Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings Post Game Recap: Showdown in Salt Lake City

The Rundown

The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played each other on Thursday. Tonight, these two teams would meet in Salt Lake City, Utah for the rematch. With both teams featuring a lineup that fans could very well see on the ice come opening night, this one had the makings of a competitive hockey game. In the end, it was clear what work the Canucks need to do in order to be competitive again.



1st Period

The game was a battle tonight right from the get-go, but not in the sense of team versus team competition. Both goaltenders were having some major troubles with the goalposts on their pegs. This caused a ton of stoppages and ultimately killed momentum numerous times for the teams as they tried to ease their way into the hockey game.


The net issues were finally resolved, but the Canucks play certainly wasn’t up to par. The Kings would send a barrage of shots at Jakob Markstrom early and often throughout the 1st period, forcing the netminder to stand his ground. Markstrom made a couple nice stops before robbing Dustin Brown to keep the Canucks in it.


The Canucks would not escape the first period unscathed, however, as Tyler Toffoli would snap home a wrister to give the Kings a 1-0 lead to head into the 1st intermission. A Troy Stecher 2 on 1 shot was the closest the Canucks would come to tying the game up in the 1st. Link for the highlight down below.

Toffoli’s 1st goal of the game


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2nd Period


Canucks came into the period having to kill off a penalty being served by Sam Gagner. As soon as the penalty expired, Gagner received the puck and came in on a 2 on 1. To my surprise, Gagner wound up and clapped a slap shot past Jonathan Quick to make it a 1-1 hockey game.


Only a few minutes later though, the Kings would retake the lead. Erik Gudbranson attempts a pinch but gets beat handily. Tyler Toffoli would glove the puck down, proceeded to come in on Olli Juolevi, and snapped a shot through the five-hole of Markstrom. A goal Markstrom likely wishes to have back. Link to the highlight down below.

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Toffoli’s 2nd goal of the game


The Canucks would do their best to regain momentum. With Gudbranson trying to make his detractors forget about his poor pinch by flattening Kyle Clifford along the near boards. The Canucks top line of Nikolay Goldobin, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser would set up a couple nice plays at 5 on 5. Finally, a few good Canuck chances on their power play, including a Stecher Spin-o-Rama to fool Drew Doughty and draw another penalty. Nothing would translate to a tally in the goal column, and it’d be 2-1 for the Kings heading into the 3rd.


3rd Period

The 3rd period would be the dagger in the hearts of the Canucks. Starting with another gaffe by the Gudbranson – Juolevi pair. Alex Iafallo would streak down the left wing, blow by Erik Gudbranson, and fed a streaking Kopitar with a cross-crease pass for a perfect tap in putting the Kings up 3-1. Would like to see Juolevi backcheck harder on the play, as the rookie faded and let Kopitar slide in basically unchecked.


About a minute later, Utah boy Trever Lewis would feed Dion Phaneuf right above the left circle for a slap shot one-timer that rocketed past Jakob Markstrom for the 4th goal of the hockey game for Los Angeles. Link for the highlight down below.

Dion Phaneuf’s blast gives Kings 4-1 lead


As far as highlights are concerned, that was it for the 3rd period. Both teams exchanged a couple of chances, with Goldobin setting up Stecher in the slot being the Canuck highlight of the period. Near the end of the game Virtanen and Phaneuf would get into a little tussle, but nothing serious. The game would end 4-1 for Los Angeles as they get revenge for their shootout loss 4 days ago.


Advanced Stats

As the game was not aired on live television, there’s no advanced statistics up for the contest… Quite sad really.


Wrap Up

So, there’s a lot of negative things to say about this performance from the Canucks. With a veteran-heavy lineup and a few kids sprinkled in. There were some glaring mistakes.


Where’s the team’s defense?

As the question states, the team defense seems to be nonexistent for this team right now. The Canucks have not had a game in the preseason where they have given up less than 3 goals. This will not get it done at the NHL level. It’s one thing to have a couple of games where things don’t go right, but it’s early in the preseason and the Canucks can’t seem to keep the puck out of their net.


Where’s the team’s offense?

