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Canucks Army Postgame: Not even the Brock Star is safe

The injury bug. Let’s talk about him for a second.

Every year, there’s an NHL team that just seems to almost get laughably hurt. It’s obviously not funny to watch player after player go down with injury, but there seems to be nothing to do BUT laugh – if the fans think about it too hard, they may cry instead.

This year, the award has to go to the Anaheim Ducks; they’ve lost so many costly players that they’re sinking $300-$400 THOUSAND in lost salary every single night. The Canucks, on the other hand, haven’t seen a player miss the entire season so far (although at this point, Derek Dorsett falls under that category moving forward).

Still, it’s hard to ignore; the Canucks, once again, just can’t seem to stay consistently healthy. The injury bug doesn’t paralyze them, but it knocks them down, little by little, as the season goes on.

Fingers crossed for a speedy Brock Boeser return.

FINAL SCORE: CALGARY FLAMES 6, VANCOUVER CANUCKS 1

THE RUNDOWN

FIRST PERIOD

The game didn’t start off too bad for the Canucks, all things considered.

The Flames held the edge in shot attempts, putting the puck at the net from the get-go with a pair of blocked shots in the first few seconds of the game.

The Canucks held their own, though, delivering a few big hits and finding their way to Flames starter David Rittich on a few occasions before the Flames opened up scoring six minutes in.

The workhorse line of Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, and Garnet Hathaway made their presence known when Bennett fed Jankowski off a solid backhand right to the front of the net, where Jankowski quickly slipped the puck past a partially-screened Jacob Markstrom to get things going.

The Canucks wouldn’t manage to answer with a goal of their own, but the team did manage to get a few solid looks towards the later half of the period. They went into intermission optimistic, if trailing by a goal.

Then… well, then the thing happened.

SECOND PERIOD

The period started out poorly, when Brock Boeser took a shot off of his left foot from Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.

I know that hockey players are tough and gritty and we don’t pity them, but I physically felt pain watching Boeser crawl/drag himself over to the bench while the play continued. The only time this year I’ve cringed more was when Luongo was injured earlier this month, and you could hear him screaming on the broadcast as he lay in the net.

Before Boeser went down, the Canucks had looked like they, at the very least, were still in the game. They’d only been outshot 9-7 in the first, and were down by a perfectly respectable score of 1-0.

After that, things more or less flew off the rails.

The Flames would outshoot the Canucks 10-6 in the second period, scoring four more goals to chase Jacob Markstrom with a .737 save percentage and just 14 saves on 19 shots. They’d get two goals from Giordano (just rubbing salt in the wound of losing Boeser, if you ask me) and one apiece from Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett, with Bennett and Jankowski putting up three points apiece through the first two periods (Bennett would end the night with four points, grabbing an assist on the Micheal Ferland powerplay goal in the third as well).

THIRD PERIOD

Is this one even worth talking about?

As the game progressed, the Canucks got progressively worse, while the Flames got progressively better.

Every time I point out that the Canucks fall off a cliff in shots in the third period of games they win, I get bombarded with angry reminders about score effects. I know: they exist. And they tend to really stand out the bigger a team’s lead – up to a certain point, of course, after which it becomes apparent that the lead is because one team is mercilessly thrashing the other.

By the third period, the Canucks only recorded four shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, while the Flames – who entered the third up 5-0 – took a ridiculous 19 recorded shots on Anders Nilsson before the frame ended.

Let’s give him credit, though. He most definitely deserves it.

Of those 19 shots, Nilsson allowed just one, when Micheal Ferland capitalized on a rebound in front of the net to pot his 13th of the year with just under nine minutes left in the game.

The rest of the period, he was busy doing stuff like this:

Nikolay Goldobin had a couple of seemingly good looks towards the end of the period, but he just couldn’t finish (possibly because the Flames had a rock-solid defense and he had little in the way of offensive support). If that period is any indication of what the team will look like without both Boeser and Bo Horvat, the team may as well buy both Nilsson and Markstrom large bottles of scotch for Christmas in advance.

One Canuck did manage to score in the final frame, though: we can’t forget about Markus Granlund’s lone goal, which brings him to seven on the season (and counting).

Six minutes into the third, the Sedin line found themselves in a scrum battling for the puck along the boards behind the goal line, sending it out to Alex Edler to set up a centering pass to Granlund in front of Flames goaltender David Rittich.

Granlund’s first shot went off the top post, but rebounded nicely to his left for an easy rebound shot past Rittich high on his blocker side. Whatever he’s been doing over the last few games, he needs to keep doing it; he now has three goals in his last two games, nearly doubling his scoring total coming into the weekend.

