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Photo Credit: © Dominique Belanger-Gagne - USA Today Sports

Canucks Army Postgame: Loui Loui

Happy Loui Eriksson resurgence day, everyone!

The Vancouver Canucks came into their Sunday night matchup with the hint of a turnaround in the air.

The team had dropped five straight after trouncing the Corey Crawford-less Chicago Blackhawks on December 28th, but showed they were back in business on Friday with a heady 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

They certainly didn’t make this an easy one – but after sixty sixty-three minutes of action, the seasoned veterans would come out on top with a win all their own.

FINAL SCORE: VANCOUVER CANUCKS 3 (OT), MINNESOTA WILD 2

THE RUNDOWN

FIRST PERIOD

The Canucks got things off on the wrong foot right off the bat, with Jacob Markstrom allowing his first goal of the game just four minutes into play.

A penalty by Sam Gagner at 4:52 put the Canucks on the kill, and Jason Zucker managed to fire one home just five seconds into the power-play. He capitalized on a lightning-fast one timer from right in front of the crease, after a quick pass from Granlund on the point, up to Mikko Koivu just behind the goal line, pulled the Canucks just enough away from Zucker to leave him open and lethal. Koivu’s centering pass found Zucker easily, and the power-play specialist didn’t hesitate to put one behind the Canucks starter to go up by a goal early on.

The Wild wouldn’t hold their lead for long, though, as the first of the trio of Canucks vet players to score found the back of the net.

Loui Eriksson has been a bit of a dud since arriving in Vancouver last fall, and this season has been little exception. He’d put up just five goals heading into Sunday’s contest, and he’ll finish yet another season without a full 82-game slate.

He gave Dubnyk a taste of the Wild’s own medicine a little over 10 minutes after Zucker scored, though, when he one-timered a centering pass of his own to even up the score at 16:57 of the first.

He and the twins have been secondary figures this season, but their turnaround to head back up the ice towards the Wild net looked sharp – and like the goal scored on Vancouver earlier in the period, the lightning-fast centering pass and one-timer by Eriksson made it hard to blame Dubnyk much for letting the Canucks even things up.

SECOND PERIOD

All in all, this was a reasonably dull game by both sides, and the second period was a perfect example.

Neither side would take a single penalty after the first period, and neither would have a clear advantage in the second or third frames in shots – either attempted or registered on net. Vancouver came out slightly ahead in the second period with nine shots to Minnesota’s six, but that was evened out a bit by the fact that Michael Del Zotto and Erik Gudbranson allowed shots against pretty much every time they stepped out onto the ice.

The Wild had a nasty habit during their Mike Yeo era of playing the most boring, by-the-book games of hockey I’ve ever seen in my life. Apparently, it came back tonight.

THIRD PERIOD

Finally, some goals!

Daniel Winnik (who is apparently on the Minnesota Wild this year – who knew?) would pull the Wild ahead about 12 minutes into the final frame, taking advantage of yet another centering pass from behind the net.

Eric Staal would walk Erik Gudbranson to lose his coverage, then pass the puck back out to Winnik to give the journeyman his fifth goal of the season.

The Canucks deserve plenty of credit, though; just a few minutes later, the Boeser-Vanek-Gagner line would get some excellent help from Chris Tanev to tie the game up at two goals apiece.

Sam Gagner would fire on net from the point, where Vanek did as he does best and scooped up the rebound to put it past a flustered Devan Dubnyk.

From there, no one would manage to score again in regulation, and to overtime we go!

OT

Brandon Sutter has been back with the Canucks for exactly one game, so I’m not ready to fire up the hype train just yet.

But heading into the team’s bye week, you’ve gotta love the guy for giving the team a win!

It was a beautiful pass up the ice by Alex Edler, a beautiful dance around the defender by Sutter, and a nifty shot that Dubnyk probably could have gotten a piece of, but didn’t. What a welcome back, eh?

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Have you ever been a big fan of a player, and then seen something about their family that makes you like them even more?

This is me with Brock Boeser, literally every time his parents are given the opportunity to grace the screen.

His parents are the kind of people that make me think of freshly-baked cookies after school and plaid blankets by the fire. They seem like the nicest people in the world, which only adds to just how easy it is to be a fan of Boeser both on and off the ice.

