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Photo Credit: @Canucks Twitter

Vancouver Canucks at Arizona Coyotes Post-Game Recap: The Brad Richardson Show

Warmup 

Last time these two teams met, they were tied for fourth in the Pacific Division and embroiled in an all-out battle for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference. One week later, a 1-1-1 run by the Canucks had them two points behind the Coyotes—with Arizona also holding a game in hand.

That made for a classic “four-point” night at Gila River Arena—and about as close to a must-win game as you can get in February.

The lineups were provided by Jeff Paterson, and they featured a number of changes for the visiting team. Thatcher Demko stepped in for the second half of a back-to-back, Adam Gaudette replaced Markus Granlund, and Alex Edler returned from the IR to take Derrick Pouliot’s place. #Canucks Twitter spent much of the pregame rejoicing.

Demko would be trying to extend his perfect NHL record to three wins in three starts. Darcy Kuemper tended the twine at the other end of the rink. 

1st Period

The opening period featured some brand new line combinations from coach Travis Green—including a new top line of Nikolay Goldobin, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser. That line started the game, with Tanner Pearson and Josh Leivo slated to follow on Elias Pettersson’s wings.

Alex Edler hit the ice for his first shift since suffering a horrific facial injury—and he looked surprisingly good. John Garrett still felt the need to call out his messed up teeth, but other than that it was hard to tell that Edler’s grill had been smashed in just a few weeks ago.

The game’s first moment of excitement came when Jay Beagle mixed it up with Ilya Lyubushkin behind the play, resulting in coincidental penalties and two minutes of four-on-four play—though neither team made much of the opportunity.

As the period approached its halfway point, the shots were tied at three apiece—and the only real offensive chance for the Canucks had come at the behest of an all-new checking line featuring Antoine Roussel, Adam Gaudette, and Tyler Motte.

Goldobin finally gave the Canucks a chance to generate some real pressure—making a smart move behind the net that forced Brad Richardson to take a tripping penalty. Afterward, Richardson shoved Goldobin and attempted to stare him down, but Goldobin stood his ground—another piece of evidence for Tyler Shipley’s “Goldy Is Actually A Badass” theory.

The embattled Newell Brown tried a couple of revamped powerplay units out, but the new combos left a lot to be desired.

It took the Canucks a full 1:50 of powerplay time before they even took a shot on net, but that blast from Boeser sparked a handful of scoring chances. None of them went in, however, and the Coyotes were able to spring Richardson on a breakaway as he exited the box. The former Canuck made no mistake, beating Demko with a wrister on the blocker side to put Arizona up 1-0.

Deadline acquisition Tanner Pearson then picked the perfect time to make a mark on his new organization. Ryan Spooner made a brilliant three-line pass to a streaking Pearson, who mimicked Richardson with a blocker-side wrister—and Pearson got the exact same result, tying the game at one apiece.

The game didn’t stay tied for long. On the very next shift, Vinnie Hinostroza stripped Ben Hutton of the puck behind Demko’s net—and then fed a short pass to Richardson, who banged in easy goal as Demko got caught moving the wrong way. Arizona was back ahead just 44 seconds after the Canucks had tied things up. It was Richardson’s second goal of the period and his 14th of the season, tying his career high from 12 years ago.

Gaudette was lucky to escape without an injury as Connor Garland hung out a leg and sent Gaudette airborne with a knee-on-knee. Roussel made a few threats in Garland’s general direction, but the Canucks otherwise avoided retaliating—and thus earned their second man advantage of the game.

The only significant chance for the Canucks came at the tail-end of Garland’s penalty, with Goldobin setting up Leivo for a clear shot from in close that really should have gone in. Kuemper, however, responded with a save so nice that the Gila River Arena DJ immediately played a clip of Lil Jon screaming “YEAAAH!” Or that’s what they play every time a home penalty expires. Who’s to say?

The first period ended with Vancouver leading Arizona in shots by a margin of 11-6—but with the Coyotes ahead on the scoreboard to the tune of 2-1.

Intermission Highlight 

Doug MacLean claiming that the Canucks started Demko tonight because of “the rebuild”—and not because Jacob Markstrom played a game that went to the sixth round of the shootout less than 24 hours prior.

Pundits and trying to incite a goaltending controversy in Vancouver. Name a more iconic duo.

2nd Period 

The second frame got off to about as exciting of a start as the first—which is to say, not exciting in the least. Each team managed a single shot on net through the first five minutes of the period.

