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Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/Sportsnet960

Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames Post-Game Recap: Flame On

The Rundown 

With Mike DiPietro back in net against the Czech Republic at the World Juniors, fans were faced with a more difficult decision on Saturday night than they were on Thursday when it came to changing the channel to the Canucks’ game. However, with Team Canada in command of a 4-1 lead and the resurgent Canucks up against the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames on Hockey Night in Canada, it was the sort of matchup that few could resist.

As always, Jeff Paterson had the lineups on Twitter, and this time around there would be some significant changes for the Canucks:

With Sven Baertschi and Troy Stecher both returning from head injuries, Tim Schaller and Alex Biega were relegated to the pressbox to join Michael del Zotto. Adam Gaudette was returned to Utica to make room on the roster for Baertschi’s activation.

The goaltending matchup featured Jacob Markstrom—Vancouver’s red-hot Mr. December—and David Rittich, who had never lost an NHL game on a Saturday.

 

1st Period

On Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks scored on their first two shots. Things didn’t start off quite so well on Saturday, with the returning Troy Stecher picking up a high-sticking penalty just 23 seconds into the game.

The Canucks’ penalty killers had a lengthy PK streak snapped against the Oilers, but they looked calm and efficient in shutting down the early powerplay with relative ease.

Vancouver received a powerplay of their own just ahead of the period’s five-minute mark after a lengthy stretch of play with the penalty delayed. The Flames’ leading scorer, Johnny Gaudreau, headed to the box after slashing Ben Hutton in the neutral zone.

It didn’t take the Canucks’ top unit long to make Gaudreau pay. After 30 games on the IR, Sven Baertschi made an immediate impact by digging up the puck along the boards and feeding it to the point—and then charging hard to the slot. While Baertschi was opening up space, the puck was fed by Alex Edler to Brock Boeser—who skated in for an uncontested shot that found its way past David Rittich for the 1-0 lead.

 

Looking for redemption, Gaudreau and the rest of the Calgary top line proceeded to take control of the game over the next several shifts and generated a number of chances, but Jacob Markstrom and the Canucks’ defense continued to stymy them at every turn.

 

The rivalry heated up as Sam Bennett just missed catching Elias Pettersson with a knee in the neutral zone. Though Pettersson avoided the low contact with a deft move, Erik Gudbranson and Jay Beagle made sure to go after Bennett when the whistle eventually blew—resulting in a sizeable scrum. In the midst of all that action, Derek Ryan took a slashing penalty and the Canucks went to their second powerplay of the game.

 

The powerplay didn’t go nearly as well this time around, as a failed zone entry and Josh Leivo bobble at the blueline sent Noah Hanifin on a shorthanded breakaway. Markstrom made two nice saves on Hanifin, but Mark Jankowski was there to bang in the second rebound and tie the game at 1-1.

 

The situation did not improve as the Canucks found themselves shorthanded again shortly thereafter, following a rather late call on an Alex Edler trip. Things then went from bad to worse as Ben Hutton picked up a slashing penalty to put the Canucks down by two men. Fortunately, the Canucks were also the beneficiaries of a quick whistle on the Hutton call—resulting in the Flames putting the puck in the net a second too late.

Markstrom used the opportunity of the 5-on-3 to put on a goaltending clinic, writhing around on the ice like Dominik Hasek reborn. The Canucks’ PKers collapsed to the crease to support him, and the puck stayed out of the net until Edler could escape from the box. The remaining minute of penalty killing was significantly less eventful.

At period’s end, the shots were 13-6 in favour of the Flames and the score remained knotted at one apiece.

 

Intermission Highlight 

Hockey Night in Canada’s graphics department making it look like Elias Pettersson can blast Cyclops-style beams from his eyes.

 

2nd Period 

Vancouver spent the first five minutes of the second period under siege, but the Flames were unable to put anything past Jacob Markstrom. That included a golden chance in which Johnny Gaudreau was left all alone in front with ample time to make any move he wanted, but he still couldn’t beat Markstrom. Gaudreau was shoved to the ice unceremoniously by Ben Hutton for his efforts.

 

The Canucks managed to fight back against the tilted ice over the next few minutes and generate a couple shot attempts, but they were unable to earn a real shot on net until nearly seven minutes into the period. Fortunately, that shot came on a Brock Boeser chance that also resulted in a Garnet Hathaway slashing penalty, granting the Canucks their third powerplay of the game.

