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Photo Credit: © Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Postgame: Welcome to the Penalty Box Parade

When I was a young boy, my father took me into Vancity to see a Canucks game. He said, “Son, when you grow up will you write the postgame about the penalty box parade?”

Today was that day. Luckily there was a great off ice story to cover first.

The Canucks were coming off a much-needed victory in Buffalo. They didn’t have much time off as they travelled to Minnesota for the second game of a back-to-back. The Canucks were definitely in for a tough game, as the Minnesota Wild have played just three games so far in 2020. The Wild lost their last two games by one goal, both against the surging Calgary flames.

Brock Boeser would be coming back to his home state of Minnesota, and would have a ton of friends and family in attendance. He wasn’t sure of who will all be at the game but he knows that one special person will be in attendance.

Brock has been heavily scrutinized by the Vancouver market over the past few weeks. We even saw coach Travis Green take him off of the first powerplay unit and drop him down to the third scoring line for a practice. Brock Boeser hasn’t been bad, he’s actually looked to have improved in many parts of his game as Micheal Wagar recently wrote.

The recent problem for Boeser has been his scoring. Coming into the Panthers game, Boeser only had two goals in 15 games. Boeser scored one goal in that Panthers game and followed that up with a two goal performance against the Sabres on Saturday. Boeser wasn’t slumping in those 15 games, he actually had 13 assists during that stretch and was a point per game player.

This Sunday game meant a lot to Boeser and I was expecting to see him continue to have a hot hand and fire shots at the opposing goaltender like it was 2018.

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Many folks are hoping for a big game from Boeser, but would he do it?

Let’s go!

First Period

The first period began with a few shots of Brock Boeser’s family. It was such a good sight to see. Duke Boeser battled back from a life threatening heart attack in the summer and we need to remember that somethings are bigger than hockey. This is one of those things. Boeser has been through a lot in his life and this was another non-hockey event that changed his life.

The Canucks were facing Devan Dubnyk in net for the Wild. Jacob Markstrom would start for the Canucks. Both teams came out with a lot of energy, there were some early chances for both teams. Including an opening shift from the Lotto Line that saw them all around the net. Jake Virtanen had a tough giveaway early on that led to a partial break for the Wild.

The problem for the Wild early on was that they kept missing the net. They had plenty of shot attempts in the first few minutes but only two registered shots on net in the first five minutes.

Play was back-and-forth and we saw over five minutes of play between whistles in the early stages of the first period. The pairing of Quinn Hughes and Chris Tanev was good at moving the puck out of their zone and into the offensive side of the ice.

The Wild were controlling the pace of play for the first eight minutes of the game before the Canucks took control of the puck for the next five minutes or so.

The funniest part of the first period was when Tyler Myers broke his stick and had to use his teammate Tim Schaller’s stick. Not only was the stick the wrong hand but it was about a foot shorter than his usual equipment. It would be like a Giraffe walking around with the legs of a Chihuahua.

Antoine Roussel took a goaltender interference penalty with 10:15 remaining in the period. The powerplay would last for seven seconds before Mikko Koivu took an interference call and we would see almost two minutes of four on four.

Matt Dumba had the best chance for the Wild at 4-on-4 when he fired a shot from the slot that was easily swallowed up by Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks would draw a penalty when Jordan Greenway elbowed Alex Edler with 8:41 remaining in the period. The Canucks would get a quick four on three powerplay.

During the delayed penalty Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser had a two on one rush where Horvat sent the puck over to Boeser who had the puck jump on his at the last second.

The Canucks would get a short 4-on-3 power play and an even shorter five on three powerplay to follow. After the penalty box parade was over, the Canucks could set up a regular 5-on-4 power play. The second unit got set up late in the powerplay but was unable to get any real scoring chances.

As the powerplay expired Jonas Brodin flipped the puck over the glass because he was jealous of all the other players getting a chance to sit in the penalty box.

