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The Stanchies: Canucks captain Quinn Hughes defeats Arizona. That’s it. That’s the title.

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Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Wednesday night couldn’t have gone better for Vancouver Canucks fans.
The Leafs lost on home ice to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Edmonton Oilers got blanked 5-zip to put a dagger into their push for first in the Pacific, the Seattle Kraken were eliminated from playoff contention, the Abbotsford Canucks won their fifth-straight game, and their dog-tired home team overcame a brutal start and a late press from the Arizona Coyotes to win the second leg of a back-to-back.
It wasn’t pretty.
Rarely are meaningless games in April.
Boy, how nice it is that it’s finally not the Canucks on the meaningless side of the ice!
Think about it, it’s April 3rd, and the Canucks are playing for 1st seed in the Pacific Division. This time last year, the Canucks and Coyotes were neck-and-neck in the Western Conference standings, with only eight points separating the two.
What a time to be alive!
Truthfully, the first 25 minutes nearly put me to sleep, and the resulting war of attrition sapped any energy I had to write a coherent, interesting pre-amble, so let’s just dive right into this game that put 1st in the Pacific square in the palm of the Canucks’ hand.
And something, something GIF money.
Best lineup available
After an atrocious performance against the Golden Knights, Rick Tocchet rolled with a forward group that loaded up the top six while subbing out Pius Suter and Arshdeep Bains to roll seven defencemen and 11 forwards.
This was the first time that Tocchet had gone with the 11F/7D roster this season, so it was strange to see Suter, Bains, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Noah Juulsen sitting so the club could play Mark Friedman.
Sure, the Canucks haven’t played well lately — winning against teams whose seasons are toast and losing against any team they could theoretically face over a deep playoff run — but scratching one of the best defensive forwards, a credible fourth-line roleplayer, and one of the club’s better hitters and penalty killers to play Friedman, a player whose last game was on March 3rd? That’s a jagged little pill to swallow.
No disrespect intended toward Friedman, but he wasn’t exactly the player I’d have selected as the guy to help “shake up the roster” down the stretch.
It worked! And seeing Friedman alternating defensive reps with fourth-line winger reps was fun. Still, an odd choice from the coaching staff.
Blurst start ever
The Canucks’ top line of Elias Pettersson, Nils Höglander, and Brock Boeser started things off in the positive for Vancouver, benefitting from a few fortunate bounces in the offensive zone to test Connor Ingram off the opening draw.
Sidenote: for all the disdain for Mullet Arena, the acoustics are fantastic! Tape-to-tape passes, shot attempts, and edgework have never sounded so sexy.
In a play that got Canucks Twitter’s goalie contingent up in arms, Ian Cole got in the way of Jack McBain’s route toward Arturs Silovs’ net, causing the forward to clip Silovs’ skate and send him awkwardly to the ice.
Amazingly, this sequence, which would have resulted in a goal against in every game in the past season, became a nothingburger despite the gallons of tears spilt by the goalie guild.
The Canucks were keen on finishing every check — possibly out of fear of becoming the next game’s Suter, Bains, or Di Giuseppe — resulting in very little offence from either team.
Carson Soucy drew a reaction from the Coyotes’ bench after wiring a wrister into the shin of a sprawling McBain.
Silovs’ first real test of the game came from Arizona’s Lawson Crouse, who bodied Quinn Hughes on the follow-through of a shot attempt before posting up at the left circle for a snappy one-timer into Silovs’ chest.
Nearing the midway point of the first, Vancouver’s top line got hemmed inside the d-zone, requiring Nils Höglander to flash his defensive chops to deny Jusso Valimaki a toe-drag shot attempt.
Conor Garland drew a trip against Nick Schmaltz to give the Canucks a power play opportunity, but it was as dangerous-looking as their form at 5-on-5.
It was bad!
Their lone grade-A chance from the first unit saw Filip Hronek receive a stretch pass from Quinn Hughes, where he entered the zone for a wrister into Ingram’s glove before trucking Sean Durzi to the ice after his intercept attempt.
The last part was pretty cool. Albeit, pretty dangerous looking.
The second unit featured Höglander, Soucy, Hronek, Dakota Joshua, and Vasily Podkolzin. The most they could accomplish was an accidental zone-blowing after winning a board battle down low.
Best “what else is on?”
The first period sucked so much that I paused to check in on the Farm to see how rookies Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Lekkerimäki were doing.
Figures, Elias Pettersson (the defenceman) had just picked up his first point in the AHL with a perfect set-up pass to Tristen Nielsen for a one-timer goal.
Worst “back to the Canucks game”
In true Canuck fashion, the Canucks finally got their offensive mojo going with about two minutes left in the period. The Miller, Garland, Joshua trio suffocated the Coyotes in their end with pressure before Miller cross-checked Valimakki while retrieving the puck behind Ingram’s net, killing the Canucks’ run of possession and sending them to their first penalty kill of the game.
Classic!
After 30 seconds of cycling, Teddy Blueger sprang himself and Nils Åman up the ice for a shorthanded rush.
Unfortunately, it was Blueger and Åman. The duo’s shorthanded attempts consisted of a redirected cross-ice pass off Clayton Keller’s skate onto Ingram’s stick, followed by Åman’s follow-up whack off the puck directly into Ingram’s left pad.
