Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: Tank Buster

The Rundown

The Canucks are winning hockey games all of a sudden — great timing. Coming into today’s match with the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canucks came out with the ‘w’ in four of their last five games. They’re getting hot, to the chagrin of #TeamTank.

Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets are one of the hottest teams in the NHL post-trade deadline, and thanks in no short part to the addition of former Canuck Thomas Vanek at that. They’d won 12 of their 15 games in March before today.

Something had to give.

With the flu ravaging the Canucks’ lineup and forcing Thatcher Demko into the spotlight for his first NHL start, it seemed like that something would be Vancouver.

Canucks Lose Three-Goal Lead, Win the Game in Overtime

With a rookie goaltender making his first start in front of a team battling illness throughout the lineup, this had the makings of a blowout. With the Columbus Blue Jackets on the power play early, defenceman Seth Jones scored his 16th goal of the season, good for a tie in first among defencemen. It felt like the Blue Jackets were well on their way to confirming those fears (hopes?).

The Blue Jackets kept pushing in the first, but with the help of the post, Demko was able to withstand the barrage and keep the Canucks in this hockey game.

Demko’s teammates would reward that effort with a hot start to the middle frame. Darren Archibald scored just before the halfway mark, assisted by Ashton Sautner (his first NHL point), on a short side shot that beat Joonas Korpisalo. Minutes later, Nikolay Goldobin finished a tic-tac-toe passing play between himself and Jussi Jokinen with a one-timer goal five-hole for his sixth of the year.

The Canucks continued their onslaught in the third period. Jokinen scored his fourth goal of the season and notched his eighth point in eleven games to pad the Canucks lead, and Bo Horvat wasn’t far behind with a great goal in transition with a setup from, you guessed it, Jokinen.

The Blue Jackets weren’t undone, though. They made a furious comeback effort — the type you’d expect by a team frightened by the proposition of an angry head coach in John Tortorella. It’s safe to say everyone is going to try and avoid this if at all possible.

Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois started the party with just under four minutes left in regulation, scoring a power play goal. Little over two minutes later, Zach Werenski got the Blue Jackets within one; then 16 seconds later, Cam Atkinson scored the tying goal with a blown coverage at the side of the Canucks’ net giving him all the time and space necessary to do so.

That comeback was short-lived. It took the Canucks less than a minute and a half in overtime to get the win, as Alexander Edler, on a two-on-one with Sam Gagner, looked pass for a solid handful of seconds before sealing the 5-4 win in overtime.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • With today’s win, the Canucks are in 27th place. That gives them about an eight percent chance of landing Rasmus Dahlin and about a one-in-four chance of landing a top-three pick. It’s getting ugly for #TeamTank. Then again, coaches and players don’t tank. Can’t get mad at the Canucks. The teams they’re playing that are letting this happen? Yeah, they deserve all your fury.
  • Nikolay Goldobin is having one hell of a turnaround. With his goal in today’s game, Goldobin is producing at nearly a 30-point pace over an 82-game season. That’s better than Jake Virtanen. The best part to see here is that Goldobin isn’t benefitting from inflated percentages; he’s legitimately playing better hockey, and the results reflect that. This could turn into Canucks head coach Travis Green’s best development story of the season — it’s possible.
  • The Canucks had one player today leave the game with a positive on-ice shot attempt differential. That player? Ashton Sautner. I’ve liked his game with the Canucks. He keeps it simple and doesn’t chase hits. He’s playing like a reliable bottom-pair defenceman. If Sautner can sustain this over a long enough sample, that would be quite the find by the Canucks scouting staff.
  • Demko didn’t paint a Picasso with his effort today, but he got the win. I don’t know if I’d blame him for any of the goals that beat him, either. There were a number of ten-bell saves I do remember, too. This kid deserves a tonne of credit for bouncing back after an early first goal and holding the fort when the Blue Jackets were clearly outplaying the Canucks. The future in net seems bright.
  • I’m loving this. Finish the season on a positive note. Let the chips fall where they may. Pick the best player available wherever the lottery ball lands. I mean come on everyone, we know that even if the Canucks finished 31st, they are NEVER going to win the draft lottery. If the Canucks didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all.

  • Jokinen is an interesting case. He’s supposedly washed up, having been bought out last summer, and then passed around the league like a hot potato.

    And yet he has 8 points in 11 Canucks games. There may be a few puffs left in that old stogie.

    • If the Canucks like what they see, he’s the perfect candidate for a cheap one year extension and a potentially flippable asset at next year’s deadline. Exactly the sort of cheap, potentially useful vet the Canucks should target.

