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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post Game: Calder Showdown

Puck Drop

Calder Trophy front-runner and Coquitlam native Mathew Barzal made his hometown debut, taking on fellow Calder candidate Brock Boeser and the Vancouver Canucks.

It didn’t take long for Barzal to make his presence known four minutes in, as he danced Brendan Leipsic, carried the puck around the Canucks net and did a lap in the Vancouver zone.

Shortly after that, Leipsic was headed to the box for hooking. On the ensuing power play, John Tavares took a shot from the right faceoff dot. With Markstrom unable to control the rebound the Islanders poured on the pressure and had the Canucks scrambling in front of their net. Eventually, Erik Gudbranson was able to shovel the puck under Markstrom and get a whistle.

Leipsic’s tough period continued two minutes later. Trying to exit the defensive zone, Leipsic attempted to pass the puck cross-ice to Boeser, and the pass was picked off. The Islanders worked the puck down low, and then back out to Nick Leddy at the point. Leddy let a good shot go from the point, and Markstrom made the save, but was the rebound came right to Josh Bailey at the side of the net. 1-0 NYI.

Unhappy with his team’s slow start, and being outshot 9-2, Markstrom had some words for the Canucks bench. Given Markstrom’s penchant for giving up goals early on in hockey games, I’m not sure how thrilled I’d be about this as a teammate. But his heart is in the right place, trying to get his team going.

Barzal got on the scoresheet later in the period, but not in the way he would have liked. With 6:24 left, Barzal was off the box for slashing after getting tied up with Michael Del Zotto.

Vancouver looked like they were about to have a glorious chance, as Boeser dragged the puck around Brandon Davidson leaving him sprawled out on the ice. But the whistle blew just as Boeser was walking in, and Daniel Sedin was off to the box for tripping.

Just ten seconds into the ensuing four-on-four, Derrick Pouliot was taken down by Brock Nelson with no call. It was an egregious enough of a non-call, that Henrik Sedin was standing on the bench letting the ref know exactly how he felt.

2nd Period

Leipsic’s eventful night continued to start the second. Less than a minute in he took his second penalty of the game, this time for high-sticking.

While on the penalty-kill, Gudbrason was felled by a Ryan Pulock one time. Pulock possesses one of the most underrated slapshots in the game — it’s as heavy as they come, and it contributed to Gudbranson being trapped on the ice for the length of the kill.

Seven seconds after the penalty expired, with Gudbranson still trapped on the ice, Barzal found Thomas Hickey streaking into the zone off the bench. Hickey made an impressive touch pass to John Tavares, who fired the puck past Markstrom. 2-0 NYI.

The Canucks started to build some momentum midway through the period, in part due to their physicality. Darren Archibald crunched Hickey along the end boards on the forecheck, and proceed to take the puck directly to the net. Jake Virtanen continued his physical play, clipping Barzal on a late hit and following that up with a hard hit on Leddy. Vancouver led in hits 14-6 thirteen minutes into the second, with many being noteworthy.

Travis Green juggled his lines in the second, and the trio of Leipsic, Horvat, and Virtanen got on the board. Horvat made a nifty play between his legs to beat Tavares along the boards. Horvat then worked the puck behind the net to Virtanen, who immediately put the puck out front. With the Islanders unable to corral the loose puck, Leipsic pounced on it for his first goal as a Canuck.

A minute and a half later, Darren Archibald got behind Johnny Boychuk for a breakaway. As Archibald came in on goal, Boychuk got his stick in the hands of Archibald, preventing him from getting a shot off. “The Gooch” was awarded a penalty shot.

The Islanders tried to take back the lead, with their best chance coming from Pulock. Pulock unloaded his heavy clapper once again, and put it right through Markstrom but just wide of the net. The game remained tied at two headed to the third.

3rd Period

The Canucks came out strong in the third, with Virtanen once again creating havoc on the forecheck. This was followed by Jussi Jokinen intentionally icing the puck knowing Bo Horvat was in a position to win a foot race and gain the offensive zone.

Four minutes in Virtanen was at it again, this time on a wrap around. With a head of steam, Virtanen couldn’t quite hook the puck tight enough to beat Jaroslav Halak.

After Brandon Sutter and Archibald nearly converted a 2-on-1, the Islanders pushed back with some zone time of their own. But it was the Canucks who lit the lamp next.

