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Canucks Army Post-Game: Dusting off the Flames

Canucks defeat the Calgary Flames at home 3-1

Tonight was a night for bubble players to make hay before tomorrow’s inevitable run of cuts. That was the case for the Canucks, at least, who benched the Sedins and a significant portion of their top six defencemen.

The Calgary Flames, on the other hand, iced a lineup not that dissimilar to the one we expect to see on opening night.

This one could’ve got away from the Canucks in a hurry, and no one would cry foul. It almost did. The Flames came out of the gate like a bat out of hell, and were it not for Canucks goaltender Anders Nilsson holding down the fort, this could’ve got ugly. The Flames had five shot attempts by the time the Canucks had their first shot. The good news? The Canucks first shot of the night was a Jake Virtanen goal.

Virtanen’s marker seemed to light a fire under the Canucks, who rebounded soundly in the second period and took control of the game from about there onwards. Michael Del Zotto, signed by the Canucks this off-season to, among other things, help fix the power play gave a glimpse of what he might be able to bring this season, sending a deflected floater past Flames’ netminder Mike Smith. It was an ugly, fluky goal if there ever was one, but to be lucky you have to be good, or so they say.

Darren Archibald added an insurance goal in the third, exiting the penalty box and going in unchecked to bury the breakaway opportunity. The Flames would find the scoreboard, but only once to close out tonight’s game.

Anders Nilsson stopped 30 of 31 Flames’ shots. Mike Smith had just 27 saves on the 30 Canucks tries.

Stats

Quick Hits

  • The Canucks can’t keep Jake Virtanen off their opening night lineup. It’s not an option. They need his speed. They need his shot. They definitely need his physical edge, if he’s willing to bring it again, and so far he hasn’t been shy about that. They need his defensive play and effort? Yeah, they need that too! Virtanen’s going to garner a lot of attention with his goal tonight and the shot that caught iron off the Flames’ post that could have just easily been his second of the night, and rightfully so. He doesn’t just have a good shot anymore; he’s actually putting himself in prime position to use it and give himself chances to score. I think what’s going to force the Canucks hand, though, is his defensive play. There was a great play away from the puck to clean up a failed Alex Biega clearing attempt that led to his goal.
  • Alexander Burmistrov, who was on Virtanen’s line, quietly had himself a hell of a night. Canucks head coach Travis Green used Burmistrov’s line primarily in a defensive role, and the Russian pivot was able to use his speed and combativeness in puck battles to help keep his team above water when he was on the ice. In the last minute, with the Flames net empty, it was Burmistrov, and his line, who were sent out to finish the game. And Burmistrov was a warrior below the hashmarks on that shift, making sure the Flames couldn’t get so much as a decent chance on net.
  • One player who wasn’t getting the bounces tonight? Yeah, that would probably be Alex Biega. The Bulldog couldn’t complete a pass to save his life for most of the game and just seemed to be chasing play throughout the entire game. I know he led the team in Corsi for percentage, but I’m going to wave my small sample size veto. This was not a good night for Biega. I expect he’ll be a part of the next wave of cuts.
  • It seems like Scottie Upshall has played his last game in a Canucks uniform. Upshall was a late scratch, and Sportnet’s Irfan Gaffar reported that the St. Louis Blues signed the veteran winger to a one-year contract for just above the veteran minimum. In almost any other year, the Canucks could use a player like Upshall. He has genuine utility in a fourth line role. The Blues, who are ravaged by injuries and weak on the wing, probably need him more this season, though. Credit to the Canucks. As far as professional tryouts go, Upshall was a worthwhile gamble.

  • How’s this for a break from the company line? I thought Brock Boeser was just okay tonight. There were a couple good passing plays, and even the odd threatening shot, but for the most part, this wasn’t his strongest effort. You know what? That’s alright. It’s the pre-season. One couldn’t expect him to keep scoring a goal a game right to the end. If I’m a Canucks fan, I’d say the fact that him looking human for a game is noteworthy is a positive, though. I still think he’s making this team.
  • How about Darren Archibald? Tonight’s breakaway wasn’t his first of the pre-season. If memory serves, he had one in the Canucks’ last home game, too. Luckily for Archibald, he made no mistake this time around. I wonder if it’s going to be his last goal of this training camp, though. The Canucks should make another round of cuts at some point tomorrow, and one has to think the Archibald story is nearing its end. You know what, though? I think he deserves credit for lasting as long as he has on an AHL contract. Archibald deserves his due of credit.
  • Peggy McIntosh

    Nobody thought the Rangers would score as much as they did last year.