The powerplay was ultimately unsuccessful, though its best chance came from the second unit—resulting in a Markus Granlund shot off the post. Shortly thereafter, the Flames headed up the ice on a two-on-one and Travis Hamonic also shot it off the post—and into the net behind Markstrom. It was the Flame’s second shorthanded goal of the game—and their 12th of the season—and it put them ahead by a score of 2-1.

 

As the game hit its midway mark, the shots sat at 20-8 in favour of the Flames and the possession numbers were once again heavily stacked against the Canucks. Coach Travis Green was not amused.

 

As has been the case on many an occasion this season, the tide wouldn’t turn until Elias Pettersson stepped up to part the seas. Chris Tanev made a great heads up pass to Pettersson at the Calgary blueline, and after a couple of quick strides Pettersson had David Rittich at his mercy from his favourite shooting position—and the result was never in doubt. A hot wrister beat Rittich cleanly, and the score was tied again at 2-2.

That’s right, the official NHL Twitter account just referred to Elias Pettersson as an “absolute unit.”

Perhaps inspired by Pettersson’s offensive creativity, Nikolay Goldobin busted out a Marek Malik-style between-the-legs play on a breakaway during the next shift. He failed to score, but shortly thereafter Goldobin drew a boarding call against Flames’ captain Mark Giordano. Meanwhile, Jake Virtanen mixed it up with Rittich and TJ Brodie in the crease, but no further penalties came from that exchange.

Despite Twitter being awash with jokes about declining the powerplay, the Canucks set out on their fourth man advantage of the evening. Vancouver didn’t manage to score or generate any legitimate scoring chances, but on the plus side neither did the Flames.

Calgary would finish the period with another powerplay of their own after Virtanen got a little overzealous in a puck battle with Oliver Kylington and took a high-sticking penalty. That didn’t result in any chances of note, and neither did the period’s final seconds of five-on-five play—until extremely late chances from Dillon Dube and Garnet Hathaway that Markstrom deftly turned away. Hathaway also drew a high-sticking penalty from Erik Gudbranson as the horn sounded, meaning the Canucks would start the third period shorthanded—but with the score still tied at 2-2.

 

Intermission Highlight 

Jacob Markstrom finally getting some respect from the mainstream hockey media and Elliotte Friedman starting the “Pettersson for Hart” conversation.

Also, the extended preview of Quinn Hughes via the World Juniors:

 

3rd Period 

The ice remained tilted in favour of Calgary as the third period began, but only because they were lucky enough to enjoy a fresh sheet of ice for the full two minutes of their man advantage. There were a few close calls, but the Flames were unable to convert on their chances.

The penalty kill may have been effective, but it also temporarily cost the Canucks the services of Jay Beagle—who up until that point was second in Canucks’ forwards in ice-time after Brock Boeser. Fortunately, he returned to play shortly thereafter.

 

For such a tightly-contested game, the opening quarter of the third period was largely uneventful and dominated by smart stickchecks and efficient positioning by both squads. Tyler Motte nearly sprang Bo Horvat on a breakaway with a clever bank-pass off the boards, but nothing came of the play.

Meanwhile, clips of Quinn Hughes from the WJC continued to distract this author from actually completing the Post-Game Recap:

 

With little happening on the ice, coach Travis Green threw his lines into a blender—which regrettably resulted in Nikolay Goldobin doing time on the fourth line, leading to plenty of chagrin from #Canucks Twitter:

Playing on a line with Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen nearly forced a breakaway, but lost the puck in his skates before he could full bust loose. On the next shift, the reunited unit of Josh Leivo, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser generated a number of top-notch chances, but they also failed to convert on any of them.

For the back half of the period, the teams continued to exchange a handful of chances, but mostly dug in their heels and turned their gaze toward a seemingly inevitable overtime period. Horvat nearly turned a rolling puck into a close chance on net, but David Rittich was in good position to deny him.

 

The most interesting development of the late period was Dillon Dube taking a solid shot at Pettersson along the boards—and Pettersson getting back to his feet in time to take a small revenge run at Dube. It wasn’t anything excessive, but it was a nice bit of pushback from Pettersson and something that many wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future.

The score remained tied at two as time expired, and the Canucks were headed to overtime for the first time in six games.

 

Overtime

The overtime period opened up with a rare Chris Tanev offensive foray, which was immediately followed by an odd-man Sean Monahan chance at the other end that Jacob Markstrom effectively put an end to.