This game was starting to get a sloppy feeling to it. Seemed like neither team could set up much ongoing pressure. Passes weren’t crisp and both teams were taking so many shots that were missing the net.

The first unit was unable to set up and they gave off to the second unit with 38 seconds remaining in the powerplay. Jake Virtanen got a couple shot on Dubnyk but the Wild were able to kill off the penalty and get back to full strength.

Tyler Motte seemed to have been listening to the fanbase lately as he has been firing shots on the fourth line lately. The fourth line has been getting caved in with their shot share being so negative of the past 10 or so games. Motte is trying to extend the play instead of simply dumping the puck in as soon as that line crosses centre.

Chris Tanev was pinching at the point and had a pass come up off a stick and hit him in the right ear. He went to the bench and straight to the dressing room. There was under two minutes left in the period, it was just for precautionary reasons as he would return for the first shift in the second period.

The shots were 9-3 after 20 minutes and I was hoping for some more action in the second.

Second Period

Elias Pettersson was sent in on a partial breakaway from a great pass from JT Miller. Pettersson fired blocker side but Dubnyk was there to make the save.

The Canucks would get another power play opportunity when Jason Zucker took a hooking penalty with 17:50 remaining in the period.

The Wild took another penalty when Ryan Suter slashed Bo Horvat’s stick in half. The Canucks would get a five on three powerplay for a minute and 23 seconds.

Quinn Hughes and the first unit moved the puck around but were unable to get any real dangerous scoring chances. The first unit was unable to get anything going and the second unit only had 18 seconds of time to work. The Canucks were unable to score on the 5-on-3 and the Canucks were 0-for-5 on the powerplay in this game.

Antoine Roussel would take his second penalty of the game with 14:04 remaining in the period. I asked for more action in the second period and that’s what I got!

The Wild needed this powerplay as they went almost 15 minutes without a shot on net. It took them all of three seconds to get their shot on the powerplay. After 27 minutes played the Wild only had four shots on net. Tim Schaller almost had a breakaway on the penalty kill but the pass from Beagle was just too far ahead of him. Right after that, Tim Schaller got hi stick tangled up between Ryan Suter’s legs and the Wild would get a five on three for just over 40 seconds.

The Wild had a handful of chances but Jacob Markstrom made two or three great saves and he was diving across the crease for a full minutes. The Wild would take a too many men on the ice penalty with 42 seconds remaining in their now 5on4 powerplay that was now a 4on4 situation.

The penalty box parade was continuing on.

We were going to get more 4on4 but just as the Canucks took to the powerplay Quinn Hughes fired a shot that was likely to go just wide but Elias Pettersson was there to tip it behind Dubnyk. 1-0 Canucks after Pettersson’s 21st of the season.

Halfway through the game the Canucks were up 1-0. They were up 16-7 in the shots and just beginning to take over the pace of play.

The Wild fired a weak shot on net that resulted in a big rebound given up by Markstrom and Marcus Foligno beat Brock Boeser to the puck and directed in into the net. 1-1 After the Foligno goal.

Before I could type out that last sentence, the Canucks came down the ice when Horvat intercepted a pass and drove the net with a shot. The puck went around the net and was sent through the crease from Tanner Pearson. Horvat was there to bury it and the Canucks were back on top. 2-1 Canucks after captain Bo scored his 14th of the season.

The Canucks got set up in the offensive zone just a couple minutes after that and after Elias Pettersson and JT Miller worked the cycle for a few passes. JT Miller sent a beautiful cross ice pass to Troy Stecher who fired one off a Wild player and behind Dubnyk. 3-1 Canucks after Stecher’s 3rd goal of the season.

They only gave Miller an assist on the goal. This could be changed later as it seemed like Pettersson was involved in the cycle with Miller.

Jake Virtanen took a penalty with 4:19 remaining and the Wild would go to the power play.