The action didn’t heat up until seven minutes in, when Alex Edler sprang Josh Leivo and Tanner Pearson on a two-on-one with a pitch perfect multizone pass. Leivo expertly saucered the puck over to Pearson who rocketed a shot at the open side of the cage—but Darcy Kuemper proved equal to the task again by diving across to make a scintillating save and left Pearson flabbergasted.

Brad Richardson nearly picked up his hattrick goal when he tipped a shot past Thatcher Demko—but he couldn’t beat the post. Had it gone in, it would have marked Demko’s third goal allowed with just nine shots against.

A few minutes later, it was a moot point. Vinnie Hinostroza and Richard Panik drew Demko out of position on a two-on-two and Brock Boeser failed to pick up the late guy—who was, you guessed it, Brad Richardson. Panik made a smart pass back to Richardson, who had a wide open net into which he deposited his third goal of the game—notching both his second-ever hattrick and a new career high at the age of 34.

The implications were terrible for the Canucks, but it was still hard not to cheer for Richardson—who remains popular in Vancouver and seems like he deserves this one after Nikita Tryamkin broke his femur that one time.

Luke Schenn’s solid play continued late in the second when Mario Kempe attempted to whack at a puck Demko had covered—and was met by a stiff Schenn forearm. The Canucks have struggled to clear the crease all season, and that appears to be Schenn’s primary talent.

The Coyotes received their first powerplay of the game when Ben Hutton went to the box for holding, and a minute later they turned it into a five-on-three as Antoine Roussel took a careless high-sticking penalty.

Arizona only needed 40 seconds to set Alex Galchenyuk up for a one-time blast from the halfboards that Demko didn’t have much of a chance on. It was the Coyotes’ fourth goal in 16 shots and left them with more than a minute of powerplay time remaining—though they mercifully failed to convert on it—and a 4-1 lead.

Roussel came flying out of the box and received a clean breakaway pass, but Kuemper stepped up again with a casual pad save. The puck went back up the ice and the Coyotes broke in two-on-one until Derek Stepan flubbed the chance—though it should be noted that Demko sprawled across the net and put himself in a good position to make the stop anyway.

Intermission Highlight 

This wholesome meme:

And of course those Dice and Ice highlights for anyone who hadn’t seen them yet—especially the Bo Horvat photobomb.

3rd Period 

The Canucks needed to turn the momentum quickly if they hoped to comeback in the third, but less than two minutes in they found themselves shorthanded again—with Adam Gaudette in the box for a high-sticking double minor.

Before the Coyotes could set up, Troy Stecher and Derek Stepan collided awkwardly in the corner and Stepan came away with what looked—and sounded—like a brutal knee injury. For Arizona, it was one more in what has been a ridiculous string of injuries this season.

Shaken by the loss of Stepan, the Coyotes didn’t produce much in the way of chances for the rest of their extended powerplay—and they managed to give up a shorthanded breakaway to Loui Eriksson of all people, who rang it off the post.

Moments after Gaudette’s penalty expired, Antoine Roussel took a pass from Alex Biega as they entered the zone and then wired it through a double-screen and past Darcy Kuemper to cut the lead in half. With the goal, Roussel tied his career high in points with his 29th—and the assist marked Biega’s fourth point in three games.

Roussel celebrated with his best Alex Burrows impression, trying—and failing—to break his stick over his knee.

The celebration would be short-lived. Alex Edler tripped over a couple sprawling players, resulting in an Arizona two-on-one between Vinnie Hinostroza and—you’re not gonna believe this—Brad Richardson. Hinostroza fed a pass through Biega and onto Richardson’s waiting stick blade for the tap-in goal. It was Richardon’s fourth of the night, making him the first Coyote since Keith Tkachuk in 1997 to notch a hattrick+1.

It also marked the culmination of a tough, tough night for Bo Horvat.

Richardson’s fantastic fourth made it 5-2 Coyotes—and that score would stand until the final buzzer sounded despite a late powerplay and a moderate amount of futile pressure from the Canucks.

Wrap-Up 

This was the first loss of Thatcher Demko’s career, and it was a big one. However, it wasn’t one that could be laid entirely on his shoulders. Demko didn’t receive a ton of support from his  defense, and the backchecking of the forward corps was particularly sparse. Overall, the entire team came out flat in what was hyped up as a “must win”—and that can’t be considered anything but disappointing.

With the win, the Coyotes earned the metaphorical four-point game and swept the season series between the teams.

