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The Stanchies: Canucks fall 4-3 to the Red Wings in a matinee masterclass of excitement

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Photo credit:© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
15 days ago
The Canucks, much like myself, seem to struggle with the mornings. Usually, when you see a Canucks game starting in the middle of the day, you can pencil in a low-event, low-scoring game, with the odd Tyler Myers turnover sprinkled throughout.
But on Saturday, the rules were apparently thrown out the window as Vancouver and Detroit engaged in one of the more thrilling games of the season.
That being said, it was still a 10 am game time, and with another game tomorrow at 10:30 am, I am not going to bother diving too deep into an intro. Oh, I had a glorious Jurassic Park metaphor all loaded up for this game, complete with a deep dive into the ethics and morals of Dr. Henry Wu as it relates to Filip Hronek’s puck battle ability, but we simply don’t have time for that now. When Jake Walman completes a 3-1 third-period comeback with a penalty shot goal in overtime, punctuating it by busting out the griddy, you quickly realize you have other priorities in life.
So the quick summary of the game for those who want to move on with their weekend is such:
  1. Elias Pettersson and Fil Hronek each had three points and were very good. Quinn Hughes, although held pointless, was also back to his usual “Fine, I’ll do it all myself” puck possession demon mode as he has been for 99% of this season.
  2. The Canucks’ underlying issues of not being that great 5 on 5 as of late reared its ugly head as Brock Boeser, JT Miller, and Elias Lindholm (playing together as a line) went pointless on the night. Aside from making some nifty passes on the power play, Boeser and Miller are rapidly approaching the point where we might have to put their faces on milk cartons for their even strength production.
  3. The vaunted Canucks PDO machine broke down in a big way, as the Canucks probably deserved a better fate in this game. Detroit managed to tie the game up in the third period despite not really generating that many high danger chances, but the crowd made a lot of loud noises so it felt like Detroit was dominating. Realistically, though, the Canucks were holding the fort as usual, but a few mistakes actually cost them this time. But for a team that has had a lot of luck go its way this season, it’s hard to complain too much about this one getting away from them. Live by the brrrr, die by the brrrr, as General Patton once said.
Regardless of how it happens, blowing a 3-1 lead is never going to feel good, and after that absolute shit show of a game against Boston, it’s hard not to rub your neck a little bit and glance in the rear view mirror at the Edmonton Oilers.
The good news is the Canucks can get back on track against a tired Washington Capitals team who started playing their game just after the Canucks finished theirs.
The bad news is, yes, it’s another matinee game, and you have to figure out how to watch it while planning your Super Bowl snack tray.
Hey, they never said watching hockey was an easy job.
Best lineup adjustments
After you lose 4-0 to the Boston Bruins, looking more checked out than Charlie Brown finally having lost his spirit at even attempting to kick the football anymore, changes are going to happen.
What was surprising was what those changes were.
Not the Lafferty change, he’s a guy you can rotate in and out of the lineup. And I am here for a discussion of whether Ilya Mikheyev should be part of the rotation brigade. I feel like anytime Mikheyev shoots the puck on net, it makes me question why humanity even exists and spirals me into an existential crisis, so I could do with a break from that.
No, it was Elias Pettersson being put on a line with Nils Höglander and Pius Suter a mere two games after it felt like Elias Lindholm was going to be a central figure in their budding bromance. You can’t help but wonder if the Canucks have an addiction to the Bo Horvat Line Mates of Middling Production lifestyle.
This makes it all the more amusing that the EP40 line produced offence while Boeser and Miller dragged Lindholm down with them.
Well played, Rick. Well played.
Best starting off hot
I always enjoy it when a game hasn’t even made it through its on-screen lineup graphics when a goal is scored:
Also amusing is Tyler Myers’ name popping up on the screen, just as Lucas Raymond (suffering from main character syndrome in this game) scored a rather nifty goal. Just in case you wanted a visual confirmation of who just got walked.
Now, I have long been a proponent of giving credit to skilled players their due when they bust out a goal like this. Often, we get caught up in blaming the defensive deficiencies on a goal rather than handing out well-earned offensive kudos.
But sometimes you have to ask yourself, why not both?
This was both a very nice goal from Lucas Raymond and a solid dose of Chaos Giraffe, showing how sometimes his defensive play is more of a theory than anything else. A hypothetical situation that one ponders but has no basis in reality. Much like when you think of buying a house in Vancouver.
