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Vancouver Canucks at Boston Bruins Post-Game Recap: 2011 Meets 20-11

The Rundown 

Game day against the Boston Bruins began with a bit of bad news for fans of the Canucks, as the team announced that Brock Boeser would be returning to Vancouver to consult a specialist about his nagging groin issues.

 

Despite the absence of The Flow, as game time approached the excitement of the fanbase was palpable, as even seven years after 2011 few—if any—opponents can bring out the same level of emotion in the Vancouver crowd as the Bruins.

For Tim Schaller, the game represented both his first game back in the city where he started his career and a homecoming of sorts for the New Hampshire native—and his parents were on hand to take in the action.

 

It was also a big night for Braintree, Massachusetts native Adam Gaudette, who would be playing his first NHL game in his home state—not to mention, the city in which he played for the entirety of his collegiate career.

 

Without Boeser, the Canucks’ lineup looked more than a little depleted—especially on the wing—and that necessitated a brand new top line of Schaller, Bo Horvat, and Jake Virtanen.

 

The goaltending matchup? Jacob Markstrom versus Jaroslav Halak, with Tuukka Rask reportedly in coach Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse at the moment.

 

1st Period 

The period opened with some scrambly play as both coaches did their best to establish their line-matches for the night. After spending most of the first two minutes in their own end—including a David Pastrnak scoring opportunity—the Canucks forced an icing to finally get the puck in the offensive zone, and Elias Pettersson finally hit the ice. It would end up being the quietest period yet in Petterson’s young career.

It would be Bo Horvat, not Pettersson, who opened up the scoring on the very next shift. After a turnover by Danton Heinen, Horvat picked the puck up just past the blueline and wired a shot past the screen of John Moore and into the net. The goal was technically unassisted, but it’s hard to argue that Horvat didn’t have help on the play—it just happened to come from a couple players on the other team.

 

The goal was Horvat’s eighth of the season, keeping him on pace for a career season. It was also the Canucks’ first shot of the game. With seven road goals, Horvat moved into a tie for second-most in the NHL, trailing only Gabe Landeskog.

The next few minutes were uneventful, other than Tyler Motte shoving Brad Marchand to the ice at center—earning him boos from the TD Garden faithful and respect from the Vancouver fanbase.

As the play began to settle down, one storyline within the game became more noticeable—the matchup between Horvat and the Selke-hoarding Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins center is traditionally one of the best faceoff men in the league, but Horvat seemed to have his number each time they dueled. Interestingly, Horvat seemed to have a much tougher time facing off with David Backes.

Things finally heated up at the period’s halfway mark when the Canucks decided it was a wise idea to anger the largest player in NHL history. First, Jake Virtanen laid a solid check on Bergeron, leading Zdeno Chara to chase him up ice swinging his stick with abandon. Later that same shift, Erik Gudbranson crunched Pastrnak in front of the Canucks bench and Chara appeared to challenge Gudbranson to a fight, though nothing came of it.

Markstrom faced his fourth shot of the game just before the period’s second commercial break, but that stat belied the fact that the Bruins had controlled the majority of the play up until that point—and they’d continue to do so for the remainder of the first.

After a Pettersson shift produced the Canucks’ first bit of continuous play in the offensive zone—and a great play by Pettersson on the backcheck—the dam inevitably broke at the mark of the period, with the consonant-heavy Matt Grzelcyk blasting one from the point off a speedy rush. Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci each picked up an assist with a nice display of passing.

 

Adam Gaudette made a nice play off the boards to set up a Troy Stecher foray into the Boston zone, but the only result was a brief scrum that saw Antoine Roussel mobbed and shoved by a trio of Bruins after a whack at Halak—a failed attempt to draw a penalty, no doubt.

While battling for the puck in the corner, Virtanen pulled a bit of a Michael Matheson by hurling Krejci to the ice rather violently. However, unlike Matheson, Virtanen accomplished the bodyslam in one smooth motion in the course of battling for the puck, and he was thusly not penalized for the incident—one more good play in an overall solid period for Shotgun Jake.

