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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: Sometimes you nip the bud; Sometimes the bud nips you

Canucks lose Tanev, a 2-0 lead, hockey game in overtime to Toronto Maple Leafs.

It was going to take a herculean effort from the down on their luck Canucks to take out a mostly healthy and well-rested Toronto Maple Leafs team on home ice. They came close, but close only counts in horseshoes, or so they say.

The Rundown

Brock Boeser (who else?) opened the scoring early in the middle frame after a Thomas Vanek setup put him in perfect position to snap the puck past Leafs netminder Frederick Andersen for the lead.

About a period later, on a five-on-three power play, Sam Gagner scored from about the same spot to double the Canucks lead, and you know he celebrated that goal with as much enthusiasm as he has the rest.

The Canucks were, seemingly, in full control of this game and appeared poised to leave Hockey Night in Canada with the unlikely victory.

Then the Maple Leafs started to push back, and everything got a little bit more complicated. The Canucks were sloppy in the neutral zone, and the Leafs caught the Canucks flat-footed for a pair of goals in transition. First, Auston Matthews sent the Zach Hyman setup home at full-speed to get Toronto on the board. Then a Morgan Rielly stretch pass sent Tyler Bozak in for the equalizer, and he made no mistake.

This had all the makings of a typical third period meltdown from the Canucks — the kind that’s all too familiar to their fans.

They battled back though and didn’t let the game get out of hand. In fact, they mounted quite the charge in the final minutes of the game in an attempt to tie it, and mustered several chances with a lot of traffic. Andersen held the fort for Toronto though, and this game went to overtime.

Both sides traded chances, but the Canucks appeared to have won it early on a Boeser shot off both posts and out. Of course, the shot was so good that even the ref was fooled, as he awarded the goal prematurely before a review deemed it hadn’t crossed the line.

So this game went to a shootout. The Toronto Maple Leafs scored on their first and third shots, and the Canucks only scored one goal in return. The Maple Leafs completed the comeback.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • Anytime you blow a 2-0 lead in the third period; it’s a bad look. Understandably, a lot of Canucks fans are going to be pretty miffed by tonight’s loss — all the more so because it was against those damned Maple Leafs! In fairness to this team, they’re without a lot of their key contributors up front and the Maple Leafs are supposed to be Stanley Cup contenders, so really, I think a result like tonight’s is to the Canucks credit.
  • This Nic Dowd thing is getting out of hand. I thought when the Canucks acquired him, Dowd would be a fourth-line centre or a 13th forward, and that made sense. Tonight, the difference in ice-time between Dowd and Boeser was barely a minute. Dowd took at least two shifts that I caught in overtime. I know the Canucks are banged up, but no team is ever going to be injured enough to justify Dowd playing 18 minutes. It’s not like he was playing a good game either. The Canucks were out-attempted with Dowd on the ice, and he didn’t do anything noticeable at any point in this game.

  • In-between his usual insane, mildly racist and over the top nationalist rant about the World Juniors, Don Cherry said that the Maple Leafs should trade Mitch Marner for Erik Gudbranson. Wouldn’t that be neat?

  • Sam Gagner continues to pile up the points. Gagner’s been a funny one for me all season, because all the underlying data suggested he would bounce back, to a certain degree, eventually. Offensively, Gagner was just getting really unlucky. After tonight’s game, he’s on pace for something close to 40 points. The Canucks are starting to get their money’s worth on Gagner when they need it most.
  • Chris Tanev left today’s game in the first period after taking a deflected shot off his own stick in the chops. Tanev lost a couple teeth and didn’t return to the hockey game. This would, obviously, be a huge blow to a team that’s already decimated by injuries. Here’s hoping Tanev didn’t suffer anything in the way of a long-term injury. That would be most unfortunate.
  • Jacob Markstrom got lucky. He let in a floating fly-ball that was u-g-l-y, but the goal was called back on a missed offside call. To Markstrom’s credit, he bounced back and played a mostly excellent hockey game for the Canucks otherwise.
  • I’m about to head to TSN 1040 Studios with Jackson McDonald to provide post-game coverage on Nation Network Radio! We’ll be taking callers and have a poll question at the ready, so be sure to tune in and offer your thoughts on the Canucks 3-2 OTL to the Toronto Maple Leafs and every other Canucks storyline.
  • truthseeker

    …in an attempt to “win” it. Not “tie” it. It was tied. I’m sure you meant to say “win” though. No big deal.

    That’s one thing I miss about Miller. Shootouts he was so good. Markstrom’s bringing back memories of Lu. Love Lu, but he was awful in shootouts.

    Whatever though. Not a bad effort by the team. Gagner is becoming more consistent. Brock gets another goal. A single point. All things considered it’s an OK outcome aside from Tanev. They put in a strong effort and didn’t let the game get out of hand. It was entertaining.