Another Flames two-on-one occurred on the next play, but a backchecking Elias Pettersson dropped to his stomach to break it up with his stick—looking like a veteran defenseman as he did so. The next shift saw a Johnny Gaudreau opportunity in close denied by Markstrom, and then Pettersson lugged the puck up ice for two full-blast shots from he and Brock Boeser—but David Rittich was equal to the task.

 

The opening three minutes of the overtime period saw more legitimate scoring chances than the entirety of the third period, with both teams trading opportunities on every shift—old time firewagon hockey. After yet another odd-man rush was turned away by Markstrom, Alex Edler carried the puck up the ice, dropped it to Boeser, and went straight to the front of the net—where Boeser hit him with a perfect pass. Edler snapped the one-timer past Rittich’s pad to win the game for Vancouver by a score of 3-2.

Wrap Up 

Pundits predicted a tough test for the Vancouver Canucks in tonight’s matchup against the Calgary Flames, and that’s exactly what they got. It was a test that the Canucks passed, and although it was far from “flying colours,” it was an important demonstration of the team’s ability to hang with the best of the West.

Once again, Jacob Markstrom was the team’s best player, as he has been for the majority of December. As long as he keeps playing this well, there’s no telling just how high the Canucks can continue to climb in the Pacific Division standings. There’s still a lot to be worried about in Vancouver’s defensive game, but the dominance of Markstrom and the team’s top shooters are currently papering over the holes with some serious aplomb.

 

Advanced Stats

 

Gameflow from Canucks at Calgary December 29, 2018 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

 

 

Heatmap from Canucks at Calgary December 29, 2018 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

 

Top Performers 

Jacob Markstrom

The story of the Canucks’ success in December starts and ends with the improved play of Markstrom. He’s been one of the league’s best goaltender throughout the month, and he’s been keeping the team in games they have no real right to be in—including tonight. Markstrom is finally realizing his potential as a legitimate starting goaltender in the NHL.

Elias Pettersson

Pettersson “only” had a single goal tonight, but he also made positive plays all over the ice and was noticeable throughout the game. Pettersson dangled through multiple Flames on multiple occasions, and he made the defensive play of the game in overtime—demonstrating once again that he’s already one of the most multifaceted talents in the league.

Alex Edler

Edler is currently playing as well as he ever has in a Canucks’ jersey. Edler’s statline alone—one goal, one assist, plus-two, two hits, four blocks, and 27:45 in ice-time—was undoubtedly impressive against the Flames, but he also passed the eye test with some truly dynamic plays at both ends of the ice. Right now, Edler is carrying an enormous load on the Canucks’ blueline—and he’s thriving under the pressure.

 

Next Game 

The road trip continues for the Canucks as they travel to New Jersey for a New Year’s Eve matinee matchup—December 31 at 10:00AM PST on Sportsnet Pacific.

  • LTFan

    Thanks for the prompt write-up of the game Stephan. Our top players are now starting to make the difference in many games. Markstrom was brilliant tonight. There is light at the end of the tunnel

    • Freud

      The Canucks are dead last in the league for scoring chances against.

      Please stop the mindless takes.

      They have had an unsustainable month from their goalie.

      • canuckfan

        Markstrom has been good and is on a roll, the team is playing well and when they screw up Markstrom saves their butt. Marky is in a grove just as he was at the end of last season no signs of letting up. If Canucks come home after this road trip with 8 of the 12 points should be an interesting close to the season.
        Time to sign Edler to a 2 year contract that he can’t refuse. Hughes is going to need some schooling on what he can do in the NHL and Edler can be the one to get him there.
        Having Brock and Pettersson has brought a new energy to the team and players like Edler know that if the team catches fire they will make the playoffs and Marky will be a big part of that.

      • Killer Marmot

        Tsk, tsk. Applying a statistic for the entire season so far to draw conclusions for the last month. Did you think that sleight of hand would go unnoticed?

        • Freud

          tsk tsk? Applying a lazy narrative without any evidence is much more your taste?

          The chances just last night were 28-14 for Calgary. 28 scoring chances against a game would continue to confirm the team is more than capable of being the worst in the league in surrendering scoring chances.

          But your hot take from a game in which the team was out chanced 2-1 and gave up 28 scoring chances is the team is becoming difficult to score on?

          Do you think your refusal to actually address the facts will go unnoticed?