His tally wouldn’t be enough to help the team, though, and a whopping four total shots in the period would make it all too easy for the Flames to skate away with a big win.

OBSERVATIONS

  • As mentioned at the start, the Canucks really can’t seem to catch a break this year. First, they lost Dorsett for good, then Bo Horvat went down with a broken ankle. Now, this. The team has no update on Boeser yet, but it doesn’t look good either; expect, at the very least, him to miss games with a bone bruise. At worst, he could be out with a broken foot, which means weeks – if not months – of recovery time.
  • The final period was the first time this year that we’ve seen what this team looks like without either Brock Boeser or Bo Horvat on offense. Should they continue to be this bad without both forwards? No. They aren’t going to get outshot 38-17 by every team, and they still have plenty of games against the Arizona Coyotes left to earn some extra points. But it’s a clear reminder that these two do an excellent job of driving the team’s offense; it may not be that bad every night, but expect a few ugly games until they get back.
  • This really wasn’t Jacob Markstrom’s night. It happens. There’s no real point in dwelling on it. That being said, huge credit to Anders Nilsson. He allowed a goal at the end, but he also kept an already ugly matchup from getting even worse. We’ve seen teams lose with double digits goals-against this year; he prevented that, and deserves a huge nod as a result.
  • The Calgary Flames hadn’t scored a power-play goal since December 6th before tonight, and the Canucks almost held them from scoring again. That’s a small win, especially in what ended up being a fairly chippy game.

*update: previously stated that Nilsson will take this loss. Double checked and the loss goes to the GWG-allowing goaltender, which is Markstrom. Huge kudos to the diligent comment section for catching what a tired brain did not!

  • Fortitude00

    I think they will continue to be bad without those two forwards. Their first line centre and #1 goal scorer being out puts them in the conversation with the Coyotes. The good news this puts them in the best possible position to succeed in the 2018 entry draft.

  • truthseeker

    Double ouch..

    I know coaches want players to be “200 foot” “complete” players and all that, but perhaps it’s OK to expect certain guys to not block shots. I know Brock probably has that in him, given his work ethic, and I’m sure he wants to block shots, but maybe coaches should just tell a guy like him “just get out of the way.”

    As I said in the post after they won last game, this isn’t going to be an easy time for them as a team. It is what it is. They need to start working even harder than their best efforts this season. This is a good test for the team’s character and the ability of the coach.

    • Canuck4Life20

      I agree. It would be really interesting to see some advanced analysis on whether the benefit of the shot suppression outweighs the potential positive contributions that are lost when a player of Boeser’s calibre is injured.

    • DJ_44

      Uhmm… I guess Boeser could have played Gioardano like Hutton did in the first period. Turnstile and all. Probably not the correct way to play, however. Unfortuneately, Boeser understands how to play a someone one-on-one. Its not like he sprawled. He took a puck of the foot. Bad luck.

    • Break The Canuck's Curse

      Maybe they should just make a skate that can stop a hockey puck

      They can put a man on the moon (though some might argue they can fake putting a man on the moon) but they can’t make a skate that can block a hockey puck?

  • beers after

    Markstrom lets in his signature early goal and then allows four goals on ten shots in the second.
    Somebody better be dwelling on it,beginning with Markstrom.

  • Canuck4Life20

    I’ve been holding my breath every time Boeser touched the puck for a couple weeks now just waiting for this to happen. When it rains in Vancouver it pours.

  • Bud Poile

    Ben won’t hit or block shots,has next to zero offensive ability and is on the ice for 3 goals against in 15 minutes of ice.
    So,Brock feels like he has to bblock the shots?
    Ben should be watching games until he figures it out.

  • Lemmy Kilmister

    Hmm… even with the freaky amount of injuries reality is starting to set in on the lack of overall team depth, but whats more disturbing is the amount of lopsided scores on home ice and how terrible the whole D corps looks as a whole… combine rather average goaltending and this season is starting to look very long.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    Canucks have now gone from being an exciting team to a team that is going to tank and be boring. With all the technology advancements available, you would think they could make skates that are more impact resistant. Canucks players are dropping like flies from foot injuries. Make the padding on the skates a little thicker, or incorporate an armored shell into the skate design. Three years in a row Canucks are dealing with an above average number of injuries.

    • Cageyvet

      I couldn’t agree more, the wrists and ankles especially of hockey players needs more protection. I have to admit I’m less bothered by Brock’s injury than I would have been if he went down with the rest of the squad healthy.

