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Photo Credit: @Canucks twitter feed

Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks Post Game Recap: A New Era Begins

The Rundown

Tonight, a dreadful preseason would be put to rest as the 2018-2019 Vancouver Canucks team geared up for the season opener in Vancouver. The Sedin twins weren’t in the lineup for the first time since 2000 and it was up to the new young core to lead this team. The Calgary Flames would arrive in town trying to spoil the first game of a new era in Vancouver, and our young guns were equal to the task.

 

The excitement hearing all the young players on the Canucks roster was evident early with the fans cheering just a bit louder during the player introductions for guys such as Elias Pettersson, Troy Stecher, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, and Jake Virtanen to name a few. The Canucks lineup didn’t feature Antoine Roussel tonight who’s still nursing his head after suffering a concussion at the end of the off-season. Derrick Pouliot getting the opening night nod over Ben Hutton was the only other notable lineup decision made by head coach Travis Green and his staff. The opening night rosters for both teams were provided by Jeff Paterson, and they’ll be down below.

 

1st Period

Tonight’s game got off to a physical start early, with a few opening minutes capped off with a hard hit thrown by Erik Gudbranson onto rookie Dillon Dube. The hit was away from the puck however, so the Canucks would have to kill off an early Flames power-play a few minutes in. It would be the Canucks shorthanded with what was ultimately the best chance of the Flames man advantage, With Markus Granlund ultimately being stopped on a 2 on 1 shot by Flames starter Mike Smith.

 

The Canucks would kill of the penalty, but on Gudbranson’s next shift he’d get into a heavyweight tilt against Travis Hamonic, and while Hamonic was standing up for his young teammate, he didn’t show well after the fight as Gudbranson easily handled him with a couple huge right hooks.

 

For the next 10 minutes, this game would be a back and forth tilt with both teams creating some excellent scoring chances. From Chris Tanev jumping into the play in the offensive zone and ringing a shot off the post, to Sean Monahan picking up a Brock Boeser turnover and being stoned by Jakob Markstrom on the ensuing opportunity in tight. Both teams would give it their all until Michael Del Zotto took a hooking penalty 13 minutes into the 1st period.

 

On the ensuing penalty kill it would be Markstrom who’d stand as the best penalty killer, making a couple nice saves to help the Canucks kill off the Flames 2nd power-play of the night. A minute later, it was the Canucks super rookie Elias Pettersson giving fans their first real taste of what Pettersson will do in the NHL.

 

He has arrived, he has played, and it took him 14 minutes to dazzle…

 

After the Pettersson snipe, both teams would again exchange prime scoring opportunities to close out the period. None were better than Flames forward Dillon Dube being sprung for a breakaway, only to be stopped by Markstrom to help the Canucks hold onto a 1-0 lead heading into the 1st intermission. Markstrom would make all 9 of the saves he was tasked with in the period.

2nd Period

The 2nd period would be a low event period for these teams as they battled it out to try and gain control of the hockey game. There were a few things of note but not much happened that would change the course of the evening.

 

The period began with a great chance from Tyler Motte early, showing why he won a spot out of the preseason over Sam Gagner. A few minutes would go by until Matthew Tkachuk would take a penalty to give the Canucks their first power-play chance of the game.

 

While both power-play units created chances, the team couldn’t convert on the man advantage. Right after the power-play however it’d be defenseman Troy Stecher with a breakaway opportunity, only to be shut down by Mike Smith.

 

Around the 12 minute mark, the Flames would go on their 3rd power-play of the game after a hooking minor from Brandon Sutter. Again though, it’d be Jakob Markstrom doing his best brick wall impression between the pipes, keeping the Flames off the board. A Boeser slashing minor would immediately put the Flames back on the power-play, and like the previous 3 they would fail to solve Jakob Markstrom. The last highlight of the period would stem off an awful giveaway by Chris Tanev, and again it would be the Canucks starting netminder who’d come away with another great save on the ensuing attack. Markstrom would make another 9 saves in the period, stopping all 18 through the first 2 periods as the Canucks would lead 1-0 heading into the final frame.

 

3rd Period

The 3rd period was an absolute roller coaster tonight from Rogers Arena. After a quiet 2nd period, the Canucks would quickly extend their lead to 2 after another marvelous play from Elias Pettersson. Picking up the blocked Loui Eriksson shot, Pettersson would scoop up the loose puck and fire a blind pass to Nikolay Goldobin for a wide open net, one Goldobin makes no mistake on to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

 

It would only take 28 seconds for another goal to be scored in this hockey game, and again it was the hometown team with the tally. Brendan Leipsic picked up a shot deflected by Jay Beagle to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead early in the 3rd period.

 

Barely 2 minutes later, it would be the Calgary Flames turn to respond. A great cross ice feed by Anthony Czarnik to Matthew Tkachuk would turn into an easy goal for the 6th overall pick drafted after Olli Juolevi in the 2016 draft, cutting the lead to 3-1.