Tyler Myers glides backwards, then does a slow turn, and then lunges with a poke check, all of which played a large part in this goal. To his credit, Myers has cleaned up that part of his game a lot this season. But there are still times when he, the tallest man on earth, will suddenly stop skating and lean forward to try and execute a lunging poke check like he’s game-planning how he would beat the Dread Pirate Roberts, should it ever come to that.
It’s a high-risk play he doesn’t need to use, seeing as he has the wing span of a wandering albatross. Smart, efficient usage of his stick coupled with angling Raymond away from the net would have been more effective.
That being said, Lucas Raymond’s liberal use of the turbo button and exposing EA Sports cross crease goals was well played.
Best all the small things
After that Boston game, in which there were maybe two total highlights, it was a bit of nervous hockey-watching when the Canucks gave up that early goal.
Unlike the game against the Bruins, however, the Canucks started winning small battles and showcasing the idea that, yes, they might want to win this game of hockey.
Up first was the professor of pressure Phil Di Giuseppe back in the lineup doing what he does best, which is forechecking hard and tripping goalies:
It’s also worth noting that after a rare game in which Quinn Hughes looked absolutely invisible, he was up to his old tricks again against Detroit, specifically the give-and-go with Hronek:
If that Bruins game (last time I’ll mention it, I promise) taught us anything, it’s how much of an absolute engine Hughes is for this team. If Garland is a Corolla, Quinn Hughes is a Bugatti Chiron Sport car, as he powers so much of this team’s good fortunes. For years Vancouver fans watched other teams around the league have a true number one d-man that would take their team deep into the playoffs. Even in 2011, the Canucks had more of a collection of top 1b parts on defence. With Quinn Hughes running the back end, it truly feels like anything is possible for this team if Quinn goes on a heater.
And to close out this section, here is Quinn Hughes skating into four Red Wings, managing to keep the puck, and drawing a penalty out of it:
If there was a time you thought Lukas Krajicek was the best Canucks defenceman of all time, you might need to update that list.
Best PDO machine stopped going brrrr
The team has actually been pretty awful at 5 on 5 scoring during the last stretch, they’ve just been able to scratch out wins so it was easier to ignore. Like when your relationship is going off the rails but your partner is really good at making pepper steak, so you just kind of forget about any issues and carry on with your day.
But sometimes those incredibly high shooting percentages fall back to earth. And sometimes the Canucks can’t score off the rush at the highest efficient rate in the league:
Nearly Nils lives up to the name and clangs one off the post, and all I can hear is Bob Cole in my head.
“Nils. Höglander. Rushes the puck. Carrying the weight. Of a nation. On. His. Shoulders. Boom. Pop. Clang. Iron is heard. Everything is happening.”
Best new spotlight
Yes:
I said for weeks that once Kuzmenko was traded, Ilya was going to start feeling the heat.
Coming off of an ACL injury, of course you have to give him some time to get his top speed back.
But in terms of what he’s adding to the team right now, it’s been impossible to argue that he’s earned a spot in the top six. I in fact have nightmares of him being in the top six in a playoff match up. I wake up in a cold sweat but then quickly calm down once I realize Ilya shooting the puck at me could never hurt.
He’s never been a great shooter, of course, so we can’t put a knee injury on that. But he at least generated breakaways at a Jannik Hansen/Tyler Motte level. Would he score often? Of course not, that’s not the point.
But he would at least back teams up, and yes, score the occasional goal.
Honestly, even in a fourth line role I have my doubts about him. Offence just dies on his stick, so at this point, you have him in the lineup for his, admittedly good, penalty killing skills.
All of which is to say that’s a lot of money to pay a guy flirting with the bottom of the lineup.
Best comeback player of the year
Yes:
I have probably never written a player off harder in my life than I did with Noah Juulsen.
I say this despite being proud of taming down my knee jerk reactions over the years. No, Kyle Wellwood is not the next 50 goal scorer. I learned my lesson about jumping the gun on declaring things so strongly.
But with Juulsen, it honestly felt like he didn’t even belong in the NHL. He was simply too chaotic, but without having a cute nickname to cover it up. He would chase hits and put his team in bad spots. His skating felt like it was never going to allow him a job at the NHL level, putting him at Mark Mancari-like levels of footwork.
So I say with complete honesty, I apologize to Noah Juulsen. I wasn’t really familiar with your game.
Coaching staff, Noah Juulsen, whomever you want to give credit to, this young man’s game has transformed.
Now saying that, he’s still a bottom pairing defenceman. I am not suggesting he is on his way to becoming a fixture in the top four.