      • I’d much rather they take a chance on some other free agent that has a much higher likelihood of being worth something at the deadline. If we overpay a bit on a one year deal for someone with real value, then eat some of the salary with the trade, that’s how you get high picks in a trade. Jokinen actually had negative value in the trade that brought him here.

      • I don’t think we would get a very good return for him next year at the trade deadline. From what I read he was forced on the canucks in the Vanek trade. Don’t see a big return coming. I’d rather sign a higher profile player to try to get a higher return at the trade deadline.

      • The Canucks obviously shouldn’t sign Jokinen, but he’s been one of their best players since he was acquired. I have admired the way he has played and a lot of the kids could learn by watching the way he plays at both ends. Today he helped Goldobin, Virtanen and Goldobin put points on the board. Lots of the kids will have a bright future if they can learn to play the game as well as Jokinen. Unfortunately/fortunately he’s helping us win. Good for the player in the lineup, especially Demko, bad for the draft.

      • a 30 something UFA that NOBODY in the league will go near with a 10 foot pole. Sounds EXACTLY like the type of reclamation project Benning covets more than a pillow to sleep on at night. Don’t forget to negotiate against yourself Jimbo by insisting publicly that tacking on a few extra years and $$$ was needed in order to secure Jokinen’s services…..sheeesh.

        • I’m not a fan of some of Benning’s signings but he hasn’t signed any contracts that resemble what you describe. Vanek got a cheap one year deal, Ericksson would have gotten a similar contract somewhere else, Gagner isn’t 30 yet.

          I can understand being upset if Benning re-signs Jokinen especially if it’s to anything more than a cheap one year deal but he hasn’t and there is 0 evidence he will.

          Canucks management has made actual missteps you can be upset with. Don’t see any value in dreaming up fiction. Unless of course you enjoy getting upset over nothing.

    • It’s funny how many people want to keep the Sedins. Yet guys like Vanek and Jokinen come in and out perform them. Guys with short term and cost very little money. They are very replaceable players at this point in their career. If they return. It better not be more than one year. We have up and coming young players that need the roster spots.

    • He is another kind of lottery ticket that most people don’t consider. An old diamond in the rough that nobody saw sorting it out at this age. he may be worth the price of keeping on and flipping at the tdl.

    • We shouldn’t get fooled by these recent wins and points scored by players that hadn’t scored in the first 70 games. This stretch of games in garbage time is seeing unexplainable wins by teams well out playoffs against teams that are coasting their way into the post season. Huge mistake to over value success during this stretch.

      • This stretch of games in garbage time is seeing unexplainable wins by teams well out playoffs against teams that are coasting their way into the post season.

        The teams (with the exception of Edm) are not coasting into the playoffs; they are fighting for their playoff lives. They are being outplayed by the Canucks. The wins do not mean much, but the teams they are playing need wins way more than the Canucks do.

        • That’s why I said it’s unexplainable, teams that have pounded us the last couple years are laying eggs. My main point is I hope management and the fan base is not fooled by the offensive outburst by players that that didn’t produce earlier.

  • Heart loves win, head not so much; but come on, blowing a 3 goal lead with less than 3 minutes left in the third is EXACTLY why we’re missing the playoffs. Not even calling a timeout in the face of the collapse? Not one of those goals was on Demko who I thought played really well.

    Also, I still fail to understand how Tortorella gets credit for these outcomes (or doesn’t get flack for the fact that the Bluejackets gave up on William Karlsson). He is a complete lunatic. I wonder if he kills Wennberg for being all of us in that clip…

    • It’s really easy to explain. Torts coaches in a city called Columbus, Ohio. Buckeye football is the #1, 2, and 3 top sports in the state. Hockey is so low in the radar, that ‘giving away’ Karlsson barely registers on the radar. It also doesn’t hurt that the Jackets are in the mix for a playoff spot after a 100+ point season last year. Losing Karlsson literally means nothing to their city.

      • Except I’m not talking about the fan response to Tortorella. I’m talking about the fact that he walked into a not entirely dissimilar situation in CBJ to TBL where he was gifted a roster brimming with great young players and rode them in his insane fashion to some degree of success. That simply doesn’t work with veteran teams like the Rangers or Canucks (both of which had flawed — in the case of the Canucks deeply flawed — rosters). And I have a hard time seeing it work in the playoffs this year. Just like they completely imploded last year. Do you really see the Bluejackets being able to compete with the Jets, Preds, Bruins or Lightning? I don’t even see them as good as the Jackets. And you’re right, why would they miss Karlsson and his 42 goals and 75 points? I mean that would only put him second on CBJ after Panarin. Who’d want a 25-year-old with that kind of scoring touch? At least CBJ got a lot in return for him — oh they didn’t? Who do you think they’re happier they held onto? Atkinson? Foligno? Jenner?

