Photo credit:© Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Instant Reaction: Nils Höglander a positive in tired Canucks loss to Flames
3 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Cody Severtson is writing The Stanchies and those will be posted later this evening. The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report by Mike Liu — will be up tomorrow morning.
Look, the Vancouver Canucks performed admirably on Wednesday night against the Islanders. After getting back from a road trip out east, it’s not rare to see a team struggle to find their legs in their first game back at home. The Canucks played the part of a tired team to start last night’s game, but eventually stormed back in thrilling fashion in overtime.
Tonight, just 24 hours later, they played that same part, as they lost to the Calgary Flames by a final score of 5-2.
Only this time, the Canucks’ pushback attempt was for naught.
As you’ve likely heard by now, the Canucks are playing seven games in the next 11 days. That’s a lot! While their opponents may not be the greatest on paper, there are few easy nights in the NHL, and playing as much as the Canucks are about to isn’t going to be easy. Tonight was only game two of those seven, and the Canucks will need to get their legs under them sooner rather than later.
Thankfully, the next two games are at home, and two of those seven are against the San Jose Sharks — a team that looks hellbent on challenging the above notion that there are no easy nights in the NHL.
Nonetheless, tonight was not an easy game and despite the Canucks’ wagon status and the Flames looking more like the 2021 Canucks so far this season.
Elias Pettersson opened the scoring for the Canucks on the power play with a beautiful set play. Quinn Hughes and JT Miller both picked up points on the play, meaning the trio of Canucks at the top of the NHL scoring race each picked up their 27th points of the season.
After tying it up, the Flames outshot the Canucks 17-5 in the second period, where they also managed to score two unanswered goals. Unfortunately, that Pettersson goal was the best thing that would happen to the Canucks for the rest of this game.
Instead of focusing on that (let’s try not to read too much into this team being exhausted), I wanted to highlight what a strong game it was for Nils Höglander, who served as the extra attacker when the Canucks pulled Casey DeSmith late in the third. Höglander scored his fourth goal of the season tonight, meaning he’s on pace to score 21 goals this season. Whether he gets there or not remains to be seen, but one thing is true no matter what: Höglander has taken real strides towards becoming a reliable middle six forward, and having him locked in at $1.1 million for next season could prove incredibly valuable for the Canucks, who will need to pay for Elias Pettersson and Filip Hronek’s next deals starting next season.
Like he has been many times this season, Höglander was noticeable all over the ice, and was rewarded for his efforts when he deflected a shot over Jacob Markstrom’s shoulder for the Canucks’ second goal of the game. He finished the night with three shots on goal, second only to Linus Karlsson, who took four shots in his NHL debut.
One other takeaway I wanted to get to was that Karlsson hit the post at the end of the game in his NHL debut. Nice of Tocchet and the coaching staff to give him that opportunity late on the power play as time winded down. He seemed fine tonight overall and it will be interesting to see if he gets another shot. Suter is day to day, and Andrei Kuzmenko is reportedly “fine” according to Postmedia’s Patrick Johnston. This may be Karlsson’s first and last NHL shot for a while as a result.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!
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