    Jeff Gorton smartly built great forward depth and, similar to the Oakland A’s in the Moneyball days, the Rangers outscored teams with a superior bottom of the roster.

    The Canucks have quietly built an intriguing group of forwards.

    And while they might not be able to beat you with line 1, they may very well be able to play even at line 2 and beat you with line 3 and 4.

    • Killer Marmot

      Having four lines that can all play is a huge advantage, as Green will often be able to roll four lines, greatly reducing the wear and tear on his top players during the long, grinding season.

      • truthseeker

        On that we can totally agree. I’ve been saying it all along, that if the canucks aren’t lucky enough to get a “generational” talent or two on their roster like the Pens, Hawks, or Oilers, then they need to be smart with contracts, and build a super deep team of good solid players on every line and every pairing.

        It will be the only way to beat those top heavy teams.

  • Ronning4ever

    “I know [Biega] led the team in Corsi for percentage, but I’m going to wave my small sample size veto.”

    In 36 games he led the team last year in Corsi. I’m a fan of the Bulldog! (Though I would waive him to keep Virt and Rodin).

  • I am Ted

    Green leaned on Pedan and Archi a lot tonight. I think they both should make the team. It was nice to see a Canucks team that didn’t really get pushed around or cheap shotted.

    Virtanen was good again and could’ve been better after just missing on a couple of other opportunities. Honestly, Virtanen may still become a top 6 player and the best route for him would be to play top line minutes and all situations in Utica. It did wonders for him last year and he should go back down and continue to grow and develop.

    I think these pre-season games have been the most intriguing games in a while for Canucks fans. My opening night roster would be:

    47-53-6
    22-33-60
    21-20-89
    49-42-26
    15

    23-51
    27-8
    4-44
    29

    Utica will have a pretty good team and Gaunce may even be stuck down there for a while. Virtanen should be called up sooner rather than later but let him develop down there. Rodin hasn’t shown much so send him down too.

    If Benning does deal for Anderson then he should send a forward that way (ideally).

    • truthseeker

      Nonsense. That’s just being too cautious. Jake has been fantastic this preseason and his past history of lack of development should not be used as punishment for this season. People learn their lessons at different times and places. Maybe last year was all the time Jake needed to learn his, and now he’s completely ready.

      That is the exact kind of thing you reward by keeping him up. Not by saying “good job..you’re good enough…but do it a bit more in the minors first”.

      • Rodeobill

        Not only that, I have a sneaky feeling Green has put a lot into JV and probably takes pride in him as a personal reclamation project. I think If Green is making the cuts, JV stays. Great chemistry with Gagner tonight too. Stetcher and MDZ looked to work well together. I’d cut Dorsett before Archibald. Pedan looked good I thought too. All in all, Calgary didn’t look like they showed up at all, so maybe our guys looked a little extra shiny this game.

  • jaybird43

    Peggy Mac has nailed it. This team is pretty deep on forwards while a bit weak in the first line. They will be intriguing to watch.
    Not sure how you can keep Virtanen off the opening night roster; certainly he’s got greater growth and upside than Dorsett. And, so far anyway, he’s appeared to have earned an NHL spot.
    JX is right about Biega, he did not look good. Lots of uncontrolled zone exits and had his pocket licked twice. I thought Pedan looked good, mostly, but his partner was the Canacks best d-man, Tanev, so that may have helped his showing considerably.

  • TheRealPB

    I think the elephant in the room for me this preseason is our first line. I’ve watched two energetic, well-structured, and fast-paced games (the youngsters and last night) and two that were listless, slow and unimaginative (the ones in China). I know context matters a lot in terms of opposition and that preseason games are times to try things out — but the Sedins simply slow down the pace in a way that seems out of sync with the rest of the players. I know this is heresy but the team just seems more competitive playing an up-tempo game without them. It’s not to suggest that we need to be without them — but the reality is that we played a mostly A squad for Calgary (one that’s supposed to dominate our division) without the Sedins, Vanek, Horvat, Hutton, Eriksson and Edler, and we looked far better than on many occasions last season.

    Players who really stood out to me were Burmistrov and Gagner — smart, hardworking and shifty — Virtanen (again), Archibald and Pedan. I think Green is actually going to give Pedan and Virtanen a chance. How we mesh the older and slower vets with the young players is a big question for me. And while I still love Boeser, I do wonder about how he’ll handle the rigors of a full pro season after his familiarity with college hockey.

    Still, nice to see the Flames get shut down so well.

    • truthseeker

      Boeser can be thrown into the fire. It’s alright. He’s got the right mental make up that he’ll be fine through some rough patches.

