Photo Credit: @Canucks/Twitter

Vancouver Canucks vs Carolina Hurricanes Post-Game Recap: The Storm Before The Calm

The Rundown 

Games against the Carolina Hurricanes generally rank pretty low on the schedule when it comes to fan anticipation—but with the Vancouver Canucks about to take a nine-day break from hockey and struggling to maintain a playoff spot, this matchup suddenly had some serious implications.

While both teams would enjoy a lengthy rest after this game, the Hurricanes were coming into it anything but refreshed:

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The roster notes were provided by Jeff Paterson on Twitter, and featured Nikolay Goldobin on the outside looking in once again:

The goaltending matchup featured Jacob Markstrom against Alex Nedeljkovic, who was starting the first game of his NHL career. Traditionally, that hasn’t boded well for the Canucks:

 A Canuck legend was in the house for a pre-game ceremony celebrating Canada’s First Nations, and one could only hope that the presence of Gino Odjick inspired some feistier play from the home team.

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1st Period

With a handful of new line combinations, the Canucks had a tentative start to the first period—registering just two shots in the first five minutes and giving up a breakaway chance again. As the team started to settle down, the Canucks received their first powerplay of the game as Troy Stecher made a power move from down low toward the net and drew a hooking call against the newly re-signed Teuvo Teravainen.

The second unit came out to start the powerplay, and were replaced by the first unit about halfway through—but neither group managed a shot on net.

The first half of the period did not really look like it was being played between two teams about to take more than a week off. The Canucks appeared to play down to the level of the road-weary Hurricanes, and the result was some rather dull hockey. At the very least, Pettersson continued to do neat things.

Nino Niederreiter beat Jacob Markstrom with the game’s seventh shot, but rang it cleanly off the iron and out. The Canucks, meanwhile, went more than ten minutes without a shot of their own. This whole NHL business had to be looking pretty darn easy to Alex Nedeljkovic by this point.

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The situation did not improve as Chris Tanev—of all people—took a careless high-sticking penalty ahead of the play with just over five minutes remaining in the period. For Tanev, it represented a new career high in penalty minutes, and for the Hurricanes it represented their first man advantage of the game. Fortunately for he and the Canucks, Tanev escaped the box before Carolina earned any significant shots on goal—despite a couple of close calls in the crease that the Canes flubbed.

At this point, the author immediately regretted their earlier joke about Nedeljkovic having an easy ride in the NHL, as the Canucks’ third shot of the game caught him awkwardly in the shoulder, appearing to injure him—but Nedeljkovic would regain his feet quickly and remain in the game.

Vancouver finished the period with four shots to the Hurricanes’ nine, and #Canucks Twitter let them hear about it:

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Intermission Highlight

Probably all the great Gino gifs being uploaded to social media:

And Brian Burke describing the perfect GM for the Edmonton Oilers, who just so happens to be Brian Burke:

Also, Chris Higgins on the Sportsnet panel. He’s an insightful guest, and it would be great to see more of his business casual commentary.

2nd Period 

Within the first minute of the second period, Loui Eriksson took a tripping penalty against Nino Niederreiter and the Hurricanes were back on the powerplay. It would be Neiderreiter himself who capitalized on the man advantage as some flimsy coverage in front by Chris Tanev allowed him to bang a rebound into the yawning cage. The score was 1-0, and the Canucks were still stuck at four shots.

The Canucks’ fifth shot of the game, however, was their best chance yet. Elias Pettersson made some marvelous moves to set up Sven Baertschi in front, but Alex Nedeljkovic made a fantastic kick save to keep the puck out. Later in the shift, Nedeljkovic shoved Pettersson to the ice awkwardly, and Pettersson limped off the ice while the entire Vancouver fanbase held their breath.

While Canuck fans were worrying about Pettersson’s health, the Canucks kept up the offensive pressure and won a faceoff in the Carolina zone—and a combination of a Ben Hutton pinch, a Bo Horvat hold at the line, and a sweet tip-pass from Troy Stecher resulted in Josh Leivo tying the game with his first goal in over a month. The goal came just 63 seconds after the Hurricanes had opened the scoring.

Canuck fans breathed a sigh of relief when Pettersson hit the ice a shift later, and he proceeded to show exactly how not injured he was. He and Brock Boeser combined in a give-and-go so perfect that to call it a “tic-tac-toe” play would be underselling it—and Baertschi was the beneficiary of a tap-in goal. The Canucks were ahead 2-1 just over five minutes into the period, and suddenly people stopped complaining about the lack of shots on net.

