Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: Jacob Markstrom Shutout

In career game 129, Jacob Markstrom finally earned the first shutout of his NHL career. It’s been a long journey. This season is Markstrom’s fourth with 20 or more starts, which says nothing of the spot duty he provided in the other four.

That doesn’t matter anymore. Markstrom broke the hex, and he’ll never have to field another question from TSN’s Jeff Paterson about a shutout-less start to his career.

In retrospect, this should’ve seemed likely — no, inevitable — from the beginning. That first period was some kind of ugly. The prospect of another like it was torturous for the brave (or stupid) few with a constitution strong enough to survive it without catching some zees.

The visiting Carolina Hurricanes out-shot the Canucks 12-3 in those first 20 minutes. The website www.NaturalStatTrick.com tracks scoring chances, though, and only accounted for two in the first period, both owing to the Hurricanes. Even that number seems generous.

It wasn’t until the middle frame that the Canucks found their legs. And with two engaged participants; we had ourselves a hockey game.

Derrick Pouliot started the party, gliding through the neutral zone before taking the space Hurricanes defender Haydn Fleury afforded him as he entered the zone, and placed a shot post-and-in for the opening score. Pouliot was just getting started.

About ten minutes later, the Canucks second-unit power play connected to double their lead. Thomas Vanek provided the screen and the deflection on a Sam Gagner setup on a play Pouliot started.

Nikolay Goldobin provided the insurance in the third period, sending his own rebound home on a Pouliot setup, and the Canucks coasted to the 3-0 victory. Markstrom, grinning from ear to ear as the final horn sounded, was mugged affectionately by his teammates and carried that grin right through to the first star announcement.

Markstrom stopped all 30 of the Canes shots. His counterpart Scott Darling was far less successful, stopping only 19 of the Canucks 22 attempts.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • If one was to look solely at the shot clock, they might leave with the impression that the Canucks played poorly and got away with one tonight. That’s hardly the case, though. Firstly, the gap between the Canucks and Canes shrinks, if only slightly, when one runs score adjustments on all the five-on-five shot attempts. When you look at the scoring chances according to NaturalStatTrick, they’re about even, whether by the normal or high-danger variety. Just looking at the shot plot, it’s fairly clear the Canucks did a good job of limiting the Hurricanes.
  • How about Derrick Pouliot? There’s no way he’s leaving this lineup when Erik Gudbranson is healthy (whether anyone should is a question worth asking, really). It’s not just that Pouliot is good. It’s what he’s good at that matters in this instance. Pouliot is probably one of the best Canucks defenceman in transition, and he’s definitely their best in the offensive zone. Tonight those skills were on full display. Pouliot’s goal was created by the speed he generated through the neutral zone; his secondary assist by manipulating the penalty killers to create passing lanes. It’s not going to be like this every game. Sometimes Pittsburgh Pouliot is going to make an appearance, and the Canucks are going to have to learn to live with those mistakes and gaffes as they occur. Nights like these are always going to outweigh those moments. And even when he’s not scoring, Pouliot brings things that this team needs from the back-end that aren’t otherwise available to them.

  • Bo Horvat left tonight’s game late in the third period after taking a hit in the Canes zone and catching a divot in the ice that tweaked something. Horvat didn’t return to tonight’s game. According to Travis Green, it was a “small injury” though, and it doesn’t sound serious. Hopefully, Green’s optimism is warranted. This team can’t go without Horvat for long and keep this up.

  • Jacob Markstrom got a shutout! Jacob Markstrom got his first career shutout! I’m honestly really happy for the guy. I don’t know — I’m an empath and seeing others as happy as Markstrom evidently was after earning his first shutout victory was contagious as all hell. I know I’ve mentioned it a hundred times before in this recap, but would the comments section have really let me get away with it if I didn’t give him some love in the quick hits section, too?
  • Brendan Gaunce played a lot tonight. His 16.3 minutes at five-on-five led all Canucks forwards. I thought Gaunce would get a fair shake when Green got the Canucks coaching job, but I didn’t expect this level of commitment. If we want to look at tonight’s game in isolation, he was certainly one of the Canucks best forwards. Gaunce was active on the forecheck, threw the body and even had a couple good chances. His two-way results weren’t great, but the same goes for most Canucks tonight. He hasn’t scored yet, but in a world where Markstrom can blank the opposition, I want to believe that Gaunce has a chance at lighting the lamp. Maybe that’s the next milestone of the Canucks season?
  • So, there wasn’t a post-game report for the Canucks game on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. I’ve heard about it in every article I’ve written, and some I haven’t, since. I get it — the expectation is CanucksArmy will have a recap for every game, and save that game we’re 27 of 28 on the year. All in all, we’re doing a pretty good job, I’d say. By that same token, I will still apologize for not having one on Saturday for the sole reason that I said I would do one on the CanucksArmy Twitter. I always try to have a recap up. Saturday was just tough for me timing wise. I had the Nation Network Radio show to do, and we did a great job recapping the night’s action there, I thought. By the time I made it home, it was 11 and my girlfriend had people over. I get what the expectations are; I apologize for not having a recap live on Saturday. I’d also ask for a little understanding on this front, rather than berating me for not having a recap live for one of the season’s games.
  • TD

