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Instant Reaction: Canucks lose the special teams battle en route to 4-3 loss to Rangers

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Photo credit:© Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
5 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we bring you our instant reaction from every Vancouver Canucks game and encourage our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Lachlan Irvine is writing The Stanchies tonight and those will be posted early tomorrow morning. The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report by Mike Liu will be posted tomorrow morning.
If there was one thing the Vancouver Canucks wanted to avoid tonight, it was taking penalties. Heading into this evening’s affair, the New York Rangers’ power play was clicking at a 30.4% rate —  a hair under two percentage points better than the Canucks’ early season power play conversion rate of 28.6%.
Which is why an early 5-on-3 penalty kill for over a minute after two needless penalties — the first a roughing minor assessed to Dakota Joshua, the second, Filip Hronek clearing the puck over the glass despite having all the time in the world not to — was less than an ideal way to start.
Artemi Panarin had a point in every game this season, and unfortunately for the Canucks, he wasted little time in keeping that streak going.
Arguably the most dangerous part of the Rangers’ power play is the set play they’ve been rolling out this season where a player at the point intentionally shoots the puck a foot or two wide before a forward almost right beside the goaltender comes out to meet the puck and redirect it past the goaltender — who’s typically out to challenge the point shot.
The Canucks managed to kill off their second penalty of the first, and took just one infraction during the second period.
It took until the second period for the Canucks to even things up, as JT Miller tallied his fourth goal of the season.
This one stayed tied until the third period, and the Canucks’ penalty kill was put to the test after Phil Di Giuseppe took a double minor for high-sticking.
The events that followed are going to have 1500 words in the Stanchies dedicated to them, and rightfully so. Just as we all would have guessed, Tyler Myers made a smart play to get he and Sam Lafferty in on a 2-on-1. And also as we would have expected, Myers looks off Lafferty before sniping glove side on one of the best goalies in the game.
After that, the Canucks continued to spend more time in the Rangers’ end after some dogged determination from JT Miller and Elias Pettersson. Then, because we can’t have nice things, with 50 seconds to go, the Canucks were called for a bench minor that Rick Tocchet vehemently disagreed with.
Ian Cole, Quinn Hughes, and JT Miller did what they could, but the Rangers scored with the set play we described above — with Panarin and Zibanejad combining to set up Adam Fox at the doorstep.
The Rangers were still on the power play after this goal, and scored again. Just like that, this game was 3-2 in favour of New York.
Having read my working title, the Rangers did their part and immediately put the Canucks on the man advantage. With six and a half minutes to go, the Canucks were in a prime position to get themselves right back in this game.
After a lacklustre PP went goalless on their sixth attempt of the night, Hronek set up Carson Soucy who tied things up. So, while this was a battle of the special teams, the Canucks still managed to score despite their PP going 1-6 on the night. Silver lining?
For those keeping score at home, the Canucks have had ten power play opportunities over the last 48 hours and converted on just one of them. Is that concerning? Is it less concerning than it would be because this team doesn’t seem to need to rely on their power play as heavily as they have in the past? Yes and yes!
Notice him!
With all the well-deserved attention that’s been put on Quinn Hughes through his first seven games as Canucks captain, it feels like JT Miller’s hot start to the season has somehow flown a bit under the radar. But not here. Right now, we are putting the radar, the spotlight, whatever you want to call it, right squarely on JT Miller.
Miller’s defensive play has arguably been the most impressive part of his game, but the offensive side has been stellar as well. Miller’s willingness to keep his feet moving and get into good spots to disrupt plays have been on full display, and tonight was no different. Miller’s been leading by example, and it sure seems like Rick Tocchet is indeed the JT Miller whisperer.
This is a player who was nearly unplayable as a centre for parts of last season. The talk about his body language, lack of effort, and everything else that we heard last year have gone away and been replaced by positives. Tonight, Miller’s line was out against the Rangers’ top line featuring Mika Zibanejad and Panarin, and at even strength, they were up to the task.
Miller looks as engaged as we’ve ever seen him. He’s getting involved in scrums after the whistle, and is exuding a confidence that fans can only hope sticks around all season long. And for the next six years, for that matter.
The only blemish on Miller tonight was a blind behind-the-back pass during the Canucks’ sixth power play of the game, as it served as a bit of a momentum killer before Soucy’s game-tying goal.
The first overtime affair of the year
This one required overtime to solve, and we are pleased to report that the Canucks are still a fun team to watch in overtime. The way Quinn Hughes has been playing this year, it was probably tempting to just keep him out for the full five minutes, but having Filip Hronek is certainly a good second option.
Also, overtime brought us the save(s) of the year from Igor Shesterkin. After Andrei Kuzmenko made a beautiful move to get in alone on the Rangers’ goaltender, Shesterkin missed with the poke check but somehow managed to stone Kuzmenko not once, but twice.
Aside from Shesterkin, the Canucks dominated the Rangers during this overtime frame. Was this a trip?
The refs didn’t think so. 4-3 Rangers is your final score this evening.
Let me know in the comments section below if you like this new format for instant reaction. I have too many reactions during a game to narrow it down to just one, so I like this format better. What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let me know in the comments section below!

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