Photo Credit: Bob Frid- USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: 7 Up

Brock Boeser is okay! If you’re a fan of the Canucks, your Christmas wish came early this year.

Coming into the game, the Canucks were 29th in the league averaging 2.58 GPG, and the Habs were sitting in 28th at 2.61, so of course, these two teams would combine for 12 goals as Montreal won 7-5.

1st Period

The sloppy play started off right away in the defensive zone with two failed zone exit attempts just inside the blueline. The first by Jake Virtanen and the next by Alexander Edler, leading to Anders Nilsson having to make a miraculous save on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty just over a minute into the game.

From there, Reid Boucher, in his return to the Canucks lineup drew a penalty getting high-sticked by Canadiens defenceman Joe Morrow while entering the zone. On the ensuing powerplay, Sam Gagner fed Derrick Pouliot at the point who walked to the middle to unleash a hard slapshot which appeared to hit Thomas Vanek right where it hurts the most. Vanek quickly recovered to shovel the loose puck into the net for the first of three on the night.

A few minutes after scoring, Vanek took a penalty at the 14:35 mark when he kicked the feet out from under Canadiens forward Nicolas Deslauriers in the neutral zone. During that power play, the Habs scored making in 1-1 getting a bit of a lucky one off a bounce from David Carr’s foot.

The first period was actually a fairly solid effort from the Canucks. The five-on-five shot attempts finished 18-10 in favour of Vancouver, and the power play was clicking as well. Nilsson bailed the team out early, and Vanek took a bad penalty, but other than that, the team looked good. It’s worth noting that the improving Nic Dowd had four primary shot attempt assists in the first alone.

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2nd Period

Good lord was this one ever ugly. Jeff Petry was allowed to walk right into the offensive zone and dish the pass to Byron Froese who then slid it through the seam to Deslauriers who completed the tic-tac-toe for the finish to make it 2-1 Habs. The gap was too big for Erik Gudbranson, but he also didn’t receive much help from the Sedins; I place the blame on all three of them equally for the poor coverage.

The next goal was a thing of beauty. Loui Eriksson did some incredible work along the boards just inside the blueline with a little help from Alexander Burmistrov to fight this puck free. Loui proceeded to feed Alex Biega right at the top of circles who momentarily froze Habs netminder Carey Price with a head fake and then fed Vanek on the doorstep for his second tap-in of the night.

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The 3-2 goal for Montreal was due to a rare misread of the play from Troy Stecher. Stecher is usually on top of things in this regard, so there’s no need to be too hard on him for this goal. You can actually see Troy read the play. However, he hesitated for a split second which created enough time for the pass to be executed. Worth mentioning that Nilsson likely wouldn’t mind having this one back. It’s a nice shot, but stoppable, no doubt.

34 seconds after the Canucks got a lucky one off a broken play. Vanek threw a puck towards the middle, and it bounces off Plekanec and right to Daniel Sedin who backhanded it in to tie it at three.

Soon after tying it, Alex Biega took a cross-checking penalty. The Habs powerplay took three seconds to execute, face-off win, Petry wound up and fired one from the point with Shaw in front, no chance for Nilson. 4-3 Habs.

Was it the prettiest period of hockey for the Canucks? No. However, they did erase two leads in the second while increasing their lead in shot attempts from 8 to 10. Shot attempts after two were 41-31 for Vancouver.

Third Period

Early in the third, the Canadiens made it 5-3 with an absolute disaster of a goal from the Canucks perspective. No help for Gudbranson on the Jonathan Drouin entry. His gap could have been tighter, but Drouin is among the best in the league when it comes to entering the zone with control, so I’m willing to cut the rusty Guddy some slack here. Drouin nearly came to a complete stop post entry which seemingly fooled all five Canucks skaters on the ice, Drouin then fires a nice pass through coverage to Byron who was going against the grain, misfired, but an uncovered Pacioretty is right there to tap the puck back to him for the easy finish.