    The team needs to keep pushing even if they don’t make the playoffs. Don’t care one bit about gaining a percentage point or two in the draft lottery. Good efforts are far more important.

  • BC SPORTS FAN

    Why did Green have Dowd on the ice in overtime. I have as much chance to score in overtime as he does. Was this Green’s way to give us a better chance of drafting Dahlin ?

    • Brent

      Ya it is weird. Not like I am a hockey expert, but that seems counterintuitive. I guess there is always some sort of weird coaches deployment issues have everyone scratching their head.

      • truthseeker

        I think his reasoning is that he regards Dowd as the best faceoff guy on the team and possession being so important he wants him to win it and then probably get off the ice for a better forward.

        Still I think it’s kind of a dumb move. A guy like Gagner is only slightly behind in faceoff percentage. Just take your chances with him and have a better player on the ice.

      • defenceman factory

        Maybe there’s a chance Dowd can be moved for a later draft pick or be smaller piece of a bigger trade. He was previously fairly deep in the kings line-up so safe to assume he is relatively unknown in the east. I’d like to think there was some method to the Dowd deployment but perhaps just wishful thinking.

  • Good game.
    Boys are trying and playing hard. No lack of effort or hard work.

    Re-sign Vanek.

    I think the Gudbranson ship has sailed, right into Toronto.

    What will it take for Eriksson to get his game back? How do we fix this?

    Get well soon Chris Tanev.

    • Braindead Benning

      Probably a buy out would get his game back… in the vancouver real estate…. I am sure he can “flip” a couple of houses and never have a shower based on his effort

  • wojohowitz

    It`s about time to put Boucher in the line up. After a couple of weeks in the press box where he has lost his timing, his conditioning and his confidence, Green should put him in a game so he can say I told you so.

  • TD

    I found it hard to listen to Craig Simpson. He was so obviously biased towards the Leafs. I’m sure it will do nothing, but I went on CBC’s site and commented they neede to fix it or change the name to Hockey Night in Toronto.

  • argoleas

    I think that Guddy actually played quite decently. Heard he is playing with a taped-up shoulder.

    Hope he keeps improving and playing well, so that a playoff-bound team will overpay for him, like Cherry suggests.

  • Holly Wood

    I spotted what’s called a coach able moment on the Mathews goal. Loose puck at the hash marks in Vancouver’s end, Mathews recognized it as offence, Boeser didn’t react in time, 160 ft later the pucks in the net. This is not in any way slagging Boeser,it’s merely pointing out how quickly an elite player can change a game. I thought Boeser had a great game that may have opened some eastern eyes and feel he is becoming more than just a goal scorer

    • Sandpaper

      Yup. Was pleasantly surprised too see him on the ice for a shift with under 2 minutes in regulation.
      I see the crowd in here is winding up Dowd as the new whipping boy, figuring Gudbranson is all but gone.
      I think a better question than, why was Dowd on the ice in overtime should be, why was Stecher on ice when trying to hold a lead in 3rd.

      • truthseeker

        And it was a pretty good shift there for JV at the end. He was a presence.

        Since I commented on Dowd, I’ll just say I don’t have a huge issue with the guy. Rough start to joining the team but it’s clear he’s improved recently and deserves some playing time. But Green, like a lot of NHL coaches, (some of the best included, like Babcock) seem to be a bit blinded by work effort and choose to reward it at strange times. To me it’s the “old boys” mentality and kind of an antiquated thing. Goes along with he’s weird “reward/punishment” system for young players. There is a time and a place but to me he needs to realize that sometimes you need to have your skill on the ice in spite of the fact that a guy like Dowd might have been “working harder” than said skill player for most of the game.

        A defensive zone faceoff down a man in OT? OK, use him. A neutral zone faceoff in OT with about a minute left 3 on 3 and you have him out there for that? Mistake in my opinion. Put the goal scorers out there.

          • truthseeker

            Yeah that’s the thing for me as well.

            I mean…I get that veterans have earned a bit more rope in terms of getting themselves out of bad play, but the way it’s delivered by coaches like Willie and Green to a lesser degree seems almost like black and white thinking. Seems like some guys never get the chain pulled when clearly they should. If it’s really about merit based play.

        • TD

          3 on 3 is all about possession. You see the teams give up the offensive zone to keep possession. Winning the face off is very important. It shows how badly the team misses Horvat, who should be taking all the face offs in OT. 2 wins in 13 or 14 games since his injury.

  • DJ_44

    I liked the game, although I would have been nice to pull out the win.

    Despite JD’s Sutter like hate for Dowd; he played a really solid game. He was also very noticeable on the ice. Perhaps a quick look at Dowd’s ice time, compared to Boeser’s, is a thing called situational deployment. Defensive zone faceoffs, and penalty kills. You know your arguement is really strong when you go with the “out-attempted” stat. I suspect that means his line had more shots on goal.

