The Preseasies: Filip Hronek’s stellar showing silenced by the Eeli Tolvanen snipe show
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Is anyone else tired of preseason?
I am. Or at least I’m tired of preseason scheduling!
Heading East for a Wednesday nighter in Abbotsford, the Canucks’ were coming off a luxurious three-day break between games. Maybe that kind of layoff works for the pros but not for us here at CanucksArmy, who are desperate for a return to action with stakes!
Fortunately, the Canucks last preseason game is Friday. Unfortunately, that’s before another <checks notes> four-day break before the regular season starts. FOUR!
I bet scheduling 41 home games for 32 teams is incredibly difficult. Especially after you factor in divisional, intra-conference, and “play everyone in the opposing conference at least once at home and once on the road” scheduling requirements. But does the preseason really need four-day breaks in between games?! SURELY, there’s a preseason scheduling alternative that doesn’t leave the fanbase starved for action.
I digress; let’s get into the Canucks’ Wednesday nighter in the Fraser Valley, a close war of attrition that tipped narrowly in the visiting Seattle Kraken’s favour.
Starting lineup (yay!)
Opposing lineup (boo!)
The first period began with Oliver Bjorkstrand beating his former teammate Carson Soucy in a race for a puck retrieval inside the Canucks’ zone.
The first three shifts did not look good for the Vancouver group. The Kraken were all over Vancouver with speed, dominating the neutral zone with heavy hits and suffocating the Canucks inside their zone with efficient puck movement around the perimeter.
Off one of the Kraken’s dominant cycles, Tyler Myers got involved in a “fight” with John Hayden. It was awkward, weird, clunky, and stretched the textbook definition of a “hockey scrap.”
The scrap led to a center-ice faceoff and eventual scoring chance for Vancouver, sparked by a slick spinning zone entry from Andrei Kuzmenko that led to a no-look pass to Pius Suter for a drive on goal.
Alas, the Kraken returned to a suffocating cycle at 5v5 that saw the Canucks 1st pair of Filip Hronek and Carson Soucy hemmed in their zone for several minutes.
We’re not sure who Max McCormick is, but he made blitzing past Hronek look easy. His retrieval behind the Canucks goal line spelled disaster for the Canucks on this particular shift.
A Canucks forward group featuring Aman, Höglander, and Bains lost several key puck battles near the blue line that prolonged the damage. At one point, ex-Canuck Kole Lind fanned on a shot attempt, which wasn’t enough to help the Canucks spring a zone exit. Nils Aman attempted to lob a pass to Arshdeep Bains for the break-out skate, only for Bains to bat the puck back toward Casey DeSmith with his backhand.
It was a brutal shift to watch play out. Fortunately for that group, the Kraken’s pressure led only to a few low-danger shot attempts and none on goal.
A drive down the wing by Dakota Joshua toward an out-of-position Joey Daccord nearly produced a dangerous chance for Vancouver. Unfortunately, like most of the first 20 minutes, the Canucks were beaten to loose pucks much too often to capitalize.
Late in the period, Höglander nearly opened the scoring for Vancouver after a Brock Boeser rebound dropped right in Daccord’s crease at his feet.
Guillaume Brisebois drew the game’s fire penalty to give the Kraken a late power play opportunity. The Canucks’ early PK group did well to provide traffic on shots and get to rebounds first. Hronek looked great on one particular play, outmuscling the Kraken’s netfront forward to catch a DeSmith rebound and hurry the puck into the half-wall.
Hronek’s stick was broken in half on a slash during the sequence. Alas, no penalty was assessed on the play.
Hronek then answered his earlier PK success with a pass from behind the goal line toward the slot that hit his previously broken stick. With no Canucks forward in position to receive the pass, Hronek’s disrupted pass landed right at the feet of Seattle’s Andrew Potrualski, who waltzed around the crease for an easy goal around the sprawling DeSmith.
GOAL – 1-0 Seattle Kraken – Andrew Poturalski (1)
Tough luck for Hronek, who did just about everything you could to kill a penalty effectively.
Alas, the period drew to a close with the Canucks barely edging Seattle in shots on goal, 4-2, but down on the scorecards 1-zip.
After some early back-and-forth jostling between both teams, Cole McWard overcame some early-game nerves to record the team’s FIFTH shot on goal!
You hear that, folks? FIFTH!
Then Hronek experienced more ‘Canucks hockey’ things when he inadvertently tipped a Carson Soucy clearance pass right to the tape of Eeli Tolvanen’s stick. Tolvanen cruised through the slot, around Bains and the sprawling Hronek, firing a shot off his backhand that forced DeSmith into heroics.
Hronek’s luck changed for the better near the midway point of the second period, first, with a shot through traffic that deflected off Daccord’s stick just wide of the left post.