Anyways.

I won’t harp too much on the Michael Del Zotto – Erik Gudbranson pairing, because there’s enough of that floating around elsewhere. We know what they are, we know how they’ve been playing.

I will say, though, that it’s especially frustrating to watch Del Zotto perform like this, because I was a big fan of his in Philadelphia and considered him a dynamite pick-up by Benning over the summer. I’ve been critical of some of his moves so far, but this is one that I applauded to begin with – and ironically enough, it’s one of the ones I’ve been the most disappointed with whenever I catch a Canucks game. He looks lost, and that’s not what I remember seeing in Philadelphia (which, really, says a lot, because that’s a blue line that sometimes can’t buy a clue).

On the bright side, though, I thought Markstrom played well. He allowed the first goal of the game, but Zucker on the power-play has seemed near impossible to stop in any of the games I’ve seen him play – against anyone. It’s like he has zero hesitation and an innate ability to have his stick exactly where it needs to be for a one-timer on the man advantage; it’s hard to blame Markstrom for something that I’ve seen quite a few goalies fall for this year.

I also like what I’ve seen from Thomas Vanek. He is what he is, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon.

But for a guy who started off the season unsure if he’d be a regular in the lineup or not, second in scoring to only Brock Boeser is a pretty nice place to be.

Is part of that from playing with a guy like Boeser? Of course. Not only is Boeser an elite-level scorer, but he’s got great playmaking ability, to boot.

Despite that, there’s nothing Thomas Vanek does better than score goals, and he’s certainly been doing that for the Canucks. Does he give them much in the way of defense? No. Were they expecting that? Probably. So is it fine? I’m sure it is.

Overall, that was pretty much the kind of game Minnesota loves to play; boring as sin. But Vancouver managed to beat the Wild at their own game, and how can we be upset about that?

  • argoleas

    Think that Markstrom played his most positive game of the season. Hopefully the shape of things to come.

    Whenever the 444 pair plays, someone needs to dial 911.

  • Bud Poile

    A structured,defensive game beating a playoff contender with all the goalscorers being Benning’s men.
    Eriksson nearing half a PPG pace and Gagner on a pace for 36 points.
    Meanwhile,Hank is on pace for 3 goals.The year Benning arrived Hank potted 18 goals/73 pts. while Daniel scored 20 goals/76 points.

  • NeverWas

    That was a tough game to watch but I’ll take the dub! Nice to see some people score not name Brock Boeser the last couple games… that said, I I’m going through “flow” withdrawals. I need a Brock star snipe next game!!

      • NeverWas

        Canucks are like 2-12-1 in there last 15… throwing up a “dub” once in a while isn’t going to change our rank in the standings much so it nice to see them do it against some good times. Gives me hope for the future!! 500 hockey the rest of the way still puts us near the bottom of the league come season end…

        Also, one thing that’s impressiving me about Boeser, even though he hasn’t put up points the last couple games, he’s contributing in a ton of other ways. 23 shots on goal in the last 3 games or something nuts like That?!?! Huge win along the boards to start off the tying vanek goal. Plus he’s pretty defensively sound and is great at transitioning the puck. He makes everyone else around him better. Damn I am happy he’s a nuck!! Can’t wait to see what we got in the rest of these prospects!!

  • jaybird43

    Here’s one (of the many) things that impresses me about Brock Boeser. I think if you told him he was a centreman and his primary job wad to distribute the puck, he’d do just that and end up with similar point totals, maybe higher. Not tgat I’m saying to do that, but he’s got very solid playmaking abilities, which are becoming better and better. He’s impressive as more than ‘just’ an elite goal scorer.

  • TheRealPB

    Nice recap Cat, though I think you’re being kind to Gudbranson. Not only did he give up the puck in the corner and then lose his man (with very little pressure) on the 2-1 goal, there was an abysmal sequence in the 2nd when the Wild kept control of the puck for about four minutes in the Canucks’ zone, made two changes and I am amazed didn’t score, all because MDZ and Gudbranson couldn’t clear the zone, leaving Gagner, Boeser and Vanek absolutely exhausted chasing the whole shift. For a guy who is supposed to be a big net clearing presence and a mobile big guy, he seems unable to make the simplest passes, instead resorting to shoot-ins and glass-and-out momentum killers. A third at this point seems good — let’s take back Mascherin from Florida and we can call it a win…Why Pouliot is sitting for MDZ I will never understand.