  • Nice to hear Vanek is doing well there. Hopefully he can have some playoff success and shake the tag he seems to have.

    Good to see Jake have a good game and Goldy too. It would really be great if he finally “gets it”.

    Is it just me or is Sautner looking really good? Very nice surprise.

    Edler’s goal….sweet….love those kinds of goals….patience…patience….

    And yeah Demko…not a bad way to start your NHL career. Really can’t be blamed on any of those last few goals.

    Nice win. And really nice way to finish up the season with some fairly entertaining hockey. (Blowing a lead like that’s a bit….concerning though..lol)

    • One way or another, I see Sautner with the team next season. Maybe as 7th D, but he’s a Green man, so this means Hutty will get squeezed out (unless both MDZ and Tanev are traded).

      • Edler has to go this TDL, we are not signing a 32 year old whos best days are behind him, its nice hes a had a bounce back year, ups his value, adios amigos. But i agree Sautner is gaining some traction.

        • I would really like to see the team try to sell him on the idea of going to Nashville. Emelin is a UFA and if the Canucks retain salary Edler could make a great replacement from David Poile’s point of view, for the same cost. Fabbro coming this way would fit, plus perhaps a pick, given our need for RHD prospects.

        • Hate to disappoint anyone here, but not only do I not see Edler being traded, he will be extended. This will allow Canucks to trade Tanev. They will want to keep Edler to lead this D and mentor the kids.

        • The ‘Dumpster Fire’ is declaring right now that Benning resigns Tanev to at least a 4 year deal. Prepare yourselves for the usual 3-5 separate injuries per season.

        • Edler has been far and away the Canucks best defensemen this year. In light of the Boeser injury, he has probably been their best player period. And he’s 32. Chara is 39. Edler easily has 3 more years left at this level. I was one of his biggest detractors coming into the season, but he has proved me very, very wrong. Imagine where they would be without him. Probably in last place, with the best draft odds, LOL.

          • Chara has greatly taken a back seat on that team, he doesnt even play PP which is a big reason i want Edler gone cant stand him out their. Hes had his best year in how long? Doesnt deserve to be extended when hes going to regress no thanks, his value is high we need to sell high.

            This team needs talent, we aquire talent by drafting them. Edler would fetch a first round pick (could even get more) Canucks need to take that and run.

  • Really liked Green’s deployment today. Sedin line minutes were low and got to see a lot of the young guys. Thought they showed pretty well.

    Boucher can finish the year in Utica then move on to Europe. He isn’t worth a one way contract and isn’t the type of player to use one of the scarce veteran spots on.

    • They could still lose the next 3…. That would put us back in 28th probably. Buffalo and Ottawa look uncatchable. Arizona could go on a run, including beating us, but doubtful.

      • at least it’s a deep draft for the first 9 or so picks, so we’ll get someone good regardless. And perhaps the draft lottery gods will appreciate this late run and reward us with some luck.

        • That’s what Benning/Linden said 2 yrs ago when they thought Juolevi was a fantastic pick at #5. Notice how little mgmt has been talking him up this entire season? Even Salo admitted on radio earlier this month that Juolevi being a top 4 D would be very surprising.

        • I’ve reconsidered my comments overnight, and now I think maybe it’s not a disaster. The Oilers will, of course, win the draft lottery, but I’m optimistic the Canucks might catch a miracle and get second or third.

  • Excited that Demko got the start and the W, cant fault him for a few of those goals bad coverage it happens. Gaudette looked good tonight with JV, excited how our bottom 6 is shaping out. Sedins/Gagner struggled tonight but TG didnt play them as much, pretty good deployment by TG overall.

    No we are not going to resign Jokinen LOL give your head a shake people ffs. Look at all the players who are out and who isnt missed…at this point Motte > granlund on that checking line and Sauntner > Hutton for that 5/6 spot.

    Also was Gaunce injured? Because if he was a healthy scratch to play Jokinen that is a mistake unless management has made up their mind on him.

  • Ya know the more I watch Sautner & Biega, the more I understand Green’s frustration with Hutton. Both those guys make life as hard as possible on the opposition & both make life miserable around the net.
    Part of a defenseman’s job is to make people not want to go to the net or stand in front of the net. Both these guys have half Hutton’s talent but they make people hate to try and get to the hard areas. Hutton, not so much. I hope Hutton is taking notes cuz if he had near these guys tenacity he’d stop being a healthy scratch.

