The Stanchies: Canucks’ 4-2 loss to the Jets leaves more questions than answers

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
4 months ago
In what was billed as a playoff-style matchup between two top teams in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks found themselves with more questions than answers after a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
Now I have to warn you, there is a lot of white noise surrounding this game due to our old friend NHL officiating. And while neutral readers might assume that is an attempted cop-out to explain away the loss when the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks jokes that if he was on TNT, he would tell you what he really thought of the officiating, you know it carries some weight. At the very least, it’s a storyline we have to discuss at some length.
Heck, even after a dejected Quinn Hughes and Noah Juulsen one-word answered their way through their media scrum duties, looking like they were being forced to listen to your top 100 songs on Spotify (Puddle of Mudd had some bangers, I promise you), Tyler Myers was more than happy to open up and imply that the games officiating? It wasn’t his favourite.
“Well, that play never would have happened if they called the penalty on Garly in the corner.” he retorted when asked about Noah Juulsen taking the blame for both goals against in the third period.
When asked about the physicality of the game, Myers once again turned the spotlight onto the on-ice officials.
“It’s also tough when you’re battling, you know, the first hit of the game is not a penalty and he calls it a penalty because I’m a bigger guy. You know, it felt like we were battling two teams tonight.”
And it’s true, there is probably nothing more frustrating for a hockey team then not knowing what is a penalty and what isn’t a penalty. It’s hard to get into a rhythm of your game when you’re not quite sure what physical contact is going to land you in the box.
That being said, the game ended with the Jets going 2 for 4 on the powerplay and the Canucks getting blanked going 0 for 4. So as maddening as a game like that can be for the Vancouver Canucks, their inability to win the special teams war is what cost them the game. The playoffs are never an easy task, and this team will have to fight through much harder games than the one they had on Saturday night if they want an extended run in the post-season.
Now you can argue that the Canucks got rattled by the early calls and got frustrated in this game, and that can very well be true. But the game was tied 2-2 heading into the third period and with the Canucks getting a crucial powerplay minutes into the final frame, they couldn’t produce anything. They forced their passes harder than I forced in my Puddle of Mudd reference, which is saying something.
At the end of the day the Canucks top six put up zero points, while the Jets Gabe Vilardi, Mark Scheifele, and Kyler Connor had 9 points between them. That is simply not good enough.
So what are we left with at the end of the day? A game in which the officiating was bad, but so were the Canucks in the third period. Both can be true. This is the kind of game where the officiating was so inconsistent that it can make the loss feel even worse. Even if the Canucks were agents of their own demise, clearly the officiating made it unnecessarily messy.
If we’re being honest.
Either way, the Canucks have to move on from this. They have to close out the season strong to stay ahead of the Edmonton Oilers. And they are going to have plenty more tests against top teams as the season comes to a close.
The question is, will they finally find answers, or just leave with more questions again.
Best penalty that Tyler Myers didn’t like
We joke about Tyler Myers and Nikita Zadorov getting penalties for being too tall, or too much man, but most of the time that’s just a fun laugh we have for the memes.
And much like the Detroit game, the frustration with the officials (the same crew as that Detroit game, mind you) is, and say it with me now kids, “CONSISTENCY”.
You want to call ticky tack penalties on small hits like this:
Sure, fine, got it. You’ve just set the barometer for penalties in the game, something players can now adjust to. Hitting isn’t going to be allowed very much in this game based on this clear example the officials just gave you. Got it.
Except it didn’t work out that way, as you’ll soon see. Which is where the frustration from the Canucks comes into this game.
It’s a bit like telling someone their dinner is ready but when they go to the table, all they see is an empty plate. And when they look at you with confusion and betrayal in their eyes, you slap them in the face and make them sit in a closet for two minutes to think about what they’ve done.
Then next thing they know, they’ve left the closet but someone tackles them and grabs them by the legs, all while Mark Scheifele marries their mother and proudly announces he’s their new step-dad, and also he’s turning their room into his office.
