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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

  • I think this game was mostly the Flames giving it away. Full credit for Canucks disrupting break out and zone entries but Flames should have adjusted. Powerplay was just horrible. Markstrom was way better than I have ever seen him. Gudbranson is a total donkey. Dirty hit on Dube. Hamonic was a stud for standing up for him but I thought the Flames should have returned the favor on Pettersson. Pettersson should take the Calder. Guy is good.

    • LTFan

      44stampede – a Flames fan no doubt. IMO the Flames under estimated the Canucks. The comments around Flames Nation was the first 2 games against the Canucks would be 4 points. One blogger predicted a +5 for the Flames in the 2 games. Again every team will play hard and there will few easy games, especially in the first 10 games.

      I agree with you on 2 of your comments. The Flames PP never got going and not very good. I didn’t like the Gudbranson hit on Dube, reminded me of the Tom Wilson hit on Oskar Sundqvist.

      For long suffering Canucks fans, it was a great start to the season with so many new young players stepping up into the space occupied for so long by the recently retired Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

      • I agree about underestimating. Pretty much all columnists have Canucks last or close to so Van will always have that to fall back on. When you have no one taking you seriously you can develop a chip. Look at last years Vegas. Anyway, credit Green for this one IMO. He is one of the better coaches in the league. Hopefully the Flames learn from this!

    • Braindead Benning

      fair assessment 44 and the flames did look a little out of sinc at times but also looked like they are going to be a pretty good team noticed they are quite fast. Thought that the drop passes back to the D on the PP killed for the flames combined with the Canucks tenacious PK, cant wait until saturday if they can keep up the great efforts.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      The hit on Dube was early and deserving of the penalty, but dirty? Not sure I can get there. The Flames looked a little out of sync, sure, but so did the Canucks first line, whose deployment was really uneven thanks to all the penalties, not to mention that it’s pretty clear Boeser isn’t 100%. Just one game though.

      • DJ_44

        I agree it was a penalty and a bad hit, I would not necessary say dirty either. But to be honest, you have to have a few of those. As long as you can kill the penalties, it definitely sets the tone. Good on Hamonik for stepping up and taking a beating for the team. Minus guys like Derek England and Ferland the Flames do not have a big bite like they used to.

        Gudbranson had a strong game. He and Pouliot looked okay both offensively and defensively. Tanev is stud. The talk of his decline has been greatly exaggerated.

        Tyler Motte deserves a lot more respect from Canucks fans and media. One of the best players on the ice. He is the worker every team needs.

        • Chris the Curmudgeon

          I think Motte is starting to get that respect a little more. I think based on his college stats some people might have been expecting a scorer (I expected him to be something of a lapsed top 6 project myself), but he looks way more like a Jannik Hansen type instead. Which is cool, teams need Jannik Hansens.

          • North Van Halen

            So is that another win in the trade column? Goldie, Dahlen, Motte, Leipsic. Pouliot. That’a a lot of consecutive wins for the organization. Thought Benning can’t trade..

          • North Van Halen

            Sticking to the last 3 years. His 1st 2 years they had some, er, ups and downs? in their trades. Baertschi, Granlund good, Sutter, Prust debatable, Guddy, Vey bad. Bieska & Garrison for picks so I guess good.
            Can’t recall anymore but I just would just like to remind people, until I stop hearing how bad at trades Benning is, he hasn’t lost a deal, and in fact clearly won most, for 3 straight years.

      • canuckfan

        Boeser may not have scored but he did make a couple really good back checks. Hard for the first line to get going with so many penalties. The Canucks were playing desperate which is good but the penalties got to stop too many crappy needless penalties such as Brock and Jake’s calls lazy and needless.

  • Missing Burr

    Wow – Markstrom, Tanev lights out. Bo providing spark and leadership despite substandard linemates – guys, the legacy of GM Mike Gillis lives on!

    Guys, honourable mention for Matty ‘the beast’ Tkachuk, jeez what a player this kid is, would’ve been an absolute warrior for us wouldn’t he. Didn’t see much of Juolevi to compare with though… did you? #thankyouGMMG #theMGlegacyliveson

    • I am Ted

      Oh yeah, you bet the Gillis era lives on! He drafted ONE player that became something (Horvat). That’s a pretty awesome track record, eh! He handed out NTCs like they were candy which further crippled the ability to flip aging assets. He then lost almost every trade he made (Ballard is one of the worst deals in Canuck history). Dumbass Gillis also made some deft free agent signings (Garrison). He also traded away numerous draft picks but, to his defence, he would’ve blown those picks if he used them. Gillis was gifted a Cup contending crop of talent and added the supplemental pieces at great cost. What a great GM! NOT! I think anyone who believes he was great must be legally retarded. Really.

      I am not a huge Benning fan but he has already done tons more than that idiot Gillis. Benning was handed an aging roster with no prospects. Gillis left us Bo and Tanev and those are his key additions – pathetic. 2-3 key players added by him over his entire term. Beyond pathetic, really. Why do you think he has not worked in the NHL since being sh!t canned?!

  • Bud Poile

    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.

  • gnam

    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.


  • Braindead Benning

    excellent game very entertaining to watch, could not ask for a better all around effort, the team was a complete polar opposite to the pre- season which was a pleasant surprise, hopefully we see a few more of these types of games.

  • TheRealPB

    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!

  • wojohowitz

    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.