    JD, I gave you a cheer in the cheers and jeers comments and now this. Did you watch the game? Pouliot didn’t have a primary assist, both were secondary and neither was a great play by Pouliot. That’s not being critical of Pouliot as I thought he played a great game and deserved the second star (probably first if Markstrom didn’t get his first shutout). His first assist was a simple d to d pass that Gagner made a nice play setting up Vanek for the deflection. He did not get the primary assist on the Goldobin goal, Horvat did. The puck came to Pouliot on the point and he dumped it into the corner. It was a safe and smart play. Horvat went into the corner and got the puck. He made several nice moves before finding the curling Goldobin with a really nice pass that led to the goal. The commentators talked about what a great play Horvat made and showed the highlight of Horvat working in the corner several times. You couldn’t have watched the goal or even the highlights and missed that. Did the box score you read have the primary and secondary assists out of order on the Horvat goal?

    • J.D. Burke

      You know what? It was just honestly a poor recollection of the events. Sometimes you get so focused on digging deep for underlying information, you miss blatantly obvious stuff like that. That, and it’s late and I’ve been working since about 8AM. Made an amendment to the article — good catch.

    • J.D. Burke

      I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t normally apologize (we’ve missed two games since I joined this website), but I logged into the CanucksArmy Twitter account to let people know that it would go live, but just a little bit later than usual. So, I owed an apology for making a promise I couldn’t deliver on.

  • Vchiu

    I was super happy for Markstrom as well. Markstrom/canucks could pretend publicly all they want that stat wasn’t important but it sure as hell was. Gotta be a relief for him and everyone to get that first shutout.

    The acknowledgement of the missed post-game is more than enough. It’s a free site, I sure as well don’t watch every game.

  • Flying V

    First of all, I’m so glad that Markstrom got his shutout. Now the media can relax and move on to a real story. The guy was just plain unlucky, he is certainly a good enough goalie to have had a SO by this point in his career. Next!
    Now, Pouliot has got something going. First was that very slick little move that led to his goal on a great shot. Second, his next shift or so, he starts making these great little plays at the offensive blue line that just oozed confidence. You can’t teach skill and creativity, and you could certainly see why Pouliot was such a top prospect. Boy could the Canucks use a D man with some hands. I’m cautiously optomistic.

  • defenceman factory

    A lot of positives tonight beyond the play of Markstrom. Three wins in a row, an amazing 2nd period resurgence, good defensive play and Goldobin’s 1st of the year. Virtanen’s play continues to get better. He still seems to not see the game sometimes but he made some rather creative passes tonight. Unfortunately his line mates didn’t capitalize. He was actually pretty good in his own end, threw some good hits, strong on the boards, used his size well to control the puck down low and generated some good scoring chances with his speed. He is usually one of the top in shots and for carried in zone entries. He was again tonight.

    I don’t hate Sutter’s game but I’m not a fan either. Finding him a roster spot poses some interesting questions. Does Granlund need to sit a game to spark him up? Is Sutter as good defensively as Gaunce with a bit more offensive upside? Has Gagner done enough of anything to keep his spot? Don’t think anyone else should be in the conversation.

  • Bud Poile

    Pouliot has little to do with Gudbranson.
    The Canucks must utilise Guddy by showcasing him.
    Another LHD can come out and sit for Pouliot,notably Hutton.
    Successful leaders delegate effectively.

        • jaybird43

          I agree the game plan for Jake (without the Sedins) is to take it to the net and shoot. The coaches should council that for Jake and make sure that the second Canuck in goes hard towards the net for what seems like an inevitable rebound … I think Jake would get a few more goals that way (second player “distraction”) and a lot more assists as the uncontrolled rebound careens back out …

  • Killer Marmot

    The first period was uuuggggally.

    When the Canucks are under pressure in their own end, they have a tendency to panic, dumping the puck out or trying to make long cross-ice passes that get intercepted, thereby handing the puck back to the opposition.

    They need to make short, crisp passes and retain possession.

  • DJ_44

    I agree with JD’s assessment of Gaunce. In fact, I may be even more bullish on his play. The Gaunce-Granlund-Virtanen line has looked good; work, defensively responsible, energy and chances.

    Hutton is the obvious candidate to sit when Guddy comes back.
    Pouliot – Gudbranson
    MDZ – Stetcher

    I also like how Gagner has played centering Baer and Vanek, although man alive, I wish he was harder on the puck in his own zone.
    Cheers for the recap, JD.