It sends a mixed signal, you know? It kind of gets people heated.
The good news for the Canucks is the closest the Jets would score was on a play in which Demko made a tremendous save, despite being pushed into the crease in a Luongo/Byfuglien throwback:
The officials would look at the play and determine that Demko was pushed into the net, so there was no goal. But don’t let that fool you, as the crease camera clearly showed Demko kept the puck from fully crossing the line.
Demko vs Hellebuyck is a marquee matchup in the NHL, so we really need to attribute the saves properly in this one. Or at the very least, try and avoid talking about the third period as much as possible.
Also, keep note of that cross crease tap in pass attempt because that would come back to haunt the Canucks twice in the third period. That same third period I was attempting to avoid talking about.
Damn it.
Best big boy hockey
The Jets are a big team, the kind of team Kevin Nash and Scott Hall would enjoy playing for, so it wasn’t surprising to see them key in on Quinn Hughes:
And that’s a good hit, it really is. It also makes sense that the Jets would attempt to hurt the Canucks best weapon because without Quinn Hughes, the Vancouver Canucks are absolutely nothing. And I say that without any hint of drama or embellishment. He is the Vancouver Canucks, and every single playoff team they run into knows that, and will take steps to punish him for being incredibly good at hockey.
The problem is that they officials just established that hitting was bad! But here it’s good! So now you don’t fully know when you should be physical, but when another team is hitting you, the natural reaction is to hit back (unless you’re the garbage New York Islanders).
All of which makes for a frustrating game to play.
Best tight like a playoff game
The first period didn’t have a lot of the action, as it felt kind of like a first date situation between the Jets and Canucks. Both sides were feeling each other out, trying to get to know each other, and mostly just trying to avoid asking questions about their political beliefs.
And while the Canucks best players didn’t produce much in the way of offence, Elias Pettersson still showed off a bit of flair because the man likes making me gif money.
Up first we have him taking the puck, drawing in two defenders, before spinning away to make an outlet pass:
And then we had him going full Inigo Montoya mode on this play, where you could almost hear him proudly declare he’s actually right handed:
Are these neat plays? Damn straight.
Is it kind of disheartening that I have no clips of him producing offence? Very much so.
Best proof that he exists
Ilya Mikheyev has been given the nice assignment of driving the Corolla around for a bit while Dakota heals up from his “upper body injury” and the good news is he had some noticeable shifts on the night:
It’s still more of a whispered suggestion than a shot, the kind of thing that would have trouble scaring my Grandmother at point-blank range (easy glove save to be honest, she’d just snag an oven mitt and she’s off to the races), but he at least did the EA Sports tried and true method of aiming low and away at the goalies pads to create a juicy rebound.
Overall that trio fared better than the last game, but it still wasn’t the same effective line they are when Dakota is around. Which makes sense, as the Corolla line had chemistry. They played together for most of the season. They had seen things.
Which makes it a good look at a future in which Blueger and Dakota might not come back due to being free agents next year.
All of which is to say, look at your new master, Ilya Mikheyev, because he is never leaving. Ever.
I hope you like the taste of muffins.
Best it was the best of times
Noah Juulsen ended the game pretty poorly, but after months of good PR, spearheaded by Quadrelli, this goal felt like it was just the next natural evolution of Noah Juulsen, Norris Trophy winner:
We do have to point out that this entire goal is started by a tremendous spinning pass from Ilya Mikheyev. He wins a race to the puck, pivots, and throws it in the general direction of Corolla Garland, which is all you ever really need to do.
Garland then drives a zone entry, as that’s what he constantly does, and sends over a pass attempt to Teddy Blueger that hits his skates. The puck then waits patiently until Noah Juulsen can pinch up on the play and shoot a laser beam top shelf from right in the crease.
Does part of me hope Noah whispered “pew pew, bitches” when he scored? Clearly.
Also, if you’re going to score your first goal as a Vancouver Canuck, that’s a pretty solid way to do it. My first goal would be me falling onto the ice and cutting my face open as the puck hit my upper right thigh and slowly trickled into the net.