    • Watching Sauntner play, I cannot think of an area where Hutton is better … certainly not defensive coverage, physical play, hockey IQ, first pass, skating….so, the question is, what exactly is the top-4 defensive talent people …cough Jeremy Davis….cough people keep referring to?

    • I have not agreed with a statement any more all year. Love the way Sautner plays. Reminds me a lot of Tanev with a nasty streak. Hutton just does not have it in his nature and he is not an offensive defenseman so no real point in having him.

    • I still don’t get the hate for Hutton. I liked Sautner’s game and his time up here but Hutton is exactly one year older and has played 200 more NHL games than Sautner. I think he’s clearly regressed but it’s a little early to be both writing him off and for giving all these accolades to other guys who’ve played all of a handful of games in the NHL. Hutton was so promising his first year, including a stint at the World Championships. His game has gone downhill ever since we acquired Gudbranson; yeah it’s not all on Gudbranson but Hutton’s been asked to do a lot of switching around with a whole range of d-partners, many of whom have not exactly been reliable. He produced at a decent rate on two terrible teams the past two seasons and this year injury and even more unpredictability in terms of partners (and Pouliot and MDZ getting put into more offensive roles) have really affected his boxcars but I still think a 24-year-old D like Hutton has a lot more value than he’s given credit for here.

      • I don’t dislike Hutton, this is strictly an observation from watching Sautner the last few games. In my mind I’ve tried to reconcile why Hutton has sat so much despite his wonderful underlying numbers, size and skill set.
        It’s because when he’s on the ice he doesn’t make the game harder on the opposition. If the opposition can go to the net without fear it makes life so much easier than when they have to pay a price to get there.
        As an earlier poster said you can’t be soft and not score.

      • Why does it have to be considered hate when you dont like a players style, compete etc.
        The guy is getting close to being nothing more than a 7th defenseman or ahl level player.
        Time to move him before he has zero value.

  • I thought that Gaudette had a good game as well, and the line with Boucher and Virtanen was the most dangerous (and exciting to watch) for the Canucks. Full props to Sautner. He is playing solid, high percentage play defence. Hutton is redundant (this was the worse contract of the Benning tenure).

  • I am tired of all this “teamtank” and the best possible shot at getting the first overall pick at this years NHL Player Draft. I’m all for winning as many games as possible to end the season on a positive note.

    Even if we finished last we wouldn’t get the first pick overall – probably go to Edmonton. I feel confident that the Canucks will draft a very good prospect. This will add to the good group of prospects that we already have and will be the nucleus of the team going forward.

  • OK I think it’s time for us to move on from the Sedins next year and make room for some young guys. They are worst on the team in terms of plus/minus AT -20. If if we do determine that we have room for them, instead we’d be better off trying to either sign one or two quality free agents on long term deals, or one or two quality free agents on one year deals for deadline flips. You know the Sedins won’t be traded at the deadline which is yet one more reason not to sign them.

    • I love the Sedins like brothers. I hope the City of Vancouver puts up big bronze statues of them along False Creek. I hope they get into the Hockey Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. I hope they are affiliated with the club for many years to come. My respect is boundless.

      But yeah.

  • Congratulations Demko! I hate watching the Canucks lose draft spots, but Boucher 14:35, Archibald 17:26, Gaudette 13:06, Goldobin 13:40, Motte 16:11 and Virtanen 13:06 makes up for it. Besides the meltdown in the last few minutes. Good hustle. Unfortunately the odds have us picking 6th or 7th at the draft. Hopefully we can get lucky and still draft a top defenceman.

      • 2 of the goals were power play goals. Thats what he does, kills penalties.No surprise that he would be on the ice when one of the leagues best teams score on the power play. He finished even in +/- on the night. Not quite sure whos head is up their a#$ here.????

      • Okay. Sutter’s + – was 0 for the game. 2 PPG and they do not affect + -. Sutter had one assist – on Archibald’s goal. So he had to be on the ice for one of the even strength goals – actually 6 on 5. That would equal a + – of 0. Where do you get that he was on the ice for the other even strength goal. More “fake” news.

  • Nice to see the Canucks winning a few games, meaningless as they are. I hope this is a sign that the team is starting to gel.

    Also really pray that they don’t climb any higher in the standings. Evan Bourchard or Noah Dobson would be a nice first round pick, but Boqvist or Tkachuk would be even better.