    Defensively, Poulliot is started to do very well in his own zone. Hutton, Stecher and Eldler also had solid games, and even Del Zotto stepped up. Notice the Canucks do not miss Hutton, even playing with those five is better then having Ben on the ice….. if Tavev can’t go, how do we feel about dressing Boucher as the 13th forward?

    Finally, Goldobin was invisible out there, which means he was doing his job defensively as well, but pretty much meh. I like Boucher’s game better.

    • argoleas

      My impression about the D today is same. They all played well. As for Hutton, I don’t feel he’s the problem some people make him to be.

      To me, Goldy seem to be in that zone where Baertschi was just after he was traded for: tentative, perimeter, but defensively improving. I think we will see better things from him sometime next season, assuming he stays in the lineup. But he does have his moments.

  • Cageyvet

    Good write-up JD, and I gave a cheer to virtually every comment, noticeably absent of trolls.

    To summarize everything I am agreeing with:

    1. Vanek is fantastic to have setting up Boeser and Goldy as well on a great chance. I’m tempted to say re-sign him, but if you can hit a home run on a trade, do it, Horvat and soon Petterson will be doing that. Either way he’s been a great signing.
    2. More Virtanen, especially 3 on 3, and less Dowd. He’s fine, but less ice time please.
    3. Gudbranson to Toronto sounds good to me, even if Don’s overly optimistic on the return. I don’t hate him and we need some physical players, but I don’t see him ever being worth what he’s going to command to sign as a UFA. Aim for more talent in your top 4 and let him go, I gave him enough time, and time’s running out to make that decision.
    4. Goldy’s doing fine, keep playing him. Throw Boucher in there as well. Get them some ice, they’re top line guys in the AHL and they need enough time to get in a groove and have more than a couple of shots.
    5. Hutton’s been more of an adventure than Stecher, but if Gudbranson goes, he’s still got a spot on the team. Personally I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in the right package, but keeping him doesn’t bother me, it’s still early in his career. Seems like a good kid, too, and team chemistry counts for something.

    All in all a good performance, the playoffs are a dream now, if they were ever really in play, so I also agree that as long as they show up, play with some intelligence and put the future on the ice not the bench, points are secondary.

    • crofton

      As to Vanek, I’d say get what you can get for him at the TD, then bring him back if you think the Petterssons and Dahlens are not ready. Maybe the Boeser/Vanek/ Gagner line allows Virtanen to skate with Horvat and Baertschi. And as to Virtanen, yes please with his speed and all the extra ice. I’d love to see what T.O. would offer for Gudbranson. Goldy was largely invisible, which meant he was at least ok defensively, and only Chaput got less icetime. Hutton? Really tough to figure this out. I read recently that he was among the best of Canucks dmen in some categories, so he’s better than at least some. Why bench him and not Del Zotto, for example?

  • Holmes

    Thought Guddy played well. Contrarion to suggest this on this board but I am onside with signing him to something like 4 by 4.5 m. If he can legitmately get more in the open market, tells you want he should be worth in a trade. So then we trade him for Marner

  • Lund

    This team really needs defenseman! The guys we have are ok, but nothing that’s gonna make us good night in and night out. And sadly, I don’t see any great ones coming in the pipeline yet.

    • DJ_44

      “Great” defenceman are few and far between. Tavev borders on that, however let’s call him very, very good. Currently, Pouliot and Stecher both are good, solid 2nd/3rd pair guys that can move the puck and defend. Juolevi will be here, and he will be first pair d-man (he is 19, so let’s ease up on the bust crap). We need at least two more, with one of them being a top pairing guy.

      Two players that are very interesting in Utica are Phillip Holm and Jalen Chatfield. I hope if the Canucks deal defencemen (an pleeeeease let Hutton be added to “sweeten” to any package), that Holm gets a chance. He is more physical than you expect on the ice, can skate, shoot, make a first-pass and run a powerplay. Chatfield may not be really ready for this year, but he has progressed, and will be ready to be brought up sometime next season.

  • Holly Wood

    Here I go banging on the Gudbranson drum again. If Benning can pull off a trade with someone for a Marner or a Nylander, by all means jump at it. To take less than significant talent back in trade is a waste. Guddy is a big, strong ,young, stay at home defencemen , able to kill penalties and provide some backbone that all coaches want in their lineup. I have said many times the puck is not his friend (last nights failure to get a shot off when in deep) but if or when he is dealt Benning will have look for another player who brings those intangibles. I believe a winning team must still have several gritty defensive type players if they are to go anywhere in the playoffs. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?

  • NeverWas

    Serious question, is boesers shot the deadliest in the league? He beats goalies clean… from The top of the circle, in full stride with a snapper. All the time. Power, speed and so quick. I feel like every time he gets the puck he could score.