To which I would still whisper “pew pew, bitches.”
Best insight
As Tim Peel taught us, and us much as Ron MacLean wants to try and lie to us about, NHL officials are human. They get frustrated like us. They get happy like us. They also want to get revenge like us.
Essentially we are all Call of Duty players saying horrible things in the pre-game lobby. Which is why you put systems in place to prevent bias. A system of checks and balances if you will.
The problem is the NHL refuses to be open about its officiating, nor does it seem like it’s very much interested in doing anything to improve it any time soon. You would think Tim Peel being caught talking about just wanting to give Nashville a penalty would make the NHL, at the very least, blush a little bit. That perhaps they’d create a more open system in which they could assure their customers, customers who now bet on games, that everything is above board.
That that $500 bet you just made on the game won’t be lost due to an official wanting to punish a player for making them look stupid in a previous game or saying something mean that hurt their feelings.
And the thing is, Saturday’s game could have 100% just been the officials doing their job. Maybe they got some calls right, maybe they got some wrong, but they just went out there and did their job.
It’s just after the Tim Peel incident, and the Stephane Auger and Alex Burrows stuff, when calls like this are made:
It’s going to arch a lot of eye brows.
Again, this is a game in which Tyler Myers has been penalized for throwing a hit, and the Jets have been able to truck Quinn Hughes.
So now Hoglander has been penalized for throwing a shoulder into the chest of Neil Pionk, who snaps his head back like he’s been hit with a baseball bat. For added effect, he clutches at his face briefly before dropping his arm so he can resume guarding Nils, because CLEARLY HE DIDN’T GET HIT IN THE FACE.
And that is why you had an irate home crowd on your hand. The Canucks were getting penalized and to make matters worse, the Jets were acting out injuries like it was a Civil War reenactment.
What tops this all off? The Jets scoring on the Nils penalty:
In a battle of top goalies, that is one Demko is going to want back. We’re so used to seeing him make top save after top save that it feels a bit odd to watch that one go in. You actually found yourself checking to make sure it wasn’t Casey DeSmith who started the game and maybe you’d just missed the announcement.
Again, the Canucks still had chances to win this game. Going into the third period tied 2-2 and starting the third period with a powerplay, that’s a situation this Canucks team would have gladly taken any day of the week.
But the way the game was called early on was clearly a source of frustration for fan and player alike.
Best teaser trailer
Elias Pettersson got an almost assist? That’s pretty good, right?
I’m assuming Myers just hit the post because why score on a nice pass in the slot when you can dangle and toe drag around the Jets to score one of the best goals of the season?
More on that later.
Best what are we even doing here
So here’s the deal: Adam Lowry throws a huge hit on Nils Aman, and Philly Delight decides to defend his teammate’s honour, as one does, so he drops the gloves.
Phil gets beat up, because Adam Lowry is a big boy, but kudos to him for defending an ice skating brother, and the Canucks start planning their post game hugs to Giuseppe about what a warrior he is.
How did the officials see it? They handed out a powerplay to the Jets in the form of an instigator penalty to Giuseppe, along with a 10 minute misconduct to go along with the 5 minute major for fighting. At one point I thought they might arrest Phil for being involved in the 2011 riots but luckily that didn’t come to fruition.
Now, normally I have no issue with the instigator penalty being handed out for fighting after a clean hit. There is no reason an NHL player should have to punch another man just because a big hit was thrown. The problem was this hit was not clean, and Lowry also gladly dropped his gloves before PDG had even dropped his own mitts.
Lowry left his feet before impact; it’s a clear charge, so don’t cry to me about “Oh, his momentum carried him into the air, didn’t you see his beautiful momentum?? How can you be so angry at physics, Wyatt!” garbage.
Now, did PDG run in there with clear intentions to fight? Mostly likely. But the fact Lowry threw off his gloves makes that a tough situation to hand out the instigator. If that’s called usually it’s because the guy instigating, you know, instigates the fight by tossing his gloves and throwing punches first.
