The Stanchies: Brock Boeser comes up big for the Canucks after Schrödinger’s Scratch
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
Can you guess which three contracts run the longest on the Arizona Coyotes’ books without looking?
A long-form game recap is the worst place to do call-and-response trivia. But I don’t care. This is the content you’re subjected to when you draw the “Saturday evening Stanchies for the 28th-ranked Arizona Coyotes versus the 25th-ranked Vancouver Canucks” straw so the other two writers can go “have fun” and “enjoy their weekend.”
If you guessed Clayton Keller, whose deal expires after the 2027-28 season, pat yourself on the back!
If you guessed Lawson Crouse, whose five-year extension expires after the 2026-27 season, stand up and take a bow!
But whose contract runs the second-longest on the Coyotes’ books?
I’ll give you a hint; the deal comes off Arizona’s books the same year as Crouse’s.
It’s not Dylan Guenther, that’s for sure!
No, the second-longest deal on the Coyotes’ books is the 990K retention on the final six years of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 8.25-million dollar contract that expires just a hair before his 36th birthday!
How neat is that?
In his final act as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, Jim Benning traded the last years of Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel’s contracts, a second-round pick, a seventh-round pick, and the ninth overall pick for a six-year 44-million real-dollar commitment in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and the signing rights for Conor Garland. The Canucks then committed five years and 24.75 million dollars to Garland, a total cap hit of 12.2 million per season.
It was a desperate ploy to push the Canucks over the edge to playoff contention but instead resulted in the complete overhaul of the team’s front office and coaching staff.
Many argued that the first-rounder for Conor Garland made sense because the ninth-overall pick would take years to be of value to the organization!
Well, Dylan Guenther played just four fewer seconds than Conor Garland at 5v5 in Saturday night’s game! The only skater with less time spent at 5v5 for Vancouver was Sheldon Dries at 6:43.
Guenther finished the game with two individual shot attempts and one shot on goal to Garland’s one shot attempt and zero shots on goal.
Despite Thomas Drance’s best efforts to manifest a Vejmelka-ing for the ages (and my best efforts to channel a Canucks’ performance as deflating and negative as my intro), the Canucks came up on top at home with an ugly overtime win.
Let’s get into the action!
Don’t worry; we’ll address the Boeser thing later.
It was a possession-heavy start for the home team, as they held the Coyotes to just a single shot on goal over the game’s opening six minutes.
Like every Canucks game this season, every bit of sustained-pressure good came with some defensive-lapse bad.
After running into a body inside the neutral zone, Riley Stillman had to get on his horse to defend against a Barrett Hayton-led three-on-one. Hayton’s quick rush on Stillman’s turnover nearly put the Yotes up by one, sending a slick pass to the net front for (almost Canuck) Dylan Guenther.
Even after setting up rookie Dylan Guenther for the flyby tap-in, Hayton worked his tail off to beat two Canucks to the half-wall and retrieve the puck before cutting back to the right circle for a shot on Spencer Martin.
Toward the midway point of the first, Elias Pettersson blocked a shot from Troy Stecher (of Richmond fame) to spark an onslaught of offence from the “second” line.
Despite the good vibes, the bounces were not on Stillman’s side midway through the period.
While retrieving a puck in the d-zone, Stillman ran into the linesman, sparking a turnover and a shot on goal from Butterpig Crouse’s father, Lawson.
BEST HOMER SIMPSON BUYING A CURSED KRUSTY DOLL
Conor Garland blindly throwing a pass out of Boeser’s reach?
Brock Boeser pressuring Jusso Valimaki into giving away the puck?
Josh Brown reaching for the giveaway first?
Sheldon Dries capitalizing on Brown’s miss and pulling for a backhander on Vejmelka?
Dries’ getting Vejmelka’d?
You can go now.
WORST “AH S***, HERE WE GO AGAIN”
Yes, that’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson throwing a puck into the neutral zone out of Elias Pettersson’s reach.
