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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: City of Brotherly Love

Canucks cruise to a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers

Usually, a mid-November game in Philadelphia wouldn’t mean an awful lot for the Vancouver Canucks. Even more so now given where the Canucks are in their competitive cycle.

Consider the circumstances that followed the Canucks from Vancouver to Philadelphia and the ones that sandwich tonight’s game on the other side. Coming into tonight’s contest, Vancouver had lost four of their last five, capped off on Saturday by a 4-3 loss in overtime to the St. Louis Blues. After tonight’s contest, the Canucks face Pittsburgh (tomorrow), New Jersey, both New York teams and Nashville.

It wasn’t going to get any easier than tonight, all things being relative.

The Flyers got their licks in though. They even landed the first shot. Flyers defenceman Ivan Provorov snapped the puck from the point on a won offensive zone draw, and it careened off Canucks defenceman Alex Biega en route to the back of Vancouver’s net.

Vancouver responded in kind little over a minute later. Daniel Sedin slipped past the Flyers defence and beat Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth with a crafty deke to knot the game up at one. And on the very next shift, the Canucks scored another goal of its kind. The Flyers defence lost track of Brock Boeser in the neutral zone during a change, and Derrick Pouliot made a heads-up pass to catch him in stride with a clean pass — Boeser made no mistake, snapping the puck past Neuvirth for the go-ahead goal.

Boeser and Daniel found their way back onto the scoresheet in the second frame, this time combining on a power play goal to double the Canucks lead. Boeser was the finisher, scoring from nearly the same spot as he did on his first goal. Sven Baertschi added another power play goal late in the second, and Neuvirth was done for the night.

With Brian Elliott in the Flyers’ crease, Philadelphia was able to stop the bleeding. Philadelphia scored a second goal off Jakub Voracek’s stick, but that’s where the comeback effort ended. Loui Eriksson scored his first goal of the season into an empty net, and that was the game.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 36 of 38 Flyers shots.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • Boeser’s two goals give him 17 points in as many games. The Corsica.Hockey expected goals model had him at just 0.25 of a goal, for whatever that’s worth. Boeser had just the two shots to his credit, but he made them count. Should we expect night’s like these to repeat themselves over a prolonged sample? I’m going to say no. Who cares though? It’s god damned fun!
  • The Canucks had this game in the bag by about the halfway mark, so it could be easy to lose sight of how well Jacob Markstrom played in tonight’s game. I’m not sure I’d classify either of the two goals he surrendered as a softie. In fact, the Corsica.Hockey expected goals model had the Flyers down for 2.2 expected goals. Markstrom didn’t have to make any ten-bell saves — none that I can remember — but was solid throughout and always there to bail out the Canucks when they needed the support.
  • Derrick Pouliot had a bounce-back game for the Canucks. According to the transitional data that Darryl Keeping is kind enough to track for the Canucks community, Pouliot didn’t have a single failed exit (turnover, incomplete pass or icing) from Vancouver’s zone. The pass Pouliot made on Boeser’s first goal was great. The defensive results left a lot to be desired. Pouliot had a -12 shot share at five-on-five. I’m not going to rake him over the coals for that. Everyone on the Canucks was in the red by that lens. In fact, when you adjust for the score, Pouliot’s nearly at a 50% clip.
  • Loui Eriksson continues his roll. Since returning from a knee sprain, Eriksson has five points in six games including his first goal tonight into an empty-net. I always had faith Eriksson would bounce back. His contract isn’t necessarily awful considering he was an unrestricted free agent and what some of his comparables got, but it doesn’t suit the Canucks cycle. Because of that, I think people are all too eager to lose sight of the fact that Eriksson is still a legitimately great two-way forward. Last year, Eriksson had among the highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) ratings among Canucks forwards. All signs pointed to Eriksson being painfully unlucky. That he’s bounced back the way he has so far this season, even if the goals aren’t there just yet, indicates that was probably true.
  • The Canucks might be onto something with their new power play configurations. Both units are scoring and in bunches. They’ve converted on five of their last 12 chances over a four-game span. We, and I mean the royal we of course, were rightly harsh on Canucks assistant coach Newell Brown for his work with the power play in the early parts of the season. By all accounts, Brown is a student of the game and a tireless learner. According to one of Canucks Twitters own Sir Earl, Brown is constantly taking notes during the game. He’s putting them to good use of late. Boeser is in the right spot, finally, and there’s a good balance of talent and offsetting skills through both units.
  • Markus Granlund appears to be turning a corner. The shot contributions data that Keeping tracks suggests that Granlund was doing a lot of the legwork in getting the puck on net, whether that’s shooting the puck himself or setting his teammates up with the puck so they can. Granlund was strong in transition, too. The Canucks need scoring throughout the lineup, so the importance of getting him going can’t be understated. I’m starting to see reasons for optimism that he just might turn the corner, and I didn’t see that before two or three games ago.
    • TD