It’s just hard to fathom how the Canucks came out of this with a penalty. Which again, that now makes it three scenarios in a row in which the Canucks can’t even find their footing because NHL officials are just out there vibing or whatever.
And of course, to make matters worse, the Jets would promptly score on the powerplay:
That’s the old Bumpin’ Bo Horvat PP maneuver that did the Canucks in if you want a bit more salt in the wound.
After watching the Canucks power play limply flail along like an elderly man just trying to make a connection, there is something beautiful in the simplicity of the bumper play producing a goal for the Jets.
Best Chaos Giraffe runs wild
You know what would make this game bonkers? This goal:
Tyler Myers reads that play like Deion Sanders and runs it back with just as much flare as Prime Time would have.
To make things even better for Canucks fans, Tyler Myers toe drags around Neil Pionk, luckily only snapping his ankles back this time instead of his head.
The best part about this is you’re not really shocked Tyler Myers did this. Because that’s what he is. He is the Chaos Giraffe.
He is just as likely to score three goals on his own net in a game as he is to dangle around the offensive zone and put up the goal of the month on a team.
As Dr. Malcom taught us, a Chaos Giraffe would never obey set patterns and park schedules.
Best phoning it in
We’re at the point of the game where it’s been called with so much inconsistency that any penalty is going to anger the home crowd.
Which is why when Nils Hoglander got called for boarding, it still upset people:
I mean, it’s not the worst call in the world. I know any boarding call always devolves into people angrily screaming at you about “HE LOOKED BEHIND HIM AND THEN HE TURNED INTO THE BOARDS” so I don’t REALLY want to break this penalty down too much.
All I will say is at least this call made more sense than the earlier ones.
The problem is the earlier penalties already resulted in two goals against, so yeah, that’s going to incite some anger from the crowd.
Want to add more fuel to the fire? How about Mark Schiefele taking his turn at being Dar Robinson when JT Miller leaned a shoulder into him:
Again, based on the Myers call earlier in the game, that makes sense as a penalty from JT, especially in a league that might want to discourage hits near and to the head. But they also didn’t give Lowry a penalty for his high-hitting charge, so what are we even doing here?
The officials handed out off-setting penalties on this play (embellishment to Mark), due to Schiefele’s large spin and snap maneuver and the fact Pionk probably lost the Jets the benefit of the doubt at this point.
So yeah, this was not the best officiated game I have seen in my lifetime. Game management at its finest, where it wasn’t so much about calling actual penalties but more about balancing out game narratives.
Best last gasp of good PR on the night
There was a time in which I thought Quadrelli would look upon this clip with pride, knowing his boy was capping off a fantastic night of hockey:
Keeps stride with his check, separates the body from the puck, that is Chris Tanev hockey defending 101 right there.
Best no fate but that you make
Now, here is where the Canucks get gifted a powerplay, for what was deemed “a hold”:
That is a very soft call, but was clearly made under the guise of game management. Maybe the officials reviewed the footage in the second intermission and realized the Jets had been selling harder than The Rock on a Stone Cold Stunner, so “game management” entered the fray.
This is where the Canucks top players need to score a goal.
This is where their awful powerplay has to get its shit together.
This is where it did neither of those things which is why I have no gifs to show you whatsoever.
Unless you like seeing forced passes into skates? Is that your kink? If so, I have lot of clips for sale.
And just what is the problem with the powerplay according to a visibly frustrated Rick Tocchet post game?
“That wasn’t good at all. That’s the powerplay you have to have the dagger. I didn’t like that powerplay at all…We need some guys to meet pressure with pressure on that one…You gotta move your feet. If a couple of guys move their feet, they will pass pucks. I get frustrated because we talk about it…you cannot stare down your option and have your feet planted.”
This is why despite all the questionable officiating, you can’t blame this loss on the NHL. The Canucks had their chance to gain the lead in this game, but once again their powerplay produced nothing and looked awful in the process.