Yes, that’s Jusso Valimaki making up for his earlier giveaway by threading the needle with a pass to Liam O’Brien.
Yes, that’s O’Brien tipping the puck to Christian Fischer past three Canucks at the blue line for the breakaway and the opening goal.
Down by a goal and feeling the heat, Ilya Mikheyev pulled off an incredible Juolevi-like stretch pass to Pettersson for a dangerous chance off the post.
Even though he failed to score, the Canucks quick play drew a too-many-men penalty against the Coyotes, giving them their first power play of the night!
In true Canuck fashion, the most dangerous scoring chance on the man advantage occurred for the Coyotes, not against them.
Fortunately, Spencer Martin got the leg out to make an incredible stretch save on Crouse.
Upon the return to 5v5, the Canucks drew a second power play opportunity when Nick Schmaltz sent the puck over the glass on a board-and-out attempt.
There was some debate about whether Schmaltz’s clearing attempt hit the offside camera before going out of play. But this was one of the few times the “further review” went their way.
BEST POETS’ SOCIETY
O Captain! my Captain! Rise up and hear the bells; Bo Horvat is a Vancouver Canuck (for now).
I was always taught that it’s impolite to say, “I told you so.”
Over pints in September, I had a spirited discussion with friends about the Canucks’ potential this season. I declared my firm belief that Bo Horvat would easily hit 40 goals this season, only to be met with a resounding “no way!” from my compatriates.
Politeness be damned.
Steve, I told you so!
I mean, you can only laugh at this point.
Quinn Hughes took a blatant holding penalty against Clayton Keller to start the second period. Naturally, the Coyotes capitalized less than twenty seconds onto the power play.
It’s hard to fault any one player on Jakob Chychrun’s goal here. Maybe you quibble with Horvat sitting high in the slot, leaving Chychrun open down the left wing? But most of the Canucks are doing their job on the goal.
It’s a phenomenal shot from Chychrun.
BEST TROY STECHER TOOK A PENALTY, BUT THAT DOESN’T TAKE AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT THE CANUCKS SHOULD HAVE NEVER LET HIM WALK AFTER THE 2019–20 SEASON
The Canucks’ second power-play opportunity did not find success in the first twenty seconds. But it did have some decent looks.
Horvat recorded his sixth shot on goal with a low-and-slow attempt from the slot that caught Vejmelka by surprise.
Though the Canucks threatened early and often, it was a decent Vejmelka-ing from Karel “the thrill” Vejmelka to hold the Coyotes’ one-goal lead.
WORST CANUCK LUCK
It was not a banner evening for the Nils’s during the second period!
After fighting for the puck along the boards in the offensive zone, Nils Höglander whipped a shot from the slot that beat Vejmelka’s blocker side.
Unfortunately, the play was blown dead because “of course it was.”
No, it was blown dead because of J.T. Miller’s hooking penalty.
When the Canucks’ PK loses the opening faceoff, it’s usually a goal against within thirty seconds. However, when they win the opening faceoff, the dynamic PK duo of Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat is coming up huge, creating shorthanded scoring chances. Or, in this instance, drawing a slashing penalty against Jakob Chychrun to negate the power play.
Robbing one Nils of a goal? Okay, sure.
Robbing two Nils’s of a goal!? Come on now!
Seconds after Jack Studnicka put the moves on Patrik Nemeth, a backchecking J.J. Moser crashed into the net as Nils Aman picked up the loose puck for a shot that was initially ruled as a good goal.
Unfortunately, the goal-review team in Toronto ruled that Aman’s shot crossed the line well after the net came off its moorings.
The Canucks earned their fifth power play on the play. But I think they’d have rather had the goal!
BLURST OF J.T. MILLLER
Lawson Crouse threw the puck over the glass early onto the man advantage to give the Canucks an extended 5-on-3 power play. Unfortunately, the Canucks were guilty of passing the puck a bit too much.
Late on the two-man advantage, Miller pulled off the classic beer-league trick of “tell everyone what to do on the power play before blowing the zone with a shot attempt nowhere near the goal.”