Leipsic chipped the puck past Matt Pelech at the Vancouver blueline. As Pelech gave chase, Virtanen turned on the jets, blowing past Pelech up the middle of the ice. With the lone defender committing to Leipsic, he feathered a pass to the wide-open Virtanen.

With two points, and two penalties already on the night, Leipsic was off to the box again. This time for slashing, with 1:59 left to play in the game, with his team up by one.

On the power play, Tavares’ shot missed the net and hit Jordan Eberle up high. Eberle picked up the puck and put it past Jacob Markstrom who lost his stick coming across on the play. 3-3.

With 27.1 seconds left, Boeser attempted to hit Cal Clutterbuck in front of the Canucks bench. Clutterbuck shrugged off the hit and sent the Canucks’ rookie spinning. Unfortunately for Boeser, the Canucks’ door was open on the bench, and he appeared to clip his lower back and hit it off the open door.

Boeser was clearly in a lot of pain, and the concerned onlookers booed loudly seeing their star rookie laying on the ice. Boeser left the ice with a lot of help and didn’t put any weight on his left leg.

OT

The game picked back up and headed to overtime, where Leipsic played hero for the Canucks, as he stripped Anthony Beauvillier of the puck and waited out Halak to score his second of the game. 4-3 Canucks, final score.

The Numbers

  • After having just 34.62% of 5-on-5 shot attempts in the first period, the Canucks finished the night at 50%.
  • At 5-on-5 the Canucks had 61.45% of the expected goals.
  • The Canucks score all four goals on high danger shots, Vancouver had eight compared to New York’s five on the night.
  • Jake Virtanen had a game-high five hits, followed by Archibald and Del Zotto with four each.

Quick Hits

  • The Boeser injury story looms over this one like a storm cloud. Boeser looked to be in a lot of pain and was unable to put weight on his left leg. With the season nearing a close, it’s hard not to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Boeser this year. It’s also frustrating to see the Canucks staff allow Boeser to leave the ice under his own power with a lower back area injury that appears to have the potential to be serious, especially given what we saw with Mason Raymond in 2011. Shortly after the game according to Iain MacIntyre, a stretcher was seen heading to the Canucks room, and Boeser left Rogers Arena in an ambulance.
  • Jake Virtanen was the best player on the ice; he did it all tonight. Led the game in hits with five, turned pucks over on the forecheck, used his speed effectively. Virtanen has a great physical toolbox if he can find a way to be the player we saw tonight consistently he can be a solid NHL player.
  • We saw the good and the bad of Brendan Leipsic tonight, and wiery puck hound who’s always involved. He finished the night with three penalties and three points including the game-winning goal in overtime. It worked out for the Canucks tonight, but he was also in the box when Jordan Eberle tied the game up with less than two minutes left. It will be interesting to see just how much leash Green will give Leipsic. He clearly likes the player and has a long history with him, but when the points aren’t piling up how long the leash will be?
  • TD

    It’s early, but Leipsic sure looks like a top 6 forward. If he can continue to play like this then the Canucks hit the lottery most fans were hoping for by getting a late round pick at the draft and we don’t have to wait years for that player to develop.

    The speed on the Horvat, Leipsic Virtanen line was impressive. Not sure I ever remember a Canucks line with that much speed.

    As much as I was hoping for Boeser to win the Calder, Barzal looked incredibly dominant. He seemed to carry the puck into and around the Canucks zone at will. I remember him doing that for Seattle, and it would appear he made an easy transition to the NHL.

  • RobG

    It’s too bad JB flipped Holm for some kid who couldnt crack the VGK lineup. I mean, they are rebuilding, they should have taken the 4th or 5th round draft pick instead.

      • Goon

        Why? Everyone was on board for the Holm / Leipsic trade. The issues were the Gudbranson extension and Vanek trade. That’s the problem with this regime – it’s one step forward (Leipsic trade) two steps back (Gudbranson & Vanek).

        • RobG

          29 teams passed on Vanek in the off season. That says a heck of a lot about what other GM’s think about him as a player. Is it really that surprising that the Canucks didn’t get a lot in return?

          It’s a no-win situation. The Canucks take the best trade on the table, and it’s not enough of a return. If JB had said “we didnt like the offers on table so wr kept him” he would have been skewered for “not getting even a bag of pucks for him.” (See: Hamius, Dan) And if JB had signed Vanek to a short term extension (like he did with Guddy) he would have been skewered for hoarding mediocre veterns and taking away a roster spot for one of the kids.

