Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: The Canucks show us how to lose an NHL game in 5 minutes
2 months ago
If Thursday night was a test of how the season is only going to get tougher as the playoff picture begins to come into focus, then the Canucks failed it in spectacular fashion.
We’re talking, forgot you enrolled in a course, and then you show up on the last day only to discover the Finals already took place last week, leaving you with a slightly confused janitor as you talk to them about how good teams don’t lose games like this.
The good news is the Canucks have had bad losses before this season, and have done an admirable job of bouncing back from them. If ever there was a season to not instinctively assume a loss like this was a precursor to a lengthy losing streak, it would be this one. I was convinced that loss to New Jersey earlier in the season was going to cripple this team, and they proved me wrong.
But even Ian Cole himself had to add a caveat to his postgame comments…
“It’s one game, we’re not going to let this compound into a 10 game losing streak…hopefully.”
Now, that’s not to disparage the team or Ian Cole hedging his bets. It’s just the nature of sports. If you don’t actively assume there is a divine being lurking up in the clouds trying to make your entire relationship with sports a miserable experience, then I question if you’ve ever sported before in your life.
And after a humbling 4-1 loss like the one we all witnessed on Thursday night, the last game for the Canucks in the year 2023, you would be excused for wondering if this was the start of a losing spiral.
But therein lies the joys of the Canucks this season. Every time you think they’re down and out, they find a way to climb aboard that sweet PDO wagon and get themselves back to their winning ways. Every time you think they’ve come back to earth, they find a way to put more points on the board. Waiting for the Canucks to “show their true selves” has almost become a sport in and of itself in this town.
The end point of all of this? Even in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers, there is intrigue to be had. It might have been one of the most unwatchable games of the season. It might have ruined many a child’s first NHL game. As you know, parents handed some of these tickets out at Christmas.
But the fact that we’re sitting here, listening to Rick Tocchet talk about how this is just another test as the Canucks ready themselves up for a playoff push?
Well hell, I’ll take that over a Sea of Granlund’s any day of the week.
Too long, did not read? Absolutely brutal game from the Canucks, but please read this article so Quads has to pay me.
Best MVP of a loss
Ian Cole is THE guy you ask for in a post game scrum if the team craps the bed.
Team loses 10-1? Ian Cole is your man. He will sit there and patiently talk about the game with you as long as it takes.
Does he go super deep? Of course not. He’s a pro, and he knows how to avoid giving a soundbite that could blow up in his face.
But in terms of giving you something more than just the cliche “we gotta get back to basics” lines most players drop in bad losses, he’s an absolute gem. Guy gave out eight minutes of time to a media scrum, and answered every question without once looking like he wanted to murder us.
Thrilling 4-1 victory? Sure, talk to JT Miller or Quinn Hughes; they’ll give you the goods.
But a soul-crushing loss? Ian Cole is your man.
Best turkey time
The first period was marked by a lot of small mistakes that didn’t lead to any sort of consequences? So the team didn’t really have to learn any lessons from it? It felt like watching The Big Short except in the end the rich baddies didn’t have to pay for their crimes and, ok wait, that’s a bad example.
The point is, Zadorov lost control of the puck and Casey DeSmith was the one who had to pay for it, WAIT THAT WORKS. Big tall rich Zadorov lost the puck and it was the small fry Casey DeSmith who had to deal with the fallout! The Big Short metaphor is back on:
The best part of this save? Casey DeSmith throwing in a 360 no scope spin in his own crease. I have to assume that a small part of DeSmith wanted a shot on net during that spin so he could make a huge glove save, wink at the camera, and then land a sponsorship deal with Arby’s or something.
“When I get a case of the spins, the only thing that calms me down is a case of the meats.”
Look, I can workshop this better, give me some time.
Best high point of the game
The ice was terrible, and the Flyers like to grind like it’s Saturday night on Granville street, which meant a lot of the game was watching the puck sort of bounce around and remain noncommittal about marriage:
This was the nature of the beast on the night, it felt like you had to force the puck towards the net and then pray that a bounce or rebound would go your way.
Which yes, that sounds an awful lot like playoff hockey. Which also yes, the Canucks looked completely outmatched when put up against the effort the Flyers were putting in to win ugly hockey.
The Canucks prefer pretty hockey, where you pull up and find the trailer, and then try and work the puck around for a slick one timer:
And hey, that can work! Even in the playoffs! But when it doesn’t work, and your coach is Rick Tocchet, you just know he’s sitting there, screaming in his head about North/South hockey.
These two clips are a solid example of how the game just did not go Vancouver’s way. The Flyers would just barge the net and force pucks on DeSmith, while it felt like the Canucks weren’t ready to battle for every greasy inch of that pole (that’s a Benjamin Disraeli reference, don’t get it twisted) and would find themselves trying to utilize cute offence on crappy ice conditions.
