Photo credit:© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: The Boston Bruins humble the Vancouver Canucks to the familiar score of 4-0
12 days ago
In what was supposed to be a battle of the top teams from the Eastern and Western conferences ended up being a battle with PTSD for Canucks fans instead.
Many envisioned a spirited affair of back-and-forth hockey between the two teams from the infamous 2011 Stanley Cup finals, but I don’t think many expected the game to mirror the final game of that series so closely.
Both games shared the same score of 4-0.
Both games started with an early Boston goal that effectively ended the game from that point forward, giving away that depressing style of hockey in which the defeated team is clearly skating out the clock, with nary an answer in sight.
And both games shared Brad Marchand. Scoring a goal. As he always seems to do.
Now let’s get something out of the way here. This is just one game in a season that has gone so well for Vancouver that it’s almost laughable to get worked up about the odd loss here and there.
And this is also a team that has shown a remarkable ability to bounce back from bad losses before ripping off another extended winning streak. If ever there was a season to extend a healthy benefit of the doubt to the Canucks, it would be this one.
So yes, this one game will not define the Vancouver Canucks season, barring a monumental mental collapse combined with the PDO Gods coming for their pound of flesh.
And the analytical amongst you will look at this game, note the things that went wrong, and simply prepare yourself for the next game. In fact, if this was a 4-0 loss to the Springfield Isotopes, people would have already written this game off as the regular ebbs and flows of a season. “Can’t win ’em all!” you’d chuckle nervously, secretly wondering if Mr. Burns was going to add another star player to his top team at the trade deadline.
It’s honestly a healthy way to look at the sport, and I applaud you for that.
But for those who watched those 2011 Finals, and those who still remember the feeling of losing to this Boston team, I have to warn you: This game was a giant pile of horse shit. It’s like going to Christmas dinner and finding out your parents invited your ex over so they could just shore up some details about the breakup.
It was awful. The majority of the team played terrible hockey. At one point, I was having a healthy debate about who played with more structure, the TimBits hockey kids or the Canucks on the power play.
In fact, at times, it felt like Vancouver was playing poorly just to spite you. It was as if they felt you were getting a little too happy about this season, so they just wanted to give you a little reality check with two embarrassing short handed goals. They saw you bragging to your friends about how good they were and they panicked about living up to those standards so they sabotaged the relationship a little bit. All in an attempt to try and get you riled up enough to demand that Cody get to finish his story.
The only bright spot about this game? The ever-reliable Corolla Garland was once against the team’s most consistent player. But crowing about that is akin to talking about how the peanuts on the plane were delightful as it hurtled towards the earth with all of its engines blown out, all while Tyler Myers could be heard cackling from the cockpit.
And if we’re being honest with each other, even if you take Boston out of the equation, that was a big game between two top teams. And the Canucks star players? They no-showed the game as hard as they possibly could. It was not a great look.
However, it was just one loss. In fact, there will be a re-match between these two teams in Vancouver on February 24th, giving the team a perfect chance to once again show how they bounce back from adversity. And as I said earlier, this team deserves credit for how they’ve managed to respond to their own poor performances. I have no doubt the Canucks will look like a completely different team in that re-match.
But for one horrible night, the Canucks offered up perhaps their worst big game performance of the season, against a familiar foe, creating nightmare visuals of how this team might look like folding in the playoffs, leaving many people to wonder:
Just what was in Garland’s lobster rolls?
Best start with the best
Believe it or not there was a solid 35 seconds of this game where it felt like you were about to watch a good hockey game, and once again, it was Corolla Garland getting it started:
Even in the coldest of temperatures, the Corolla will always start up when you need it.
Dakota Joshua also continues to be a physical presence that seems to only have one objective in mind, which is drive the puck to the net at all costs. He’s essentially Uber for hockey pucks, except whenever they ask to be taken to a friend’s house, he simply drives them straight into the crease.
“I think you missed my turn. You were supposed to take a right on Dunbar-”
“Oh, I’ll get you where you need to go.”
“Sir, why are the doors locked? Sir?”
The end result? The Canucks earned a powerplay, which as you will quickly find out, clearly needed a safe word to opt out of it.