 

Other than a nice defensive belly-slide by Gudbranson to stop Brad Marchand breaking away with 20 seconds left, the rest of the period was relatively uneventful.

 

Intermission Highlight

Michael Del Zotto referring to Ben Hutton’s awful turtleneck sweater as a “Plekanec.”

 

2nd Period

The second period opened up with Bergeron defeating Horvat in a faceoff at center, and that shift culminated in a chance up close for the Bruins’ top line that Markstrom denied. The potent unit struck the very next shift, with Bergeron beating Horvat another time before getting to the crease to bang in a rebound. Responsibility for the goal looked to fall squarely on the shoulders of Derrick Pouliot, who followed up a weak clearing attempt by leaving Bergeron to his own devices in front of the net while Pouliot tried to kick at the incoming puck.

 

A few shifts later, Motte appeared to be injured on a hit by Sean Kuraly–and then he had to remain on the ice for what seemed like ages. When the Canucks were finally able to get the puck down the ice, Motte was able to get to the bench, and they also drew a penalty as Steven Kampfer interfered with the onrushing Roussel. Motte stayed on the bench while the powerplay got to work.

The powerplay didn’t generate much in the way of chances until the last 20 seconds of Kampfer’s penalty, when both Gaudette and Horvat received good looks at the net. After Kampfer left the box and a new line hit the ice, the Canucks kept the pressure on.

Markus Granlund and Gudbranson received chances in close that Halak denied with quality saves, but the scramble was on and Loui Eriksson was in the right place at the right time, popping out from behind the net to bury a rebound for his second goal of the season. Gudbranson and Granlund got the assists.

 

The Canucks kept coming, and less than ten seconds after the goal they went right back onto the powerplay after Grzelcyk smacked Brendan Leipsic in the head with his stick. This time around, Pettersson was able to establish his presence in the offensive zone, but he ended up misjudging a pinch and sending Bergeron and Marchand in on a shorthanded two-on-one. Fortunately, Pouliot earned some redemption by breaking up the play, and that set the stage for the powerplay to seek some redemption of their own.

As the puck moved up to ice, Pettersson got into position once again, firing a pass to Horvat who crisply relayed to Nikolay Goldobin at the netside. Goldobin quickly redirected the pass to Gaudette in the slot, but it took a bounce and ended up on Ben Hutton’s stick at the blueline. Hutton, with all the time in the world, made no mistake and wired it home to put the Canucks ahead once again—but not for long!

 

A shift later, the Bruins evened the score as Krejci shot the puck toward an onrushing DeBrusk—who was in the process of being rather lightly defended by Del Zotto. DeBrusk was easily able to get his stick on the puck and redirect it into the net—drawing the Bruins even a scant 32 seconds after the Canucks had capitalized on the man advantage.

 

Kampfer then took his second penalty of the period against Roussel when he dragged him down to the ice, and the Canucks went to their third straight powerplay. Once again, Hutton’s play at the point proved key to the unit’s success, and he snapped a low wristshot at the net that was tipped in by the red-hot Eriksson from a few feet out. Leipsic, who got the puck to the point in the first place, got the secondary assist.

 

This time, the Canucks would do a much better job of maintaining their momentum. A minute-and-a-half after the Eriksson goal, Roussel crashed the crease and banged in a pinpoint Granlund pass from the corner—and then he celebrated with enthusiasm, just to rub it in. With that, Halak was pulled from the game and replaced by Tuukka Rask.

 

Looking to spark a comeback, Moore tried to get in hometown Schaller’s grill at center ice, but no penalties were called. The next shift, however, Horvat laid a slash into the hand of Torey Krug, and the Bruins finally received their first powerplay of the game.

