Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

WWYDW: Goaltending Controversy

Frankly, I’ve always hated the “goaltending controversy” narrative in Vancouver. With the exception of a short blip during the Luongo-Schneider era, the Canucks have generally always had strongly defined roles when it comes to the goaltending position. But, like it or not, it’s undeniable that the tumultuous history of goaltending in Vancouver has weighed on the city’s collective psyche. That’s why Anders Nilsson turned heads with last night’s shutout performance. For what it’s worth, that’s something Jacob Markstrom has yet to accomplish in his career.

It’s a little early to call this a full-fledged controversy, but the way things have shaken out in the first few games of the season is enough to make one curious about the future of goaltending in Vancouver. That brings us to this week’s question. How would you like to see Markstrom and Nilsson split starts for the remainder of the season? Have you seen enough to feel comfortable with labeling either goalie as the starter for the rest of the season?

Last week I asked: Who would you take out of the lineup so Boeser can draw in? 


Boeser will be in Thursday. In my order of preference pull: Gagner, Vanek, Burmistrov. Consider though that Boeser needs to stay in the line up. If he is only playing 1 in three or 4 games then do the right thing and send him to Utica.


Personally I don’t think any of the forwards have looked terrible. It’s a tough call in my opinion. Eriksson hasn’t done much but he’s pretty safe defensively and doesn’t seem to cause mistakes when he’s on. Maybe Gagner I guess.


Dorsett gets my vote. Granlund – Sutter – Boeser as a line has the potential to feast on lesser competition in sheltered minutes. That seems like an ideal way for Boeser to spend husband first full season in the NHL.

Killer Marmot:

It’s a problem because the most likely candidates to sub out — Dorsett, Burmistrov, maybe Eriksson — are needed to kill penalties.
I would put Vanek, Virtanen, and Boeser on a rotation, where one player sits out every night. Vanek is in his thirties, and this would help him get through the season. Such an rotation might not last long, as injuries will turn the Canucks’ talent surplus into a deficit soon enough.
I would also have Boeser train as a penalty killer — which he played in North Dakota — to make him easier to slot into the lineup. Perhaps that’s already being done.

I am Ted:

Give that lineup a go and roll 4 lines. If Brock and Virtanen can’t get more ice then maybe both of them should spend the first half of the season in Utica. THen Benning can make deals and open up room in December/January which will get them back.


The problem with taking anyone out is that they’re either a vet and that never goes over well, or a rookie whose confidence gets dinged.
Ideally, Green would switch a top six guy out and put Boeser in seamlessly. Realistically it’s likely better to pull either Jake or DD and both those create issues.
The guy they should pull is Vanek but that’s going to be contentious this early on so likely Brock won’t get into the line-up until someone gets ‘Borcked’ (likely a groin issue).

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  • crofton

    Frankly I’m sick and tired of some feeling it’s necessary to say ” goal tending controversy” just because one plays well and one doesn’t. Give it a rest ffs, stop posting click bait and find something worthwhile to write about, either positive or negative but stop inventing stories

    • Jackson McDonald

      >Frankly, I’ve always hated the “goaltending controversy” narrative in Vancouver. With the exception of a short blip during the Luongo-Schneider era, the Canucks have generally always had strongly defined roles when it comes to the goaltending position. But, like it or not, it’s undeniable that the tumultuous history of goaltending in Vancouver has weighed on the city’s collective psyche.

        • Jackson McDonald

          Did you follow the team before the lockout? Kay Whitmore is top-10 goalie all time for the Canucks in wins. It’s literally been called the “goalie graveyard”.

          This isn’t just some thing I invented.

      • Bud Poile

        Over the entire franchise’s history there has only been a handful of goaltenders that put the team on their back during the postseason.
        That fact highlights those successful runs the team has made and distinguishes the goalies that made those runs at the cup.
        There’s less of a tumultuous history and more of a rare Canucks goaltender capable of firing up the collective psyche.

      • Doodly Doot

        Hating the “goaltending controversy” narrative in Van, and then pandering for clickbait by dragging out that dead horse yet again for another good beating, sure. It comes across as either desperate or bored… or both. Check out some of the thoughtful comments below for some insight and inspiration. What IS undeniable is that the media flu-dream of a tumultuous history of goaltending in Vancouver has become nothing more than the noise of flatulence.

  • TheRealRusty

    Why does everything have to be a controversy? The facts are that neither of them have proven themselves to be a number one starter. Why can’t both goaltenders play in tandem based on who has the hotter hand?