Special teams lost this game for Vancouver.
Best it was the worst of times
The third period must have been sponsored by Tinder because at times it appeared Vancouver’s defensive structure was only looking for something casual.
And how did the third goal happen? It all started with a shot:
First off, one of my biggest pet peeves in hockey is when someone streaks into the zone (not nude), and then skates hard to the net, puts themselves in nice and tight, and then decides, “hey you know what, I might only have a few goals on the season but I bet I can go high on this goalie and go bar down on him.”
It was something Mason Raymond loved to do. Also something Jake Virtanen loved to do. And it’s something Ilya Mikheyev oddly decided to do here.
You know who is allowed to try that? It’s not a long list. Here it goes:
  • Quinn Hughes
That’s it, that’s the list. That is the only player on this team I am comfortable with flying in with speed and getting in tight on the goalie and trying to blast a laser beam top corner.
The result of Ilya’s wandering shot? His linemates are caught deep. Blueger and Garland have to turn around and skate back hard. It’s the complete opposite play Dakota Joshua would have made, as he would have simply charged the puck on net and ensured the puck didn’t fly out of the zone at high speeds. It would have been the safer play. The right play.
Even with that said, however, the Canucks are still able to try and defend the rush. Except Noah Juulsen, who has been so good at keeping his hit hunting ways in check, decides to try and throw the big hit. Which I get, it’s a playoff game, you’re team is caught up in it all, but that is not the time to hunt for that hit.
Not in a 2-2 tie game.
Not against this team.
Juulsen throws the big hit on Scheifele, who is skilled enough to eat that and still make the pass.
Corolla Garland, who has skated back hard to track down Scheifele, all of a sudden has a charging Juulsen in his lap, leaving Kyle Connor all alone to sweep in and pick up the puck. At this point all Corolla can do is offer up thoughts and prayers to Demko as Tyler Myers just sort of watches it all unfold around him.
Small mistakes in big games = costly.
Best Garland no call
In case you were wondering what Tyler Myers was referring to about the call that wasn’t made on Garland just before this goal, it was referring to this play:
Garland initiates contact on Alex Iafallo on a race for the puck, and due to Alex lunging forward with his stick, he gets hit to the ice. Annoyed by a Corolla running him over, he literally grabs the legs of Garland and refuses to let go.
This hold had no bearing on the actual play of the goal, but it was a call that would have been made had the contest not officially been put into “game management” mode.
First period? That’s a penalty.
Third period in which you’ve game managed the penalties to balance out so you’re done making calls for the night? No penalty.
Best finish them
Juulsen then gets burned on the fourth goal when his failed poke check leads to him standing still, allowing Scheifele to beat him to the net for another tap in:
In the space of two minutes, the Vancouver Canucks lost this game.
Was it all Noah Juulsen’s fault as he himself tried to say after the game? Of course not.
But he certainly had a role in the Canucks loss to the Winnipeg Jets, to go along with an ineffective power play and a team that maybe folded under the pressure of a big game yet again.
Best closing thoughts
The thing about this season is we won’t have the answers we need for at least another year.
Is this team a fluke? Is it riding the PDO machine like no team has ever before? Is this team for real? When this team struggles, is it just a natural ebb and flow of a season, or is it because luck isn’t finally going their way? When they lose to a top team is it exposing them for the frauds they are? Or is it simply the fact that hey, all teams lose some games during the season. Is this just what happens when the Canucks don’t score at an absurd rate off the rush? Is the top line just not getting their bounces anymore? Do the Canucks star players fold under pressure in big games?
Or is this all overblown and we should just sit back and watch this team roll it’s way through the season as it starts a potential monster run in the playoffs?
We won’t have any answers to these until the end of next season, to be honest. Sample sizes rule the day, and as much as we can glean out of this season, the playoffs and how the team does next year will speak volumes.
So until then, just try and enjoy the ride as much as you can.
Even if the officiating drives you crazy.

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