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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: Stars Shinin’ Bright

The Rundown

Tanev out for at least a week, Granlund potentially out for a month, Goldobin “travel issues” keeping him out of the lineup, but Boeser is back! Did The Flow help snap the four-game losing streak, or did the Canucks season continue to spiral out of control? Let’s see if the Canucks could take advantage of the Dallas Stars who played their third game in four days.

Puck Drop

The Canucks got started quickly with a great solo effort for Reid Boucher who pounced on an unsuspecting Dan Hamhuis, lifting his stick and executing a quick wrap around in one swift motion for the opening goal just two minutes into the game.

Hard to believe with hands and speed like this that this is only the seventh goal of the season for Jake Virtanen, this backhand five-hole goal is simply filthy. It appears JV18 has some newfound confidence, 2-0 Canucks.

Under two minutes later, Hutton started the play with one of his team-leading, 12 controlled zone exits which set-up the Sedins’ teaming up to get the puck to Thomas Vanek who unleashed yet another signature breakaway bomb to make it 3-0 Canucks. The sixteenth goal, trade stock UP!

I’ll miss Vanek as well; he’s been fun to watch this year! Unfortunately, a draft pick or prospect is more valuable than my entertainment.

As everyone was expecting, the Canucks were up 3-0 on the Stars after the first period while directing 26 shots at the net compared to 18 for Dallas. Perhaps Markstrom’s words following the loss in Carolina lit a fire under this seemingly dead team showing no signs of life. Or maybe the Canucks were taking advantage of a fatigued Dallas team who were playing their third game in four nights, probably a little bit both. Whatever it was, it was as inspired as this Travis Green led team has looked in a while!

Second Period

Like John Garrett, I was worried that the Canucks would sit back on the lead, but that wasn’t the case. The Canucks didn’t take the foot off the gas and continued to pound the Stars in the second period.

Off a broken entry on the power-play, Boeser recovered the puck and made a sweet through the legs dish to Bo Horvat who ripped it past Ben Bishop for his thirteenth goal of the season. The fourth goal would be the last Bishop would allow this afternoon, and he wasn’t happy it! Kari Lehtonen would take over for the rest of the game.

Ten minutes later, Virtanen would execute a rare combination of a controlled entry plus pass, setting up Michael Del Zotto for a point shot which was deflected by Boucher for his second of the game and as many on the season. It’d be nice to see plays like these more often from Virtanen. Heads up plays following zone entries will definitely help JV18 earn a few more shifts from coach Green. Let’s hope these distributions become a little more familiar, of all the regular Canucks forwards, Virtanen ranks last in shot attempt assists with a measly rate of 6.57 per hour.

Potentially the most significant Reid Boucher fan on Canucks twitter, Tyler Shipley loved the effort from the former fourth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils. Boucher had a monster of a game in his 15:33 of ice-time with two goals, eight 5-on-5 shot attempts, three primary shot attempt assists, for 11 total primary shot contributions at even strength. One heck of a game from the 24-year-old.

After 40 minutes, the Stars showed subtle signs of life taking over in shot attempts, up 40-38 while trailing 5-0.

Third Period

The uneventful third period did produce something memorable, at least for the newly signed Darren Archibald who picked up an assist and his first point in the NHL since 2013-14. Archibald just pushed the puck back to point following a face-off win from Brandon Sutter which led to Erik Gudbranson wristing it at the net, likely just hoping to create a rebound at best. However, Stars netminder, Lehtonen either didn’t see it or misread the pace of the shot, and it slipped through him to make it 6-0 Vancouver.

Today was a good day for the Canucks, a six spot on the scoreboard combined with a shutout and trade-stocks going up all over the place. Vanek scores, Gudbranson scores, and the team snapped an ugly four-game losing streak. The more efforts like this Green can squeeze out of this team before the trade deadline on Monday, February 26th the better!