Jacob Markstrom must have heard that none of the NHL.com writers voted him to win the Vezina, as he was outstanding on this powerplay. Sprawling across the ice to make a couple huge saves and keep the two goal lead for the Canucks.

The period would end with the Canucks leading in shots 23-12. There were taking over the game and you can tell from this Cosri chart.

Third Period

Bo Horvat took a check to the head penalty with 16:43 remaining in the period. Quinn Hughes went into the boards awkwardly when he skated over Markstrom’s stick in the crease. Hughes took a few seconds to gather himself and skated off fine. It was a scary moment for the all-star defenceman.

Once again, the Wild took themselves off the powerplay when Jason Zucker tripped Tyler Motte in the Canucks zone. This would result in 55 seconds of 4on4. As much as I love 4on4 hockey, this penalty box parade was getting out of control.

The Canucks would get just over a minute of power play time. The second unit was give that time but was unable to set up anything. The penalty would expire and the Canucks held onto a two goal lead with 13 minutes remaining in the game.

JT Miller was taken down by Luke Kunin with 12:50 remaining in the period and the Canucks would get their 8th powerplay of the game.

The first unit was unable to do much on their 8th attempt of the game and the second unit was kept on the outside as well. The Wild got a two on one as the penalty expired but we unable to complete the cross ice pass to get a shot off. The Canucks were now one for eight on the powerplay in a strange game for special teams.

Markstrom was keeping the Canucks in this game even though he wasn’t facing a ton of shots. The shots that he did face we in tight. He came up with a big right pad save in the late stages of the game.

The Canucks continued to control the pace of play late in the period. The Wild pulled their goal with two and a half minutes remaining in the game. Markstrom made another huge save when he dove across the crease to make another huge left pad save. Markstrom would cover the puck with 1:16 remaining in the game and give the team a much needed breather. With a minute left it was time to get Pearson and Eriksson out there to fight over the empty net goal.

Markstrom made another handful of saves in the final two minutes. He was the best player for the Canucks in the final period as the Wild outshot the Canucks in the third. Bo Horvat bounced one off the boards and it slid down the ice and into the net for his second of the game. 4-1 Canucks final.

The Fancies

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Top Performers

This game was dominated by strange special teams. The top performer had to be Jacob Markstrom. As you can see from the heatmap in “The Fancies” the wild we able to get a ton of shots off in tight at 5-on-5. They were also able to make a lot of cross ice passes on the powerplay that Markstrom was able to keep out of the net. He was selected as the first star of the game and he secured that selection with an excellent third period. That third period saw him make 12 saves.

Quinn Hughes and Chris Tanev had one of their worst games when you look at their Corsi numbers at 5on5. This pairing is almost always on the positive side of their shot share. The Wild were firing a ton of shots toward the Canucks net today. The Canucks outshot the Wild 30-24 but the Wild shots 52 shots toward the net compared to the Canucks’ 50. Hughes and Tanev weren’t bad but they do pop off the page due to their 29.41% Corsi.

Bo Horvat had another great road game. He added the late empty net goal to make it a two goal night for the captain. Horvat led the team with a 73.33 share of attempted shots. He was on the ice for eight scoring chances for and only five against.

Wrap-Up

Brock Boeser had a few good shots in his hometown game. He didn’t dominate the game like many hoped, but he was definitely a positive contributor. It was somewhat of a quiet night for the Lotto Line at 5-on-5. Due to the high amount of penalties there was only 37:56 of 5-on-5 hockey today. Almost half the game was either spent on a team’s powerplay or some 4on4 action.

We’ll carry on, we’ll carry on, and though this game was a bit sloppy we won’t have to wait long to see the road trip continue. The Canucks are back at it at 5pm pacific on the road to take on the Winnipeg Jets before returning home to Vancouver. The Canucks have now won nine of their past 11 games. The pacific division is dominating the league over the past few weeks and the Canucks are helping that cause.

The roller coaster continues. Where will this team be next week?