  • TheRealPB

    I think you’d have done yourself a favor just by saying you couldn’t get the recap done because you were busy. It is a completely legitimate reason. You – and CA – don’t owe us anonymous readers the free content, but I do think you owe the courtesy of an explanation, even if just a brief one. Given that this site only functions if you get readership, I think it’s fair to have some responsibility to it. Again, that’s completely legit reason not to do a post-game, it just felt somewhat childish not to even acknowledge that it happened, even as you were posting 10 other articles two days later. And you realize that people were mostly mad because they wanted to gloat about a win over one of our most hated rivals, right?

    As for yesterday’s game, that was pretty poor all around — so sloppy in the first especially. But I never really felt that Carolina threatened too much and Markstrom only had to make a couple of great saves (that one in the slot especially). For all the criticism of the Virtanen pick, it was a good reminder that Hayden Fleury also went (directly) before Nylander and Ehlers (who I still think was the second best pick of that whole draft after Eklbad and ahead of Draisatl, Reinhart and Bennett, so that’s 7 other GMs I think missed not just Benning). Speaking of Virtanen, I love his unleashing the last three games or so. This is what he should do, just skate straight ahead with abandon, throw random hits without being out of position and shots, shots, shots. That’s how he’ll be most effective and overall I think that line has looked great (and was out there late in the game more and more). And Gaunce is slowly winning me over — he’s big, faster than I remember, a pretty relentless worker, and seems to be getting more creative (though still with hands of stone). Conversely, I have not been terribly impressed with Goldobin (though both the goal and assist have been impressive). Mostly it’s because he makes some really dumb and weak plays in his own zone — in each game I’ve seen him cause major troubles by trying little back passes in his own zone. That’s fine if you’re losing the puck down at the other end doing that but not so much when you need to clear it out. I still don’t know that he looks ready to be up here.

    When Gudbranson comes back if we’re going on merit then MDZ should sit. The Canucks transition game is miles better with Stetcher and Pouliot back there, Hutton has played much better, Tanev is as steady as ever, and Edler looks to me to be the best he has in a number of years. MDZ has slowly regressed through the season and should be sat.

  • Steamer

    Ok, you get the mulligan for Sat – but still trying to wrap my brain around your hallucinatory suggestion of trading Hutton AND Gadjovich for Sam Reinhardt.!? Maybe you took a hit the coaching staff missed? Maybe Guddy for Reinhardt, straight up?

    • Dirk22

      You’re so off on this and severely underestimating Reinhart. I think JD is too.

      Reinhart put up 47 points last year as a 20 year old center. Bo Horvat had 52 points as a 21 year old. And don’t start getting into defensive roles as we know Horvat struggles with that. Not saying Reinhart’s better but they seem to be in the same ballpark.

      • apr

        I would have some serious concerns about Reinhart if Buffalo is willing to trade such a productive 20 year old center. teams just don’t do that – and I don’t think that Reinhart is Tyler Seguin part 2. The only prospect untouchables are EP, Lind, Gadjovich, Demko, and the Nucks should not be trading their 1st or 2nd round picks. If you can build a trade around Dipietro and Hutton, sure – but I understand Steamer’s hesitation on not parting with Gadjovich.

  • RIP

    Great post game thank you. I think we need to start looking at Ben Hutton taking a few games off. I am not sure if it is fatigue or just he is not up to snuff with his game yet but he is a liability out there. I would take Biega over Hutton last night without question. I have been patient watching him this year and last, but he either needs time off or a wake up call. Not that Biega is a long term solution for our L D-man but short term something needs to change with Hutton’s game, maybe Holm takes over the spot eventually, hearing very good things out of Utica on him.

  • JarkkoRuutu

    Skinner seemed choked, like he didn’t know they’d be playing full contact! Props to JV18 for helping the team get under the skin of a top line player…

  • Canuck4Life20

    I’ve criticized this site a lot lately, but in all honesty I think JD is just trying to take too much on. What this site needs is a dedicated post-game writer or maybe someone who can sub in when necessary. There’s a few posters on here that could do a great job I think.

  • Burnabybob

    Pouliot reminds me a little of Jyrki Lumme, who was a mainstay on the Canucks defense in the ’90’s and part of the team that went to the final in 1994. Not a dominant all-round defenseman, but good at the transition game, a nice playmaker and passer, and a good shooter. If he slots into their top four, he will be like found money.

    Nice write up. Thanks, JD!

  • Spiel

    Carolina strikes me as the Canucks Army dream team.

    Plenty of young “skilled” (re: european or under 6ft) forwards – check!
    First in shot attempts and shot attempts % – check!
    Missing the playoffs again?

  • Nice win. Slow start, great finish. I’m happy for Markstrom.

    Jake Virtanen laid out some good hits. That’s how he needs to play every game.

    I think Travis Green deserves much credit. He faced and adjusted well to multiple adverse situations. Take Injuries to Tanev, Stecher, and Gudbranson. All three right shot defensemen. Both Dorsett and Gudbranson play a heavy game. Both are out. He introduced a new defenseman, Pouliot. That’s a lot of change and adjustment going on to make that work.
    I think Travis Green is doing an excellent job.