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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post Game: Running Wild

Puck Drop

Friday night’s matchup with the Minnesota Wild got off to an explosive start at both ends of the ice. The Canucks struck first, lighting the lamp just 53 seconds into the game.

After gaining the offensive zone, Bo Horvat button-hooked and passed cross-ice to Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto came down the left side; his initial shot was stopped. But Del Zotto followed up the play, picking up his rebound and circling behind the net. From there Del Zotto was able to hook the puck enough on a wraparound to beat Devan Dubnyk to open the scoring.

Less than a minute later, it was the Wilds turn to get on the board. After Jake Virtanen did a bit of a fly by on Zach Parise, Parise put a sharp angle shot up and over Anders Nilsson. Tho the play in the corner by Jake wasn’t great, this ultimately is a failure by Nilsson. It’s yet another bad goal early in a game, this time erasing a strong start that had Vancouver up early.

After giving up a bad one, the hockey gods appeared to make it up to Nilsson with six minutes left. Charlie Coyle took a nice pass through the crease and found himself standing at the post with the entire net open for business. Someone the only thing Coyle managed to hit, was Anders Nilsson sitting about a foot outside the crease.

The tough breaks went both ways tho, as the Canucks appeared to take a two-one lead with just over three minutes left in the period. Alas, the goal was immediately and emphatically waived off due to being kicked in by Gagner. The play was reviewed, but the call on the ice held up, and it’s hard to take umbrage with it. The puck was likely going in off just the deflection, but Gagner’s foot clearly moves forward in a motion that appears to propel the puck.

The period would end tied up at one goal apiece.

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2nd Period

The early period goals carried over into the second. Less than three minutes in, Minnesota took their first lead of the night.

After another iffy defensive play by Virtanen, Tyler Ennis made a nice pass to set up Matt Cullen. Cullen made a nice move to pull the puck around Nilsson, putting the Wild up two-to-one.

Through two periods it was an eventful night for Virtanen, for a variety of reasons. Despite the defensive question marks, Virtanen was also involved at the other end of the ice.

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Four minutes after scoring Cullen nearly put his team up by a pair. As the Wild moved the puck around in the Vancouver zone, it wound up on Cullen’s stick to the left of Nilsson. Cullen centred the puck to Charlie Coyle who fed it right back to Cullen. Cullen fired, but Nilsson came across, stretching out to rob Cullen of his second goal of the game.

On the heels of Nilsson’s big save, the Canucks rallied to tie the game at two just over a minute later. It was Jussi Jokinen who buried the rebound after Erik Gudbranson made a nice play to set up a shot and rebound situation. Coming down the right wing, Gudbranson shot low and hard on Dubnyk’s far side, forcing Dubnyk to blocker the puck away. Jokinen was there ready to pounce, scoring in back to back games.

The teams then exchanged penalties thought the middle part of the period, the next goal came with just 4:22 left in the second.

Troy Stecher got caught out of position allowing Eric Staal to set up at the edge of Nilsson’s crease. Stecher hustled to get back and tie up Staal, but it was too late. The pass came, appeared to go off Stecher’s foot/leg and get a piece of Staal’s stick before heading to the back of the net.

3-2 Minny, headed to the third.

3rd Period

The third period…. happened. Tho for much of it you wouldn’t know it. Eight minutes into the final frame the shots were 3-2 Minnesota. The highlight from a Vancouver perspective was a Derrick Pouliot chance, shooting off the faceoff Pouliot trickled the puck through Dubnyk. Hitting the post, just prior to Matt Dumba pulling the puck out of the crease.

Just before that, a Troy Stecher spin-o-rama set up a rebound chance for Nic Dowd, but outside of that, the Canucks didn’t offer up much push back in the third.

The Wild added a pair of late goals to put the game to bed, securing a 5-2 victory.

The Numbers

  • The Canucks had 43.06% of the expected goals at 5v5
  • Minnesota put 14 high danger shots on Nilsson, compared to Vancouver’s 7.
  • Despite saving just 88.6% of shots, Anders Nilsson’s save percentage was actually 1.2% higher than expected, an indicator of the number of quality chances he faced.

Quick Hits

  • After coming to life physically with 11 hits in the last two games, Jake Virtanen was hitless on the night. It’s no coincidence this resulted in him being moved down the line up early in the game. Hits aren’t a stat that is generally useful in player evaluation, but as I said last game, for Virtanen it’s a sign, he’s engaged and playing at the right end of the ice. It’s also something Travis Green desperately wants out of Virtanen, as the Canucks, on the whole, have been a rather soft team for several years now.
  • Early in the third Travis Green juggled his lines, bumping Reid Boucher and Jake Virtanen up to Horvat’s line. Given how lacklustre the period was for Vancouver, I doubt we’ll see much more of that combination.
  • Life without Boeser is becoming a cruel mistress rather quickly. The Canucks look like a team that’s well aware of the uphill climb it faces just to be competitive without their star rookie. The silver lining is, of course, the draft lottery, but that is little comfort to competitive athletes facing the grind of consistently losing.