With the loss, the Canucks slipped to 12th place in the Western Conference—and five points back of the last wildcard spot. With only 17 games remaining, time is beginning to run out for a turnaround.

This truthy tweet is about as positive a wrap-up on this game as we can provide:

Advanced Stats

 

Gameflow from Canucks @ Arizona February 28, 2019 (courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

Heatmap from Canucks @ Arizona February 28, 2019 (courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)

 

Top Performers 

Tanner Pearson

To some on #Canucks Twitter, Pearson has already solidified himself as a top-line player. While the early hype will inevitably die down, Pearson did look good tonight. He notched his first as a Canuck and very nearly got his second. He also pulled down some monstrous special team minutes.

Alex Edler

Edler returned from a near month-long absence—and the destruction of his face—to play 23:12, leading the blueline. Aside from a couple nice stretch passes, Edler’s offensive skills weren’t on heavy display tonight—but his importance to the team’s overall defensive game remains indisputable. He led the team with five blocks.

Antoine Roussel

Roussel continues to produce in limited icetime. He played only 13:28 tonight—third least on the team—and still managed to put up a goal, three shots, and three hits. Roussel seems to shift momentum in the Canucks’ favour every time he touches the ice—when he’s not taking ill-timed penalties, that is.

Next Game 

The Canucks head to Vegas for a Sunday matinee matchup against Mark Stone and the Golden Knights. The start-time is 1:00PM PST, and it will be broadcast on Sportsnet Pacific.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    WTF is wrong with Green? Early in the year, the Canucks best and most productive line was EP, Boeser and Goldy. Green broke them up in order to teach Goldobin some kind of lesson about defense by benching him on a regular basis. He put them back together for a couple of periods a few games ago. Again, they were great. They were easily the best line on the ice for the Canucks against Colorado the other night. Tonight? He splits them up again. Why? His line juggling is becoming reminiscent of Real Good Willie in his last year here. Scary. As for Newell Brown and his power play? Lets face it, he’s just guessing at this point. He has to be let go in the off season.

    • Cageyvet

      You are right, and while I like Green and think he generally does a good job (and is still learning), like all coaches, sometimes the average fan is left scratching their head.

      Maybe it’s overthinking it when things aren’t quite clicking. I also think it’s a factor of trying to figure out the best fit for Pearson, Spooner and Leivo, so there’s more shuffling than usual.

      As for Newell Brown, he hasn’t inspired me at all during his tenure. Getting a new voice for the powerplay would be a great start to a better season next year.

      I’m tired of cheering for this team to lose, or for hated rivals to win, so we get a better draft pick. I’ve been cheering for them to win, but I’d be lying if I said I’m at all concerned about a late-season drop in the standings. It’s still just what the doctor ordered for a rebuild.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Well that was not a good effort. The top two line combinations flat out did not work but that is no excuse for the lack of back checking. Not sure Green could come up with less effective lines if he was asked to. Did someone ask him to? Regardless the endless line shuffling has grown tiresome.

    The Canucks laid an egg on poor DiPietro and didn’t do much to help out Demko although he did look nervous. Worst game I’ve seen Boeser play.

    Losses, at this point, are probably a good thing but hate to see the Canucks lose an ugly one.

    • truthseeker

      Yeah I agree. Overall this year they’ve been a hard working team. It’s pretty disappointing to see them come out in a pretty significant game and see an effort like that.

      • TheRealRusty

        Hard to blame after a great effort the night before playing in altitude (Colorado). Really needed Demko to cme up big last night but unfortunately he looked like someone who has not played in weeks. Hopes that he finds his game and finishes the year strong. I did not quite mind the new line combos as Green tries to find more balance in the lineup. Powerplay was again brutal and I suspect that Brown will be the coach sacrificed after another season out if the playoffs. Another high pick will help the rebuild.

  • Braindead Benning

    This year and the late run thus far has been entertaining in comparison to the last couple of years, sad to see the team get beat again by the yotes

  • WhatTheF$ck

    Demko folding like a tent in the wind at Prospect Point. This kid will never handle the pressure of playing in what Burkey correctly calls “the goalie graveyard”. So tired of this losing and the pathetic excuses guys, aren’t you?
    #what_rebuild
    #firebenning
    #firegreen
    #firebrown
    #complete_reset

    • PQW is my Biotch

      Another loser post from fake troll account I Am Ted, DJ, crofton, Forever 1915.

      Demko is about the only thing Jim has done that makes any sense. Give the goalie time and he’ll be another Kirk MacLean. Book it!