An early chance was stymied by the quick stick of Chris Tanev, but the Bruins were able to set up off the next faceoff—resulting in a couple of opportunities that Markstrom turned away. The following play saw Gudbranson and Del Zotto overwhelmed down low and DeBrusk once again allowed to get his stick on the puck in front of the net, tipping it past Markstrom for his second of the night with 2:42 remaining in the second. It was the game’s ninth goal, and it wouldn’t take long for the tenth to occur.

 

With just 32 seconds remaining in the period, Gudbranson fired a harmless looking wristshot past a screened Rask, giving the game its tenth goal on just 37 combined shots between the two teams. Eriksson continued his $6 million comeback with an assist, and Horvat had the other.

 

It was almost 7-4 when Granlund was sprung on a breakway with less than ten seconds remaining, but Rask denied him —a great example of goaltending in a game that wasn’t exactly great for goaltenders.

 

Intermission Highlight 

Learning this fact:

 

Also, seeing Andrew Alberts looking happy and healthy. What happened to him is still an absolute travesty.

 

3rd Period

Just 38 seconds into the third, Horvat took his second penalty of the game when he kind of tripped Pastrnak at the Vancouver blueline—though a replay made it clear that Pastrnak fell because he stepped on Tanev’s stick. This time around, the Canucks killed the penalty in the best way possible—by having Brad Marchand take an undisciplined penalty of his own to take his team off the powerplay.

The resultant minute of four-on-four play allowed Pettersson to lead an odd-man rush up the ice, and he used the opportunity to provide Pouliot with an extended look at Rask and the net—but Pouliot rang it off the post. In a ten goal game, Pettersson remained pointless.

After the penalties ended, a few minutes of uneventful hockey ensued. To spice things up (presumably), Horvat took his third penalty of the game by high-sticking Krug, and the Bruins went on another powerplay. The first minute of the man advantage was a tough one for Marchand, who received a solid hit from Roussel and a hook that went uncalled, and then followed it up by being robbed by Markstrom. The officials appeared to make a bit of a makeup call on the next shift with Hutton receiving a rather questionable slashing call to give the Bruins a 35 second five-on-three.

 

As Horvat left the box, Granlund converted a takeaway into an attempted alley-oop pass. Rask came way out his net to intercept, but he put the puck right onto the onrushing Horvat’s stick—and Horvat made no mistake in burying it into the open cage.

 

Down 7-4 and still on the powerplay, DeBrusk attempted to inject some emotion into the game by taking a late whack at Markstrom’s glove, and Stecher responded with a facewash that turned into an outright wrestling match. They both went to the box with matching roughing minors, and the Canucks proceeded to kill the rest of the penalty.

Once again, the Canucks did a great job of maintaining momentum, and on the next shift Pettersson finally hit the board. He made a clever play to gain possession of the puck in the neutral zone and dished it to Goldobin, who slid it back to Virtanen. Shotgun Jake wedged a shot over the shoulder of Rask to give the Canucks an astounding 8-4 lead, and the game began to take the shape of a veritable exorcism of the lingering 2011 Cup Final ghosts.

 

Shortly thereafter, Hutton received his second questionable slashing penalty of the period, and the Bruins were back on the powerplay seeking the 13th goal of the game—and they got it. Heinen got himself into position in front of Markstrom and converted a Grzelcyk shot into yet another powerplay marker. The TD Garden’s PA announcer sounded appropriately hoarse as he announced the tally.

 

Motte nearly made it nine goals for the Canucks as he squeezed one through Rask’s pad, but the embattled Bruins goaltender was the beneficiary of a generous whistle to keep the score somewhat reasonable.

The game saw its first fight a couple shifts later, and the matchup was a surprising one, to say the least. Darren Archibald laid a solid hit on Joakim Nordstrom, and the 5’9” Krug came flying in to defend his teammate against the much larger Archibald. The result was never in doubt as Archibald easily pounded Krug to the ice right over the Bruins logo at center, and the refs added insult to injury by giving Krug the instigator penalty—and a possible suspension. The Bruins killed the penalty, and the game ended 8-5.

