DJ_44

        Players and people will take different paths to success. I do not think it was wrong for Jake to play for the Canucks two years ago, as given the choice between WHL and NHL, the latter was probably correct.

        Showing up out of shape and being sent down to learn and develop was the best thing for him. His performance so far has justified that decision (one that should have been made at the start of last season, probably). He needed to mature and it looks like last years Utica staff did that and Jake has responded.

        His skating boarders on elite, with an above average shot (almost elite). I sometimes wonder why a 5’9″ skilled player is always perceived to have a high ceiling than a 6’2″ skilled player.

  • canuckfan

    I have no problem with Jake playing in Utica this year with McEwen and Goldy what a line that could be size and speed and anyone of them could be brought up to replace injured player. They would get a chance to build chemistry and leadership…Once Jake makes the big team he is going to become a fan favourite I did not really notice him before but with just his comments when he is interviewed I am pulling for him and he will be one of the players I am pulling for, but don’t want him to be a bubble player the whole year with people crapping on him for the team’s lack of success and that is why the Canucks have brought in some veterans so they can shelter the young up and coming players who can develop chemistry and when they make the team next year the Canucks can start that season flying.
    Jake certainly has won me over as a supporter of him, but would not have a problem with him spending more time with the Comets especially with the noticed improvement in attitude and play if that comes along a bit more I can only imagine the player he will become in the future.

    • Silverback

      Eamon…ir’s ironic that the team that didn’t impress you very much is the team you want to ice. No Edler or Sedins is what you got. So which is it that you want?

  • Eamon

    Neither of these teams looked very good to me, especially considering the amount of power plays. TBH other than Markstrom no one on the Canucks stood out for me as a player that can make a difference towards bringing us playoff hockey.

    Tell you what though, it was good to see the team without Edler and the Sedins. The sooner these has-beens are shipped out the better, and the sooner we can actually move on from this stale outdated model that should’ve been overhauled directly after the Boston SCF loss.

    • Mr Provolone

      The canucks won the presidents trophy the season following that stanley cup loss and then lost to one of the most dominant playoff runs of recent hostory. Oh and last night’s game was the first preseason game bud, you gots to chill…

      • Eamon

        Yeah, the most worthless trophy in all of sports (ask the Caps) which teams treat like it contains the Ebola virus. That Kings team you mention was built for playoff hockey and they rode a Conn Smyth goalie all the way to the cup… that ‘nucks team was broken like a twig and done like dinner.

        I’m personally only interested in the playoffs guy, and what i saw last night with all the partcipants playing for their future NHL careers didn’t give me any indication of playoffs whatsoever. Markstrom was the only one who showed he belongs in the NHL. Calling it as i seen it… it’s called opinion so you gots to chill…

        • Silverback

          Don’t forget this is pre season with a new coach, new line combinations and new players. Considering we are in a full rebuild, perhaps you should lower your “playoffs expectations”. I don’t see playoffs contention for another couple of years, unless we sneak in and blow the wad in the 1st round.

        • kablebike

          Which is it?
          You want the Sedins and Edler gone and junior replacements that are barely capable of dominating the AHL yet you are only interested in the playoffs?
          Bandwagon much?

          • Eamon

            Easy tiger, anyone would think we just got beat 9-4 by an expansion team.

            Who said I want junior replacements? Not me… I said I want Edler and the twins gone and a new direction without them, their time is up.
            There are plenty of other decent vets on the team with playoff experience, Tanev, Guddy, Del Zotto, Eriksson,Vanek, Sutter and good young guns to stepup like Boeser, Stetch, Baertschi, Granny and Bo. Add some more pieces with all that lovely cap room and let’s get er done! No bandwagon needed just common sense.

        • truthseeker

          You’re right. It’s just an opinion. Just like thinking the Prez trophy is “worthless”. You can think that all you want. I don’t. I think it’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. Especially these days with the parity of the league.

          And I’ll tell you something else. I think the Stanley Cup is over rated. I don’t think it’s the end all be all of hockey and “nothing less than it matters”. You can think that way all you want, but you’ll be in for more disappointment than joy when you watch hockey. Who enjoyed hockey more over the decade or so when the canucks were dominating the Pacific? Me or a Hurricanes fan? Yeah they won the cup that one year….but then were terrible for ever since. You think their fans were having as good a time watching their team over the same time period? lol. I doubt it.

          All of this…the “importance” of watching hockey. It’s all in our heads. None of matters ONE little bit. So you can make it whatever you want. If you want to only care about the cup. Have at it. But that is just your opinion.

          I take satisfaction from a lot of different aspects of following the canucks. That way…when they are a bad team…like now…it doesn’t bother me. And when they win…I don’t get too high on that either.

          It’s just pro sports. One of the most colossal wastes of time in society. Better to see it as what it is and not get so emotionally involved in something that really doesn’t involve you in the first place. Cause really…you…me…we’re just cheerleaders. Nothing more.

  • Silverback

    Eamon…ir’s ironic that the team that didn’t impress you very much is the team you want to ice. No Edler or Sedins is what you got. So which is it that you want?