Best soft quitting
You know how working remotely has been kind of nice? To the point where when you do have to go to the office once in the week, it feels like an insurmountable task?
That’s kind of how the Canucks’ powerplay looked on the night:
You’ll see on the Bruins’ third goal that sometimes PDO doesn’t go brrrr, but to excuse this game as merely the pendulum of PDO swinging the other way would be giving the Canucks an excuse for whatever the hell this is.
So let’s break this one down quickly so we can try and summarize this nightmare of a shorthanded goal against:
- Demko doesn’t need to force that pass along the boards. True, the Canucks didn’t give him many outlet options. In fact, three of the Canucks just sort of huddled around the middle of the ice, like background characters in a Pixar movie. But regardless, Demko doesn’t need to try and force a pass around a teammate who is covered, to the open boards where the only thing that exists is your shattered dreams of attending film school.
- The Canucks could have offered up any resistance on the ensuing pass to the front of the net. Instead, they all kind of watch as the puck passes in front of them, to which they slowly turn around and watch, mouths agape, wondering who this Brad Marchand fellow is and why he’s trying to put that disc-like object behind their hug-hating friend who seems to really enjoy layers.
- JT Miller is a very good player. He can put up points, he can throw big hits, he can make big plays. He is one of the Canucks best players, this is very clear. But if you want someone who can rival anyone in the league for “Controller disconnected” moments, it would be this guy. He literally watches Brad circle out in front of the net and skate right on by him, and not once does he chuckle to himself saying he’s in danger. The only explanation I have is JT was lost in the beat of Sabrina’s iconic 1987 party anthem hit “Boys, Boys, Boys”, because let’s face it, we’ve all been there.
Just a very ugly goal all around. And certainly not the way you’d like to start a game off against a top rival.
Best drop shotting rats
Moments after that goal, the Canucks and Bruins literally recreated the scene where Bart and Lisa walk in a line punching and kicking so if the other one gets hit it’s their own fault:
In the 2011 playoffs, both teams would have been penalized for not using their sticks as weapons enough, but we live in a different time now.
Best slogans from the past
80% of the “good” highlights from the Canucks are Conor Garland doing something nifty, so here’s Conor Garland doing something nifty:
Garland makes room for himself, finds Blueger in front of the net, who dishes it off to Zadorov, who shoots wide. This might have been the play of the game for the Canucks.
Other possible contenders for play of the game:
- A disallowed goal from Höglander
- Elias Pettersson completing a deke in his own zone
- JT Miller throwing a big hit that leads to a shot on net
- Quinn Hughes trying that sneaky shot high glove side while in tight
- Zadorov cross checking Oskar Steen for the heck of it.
Those are literally the best highlights from this game from Vancouver. I kid you not.
How bad was it for the Canucks’ top players? Here’s Charlie Coyle walking Hughes like he needs to get the dog walk done before his next work meeting starts:
You know how we said this was just one game? That’s still true.
But this was one game in which we saw Quinn Hughes play like a mere mortal. It might have been his worst game of the season in fact.
And let me tell you, after seeing this, I have never been more resolute on the idea that Quinn Hughes deserves the Hart trophy this season.
When Hughes has an off-game for the Vancouver Canucks, it resonates throughout the entire lineup. Even Dan Murphy looked like it was impacting him. He didn’t have the same sparkle in his eye during the intermission interviews.
See, how often have I posted two clips in a row of Hughes getting abused? Here Oskar Steen spins off Hughes, and sets up Geekie for a great chance:
This was the kind of game where I wouldn’t be shocked if it came out the team had the flu, or that yes, those Garland lobster rolls were past their expiry date. Quinn Hughes’ edge work is his thing. That’s what he’s known for. He goes to a club and he doesn’t have to show his ID, he simply makes a quick cut on his feet and the bouncers know it’s him. Falling down like that? That was not the 2023/24 Quinn Hughes we’ve come to know.
JT Miller would then follow this up with his play of the game before bouncing for the night, by landing a big hit that resulted in a turnover, which then led to Boeser passing him the puck back for as good a chance as they’d get on the night:
Yeah. That was uh, his night. That was the best thing he did. Probably the best thing Boeser did as well?
