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Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Postgame: Anders Nilsson is the team’s shutout king

The Vancouver Canucks gave Anders Nilsson his first start of the season on Tuesday night, hoping to turn things around after kicking off the season with a disappointing 1-2-1 record.

The team in front of him could have been much better, but Nilsson himself earned his first shutout with the team in his first-ever Vancouver start – giving him, by the way, one more shutout as a Canuck than Jacob Markstrom has in his entire NHL career.

How bout dat?

THE RUNDOWN

After three straight losses, the Canucks went in to Tuesday night hoping that something, anything, would turn their luck around.

From a shot based perspective, they certainly didn’t give Nilsson much to work with. Right out of the gate, Ottawa managed to gain the upper hand in a dangerous way; they outshot Vancouver 17-4 by the end of the first frame, leaving Nilsson to handle the lion’s share of the work.

He didn’t hold the team in the game alone, though. With Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson on the ice by his right post during a scramble around the net 15 minutes into the game, Brock Boeser managed to scoop up the loose puck and fire on a wide-open net for his second goal of the season.

Vancouver would get back into the game in the final two periods, outshooting Ottawa 12-7 in the second frame and drawing even in shots with eight apiece during the third.

A goal in each period would leave the Senators going home empty-handed, though, and Nilsson would turn away all 32 shots he faced to ensure the win truly.

Props go to Alexander Burmistrov for scoring the second goal of the night on a tip-in from Boeser’s feed, but this truly was the former NCAA star’s night. A final goal from Thomas Vanek in the third period sealed the win, and Vancouver advanced to a 2-2-1 record on the year.

OBSERVATIONS

The Nilsson question has to be posed.

Last Friday, I went on Canucks Army radio to talk about the goaltending situation – and at the time, we hadn’t seen a start from Nilsson in Vancouver yet.

I thought (and still to a degree do) that the Canucks would be very happy with strong performances from Nilsson, but this is still Markstrom’s net to lose. He didn’t exactly come cheap, and the team has now moved multiple goaltenders out of the system to pave the way for him to get his shot at being a number one. They aren’t going to ride him for 70 games if he’s struggling, but he’ll have to actively give away the starting job with noticeably poor play in order for Nilsson to take away his future with the team.

That said, tonight was a nice example of what, exactly, Nilsson can be.

Markstrom has yet to record a single shutout at the NHL level – partly because, as discussed during the radio segment, he has a nasty habit of dragging his feet on getting set during the first few shots in the game. He’s allowed a lot of easy, somewhat-inexcusable goals in the early minutes of games as a result, and it’s frustrating to watch.

Nilsson struggled with the New York Islanders, the Edmonton Oilers, and the St. Louis Blues, but he did quite well last year with the Buffalo Sabres – and it’s no secret that if Vancouver does anything well, it’s coach goaltenders. At the very worst, he could be primed to earn a starting gig elsewhere finally; if he pushes, he could manage to oust Markstrom as a failed experiment for good.

It’s also worth pointing out that Burmistrov has seemed like an excellent pickup in his games so far this year.

Michael Del Zotto has been as expected, and  Vanek – for better or for worse – has essentially done his job, as well. Burmistrov was an interesting case, though; he was brought in after all but losing the complete faith of Winnipeg’s brass last year. Although he got some redemption time with the Arizona Coyotes (and played perfectly well for them in the process), there was a bottleneck of replacement-level depth forwards in their system, so he was cut loose.

Maybe the Russian-born forward will never truly live up to the standards set when he was selected eighth overall in 2010, but he’s certainly doing a nice job of proving that he’s a strong supplemental roster piece. He was nothing but pleasant and positive during a tough year in Arizona last season, and having both his acceptable skill set and that kind of locker room presence could mean he’ll stick around for a while in Vancouver still.

Make no mistake; the Canucks, as a whole, could have easily seen that game go another way. Just in the first period alone, a slow start in net could have sunk them from the get-go.

There were some positives, though – and a win is a win, especially in a season with plenty of new faces looking to find their roles.

THE NUMBERS

 

  • Break The Canuck's Curse

    I don’t think they should have a no. 1 goalie. They are both good enough that they should be pushing each other. That will also allow them to be more rested through the season

  • canuckfan

    wow Burmistrov is now seen as a really good pick up in the last few games he was viewed as a smuck. I thinkthat Green is starting to get his players to play to their strengths lets see how we look in December.

