It was a long and winding path to get to this point. But here we are–watching meaningful Canucks games in August.
Tonight was the night Canucks fans have been waiting for. The young core has worked it’s way into an almost playoff position and they would begin a best of five play-in series against the veteran Minnesota Wild team.
We’ve talked about it for weeks now. The Wild have a strong defence and a deep forward group. The Canucks are younger, faster and play a much more exciting version of hockey.
Early on in these play-ins we have seen young talent dominate games. Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik had five points in his “playoffs” debut. The Montreal Canadiens were led to victory off of their young gun duo of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki.
Young, skilled players looked good so far in the early stages of the NHL’s return to play. We had also seen some games where the powerplays were in the double digits. This would benefit the Canucks and their special teams units.
Jacob Markstrom would get the start in net for the Canucks. Alex Stalock would get the start for the Wild.
#Canucks line rushes in Edmonton:
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) August 3, 2020
Thoughts from Twitter
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) August 3, 2020
What will i be wearing tonight? Help me choose: pic.twitter.com/dQvNGdF6Fa
— Tommy the Tractor Guy (@tommykippes) August 2, 2020
Not a gif but my boys and I are ready pic.twitter.com/67bGcqLWw7
— Dave Noordam (@DaveNoordam) August 2, 2020
I'm nervous lmao. But also excited. #Canucks
— YoungJudd (@YoungJudd_1) August 3, 2020
— Kate Read (@KitKatRead) August 2, 2020
It’s been too damn long.
We’ve written too many damn articles about this series.
The first five minutes were completely dominated by the Wild. They went to the power play just 2:47 into the period when Alex Edler took a tripping penalty. The Wild’s top scorer did not waste any time as Kevin Fiala scored with just three seconds into the power play and the Wild got the quick start they were looking for. 1-0 Wild with 17:10 remaining.
The offensive onslaught could have had the Wild up by two or three early on in this game. Markstrom kept the Canucks in this game with a big left pad save.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) August 3, 2020
Markstrom followed that save up by using his left skate to rob another goal from the Wild.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) August 3, 2020
The dominance of the Wild led to Tyler Myers taking a cross-checking penalty with 15:43 remaining in the period. This penalty kill was much better for the Canucks. Tyler Motte had a great kill and bailed out his fellow Tyler who was in the box.
The Wild’s veteran players seemed to bully the Canucks for the first half of the period. They were getting the extra slashes and cross-checks onto the Canucks young players. There was one Canucks player sticking up for them early on.
That player was Alex Edler.
Edler played a physical period as he threw the body around like he was 22 years old again. That veteran leadership may have sparked the Canucks a bit as they would balance out the momentum in the second half of the period.
The intensity was cranking up at the later parts of the period and the Canucks were able to draw a penalty.
They would not get a power play out of it though, as they had a mess around their bench trying to get the extra man on the ice during the delayed penalty.
It was a very Canucks way to take away a power play and we would see four on four action for just under two minutes before the period expired.
The Canucks got punched in the mouth early on but were able to battle back as the period went on.
What they really needed was a goal.
Good shifts don’t win hockey games. Capitalizing on good shifts does.
The Canucks came out firing in the second period. They were firing a lot of shots on Stalock but he was up to the task early.
Quinn Hughes walked in with space and fired one into the glove of Stalock.
Sick Stalock snag in slo-mo. Toe up and everything. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/xKV9qiTtKO
— The Goalie Guild (@TheGoalieGuild) August 3, 2020
Tanner Pearson found himself in the penalty box after he took a slashing call with 10:07 remaining in the period.
The Wild would go to work and they once again took advantage of the man advantage when Jared Spurgeon fired one through Edler and Markstrom’s five holes after a great cross-ice pass from Eric Staal. 2-0 Wild at the halfway point of the second period.
The second period flew by. There was a lot of back and forth play and the Wild had the Canucks playing right into their scheme. The Canucks struggled to get any high danger chances as Minnesota’s defencemen were able to simply stay at home in their zone. The Canucks needed to engage the defence to catch the Wild off guard.
Coach Travis Green finally went away from the pairing of Tyler Myers and Oscar Fantenberg late in the period.
Green finally breaks up Myers-Fantenberg as Fantenberg has a 0.07 expected goals in 10:49 of ice time. 🤦♂️
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) August 3, 2020
The Canucks decided to use Myers and Hughes together in the third period. That pairing gets involved in the offensive zone. Myers’ shot is more potent than Tanev’s and though Tanev was good in the first 40 minutes, the Canucks needed their offensive pairing to come together in the third period.