      This feels like an ok road to take, because the odds of making the playoffs were slim before the injuries, and the only benefit to the fans would have been playoff experience for the youth. Otherwise, drafting later and playing Chaput before Goldobin wasn’t optimal. Remember all the talk about wingers who could shift to centre? That was supposed to prevent the use of Chaput up here.

      Now, we were in deep trouble with injuries already. Throw in Boeser and the fact that Rodin left and Dahlen never made it, and now the team’s hand is forced from sheer lack of depth. I’m not unhappy with what should now see Granlund in a more offensive role with Virtanen, Goldobin and Boucher all getting some actual ice time. Undoubtedly team success will be in short supply for a while, but we should get a better look at what we’ve got in the immediate next wave.

      I’ll finish by trying to refrain from picking on Hutton, and just say that Pouliot is demonstrating the difference in a first rounder rising closer to his ceiling than a fifth rounder. I’ve already thrown in the towel on Gudbranson, so I’m open to the unintentional tank resulting in a draft for a few quality defensive prospects and trading to get as many picks in the first three rounds as possible. I can see the future on offense, but we need more internal competition on the back end.

      I hear Pouliot is a good advanced stats player, and to my eye test he’s looking like we could really have a player here. Kudos to JB for getting him for a song. I liked Pedan, but I was fine with the trade from the outset. Now I’m ecstatic, value trades like that are what offset the inevitable mistakes like Forsling for Clendenning. Ultimately it’s getting the best player who impacts your team, not winning volume deals with marginal players. Pouliot seems like he has the potential to be a cut above your typical NHL dman.

      • Bud Poile

        I enjoy/agree with most of your posts.
        However,Forsling is a .235 PPG player and is not exactly the second coming of Scott Stevens.
        Clendenning has put up a .302 PPG average playing in the NHL.
        Piittsburgh wanted Adam to seal the Sutter trade.
        I’d like to have Forsling back but Benning had to build a team with next to zero prospects in the pipeline.
        Sutter has been a Canuck for 124 games shutting down the opposition while contributing .395 PPG.
        I see a hockey trade and not a mistake.

        • Cageyvet

          I hear you Bud, I don’t fret too much over a dice roll on prospects that aren’t true top-end, I was trying to acknowledge JB doesn’t win them all.

          Having said that, I hadn’t heard that Clendenning was a key piece of that deal or that it’s shaping might have provided the need to make that deal. I was just looking at the 1 for 1 swap we did with Chicago.

        • Wide Awake in Ubud

          “The Canucks are over paying for the assets they are acquiring. The Sutter trade is a good example. They trade Bonino, Clendening and a 2nd for Sutter and are paying him double Bonino’s salary.” – Bud Poile

          “”this parting with very good nhl and ahl prospects has me less and less interested in this team.” – Bud Poile

          Someone send this trolling idiot back to his village and take Mangeyvet along too… Dumb and Dumber

      • Cageyvet

        The team was a stretch for the playoffs before the first injury, but was producing good results before the injuries got out of hand. What’s your Oilers’ excuse? Steady results all season with or without Talbot and very few meaningful injuries outside of the crease…..and if you didn’t notice, those results were crap. We’re still ahead of your team and yet you finally crawled out of your hole when our entire first line and top Dman are out? Spare us the commentary on our team and worry about your own franchise building hockey’s version of the Titanic.

      • Ragnarok Ouroboros

        Skate Guards that are clipped on are no good. As you say they get clipped together and the players won’t use them, which is why I say the guards need to be designed and integrated into the skate so they protect the skater and minimize impacts to performance.

        • Almost like… a cowling???

          If they can make a cowling-less goalie skate with the same level of protection as the cowling goalie skate, it’s inexcusable that player skates lack that same technology. It’s obviously available.

  • Rodeobill

    I’m going to tell myself as a means to be alright with all this, that we really had no business looking at the playoffs, we still really need to draft foundational players and pump up the talent pool, I still appreciate our team bringing good effort and being challenging to play, but what can we do.

    The danger before was JB looking to make moves now to go all in for playoffs, the danger now is him trying to make moves to stop enough bleeding to keep butts in the seats.

      • Dirty30

        … and people still believe that butthead Bettman and his Zebra-goons don’t have it in for this team? I might have understood — though still been pissed about it — had that been Burrows crawling on the ice. But Boeser? Really? The kid supporting his Parkinson’s stricken father … who took a lovely young woman with Down’s Syndrome to prom … who looks like one of the purist hockey players this league has seen in a while …

        One thing I respected about Mike Gillis is his willingness to get on the phone and call the bastards at head office on this kind of crap.