 

Immediately after the Flames goal, Virtanen would trip up Johnny Gaudreau to send the Flames to their 5th power-play of the game. After another penalty would be killed off by the Canucks, Jake Virtanen would come out of the box and immediately find himself in on a breakaway. Virtanen showed off the training he went through with skills coach Pavel Barber in the summer and buried the breakaway opportunity for his 1st goal of the young season.

 

The goals would continue to pile on with the Flames firing back. Johnny hockey would come in and set up Sean Monahan for an opportunity in the slot, and the puck just squeaks through the pads of Jakob Markstrom to give the Flames some new life in the period.

 

For the next 10 minutes of this hockey game, Jakob Markstrom would have to stand on his head. The Flames really took it to the Canucks for the better part of the 3rd period. However, even with two more power-play opportunities, they weren’t able to get any more pucks past the Swedish netminder. With a few great saves, none were bigger than his save on Mark Giordano from in close.

 

In the end, the man who worked his butt off during training camp and the preseason would be rewarded after making another great play beating out a defenseman to the puck. Tyler Motte would pick up the loose puck and shoot it into the empty net to seal the game for the Canucks. The team would go on to finish the game with a 5-2 lead and ushering in a new era for Canucks hockey on the right foot.

Advanced Stats

Gameflow from Flames v Canucks Oct 3rd, 2018 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)
Heatmap from Flames vs Canucks Oct 3rd, 2018 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

 

Wrap Up

There were a lot of things to like about what the Canucks did tonight. Pettersson was an offensive machine in his first real taste of the NHL. The young Swede showcased his high end skill throughout the evening and got on the score-sheet twice. Jakob Markstrom was the backbone the Canucks needed to escape with a win. Jake Virtanen’s training in the off-season resulted in an early goal he may not have converted on last year. Nikolay Goldobin looks like a tremendous fit with Pettersson, scoring his goal but also looking dangerous throughout the game. Was this game perfect? No. The Canucks got badly outplayed for a majority of the 3rd period, and the defense struggled to move the puck at times. They also took 7 minor penalties, which on most nights wouldn’t result in a favourable result. However, the Canucks won their first game of the season. Down below we’ll make note of a couple outstanding performances in a night filled with good ones.

 

Top Performers

Elias Pettersson: There’s not much else to say that hasn’t already been said about Vancouver’s teenage phenom. He’s absolutely electric, and was the team’s best player in his 1st game. The goal he scored on the 2 on 1 was absurd, and his pass to Goldobin was a thing of magic. It wasn’t just the offensive game that stood out, but also how great he was in his own end and on the back check. This kid is the real deal, I applaud Travis Green for giving him looks at center while conventional wisdom may have led to him playing the wing in his rookie year. He’s proving the coach right at every turn. Great game from the rookie.

 

Jakob Markstrom: While Pettersson shouldered the offense tonight, Markstrom was a wall in net. A great game from Markstrom after a few average outings in the preseason will surely up his confidence. With a couple of saves on A-grade scoring opportunities for Calgary, the Flames easily could’ve won this game 6-5 if not for Markstrom’s brilliance.

 

The Canucks won’t be the best team in the league this year. Realistically, this team will probably end up with a high draft pick and miss the playoffs. However, tonight the young talent put in the work and got the win. In a year where player development means just as much, if not more than team success, it was a sight for sore eyes to see all 5 goals being scored by players 25 or younger. Down the road this game may not mean anything, but tonight the Canucks will finish tied atop of the league standings during the 2018-2019 NHL regular season. For one night, we finish on top and we should enjoy it. The pain will come, but tonight is pure bliss.

  • The Canucks did what I’d hoped they would. They played a fast, up tempo game with no passengers. Ericksson, Beagle and Granlund were engaged. Goldobin back checked hard. The goaltending held up and made those key saves at key times. That clip of Elias on the bench trying to be calm after he scored was awesome. He just couldn’t subdue a smile.

    The Canucks aren’t going to pull off a win most nights but if they play this fast and with this much effort every night they are going to be fun to watch.

  • I think you’re underselling the PK. I don’t think it was just Markstrom, though he did make a few really good saves, especially on the last one. But most of the PK was a combination of Calgary with terrible entry attempts (that drop pass made me cringe, it was like the Edler horror show) and fantastic pressure by the Canucks PK forwards and really good work by Tanev in particular down low. I was actually also pleasantly surprised by the Gudbranson and Pouliot combo, which was for the most part sound. Gudbranson did get pushed off the puck a couple of times and his hit on Dube hit his head and was dangerous (but he certainly didn’t pay a price for it). There were some seriously soft penalties at least four of the Canucks ones and Tkachuk’s too, but Virtanen cannot take lazy penalties like that, even if he made up for it at the end. That was the most comfortable I think I’ve seen Eriksson on any line during his time here. Stetcher did really well to jump up in the play (as did Pouliot and Edler). I thought there was much better support for the D from the forwards this game and the Sutter and Pettersson lines looked pretty good all game. Motte hustles all game; he really has a Hansen vibe. Yeah Calgary dominated the last 10 minutes but that’s too be expected for a talented group of forwards playing from behind. I have to say the Canucks didn’t feel as fragile as they sometimes have the last four years with a lead. The 1st line was kind of shaky but I think that was a combination of ice time being disrupted by all the penalties and the reality of being keyed on much more as the top offensive players setting in. Boeser made some good plays, I think the rust is still there and the post-injury and added weight has made him less shifty and less able to slip into space than last year. I think they’ll get there. Really enjoyable to see so much better of an effort than the preseason. I guess I was wrong, they really COULD improve pretty significantly in three days!