You know when the lake freezes over, and you go play pond hockey, and your buddy tries to toe drag you so you just start blasting? That’s what the Canucks needed to do.
Best so anyways they just started blasting
Any time I see a defenceman with a 4x jersey number trying to walk the blue line like a young Brent Sopel, I start to panic if I cannot confirm within two seconds if it’s Quinn Hughes or not:
In this case, Noah Juulsen was feeling it, so he tries to walk the line and commits the turnover.
I feel like there should be a firm, legally binding rule in place about things Quinn is allowed to do vs what other defencemen on this team are allowed to do, but to Noah’s credit, he gets back into the play to put pressure on the puck carrier. Ian Cole then comes over with the friendly poke check to help out his partner like he’s bringing him a coffee in the morning, and crisis averted.
The issue with the play is Scott Laughton is allowed to truck right over Casey DeSmith, and no call was made. He didn’t even try to sell it that he was pushed, he just straight up ran over DeSmith. He didn’t even have the decency to pretend he stumbled. He might as well have tweeted just before his shift, “I plan on running over DeSmith, can’t wait to see the look on his face hahah lol”, that’s how premeditated the finish of this play felt.
It feels like the league should protect the goalies, but I also don’t want them to cut into the profits of the Violent Gentleman’s fashion line, so it’s a real Sophie’s Choice on how to approach this one…
Casey bounced back from hit, however, and would make a sliding pad save on that very same Scott Laughton but mere moments later:
Casey DeSmith has been a bright spot for the Canucks this season, and performed better than everyone expected (Except Kevin Woodley, he assumes all goalies will go undefeated on the season), but you can’t help but wonder if Thatcher Demko should have gotten this game, what with the next game being on January 2nd.
But that’s the joy of hindsight, you can also question who the team put in net when the team loses, pointing your fingers in the air and putting on an air of confidence as you lecture others about how a team manages its goalie starts.
This is how I win.
Best Pirlo moment
This is straight up the best highlight of the night for the Canucks:
With his stick laying at his feet broken like the dreams of everyone who paid money to watch hockey in Rogers Arena Thursday night, Quinn Hughes shut down a cross ice pass for a back door tap in better than 90% of the league could with a stick in their hands.
I like how calm Quinn Hughes was about it all. No panic whatsoever. He in fact looked more comfortable without a stick, as if excited to showcase his soccer powers.
Hey, remember when Travis Green didn’t want to rush Quinn Hughes onto the first unit power play? Good times, good times.
Hey, the good news is the game picks up shortly, albeit based primarily because the Flyers scored three quick goals and essentially ended any chance you had of feeling good about your team to end the year.
But hey, gif money needs to be made, so here’s Nils Höglander fending off a much larger Egor Zamula?
There were small moments of North/South hockey from the Canucks, there were. You can tell Nils wanted to fend off his check and drive the puck to the net, but he runs out of room at the end of his play.
It just felt like the Canucks never got into the mud enough to try and win this game. They played like Robson street when they needed to play more like Main street. They were way too much Broadway station instead of embracing Sapperton station tactics.
If the Canucks can’t embrace BC Translink hockey strategies, I honestly worry about their chances this year.
Best we all had dreams once
To be fair to the Canucks, there have been plenty of games this season in which they play like they’re dead inside for a portion of a game, only to find a spark somewhere along the way that they can turn into a firestorm of hot passionate offence, ie how your marriage survives another year.
And often times it’s been a powerplay that’s been able to do it.
Except not on Thursday.
Their best chance was probably this pass over to JT Miller, but he fires high and wide like a young Ray Finkle:
It felt like shots weren’t coming off cleanly, along with passes being problematic at the best of times, as the ice just wasn’t in great shape on the night.
But as they say, both teams had to deal with bad ice, and only one of them managed to do it.
Best all I’ve got
Ian Cole fell down at one point, and that was honestly a moment where I thought “hey that’s a solid highlight from this period,” so I clipped it:
Two guys fall down behind the net, Pius Suter attempts to pass the puck up to Sam Lafferty, he misses it, and the puck goes down the ice for an icing.
Ugly hockey at its best. The only thing uglier than this game? The intermission music from the Banker Boys, whose vibe seems to be a Lonely Island sketch without a punch line.
Best putting the game on ice
Tyler Myers’ chaotic lifestyle means he lives in that middle ground of people being angry and defending him all at the same time.
So when he commits a penalty like this, you have the joy of people saying it’s both his fault but also a weak penalty call:
I think he can get away with a stick shove there, but it’s when he leans down and puts his booty into it, he loses all benefit of the doubt from the ref. Once you go full Jersey Turnpike on the dance floor, people tend to look down on you.
