11

CanucksArmy Postgame: It wasn’t Wild, but it was sort of fun

As the Canucks look to get into postseason form for their play-in series against the Minnesota Wild, I will be doing the same with my first postgame report since the Canucks debacle against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 1st.

This was what we have all been waiting for.

Your Vancouver Canucks were back on television.

No more grainy training camp videos from the upper deck.

This was a real Canucks game.

Sort of.

The Canucks played against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night. Fans were excited, players were excited and the network that has been running “Top 10 Worst Baseball Jerseys of All-Time” for the past 4 months on their top sports channel was excited. It was a scorcher in Vancouver as shirtless t-shirts replaced cardigans and Canucks jerseys for most.

There were some storylines to be aware of even before the players took to the televised ice tonight. Let’s look at a few of them.

For some, the biggest story of the day was that Olli Juolevi would be drawing into the lineup.

Juolevi was followed with a close eye and there will be more throughout this postgame report on him.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The other big question was the third line right winger spot.

Micheal Ferland held down that position coming out of training camp but head coach Travis Green had his wishes answered when he heard that no reporters would be in on Canucks practice and the PR department wouldn’t be sending out any line combinations from his few days of practice since leaving Vancouver for the Edmonton bubble. Few hints were given what the third line could look like, but this is what the lineup ended up looking like for Vancouver.

Lines

Yep, you read that right. Jake Virtanen found himself on exile island. Sitting in the press box in the Canucks’ only exhibition game.

Advertisement - Continue Commenting Below

This quickly became one of the biggest stories of the night as Virtanen and his 18 goals from the season would not be participating in this game.

Zack MacEwen had a great camp and Virtanen did not. The Canucks were able to dress a 13th forward in this game and that forward ended up being MacEwen.

Is Green still playing mind games with Virtanen?

It doesn’t look like it. Virtanen is now battling for the 14th forward role with Loui Eriksson.

Thoughts from Twitter

It’s finally time.

Let’s go!

First Period

Connor Hellebuyck was in net for the Jets and he was tested early. The Canucks top scoring line of Miller, Pettersson, and Toffoli was hot out of the gate and had a couple scoring chances on their first shift. Speaking of first shifts, Olli Juolevi looked good on his. He confidently moved the puck up ice and even got a shot off on Hellebuyck.

Both teams looked pretty dialled in. Earlier in the day, we saw some pretty sloppy hockey in the other games but both teams looked confident and passes were crisp early on in the period.

Elias Pettersson looked like a man on a mission in the first period. He was trying to go from end to end and split right through the Jets’ defence. His skating looked powerful early on and that’s a great sign for Canucks fans.

With 7:45 remaining in the period, Tyler Motte took an elbow to the face and the Canucks would get their first powerplay opportunity.

Pettersson had a one-timer that was destined for the top corner if Hellebuyck didn’t get his glove on it. Aside from the one Pettersson shot, the power play didn’t look good. The second unit was unable to gain the zone and the Jets easily killed off the penalty.

As the period continued on, the Canucks continued to control the pace of play. But with 63 seconds remaining in the period, the Jets were the first to ripple twine. Tucker Poolman had a seeing-eye shot from the point that snuck past Jacob Markstrom and the Canucks would go into the first intermission trailing the Jets 1-0.

The Canucks outshot the Jets 12 to seven and had eight scoring chances while the Jets only had five. Overall the Canucks were the better team in the first period but Hellebuyck and a sneaky point shot had the Jets up 1-0 as we went to the first intermission.

It wasn’t just any intermission, this was an intermission that featured an interview with Canucks General Manager Jim Benning.

Benning was asked about Jacob Markstrom and he said that he sat down with Markstrom on Tuesday and they will be working out a deal after the playoffs. He was also asked about Juolevi and he said that he had a really good training camp and was happy that he was finally healthy.

Second Period

The Canucks continued to outplay the Jets early on in the second period. It took almost five minutes for the Jets to get their first shot on goal. Just after that first shot, the Jets were able to draw a penalty when Brandon Sutter was called for holding. With 14:10 remaining, the Jets went to the power play as one of the best penalty killers for the Canucks was in the box.

Tyler Motte and Jay Beagle had a good kill as they were the first group to come out. With Sutter in the box, JT Miller filled in for him while Tanner Pearson joined him as part of the second penalty-killing group.