      I think it’s a combo of a great shot combined with time and space to get his best shot away. He won’t always be 2/2 on those opportunities, but he will have a high shooting percentage if he gets those types of chances.

  • Dean S

    A real solid road game by the Nucks tonight. I saw a lot of positives, Loui Eriksson, Brock Boeser reaaly stood out to me.
    I am so pleased with the Goaltending situation this year. Good Job Jim on signing the Twin Towers, and good Job Travis on using them both.

  • truthseeker

    Great way to start the road trip. A few mental gaffs and a few let downs here and there but overall they did a good job. And wouldn’t you know it…twins get a bit more ice time and have a better game. What a shock. They need more ice time…not less.

    Hopefully they can put another good game together against the Pens.

    • truthseeker

      Yeah, I’ve liked what Green has brought to the table in so many areas, but it’s obvious he’s got his own little habits that personally I think are mistakes. The Jake thing. Not playing the twins enough. The weird idea of not starting Boeser at the beginning of the year out of what seemed from the outside to be some strange idea of not wanting to make young guys feel like they were entitled or whatever it was. Who knows.

      Still though….the team is doing better than almost everyone predicted. Good on them.

          • truthseeker

            It was a stupid decision. The kid was the best player in camp. To sit him for the first two games told everyone that performance will not be rewarded on merit.

            A reminder to bring it every night huh? So is that only for rookies? Cause there were plenty of vets who didn’t bring it every night during camp. Didn’t see any of them miss the first two games.

            Making an example of a rookie simply because they are a rookie is stupid. If Green had another reason for it then fine, but from my perspective that’s what it looks like.

            I don’t care that much that he did it, but it made me wonder.

        • redrocket

          who’s to say sitting out those two games isn’t a bit of a reminder for brock to bring it every night. also green has brought jake a very long way in a short amount of time, maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt that he might know what he’s doing.

      • NastyNate

        I have to disagree with your perspective on this.. sounds like your reading a lot of botchfords articles. How can you fault Green for anything he has done so far ? The results speak for themselves, especially with Brock. The coach sat Boeser for two games to teach him that he needs to compete every night and it worked ! The team needed a succession plan for the twins and we are finally starting to see it, after like 5 years of trying. You should be thanking Green not comparing him to last years coach. Way to pick a terrible time to complain about the coach, right after a win on the back of the well rested and hungry Sedins and the take nothing for granted star rookie…

    • Ragnarok Ouroboros

      If you watched the Flyers game, you would have seen the Sedin/Sedin/Virtannen line was a tire fire defensively. I know Daniel got a goal and an assist, but the puck was in the Canucks zone a lot when they were on the ice, and the opposition picked them apart. Markstrom played fantastically, so that obscured how bad the forward line was. Look how many times Virtannen went offside, when he wasn’t paying attention to when a Sedin was going to enter the zone. Virtannen and the Sedin’s have decent offensive chances, but they are definitely mitigated by their defensive gaffes and that is why Green is benching them so much.

  • Cocomo

    Nice summary! Boeser continues his roll, and Baertschi further demonstrates an ability to get the greasy tallies. It seems that Pouliot learned from his gaffe-riddled outings against LV and SL; made the safe plays and some high percentage ones when necessary. One more detail which I would add to this article, courtesy of Pass It to Bulis:

    “Meanwhile, Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson get stick-taps for holding their own in tough minutes against the line of Claude Giroux, Sean Coutourier, and Jakub Voracek. They played over 12 minutes against that line at 5-on-5 and, though Voracek came up with a goal, Hutton and Gudbranson played well against them. Overall, the Canucks out-shot the Flyers 18-10 when Gudbranson was on the ice at 5-on-5.”