Luckily for the Canucks, the Habs clearly have some issues they’re sorting out as well. I know it’s the PK, but leaving Boeser unattended inexcusable. This is automatic goal territory for the flow! 5-4 Canadiens.

Galchenyuk would score on a breakaway to make it 6-4 with 2:33 left in the third period to put the game out of reach.

Vanek would add another goal to complete the tenth hat-trick of his career and notch another point for Brock Boeser.  This made it a one-goal game again but this one just truly wasn’t meant to be as Montreal would add an empty netter to make it 7-5.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • It was ugly, but don’t forget this team is minus Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Chris Tanev and willingly sat Ben Hutton, who has been one of their better d-men in the neutral zone this season. The team also erased multiple leads, and the powerplay stayed hot. For a rebuilding team, entertaining loses aren’t the worst thing.
  • Nic Dowd quietly had his best game as a Canuck finishing with a 61.54 CF% and 5 Primary shot contributions (1+4)  in 14:35 of TOI, he’s beginning to settle in and show signs of life, this is good news for Canucks fans.
  • Biega was noticeably good again, but he did have some glaring turnovers in the neutral zone which resulted in scoring chances against, but if the opposing team doesn’t score, did they really happen?
  • Gudbranson had his moments protecting the blueline, but all things considered, it was a decent return. The puck didn’t look like a grenade on his stick — a step in the right direction for sure. I’d like to see him with Pouliot again whenever he draws back into the lineup.
  • Catastrophic technical difficulties on my end tonight, I’ll do my best to sort those out. My apologies for the very late recap!
  • Things are going to get interesting from here regarding deployment on the blueline. At the moment, I feel like Edler is the only one who is safe from being scratched. You can’t keep Hutton in the pressbox after a 7-5 loss, can you? Especially when defensive neutral zone play was clearly an issue. Green shuffling six d-men into five spots is not ideal. I correctly put together the pairings Green used Vs. Montreal, but after that performance, all things considered, I’m not sure where you go from here. This team needs a trade, and they need it badly. Rotating young blue-liners, you’re attempting to develop is not the way to go.

  • Dirty30

    Very nice recap — thank you, perhaps the best I’ve read here in a very long time. Please meep doing these … even with technical difficulties, its a clear step up from the usual reluctant writers we get!

  • Our goaltending is dropping to a below average level. I don’t mean to throw Nilsson under the bus here, or Markstrom, but we need more timely saves. Nilsson made a huge save to start the game. That’s what we need more of. It gives the guys confidence. On the other hand, letting in a softy, just lets the air out of the tires. You can see the deflating effect it has on the team as a whole.
    It’s easy to say, make more saves, which I’m sure both guys are trying, but it’s just not happening. So, Clouuuutch needs to have a sit down with his guys, settle things down and start at the beginning. Play a simple game and make the saves you should be making. Good positioning, no scrambling, and stay calm.

    This may sound crazy, but we should bring up Bachman for a game or two and let the other guys rest and settle down. Take the load off their shoulders and give them a fresh start with new confidence.

  • Fred-65

    Here’s a question. Green had Gaunce playing centre on the 4th linagainst Mtl. I have to pint out that I kinda follow Gaunce since the day he was drafted, he’s a sort of a “what do we have here player ) Any way I watched his face off success or lack last night from the opening face off. He was drafted as a centre out of Junior. His face off abilities are terrible. So the question why the heck did green have him out for a deciding F/O in his own end on the PK last night. When I saw him move up to the dot I couldn’t help but think what the “F” is going on here. This was a clean loss he offered little resistance and looked like a practise for Mtl, just they draw it up on the board. Green what were you thinking ??? as is often said take care of the details and man was this one glaring error

      • Bud Poile

        The present CA editor and other CA writers have denigrated and dismissed the value of winning faceoffs.
        Yet,when both of the club’s top-2 f/o leaders are out the team goes 1-6.