The Canucks would kill off the penalty with ease and we were back to full strength. The Jets were starting to pour it on the Canucks after their crummy first five minutes. They quickly amassed four scoring chances in about four minutes and the Canucks were on their heels a bit at the halfway point of the game.

With just under 11 minutes remaining, JT Miller sent Brock Boeser in on a breakaway. Boeser went to the backhand and tried to sneak the puck through Hellebuyck’s five-hole but the potential Vezina winner denied him.

At the halfway point of the game, the Canucks were outshooting the Jets 18-11. The line of Tanner Pearson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat was the Canucks best through 30 minutes. They were outshooting the Jets by a count of six to zero and had a Corsi for percentage of 88.9 at the halfway mark.

The Jets capitalized on a Canucks change and Patrick Laine fired a shot on Markstrom and as he kicked it away it went right to Nikolaj Ehlers and he buried it into the open cage. Markstrom just got a small piece of it as he dove across the crease with his stick. 2-0 Jets with just over four minutes to play in the second period.

The Jets came right back and took advantage of another bad Canucks turnover. Adam Lowry made a great play at the blue line and it resulted in a goal in the slot from Dmitry Kulikov. This was the second goal from a Jets defenceman. 3-0 Jets.

Bad giveaways were costing the Canucks and they were not able to beat Hellebuyck when they were given opportunities.

With 62 seconds left in the period, the Canucks would go to the powerplay as Pettersson drew a tripping call.

Nothing was to be made of the 62 seconds of powerplay time and the Canucks went to the intermission trailing 3-0. Even though the Canucks looked good in many areas of the ice and were controlling the game at 5-on-5:

Third Period

The power play was hot out of the gate but Hellebuyck was once again up to the task. The Canucks had a mountain to climb if there wanted to get a win in this game but they had been playing good and I had to keep reminding myself that this is an exhibition game.

The pace picked up as they moved through the early stages of the third period. Both teams wanted to continue skating hard to prepare for the weekend’s meaningful games.

Toffoli took a penalty with 13:30 remaining and the Canucks penalty killers would be tested once again. They would kill off the penalty easily and we were back to fast-paced even strength hockey.

Later on in the game, Travis Green decided to put together the defensive pairing of Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers. That pairing had been used a lot by Green when the team was trailing or he wanted a shot of offence.

The Canucks found the scoresheet with 6:47 remaining in the period when Adam Gaudette had a wraparound that found Antoine Roussel’s stick and through the five-hole. Hellebuyck was excellent tonight and it seemed like the exact type of dirty goal that the Canucks needed to finally breakthrough on Hellebuyck.

With that goal, the lead was cut down to two and the Canucks now trailed the Jets 3-1 late in the third period.

The Jets captain Blake Wheeler picked up an empty net goal to seal the deal and the Canucks would lose 4-1.

The Fancies

Best of Twitter

Top Performers

Brock Boeser was on his game tonight. He was firing shot and seemed a step ahead of the play at all times. His whole line was good tonight, Horvat had some dashes of excellence as well. Boeser was a standout at training camp and many wanted to see him in an exhibition game as soon as possible. Now we will see Boeser get to play against his hometown club and that should bring out the best of him.

The top two players for the Canucks were two of their young players. A huge surprise, I know. Elias Pettersson was great tonight. He was skating with confidence and had a couple of good scoring chances on the night. The top six as a whole was pretty good tonight.

Wrap-Up

The top six looked good, but Connor Hellebuyck looked like a Vezina winner. The Canucks should be pretty happy with how they played in this game. They fired 38 shots on net and were only able to get one dirty goal past Hellebuyck.

This team looks ready to skate hard against the Wild on Sunday.

The roster decisions were on the brain throughout the game. Jake Virtanen was sitting in the press box with Micheal Ferland riding on the right wing with the third line. That line was the only one that was able to beat Hellebuyck tonight but they were an effective line at creating scoring chances at 5-on-5.

Virtanen won’t get a chance on the fourth line because Green will want to have three penalty killers on that line. It looks like one of Roussel or Ferland is going to have to slip before the coach gives Virtanen the green light to gear up.

Another short story of the night was Olli Juolevi.

He looked good tonight. Juolevi made a couple good passes, was physical enough against a big, strong Jets team and overall, Juolevi fit right into an NHL game.

He only played 6:37 of ice-time in this game but he was solid. No complaints here on Juolevi.

The Canucks will be back in action on Sunday when the games begin to matter and we will have you covered all the way up to puck drop here on CanucksArmy.