In the same breath, the Canucks have 4 even strength goals in 5 games. Again, it’s only preseason but this is still unacceptable with so many players battling for jobs on the main roster. Would just like to see something out of someone other than Elias Pettersson.


The Good

There weren’t many players who really made me feel good about their performance tonight. Some started off well, while others finished off the game with a couple of noticeable performances.


Sam Gagner: One of the forwards who I felt was really trying to make things happen. Gagner had the only goal in the second coming out of the box, placing a slapshot in the right spot. He was also effective on the right wall on the power play. Getting the puck back to Edler and shooting a lot more than initially expected. He helped himself possibly earn a spot in the Canucks top 6.


Nikolay Goldobin: The only other forward who I felt was effective in the offensive zone tonight. Saw a lot of smart passes, good looks, and even a bit of pizazz as he tried to dangle his way to the middle of the ice for a shot selection. Now, he wasn’t perfect by any means, but in comparison to the rest of the forwards out on the ice tonight, I thought he showed a higher effort level than his last outing and looks to be in a good spot to win one of the other those top 6 forward roles.


The Average

Brock Boeser: I get he’s coming off a brutal back injury from last year, and he’s getting used to a fully healthy wrist, but I feel like we would’ve seen a goal from Boeser by now. Frankly, I was hoping that he would do something that would make me get out of my seat, and I just haven’t seen it. He could be conserving himself, unlike last year when he had to push himself to earn a spot on the team. I just would like to see a little bit more, call me selfish.

Jakob Markstrom: If Markstrom could keep the softies out of the net, we wouldn’t be placing him in the average category. Unfortunately, another game in which we see a puck squirt through Jakob Markstrom and we’re ultimately stuck with a situation where I just don’t feel confident with him behind the net for this team. He made some nice stops, including making a tough save on the Jeff Carter breakaway. He needs to close the door on basic saves if he truly wants to take the next step.


The Bad

Tonight, I’m putting the whole defense on blast (minus Troy Stecher). Like, at some point I expect the Canuck’s current defense corps to hold a team to under 3 goals, or help out their goaltender. It’s just… disappointing but expected at this point. Tonight was no exception; Juolevi had a good 1st period, but ultimately couldn’t carry Erik Gudbranson, who looks like an absolute pylon at times. Alex Edler had a rough night, Alex Biega isn’t good enough to remain in a top 6, and Michael Del Zotto just seems to make a few too many mental gaffes. Now, we had no Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton against a Kings lineup that fielded what looked to be a full NHL roster, but I’d hope the team can improve their defense in the final tune-ups before the regular season.


Camp Battles

Top 6 winger battles: Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, Sam Gagner, Brendan Leipsic, Adam Gaudette, Loui Eriksson.


As the pre-season winds down, the battles for the top 6 winger spots are going to heat up. Tonight, I think Goldobin and Gagner had a better showing than Sven, but at this point, I’d have Sven riding the B-line and Pettersson surrounded by Goldobin and Gagner. I know head coach wants Travis Green to have Pettersson able to play in his defensive zone, but I feel like loading up some offensively gifted players with the young Swede could benefit the Canucks greatly. They can’t have just one scoring line if they want to try and resemble a team trying to win hockey games. I made mention of Adam Gaudette on the list, but won’t go into too much detail for him. He hasn’t done enough in my eyes to warrant placing him ahead of other Canucks forwards on this team. More seasoning in Utica will do him more than 10 minutes on the main roster.


Bottom 2 Left Defensemen: Michael Del Zotto, Ben Hutton, Olli Juolevi, Derrick Pouliot.


After Ashton Sautner got waived to start the day, it was an opportunity for Juolevi to make a case that he could be in the lineup on opening night. After a strong 1st period, Juolevi wasn’t able to keep up his play and got burned for a couple of Kings goals. Del Zotto isn’t a great option either, but Ben Hutton looked better versus the Kings on Thursday compared to both Del Zotto and Juolevi tonight. We’ll see what Pouliot can do in his next outing, but at this point, he’ll be starting in the press box and Juolevi will be down in Utica growing with the rest of the Canucks young core.


That’s all for tonight, thanks a ton for the read through!