But it does look like he has a chance to carve out a career as an NHL ready bottom pairing defenceman, which as we have seen this season, can be an incredibly valuable thing for an NHL club.
Remember Oscar Fantenberg? Ashton Sautner? When you have to pop those guys in the lineup, you’re in trouble.
But when you have an Ian Cole on hand? It feels like a world of difference from trotting out a guy that is struggling to prove he can play above the AHL level. If Juulsen can turn into that type of player, he might have a solid journeyman NHL career ahead of himself.
Despite size not being everything, there is something to be said about big boys on defence (Noah Juulsen) carving out a career over the Philip Larsens of the world.
Best and now for something different
UpStudiosWorld dropped a hockey cartoon with jerseys that even if not intended, paid homage to the criminally underrated salmon era of third jerseys:
BOOMi is a star, and I demand more cartoons from them. Even if it’s BOOMi patiently explaining to Tyler Myers to not immediately drop into a slip and slide on defence, or telling JT Miller that sometimes he doesn’t need to swear at Collin Delia.
Also, he BOOMi clearly shoots the puck better than Ilya Mikheyev.
Best adjustments paying off
Quinn Hughes sneaks in, gets the puck to Elias Pettersson, who flips the puck to Filip, and baby, you got a Höglander tip stew going:
Even more impressive is this goal was produced at 5 on 5!
The call for Höglander to get pushed up the lineup has been a strong one this season, and it paid dividends immediately, making me realize I used that word an awful lot without actually knowing what it means. I have a general idea of what “dividends” means, of course. Enough to use it properly in a sentence. But if the fate of the world rested on me nailing the definition of it, you’d definitely see me start sweating a bit.
Regardless, the Canucks responding to that early goal from Detroit was what we in the business call “tying the game up.”
Best debate me you coward
OK so Nikita Zadorov got a five minute major for this hit:
So what you need to know about how sports works is the home team crowd will defend their team to the death over hits like this. They will slow it down frame by frame to assure you that the principle point of contact was actually his skate lace, so how could this be considered a hit to the head??
Then you’ll have people point out screenshots to prove their side of things, to which people will scream at you “SHOW THE WHOLE VIDEO” and when you do, nothing changes, they just wanted to scream at you about showing the video. It’s one of the most disingenuous sports exchanges you can have in today’s world. The video won’t change their mind, they just want to exert control over you to do their bidding.
Then, you’ll have people screenshot the vague NHL rule books as they angrily explain to you how you know nothing about hockey. It’s clear as day in the rule book that Detroit should have gotten a penalty for trying to hit Zadorov.
Then you’ll have the lengthy debates about “he’s just tall, bro” about people explaining this away due to size disparity.
Then you’ll have people question “how bad was it, really” when Lucas Raymond re-enters the game, and to make it even worse, engages in rough stuff.
But the minute that hit happens to a guy on their team, it quickly turns into “suspend that piece of shit head hunter”. No more deep dives. No more “look at this angle I found on ESPN, it clearly shows Raymond whispering “hit me, Zaddy, hit me so good”. It simply becomes “that guy on the other team needs to be suspended for life.
It’s how it works. It’s how it always works in sports. The truth is of course muddled amongst all of that.
I will say I don’t think Zadorov was maliciously trying to hit Lucas Raymond in the head. I don’t think Nikita said to himself, in a 1-1 game at 11am in the morning, against Detroit, “If he dies, he dies.”
I do think it was a reckless hit though. I do think his own head more than anything clipped Lucas, but I do think he was also trying to line up a massive hit. That’s sort of his deal, it’s what he does.
The end result was he did rock Raymond in the noggin and honestly, if the NHL wants to err on the side of caution on that kind of result, I have no issue with it.
The Canucks had to kill off a five minute penalty as a result of it, and you know what? They got the better chances on it:
Of course it’s Tyler Myers almost scoring on a shorthanded rush (nice pass from Lindholm).
Not done there, Dakota Joshua continued his fantastic season, and once again muscled the puck towards the net:
If Dakota wants to get the puck on the net, he will get the puck on the net, this is what we have discovered this season.
And to top it off, here’s Noah Juulsen switching to his backhand to corral a puck intended for a back door tap in:
Not only does he stop the pass, but he controls the puck and fends off a check to get the puck out of his zone. Noah Juulsen is a MAN.
Oh hey, Detroit trying to get a guy behind Noah?
Computer says no.
Just simple, effective hockey from Noah. He truly has been one of the top highlights of this road trip so far.