  • Beefus

    This looks like déjà but from the last month of last season. The veterans are going through the motions and the kids aren’t talented enough to make a difference. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Our only hope is winning the draft lottery.

  • Rodeobill

    Honestly, they played better than I expected, Motte in particular looks like he wants to be on this team, …but yeah. When to the draft prospect profiles start?

  • Rolland

    Life without Boeser is indeed cruel, he makes everyone he plays with better. Now that Gagne is another matter entirely. LE is at least sound defensively. I’m having trouble watching this.

  • Canuck70

    I hope that Green is smart enough and sneaky enough to coach Vancouver in such a way that they lose ALL of their remaining games. I hope Linden and Benning direct him to do that. The players won’t lose on purpose, especially those who are fighting for a roster spot next year, so the coach needs to make this happen. I for one am tired of Vancouver being screwed out of a legitimate draft spot because of the NHL’s retarded lottery odds. Every team that has won a cup has done it with a roster full of high first round picks. The only way to win is to get the best players and this year Dahlen is the next generational player. I want Vancouver to win but I cheer now for every loss for the rest of this season. The NHL lottery odds place every team in the position of being gamblers. If you gamble then you better try to better your odds. The canucks can give themselves the best odds to pick first overall if they finish last overall. There is no disputing this fact. The math never lies. Tank now and tank hard! Doing so will make absolutely no difference to this season. In fact, the intelligent fan base will applaud tanking as an intelligent decision by club management. The current salary cap system has created league parity all right but it also has fostered a situation where trading for a superstar becomes nearly impossible. The only time you see league stars become available is when they reach ufa status, and then they are generally at an age where a team is paying for past, not future performance. We have seen too many older players signed for big long term contracts who subsequently had their point production plummet drastically. Lucic and Erickson are just two examples. Their contacts are true albatrosses for any team. A winning team needs good young players that stay with a club for the duration of their careers. The average length of an NHL player’s career is 5.6 years. Barring injury, star players play a lot longer. Tank now, draft high and we will win a lot of games on a couple of years. I like Benning. He drafts well and he is learning from his bad signings. As the team improves so will his ability to make more impactful trades. I dislike the mass hysteria promoted by so many fans who comment on sites like this where they scream to trade players like the Sedins and Elder. They have ntc’s on their contracts and they deserved them. Trading Tanev is stupid. He is not replaceable in a trade. Keep Tanev and draft good young defencemen to play with him.

    • LAKID

      Total loser mentality but I commend your Nuckleheaded loyalty. True KerNukkle dragger to the end and I applaud you. Linden and Benning couldn’t direct the Titanic to hit an iceberg for crying out loud. I think if you want to tank keep playing the Olsen’s because they are your only chance at winning the tank war. This team should just trade away the pick anyway as it’s doomed again as it was in the begining.

    • NeverWas

      Bang on pal. Add a Dahlin and things could be a different story pretty soon here. Pettersen, boeser and dahlin would be a lethal combo on the power play… and in hank and Daniel to help distribute the puck and a little mentorship for a year (maybe 2 max) and this team is a playoff team if the other pieces can come together.

      Man oh Man, can the canucks just get lucky once? Please?

      • LAKID

        Dahlin isn’t going #1 and don’t get me wrong he is a good player but did not impress in any of the world class tourney’s this year and he is a defenseman. Dahlin will prove to be two years away at least kinda like someone you know ( nice pick Benning). The second pick is a Russian and they have the KHL if they are not happy. The third pick will be interesting as 3 players could climb or fall. What to do? trade the #1 for a potential Nuk playoff team or or keep playing the re-runs of Full House with Mary- Kate and Ashley?

    • Cageyvet

      I’m in favour of trying to win, every year, but at this time of the season I fully embrace the tank, if done the right way. Play all the kids to give them experience, 15 games of losing isn’t going to crush them forever, and if they perform well and win, I’m more than happy with a climb in the standings. I just don’t want to climb higher or tread water with players who clearly aren’t the future getting too much ice time, if any at all.

      The odds of getting number one still suck if you finish last, but at least you’re guaranteed a high pick in all rounds, and you’re right, improved odds are still the right play. You don’t have to play to lose, but you shouldn’t be obsessing over roster moves designed to get you points that, at best, mean nothing, and at worst, weaken your club’s future opportunity.

  • BC SPORTS FAN

    Dahlin is the clear cut number 1 pick in the draft. Did you not watch the world juniors ? He set up so many players, with a little goal scoring luck by his forwards he would have led in total points. He is a generational player that we could really use to help us win a Stanley Cup. You can’t trade a guy like him!!!!