      Just think, do you remember anyone saying “I wonder how Pavel will do through an 80 game season”. I don’t. At least not in the way it’s meant today. Babying prospects out of some weird fear of “damage”. This attitude is such a modern thing. Rookies are going to have to get used to it at some point. So let them get used to it.

      Not to mention the conditioning of kids today is way better than it was back in those days.

      As for the twins, and the other vets, hopefully the energy of these kids is just what they need. Take the focus off of them. Get them some softer match ups that they can exploit.

    • apr

      Remember when Bo-Baer-JV were a wrecking ball last year in pre-season? I remember. I don’t think we should get too fussed up with line combinations to start the season; or if we have a $4 million center on the 4th line. Blows me away that fans/media actually care about that. My sense is that we will not have a traditional 4th line of plugs playing 7-8 minutes. In fact, by season end, I would not be surprised if the 4th line were the Sedins with Sutter, not because they suck – but because they would create havoc on another team’s 4th line. Im not planning the parade yet – but last night was very encouraging

  • defenceman factory

    Awesome game. Green coaches a faster, more exciting game and there are a number of players who do not look out of place or over their head. There was enough swagger in the line up we didn’t see too many liberties from Ferland or Tkachuk. Burmistrov and Granlund did very well as the top 2 centres. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to see Horvat and Baertschi in this game. I thought Weircoch played well and Gagner still has the wheels to play with the young guys.

    I know it was just one game, Calgary was flat and some guys were playing for their careers but very encouraging. Canucks played for the most part an up tempo and defensively sound game. Looking at the list of those already sent to Utica and those not even there yet and have to ask; when was it the rebuild started? Looks like construction is well under way.

  • Scott Gelinas

    Dunno what’s sadder… the same old saddos commenting with their same dull rhetoric, or the fact that said mugs actually believe this awful team has ANYthing to offer.

    Keep jawing to delude yourselves further, because any way you slice it this is a last place joke of a team in the division, if not the league. What I see is a Colorado type season, and any commentary stating otherwise is utter delusion and absurdity. Why bother, no life?

    • truthseeker

      Good for you Scott!

      How pathetic are you that you feel the need to post on a board of a team you think is awful and a joke….what’s that make you huh? Someone so boring and lame that they have nothing better to do than post on a team they obviously don’t like…lol. And you call others out for having no life? hahaha…the troll’s blind spot….

  • Steamer

    Virtanen in Van; Boeser in Utica? Jake is looking good – in every zone – huge difference! Upshall’s departure should ease the jam – like to see Archibald stick around, not because of sentimentality, but he adds a dimension that Dorsett can’t furnish alone.

  • Jabs

    I had no idea that Archie could fly like that, nece to see him completely out hustle two Calgary defenders. He was one of a couple guys that seemed to know that they had to bring it to stay on the radar of staying up and he did.

    I thought that Granlund had a stellar game as well, he very much did the same as Burmistrov imo. Both guys were beasts in their own zone in keeping Calgary from getting a lot of good chances.

    Nice also to see the pk do as well as it did although two of the guys used often, Chaput and Megna will most certainly be going down.

  • wojohowitz

    I`ve been booed for suggesting this several times. Break up the twins. They will be better using more of their line mates rather than always looking for each other.

    • jaybird43

      I agree. They are still great (or good anyway) players, but too slow to now both be together. Ps, not a Sedins hater. Always thought they were better together than apart: now, not so much.

    • Cageyvet

      Nah, just play them against the weaker matchups by moving them down the lineup. Seriously, these guys racked up big points in the past, and reasonable points recently, against the Drew Doughty/Anze Kopitar matchups. They’ve still got the chops to feast on the lesser lights.

  • JarkkoRuutu

    Both Pedan and Weircoch looked good! Excited that we have a bit of depth in all positions, and no strange contract agreements forcing the team to keep players from going down to the Comets. If toughness is a glaring concern going forward, Archibald clearly isn’t going to be a defensive liability.. Couldn’t help but notice Ferland was kept pretty quiet. Nilsson was rock solid, while Smith looked continually out of position… The Flames didn’t look very dangerous outside of the Monahan line!

    • Cageyvet

      Amen to that. He’s already capable, at the least, and he’s a big man. I know Tryamkin swatted them aside like flies, and he’s not quite in that league, but he’s got more of a mean streak and still plants their asses on the ice. It’s just that they fall down in front of him, where Tryamkin made them fall down about 4 feet away……still missing him, I was hoping both the big Russian Dmen were going to be around for a long time.