    That aside, nice push-back to get the tying goal and absolutely loved the winner by Sutter (I don’t think that shot was as easy to stop because of him cutting back across with speed). And the save that Markstrom made on Spurgeon right before the winner was fantastic.

    • whatever

      NHL shifts are 45 seconds,a minute max..
      Rarely does a shift extend beyond 1:30.
      Sets of NHL d-men usually have one talented puck mover and one defensive specialist.
      Guddy is defensive and DZ is the puck mover.
      When a d pair is fighting it the centre swings low and takes control of the play.
      Lacking this under pressure you dump it out,change up and regroup.
      Cat does not appear to me as an indepth defensive specialist.

      • TheRealPB

        Did you watch the game? Did you watch that particular sequence? How did Gudbranson show you that he was a defensive specialist in this or any other series? On the sequence I’m talking about on three separate occasions the forward dropped back, pressured the puck carrier who gave up the puck. On two of those three occasions, Gudbranson took the puck, skated backwards into the corner or the side wall and tried to clear it. Once it was a weak clear easily corralled by an opposing forward who then started another cycle in the zone and the other time he inexplicably passed it further back into the corner where an opposition player took it. The other time MDZ simply lost the puck off his stick further in the opposite corner. You can label them whatever you want but neither appears to be either a good puck mover or a defensive specialist. I think both were decent bets by Benning but I have no idea how anyone could defend either’s play this season. Gudbranson started out better but he has looked terrible for weeks.

        • whatever

          Judging a player on one play sequence is neither fair nor instructive.
          However, what I think critically of any player’s entire skillset by your berating me and said players is rather telling.
          Every player has flaws and strengths. When the former outbalance the latter said player plies his trade elsewhere.
          Both of the aforementioned players are and will continue to be NHL’ers for reasons that you are either ignoring or not cognisant of.

          • TheRealPB

            I’m not judging Gubranson by one shift or one sequence — thought that one absolutely stood out. I was responding to your patronizing response which made a lot of irrelevant points. Yes, most shifts should last no longer than a minute — which is why the inability of Gudbranson and MDZ to clear the zone was all the more glaring. And forwards should drop back to assist — which happened and it was on the D for making those mistakes.

            What I take issue with is the kind of blanket characterizations — of Gudbranson as a defensive specialist and MDZ as a puck mover — when neither a more detailed inspection as well as the eye test would show that they consistently are neither.

  • Tiamat

    I’m at the point where if I see Cat’s name as the author of a post, I skip reading the article and head straight to the comments. I’m not sure she actually watches the games. And I’m definitely skeptical about her actually being a fan of the Canucks.

    • Dirty30

      None of the bloggers are Canucks fans. They are fans of stats and snark and trying to prove they know more about hockey, running a franchise and evaluating players than anyone else.

      Its like Botchford had a bunch of drunken one-nighters and this is the snarky off-spring they produced.

      The sad thing is that some of these bloggers could actually be very good hockey reporters but when you’re looking up to Botchford as your inspiration you have no idea how far you have fallen.

      The redeeming quality of this site is indeed the comments section when not infested with trolls. The fact that the trolls are allowed to flourish just demonstrates the lack of integrity of the bloggers and editors here. Pity, it could be far and away the best place to be for Canucks fans.

      • wjohn1925

        Your comment is about as fair to them as you accuse the bloggers of being to the Canucks. Take each blog as it comes. Cat was reasonably fair in this article and JD has apparently passed the kidney stone and is now including a more balanced analysis in his writings. There seems to be less snark of late and it’s pretty clear that Cat actually watched the game last night. As with the Canucks, game by game evaluation is the way to go for the bloggers.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Do not be fooled by the “Gudbranson looks a lot better lately” hype. Trade him as soon as an acceptable offer is made. He will never be coming back to haunt the Canucks, that I can guarantee.