This is kind of bleak.
Best Colin Campbell call
Look, if you cut back on the ice and skate into me, I am going to stand you up like a Tinder date who suggests eating at Earls:
I am not sure how JT Miller gets a penalty here, but the Bruins were awarded a powerplay for this.
Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. If Tim Peel took a break from shooting his shot he’d probably think this is a fine penalty to award a team when you’re dying to hand out a penalty.
But in terms of trying to understand how officiating works in this league? This felt like a confusing call.
Best bringing up memories
At one point, Tyler Myers fell into the boards, and it looked like Jake DeBrusk might have caused it. I won’t lie, it really did feel a bit like 2011:
Your immediate reaction is demanding ice justice, quickly glancing at Zadorov and wondering if you tap your head like in that movie The Castle, if he’ll understand the assignment.
But then you watch the replay and see that Chaos Giraffe looked like he sort of just tipped over, and you realize the war of aggression can be called off.
Best game over, man
This was my least favourite goal of the night:
Why is this worse than the first goal the team gave up? Hey, you like bullet points, don’t you?
- The Canucks gave up a soft shorthanded goal 35 seconds into the game. They should have been locked in and on alert to not give up any more chances with the extra man. To play this sloppy on another powerplay speaks volumes about where your head is at.
- JT Miller and that no look drop pass to Quinn Hughes can be very effective, but when it’s bad? It’s so incredibly bad. It’s the milk of NHL passes, you can almost see the clotted cream on that sad attempt at a no look back pass that has clearly been scouted by the entire league. Can you still do that play? Of course. Should you try and do that on a high risk play? Not at this point in time. Not in this game.
- Quinn Hughes just looked off. His skating wasn’t dynamic at all on the night. He clearly sees Elias and thinks Petey will angle off Danton Heinen, so he grabs the trailer, but it’s not often Quinn Hughes looks so normal.
- Elias Pettersson isn’t the best skater in the world, which he makes up for by being extremely clever with his stick, and very smart with his angles. It’s the Sami Salo style of hockey. Here, Elias does neither, as instead of angling off Heinen to cut off his path to the net, he gets caught up in a race with him. That is not Elias’ strength. If he cuts off the angle a bit and slows down Heinen, maybe Quinn Hughes can re-join the defensive efforts. But instead he basically gets out-raced to the puck and has to go in Wile E. Coyote mode where he knows the outcome will be pain, he just doesn’t know how much of it yet.
This was literally the game at this point. The Canucks had given up two shorthanded goals to the best team in the East, and they were cooked
Best find the silver linings
As much as I loathed that last goal, I loved this goal:
Look, you have to understand, Tyler Myers scored on his own net, but that wasn’t even the most chaotic thing about this goal. That’s like next level Chaos Giraffe energy from 57.
To summarize, and to lean into bullet point lists again:
- A puck bounces into the slot, where it gets shot on net by David Pastrnak. Nothing weird here.
- Elias Pettersson gets a piece of the shot, just as David’s stick shatters in two pieces, sending wood flying into the sky.
- The puck floats towards the net where Morgan Geekie gets shoved by Tyler Myers. While flying through the air due to said shove, Geekie does an abrupt 180 spin in the air, and tips the puck so Demko can no longer easily stop it.
- The puck then bounces off of Demko, off of Myers, and into the net.
This is the one goal where you can go “PDO and Chaos Giraffe, am I right?” and nobody would blink an eye.
Honestly, go watch that goal from Geekie again. The dude literally flips around in the air to tip a puck that is flying right by him. That is next level stuff right there. I know it’s from a Boston player, but if Garland did that you’d know I’d have had a statue built of this goal already. That was an absolute filthy goal.
Best if there was every any doubt
I’ll give the Canucks credit. They didn’t wait until late in the third period to make this game 4-0 this time at least:
The Bruins clear the puck around the boards, Elias Pettersson overloads one side of the ice and then misses the puck, allowing Pavel Zacha to walk in all alone to make it 4-0.
It was at this point that the crowd just sort of died. Even Boston fans were like “oh? that’s it?” as if they were expecting a heavyweight tilt between two top teams, instead of the older brother holding their younger sibling in a head lock until they tired themselves out.