Throughout the 5-on-3, the Canucks managed two shot attempts before a J.T. Miller giveaway lost the zone entirely.
Quinn Hughes spent three-and-a-half minutes on the power play, recording two of the team’s shot attempts.
After 40 minutes, the Canucks were one for six on the power play.
It was rough.
The second was wild. One goal, two goals called back, six power plays including an extended two-man advantage, and yet only thirteen shots on goal combined.
BEST “COME ON, GUYS…”
Through the opening five minutes of the final period, while trailing by a goal, the Canucks were outshot by the Coyotes 4-0.
While the Canucks kept gaining the zone and setting up for cycles around the perimeter, they failed to generate any shots.
Through much of the game, the Coyotes kept their play simple, opting to shoot on goal wherever and whenever possible. Whereas the Canucks appeared to be looking for the perfect set play at all times.
After turning away the Coyotes’ attack, Oliver Ekman-Larsson sought to reset the Canucks with a breakout pass. However, Arizona’s Jack McBain had other plans after going knee-on-knee with OEL.
Though OEL could get to his feet, he missed five minutes of the third period after leaving with the medical staff.
OEL’s absence prompted a massive increase in minutes for Quinn Hughes, who finished the game eclipsing the 30-minute mark for the first time this season.
BEST GOOD THING YOU COULDN’T SCRATCH HIM!
Down a goal with eight minutes left, and who ties the game?
Brock Boeser, baby.
After avoiding a healthy scratch, that would have been the first since his rookie season—on Hockey Fights Cancer Night—he scores his fourth goal of the year after being bumped onto a line with Pettersson and Mikheyev.
Naturally, the Canucks took a penalty on the first bit of pressure from Arizona immediately after Boeser’s goal.
Fortunately, Elias Pettersson drew his second penalty while on the penalty kill to hand the Canucks their seventh power play opportunity with less than six minutes remaining in the period.
BEST HITZ KING
What a fantastic hit to break the record too!
I’m sure you’re all tired of the Schenn content by now. But his late-career resurgence is easily the best story going for the Canucks currently.
The guy parlayed a seven-game run with the Utica Comets into an 18-game stretch with Vancouver, back-to-back Stanley Cups, and now the record for most hits by a defenceman!
“I played with [Chychrun], he was my d-partner when he first came in the league as an 18-year-old, and we spent a good portion of time together,” Schenn said about the player on the receiving end of his record-setting hit. “For overtime, I thanked him for that, skating into my corner on the power play. He had a good chuckle about that.”
After returning to the game following the knee-on-knee with McBain, OEL made his best defensive play of the night, preventing a near game-breaking goal out of the crease!
Spencer Martin made his 23rd save of the night on a point shot from J.J. Moser, but he didn’t put a tight enough squeeze on the puck to prevent it from trickling dangerously toward the goal line. Enter OEL to the rescue!
BEST GARANG KUOL IMITATION
Pettersson replicated Team Australia’s miracle goal that wasn’t off a d-zone clearing attempt by Boeser.
Like Garang Kuol, Pettersson found himself alone on the goalie’s right side for a high-danger scoring chance, only for Vejmelka to channel his inner Emiliano Martinez to deny the opportunity.
Boeser’s “couldn’t have scripted it better” performance continued into the overtime period when he, too, had himself a breakaway scoring opportunity.
At first, it looked like Boeser’s shot rocketed off the back of the net and out, but instead, deflecting wide off of Vejmelka’s pads.
With less than two minutes remaining in the overtime period, Clayton Keller made the mistake of hopping on the ice and making contact with Elias Pettersson.
I’m no hockey analyst. But I don’t think it’s wise to take a too-many-men penalty in overtime.
BEST I TOLD YOU STEVE!
The Canucks were quite bad through their 60-minute affair with Arizona.
But Bo Horvat did “Bo Horvat things” to seal it for Vancouver, and now he only needs 21 more to hit 40 goals this season.
