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.


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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.

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.

  • Kootenaydude

    Great game for the Canucks. Minus the third period of course. My biggest concern is Boeser. He is not playing like the guy we seen last year. Zero shots on goal. Doesn’t even look dangerous. Is he okay with Petterson stealing the lime light? Is his hand still injured? This is a guy that had an amazing shot. Unfortunately I haven’t seen that “ shot” yet this year.

  • Nuck16

    It may not be this season, but eventually Petterson will kill penalties and he’ll be one of the best in the league at it and he’ll also be amongst league leaders in SH goals.

  • Puck Viking

    Something that not many are talking about is how good Petterson looks at center considering he hasnt played more than 5 to 10 games at the position in the last 3 years all while on a larger ice surface. Im sure he will struggle at stretches but how good will this guy look by the end of the season. He plays defense like Datsyuk if can be great at defense too it would be huge.

    I had my doubts that he would be a center in this league and thought he would be more of a marner/kane type winger. His play at center will allow us basically go in any direction at the next draft which is huge.

    If JV can actually turn in to a legit 20 and 20 guy who brings speed and plays physical it would be absolutely massive for this team even if its in a 3rd line role.

    Gudbranson played his best game as a canuck.

    Loui Erikkson should be played with Petterson all season to up his trade value and maybe we can get lucky and give him away.

    I think a great player to put with the Goldy and Petey line would Gaudette due his shot, tenacity and fore-checking. His role would be similar to that of Burrows playing with the sedins.

    • Flames fans at Flamesnation are already lamenting the loss of Ferland. He was a 5th round pick that worked his way up the depth chart to become a Top 9 20/20 guy with physicality. Virtanen should be looking at a guy like him and trying to contribute that way.

      • Puck Viking

        Could not agree more, excellent comparison. I dont think JV will ever fight as much but if he can hit like him and chip in with 20 goals it is exactly what this team needs.

  • 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.


  • Hockey Bunker

    As I watched the incredible tireless Canucks skating I was also thankful the Flames had traded Ferland. The Flames are a little different without that big load upfront.

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      Agree the flames had a soft lineup. I wouldnt be surprised if they dressed Prout and/or Peluso next game, and if thats the case i hope we sit Granlund and give Schaller a go. Hopefully we see some “heavy hockey” come Saturday night.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Don’t expect the Flames to play like they did in the first game. 7 PPs to one and they couldn’t get the job done. Should be a much different story Saturday And that damned Johnny Hockey. Dangerous every time he touches the puck. This’ll be tough.

  • Rodeobill

    I’m really starting to warm up to Beagle, I think. He really gets in there and in peoples faces each shift and plays hard, but without crossing lines and taking needless penalties. He also seems faster than I thought too. With a bottom 6 built tough and ruthless (or is it rough and toothless?) expert checking lines, I think we will see a lot more passion and bonding as a team. They are going to play hard, play for and stick up for one another. If they can keep it up this way, it should be a fun year regardless of the standings.

    • Rodeobill

      Also, I think that in the Sedin era this seemed a little less possible. Hard not to take the high road when being in constant awe of those two hockey demigods.

  • jaybird43

    A very nice game. Tidy.
    Canucks prevented good entries on the PK, even AFTER Calgary changed it up later and when to old-school, no drop – entries. They still prevented long looks and fatigued legs.

    The kids, all of them, looked varying degrees of decent, good and better. Nice to see.

    Goalie was square all night, Markstrom-excellent.

    Only disappointment was defenders a bit, in particular Poilet and surprisingly to a lesser degree, Gudbranson.

    All in all, very solid game.