Photo credit:© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: Canucks keep the high ground from Connor Bedard and the evil empire in Chicago
2 months ago
You wouldn’t normally look at a game against the NHL’s worst team as one worth circling on the calendar. Even against a team who the Canucks have as much history against as the Chicago Blackhawks, or after having all those stories drudged up again after Lu’s Ring of Honour night on Thursday.
But let’s be honest with ourselves, we’re all watching a noon game and putting off our already delayed Christmas shopping for one reason: Connor. Freaking. Bedard.
Somewhere there’s an alternate universe where the ping pong balls fell a different way, and North Vancouver’s very own ended up in his favourite team’s uniform instead. Imagine if Rick Tocchet was able to slide J.T. Miller over from “necessary second-line centre” to “extremely useful second-line wing” with Bedard down the middle between him and Boeser. Or Bedard and Pettersson on the same power play unit. Bingo Bango, undefeated season and 16 straight wins en route to a Stanley Cup.
But alas, like Obi-Wan fighting his own Padawan on Mustafar, the Canucks must defeat the evil they inadvertently helped create.
Who’s ready to make some GIF money?
Best Happy Birthday, Az!
Best Stage Parents
The pregame game vibe from everyone was absolutely giving “No pressure sweetie, but if you lose, I swear to god you’re WALKING home from Chicago!!”
You know Canucks fans are laying the groundwork for a move early when even the Canucks’ official Twitter feels comfortable joking about Bedard’s well-known fandom. Credit where it’s due to the socials team for a very good bit. You don’t call Tyler Motte one of your favourite players unless you’re watching this team every single night, through thick and thin.
Look at this guy. Doesn’t he look like he’s about to pull a Jakob Chychrun and try and sneak onto the Canucks’ bench? Fun NHL rulebook loophole: according to an addendum in 1941-42, if a player jumps onto the opposing team’s bench and shouts “Freight car!” before his original team notices, he legally joins their team.*
*Disclaimer: Said rule may be fictionalized.
Best Wake Me Up Inside (Can’t Wake Up)
Listen, everybody has a slow start sometimes. But the Canucks are making a concerning habit of it in any game that doesn’t start at 7 P.M, playing hockey even uglier than the United Center’s main camera view.
Luckily, their goalies seem to be set at puck drop no matter what time the game starts. Thatcher Demko’s Roberto Luongo impression fully carried over, holding down the fort including a big save off Bedard on a delayed penalty call.
The only skater who seemed somewhat awake early was J.T. Miller, especially after he sent Isaak Phillips hurling into next week.
Best Tinfoil Hat
I hadn’t noticed this in real time, but like a good reporter, I went back to investigate. Sure enough, Åman gets an extra 14 seconds to retrieve his stick thanks to some miscues by the Hawks power play unit.
We can’t say for sure that Bedard was trying to help a Canuck retrieve his stick, but we sure can pretend he was! He’s already endearing himself to his future teammates so well. You truly love to see it.
Best Deep Dish Pizza
“Have you tried the pizza at Original Hro’s? Authentic Detroit-style deep dish on the Pacific coast!”
People are definitely paying more attention to Filip Hronek in his own end than they were at the beginning of the season, and for good reason. Here, he served up something a little too cheesy to Joey Anderson, and Nick Foligno, wearing Brendan Morrison’s old #17, was able to outmuscle Quinn Hughes in front of the net to knock the puck home.
When you’re racking up points as frequently as Hronek is, you’re entitled to a few extra errors in your defensive zone. After all, a shutdown guy is not what you were brought on to be! But his inability to win puck battles in his own end is becoming a lot harder to ignore, especially when it starts costing you on the scoreboard.
If Hronek is expecting a big pay day in the offseason, he must show he can tread water a lot better defensively. You can’t be Niklas Lidstrom at one end and Luca Sbisa at the other.
Best Saaaaaave Meeee!!