The Canucks had plenty of cause to celebrate, but that celebration was cut short a couple of minutes later when Greg McKegg—with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg—tied the game with a quick wrister that beat Jacob Markstrom high. The assists went to Dougie Hamilton and Saku Maenalanen—because having to type “Niederreiter” a dozen times wasn’t already difficult enough.

Canes captain Justin Williams took a rare unaccompanied embellishment penalty to give the Canucks their second powerplay of the game, and he was about as pleased with the call as one might imagine. Fortunately for him, Vancouver was unable to capitalize on a handful of scoring chances and the score remained knotted 2-2.

Niederreiter picked up his second goal of the period—and his since being acquired by the Hurricanes—after some hard forechecking on his own behalf resulted in a clear cut shot at the net off a Sebastian Aho set-up. The goal came with just under seven minutes remaining in the period, and the Canes weren’t done there.

The much-maligned defense pairing of Erik Gudbranson and Derrick Pouliot got all turned around in the Canucks’ zone, and Teuvo Teravainen was able to spring Dougie Hamilton with a backhand saucer for another unimpeded line on the net—and Hamilton tossed in a relatively easy goal for the 4-2 lead just 25 seconds after Carolina’s go-ahead marker.

The rout was on three minutes later when Teravainen took advantage of some confused play in the Carolina end to finish off an odd-man rush in the other direction against a scrambling. It was Teravainen’s third point of the period.

For some unexplainable reason, coach Travis Green broke up the Gudbranson-Pouliot pairing shortly thereafter, and seemed to remove Pouliot from the defense rotation entirely.

The final play of note in the period was a two-on-one chance with Antoine Roussel and Leivo, but the duo was unable to finish it off and the score remained at 5-2 entering the second intermission.

Intermission Highlight 

Noticing that Francesco Aquilini had bizarrely decided to spend the second period live-tweeting and talking smack about his own team:

3rd Period 

Alex Nedeljkovic continued to play strong in his first NHL start, sprawling to deny a Canuck chance early in the third. By that point, Vancouver had nearly evened up the shot counter, but were still finding it difficult to make much headway with the rookie netminder.

Derrick Pouliot, who had been riding the pine since an unfortunate goal against in the second, didn’t hit the ice until more than a quarter of the final frame had expired. It seemed that Pouliot—who had often been described as Travis Green’s pet—had finally ended up in the coach’s doghouse.

Nino Niederreiter, who had previously missed out on a chance at a hattrick, elbowed Antoine Roussel in the mush off a faceoff—and Roussel predictably responded by going after him, earning a double minor and a misconduct in the process. With less than 14 minutes remaining, it was the end of Roussel’s night.

With Carolina in possession of a three-goal lead and playing conservatively—and the Canucks looking more than a little beleaguered—nothing much came of the first two-and-a-half minutes of the Hurricanes’ four-minute powerplay. Then Bo Horvat tugged the jersey of Jaccob Slavin in an attempt at a shorthanded break, and the Canes were granted a two-man advantage of significant length.

The Hurricanes failed to score, but the lengthy period of shorthanded play seemed to sap whatever will the Canucks had left. Throughout the rest of the third, the only real moments of excitement came in the physical department.

Elias Pettersson earned a little revenge against Nedeljkovic by giving him a good shove to the chest, and later the inferior rookie Andrei Svechnikov got into it with Derrick Pouliot. On the next shift, Svechnikov ran Erik Gudbranson from behind—setting off a bit of a brouhaha. Gudbranson chased down Svechnikov, Justin Faulk stepped in, and Chris Tanev—of all people—came in to back up Gudbranson.

In the end, all parties escaped without any fighting majors—though the Canucks found themselves shorthanded once again as Gudbranson received the “Roussel Special” of a double-minor and a misconduct. Nothing came of the powerplay, and the game ended without further incident. 

Wrap Up

If Canuck fans were hoping for one last dose of positivity before the All-Star Break, this wasn’t it. Now, the team has nine days off to think about this uninspiring performance—which will hopefully motivate them to put in a better effort when they return to action in February.

At the very least, the loss to Carolina gives Travis Green plenty of impetus to work the squad hard as they practice during the hiatus—after all, it’s going to be a real make-or-break stretch for the Canucks from here on out, and they can’t afford many more games like this.