    • Doodly Doot

      I was kind of blown away at the play before the second goal. Boeser, Burmistrov and Baertschi buzzing around with speed and puck control unshuffling Ottawa’s group to the point of getting a very nice scoring chance that converts. May be the best any line has looked this year. Hmmm, a youthful all-skill line looking dangerous. Crazy!

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Crazy. Canucks are ahead of Oilers in the standings. I hope they are not tanking for Rasmus Dahlen;)
    Was it just me, or was Horvat invisible out there tonight. I had to check to the boxscore just to see if he played. Nilsson was excellent and so was Boeser, Baertschi (wish his name was easier to spell), and Burmistov.
    The was Gubrandson’s best game by far; I was impressed by his play. And Tanev was incredible, a complete wall. Very good night for defense in general.
    Karlsson was really good too. I can’t help but think his speed is equal to McDavid’s.

      • tyhee

        You’ve used quotes which indicate you’re quoting someone. Who, praytell? It certainly was not Travis Green, who is the one controlling the icetime. After the Calgary game, Green said Horvat and a lot of other Canucks had an average game.

        Meanwhile, in the 5th game of the season, Horvat while removed from the powerplay, was still 3rd on the team among forwards in average icetime. It isn’t as if he’s being used like a 4th line plug. The change to his time on ice is almost entirely powerplay time-and is there anyone out there that can deny that the powerplay needed a change and that it looked better against Ottawa last night than it ha

        Of course, these things ebb and flow and no doubt Horvat will get more power play time again, but it seems to me the coach’s change worked, but once again he gets roasted for it by those who want nothing more than more power (and all the ice time) to the kids.

        I would say that only in Vancouver would one get snide comments about the icetime of a 22 year old getting the 3rd most icetime among forwards on the team despite not having a point since his first game of the season and having looked, as Green (accurately imo) said, average, but then hockey fans in other markets are also capable of making poorly reasoned comments as well.

        • crofton

          No snide comment whatsoever. I used quotation marks because I couldn’t recall the exact phrase. Thank you for providing that……Average. He was called out for being average and so he basically was taken off a line with Sven and whomever and placed on the third line. First to third isn’t a demotion?

          • tyhee

            You used quotation marks knowing it wasn’t a quote? That is certainly a variation on the expected meaning of quotation marks.

            Third line? Well, let’s see. The 4 players who played regularly at center Tuesday night against the Sens, in order of ice time, were:

            1. Bo Horvat
            2. Brandon Sutter
            3. Alex Burmistrov
            4. Henrik Sedin.

            The player you describe as being third line actually got the most ice time (by a very small margin) among Canuck centers.

            Are you also going to deny that the Baertschi-Burmistrov-Boeser line had a better game than the Bae-Bo-Boes line had in the last couple of games before that?

            The power play scored-Boeser and Burmistrov in on the goal. The line had another goal-Burmistrov from Boeser and Baertschi. The three players were all over 50% CF%.

            Ok, Horvat got the most ice time among centers. The team, at least in the last two periods, played well. Bo’s usual linemates had a better game last night without him than they had recently with him. The power play was more successful than it had been. What the bleep is there to complain about?

            We’ve seen Green changes his lineup frequently with players matching with one another differently, giving the players themselves as well as the opponents different looks. Things will continue to change. We’ve also seen that we don’t have a coach who woodenly puts the same lines out game after game, in rotation, regardless of circumstances? Should we be complaining about that?

            It would be hard for Green to be successful in the long run with the roster of players he’s been given, but we’ll see change from time to time and we’ll see line matching, something fans were complaining we didn’t see the last couple of seasons.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Anyone else getting spammed on this website by a Shaw Survey hijacking the page. Several time while reading this page, I’m getting redirected to a Shaw Survey webpage.

  • truthseeker

    I thought it was a little better than that over all. Yeah the first was not good but whatever, they withstood the pressure and got a goal. That’s a good way to open your road trip. The second was a strong period and the third even better in my opinion.

    I love the way they closed out that game. No collapsing into a shell and trying to soak up a win like last year. The forechecked very well and didn’t let the Sens control the play. I hope that’s a sign of good coaching structure and that they continue to push when they have a lead.