    Not to mention that Pettersson had an outstanding primary assist tonight in a losing effort to continue his streak.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      It’s funny, a lot of consistent criticism of Sven is that he’s a soft, perimeter player. I think nothing could be further from the truth: while he’s not a big bodychecker, his stickwork at both ends of the ice is nothing short of relentless, and he goes hard to the net every chance he gets. What with the prospects the team has who are a bit younger than him, he always gets kinda left out of future projections, but the guy is on pace for 31 goals and is only 25. I hope the team re-signs him and that he gets the chance to be a key part of the core for the foreseeable future.

      • bobdaley44

        It’s not the perimeter stuff so much it’s the getting pushed off the puck easy. Very useful player but if he could only get stronger on the fence and in the corners.

  • Rodeobill

    I saw some strange things tonight and this game was fun to watch. I’m glad we didn’t collapse as the momentum changed in the third. It looks like there is some good chemistry with Vanek and Bear. Also with Gaunce and Sutter, they looked like they work well together tonight. Also Eriksson and Gagner looked well. Gagner had a better game tonight I thought. I think it would be interesting If they played with the idea of Boeser with the sedins. Virtanen is fast and has some good moves, but mostly he sits in front of the net waiting to screen a shot that never comes. Boeser has a gift for shooting and getting open and I think that is why its worked well in the PP with the sedins. Might be something to play with, idk.

    • Rodeobill

      Also strange was not Boeser on the ice for the empty net for a chance at the Hat trick, Also they played JV later in the third, only up by 2! He must really be gaining the coaches trust!

      • truthseeker

        Yeah, another Green/Boeser head-scratcher. Some of the quotes the province has printed as well. It’s like he’s trying to manufacture ways to make sure Boeser gets some sort of “message” rather than just letting the kid loose on the league.

        Can you imagine if the Oilers sat Gretzky at the beginning of his career out of some irrational fear that his head might get too big or because he “seemed tired” at the end of training camp? lol. McDavid? Matthews? Liane?

        I don’t know what Green’s reasoning is for some of this stuff, but it almost seems like he thinks Boeser could be like Virtanen or something.

        Deal with any immaturity if it happens at the time. Otherwise get out of his way and let him score.

        • Cocomo

          Boeser was third in ice time among forwards (with only three seconds fewer than Granlund) and was heavily employed on the power play. I really don’t think this is a talking point anymore because clearly he has earned Green’s trust. If anything, we should be ecstatic that he put Jake out in the dying second of the game to kill off that Flyers man advantage. It looks like the rookies are all gaining favour. I’ll be the first to agree if Green makes some atrocious benching gaffe for seemingly no reason, but his deployment so far has been sound and indicative of trust. And as per Boxer himself, that honest treatment has worked, such as when Green gave him a reality check over the summer.

          • truthseeker

            I think you’re missing the over all point. Boeser is just the example I’m using. This is about his logic and philosophy of how to deal with players. He is showing double standards.

            It is true some players need to be handled differently than others. I’m not saying someone like Jake should be treated just like Brock, but someone like Jake should be given more rope when he does play well. And he has played pretty well most of the year. Yet he gets benched for small errors where as someone like Poiloit can have a colossal error ridden game like against the blues and get the same amount of ice time the next night.

            So I have to disagree. He’s been a total tight azz with Jake compared to other guys who make mistakes. I think it’s been pretty obvious too. That lack of consistency with his standards is a very strange thing in my opinion. Seems like a lot of NHL coaches do it.

        • Chris the Curmudgeon

          I think some of the late game deployments were to try to give a few guys in slumps the chance to put the puck in the net and stop “squeezing the stick” so much going forward. Eriksson and Gaunce were both looking for their first of the year, and Gagner had only one goal in his last 9 and two on the year. Hat tricks are nice but are more relevant on home ice anyways.

          I certainly don’t agree with all of the coach’s player deployment decisions, but Boeser has been getting a solid 16 minutes a night, and has been up over 18 on several occasions. That also includes 0 shorthanded time and over 3 minutes/game on the power play. Quite a bit for a guy less than 8 months removed from a college dorm. Apart from the 2 games in the press box to start the year, I think Green’s use of Boeser has been just fine.