Then, the Canucks broke through the Kraken’s defences, with Hronek going d-to-d to Soucy for a heater past a heavily screened Daccord.
GOAL – 1-1 Tie – Carson Soucy (1) from Filip Hronek (1)
On replay, it looks like Linus Karlsson got a touch on Soucy’s shot to lower it under Daccord’s elbow.
Regardless of credit, it was an excellent sequence for Hronek, who’d been snakebitten through the first half of the game to that point.
Pius Suter continued to play his uniquely strong brand of quiet two-way hockey, breaking the puck out of the d-zone to spring himself on a breakaway scoring chance.
The Soucy (Karlsson?) goal opened the floodgates for the Canucks’ first pair. Their next shift together saw them controlling the blue line with ease, with Hronek setting Souce up for multiple bombs off the point.
The Canucks really turned the gas on during the latter stages of the second period, peppering Daccord with dangerous chances from all areas around the crease. Anthony Beauvillier was robbed of a glorious scoring opportunity on an open net by the long stick of Jamie Oleksiak after Daccord was caught swimming through his crease.
Soucy continued to let his former teammate have it with shots up high.
The Canucks weren’t without their warts during the second period.
DeSmith was forced into heroics after a blue line turnover sent Marian Studenic in behind a reaching Cole McWard for a breakaway scoring chance.
Considering McWard’s initial gaffe in challenging Studenic off the entry, he did well to sweep the puck toward the walls and eliminate any dangerous follow-up chances from Seattle.
Canucks fan’s old friend Kole Lind nearly broke the tie in Seattle’s favour early into the third period with a deflection over DeSmith’s blocker.
Brisebois then took his second minor penalty of the game, where the Canucks’ young guns shined bright. First, Aatu Räty forced the Kraken outside of the d-zone, then battled to strip possession and clear the zone down the length of the ice.
Chasing after Räty’s clearance, Arshdeep Bains then drew a holding penalty against Ryker Evans while on the forecheck, ending Seattle’s power play and forcing 4-on-4 before a brief Canucks power play.
Vancouver’s first power play unit featured Wolanin, Hronek, Boeser, Kuzmenko, and Bains. The most PP1 could muster was a fanned-on one-timer from Boeser just outside the left circle.
Following the power play, the Canucks then found themselves in more penalty trouble, with Max Sasson sending the Kraken to their third power play of the game. During the extended 6-on-5 with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Kole Lind nearly broke the tie with a one-timer shot off DeSmith’s stick.
The Canucks continued their strong night on the PK, killing off Sasson’s penalty with timely clearances and deflections on Seattle’s point shots.
Unfortunately, some poor puck management inside the d-zone from Räty resulted in Eeli Tolvanen breaking the stalemate with his third goal of the preseason.
GOAL – 2-1 Seattle Kraken – Eeli Tolvanen (2)
Through the back half of the period, Tyler Myers made up for an earlier levelling at the hands of the 5’8″ Kailer Yamamoto by rolling over Pierre-Edouard Bellemare inside the Canucks d-zone.
Canucks fans got their first real glimpse of a Hronek slap shot, resulting from a turnover created by Höglander off the forecheck.
With DeSmith pulled for the extra attacker, the Canucks pressured late in the final minute, searching for the equalizer.
No one is sure how or why, but after a deflection over the glass, the refs elected to pull the faceoff outside the offensive zone. The refs then took issue with the Canucks’ disagreement with the assessment, earning themselves a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Canucks nearly tied the game off a brilliant cross-ice pass from Brock Boeser to Kuzmenko.
Alas, the late try was too little, too late.
The Canucks dropped their Wednesday nighter 2-1, pushing their preseason record to 1-3-1
CanucksArmy Three stars
Our first star went to Filip Hronek, who overcame some brutal “Canuck luck” early to find his groove in the back half of the game. We liked the chemistry he showed on a pair with Carson Soucy. Together, the two made working the blue line look easy. The Canucks struggled against the Kraken’s speed, forecheck, and break-out but seemingly dominated possession inside the offensive zone whenever Soucy-Hronek was on the ice. It was also great to see him uncork his lauded slapshot for the first time.
Our second star belonged to Pius Suter, whose brand of quiet but dominant, disruptive two-way hockey was a breath of fresh air whenever he touched the ice. Though not the biggest player nor the fastest, the rate with which Suter disrupts play is something to behold. It was almost comical the number of times that Suter broke up offensive zone setups, neutral zone passing plays or entry attempts just with his positioning or well-timed stick placements alone. Suter didn’t figure on the scoresheet, but the amount of chances he created that began with his work in the defensive end was highly encouraging.
The night’s third star belonged to Casey DeSmith, who saved the Canucks bacon several times with clutch saves.
The Canucks round out their preseason schedule with one final home game against the Calgary Flames on Friday, October 6th, at 7 PM PST.
Recent articles from Cody Severtson