          So tell me goon, what would have been the appropriate action in regards to Vanek?

        • apr

          Vanek has played 3 games, is a -3, and is averaging 10 minutes in Torts doghouse. He’s been traded to atleast half a dozen teams in the TDL, and has done F-all for all of them. Its amazing people thought he had trade value, something Button, McLenzie, McGuire all contended he had none.

          • liqueur des fenetres

            So why did Benning sign him if he wasn’t going to have trade value? All he did was take up a roster spot that some young guy could have used. It’s not like their place in the standings would have been any different.

        • KCasey

          Cant say I see this stepping fowards and backwards the same way as you Goon, but for arguments sake I will entertain that analogy. Not every step taken has the same distance covered. Nor does every step go in a north south direction. Deadline being the first example. Took one quality step forward with Leipsic…apprently on ice too because he is still sliding in a positive direction. In Vaneks case I dont see it as an actual step back but rather a stand still for lack of a better path, however you feel otherwise so ill conceed this one to you as a small step back followed by a deadstop. Now in the case of Gudbranson I feel it to be neither forwards or backwards but a sidestep of a far greater issue, which was that he wasnt gonna get what he deemed enough value to keep the lynch mob at bay. Obviously we were all hopeful of a huge haul but at the same time many would have fumed had Gudbranson gone for anything less than a 1st and some change, couldnt get it so he sidestepped the issue and kept going forward until he comes to a time and place that he can unload his goods for more value. Now your probably gonna jump to some statment that people are upset over Gudbranson anyways so should have just done it but thats selling short and missing a future jackpot, ya know, like swinging for the fences on these 4th and 5th round picks that have been crammed down our throats. So while he might be under some heat now it will be worth the pressure if he can double or triple the return in a the near future. If he cant than he unloads him for what he was just offered and you guys get the inevitable return and Benning gets his unavoidable load of steaming crap placed on his shoulders. Being a GM has gotta be the most love hate job in the world.

        • TD

          Some people were on board. Others made the lottery ticket quote saying both Motte and Leipsic were buying scratch and win tickets, basically saying they had a low ceiling. I don’t see the two steps back. Late round picks have a 10-15% chance of playing in the NHL. I think it was a 3% chance of becoming a top 6 forward or top 4 D, meaning that even if Vanek, Leipsic and Gudbranson had been traded for two mid to lower picks the team would most likely come up with 1 NHL player with an 80% chance that player would be a bottom six forward or 3rd pairing D. We hit the lottery if Leipsic is a top 6 forward. We weren’t going to get 6 picks for Vanek, Holm and Gudbranson.

          Goon, unless you think you are going to hit paydirt on every mid to low pick, where is the two steps back? You may not like JB, but how can you look at what’s happened over the past 3 games and not see this trade deadline as a massive win? It’s only 3 games, but so far Motte has looked decent in a bottom six role and Leipsic has 5 points in 3 games while putting up good advanced stats (according to PTIB).

          You can disagree with many of JB’s moves and draft picks, but I don’t get how you are still negative about this deadline.

    • The Leipsic trade was Benning in action, the Vanek trade was the armchair GM’s in action. A small subset of fans screaming for “draft picks!” despite the lack of demand for Vanek (as evidenced by the offseason). Whereas Benning identified a specific type of player that he wanted and acquired him at a very reasonable cost and now we have a complimentary player that can complete a Top 9 line.

  • Nuck16

    Virtanen, wow! Aside from his speed, he also looked like he was the smartest guy on the ice, like he was reading minds out there. I think many pundits may have miscalled his ceiling some time ago…I think hard to say how good he can be. Not only did he look like he belonged on the top line bus, he was driving it.

    • RobG

      Over the last 3 seasons the “problem” with Virtanen hasn’t been Virtanen, it’s been with the Canucks coaching. I understand the play it safe and play responsible philosphy. Young guys need to learn both but for the Canucks coaching staff low event and safe hockey became an obsession. Virtanen was never a low event player and it was suffocating him. The solution for JV has always been to loose the reigns, throw the leash in trash, and just let the kid play. For better or worse. For the first time since he has been in the NHL he looks like he is having fun and enjoying the game. He is playing fast, loose, and like he isn’t afraid to lose his spot in the lineup.