          • TD

            Hey Freud, what is your analysis of the 1-0 loss to Winnipeg? They outshot the Jets and dominated the play. What narrative applies? Against Calgary they were outplayed and got lucky, I guess they showed they can’t finish the job and lack the talent to win despite outplaying the Jets? Always some sort of negative narrative. I’d say you must be a joy to live with, but that would be assuming someone can put up with the constant negativity.

          • Bud Poile

            A good goaltender wins you games just as a mediocre goaltender puts you behind the eight-ball.
            This team was good enough and working hard enough to win a lot of games when Marky was giving up softies and putting them behind both early and often.
            Marky is playing well and holding his team in games and that’s what every franchise hopes for and looks for in a goaltender.
            The D-core is also playing very well in front of him,helping him win these games.
            Blaming Benning when they lose and blaming Benning when they win has become an old, lazy and tired narrative.

          • DogBreath

            You’re right – they were out chanced by a significant margin (about 2:1). But in the bigger picture, their record is an outcome of their outputs. The two season long winning streaks were the result of good play (yes, sometimes ‘hanging around’ and winning) and good fortune. Similarly, they were better than their long losing streak. To me, it illustrates the incredibly narrow gap between winning and losing.

            Killer Marmot, keep your opinions coming. They’re amongst the best of the regular opinions offered.

      • LACANUCK

        There is that word… unsustainable. Ridiculousness. Marry has stopped giving up weak shots early in the game. That’s focus and positioning. That is sustainable

      • LACANUCK

        There is that word… unsustainable. Ridiculousness. Marry has stopped giving up weak shots early in the game. That’s focus and positioning. That is sustainable

  • Kanuckhotep

    Tonight’s Saddledome match up had the look and feel of a play off game. Being in 3rd period battles practically every game this season the Canucks have had more recent experience with this than a good CAL team has and it paid off. Marky was re-Markable and Edler continues to make a strong case for at least a modest re-signing. Petey and Brock are weapons every team in this league would die to have. And how did Edmonton do tonight, I haven’t heard?😉

  • NeverWas

    1st Intermission they give pettersson the hart. 2nd intermission they compare him to grezky and after the game they give him every award… plus did you see that idiot lips fake swearing stunt?? What a plug.

    Great game!!! Whhheeewwww!!!!

    • Locust

      Agree DJ – both the Flames and Oilers organizations come across bad. No leadership causes the constant moaning and groaning. Canucks appear to have great leadership in and out of the locker room. Their play shows the never give up attitude and what just happened isn’t as important as what is about to happen. You have to have that attitude to win it all. Liking what I see, top to bottom, in Canuckland right now. Western teams are starting to age out. Challenging for the cup in two years…..?

      • Defenceman Factory

        It must be getting difficult or those that choose to hate everything Benning does. Beagle and Roussel go hard every shift. Guddy and Hutton look good. Pettersson and Boeser are among the most dynamic offensive players in the league.

        As for your question can the Canucks challenge for a cup in two years. Yes but not without some significant moves. They need a bona fide top line left winger. Signing Skinner would work. Also should the Canucks still be relying on Edler and Tanev in two years? They need shut down Dmen who can eat those tough Dzone and PK minutes and close out games. How much longer can Edler and Tenev be those guys?

  • truthseeker

    Another solid effort. Edler’s been just fantastic this stretch of recent games. Tanev is looking very good. Mobile, great outlet passes and his usual strong defensive play, plus an added bit of added offense looks good on him.

    Would like to see JV and Horvat crank it up a little bit. They are both playing strong but they need to produce a bit more recently to take some of the pressure off EP and Brock.

    Hopefully Markstrom can keep this run going and not regress too much. That flames goalie looks fantastic too.

    Yeah the short handed goals are super irritating but aside from that the D was excellent. Again, I don’t see playing a counter attack game as “holes” that need to be papered. It’s a legitimate strategy. Of course I would prefer a team that carries play to the other team, but allowing pressure and shots is not a bad thing if you control it. They weren’t as good at it in this one as they’ve shown in other games but whatever. They got the extra point. That’s all that matters. Find a way to win.

    It’s fun this winning thing….lol.

    • Jock-Itch

      Fair points TS, i also agree that both Markstrom & Edler have been fantastic this month. JV has been a little on the invisible side the last 2 games but, at least he is playing a good defensive game unlike Goldobin who gave up on the Jankowski check on the flames first goal, i guess thats why he gets benched alot… makes some great plays a looks dominant on some shifts then forgets his check. Otherwise a great game all around

        • DJ_44

          It was Eriksson’s check on the first SH goal, not the second.