    Strong start to the season for Boeser is nice. Hope he can keep it going as long as possible. Give the coaching staff no excuse for a “rookie rest day” unless he absolutely deserves to come out.

    Vanek’s goal was a beauty. Burmistrov looked very good again. Really hope the canuck have some “found money” in him.

    PP had some good movement finally. Guys making their own space. PK looked pretty good. Not much to complain about a 3 zip shutout of a very good team. Even Gagner looked alright.

    Man, Karlsson’s amazing. Imagine Tanev playing beside him….that would be the most dominant D pairing in hockey.

    What could we get from Ottawa for number 8???

  • crofton

    I thought Vancouver looked pretty good, so I expected CA would not think so. What I did not expect was that the negativity would come from Cat. And cliche to boot. Had to get the “goalie controversy” precursor in there. I don’t know how the Canucks would win with CA, trashed if they don’t win, trashed if they do plus add the goal tending. All that was missing was how bad Sutter and Gudbranson were. Or were they? Kudos a bit hard to come by?

  • wojohowitz

    Finally rejigged the PP. Baertschi, Burmistrov, Boeser, Zotto and Pouliot and it worked. Pouliot looked good. Had some turnovers but played an aggressive attacking game. Don`t worry about mistakes – go get them.

    The twins only played 3+ minutes in the first – lowest on the team. Maybe Green is keeping them fresh or maybe making them earn their icetime.

    That Dorset fight really helped the team get going.

    Nice to have some competition in net. Let Nilsson run with it and Markstrom knows he better find his game.

    • canuckfan

      The Dorset fight brought some emotion from the team which all started by a hit from Jake. Having the goaltender making some key saves gave the team some confidence which Markstrom said that he wasn’t able to do in his comments after the Calgary game.

      The best part of the game for me was seeing some changes after a bad loss by the coach, from the power play to the way lines were made up. Willy would just keep plugging away rather trying to help the team out he thought they would just work it out. Willy was effective right up to when they lost the first round series against Calgary, then he was just plain stubborn it was his way or the highway but he ended up the one out on the highway thankfully Willy is gone.
      It is still going to be a tough year but if Green keeps tweaking the way the team looks and get success it will be entertaining and not so predictable. But lets face it the saves the goalie made in the first period won the game and got the team going and once they got the goal on the power play and the saves kept coming the team started playing with more energy and confidence. Fun to watch.

  • Cageyvet

    Anyone notice the pleasing absence of Edmonton trolls lately? How quickly they disappear, hard to come here and trash a team that is a mere .500 when your record is even worse, I guess. It would seem that McDavid may, in fact, not actually score 100 goals this year…..I am so glad the offseason is over and posters and bloggers alike have to deal with what’s happening on the ice, not on paper. I am loving the Oilers crappy start, their fans were reaching that insufferable level of arrogance again.

    • canuckfan

      The Oilers are going through a rough period which could get tougher. Signing the two young stars to big contracts and putting the reason for success on their shoulders is like a kick in the groin to the rest of the team. It was team success. Now they are going through a tough period we will have to see if they come out of this as a team or blow up and have them hating each other. Oilers may have been better off playing out this year before signing them to big contracts as that is a lot of pressure. As the saying goes to screw with a good thing. They got full of themselves and credited two players with that success now to see if these same two can lead them out of adversity.

  • BendingCorners

    I’m a Flames fan so I was at the game Saturday. I commented then to one of the nearby ‘Nucks fans that if Vancouver had a good goaltender they could compete for a playoff spot. Nilsson looked good in the preseason and looked good again tonight. The team is well-coached and has no superstars but no (or nearly no) duds either. It could be a fun year on the wet coast.