Best go for broke
I guess if you’re going to high stick someone, at least make it on an attempt to clear the puck from your zone?
As debated on air, it was a follow-through of sorts, but it was also a follow-through that started off at eye level.
Not pictured in this clip is Quinn Hughes watching and bringing his gloves to his mouth in horror once he sees Hronek smack Dylan Larkin in the face in one of the more Saw reactions you’ll see in the NHL.
But I’ll say one thing about Hronek, and that’s if you chastise him for loose stick work, he will flail his stick even harder when he dekes and dangles around your goalie to score right after the power play expires:
The leg kick to open up and freeze Alex Lyon is the epitome of that Leo DiCaprio gif of him biting his hand. That’s every breakaway goal I’ve ever scored in NHL 95.
I know Hronek’s next contract will raise the price of living in Vancouver to levels unseen before, which is saying something, so we really need to enjoy these affordable moments while we can.
Best cashing out quickly
You know what would be good? Elias Pettersson scoring a five on five goal:
Notice how he lightly shoves a player with his stick and doesn’t get a cross-checking penalty? Remember that for later.
The main takeaway from this goal is that the latest EP40 line with Suter and Höglander got results. They made passes with purpose, they created space on the ice for themselves, and they generated a greasy goal due to EP40 setting up shop in the crease. That’s the kind of goal Rick Tocchet loves.
Best choosing the right size
I have no idea why Alex DeBrincat thought Ian Cole was the right dance partner, but mistakes were made:
The start of the fight saw DeBrincat throw several jabs at Cole, which Ian just ate without blinking. I have to assume this was the point where Alex knew he was hooped. Ian then locked DeBrincat up before landing two huge uppercuts, quickly bringing an end to the fight. This scuffle had real social media influencer trying their hand at sparring with a real UFC fighter energy to it.
Ian Cole showing no emotion on his face as he patiently waits for his chance to lock Alex up so he can take him to pound town was a top 3 highlight of the game for me. And since Ian is a gentleman, he doesn’t even land another bomb on DeBrincat. He simply skates away. He could have 100% unleashed a third uppercut there, but Ian Cole is a gem of a guy who knows when a fight is over and answers media scrum questions patiently, even after lopsided losses.
Best of the Bash Brothers
I’m pretty sure Tyler Myers and Nikita Zadorov sign blood pacts before the game where they agree that if one of them lands a huge hit on a player, the other one must do it as well:
See what happens when you score so quickly into a game by walking around the tall angry Giraffe? People remember that shit.
Best dialing it in
In another universe, Daniel Sprong is on a line with Corolla Garland, creating one of the most underrated duos in the league that solve crimes in their spare time (just go with it), but in this reality, he simply helped jumpstart the Red Wings comeback:
With Nils Höglander in the box for not the greatest tripping penalty I’ve seen made, Sprong found himself open in front of the net with the penalty about to expire.
Obviously, break downs in coverage are the bread and butter of any goal scored on a powerplay, but it did feel like everyone just sort of forgot Sprong existed. This wasn’t even one of those “look at that Bret Hull like ability to find the soft open space!” moments, it was literally Daniel doing the Will Smith meme of standing around wondering where everyone went.
Best break it down
Rasumussen tied the game up shortly thereafter when once again a breakdown in coverage cost the Canucks:
This time it was both Quinn Hughes and Nils Höglander wandering away from coverage in front of the net, leaving the pride of Surrey all alone in front of the net. And if there is one thing people who grew up in Surrey know how to do, it’s score in front of the net, and how to put down on your job application that you were actually born in Vancouver. It felt like Hughes didn’t even register Rasmussen, or he identified Andrew Copp as the bigger threat, as he skated away from his net. Nils then just sort of floats away from the entire situation, or “keeping his options open” for the Love Island fans amongst us, leaving Casey DeSmith to try and stop a deft tip from a player right on top of him.
Again, breakdowns happen in games, and the Canucks ability to close out third periods this season has long been talked about. They often manage to win games despite small hiccups like this. But on Saturday, those mistakes cost the team in a big way as they blew a two goal cushion against a team they should be beating.
Best cocaine and helicopters
At this point the game just devolved into back and forth madness, so let’s try and recap it as best we can.
First up, let’s take a moment to watch how incredibly smooth Quinn Hughes is:
Inherently Quinn Hughes is simply skating with the puck. But the way he makes it look so easy, the way he cuts back and generates a zone entry at will, that’s the kind of thing he does all game long. This kid is a generational talent and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves.