          Goldobin was probably demoted because of the some terrible 5v5 shifts, although he was not benched. While some ex-CA writers have lauded the “how Goldy can process the game at an elite level”, I find this to ring pretty hollow. If he can, why can he not defend? — the only reasonable answer is effort, which while totally correctable, is one of those things that will not keep you in the league.

          Baertschi will continue to get the opportunities that previously went to Goldobin. He is just as skilled (if not more), works harder, is stronger on the puck and can play reasonable defensively.

          Do you think Goldobin would have screened the goalie while Brock loads up to shoot?

    • Holly Wood

      Jake and Bo drew the tough minutes last night. Jake seems to becoming more engaged in physical play even though he wasn’t credited with a hit or a takeaway he is becoming a presence out there. Liked his response to Brodie.

      • truthseeker

        I like their play, but they need to produce more. Both of them can create more chances for themselves than they’ve shown in the last few games. Bo’s been a little better obviously, but JV can get back to some more of those rushes and wrist shots.

      • Kootenaydude

        Agreed mister Hollywood. JV isn’t just there for points. He’s there as an instigator and a guy to rough up the other team. He helps give this team an edge that they dearly need to be a competitive team.

  • TheRealRusty

    I have often been critical of Markstrom giving up early soft goals but kudos to him for performing out of his mind this past month. Hope that he has finally figured it out.

    • Jock-Itch

      Like Demko he was also a 2nd round pick with great potential so let’s hope he keeps it up. Good thing with goalies is that prime can come later Markstrom is starting to look good now with scoring up around the league which is good for the Canucks going forward

      • TheRealPB

        At one point (before he was traded) he was considered one of the best goalies outside of the NHL. Great to see him actually figure it out. Supposed to have made serious adjustments with the new goalie coach.

        • Jock-Itch

          I remember when he was playing quite well for the Panthers AHL team a few years back as well but never could get the same results when he was called up.

          But in the end it was basically Schneider & Luongo for Horvat and Markstrom, which looked horrible at the time however, its looking rather fair now…lol

  • Rodeobill

    This might have been one of the best games of the year. I know we still need to rebuild, but who haven’t we beaten yet and proved we can contend!? Also, EP defends 2 on 1!? Too sweet

  • Holly Wood

    Elliott Friedman, Kypreos and Hrudey showing a lot of love towards Pettersson and the Canuck resurgence. Should open some eastern eyes with those comments.

    • Defenceman Factory

      No it shouldn’t stop. Edler’s play has been very good which is driving up his value and increasing the odds you can trade for a prospect ready to play that’s 21 or 22. The right move for the Canucks is still to build for the future. I have no issues with the notion of re-signing Edler for 3 years without trade protection but we shouldn’t assume he can stay healthy and maintain his level of play.

      • Nuck16

        Agreed…best time to trade him is when is value is its highest. Edler has shown throughout his career that he is very inconsistent and that’s not going to change. You trade inconsistent players when they’re hot, not cold. I doubt he’ll waive his NTC though. I think we should re-sign him though under two conditions. 1, no NTC…2, Hughes takes over the 1st unit next season.

  • Freud

    Winning games you have no business winning is never good for any team that is supposedly rebuilding.

    In this teams case, it’s even worse.

    The meddling, idiot owner has shown no ability to understand results are often not indicative of the strength of a team. He sees games like this one and the number of games this month that were won due to percentages rather than good play and he’ll be in Benning’s ear.

    Benning is weak and ineffectual and has shown to be a yes man. He’s also demonstrated no ability to see beyond results (2014-15). The team he has assembled , aside from Peterson, Boeser and Horvat, whom he was gifted from past regimes or through incompetence, the rest of his roster is bottom 5 in the league.

    The team remains bottom 5 in possession. The team is still dead last in scoring chances against.

    I’m concerned, and the evidence shows these results just mean the team’s moves for the remainder of the year will not be made with an eye to the future. Something we should all be concerned about and vocal against.

    • canuckfan

      Benning and his scouts are building a team no one is giving them the credit for the signing of two big pieces last summer. They are building a team. Trading Edler in my opinion would be a mistake making trades for the sake of making trades is not good. Players coming in such as Hughes need to have players like Edler and Tanev to learn from.

      Sure am glad that Freud is not our GM.

      • Defenceman Factory

        Is it really “making trades for the sake of making trades” or is it trying to avoid hanging on to depreciating assets until they have no value?