  • TheRealPB

    Enjoyable game. Started out fairly even, we got absolutely crushed for the last 15 minutes of the 1st (basically after that first whistle to the end of the period). Opportunistic on the PP and then I thought we had an extremely good road game. The lines seemed much better. Still not very impressed with Gagner but he looked decent with the twins. Burmistrov-Baertschi-Boeser was the best line on the ice. I thought the Sutter line was relatively effective. Wasn’t sure why Virtanen got benched but I don’t think it’s an age-alone thing. After all, Dorsett got less than 12 minutes and the Sedins and Vanek got barely over 12 each. High minutes on the team went to Granlund which I think was deserved–he also took over Virtanen’s spot in the 3rd. Hutton’s best game by far — he and Gudbranson really looked good out there. Hutton was rushing the puck confidently, making much quicker decisions and looked dangerous and confident. Nilsson looked really good — I’m not sure why but he looks (or at least plays) much bigger than Markstrom which is weird because I think they are the same size. I think we’ll end up seeing a 60-40 split in net. Unlike some on this board I don’t blame Markstrom for the last two disjointed losses — the team was far better across the board today. Sutter seemed to be skating better — that was a wicked shot off the crossbar in the first. My main concern remains Horvat. There’s no way he’s 100%. Seems completely out of sorts — what was the injury in the preseason? It’s hard to think that isn’t affecting him. Either ineffective or invisible – he even lost a draw to Alex Burrows, completely cleanly. Burmistrov has looked great in the preseason in limited minutes, and flourished given more responsibility (including PP and PK time). Smart, shifty, and fairly gritty — that cheap shot run from Borowiecki I cannot believe didn’t get penalized and I’m glad Dorsett gave him a cut under his eye for his trouble. Good game. I don’t think the Sens are as good as they looked in Alberta nor the Canucks as bad as they looked the last two games. Both will be in tough when they play the really good teams. Also, the Oilers are 1-4 and going on a tough road trip. That’s more like it.

    • Dirty30

      Bo hurt his shoulder on a check where he clipped the stantion that holds up the glass. Didn’t look like much at first but it looks like it dug right into his shoulder. Could be deep bruise, muscle tear or part separated. At this point in the season they should just put Chaput in and let Bo heal up.

    • crofton

      I thought they played a pretty good game too. I don’t think people get there is a better way to play on the road than try to come out guns a blazing and get burned for your trouble. Edmonton’s guns a blazing approach has failed so far and they have higher calibre guns. Yes Canucks got out shot badly…but I can’t recall any 3 alarm saves Nilsson was forced to make, but that may have been because he was so good fundamentally.

  • Rodeobill

    Did anyone see Gaunce come out of the dressing room behind murph during the second, then awkwardly look at the camera and bugger off? was that even him? Made me laugh.

    Does Brock stick with the team? You Boeser believe he does. Lol. Thumbs me down for that one, i deserve it.

    I think the main revelation tonight was the new lines had chemistry. Brock, Baerschi, and Burmistrov looked like the young sedins, and so did Gagner with the old sedins! Tonight’s win may have been due to chemestry or maybe it was system and coaching, we’ll have to wait and see how those lines play against teams who use other systems, but it was great for a night.

    It looks (from a small sample size) that Nilsson makes all the saves you should make whereas Markstrom makes some great athletic saves, but also lets in a fluffer once in a while.

    I don’t get why JV gets short benched. There must be something we don’t see by watching games on TV (which always focuses on the puck), or maybe he’s “not following the plan” (of which we are not privy). There has got to be something, I’m very curious as to why coaches don’t trust him in crucial moments, because he seems to excel outside of those from TV watcher’s eye test.

    Also, is it me, or is Stetcher started playing bigger than his height? Maybe playing against Lucic last year inspired him to biggisize (embiggen?) himself in the off season. He looks really strong on checks this year. Hutton and Pouliot looked good to.

    Even if they lost this game, I would have been happy with how they played tonight. The Sens kinda played like the canucks usually do but they got enough wins in the bank to stave off the righteous ire of the fans.

    • TheRealPB

      I love the fact that the new D stands up the opposition at the blue line way more often and jumps up into the rush. Even though they had limited minutes I agree that Stecher and also Pouliot looked great. Interesting observation about Markstrom. He seemed to be down more often than Markstrom and relied on his size to get shots going for the corners (which can be dangerous if you’ve got great shooters going against you) whereas I feel like Markstrom sort of loses his net on a regular basis. My favorite moment was still Vanek on the breakaway where his approach seemed to be “f-u stop this.”

    • According to the NHL official stats, Virtanen has a Corsi of 49.2% but a Fenwick of 38.6% (5v5). 2nd worse Fenwick on the team only to Gudbranson (38.3%). In contrast, Daniel has a team-leading Corsi/Fenwick of 60.3% / 61.9%. In his limited ice-time, Virtanen is on-ice for a lot of unblocked shot attempts while generating few shots himself. I think Virtanen needs to talk to Dorsett about how to create the biggest impact with limited ice-time.