  • Killer Marmot

    I would have Markstrom and Nilsson alternate until the new year. That should be long enough to let the better goalie reveal himself, who I would then give the majority of starts. And if neither goalie is clearly better, keep alternating. That way, neither goaltender gets worn down.

  • A “controversy” is defined as a disagreement which is typically prolonged, public, and heated. I find that discussion about “Markstrom vs. Nilsson” to be none of the above. If anything, it’s “Markstrom vs. Who?”

  • valleycanuck

    If I was answering this question before the season began I would have leaned towards a 60/40 split in Nilsson’s favour. The start of this season obviously hasn’t changed my mind. Neither Buffalo nor Vancouver had overly strong teams last year, and Nilsson’s numbers were superior to Markstrom’s individually. If I remember correctly, a slightly deeper dive revealed that Nilsson actually put together quite an impressive season considering the team in front of him. High-danger save percentage, and a few other underlying metrics had painted quite a flattering light on his season. After his first game of this season I’d like to see him given an extended chance to run with it, contracts be damned.

  • Jabs

    The Canucks gave Nilsson 2.5 million per year to play which is a lot more than backup money. They expect him to play a lot and whoever has the hot hand should get the starts…….No controversy there, just straight forward coaching

  • RIP

    Call it what it actually is: Golatending competition. Which is quite frankly the best way to get 2 bubble 1B starters to really improve. Next game is Nilsson then go from here. The mantra should be pull from the well until the well runs dry. I.e. Let them lose the right to start the following game.

  • Dirty30

    Maelstrom got his chance with mixed results (stating the obvious here) and Nuke’em Nilsson stops’em dead. So you run with the latter until he drops the ball and then put Maelstrom back in. If he’s hot, run with him — if not, Nilsson goes in … you switch until one gets hot and ride him until he’s not.

  • Dean S

    A very nice situation to be in with 2 supersized NHL goaltenders who are both GREAT team mates.
    Goaltending is one area that the Nucks are well set. With Demko in the future, when hes ready (no need to rush him). I was extremely pleased when JB signed Nilsson. I like Markstrom a lot too.

  • Dean S

    Look at the situation in EDM, a very inconsistent starter who’s always been.. hot, cold, flip a coin. Gave up 7 vs the Sharks, pulled against the Ducks, and gave up 3 in 5 mins to blow a game. Their young backup probably wouldn’t be a backup on 25 of the other teams in the league. Now what do you do?
    Nilsson and Markstrom are a great tandem.

  • Holly Wood

    Nilsson has certainly earned the next start, either one could go on a hot streak. It’s a long season so barring injuries I suspect we will see 40 or so starts each

  • apr

    So long as Pratt and Botchford remain prominent in the local media to drive up ratings, this market will always have goaltending controversy, regardless who is playing for the Canucks, in the AHL, or a drafted goalie playing in the juniors. Cripes, I think Pratt even started a poll in TSN twitter if the Nucks should bring Lou back. I mean, what avid Nucks fan even thinks about that without being prompted by the media??

    • Rodeobill

      I am surprised at the depth of insight in most commentors here. How this conversation gets framed by the media comes to influence the manner in which most people discuss and think about it, but yet in this comments section people show the foresight to not accept the way this conversation is framed and instead, offer a more adequate one (ie, healthy competition between friends- mutually encouraging vs. controversy- or having a sense of being at odds with each other)
      I am becoming a fan of canucks fans today.

  • truthseeker

    “Goal tending controversy”: Phrase or concept used by the vancouver province sports department (in particular Botchford) to stir up emotions in the canucks fan base, but more importantly to generate clicks on their website.

    Has very little to do with any objective reality.

  • Cageyvet

    I’m also unable to see a controversy when neither player has established themselves in the league as a starter. Markstrom may have begun the season as the de facto starter, but it was always clear that Nilsson had a similar resume and potential, and signed here due to the opportunity he would be afforded to compete for the job.

    At this early stage it’s definitely too soon to discuss any sort of controversy, and while the sample size is small for both, it’s minuscule for Nilsson. In my world he’s a guarantee to start the next game, I question any coach who doesn’t give the next game to a goalie who just recorded a shutout, barring a truly compelling reason. Let’s see at least another couple of games out of Nilsson, and at least one more chance for Markstrom to rise to the challenge, before we start making comparisons.

  • A Loudmouthed Idiot

    Nillson has always been a promising goalie. As I recall, he had the Oilers in good position one recent spring until it all came crashing down for him. Getting a shutout in his first game is very nice, but I believe both Johan Hedberg and Mike Fountain did it in Canucks history, so it’s no guarantee. At this stage, they should keep it an open competition. I expect it will end with the Canucks having a goalie platoon this season.