For far too long, THIS was the only shot on goal the Canucks had: a 2-on-1 chance for Pettersson that Petr Mrazek easily blockered away. And it was during a penalty kill, for goodness sakes!
Luckily, the Canucks kicked it into overdrive. They knuckled down and put together, get this… a second whole shot on goal!
Yeah it went off J.T. Miller’s skate and is a “shot on goal” by the same definition that makes Die Hard “technically a Christmas movie”, but just look at them go!!
Best Rattling Cages
Sunday Quadrelli is a man you don’t wanna mess with. He’s a man who’s brave enough to rock the establishment by being too correct for their liking.
Lo and behold, Quads is right on the money here.
First of all, this play doesn’t even happen without the Hawkeye-like precision of a Quinn Hughes pass. But whatever world the refs are living in, it’s apparently not one where Miller is considered two strides away from Louis Crevier and Wyatt “The UnStanchion” Kaiser.
Best Save Me
It took two Blackhawks in the penalty box for the Canucks to finally get a real scoring opportunity, and Elias Pettersson’s one timer is an inevitable force. Both things can be true.
After J.T. Miller fells Connor Murphy with a shot in close, the puck works its way around to EP40, who lets go of the most automatic shot the United Center’s seen since Michael Jordan was a Bull.
Some day, linguists will find a word to describe Elias Pettersson’s shot from the right circle. But that day hasn’t come yet, so for now, I’ll call it “lethal artistry.” Or “a hundred dollar bill you found after a first period equivalent to the house burning down.”
Either way, it’s beautiful.
Best Sad Facts! Yay!
Thank god Connor Murphy did come back for the second period, otherwise I might’ve started to feel bad for the Hawks. And mercy is something I promised to never show that dumpster fire of a franchise.
Best YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!
The lessons that Rick Tocchet probably taught very loudly in the intermission didn’t immediately take hold.
There are a few crucial breakdowns here. Noah Juulsen chases Bedard out into the high slot, leaving Ian Cole to try and cover both netfront options. Because Juulsen is so high following the puck carrier, Teddy Blueger essentially gets stuck in no man’s land by the time Bedard lets the shot go.
Cole eventually makes the decision to cover Taylor Raddysh in the slot, leaving Nick Foligno with all the time in the world if a rebound pops out.
Sure enough, Bedard shows the kind of spatial awareness that only spotting your friend across a crowded Lonsdale Quay SeaBus terminal prepares you for, and throws the puck low into Demko’s pads, giving Foligno an easy tap in.
Damn you hockey gods! He could’ve been ours!
Best Merry Toyotathon
There’s still lots of game left, but it’s clear the Canucks are in desperate need of some energy. Rick Tocchet needs somebody can rev up the whole team’s engines.
That’s where the Toyota Line comes in.
When Corolla Garland, Camry Blueger and Tacoma Joshua step on the ice these days, a scoring chance feels as automatic as their transmissions. Here Garland’s speed causes the Hawks’ overmatched defence to hand possession over at the blue line. Garland buys just enough time circling near the boards for Dakota Joshua to set up in front of Mrazek.
Corolla Garland then puts as clean a slap pass as you’ll find right onto Joshua’s stick for a picture perfect deflection.
This line isn’t just steady and reliable. They’re starting to match some of the Ferraris in the horsepower tests too.
Remember when Maurice Richard did those commercials for Grecian Hair Dye in the 1980s? (I wasn’t born yet, but my dad references it all the time.) Pretty soon L’Oréal might be calling Brocket Richard to do a new version. “Hey Brock, two minutes for looking so good!”
When Boeser received the puck from Miller for a 2-on-1 with Nils Höglander, the defenceman back Isaak Phillips collapsed inwards to prevent the pass option. Normally, that’s exactly what your goaltender wants; letting Mrazek square up to the guy with the puck instead of having to worry about making a quick slide over.
