Instant Reaction: Vancouver Canucks play a sleepy game, fall to Flyers 4-1

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
5 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. Wyatt Arndt is on the building and on Stanchies duty, and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — out tomorrow morning.
Nobody knew how tonight’s game would go. That’s the fun of the first game coming out of the Christmas break.
In the final game of 2023, the Canucks faced off against the workhorse Philadelphia Flyers, who have greatly exceeded expectations this season.
The game started off with the Canucks needing Casey DeSmith to make a couple of five-alarm saves early on, with both sides taking penalties in the early goings.
Nils Höglander took the first penalty of the game, giving the Canucks’ penalty kill a chance to finish the month of Decemeber strong. After some issues in October and November, December was a solid month for them, as they moved up to 77.8% — 24th in the league — after being in the bottom five heading into the month.
With about 30 seconds remaining on their power play, the Flyers took a penalty of their own, giving the Canucks a power play opportunity of their own early on.
Neither team could convert — and that was a theme of the first period.
In the second, the Flyers started to pour it on a bit more, and Casey DeSmith continued to be rock solid in the Vancouver goal crease.
A Tyler Myers penalty late in the second put the Canucks’ PK to the test once again, and this time, they bent and broke.
The Flyers’ goal was just their second power play goal in their last 25 attempts with the man advantage, as for all of their bright spots this season, Philly’s power play was the worst in the league heading into tonight’s contest.
Back at even strength, the Flyers got right back to work and this time, a rush play led to the Canucks chasing the play in their own end, quickly making it 2-0 Philly.
When you consider how good the Canucks have been at defending the rush this season, it’s almost strange to see them give up a goal in this fashion.
But the bleeding didn’t stop there, as the Flyers almost immediately made it 3-0 after a brutal turnover from Nikita Zadorov in the neutral zone led to a breakaway for Joel Farabee which the Flyers forward made no mistake on depositing behind Casey DeSmith.
So, yeah. That stretch of time during the second period was not so good for the Canucks, as they trailed 3-0 heading into the third.
And who do you call when you need a goal? The Needs a Name Line of course!
Teddy “December Gretzky” Blueger and his linemates got to work in a hurry, as Blueger put up his team-leading eighth point in the last six games.
And just like that, there was life in Rogers Arena! Noah Juulsen threw a massive hit along the boards, which caused Cam Atkinson to come in and take an instigator penalty and put the Canucks on the power play.
Then disaster struck, as the Flyers scored a shorthanded goal to go up 4-1 and zap the life right out of the building.
With the goal, the Canucks lost their title as the only team in the NHL who hadn’t given up a shortanded goal this season.
The Flyers are currently in a playoff spot, and tonight, we saw why. It was almost as if they “out Canucked” the Canucks tonight. They were patient in waiting for the Canucks to make mistakes, and played a very structurally sound game with a high effort level in all three zones.
Down 4-1, not even the third line could save the Canucks, as that stood to be your final score tonight.
Some other takeaways tonight:
-Casey DeSmith played well this evening, and his improvements on things like rebound control and crease movement continue to be noticeable.
-The Elias Pettersson line had a decent night, and more importantly, Andrei Kuzmenko looked fine, and it would be a surprise to see him demoted or benched after tonight’s game.
-That was the Canucks’ first regulation loss in their last 10 games. Bring on the road trip!
Thankfully, this is the last time these two teams will face off this season… we think.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!
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