  • argoleas

    Good stuff. Looks like the Hutton-Tanev pair will be what Green goes with. Likely see him stick with Edler-Stecher. And then someone with Guddy. MDZ? Pouliot? I just don’t know. But Juolevi will start in Utica.

    • Braindead Benning

      But Juolevi will start in Utica…

      and after watching him coast and let Kopitar tap in the goal maybe he needs to learn never to let up on the play…brutal goal IMO

      • speering major

        Thats not even the terrible part. I don’t know how the play developed but the highlight start with Oli still skating backwards while his man is well behind him. There was so much separation that all he could do is reach for a slash and still not break up the play.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I think that Kopitar goal punched his ticket to Utica. It was just one play but it looks really bad when a defenceman is trailing his check on the way to a goal like that. Juolevi isn’t ready, straight up.

      Hutton-Tanev, Edler-Stecher, Gudbranson-MDZ seems like close to a lock for the opening night top 6. That third pairing is a little scary to me but if they’re kept to limited minutes the damage can be minimized.

  • truthseeker

    Yep…it’s pretty ugly. These games do mean something. They are not just suddenly going to “get it” come the regular season. It’s clear the team lacks decent structure and the ability to understand Green’s systems. If that’s on Green or on the players, or how much of both, I don’t know, but they’d better start figuring it out quick.

  • wojohowitz

    It`s not that worrisome yet as Green is still evaluating his personnel while these other teams are fine tuning. The obvious example is Juolevi who should be in Utica as soon as possible. The game on Saturday against Arizona will be indicative of their season.
    Asking Gudbranson to mentor anybody is just dumb but with a solid veteran like Del Zotto his game should be much simpler. With no injuries their top six defensemen should be fine.

    • PQW

      Here’s another nutjob who is up n down like an Eastside hooker guys. Make your f-in mind up wojo… one minute the sky is falling the next the top six D (worst in the league) are fine!!!!!!!!!!!! What a contradictory fool you are.

  • Captain Video

    It’s going to be a long season. A pity that Juolevi’s been paired with Guddy. Might as well tie an anchor around the kid’s neck and then throw him off a bridge.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Time for Green to use these last 2 exh games as dress rehearsals for opening night and put in the real line up he’s probably intended to use all along. One wants to be positive but all I can say is: prepare yourselves Canucks fans….

  • Rodeobill

    Guddy wasn’t the worst of our D tonight, actually, he seems to be more involved that in the previous season. That MDZ Biega pairing though, eesh. The game looked like it was played at a rec center with a beer league effort by everyone except Stetcher and Motte. Even Brock seems to be coasting through the pre season. I don’t mind losing, but I really don’t like to watch a game that looks like they don’t mind either. Gaudette looks almost there but not quite. Motte was the silver lining in this game and stood out almost every shift and doesn’t stop, whoever made the Hansen Honeybadger comparision was spot on. OJ had a gaffe or two, but I also saw some good shifts too, kind of young Edler-ish. If he made the team he wouldn’t be our worst D I suspect.

  • TheRealPB

    Wow that was bad. I know we’re in for a long season but…

    I was wondering if all the bulking up plus the injury was affecting Boeser. Probably not when he’s playing with EP as he had a ton of shots that first game. But he hasn’t looked as quick or as creative. I know it’s the preseason but it’s not great.

    I thought there was supposed to be a ton of competition this year for spots? Instead it seems like only Motte actually wants the job. Most of the forwards look pretty poor outside of EP and Horvat. Maybe Baertschi. Everyone else has been pretty underwhelming. And the defense? Juolevi is clearly not ready. Biega looks even more overmatched. And Gudbranson if it’s possible has looked worse as the preseason has worn on — probably because he’s now playing against actual NHL competition. I just don’t see how someone can look at his play and see something beyond a 5th defensemen AT BEST. Someone said he is more engaged — that’s fine, but being more involved and remaining crappy isn’t something to be proud of. I just don’t think he can process the game at a high speed. I would rather have Chatfield, Sautner or even MDZ out there. We shouldn’t have to pay a guy who’s making that much money in a sheltered third pairing but that’s where we are.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      “I thought there was supposed to be a ton of competition this year for spots?” Not sure where you got that impression as it was pretty much universally decried that Pettersson would make the team and nobody else (amongst the kids). Why? Cause of the UFA vets clogging up the roster all on one way contracts.