This was such a bad game of hockey from the Vancouver Canucks.
Best of the rest
In case 4-0 wasn’t proof enough that this wasn’t the Canucks night, here is PDO actively telling you to burn in hell as the puck does everything but go in the net on these two chances:
If the Canucks had told the ref after this play that they were forfeiting the game, I don’t think anyone would have questioned them. If this happened in online hockey, this is clearly the part where you’d be rage quitting before furiously explaining to your significant other about how EA Sports really needs to fix their game.
Best Canucks anthem
Team down 4-0? Leave it to Corolla Garland to still show a pulse:
So come to town
Set your Conor free
Hold him tight
His hug tonight
Tell him you believe
Everybody, hockey time love
You’ll remember he
Everybody, hockey time love
Be my player, be my Garland
Boys, boys, boys
He’s looking for a good goal
Boys, boys, boys,
Get ready to light the lamp
(Hey sometimes you write a joke about a song nobody remembers, this is the secret to getting through tedious games. Sometimes you write the jokes for yourself.)
Best chaotic outcome
Part of me thinks that in one of the multiverses out there, Tyler Myers scores on this rush, thus starting an epic 5-4 comeback for the Canucks:
Alas, it ends up merely another reminder that you live by the giraffe and you die by the giraffe.
Best sure why not
At one point Nils scored a goal off a high stick that the team briefly tried to pretend might count before settling down and resuming work on getting shut out:
He had plenty of time to wait that out an extra half a second, but I get it. The stress of that situation is far different when you’re the one going through it. It’s like having to choose between buying a gas mask late game in Warzone or bringing your friend Jay back. You have this back and forth battle in your head about which is more useful, and before you realize it you’ve run out of time so you just panic and smash all the buttons.
Best bang for your buck
Give Garland credit, his line produced the most chances on the night:
Evade a hit, get the puck back, set up Dakota Joshua, that’s Conor hockey my friends.
I mean, yeah, he probably poisoned the entire team with his infernal lobster rolls.
But the guy came ready to work on the night.
Best place where dreams go to die
I knew I would only have a handful of highlights from the third period, because the team was done after two periods. You’re not exactly going to break down a poor clearing attempt in the third period of a game like this and try and apply it to the season.
“As you can see here, Boeser’s failure to clear the puck is indicative of a greater issue, which is a lack of speed on the back check. In this essay, I will begin to lay out-”
Sometimes you just eat your losses, use the bigger sample size of the season to place the context, and then you move on with your life.
With that being said, I do have three clips from the third period, two of which are Ilya Mikheyev’s shot.
Now that Kuzmenko is gone, taking away Ilya’s human shield for his poor play, we get to watch shots like this and wonder if surely there is a better option for that second line:
And I get it; he’s had knee surgery, so maybe we’ll see some of that high-end speed we were told about next year. But in this current season, it’s hard to envision the Canucks leaning on him to be a second line player for them.
He has his moments where his legs get under him, and he is reasonably on top of his defensive responsibilities.
It’s just his shot has me pining for the days of Jannik Hansen and Tyler Motte, back when at least one in every hundred shots would go in:
Hey, he’s playing North/South hockey. He knows what Tocchet wants of him, and he tends to give it to him.
It’s just his shot. His shot makes Kyle Wellwood look like Joe Sakic in comparison.
Best closing it out
The final highlight of the night? Zadorov going off on Steen for reasons:
Hey, that was more pushback than the Canucks normally show in a loss to Boston on the road? Yay?
And that was the ball game.
Pretty clearly a game you put behind you as you move onto the next challenge, this time in the form of back to back early morning games, which have never been that kind to Vancouver.
But as we said throughout this article, those are the exact types of games Vancouver has found a way to bounce back in, rebounding from a bad loss and coming out with a strong effort in the next game. And you just know the Canucks star players are steaming after this one. This loss had a stench to it. The kind of loss where you watch the highlights and just silently nod your head the entire time both equally mad at yourself and your teammates. If this doesn’t motivate their top guys to come out flying next game, nothing will.
It’s just unfortunate the Bruins had to be the one to give the Canucks a valuable lesson in humility.
Onto the next.
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