          • Wise Canuck

            The Canucks were still winning without Sutter (and Guddy), it was only when star player Bowie Horvat went down the team started free-falling.

            Face off wins primarily lead to higher puck possession metrics. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won back to back cups with some of the worst face off and possession stats in the playoffs. Big picture, it means nothing.

            I am personally only interested in icing a playoff team and SC contender – I’m not getting that under the Benning clown show. Any Canucks ‘fan’ accepting and supoorting this losing culture needs to move on, because the game and the reality of pro sports has passed you by.

          • Holly Wood

            Wise Canuck…. Pittsburgh wins cups because they have two world class centers good supporting players and timely goaltending. Losing face offs on the pk is a good way to get stapled to the bench. I am definitely not a Sutter fan but he is effective in the circle

  • NeverWas

    Boeser with one good foot vs the best goalie in the world = beats him clean over the shoulder glove hand side. 2 points in a game no one thought he would play in…

    • Wise Canuck

      Boeser is a class act who would rather his TEAM make the playoffs than even think about personal production or winning the Calder, and so would I.

      This is a TEAM sport, so get a grip eh.

  • The Sedins are entitled to more love. Henrik’s got 8 points in his past five games. The team may be struggling, but it’s great to see the Sedins still have some gas left in the tank.

  • Terence D

    The amount of goals per game we are shipping has gotten alarming but seriously, how can we be this bad year after year when the Vegas Golden Knights are a playoff team in their first year with no big superstars, none of their high draft picks on the team yet and their top three goalies all out for a time this season. Can anyone explain it?

    • Wise Canuck

      Nice post newbie – 6 keyboard cowards so far who can’t even back up their cowardice with any excuses.

      Dude, it’s simple, Vegas hired an astute GM who in turn hired an excellent NHL coach and background team. McPhee implimented a clear, concise winning vision off the bat with a blank canvas – a balanced team filled with depth, speed, character, hard work and great goaltending.

      Everything Vegas did has panned out superbly thanks to McPhee and I will lay down a thousand dollars that they make the playoffs. I will also lay down a thousand bucks that the Canucks won’t. That’s the difference between a visionary like McPhee and a clown like Benning. Suck it up Dim Jim cheerleaders.

      Great post man that has clearly ruffled many chicken feathers on here.

      • Holly Wood

        I think your right, the Canucks will not make the playoffs and Los Vegas will. Impressed that you have a thousand bucks to bet on hockey. The last line was sarcasm in case you missed it.

      • TheRealPB

        Excellent points! Especially in noticing that Vegas started off just like every other expansion team ever and wasn’t gifted an actually competitive team to begin their play. You’re right, it’s all about a “visionary” GM, not the fact that the system was rigged so that Vegas could stockpile draft picks and pick actual hockey players rather than AHL scrubs. Such a fair set of comparisons! I think it’s YOU who are the visionary…

  • Holly Wood

    Hey Ryan, I disagree with your view of Montreal’s second goal, re Gap control by Gudbranson. Pouliot had the puck carrier , Guddy had the man in the middle, Daniel never picked up his man who scored. Weak neutral zone effort by Jake, Henrik and Daniel was the likely the main culprit. Speed kills


    My God that was brutal defence and goal tending last night. Make sure you watch the World Juniors, Timothy Liligren will be a star for Sweden. Benning , the draft guru passed on him. He will star on the Leafs for the next decade. We could have used a great skating right hand shot D-man instead of the plug Gudbrandson

  • Rodeobill

    I enjoyed this game. They played hard and never gave up. If they had a good night of goal tending, this is in the bag. It was a win all the way around otherwise. Vanek looks much better as trade bait after this one, Boeser moves closer to the Calder and keeps is involved, we move another step closer to a better draft.

    My only criticism was what was with the DJ at the arena that night, was is 80’s night? Is that a thing there? I mean not even the good 80’s, like spring break B side 80’s.