  • Nice recap,Cole.
    Ericsson,Goldolbin and Pettersson stealing the limelight from Boeser,Horvat and Baertschi.
    That Hansen trade was highway robbery.
    All the CA whipping boys with game faces on in this one.

    • Motte in particular, though Sutter and Gudbranson also played pretty well. Despite his goal, I didn’t think JV had a great all around game. Eriksson was decent too, let’s hope he keeps it up.

          • I agree. He’s at best a bottom six player with the ability to fill-in higher for short periods but he’s not bad and someone who shouldn’t be lost for nothing.
            He’s the kind of fast semi-skilled, multi use player that looks good on the 4th line. Kind of Leipsic with better defense and worse hands.
            It’s when we can start to replace guys like this with better younger players and not the Schallers & Roussells of the world this team will have turned the corner.

          • You might be right, but I think there is a much greater risk of Granlund being claimed than Biega.

          • I get the impression that with Motte being iced to move him over the waiver line and goldobin’s chemistry with Petterson, Granlund is on the block. He was invisible last night and throughout the pre season

          • Adequate might be the operative word to describe Granlund. Fine player, but nothing really stands out about him. Could be expendable as younger/better players emerge.

  • Something said about last season was the goalies never stole a game well Markstrom stole this one.

    Some seriously weak calls by the referees nearly cost them the game. They need a demerit system wherein accumulated bad calls lead to a demotion. Pathetic work by so-called professionals.

  • That was a great season opener, couldn’t ask for better.

    I won’t gush over Pettersson (what a shot), but will over Markstrom, who played a great game, while Mike Smith is still looking over his shoulder wondering what happened. Erik Gudbranson had himself a pretty good game. Our guys played well and worked hard. Can’t ask for more than that.

  • Can we now agree never to believe pre-season results have any relevance to the regular season.
    Seriously, this game couldn’t have gone better could it? The rookie looked great. The bubble boys Goldie & Leipsic both scored and looked good. Ericksson with 2 points and looking less like the corpse of the last 2 seasons. Jake scores to give us hope, Motte gets rewarded for working harder than everyone else and Marky looked like he might actually steal us a game or 2. Throw in a well paid for, but effective looking pk and I don’t think we could ask for anything more from game one (maybe a Brock goal too).
    I think I’ll enjoy this, who knows how long this good feeling can last

    • I’ll admit they played a great game and proved me wrong for one night anyway. As I keep saying…I hope your right. But it’s only one game. Adrenaline is high on opening night at home, Markstrom played amazing etc…

      But I still don’t agree that the preseason is meaningless. It remains to be seen if they can keep the structure they showed in this game. They were a tire fire every single night in the preseason, and at times (thankfully not that many) they showed the same in this game.

      As long as they show that kind of good hard effort, I’ll be happy win or lose.

  • Hey Cole … Nice write up.

    I hope you won’t take this little bit of advice as out of line or as overly critical, but one of the things you might want to look at with your writing is your heavy reliance on the “would + infinitive” form in your recaps – I realize that you’re working late in the evening on a deadline and that this is likely a kind of default phrasing (all writers have those), but if you work to make more sparing use of that form you’ll find that your writing comes across a bit more crisp and a little less repetitive. It wouldn’t require a ton more work either (probably easier said than done at 10:30 at night, mind you).

    For example, instead of writing:

    “Immediately after the Flames goal, Virtanen would trip up Johnny Gaudreau to send the Flames to their 5th power-play of the game. After another penalty would be killed off by the Canucks, Jake Virtanen would come out of the box and immediately find himself in on a breakaway.”

    You could, instead, say:

    “Immediately after the Flames goal, Virtanen tripped up Johnny Gaudreau to send the Flames to their 5th power-play of the game. After killing off yet another penalty, Jake Virtanen came out of the box and immediately found himself in on a breakaway.”

    Using the simple past works better, I think, than seeing the word “would” pop up on every line.

    It’s a pretty minor detail but it grates a little, especially since your game recaps and analysis are otherwise well composed, clear, insightful, and fun to read. Keep em coming.

    Cheers.

  • Pettersson erased any doubts people might have had. So quick. Excellent playmaking sense. He’s the kind of player who makes the players around him better. If he does that for Goldobin… awesome!

    I’m a little concerned about Boeser, who seemed to have a quiet game with no shots on goal. I hope he’s alright.