      • crofton

        Yes that should have been a stoppage. There is kind of an unwritten( I think it’s unwritten) rule that they don’t stop play unless it’s something to the head or the player is motionless or something. Personally I think it’s BS, especially considering how the ref was nonchalantly standing looking at Virtanen with an obvious problem to his head/face.

  • TheRealPB

    Sometimes the wheels come off. I wish it wouldn’t against teams I really hate, especially when they’re playing they’re backup goalie and we get them on the second half of a back-to-back when they had to fly out late the previous night. We never really seem to get the “schedule loss” victories we’re supposed to. Also, isn’t this the “easy” part of our schedule with all these games at home? If we’re doing this poorly over this stretch, I shudder to think how bad we’ll be in a month without most of the top of our lineup. There’s not many teams that could survive losing their entire top line, their best face=off man, their top d, and assorted other good players for extended periods all at the same time. I am frankly shocked that given the run of poor play over the past six games or so that we remain only 4 points out of the playoffs. For the Pacific Division, the main lessons for this first half of the season still seem to me that Vegas is for real, LA has legitimately come back to form, Calgary and Edmonton are not nearly as good as the hype suggested, and both of the latter will scrap to try and make the playoffs with Dallas, Chicago and Anaheim (all of whom I think are better than them). We will likely end up in the draft lottery again, which isn’t a terrible thing. But it would be good not to have major injuries to so many of our excellent young players.

  • Burnabybob

    Possibly the worst game of the season for the Canucks. Young players like Jake Virtanen need to step up in situations like this, but they aren’t delivering.

    As others have pointed out, the silver lining is that the Canucks will improve their draft lottery position the longer players like Tanev and Horvat (now Boeser?) are out of the lineup. I don’t cheer for them to lose, exactly, but they aren’t ready to make a playoff push until they have players like Pettersson, Dahlen and Juolevi in their lineup.

    • Holmes

      Yeppers agreed. Problem is Pettersson, Dahlen and Juolevi are probably 3/4 years away from being impact players, if they ever become that type of player at all. It’s going to be a protracted purgatory for fans unless mgmt can acelerate the rebuild somehow

      • Burnabybob

        I seriously doubt Pettersson will take 3-4 years to become an impact player in the NHL. He has a pretty good chance of making the roster next year, especially if the Sedins retire. Benning has said that he has the skill, but primarily needs to work on strength. And I would be pretty concerned about Juolevi if he doesn’t spend at least part of next year in the NHL.

      • fretallack

        naw man, canucks were legitimately competitive THIS year wihout any of those guys in the lineup. EP might step in and make an impact as a rookie next year, hes that good. OJ should make the team and start tilting the ice the year after. We’re not THAT far off being competitive.

  • Holly Wood

    Let’s hope it’s a bone bruise and he is back in the lineup soon. He wasn’t actually attempting a traditional shot block, as he actually did a flamingo with his right foot and his left turned slightly counterclockwise exposing the ankle. It happens subconsciously with forwards many times per game. Don’t believe me, watch the clip again it’s gonna be shown around here for days. Canucks just can’t seem to get a break

  • Wise Canuck

    A four pointer against a bitter division rival and the Canucks mail in this disgrace. No wonder the rink was half empty. Unacceptable.

    You can use bogus excuses about injuries all you like cheerleaders, this all falls on one man… BENNING. This inept clown knew when hired that we needed immediate high end NHL ready talent, physical push back and most of all depth because we always suffer from injury issues. Under the Gillis elite years we had enough lots of depth and cover… under Benning we have the likes of Chaput, Goldobin and Dowd ffs.

    You were told all this yet failed to accept the reality because to most of you it’s all a perverse joke… anything will do as long as its a hockey game to watch for free. Pathetic.

    After this humiliation Benning must clearly go and frankly all you pathetic cheerleaders can go with him, because many of us money spenders demand MORE from the Canucks, much more. We have earned it… haven’t we?

  • Chuckey

    Yikes, what a blowout on home ice! You have to admire the way Matty Tkachuk rubs the Canucks noses in it though. Believe he has more points against Van than any other team… almost like he is extra motivated by the draft day snub. Sign of a true winner that.

    I would personally love to have Matt’s game on a soft Canucks team crying out for another Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa or Big Bert to lead by example. Oh for a time machine.