BEST ARIZONA LEGENDS
If you want to know why tonight’s game was so even, it’s because of these two brave soldiers.
Did you know Loui finished his tenure as a Coyote with more points than he had over his final two seasons as a Vancouver Canuck?
Positivity over an overtime win against the 28th-ranked Arizona Coyotes aside, there was some pre-game ugliness that we need to address.
During the Canucks Saturday morning skate, all signs pointed to Brock Boeser sitting out, with Dakota Joshua taking reps on PP2 at the net front. The near-scratch would have been Boeser’s first time sitting while healthy since the first two games of the 2017-18 season.
A healthy scratch wouldn’t be far out of line for the 25-year-old winger. Despite a nine-game point streak that carried him through November, Boeser’s season has been rough. In 223 minutes of ice time at 5v5, the Canucks have been outscored 22 to 11 with Boeser on the ice. Boeser leads all Canucks’ skaters with the worst expected goals-for rate at 33.33%! The only skaters with worse control of high-danger shot attempts are Noah Juulsen, who played 21 minutes at 5v5, and Riley Stillman, who has the worst 5v5 goal differential among all Canucks skaters.
After reporting that Brock Boeser’s camp had been granted permission by the team to explore trade options, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said that Dakota Joshua would be out due to a minor injury and that Boeser was back in the lineup.
The not-scratch was easily for the best because I don’t think anyone in the organization recognized how poor the optics were of having Boeser sit out on Hockey Fights Cancer night.
Duke Boeser, Brock’s father, passed away this past summer after a long battle with Parkinson’s at the age of 61. In 2017, Duke was diagnosed with cancer, which required chemotherapy treatments. Unfortunately, the disease returned once more in 2019 and again in 2021.
The chances are incredibly slim that Bruce Boudreau, or anyone in the Canucks organization, meant any ill will with the scratch or recognized the significance of scratching Boeser on a night like this. But it still feels wrong. Boeser returned to the Canucks lineup early from his hand surgery to help the team avoid a repeat of last year’s dismal start under head coach Travis Green. Even though he’s clearly not at 100%, Boeser still managed a nine-game point streak, mostly without scoring goals!
Boeser remarked upon re-entering the lineup, “I want [Dakota Joshua] to feel good and be healthy. But, when I got the call, I knew I needed to make a difference, that I can’t ever put myself in that position again.” Against Arizona, Boeser finished with the second-highest expected goals-for percentage and the best control of shots on goal, with the Canucks outshooting the Coyotes six to one with Boeser on the ice at 5v5. The near-scratch was misguided, inappropriate, and ill-timed; sadly, it worked.
When asked about the impact of being a potential scratch on Hockey Fights Cancer night, Boeser was quite blunt about its emotional impact: “Obviously, it’s a very important game for me and my family, and one that I had on the calendar. When you come in, and you’re not on the whiteboard, it hurt and hurts bad.”
The Canucks are clearly in dire need of a wake-up call for their top-paid players. Conor Garland and Andrey Kuzmenko have been scratched, and Vasily Podkolzin has been demoted to Abbotsford, so it makes sense to start scratching members of “the core” to try and “wake up the team.”
Unfortunately, the team is 25 games into the season, with a negative-11 goal differential, and 11th in the Western Conference by points percentage.
Suppose the organization has such little faith in its team’s ability to beat Arizona that sewering its relationship with one of the most beloved players in the market is the only option. Why do it in the first place?
After all the unnecessarily poor pre-game optics and relationship torching, Boeser played great, finishing with the game-tying goal late in the third and second on the DAWG/60 list.
Yet, Boeser’s revenge game aside, the team still coughed up a loser point to the Coyotes at home after spending most of the game trailing.
“I have already had a lot of emotions to deal with today, and [exploring trade options] is the last thing on my mind right now. I’m just happy that our team got two points, and I go to play and help contribute to our team,” said Boeser post-game.
Good for Brock.
Bad for Vancouver.
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