Advanced Stats

Gameflow from Canucks vs Carolina January 23, 2019 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

Heatmap from Canucks vs Carolina January 23, 2019 (Courtesy of naturalstattrick.com) 

Top Performers

Elias Pettersson

Pettersson almost deserves the Top Performer award based on his contributions to Sven Baertschi’s goal. On top of that, he remained effective in limited minutes, bounced back from an apparent injury with a point on his very next shift, and even showed a little pushback in shoving Alex Nedeljkovic. Even in a big loss, Pettersson’s effort and elegance are never in question.

Troy Stecher

The solid season of Stecher continues. His pinpoint tip-pass was instrumental in Josh Leivo’s goal, and Stecher somehow came out of this mess with a +2 rating—despite receiving only 18:12 of icetime.

Ben Hutton

It seems weird to name two defensemen to the Top Performer category in a 5-2 loss, but Hutton played an extremely effective two-way game in this one—and has in general transformed himself into one of the team’s most consistent players. Hutton keeps making smart plays all over the ice, and he’s doing so while taking down huge minutes—23:57 this time around. 

Next Game

Elias Pettersson will be active at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game this weekend, but the rest of the Canucks will take nine days off before their next matchup—Saturday, February 2 against the Colorado Avalance, with a start-time of 7:00PM PST.

Check out CanucksArmy tomorrow for a piece on all the Canucks-related hockey you’ll be able to watch in the meantime.

  • TheRealPB

    The last five games the Canucks have played as poorly as I’ve seen them most of the season; it’s kind of amazing that we’re 2-1-2 in that stretch. For the playoff hopes at least the only saving grace is that Anaheim, STL and Arizona all lost too last night. The complete lack of effort for long stretches of the game is unacceptable at TG has to shoulder at least some of the blame for seeming unpreparedness. Also, the Gudbranson-Pouliot pairing is one of the poorest I have seen in many years on the Canucks. Each individually is bad but put them together and they are the McLean Deluxe of defense pairings. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough.

    • Braindead Benning

      It’s kind of amazing that did pull out a couple of wins, considering the team has been outshot by a wide margin the last few games. I give credit to the hurricanes as they kept coming and throughly dismantled the Canucks in the nuetral zone and made a joke of the Canucks defensive play in Thier own end… They owned the play and perhaps TG should take note cause they should have won in calgary

      • TheRealPB

        It’s hard to imagine that McDonald’s can make a worse burger than the regular lineup but they really outdid themselves with those mid-90s disasters. Similarly, it’s hard to imagine less competent defensive play than that pairing, where a simple dump-in by the opposition becomes 3 minutes of cycle play in the Canucks zone because Gudbranson is chasing the puck carrier and Pouliot is either overskating the puck or bouncing it off his own players. To be fair, Edler and Tanev looked horrific too with all kinds of unforced errors, giveaways and an inability to make a pass. For a stretch now Hutton and Stetcher have looked like the only reasonable NHL defensemen.

  • Braindead Benning

    When Sven scored that beautiful goal I knew the game was done… The team fell asleep and just thought it was gonna be another “let’s get fancy” and not pay attention to details… That second period was pretty much the worst period played (besides the 3rd period against the islanders a couple of years back) how the [email protected] they dont play Goldoben again is really stupid… There are so many players that floating around and not doing anything… Gudbranslug is freaking nightmare, how the [email protected] that guy is even in this league is laughable…

  • truthseeker

    Yeah that’s pretty ugly. Not much else to say. Shake it off, and work harder.

    Gino’s looking good! Last picture I saw of him was when he was ill.

    Went and youtube’d that full clip of “Gino vs the Blues” which I remember. What I didn’t remember was Trev whaling away on Anderson at the bottom of the pile! lol.

  • crofton

    Canucks certainly did not deserve to win this game, but boy oh boy the refs. Roussel double minor for pushing? Guddy double minor ? I get the 10 but the refs were out of touch on both those calls. And of course they missed the elbow Roussel took, and that a boarding call like that deserves at least a “conversation” No, instead…punish Vancouver.

    • The Gudbranson call can probably be chalked up to game management, so I don’t mind it. He could have easily been given an instigator penalty, which carries 17 PIMs with it.

