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Canucks Army Postgame: The Brock Star keeps on rolling

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

After hearing it in the broadcast, though, I’m not changing the title. You can’t make me.

FINAL SCORE: VANCOUVER CANUCKS 5, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 2

THE RUNDOWN

The Canucks came into their Wednesday night game against the Pittsburgh Penguins hoping to win two straight for the first time in November, riding a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers from Tuesday.

The expectation was that Pittsburgh was going to be able to get the jump out of the gate, with Vancouver both on the road and playing a back-to-back – but instead, sharp offense and stellar goaltending helped the Canucks coast to their second 5-2 finish in as many nights.

Scoring opened up with none other than ‘Brock Star’ Boeser, who cleanly beat Murray short side after Sven Baertschi capitalized on a clear down by Anders Nilsson. It would be his first of two goals on the night, bringing him to 11 on the year – and now 21 points in 19 games, good for the scoring lead by a whopping four points (despite holding three games in hand on his teammates).

Jake Guentzel followed up with a power-play goal of his own just three minutes later, capitalizing on a bouncing rebound from his own shot during Pittsburgh’s power-play. The Penguins wouldn’t maintain their lead, though, as Loui Eriksson finally scored another goal on the season two minutes later.

For the rest of the game, Pittsburgh would chase Vancouver; Derrick Pouliot would score his first goal of the season for Pittsburgh Vancouver on a second-period power play, then Boeser would fire one from the point to make it 4-1 heading into the final frame:

Guentzel would get his own second of the game to kick off the third period, converting on one of Vancouver’s three unanswered penalties during the final 20 minutes – but with a Brandon Sutter empty-netter at 18:40, the game was over.

OBSERVATIONS

For starters: I’m not entirely sure what the reasoning is, but Matt Murray looks decidedly human this year.

His flaws have always been there, but they’re exacerbated this year; his angles are off, he misplays his depth, and he can get caught unaware when allowing a rebound. I’m not sure if the departure of goaltending coach Mike Bales was a contributing factor, or if he just had luck on his side in years past – but I have yet to be overly impressed with him this year, and tonight was no different.

On the other end of the ice, though, Nilsson has been a lot of fun to watch. I’m always happy to eat my words when a goaltender proves me wrong, and Nilsson has been doing that in spades; his overactive play from Edmonton and the Islanders a few years prior seems to be all but completely gone, and he looks arguably better than Jacob Markstrom.

What really set Nilsson and Murray apart, though, was that neither had a particularly easy time of it tonight. Murray faced 37 shots on goal, while Nilsson faced 45; with neither getting particularly stellar defense from their blue line corps, the fact that Nilsson came out on top spoke volumes.

Obviously, huge accolades to Brock Boeser for having a monstrous game, but quiet nod to Derrick Pouliot. Not only did he get the most surprising tribute video in his return to PPG Paints Arena (I mean, what exactly did he do there, other than skate with a two-time cup-winning team for a whopping 67 regular season games over three years?), but he also got his first goal of the season against his old club. If you can’t keep up with them, score against them. Or something.

NUMBERS

To be fair, this was the back leg of a back-to-back on the road.

But after coming out of the gate so strong, Vancouver really tapered towards the end of the game. Between their slew of late-game penalties and their lagging possession, there’s still room to fix things.

(Not, though, with Brock Boeser’s game. He was clearly perfect.)

  • Damn good hockey game if I may say so myself.

    Canucks start this six game road trip 2 – 0 – 0. That’s excellent. Also, it looks like Eriksson is finding his game. Nilsson played well. Brock is wow, just WOW! Canucks are playing good hockey.

    Hope Gudbranson is ok. I wonder if NHL teams are scouting him, or another of our defensemen. Let the rumors fly.

  • TheRealPB

    Thanks for the writeup Cat — clearly from someone who watched the game…If Gudbranson is hurt it would seem like the right time for Stecher and Tanev to draw back in or Tanev and Holm if Stecher isn’t quite ready. Continue to prefer Gaunce over Dorsett and those two 3rd (4th?) lines are starting to look a bit better with Gagner with Sutter and Gaunce and more so Vanek with Granlund and Eriksson. I love how effective Vanek is against all odds. Not terribly fast, weird skating, but he just seems like a grumpy effective guy out there. PP has looked monumentally better the past two games — even on the short opportunity in the third they had some real chances (that pass by Daniel to Horvat was a thing of beauty and I thought Murray actually made some decent saves in the third to keep it close). Hard not to see this road trip as already something of a success. Nilsson deserves to split the three starts based on his play.

    • surreal78

      Love the synopsis of Vanek’s game. Grumpy yet effective is dead-on. Dude picks his moments but they all seem to be perfectly timed. Love his attitude in interviews. Don’t mind that signing at all, and he’ll make some team a helluva playoff addition at the trade deadline. 🙃

  • Rodeobill

    Markstrom seems the more dynamic and athletic of the 2, But Nillson is big in the net and always in the right spot. Pens pressed the play button coming into the third, in years past it seemed like going into the third with a lead just gave you 50/50 odds of a win, but this year we seem to manage a way to bear down.

    Also, I wonder if the oil will just go full tank after the play offs look out of the question. Could you imagine if they had a healthy Tanev on the roster? I love the fact that having the best players in the league does not alone guarantee wins in hockey. Such a dynamic and complex sport that relies on so many factors (like teamwork and chemistry).