Thesee were the best Canucks in the first 40 minutes according to expected goals for percentage.
The period didn’t start off good for the Canucks. Tanner Pearson continued his bad game as he took his second penalty only 24 seconds into the period. The Canucks were able to have a good penalty kill and kept the Wild lead to two.
Here’s the thing, I’m going to keep this third-period wrap-up short.
Because it was brutal.
The Canucks got their first power play of the game with 4:40 left in the period. They struggled to get set up and the Wild killed off the power play with ease.
The Canucks were down by two goals when the period started. The effort in the third period was horrible — if any effort was even there at all. After a decent second period, the Canucks were only able to generate four shots in the third period.
They were one goal away from making it a close game.
And they put up four shots in the third period.
They didn’t show up in the period and I’m not going to show up much in the wrap-up of this period.
There was one moment that should be mentioned from a Canucks point of view. Micheal Ferland got caught up in the Wild bench and speared a player when his stick was grabbed from the bench.
Micheal Ferland with the ugly spear into the bench. He’ll be hearing from the league pic.twitter.com/VS5HbtnqwW
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) August 3, 2020
We will see if Ferland hears from the league about that one.
Jared Spurgeon would score his second goal of the game late in the period on a full ice empty net shot. 3-0 Wild.
That was that and that wasn’t good.
Best of Twitter
Pettersson needs some help
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 3, 2020
Jake Virtanen might have an easier path back into the lineup if Micheal Ferland gets a suspension for spearing. #Canucks
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) August 3, 2020
Hughes-Stecher for the love of all that is HOLY!
— Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping) August 3, 2020
I’m not sure you can justify keeping an 18 goal scorer in the press box after tonight…#Canucks
— Stephen Hawco (@stephenhawco7) August 3, 2020
Troy Stecher had a good night tonight. He was the highest on the team with an expected goals for percentage of 62.02%. He started the game with Edler, he had time with Hughes and in the third period had some time with Fantenberg. All throughout the shifting up and down the lineup, he controlled 61.5% of the shot share during his 15:40 of 5-on-5 ice time.
Brock Boeser looked like he was skating well. He had a couple of chances but was not necessarily robbed of a goal at any point during this game. A few of his shots were close and he looked strong as a skater and was physically involved, which is a positive for Boeser. The Canucks need more from everyone but these two led the way in driving the play for the Canucks.
It’s a tough one to take in after all the build-up. Elias Pettersson and the young core got a big scoop of what playoff hockey is all about. Pettersson was being jabbed and slashed everywhere he went on the ice. He didn’t look at the refs much all night. The kid will be back and he must have learned a valuable lesson today.
The Canucks couldn’t score tonight. It was as simple as that.
“I wouldn’t call it a lesson but they got some experience for sure,” said Travis Green.
"I think it was what I expected: high-intense game, a lot of hits and both teams were battling. Both teams want to win. Game 1 to Minnesota. I’m looking forward to Game 2." – Pettersson
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) August 3, 2020
The Wild defence collapses very hard on every single shift. The Canucks had a lot of their shots blocked and needed to get pucks around the net more. They need to get rebound opportunities because Stalock is beatable. He had a few great glove saves today and if those shots were a few inches higher we are looking at a different outcome.
JT Miller had blocked a shot on the penalty kill and was struggling to take faceoffs in the middle of the third period. Pettersson had to step in for draws for a bulk of the third period. The Canucks got a pretty good game from Markstrom tonight but they just couldn’t help him out.
They will need to be better and be better quick. Team tank is sitting in the bushes and they are ready to pounce on the 12.5% lottery chance at Alexis Lafreniere. Travis Green will have to make some changes to this lineup. Jake Virtanen was a healthy scratch and he could be full of piss and vinegar if he is thrown back into the lineup.
Virtanen and his 18 goals may be forced into the lineup if Ferland is in fact suspended. Brandon Sutter, Adam Gaudette and Antoine Roussel played under 10 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time. They could be candidates to be taken out of the lineup for a Virtanen, Zack MacEwen or even Loui Eriksson.
Green will need to make a change already and the Canucks have the winger depth to be able to be confident in a move.
The pressure is on, will Green make a power move to lift his squad in game two, or will he have a new gameplan to break through the Wild defence? We’ll find out Tuesday night.