        • defenceman factory

          The Canucks have been cautious with Virtanen. There have been games where he was going hard and still didn’t see the ice in the 3rd. It appeared to break his confidence.

          On the other hand if the Canucks regularly get the effort from Jake they got last night you can’t argue with the results. That back check in overtime gave the Canucks a chance to win. Regardless of ice time and deployment the coaching staff have done a great job with Jake teaching him the game. The time and effort is starting to pay off.

        • RobG

          You’re right. I was a little close minded in my thoughts above. JV has come a long way thanks to the lessons the coaching staff have drilled into him and that has earned him some more rope. But he is still making some mistakes that would have had him stapled to the bench before, so the coaching staff have loosened up on him a bit. It appears there have been improvement from both sides.

          • defenceman factory

            This kid will always make some thinking mistakes, hopefully less and less as he gains experience. What he is not making is nearly as many lazy mistakes. He takes fewer shifts off, coasts less and there are a lot of shifts now where he is working as hard or harder than anyone. Some of that might be fitness but a lot of it is commitment. He will be back on the bench if he slacks off again and I think he needs a new contract this off season.

    • I’m happy to see Virtanen playing with Horvat. Two very fast, north-south players who can compliment one another. JV takes defenders wide whereas Horvat tries to go down the middle. Looking forward to seeing Virtanen gain more confidence in his shot and shoot more assertively.

  • Rodeobill

    What I learned from tonight…
    Boeser is a great player, but Barzal probably deserves the calder, and that’s ok.
    I like Markstrom mad, he needs to be in the game and Garret (usually on the goalie’s side) was wrong on this one. He needed some support in the first and second and it was nowhere to be found.
    Guddy looked bad tonight, but maybe he was skating with swollen beans? He also needs to learn to lean into a check at the appropriate time. Tryamkin was good at that and it disrupted plays and cycles really well.
    Liepsic has a place on this team if he keeps playing consistently like he has since arriving. He is fast and has good eyes. His line with JV for that short time was offensively excellent. I don’t even mind a few of his penalties tonight as they were pretty soft calls. I’d rather that than people playing sleepy like most of our team in the first period.
    JV is this close… (imagine some ‘OK’ fingers almost touching) to being a dominant player in this league, he just needs to work on some finish (like eleveation on his wraparound)
    You could do a lot worse than Archibald on the shutdown line, my vote is he stays next season.
    Pouliot keeps making smart plays and Edler keeps blossoming into a historically great canuck.
    fun game, lucky the oilers won too so we didn’t lose draft position.

    • TD

      I agree on Archibald. I always liked Gaunce as he seemed to play a smart responsible game without getting any breaks, but Archibald is faster, hits more often and harder and is scoring. His 3 goals in 12 games prorates to a 20 goal season over 80 games. Not saying Archibald will score 20, but 10-15 adds lots in his role with everything else he brings.

    • RobG

      This whole team needs to get mad! They have been playing dull, passionless hockey for almost three seasons. Somebody or something needs to light a fire under their arses.

      Markstrom’s biggest weakness as a goalie has always been his lack of focus. He of all guys needs to get in the game, and if getting ticked off and fired up is the key to getting him engaged then so be it. This team needs more of that.

  • Holly Wood

    Rick Dahliwal just tweeted out that Boeser ‘s injury is not career threatening but he will be sore for a couple week. Likely shut down for the season. I would have liked to have seen him on a stretcher instead of taking a chance with further injury .

    • KCasey

      Ya I was thinking that initially too but in defence of the trainers, they were less than a foot away from there bench and after that another 10 feet to the hall way. Its a tough call. Leave him laying on the ice waiting for a stretcher and paramedics to do there thing, which can take upwords of 15 minutes in some cases or whisk him into the locker room and get him immediate attention and evalutaion. Its a thin line and maybe a little risky but luckily it appears to be moot and all will eventually be well. Still….I watched my soul leave my body in slow motion while that hit happened. Heart break city today.

  • bobdaley44

    Again Virtanen making the haters look foolish. How about that Domi for Virtanen trade JD? You still in on that? Damn we should have taken Nylander……..not. Love the strip on Leddy.