        • bobdaley44

          Problem is that asset is more valuable to you than it is for other teams. Not easy finding guys who play plus twenty five a night and are a physical presence especially for a team lacking it. If they had guys ready to take the reigns great but they don’t. Reup the guy ten mill two years.

          • Defenceman Factory

            If you have an asset worth more to you than anyone else you are over valuing your asset or you are keeping it for sentimental reasons.

            If Edler is traded obviously you look for the right return but I don’t mind at all if the Canucks are not as good next year as they might be with Edler if the return builds toward future sustained success.

          • Kootenaydude

            I think we know what we have in Edler. A short term deal fits the timeline of this team. Juolevi hasn’t proven anything. Hughes, although gifted on offence, hasn’t proven he can play NHL defence. Load up on the left hand side. Trade one of the LHD in the future that will give you the best return. You can never have an over abundance of NHL caliber defencemen.

      • Killer Marmot

        By my reckoning, the Canucks are going to have to hand out $12-15 million in raises to restricted free agents at the end of this season, or lose some good young players. Even with the loss of UFAs like Del Zotto and Nilsson, it might not be possible to re-sign Edler and keep those young players.

        • Defenceman Factory

          No it still isn’t a problem. The canucks current burn is just over $71 mil. That is without any relief from players being on injury reserve. The cap next year is likely above 82 so at least 10 mil to work with.

          All the RFAs could be re-signed for 12 mil in raises while removing over 8mil for MDZ, Nilsson and Dorsett. Add Hughes at 1 and Demko at 2.5 and the Canucks still have at least 2.5 left and that is with Edler re-signed at 5, no injury relief and doing nothing else.

          $12 mil in raises is based on these salaries for this year’s RFAs; Boeser -7.5, Granlund -2, Motte-2, Leivo-2.5, Goldobin-3, Hutton-3.3. Poulliot doesn’t get a raise.

          Sign Edler for 4, trade Granlund and bring in MacEwen, trade Schaller and bring in Gaunce and there is another 3 mil for doing what should probably happen anyway.

          • Killer Marmot

            You’re at the very bottom limit of what the RFAs will likely get. I think you can add at least a million and more likely two. Granlund should only be traded if the Canucks can replace him with someone at least as good. MacEwen probably isn’t it. Also you have to add Pettersson’s performance bonus, which will likely be $2.85 million.

            I did not, however, properly account for IR reductions. I thought they were in my numbers, but they were not. I accept your conclusion.

          • DogBreath

            interesting …. if this hasn’t been done, one of the writers should project the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 cap and see what it looks like. agree with your numbers, but Demko is $925k now. don’t see him getting more than $1.5 this summer for a couple of years. hopefully he gets a run post TDL and proves me wrong.

          • Killer Marmot

            Further, while I agree that Poulliot might not be in the lineup, Hughes probably will be. And I expect Hughes will have a big fat performance bonus, making him considerably more expensive than Poulliot.

          • Defenceman Factory

            While I agree it is possible the Canucks could mismanage the situation and create a problem they don’t need to by over paying middling RFAs I think I’ve shown there is plenty of cap room and numerous options to create more. League wide trophy/award bonuses are paid by the league but yes there will be some cost for team paid bonuses.

            In my scenario above Hughes replaces MDZ not Poulliot.

        • Killer Marmot

          If you’re going to assume that Hughes replaces Del Zotto then you can’t assume a salary reduction when Del Zotto is released.

          And I’m not assuming they will overpay RFA’s, but rather pay the going rate. Most RFAs have access to arbitration.

          • Defenceman Factory

            Come on Killer you are trying too hard to make this a problem. Hughes doesn’t even have a contract yet and you already have him earning 2 mil in bonuses which, as you correctly state, I did not account for. The money is there next year and options to find contingencies aren’t difficult.

            The “going rate” for middling RFAs is debatable but to be fair my statement about overpaying them is as much about having too many than paying them too much. Inevitably the Canucks will need to have some $1 mil players on the roster at some point instead of having everybody earning $2-3 million. Perhaps the Canucks need to do this next year with a couple players.

            I will concede your point to the degree that yes the Canucks need to pay much more attention to the cap next year and beyond. If not next year certainly in 2 or 3 years they will need to be more active in managing their roster to stay under the cap.

    • TD

      The comment about being gifted Horvatbisnreally funny. Name one rebuilding team that had less in the cupboards than the Canucks when Benning took over. Horvat is a great player, but no team has zero young players or prospects. Benning inherited one, one single player to rebuild around, and Freud calls that a gift.