But 2023 Brock Boeser defies all expectations, and he let go of a snapshot so perfect it ripped a hole in the space time continuum and teleported us back to his rookie season in 2017. All Mrazek could do was look behind his back in confusion at how that puck got past his glove.
Just when Auston Matthews thought it was safe to take a night off due to *checks notes* having the flu, Brock Boeser’s scoring fever just won’t go away.
Best Revenge Game
Once the Canucks smelled blood – or the espresso they drank between periods – it was all over for the poor Hawks.
As Kaiser picks up the puck behind his own net, neither he nor Crevier recognizes former Hawk Pius Suter skate behind the net to knock the puck away with a deft hand. Suter quickly sets up Pettersson for a shot in the slot that Mrazek stops, but Pius grabs the bouncing rebound and mails it to Tyler Myers for a slap shot.
Ilya Mikheyev gets a piece of Myers’ shot to deflect it past Mrazek, giving the Canucks the most predictable two goal lead they’ve had all season. Suter ended up with the secondary assist, but make no mistake; that entire goal was thanks to Pius’ work behind the net forcing the Hawks into a bad turnover. He loudly announced his presence in this game like every Chicagoan pretending to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
Best Character Arc
Best “The More You Know”
Best Reese’s Pieces
There are two ways I could approach this series of events. One is with my biased Canucks lens, and the other is with my super serious reporter glasses. Let’s try and wear both, shall we?
It all starts with a Reese Johnson hit on Pettersson along the boards.
You definitely don’t want to see your superstar player get smashed like that, but the hit itself was clean by NHL standards. No hit from behind, no head hunting, a good clean check.
But Johnson made one fatal mistake: he laid that hit while Big Zaddy was on the ice. Nikita Zadorov challenges him to a fight, but Johnson goes down after about half a punch.
Because Zadorov tracked down Johnson to start the donnybrook, Zaddy ends up with getting hit with an extra penalty and a game misconduct for instigating. While I certainly respect the effort to prevent potshots at the Canucks starts, I don’t know if you’re actually accomplishing that by fighting a guy off a clean hit. Especially if your teammates now have to kill off a penalty and play the last 14 minutes a defender down.
Still, it was cool to see the new guy standing up for one of his teammates so quickly. It sends a good message about how close-knit the group is these days.
Best *chuckles* I’m in danger!
If life were like a video game, a notification would’ve popped up on the corner of the broadcast.
“The Canucks have unlocked an achievement! First team to give up two power play goals to the Blackhawks in one game this season!”
First, Bedard makes a beeline for the net with the puck like he’s trying to get to Honey Doughnuts before all the Chocoeros are gone. Pius Suter and Nils Åman are able to strip him of the puck through a tag team effort, but Cole Guttman is right there to pick up the slack and use Ian Cole as an ill-timed screen for Thatcher Demko.
Suddenly a game that felt well in hand a minute ago is now turning into a nailbiter.
Best “Grrreat Saaave Luongo!”
I hate to say it, but Petr Mrazek did an incredible impression of the Canucks’ all time greatest netminder today.
Nils Höglander thought he had a wide open net after Mrazek kicked out a big rebound from Brock Boeser’s initial shot. But Petr lunged across and got his stick blade on Höggy’s shot like Lu did stopping Ben Eager in 2009.
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Best Game Management
I can practically hear the call Gary Bettman probably made to the ref’s rinkside phone.
“Boys, you need to keep the Blackhawks in this game! We need their fans to feel like they actually have a shot here, that way they keep buying tickets and watching the broadcasts! You don’t want them to start watching the Bears instead do you?! Make sure they get a chance to tie this!”
That’s probably how Nikita Zaitsev was able to stay out on the ice after his helmet got knocked off, even though it’s supposed to be a penalty if you don’t go right to the bench.
Or how this was definitely an icing call that the Hawks couldn’t skate back to fast enough.
But the Canucks withstood Chicago’s late pressure and leave the Windy City with three out of four possible points on a back-to-back weekend.
Hey, they don’t ask how. Just how many.
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