 

Advanced Stats

 

Gameflow from Canucks vs. Boston November 8, 2018 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

 

Heatmap from Canucks vs. Boston November 8, 2018 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

  

Wrap Up

 

Unless you’re a dedicated fan of goaltending, it’s hard to argue that tonight’s game wasn’t incredibly entertaining. There were a number of defensive miscues, but that’s definitely outweighed by the joy of watching the Canucks put up eight goals against an opponent—and a hated opponent, at that! Pettersson may have been relatively quiet, but he still picked up his 17th point of the season—and his restrained game left plenty of room open for other players to shine.

The Canucks might not be anywhere near Stanley Cup contender status, but the highest scoring team in the league is giving fans a reason to tune in each and every night—and that’s more than most expected from the 2018/19 season.

 

Top Performers 

Loui Eriksson

With two goals and an assist, Eriksson is officially on a hot streak, and he isn’t just the beneficiary of his teammates’ play. Eriksson is actually generating offense, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Boeser-less Canucks. It should be noted that if Eriksson can simply maintain a three-points-per-game pace for the remainder of the season, his contract will suddenly transform from an anchor into one of the best bargains in the league.

 

Bo Horvat

Yes, Horvat took three minor penalties—but he also notched two goals, both unassisted, and two assists. His marker 2:46 into the game set the tone early, and his offensive outburst moved him to within two points of Pettersson for the team lead. Horvat is leading the team in more ways than one, and providing plenty of ammunition for the #CaptainBo crowd to make their case.

 

Markus Granlund

Granlund led the forwards in PK time and was second to Horvat in overall icetime, and he certainly earned the added trust from coach Travis Green. Granlund looked incredibly active on the penalty kill—something that eventually resulted in Horvat’s shorthanded goal—and he added two assists of his own along with several solid scoring chances. The Granlund of a couple seasons ago came to play tonight.

 

Next Game 

The Canucks continue their Eastern road-trip with a visit to Buffalo on Saturday, November 10, to take on Rasmus Dahlin and the Sabres. Please note the 10:00AM PST start time—it’s a matinee, folks!

  • Kanuckhotep

    Many contrasts between this and last year’s teams clearly exist. FA signings like Gagner, Burmistrov and Vanek are all long gone replaced by #26, #59 and #83 who are much different types of vets who are fitting in nicely. Give Benning some credit here as he realized his miscues on FAs a year and cleaned it up favourably IMHO. And last season was the final year for the immortal twins and ostensibly was still their team, so to speak. Now it’s Green’s team led by a promising group of young dudes who are fun to watch. Still a long, tough road ahead certainly but with the exception of the Pens game in Vancouver they’ve been solidly in the hunt in every contest. That’s all one can ask of a team everyone wrote off (including me) so far.

  • I am Ted

    I see the CA have decided to use that moron’s twits as part of the re-cap here. It’s a shame. I think a call to action is required. People, I propose a 1 week boycott of CanucksArmy. It’s clear the CA staff didn’t hear us when we asked Butthole Burke not be referred to here. Maybe this will help us. Who’s with me?! If you are, can I have a hell yeah!? See you all next week!

  • Bud Poile

    “It should be noted that if Eriksson can simply maintain a three-points-per-game pace for the remainder of the season, his contract will suddenly transform from an anchor into one of the best bargains in the league.” Roget

    Loui’s historical PPG average is .653 and he is scoring at a .529 pace now at 33 years of age.
    He is a stellar defensive player and a positive,steady adult role model and fellow Swede for Elias and Johnathan.
    Free agent over payment aside,his many positives outweigh the aspersions.

    https://vancouversun.com/sports/hockey/nhl/vancouver-canucks/just-play-their-game-loui-eriksson-sees-the-skill-in-the-canucks-young-swedes/wcm/3a301de5-cc02-4c35-9d34-5c5a29ec3ce2