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Totally. And if you think the Beagle deal looks bad now, there are 3 more years to go on it. I always thought it was a mistake when they let Richardson walk from the Canucks.

      • I don’t think it was a mistake for the Canucks to not resign him…don’t you remember how injured he was in the last half of his final contract year? He finished the year on the IR. Richardson was a fantastic 4th liner who could score and stick up for his teammates when necessary (e.g. pummelling Matt Stajan – Gudbranson should have taken notes). However, when the season/contract ended, I wasn’t sure if he was going to be a healthy guy going forward and was okay with letting him go.

        • Beer Can Boyd

          ” I don’t think it was a mistake for the Canucks to not resign him…don’t you remember how injured he was in the last half of his final contract year?” You mean like Edler is this season? But Jimbo will be giving him 3 years minimum at $5 mil per, you can count on that. Re-signing Richardson (for $700,000 less than f&^%ing Tim Schaller is making) was a no risk, no brain move. And Benning passed on it. Now we’re paying $4 mil per year for a less effective version of the same guy. And he’s got 3 more years to go!

        • Dirty30

          Yeah, he looked beat up but he was a good player that they could have signed for cheap and put on ltir if he didn’t recover. Instead, he pulled a Willie Mitchell and had a miraculous recovery … so much so that Willie made Guddy look good enough to trade for and Brad just scored more goals in one than some Canucks have all season.

          But it could have gone the other way just as easily.

          • Alex G

            @Beer Can Boyd
            “Agreed, but for $1.25 mil per season, it would have been worth the risk.”
            Yes but he signed for just under $2.1M/Y for 3 years by the Coyotes after he heft the Canucks. He was signed to his current $1.25M by the ‘Yotes after a meh season of 76 gms 3-12-15pts and -24. Beagle was signed at $3M after 79 gms 7-15-22 pts +3 (and 23 gms 2-6-8 pts and +7 in the playoffs) coming off a Cup victory. I’m not sure why you even try to compare the two.

          • Beer Can Boyd

            Beagle this season. 2 g, 5 assist, -5, $3 mill salary. Richardson this season, 16 g, 5 assists 0 +/-, $1.25 mil salary. You’re right, I’m not sure why I even compare the 2.

    • Freud

      Benning had no clue the team was bottom 10 in most predictive stats in their first season with him as GM. He was too dim to see results often don’t match up with actual play. He held onto Richardson and Matthias at the deadline for his anticipated magical playoff run, while Calgary unloaded guys like Glencross. Calgary then kicked their ass in first round while improving their future.

      The Benning era was defined right there.

      It was obvious back then too. Looking at the predictive stats and not chasing the name would have made Benning’s decision easier. Simply keeping Richardson and not acquiring Sutter would have this team in a better situation today and the results over the past 4 year would not have been any different.

  • I Am Ted

    Groundhog day again. Every season seems to end the same way and if it wasn’t for Petey and Markstrom stepping up it woulda been over a lot earlier.

    Can i just say how much better this place is with certain users put in their place and gone. The absence of obvious trolling, rudeness and verbal abuse actually makes it a pleasure to be here again. Cheers CA.

    • canuckfan

      I agree that both Petey and Markstrom have made the Canucks fun to watch again. Markstrom has papered over some bad games by the team as he has carried them into respectability.

      I think now the Canucks can start getting ready for next year. Almost had something to play for in March but that evaporated on Feb 28. Looking forward to seeing Hughes when he finishes his college season. The injuries have been tough but soon those players will be able to heal their wounds over another extended off season. Would be cool if we could see three lines push the offense Gaudette has the ability don’t want him stuck being a defensive minded center lets see him with a couple good wingers.

      • Bud Poile

        Of course PQW,I know I am a hypocrite because i am the worst offender on here.
        I purposely make ridiculous comments to troll and garner attention.
        I belittle anyone that disagrees with me and verbally abuse posters that rile me, then ask for moderation of them which won’t happen.
        I know i cry wolf to the CA editors/writers expecting them to back me when all i do is slate them.
        yes,i am the true psycho here and everyone knows that.
        i apologize and know the site is better without me as Jackson said when he told me to leave.
        Maybe i should wake up and do as i am told but this place is my life PQW.

    • tru north

      “The absence of trolling, rudeness and verbal abuse actually makes it a pleasure to be here again.”
      You are kidding right?
      I was just thinking how juvenile so many of the previous posts were, how nothing seems to be done about the problem children and whether it was worth bothering to read anymore … and then this comment. Inconceivable!