 

Observations

  • Another player who raised their value today was the defender, Ben Hutton. Hutton played 16:23 paired with Derrick Pouliot and had the top Corsi rating among blue-liners with a rate of 58.33%. In his limited playing time he also produced seven primary shot contributions (four shots, three assists) and had a 55% controlled exit rate, both were good for the team lead among Vancouver defenders. As the season progresses, Hutton’s playing time continued to decline, and he was even benched during the third period of last game. I feel as if this organization is on the fence with Hutton come the trade deadline, I don’t feel they’re actively shopping him, but if a team makes an offer that makes sense to them, they’ll pull the trigger. At this point, a change of scenery may be the best thing for his career, he’s apparently behind Michael Del Zotto on Green’s depth chart, and that a hard thing to do for left-handed defenders in the NHL. Should he stay or should he go now, what do you guys think?
  • Sven Baertschi had a quiet game in his 19:38 of ice-time, he didn’t have a shot attempt and had only two primary shot assists while playing with the best forwards this organization has to offer. It’s going to be interesting seeing how everything plays out with Baertschi regarding his next contract. His counting stats are solid with 24 points in 46 games, but when you look under the hood, his underlying numbers tell a different story. His 8.64 shots/60 are hardly more than Alex Burmistrov was producing before he headed back to Russia, and his 9.35 shot assists are just over one more per hour than career fourth-liner, Nic Dowd is producing. This is slightly concerning at the very least, defining what exactly Sven Baertschi is and figuring out a number that works for both parties is going to be tricky business, I’d love to hear the discussion between agent and GM when the time comes.
  • The Virtanen, Dowd, Boucher line clicked, what a game. The trio produced three goals, and all had a 57% share of shots or better while on the ice. Looking forward to seeing what these three can do when united again!
  • Huge shout out to goaltender Jacob Markstrom, a brutal captain like honesty followed by a 30 save shutout against a strong Dallas team.
  • The consistent Troy Stecher had a strong game this afternoon which is crucial as he was pretty down on himself earlier this week. His willingness to openly hold himself accountable is admirable, that said, I thought he was far too critical in his self-evaluation. So you had a bad game, every player in the league does on occasion, it’s okay! Watching Stecher develop this year has been one of the lone bright spots this season. Keep your head up Stech; you’re having a heck of a year!
  • One final note, how the heck is Julius Honka not a regular for the Dallas Stars? The 22-year-old was one of few Dallas Stars I actually noticed today. #FreeHonka, or trade him to the Canucks, he’d look great beside fellow Finn, Olli Juolevi.
  • argoleas

    So based on this team’s performance. Goldy will one again twiddle his thumbs. I bet he can’t wait until Vanek’s traded. My guess is that if Boeser’s wrist continues to get better, Goldy will go down to Utica until Vanek is gone.

    • canuckfan

      I am hoping that Goldy will play with Bo and Brock as he started when last called up and it was Bo’s injury that derailed his ability to stick with the team. He will be an exciting addition to the line. It Jake’s new line keeps it up, and the Sedin line remains dangerous could make it tough on opposing coaches trying to figure out who to use their top defenders on.
      With the trade deadline coming up I would think contending teams want to add depth and MDZ would add depth and would also be someone that a team wouldn’t mind having another year on his contract so he could also be traded. Gudbranson is confusing I wonder if a team who is looking to add him in a trade is asking to have him signed to a contract before the trade is made hoping not to get into a bidding war. Signing him before the deadline will add value to him for all those who would take a chance would see him with added value seeing they didn’t have to spend around 5 million.
      Hutton should be kept, but if they trade him better get something back. Dowd could be worth a later draft pick for teams wanting to add depth at center.

      • argoleas

        If this team is bold, they trade MDZ, Vanek, and Guddy at TDL, and be open to other offers.

        My gut feeling on Dowd is that Van will resign him for depth, and he would start next year in Utica. Clearly mgmt likes him more than Chaput.

  • mgg

    The numbers for Boucher are interesting because there is a mistake in the play-by-play. They recorded 3 times the same shot. The game stats are wrong so how can the 5v5 primary shot contribution have the same number of shots when that should have been spotted.

  • Jim M

    Everyone keeps talking about how Hutton is on the way out due to MDZ’s playing time but I think the opposite. Based on how Green has described his views on player development in general and Hutton specifically, I think he sees a place for him and is making the effort to push him. Hutton may very well be traded but it won’t be for a bag of pucks just to get him out.