  • defenceman factory

    Much better usage of the Sedins, under 13 minutes of ice time and very little PP. They were used effectively to eat clock in the 3rd. It is not a coincidence the Canucks look better when they play lesser role.

    Kudos to Nilsson and Burmistrov. They get their chances and delivered. Excellent adjustment to the powerplay. I like Horvat but perhaps there are players better suited to the PP. Burmistrov did well and overall the PP was quick, lots of movement and more effective.

    Like others here I can’t spot where Virtanen is deserving the 3rd period benching he is getting. He is a pretty high event player but it seems the events are mostly good. Games are definitely more fun to watch when he is in the lineup and he seems a more effective player than Gagner.

  • wojohowitz

    A big part of JV`s problem is he sometimes looks a little lost. At all times while on the ice a player has an assignment – he is suppose to be somewhere covering someone and Jake tends to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It`s part of his learning curve that I`m sure Green is working on. His play without the puck.

    Since his arrival Horvat has shown himself to be a slow starter to the season. He looks to be thinking about the long grueling schedule ahead of him instead of the here and now and for a young guy an 82 game gauntlet is a grind. He`s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders instead of enjoying himself. He`ll figure it out.

    One thing that stood out in the first period was the Canucks lack of speed. They looked to be skating in slush while the Sens were flying by. It`s one reason they are so outshot and outplayed. What saves them is their positional play – just being in the right place at the right time but it is a serious concern against the better skating teams like most in this league.

    • Break The Canuck's Curse

      Good point about Bo. It seems whenever a new challenge or burden is thrown on him he bogs down for a time. He works through it though sort of like he is eating an elephant. One bite at a time. Then one day he comes bursting out of the lunch room hungry for more

  • Missing Kes

    Remember this blowhards… every bogus win, this time from a hot goalie performance, is one less nail in the coffin of Jim Benning, and as 6000 empty seats per home game testify (over 600,000 dollars in lost revenue) – that is totally unacceptable for a franchise that had years of sustained success and sellouts under NHL GM of the year Mike Gillis and his excellent staff and teams.Tick tock Benning and apologists.

    • johnno

      Good points but you are singing to the wrong choir pal.

      None of the regulars here even go to the games so they don’t care as long as they got a game to watch for free no matter how bad it is. Realised a while ago the vast majority posting here are either sad old f@rts or friendless kid yappers in mom’s basement.

      Any true fan that actually pays to watch this joke team or see the amount of empty seats at Rogers Arena on TV would not be backing this inept management or the slugs parading around in Canucks uni’s. Would they?

      • Bettie

        My husband and I were seasons ticket holders for many years but not anymore under the current management, so reading posts like this makes us feel that we made the right decision.

        We have made our feelings known to the Canucks even when they tried to sweet talk us into renewing. The free time and money saved to enjoy other pursuits is wonderful and it appears many thousands of other former ticket buyers feel the same way.

        When Jim is gone and the product is adequately upgraded to former levels of superior entertainment we ‘may’ reconsider. Only those who actually paid thousands to support the team like us will understand our stance of course.

    • Sbisa's Pizza

      You are absolutely right!
      Let’s get Gillis off that fishing boat and back in front of this middling organization!
      The Canucks, and every other team in the NHL are missing out on this genius!
      Hopefully we can get Booth, Ballard, Lapierre, Roy, Pahlsson and Hodgson to get back on board too- this team needs some difference makers!

      Gillis is the greatest unemployed GM in the history of the game- period!!

    • TheRealPB

      Excellent points — Gillis had an outstanding last three years after the SCF and not only strengthened our core for long runs in the playoffs, but he handled our excess of goaltending talent extremely well, hired a fantastic coach, and helped to draft and develop many of the key young players to set us up for many future years of success. Why in the world was he let go in that case?

  • Freud

    Although it appears accidental, it is encouraging to see Burmistrov and Vanek do well in the counting stats.

    Here’s hoping Green continues to put them and a few other guys on expiring contracts in positions to look good so they can be flipped for futures at the deadline.