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    The games under Green have been so much more entertaining then they were under Willie. Even when the Canucks lose they have been fun to watch. I really enjoyed this game, and Brock is the most exciting sniper since Naslund and Bure.

    • jaybird43

      I’m an early fan of Green’s works to date to be sure; and not of Willie’s coaching. But in Willie’s defence, he had an especially poor, shallow and weak team to work with, particularly last year. Let’s not all forget that JB has managed (well managed, I say!) to give TG a deeper, better, team to work, this year.

      Anyway, another entertaining game; a win, and thus keeping my preseason prediction of a “scrappy just below the line playoff contender” looking reasonable. YAY!

      • Ragnarok Ouroboros

        I’m not sure I agree. If Willie was still here he would still be playing Megna and Chaput and giving them top line minutes. The only significant add the Canucks made this year are Vanik and Boeser (though Boeser is a huge piece).

        • jaybird43

          Well, remember that it’s the GM that calls the players up, not the coach. Great scene in Moneyball movie with Brad Pitt playing GM Billy Beane, “discussing” this issue with his coach. Anybody remember that part? It was great …

  • canuckfan

    Every year we will progress as new players, draft picks or free agents, are added to the line up. Sutter is being played to his strength which is defense rather than expected to be one of the offensive stars on the team. With the quality veterans on the team the younger players are learning what it takes to win. If they are fortunate enough to make the playoffs lessons will be learned including the coach. I can just imagine how hard Bo will be to play against if we make the playoffs he in my opinion was our best player when we lost to Calgary in the first round. He has that drive to go harder each shift and will be unstoppable and more valuable than having Kessler in the playoffs.
    If the Canucks are still in the mix for a playoff spot at the all star break expect the team to be lead by the Sedins they will be fresh and determined to get into the playoffs and will put the team on their back, and having the ability to score from more than one line will make the Canucks a hard team to play against.
    This is a fun ride enjoying every minute of it the rest of the season won’t be as grueling as the beginning and with Sedins healthy and fresh could get even more exciting as their leadership will kick in. Once Danny gets his 1000th point they will turn to working on Jake and turning him into the player he needs to be.

    • jaybird43

      While I like Horvat, I doubt he’ll be as good as Kessler. I’d certainly like it to be true, but I think that’s a little too hopeful. Didn’t Kes also win a Selke trophy?

  • DJ_44

    Great game. I really like Gaunce with Sutter and Gagner. Together, they must have had 7 or 8 scoring chances.

    The Eriksson-Granlund-Vanek line is starting to gel. Say what you want about his contract, he is a very, very good player and has no real holes in his game (like I said, top 6 forward on any team). Vanek played well but seems to be fighting the puck a bit. If he gets going, then the Canucks will continue to score.

    As for this:

    For starters: I’m not entirely sure what the reasoning is, but Matt Murray looks decidedly human this year.
    His flaws have always been there, but they’re exacerbated this year; his angles are off, he misplays his depth, and he can get caught unaware when allowing a rebound. I’m not sure if the departure of goaltending coach Mike Bales was a contributing factor, or if he just had luck on his side in years past – but I have yet to be overly impressed with him this year, and tonight was no different.

    I have no idea why this was included. Murray was the only reason Pittsburgh was not embarrassed on the scoreboard. Which Canuck’s goal was his fault? Boeser’s snips? A shot off a defender and in? The rebound after stoning Vanek on a breakaway? I mean, he shut the door in the third; robbed Boeser of his hat-trick, had two unbelievable saves on Gaunce and faced what, 38 shots himself.

    • Locust

      Gaunce couldn’t score in a brothel. He needs to contribute on the actual score sheet or unfortunately, his days will be numbered. He played well but needs to finish.

    • Ragnarok Ouroboros

      Gaunce is a definite upgrade on Dorsett. The poor guy has been incredibly snake bitten in the goal department but he is getting Grade A chances. Eventually, he will start cashing in on his chances.

  • apr

    Its not in the stat sheet, and JD can’t spreadsheet it – but Brock, from all accounts, just seems to be a great person. And he’s ours. And that fn’ shot. Robin Hood.

  • TK Smith

    Cat, is your suspension over all ready? That seemed fast. I see that you have heeded JD’s warning to watch the game and then write the recap. Putting a quote from the broadcast in the headline to prove to JD that you actually saw the game on TV is probably a bit of over compensating, but what ever it takes to get paid, eh? Your shameless claim to be a goaltending expert is not helped when you produce a couple of paragraphs criticizing Matt Murray’s performance. He didn’t play as well as Nilsson so you take the opportunity to name three flaws of which none contributed to any Canuck goals. The more you write about goaltending the more suspect that part of resume becomes.

    Your snark is intact after your forced rest, so I guess some things will never change. A quiet nod back handed swipe at Pouliot because the Penquins gave him some recognition is gratuitous at best and just a cheap shot at worse. A direct misrepresentation that Canucks had a slew of late-game penalties is typical for you. Late in the game is the last 10 minutes of third period and the Canucks had one penalty at 10:24 which was nullified 89 seconds later when Hornquist’s penalty made it 4 on 4.

    I was hoping that your enforced rest in Phoenix would help you see that the Coyotes development department was in dire need of improvement and you would devote all of your time to that task. You certainly add nothing worthwhile to the hockey discussion in Vancouver.

    • Ragnarok Ouroboros

      Wow. Your comments are patronizing, condescending, and misogynistic. I think your attack on this person is unwarranted and excessive. If you don’t like her articles then don’t read them, otherwise I think everyone would appreciate you keeping your comments to yourself.