      Roussel didn’t deserve 14 minutes, but he does have a reputation to consider.

      • DJ_44

        He could have easily been given an instigator penalty, which carries 17 PIMs with it.

        No way he could be given and instigator; there was not a fight. I thought it was cheap to tack on an extra 2 minutes and not even it out by putting Pesce in the box as well.

        The Canucks played poorly and got what they deserved.

        The officiating was poor. The diving call on Williams was absolutely terrible. Carolina was dominating at the time, and then the ref gives a diving call (should have been a non-call all around). Brind’Amor tore a strip off the ref, as he should. Canucks did not get a call after that. Not that they actually deserved one.

        Move on.

  • Kootenaydude

    The Canucks looked like they had already “checked out” and were on vacation someplace. I thought Petterrssons game sucked compared to his usual game. To many little fancy plays where he just got pushed off the puck. Sutter is supposed to be a steady presence but he was a giveaway machine and he’s where offence goes to die. Pouliot was awful and that’s putting it lightly. I’m thinking the team was already on vacation. Looking forward to better things after the all star break. With all this time off. Maybe there will be some trades.

  • Here’s hoping Hughes and Juolevi can form an effective third pairing next season and the Canucks jettison both Pouliot and Gudbranson. Edler/Tanev and Hutton/Stetcher may not be world-beaters, but they’re at least solid, dependable pairings. Pouliot/Gudbranson might have fair claim to being the worst pair in the NHL.

    • TheRealPB

      Putting aside any advanced stats, I’m trying to remember the last time I’ve seen such inept defending. Even trying to shelter them is no use because they get hemmed in their own zone and a scoring line comes out against them. I think it should be well clear at this point what the weak links in Hutton-Gudbranson and Stetcher-Pouliot were. I was momentarily mistaken by about a twenty game stretch into thinking that EG was at least competent. How wrong I was.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Duds and stinkers happen and this was one of them. Ever notice when it does take place it’s against some team in the other conference where there is little emotional involvement in playing against them? Carolina who? Columbus who? But it’s a 31 team league and you have to play everyone, like it or not. Still I don’t think the Gudbranson/Pouliot pairing should ever be used by coach Green ever again. They’ll rest and regroup but giving CAR 2pts on a silver platter like the Canucks did tonight has happened that much at all this season. Stop this, Travis, from happening again.

  • wojohowitz

    The turnovers in their own end started early in the first but Carolina did go for the full court press until the second period like they saw a weakness and exploited it.

    The other noticeable event was the last ten minutes when Niederreiter elbowed Roussel in the head and then laughed at him. When Svechnikov saw no pushback he went looking for an opportunity and found one with Gudbranson. Of course Guddy got upset – he had just got slammed by an eighteen year old rookie. Where`s Archibald when they need him. Kassian loves playing the Canucks. How about the next time Jordan Nolan goes on waivers?

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Yeah, wheres Killer Marmot and his Pouliot love campaign today? Guy has to go. If theres a market, trade him for anything , if not then waive him and call up anyone from the farm.

        • Ser Jaime Lannister

          If Juolevi wasnt hurt he would be in the lineup over Pouliot…time for next man up, McEneny or Brisebois.

          Also Russian with a mean streak?? why the hell cant Goldobin play physical….

  • Beer Can Boyd

    As a Canuck fan of impossibly long standing, I had been on the fence about the playoff issue. But after watching last nights abomination , I hope they miss.An average Carolina team dismantled them on every possible level. Offence, defence, goaltending, physicality, heart…you name it.The effort and discipline level was beyond pathetic. Every forward on the team was doing exactly what Goldobin is accused of, and has been benched for. Seagulling in the neutral zone, loafing back on defense, reaching in with weak stick checks, leaving the zone before possession was established, and pretty much any other mistake they could make. When you take off the rose coloured glasses, its been like this for the last month, and its only been the play of Markstromm that has saved them. This is a passive team, and as it stands right now, they would get annihilated when playoff hockey starts. So yes, trade Edler, Tanev, and Sutter for decent picks. And hurry up and get rid of Gudbranson and Pouliot, they are a disaster on virtually every shift they play. Although I believe Benning has done a decent job, considering where he started from, the rebuild is a long, long, long way from over.

  • Heffy

    “Greg McKegg—with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg”

    OMG thank you thank you! 5 thought I was the only one on the planet that couldn’t get that out om my head listening to the game.