        • Defenceman Factory

          On the few occasions you actually have a valid point it is overwhelmed by your obnoxiousness. Your hatred of Benning is delusional but keep beating that drum it is working so well for you.

        • TD

          Do tell Fraud, how am I a liar? Yes, I will agree that Benning has made some mistakes to go with some good moves, probably a C+ grade overall. I will also agree that he probably does what his boss tells him to do. Although I think he probably has to or he will likely not have a job as people usually get fired when they don’t obey the boss. Who did Benning inherit? Horvat, Edler and Tanev, although Edler and Tanev are too old to build around and Edler joins the huge group of players with no trade clauses that Benning inherited that were mainly past their prime. The only potential NHL player in the minors was Markström who is finally maybe showing he can be an effective #1, although it’s too early to confirm it.

          What’s the complex argument? I agree they should stick with the plan and not make trades for this year. I hope Benning sticks to his word and stays the course. So far there is no evidence that he won’t stick with the rebuild.

          The Canucks have won games they should have lost and lost games they should have won (1-0 loss to Winnipeg comes to mind). If Benning trades away young players, prospects or picks to obtain anything but other young players, prospects or picks than I will agree with many of your comments. Although if he does it because his boss tells him to then you are blaming the wrong guy.

          I’m not going to sit around hoping for the worst when the team is playing entertaining hockey and beating quality teams with young players leading the way. Young players who will continue to improve in the coming years. While winning during the Sedins going away stretch was great, too many of the wins in the last 10 games came because of vets scoring which was discouraging that we were rising in the standings while not seeing hope for the future. That’s not happening this year. Would you rather Boeser and Pettersson didn’t score last night? Do you want them both to suck so the Canucks don’t win? Are you looking for the kids to suffer constant losing like the last decade in Edmonton and Buffalo? Your argument isn’t complex, it’s just negative and boring. It’s the same one you have spouting for years.

    • Killer Marmot

      You have yet to figure out the Canucks will lose some games they should have won, and win some games they should have lost, just like every team in the league.

      • Freud

        Jezzus Marmot. What a stupid, simple minded comment. Your ability to not understand a complex argument has been established. Please stop the mindless replies.

        The team is bottom 5 in most predictive measures. Yet they are mid-pack in the standings. The owner and manager have shown in the past they don’t understand the difference between play and results.

        The ignorant will sink this team and blow a great opportunity that Horvat, Boeser and Pettersson present.

    • truthseeker

      The capitals were bottom five in possession last year. Possession is meaningless. There is no correlation between possession numbers and success in terms of points in the standing.

        • truthseeker

          What is this…the stock moron comeback whenever the subject is raised? Let me guess…you saw one of the other stupid c…ts who post here respond with this illogical totally unrelated strawman and rather than thinking it through you just went with it like the f….king idiot you are…lol.

          But hey…by all means run a linear regression on any corsi numbers you like, close, 5v5 whatever vs points in the standings for a given season and come back here and tell me what you get. Show me how much you understand you f…king piece of sh…..

    • TD

      Winning is never a bad thing for young players. I will agree that I hope they stay the course and trade some players for picks or prospects and don’t try to acquire vets for a playoff run.

    • Bucket

      These kids need to learn how to win, not learn how to tank. Not one player in the NHL nor on any other pro sports team wants to lose… ever. That’s why they are pros and you are not

    • Sandpaper

      Forget that crap, I am enjoying watching this team play. I have no high expectations, just enjoying watching a much more exciting brand of hockey.
      You can complain all you want…may I suggest you do that over on the Alberta blogs, as they whine all day everyday.

  • arjay

    Hi Stephan…nice write up and it is enjoyable watching this edition of our Canucks….they never/rarely seem to say die and the credit for that has to go to TG who is coaching this team to play the right way along with some tough love for some of the younger players.

    To pick the nit……there was no quick whistle or any benefit to the Canucks. There was a delayed penalty in effect, the ref had his arm raised and when Markstrom made the initial save ( thereby making contact) the whistle was quite correctly blown and the delayed penalty assessed. The ref got it exactly right.

    And I would like to vent a big gripe with the hype machine that is deliberately being built around Petey.

    Firstly, he has publicly stated he prefers to be called “Petey” not the “Alien” et al. The players call him Petey…why can’t some of the media? (PJ, Sportsnet).

    last game vs Edm. they put up CMc numbers alongside Petey’s and , yes, Petey has a slight edge through the first 35 or so games. But then they went way too far….pointing out some call CMc “McJesus”….they decided to offer us the “Church of St, Pete’s” or some such nonsense.