  • TheRealPB

    Entertaining game. We were thoroughly dominated in the first and into the second despite the score. Surprisingly the two PP goals really seemed to turn the tide in the second half of the second. I say surprising because the Flyers were still way ahead in shots and chances at that point and also because the PP didn’t look as good as the results suggest. There’s way better puck movement and zone time but I cannot stand the drop passes still, especially since the Canucks telegraph them so clearly (most egregiously with the chance off Eriksson’s stick the other way). I really wish they’d stop that play. I also thought Gudbranson had an up and down game — got walked at least four times in the first half of the game but then I thought had some good initiating (as opposed to chasing) hits. Pouliot looked great (other than the time Konecny walked right through him). I thought it was Gaunce’s best game with lots of chances. I also am so impressed by Biega — he’s probably the best 7th defenseman we’ve had in a while — I’ve never really had a lot of faith in him but in the years he’s been up here he really seems to have improved his angles and he’s always had tons of heart. Glad to see Jake on the wing with the Sedins again and frankly these managed minutes make them look more effective, especially since the Sedins get some more on the PP. No offense to Dorsett but Sutter looks better without him. I thought the two blender lines are starting to gel — Gagner and Granlund are looking noticeably more effective. Getting Tanev and Stecher back will have an excellent effect down the lineup for the Canucks. I’m curious as to who comes out for Stecher. My candidate would be Hutton; I can’t imagine that Pouliot deserves to lose his spot and Gudbranson on role should stay.

    • Bud Poile

      Picked this off of the CDC PGT from ‘Sid is Sid Me is Me’ :
      “Erik Gudbranson led all Canucks skaters in on-ice CF, CF% Rel, FF, FF% Rel, SF, SF% Rel, SCF, SCF% Rel, HDCF, and HDCF% Rel.”
      I’m sure J.D. would be the first to pump his tires so he must have forgotten.Again.

  • jaybird43

    It was a fun game: I guess at this point in the rebuild, watching a *reasonably* competitive skating team win games will be so.

    Granlund’s got to get off the fourth line, he’s better than that. Let’s hope he finally converts some of the shots and shot assists. Boeser is great to watch with that elite shot. Pouliot just keeps looking like more of a steal.

    On the flip side of a backwards compliment, Gudbranson hardly fell down last night. That left him less exposed than usual. Man oh man, for a big guy, he’s unsteady on his skates or poorly positioned he usually is knocked down often. So … a good night for him.

    Nice win guys.

  • Burnabybob

    Boeser reminds me of other pure goal scorers of the past, like Brett Hull and Cam Neely. Like them, he’s got very quick hands and has a knack for subtly changing his shooting angle. Oh, and his shot is deadly accurate.

      • Killer Marmot

        I found it strange that Bossy was never offered an assistant coaching position — not even by his line mate Trottier — to teach young players how they might achieve a 21.2 % career shooting average. Perhaps people figure scoring talent is innate and can not be taught. I figure almost everything can be taught to some degree.

        • crofton

          It’s mechanics, so can be taught. In coaching clinics they do “analysis of a skill” to help improve mechanics and shooting is one of the areas they work on. At least in the clinics I attended.

  • canuckfan

    It is good to see that Green is doing his best to make sure the Sedins are going to be fresh after Christmas after this road trip expect the Canucks to have scoring from the Sedin and Granlund line as they get more ice time. Will be fun to see what happens when our top defenders are in the lineup, every win is a bonus now considering no one thought the team would be where they are. But no one should think the Flyers are a top team as they have been in a skid and good we didn’t let them get back in the win column tonight will be a different game lets see if we can beat the Penguins again.

  • Steamer

    Can you watch a game without viewing it through the lens of ‘Corsica Hockey’? What do you do when watching amateur hockey, or do you just watch ‘Corsica’?

  • Beer Can Boyd

    A team that was expected to do nothing this year, yet is 7-3 on the road, pretty exciting to watch, and been competitive all but a few nights so far? And yet there are still a whole army of so called fans on here complaining about the coach? Y’all been reading too much Botchford.

  • speering major

    Tons of positives to take away from the game last night but I have to say, Virtanen’s hockey IQ is seriously frustrating. He reads the play poorly and his creativity is missing. I really hope part of it is a confidence issue that he can break through. He’s a very strong skater with a hard shot which should make him an NHL player, but he needs to think the game if he’s going to be an asset

  • Jimjamg

    All I can say (for now) is that Green is pushing a lot of the right buttons. How can anyone criticize him at this stage? Virtanen isn’t pouting, he is playing hard every shift and if he keeps that up his minutes will start to climb. And the Sedin’s points per minute rate must be close to top of the league, so what’s the problem? If anything I think Green could rethink his overtime deployments but that format is such a crapshoot its hard to criticize. Really Green should keep up the great work, players are responding and the transition is full on.