The Canucks powerplay was in full Burnaby mode on the night, in which it looked good on paper, but didn’t really offer up anything of substance. No goals on the night, but it did get an almost goal?
I give Detroit credit for finding a way around the hand on puck in the crease rule by utilizing the lesser seen “hand on goalies skate” maneuver in which you can anchor your goalie in place during scrums like this.
This was then followed up by JT Miller missing a slap pass tip set up to Lindholm, followed up by Brock Boeser missing the net off Hughes’s rebound:
All of which is to say that yes, JT Miller and Brock Boeser were actively trying to ruin your Saturday, you didn’t imagine that.
The Wings then almost scored when David Perron, a vaunted member of the tinted visor club started by Eric Weinrich, got a chance in the slot with the puck after three Canucks inexplicably collapsed in front of their own net:
If three Canucks are flailing on the ice it’s next to impossible for one of them to be Tyler Myers, which is of course the case here.
Conor Garland actually collides with Myers, and part of me assumes he’s actually trying to stop Myers from getting in front of his goalie, lest he tip the puck in past him. He looks like he throws his body to block off Myers, giving DeSmith the shot one on one.
Luckily, Dakota Joshua calmly swoops in to flick the puck off David’s stick, but yes, it is safe to say this was a far more alarming end to the third period than I think anyone was expecting.
Best lockdown players
There is a reason Rick Tocchet will put the Corolla Line out on the ice so often in close games, because he knows he can rely on them.
As seen in the clip above, even during moments of chaos, that line can calmly shut down a play and generate a zone exit. They are just so good at slowing the play down and getting the puck out of their own end.
A great example of this is in this clip, where the puck is thrown along the boards in the Canucks own zone:
Garland doesn’t have body position, and despite being a smaller player, still manages to initiate contact, giving him a chance to battle for the puck, before using his body to block out the Red Wing, allowing him to push the puck forward to so Blueger can make a play on it to get a zone exit. We have seen many a player see themselves lose out on body position and simply give up on the play, and thus hand over possession to the other team. That’s how you see teams have extended shifts in your own zone, when you don’t dig deep to win battles along the boards like this.
Again, it’s a small play. It’s not the sexiest of highlights.
But it’s the kind of play that wins hockey games. Or at the very least, ensures getting a point out of a game.
I know “little things” Loui Eriksson kind of ruined the idea of players contributing meaningfully in small ways, but the Corolla Line has showcased this season just how important these things are to a winning club.
Best game management
Hey, you can’t be giving the road two team TWO powerplays after the home team has tied it up. You know you only give them the one token power play:
 
Best squeaky bum moment
Rolling pucks are fun they said:
 
Best at least they got a point?
 
Quinn Hughes gave Jake Walman a penalty shot in overtime after “cross-checking” on this play:
To me that is a well timed shove of the hand. At the very least, if that’s the bar for cross checking, then you’re going to be handing out a hundred of those a game.
But hey, maybe you say it’s overtime, on a breakaway, and the game was on the line, so you give the ref the discretion to make that call.
Well, then that makes you wonder about the Blues cross check on Elias Pettersson that wasn’t called. In overtime. That led to a game winning goal.
Look, I get it, officiating is a hard gig. It’s just, as always, the inconsistency that drives me bonkers. Anytime I start wondering if the ref wants to call something and is going to work backwards to get them to that end point, that’s when I start looking up Tim Peel so I can go “oh yes, this is something that does happen in the NHL.”
The end result was Jake Walman dropping the overtime winner AND the griddy on the Canucks:
I actually kind of love that goal celebration. We can’t accuse the NHL of being plain boring vanilla all the time if we’re going to get in an uproar after an overtime celebration dance. The only thing that dance should do is encourage the Canucks to dance on the Red Wings grave should they beat them in their next match up. That’s how sports shit talking is supposed to go, with both sides escalating things until the NHL has to ban players from getting nude and doing a slide on the ice to celebrate a goal.
And the Canucks? They lost this game themselves, soft call or not. Anytime you get a game to overtime it’s a coin toss of what’s going to happen on 3 on 3 hockey.
All that matters is the Canucks have run into a bit of a stumble the last few games and now they have under 24 hours to turn things around in Washington. It’s a long season. Ebbs and flows are going to happen. But if the Canucks lose tomorrow? With Edmonton winning all of the games?
Baby you got a stress stew going.
Which is why there is no better time than for Trent Leith to get his first ever Stanchies start tomorrow.
Welcome to the Show, Trent!

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