      • I Am Ted

        That was written before supertroll Bud Poile resurfaced and the pathetic child primarily known as Green Bastard and his numerous fake IDs (Freud Drouin, Locust, PQW is my Biotch, MattyTS Mom etc) trashed the whole thread bro. Do keep up. Report all those listed plus Bud Poile and they will get an IP ban. Simplez.

        • PQW is my Biotch

          HAHA, you just never give up PQW. We know this is you. In your pea brain you actually think you’re fooling people? No one can be that stupid can they? You knock Green Bastard, but you pretended to be him for awhile until you were exposed then as well. Busted, too easy… run along now

          • Green Bastard

            Can you not talk about me the great Green Bastard troll, it’s bad enough that I am getting an IP ban without having a VPN now.

            *sigh* How dumb was I logging all my fake names in under the same account. Damn, looks like i lose again. Gonna miss trolling here and obsessing on PQW!

          • petey 40

            Whew, thanks for noticing me. I LIKE talking about myself. This almost looks like it’s not me, I feel better now but i think I’ll do the self scrotum stretch anyway. Yay me lol

  • Kootenaydude

    I hope they show Boeser this game when it comes to contract talk time. He’s been a defensive liability all season. If it was Goldy playing defensively like this. He would be benched. Bridge contract for this guy at best. I don’t know if wrist surgery screwed up his release, but it’s crap this year. It’s slow, ends up hitting people in the shins and he’s been a total dud on the powerplay. Last year he was a threat. This year he’s an opportunist that cant beat anybody one on one. He’s also high on himself. When he scored that shootout goal last week. He acted like he was the hero. He wasnt. Markstrom carries the team on his back. He should have skated to Marky and thanked him for saving their asses. Instead he stood in the middle of the ice acting like he was the greatest. One dimensional player that doesn’t backcheck. Regressed after last season and hasn’t earned a big long term contract in my eyes. Green outcoached himself this game. Terrible terrible line selections. Green going for the tank!!

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Yeah, that stick twirl was definitely a bush league move. Had it been the clinching goal, then maybe. But they lose the game and he looks like a jackass. Reminds me of Petr Nedved one night at the Coliseum, celebrating a goal he scored like he’d just won the Stanley Cup. The Canucks were losing 9-3 at the time.

      • Gino's 3rd Cousin

        I did not post this….Ryan Biech and/or Jackson McDonald the comment section is trash and make this site look pathetic. In order for this online forum to be healthy you need mods, otherwise it’s like herding toddlers.

        • PotKettleBlack

          Weren’t you running your mouth supporting other users getting the same treatment Gino??… Ya reap what you sow so be careful what you wish for and just STFU would be the lesson learned here then i guess huh

          • PQW is my Biotch

            HAHA, you just never give up PQW. We know this is you. In your pea brain you actually think you’re fooling people? No one can be that stupid, aside from you, can they? Busted AGAIN, too easy… run along now

    • Bud Poile

      Until the parent site supports the editors in allowing/instituting moderation this site is a toxic dump for Canucks fans.
      A schizophrenic runs their board.

      • Bud Poile

        Of course i only want moderation because i hate being called out on my own trolling.in truth i would be the first one moderated off the site because jackson hates me but i will keep trying.i am that desperate to get backto my trolling unhindered pqw.

        • petey 40

          Hey, where is everyone? I made these fake names and no one noticed? This is the kind of stuff that pushes me to self harm. I’ll post a picture sometime of me stretching my scrotum to my chin again, then you’ll be sorry for ignoring me, the great PQW, lost puppy follower of Bud.

  • Burnabybob

    I’m not overly concerned with the losses themselves, in fact I’m shamelessly with team tank these days.

    I would like to see Boeser, Pettersson and Horvat each crack the 30 goal mark, though. It would be awesome if Pettersson broke Bure’s franchise goal scoring record for a rookie, which I believe is 34 goals.

  • Rodeobill

    This game wasn’t as horrible as the score leads us to think it was. They were still gassed from the crazy game against the Avs, where they played hard. And to be fair, Demko really only let in goals from one guy more or less. They still played a coordinated game and much better than the team of the last few years. The Yotes are being pulled out of the lottery by brad richardson, so there’s that.

    • canuckfan

      I disagree the Colorado game it was Markstrom who worked his ass off and would be tired the rest of the team was not good in Colorado . But agree the team looks tired the injuries forced a lot of players to have tp put in a lot more ice time they are used to. At least they have a few days off before they play again.