        • Jim M

          Maybe. Although, I’d suspect that Canucks mgmt may want to wait until they’re in to next season to see how Juolevi/Hutton/Pouliot have progressed. It seems to me that Edler is less likely to be super keen to test the FA market considering he won’t waive his NTC so they may have some leeway. That said, maybe he’ll see dollar signs like I would…..

          • argoleas

            That could be the better approach. My take is the Edler is comfortable in Van, and would be willing to take a home discount. Otherwise, next TDL would be the optimal time. BTW, if he wants much more money and term (in other words what the market would provide), Canucks must trade him then. So Benning or a new GM will have that on his plate next year.

  • Rodeobill

    I think if Archibald keeps playing like this, he’ll be pretty tough to take out of the roster too. Great on a checking line with Sutter.
    Also, I noticed some really good defensive plays by Boucher and Virtanen tonight, If they can keep that up I bet they’ll spend a lot less time on the pine.
    Were not winning the cup this year, and I’m sure there is going to be some more rough games this season, but it sure is nice to see them win a game so dominantly once in a while and show flashes of hopefully things to come.

  • Holmes

    Vanek….is a third rounder more important than the entertainment value he provides? Nah. Like movies, concerts, plays and boat shows, NHL hockey is in the entertainment business. Canucks are a boring team at the best of times. I’d rather see Vanek bombing those half slappers in for the last 25 games of the season than flip him for some draft pick that will never play.

    • Dirty30

      Its not just up to the team — if Vanek signed with the idea he would be traded to a contender and let the Canucks get their best deal for him, then enretainment be damned, Vanek’s going to try for a Cup! He doesn’t have many more contending seasons left at 32 years old. So the choice between one more good shot at the SC versus hanging out watching Buttman’s balls drop at the Loser Lottery doesn’t seem like a tough choice for Vanek.

      Sign him in the summer.

      • TD

        Unfortunately, Vanek’s track record after being traded at the past several trade deadlines has not been good. It may scare a lot of teams off and make it hard to trade him.

  • Dirty30

    Boucher may not be the quickest guy out there but damn he has some fine puck sense. Burn Hamius? Thank you for that payback!

    Step in to redirect a JV18 pass at the right moment? Thing of beauty.

    JV18’s “Hello, I’m Jake” breakaway and smooth as sh!t shot on goal was priceless.

    The only disappointment was it onlt took four game reviews for the insidious snark to find its way into the writing. Subtle, but yes “astounding” that Dallas wasn’t up 101-0 in the first minute of play. WAs it a pleasant surprise that the Canucks won 6-0? Absolutely. Can they do this the rest of the way? Probably not.

    But if this team finally has a fire lit under their collective butts, there may be a lot more entertainment to come.

    Wishlist: Boucher > Gagner all the way.

    • Beefus

      The other thing about Boucher is that he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas in front of the net. His second goal was a result of fighting through a check and getting in position for a deflection. The Canucks have too many perimeter players on their current roster who don’t do this. Boucher is a keeper

      • argoleas

        Boucher has matured. His fitness looks good. We could see good stuff from him in the next few months, and then next season. Him, Jake, and Gaudette could be a very good kids line next year.

  • myshkin

    aquilini must be a happy man this morning. trouncing those gaglardis 6-0 in their home rink. the odds on benning getting re-signed might have inched up a few points.

  • defenceman factory

    Not sure if it was a conscience choice or an opposing coach allowing the match-up but reverting back to a checking line worked very well. Sutter, Ericksson and Archibald were great at shutting down a very good Dallas top line. Horvat then matches the 2nd line and the Sedins can still outmatch most 3rd lines.

    This deployment worked well earlier this year. Archy seems at least as good as Dorsett and Erickson is an upgrade on Granlund.

    The 4th line had 3 goals. Boucher looks fit, finally. Him and Virtanen bring more than most 4th lines can handle. Gaunce would fit or Guadette could be an upgrade on Dowd. Not missing Gagner in the least.