  • wjohn1925

    Another great write-up. Can’t disagree with any of your evaluations. One thing that made it tough last night was the ice. Beyond the fact that the Canucks are still clearly not in sync, the number of pucks that bounced off or hopped over sticks, made it really tough on the D. Still, it was the same for both teams. Juolevi needs to go down. I’m optimistic about his top 4 potential, but he needs to gain speed and stamina. Kopitar is fast, but it did seem that Juolevi was not going all out to catch up. Hard to tell on my cell phone screen. I think it’s time to cut bait with the pre-season experimentation and start getting the A team working together. Goals are going to be hard to come by, but with Petterson in the line-up at least there should be some highlights to loop.

  • canuckfan

    Gudbranson should go back to being paired with Edler as he played some of his best games as a Canuck with Edler. Then he can be traded pairing him with lesser players will not find any takers for him. Stetcher will do just fine no mater who he is paired with as he always seems to be one of the most engaged players on the ice always giving it his all.

  • PQW

    Juolevi – Benning BUST. Demko – Benning BUST. Guddy, Eriksson, Gagner Benning BUSTS… smell the coffee blowhards – we are the WORST in the division, the Cli teams own us and there are NO PLAYOFFS four years running on a rebuild ffs?! Knock knock guys – WAKE UP!

  • Dirty30

    Boeser looks way off — his positioning was closer to the wall than the f/o circle and he looked like he was tight trying to take shots.

    It doesn’t help that the team was chasing the puck most of the time.

    No excuse for the poor play but the Kings have an amazing record of killing about 65 straight PK’s with only about 3 goals in that span. So no real doubt the Canucks weren’t going to be super effective on the PP.

    It is going to be a very long season. At least it will be fun watching the Soilers … well, soil themselves like always.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    “Juolevi had a good 1st period, but ultimately couldn’t carry Erik Gudbranson, who looks like an absolute pylon at times. ” Who are you kidding? He’s looked like a pylon ever since he came to Vancouver. And his much vaunted physicality has been 100% invisible… he’s absolutely brutal on the ice. The metrics show it, the eye test confirms it, everyone knows it, but for some reason Benning and Green won’t admit it. If playing time is truly being awarded on merit, then Gudbranson does not belong on this, or any other NHL team. That 3 year deal last year is certainly a contender for Bennings stupidest move, and there have been more than a few of those. I support his draft record and the re-build, but trading and free agency has not been kind to him so far.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Gudbranson x 3 years, Beagle x 4, Gagner x 2, Erikssonn x 4, these are all terrible hockey contracts with fringe players that are weighing heavy on Bennings head. Sorry, but its true.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        And I am a long suffering fan. Saw my first game vs the Quebec Aces at the PNE Forum in 1965. All I want is a cup in my lifetime, and its not looking any closer right now.

        • kermit

          I’m in the same boat, my first game was the San Diego Gulls. I don’t remember if it was ‘66 or ‘67. I think we’re out of luck, one of the surest formulas for failure is meddlesome ownership.

          • Challister Canuck

            I feel ya dudes. It would mean so much to every long suffering fan to see just one cup in the history of the franchise, then all would be forgiven. I have accepted it will not happen after 2011 though. sad but true.

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        Exactly why Benning SHOULD be head of scouting and NOTHING MORE. His pro scouting sucks, his negotiation skills are garbage, his communication skills are horrible. His ability to be taken to the cleaners on almost every trade he makes is second to none. His contract negotiations are awful. Does he do anything even mediocre aside from amateur scouting? I’m asking for real.

    • speering major

      I’m not a fan of Gudbranson and don’t have high expectations but a player in his situation is never going to show well pre season. Gudbranson is coming off a bunch of injuries. He’s already made the team. He needs to be physical to be effective but pre season isn’t the time for that type of play.

      My point is, hold of on criticizing his play until the regular season IMO. Guys like Juolevi should be judged under a microscope right now, not guys in Gudbranson or even Boeser’s situation