    • Mbossy22

      I like Jake too, don’t get me wrong. But Nylander/Ehlers was definitely the better 6th overall pick. (Though it’s tiring/annoying to keep reading about it)

        • Dirk22

          Seriously. You wonder why this site has to be repetitive with ‘negative’ takes on the Canucks? Virtanen has, by all accounts, a great game and now he’s more valuable than the ‘soft Euro’ who has more points combined over the last two years than any Canuck. Which ‘soft Euro’ you ask? Both of them. OK then. Virtanen was great but stop comparing him to guys who are among the leading scorers on elite teams.

          • defenceman factory

            You really need to work on your reading comprehension. Are you daft or just so committed to being miserable you have to pretend somebody said something you disagree with just so can argue?

          • Dirk22

            “We should have taken Nylander….not”

            “It’s possible it turns out not to be a miss”

            “Nylander? Sorry didn’t think so”

            Am I pretending this was said or are you on the wrong side of another argument?

      • bobdaley44

        Nylander? Sorry don’t think so. Especially on a Canucks team with no size or toughness and you want a whispy non physical weak defensive winger. We have Pettersson for that skill roll. Ehlers? Maybe but still devoid of physicality.

  • Burnabybob

    Leipsic and Mott add to an already impressive stable of offensive prospects for the Canucks- Pettersson, Dahlen, Gaudette, Lind, Goldobin, Gadjovich…

    And add to that, Virtanen seems to be finally finding his groove.

    It’s pretty clear where Benning needs to focus in the draft: defense. We can dream about Dahlin, but Bouchard, Dobson and Boqvist all look like good bets.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      That Benning is a magician, grabbing a first line winger for a guy that’s only played one game in the NHL. Goes to show what a bust Gillis’ pick no NHL Subban was, when all Benning could get for him was Dowd.

  • Bure Fan

    Wow – Matt Barzal is a lock for the Calder and much as i like Boeser there is no denying the young PoCo dynamo is the better all round player who is already showing he can be a dominant player in this league, outstanding kid – the Coilers must be distraught they gave up the pick for Griffin Reinhart.

    Too bad Dim Jim couldnt have had the draft nous to trade up for this local young stud who would be selling season tickets aplenty big style in our jaded market.

  • NeverWas

    Nucks looked good. Kids look good. Even motte was decent… Not bad atleast for a 22 year old, kids got upside as a ultilty bottom 6 forward and leipsic looks like an absolute steal for Holm straight up… add in lind, Petersen, dahlen, etc. Canucks might have a pretty strong top 9 all peaking around the same time… reason for optimism at least! Some of those Benning haters might be eating their words come the end of his new contract!!

  • harmbasi

    Rich Dhaliwal posted – Source on Boeser injury : “Not career-threatening and not a serious injury but can’t see him playing again this season. Best to shut him down, there will be a few weeks of discomfort.” #Canucks

    • Killer Marmot

      I had a bet at 12-to-1 odds that a Canucks player would win the Calder this season. I now owe someone lunch. Crap.

      But I might offer the same bet next year, as the Canucks will have both Hobey Baker and Guldhjälmen winners in their lineup.

  • Ho Borvat

    I have to admit, had high hopes for Virtanen when he was drafted and had almost written him off until recently. I’m standing corrected for short term and hopefully long term as well. Not that he’s racking up the points but lately he’s playing smarter, more physical, better defensively and not as lost out there as he was last year during that 10 games before he went down to the Comets. If that continues, the points will come. It really looks like a light bulb went on above his head. Whether that has to do with Green or maturity or both, it’s really good to see and if he can become a 20 goal / 40 point guy and continue to be physical for years to come then there aren’t going to be many complaints in this city towards JV.

  • Kootenaydude

    Really happy with the way Archie is playing. The guy is a tough presence on the ice, can be a shut down guy with Sutter and he can put the puck in the net. Hope he keeps it up and we see him next year. Lucky win for the Canucks as they only showed up for half the game. I was having memories of the previous 2 years watching that first period. It was really really bad! That being said. Great effort in the second half and congratulations to Virtanen for the best game I’ve seen him play yet. Perhaps Boeser can teach him how to shoot and he can give Boeser some skating tips.

    • Cageyvet

      Jake actually has a heavy shot, but Brock could definitely help him with his accuracy. Archibald has cemented a spot on the roster in my eyes, he plays with a good combination of edge and smarts that has been lacking on this team.