    This is a kid who just turned 20 and has not asked for any of this drivel from the media hype machine. And clearly he is less than impressed with some of the media’s machinations (i.e. the media invented “death stare”)

    Just call him “Petey” and talk about his hockey game…for McJesus’ sake!

    I am not against Friedman’s hockey opinion that Petey seems a runaway for the Calder (he does) and I can even see his logic in stating that if the Nux make the playoffs (after being consensus picks to finish near-last overall) then Petey might be in consideration for the Hart as MVP…..logically if one player can elevate a last place team to finish 14 places above their seeding then that is the very definition of an MVP.

    But, just as Brock Boeser noted in the “Building Brock” documentary….he has no use for “the Flow” nickname (think that came from /through Botchford) it seems apparent that most hockey players would prefer to just play hockey and be assessed as hockey players.

    So, Sportsnet et al…can we let this 20 year old hockey player just be that? And respect his publicly stated wish to be called “Petey?”

    Thus endeth the rant.

    Cheers….and Happy New Year to all.

    rj

    • DJ_44

      To pick the nit……there was no quick whistle or any benefit to the Canucks. There was a delayed penalty in effect, the ref had his arm raised and when Markstrom made the initial save ( thereby making contact) the whistle was quite correctly blown and the delayed penalty assessed. The ref got it exactly right.

      Contact with the puck is not the rule with respect to blowing the play dead: possession of the puck is. In the opinion of the Flames, Markstrom did not have possession. This is always a judgement call, and given the situation, it is difficult to fault the referee for blowing the puck dead. He gave them a 5 on 3 for over a minute after all.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Say what you like about Francesco as an owner. Would he pull what Jim Lytes pulled in his inflammatory rant against his two top players in Dallas? What if FA came out and slammed Petey and Brock publicly? Would you want to be much of a Canucks fan after that? Airing your grievances through the media in such a manner is classless and bush league. If Jamie and Tyler wanted out of Dallas who could blame them.

  • Fred-65

    One of the best games I’ve seen for a long time by Vcr. But let’s keep our eye on the prize. Hughes will be arriving I assume some time in March but even so Vcr needs one more genuine star player, likely a D. I’d like to think Vcr will have a top 10 pick in the next draft. That I believe would be the final piece of the puzzle for the ultimate goal

  • wojohowitz

    A little JPat at the halfway point – 41 games, 42 points, 18 in the standings.

    10-6-1 through their first 17 games
    then fell on hard times going 1-10-2
    end of the first half on an 8-2-1 roll.

  • Burnabybob

    If the Canucks continue moving up the standings and end up drafting in the latter half of the first round in June, they should take a hard look at Soderstrom and Honka. Next year, they could hopefully draft either Barron or Drysdale in the first round, and they are both RHD. All of those players are RHD, and would shore up the biggest weakness in the Canucks’ prospect pool. They add another sniper somewhere along the way, and the Canucks will have themselves a contender within a few years.

    • Fred-65

      You’re right a RH defenseman is just what the Doctor ordered. I’m not sure a the 17th of lower pick might do it, I don’t know you tell me. I have to think that amongst the yuoug prospects in the wings waiting one will turn up good. Who knows one of Dahlen, Jasek, Gaudette, Goldobin or Virtanen etc can step up. It’s unrealistic to expect more then that

      • Burnabybob

        Plenty of excellent defensemen have been taken in the mid first round and well beyond- Karlsson was taken 15th overall. Weber, Keith, and Subban were all second round picks. Alex Edler was a fourth round pick, and Chris Tanev and Mark Giordano were never even drafted.

  • Kootenaydude

    Soooooo glad that Cloutier is not our goaltender coach anymore. The results speak for themselves. Marky looks like a new man in net. Canucks would have had a Stanley Cup if he wasn’t in the net back in the day.

      • Kootenaydude

        Cloutier was a little baby that always had temper tantrums. All you had to do was nudge him in the crease and he lost his cool…. and the game. So…. you tell me. Was he Cloutiers coach back in the day?

        • DJ_44

          Cloutier still oversees the goaltending development for the Canucks. How a goaltender played and how one coaches/manages are two different things.

          Ian Clark is obviously a quality goaltending coach. Cloutier may have had a big hand in bringing him in (I do not know).