With Myers in the box, Zamula just sort of walks the line a little bit before flinging the puck on a well-screened Casey DeSmith:
Hey, sometimes a powerplay that is clicking along at a solid 11% is just impossible to stop, you know? You just have to accept the fact the Flyers are going to terrorize you with the extra man. It’s how you respond that matters-
Best that can’t be good
With Höglander attempting to do his best North/South hustle, he turns over the puck, which the Flyers then promptly turn into a goal:
Blueger skates hard to get back, but he doesn’t shift over enough to cover Sean Walker, which is further impacted by Hughes and Hronek both shifting hard to the right side of the ice.
I think the part that is worst about this game was the fact that, at the end of the day, it wasn’t even the greasy goals that did the Canucks in. It wasn’t like both teams battled in the trenches and the Flyers managed to get some luck to go their way. It was essentially the Canucks imploding for a handful of minutes in the second period, and getting out-worked most of the night.
The Flyers didn’t have to tap in greasy goals. They got to pop in easy goals due to the Canucks terrible coverage and decision making.
Best speaking of…
Zadorov has two options as the last man back:
- Pass the puck off to a teammate
- Summon his Dennis Reynolds energy and try and beat two guys at once and become the superhero of his own story
Zadorov chose poorly:
This is far worse than anything Kuzmenko has done on the season. This was one of the more egregious errors committed by a Canucks defenceman on the year. This was about as high risk low reward as it gets in the NHL.
Remember how we talked about how Quinn Hughes should be the only defenceman on the team who can try stuff like this? Even with Quinn I would flinch instinctively if I saw him attempt to do this.
I’m not saying Gold Star should knock a year off of their contract demands, but I’m not not saying that either.
Just a terrible unnecessary mistake at a time in the game where the team was already reeling.
Up 5-1? Sure, maybe you try and dangle two guys so you can get a viral YouTube moment.
But down 2-0 with your team looking like they’re starting to question what’s the point of playing hockey in the first place? That’s not a time for this move.
Best line of a thousand names
Leave it to the one line that actually gets things done to, well, get things done:
Quinn Hughes continues his streak of making at least one amazing pass a game with the lead pass he sends over to Dakota Joshua, who then makes a brilliant pass over to Blueger to finish off the goal.
How reliable has this line been for the Canucks? On a night in which every other line got put in the blender, the one line that went untouched was the Contraceptive Line. Corolla Garland knows how to run a reliable trio.
Best right in the Juuls
Noah Juulsen continues to bring shame upon my family by playing well, as he continues to make me look stupid for ever questioning his ability to play in the NHL:
Does Noah have limitations? Of course he does. But as an ardent fan of Luke Schenn’s body of work, I should know not to question how if a player dedicates himself to the game, they can find a way to carve out an NHL career.
Juulsen has been the most consistent big hitter on this team, and in the case of Thursday night, drew a penalty because of it.
Which means with the Canucks coming out hard in the third, with a goal already on the board, and the crowd somehow recovered after the Banker Boys tried to put them in a coma, the Canucks actually had a chance to mount a comeback.
Best annnnnnd it’s gone
You know it’s been a bad game when people are lining up to try and figure out which top player for the Canucks has been the absolute worst and should be kicked out of the city for life.
Brock, it’s your turn:
No team should lose a faceoff on the powerplay and promptly give up a goal like this.
To the Flyers credit, they kicked the Canucks ass on faceoffs all night long, and to add salt into the wound, made them pay with a goal on that one.
Brock Boeser’s coverage on this goal can best be described as “I was there”, but even that might be giving too much credit.
It truly felt like half of the Canucks had their worst game of the season against the Flyers, and if we’re being honest, it’s felt like the Canucks third line has been propping up the team a little too much lately. The Canucks top six as a unit hasn’t felt like a well oiled machine for a minute now, which is something to keep an eye on as the games get tighter and tighter as the season wears on.
Now, how did Brock follow that poor defensive coverage up? By taking a two minute break to think about his life and how he got here:
He just straight up chops his stick like he’s cutting wood. There is no clearer image of how flustered and checked out the Canucks were by this point, then that clip.
Now, the Flyers didn’t score on that powerplay, but just to give some love to DeSmith, he had to make a great save to keep the goals under five:
And that was the ball-game. Puck-game. Whatever.
Honestly, top three worst game of the season. It just felt like the Canucks best players were decidedly bad, and possibly openly invested in trying to ruin your night.
Which again, that has happened before, only to see the team turn around and win the third period and come out with two points in hand. And maybe they find some of that magic with that Juulsen powerplay, were it not for that whole “don’t let the other team score shorthanded off of the literal first faceoff of the powerplay” thing.
All in all it was a game Vancouver is going to have to forget and move on from. Which we know they can do.
The unfortunate part is the next game isn’t until January second, so the stench of this result will hang around in the air for a few days.
Which never would have happened had the team wore their Skate jersey.
That’s all I’m saying.
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