I mean, at least the Canucks didn’t give up a goal.
Still, it was a dreadfully uninspired period of hockey outside of two short bursts of sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
Worst attempts to hit the net
The first five minutes of the second frame saw Ilya Mikheyev drive toward the net for a backhander off Ingram’s glove, Garland spin out from behind the net for a wrister off Ingram’s glove, Ian Cole fire a wrister from the point that missed, Tyler Myers hammer a shot from the point that missed, and Boeser benefit from a glorious takeaway from Höglander for a chance on Ingram up close…that missed.
Credit to Vancouver, they were trying to create chances, but be it the ice quality, the energy levels, the sight lines, the bounces, or the PDO Gods on vacation, the shots were just not testing Ingram the way they needed to.
Hughes generated a glorious chance after turnstiling Liam O’Brien down the wing, but Ingram kept Arizona alive with a fantastic save off his shoulder.
Somehow, Podkolzin didn’t draw a holding minor while trying to get a touch on this loose puck that trickled into open ice.
Blueger had his second glorious chance of the game to end his goalless drought—set up by Mikheyeve and Podkolzin, no less—but he completely whiffed on the opportunity, rifling his one-timer off the post.
Oof. As the youths’ say.
Best Hughes for Hart consideration
In my latest Mailbag, I posited that I fully believe Hughes deserves Hart Trophy consideration. His impact on the team’s goalscoring is outrageous, and the amount of records he’s breaking with every passing game is bordering on absurdity. Wednesday’s game against the Coyotes was further. All voters should be forced to watch this game in its entirety up until Hughes’ power play tally just to emphasize how instrumental he is in the Canucks’ success.
Hughes’ goal to break this game open took an eternity and required the perfect screen from Garland to happen. But it happened and absolved the club (sort of) for the preceding ten minutes of duffed opportunities.
Best bodyguard
After Hughes’ power play tally, Nils Åman drew a tripping penalty against Keller to send the Canucks back to the power play immediately.
While not as successful, the man advantage was notable for seeing Jack McBain truck Elias Pettersson at the Coyotes’ blue line, sparking a fight between him and Miller.
The sequence was hilarious because McBain foolishly bit on Millers’ request to fight, drawing the whistles from the refs just as Lawson Crouse and Janis Moser were on the precipice of equalizing with a shorthanded tally.
It was a hilarious gaffe.
Even funnier was McBain dropping his gloves first, negating the instigator penalty that would have been assessed to Miller.
With a minute remaining on the power play, the second unit came over the boards for the faceoff, resulting in the most Michigan-worthy sequence that didn’t result in a Michigan-attempt.
Whoever coached The Michigan out of Höglander’s repertoire should never work in hockey again. Be it management, development, or coaching staff of those dreadful late-stage Benning era seasons.
If it was Green, that would explain how the Devils’ season has gone since the coaching change.
I digress.
After ten minutes of kink-ironing—that’s a laundry reference, you perverts—the Canucks finally woke up and settled into a dominant groove against the Coyotes.
Even when they gave up some bad odd-man rushes off of even worse line changes, they compensated with excellent defensive play.
Brock Boeser, who isn’t exactly known for his footspeed, hoped over the boards to bail out the fourth line for a brutal change that gave the Coyotes a 3-on-2 rush into the offensive zone. Boeser’s effort to get back, execute a stick-lift, and rob the Coyotes of a scoring opportunity stood out as one of the better individual moments of the period.
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Arturs Silovs wasn’t tested much during the second period. The Coyotes were rarely ever in the Canucks’ zone in the second period.
With less than five to go in the frame, Keller zipped a pass cross-ice to Michael Kesselring for a one-timer. Silovs made the save look easy, stretching low, post-to-post, to stop the Coyotes’ lone chance of the period.
Best press
Honestly, I have no idea if this GIF will load properly, but the sequence was too funny not to include.
Early in the first, Zadorov, Myers, and seemingly 55 other players combined to miss the puck inside the Canucks’ zone. Lawson Crouse was the only player who managed to actually settle the puck for a shot on Silovs. Seeing so many missed tip-passes and redirect passes was very funny.
Silovs was called into heroics shortly after when the Coyotes had a repeat of the above sequence following a brutal turnover in the neutral zone by Myers.
Myers skated into Podkolzin instead of opting for a dump-in, leading to Logan Cooley’s speedy entry around Carson Soucy along the right wall. Cooley’s attempt rebounded off Silovs’ pad into open ice, where three Coyotes—Dylan Guenther, Mattias Macelli, and Crouse—all whiffed on the empty-net tap-in opportunity.
The Coyotes pressed with some heavy shifts against the Myers-Zadorov pairing and appeared to generate a significant bit of momentum for their club. However, an icing gave the Canucks an offensive-zone face-off and quelled the initial surge.
Five minutes into the period, Ian Cole upended Clayton Keller as he drove toward Silovs to catch a centring attempt from Nick Schmaltz.
Approaching the midway point of the final frame, the referees elected to assess back-to-back minor penalties to Hughes, giving way to Arizona’s power play equalizer.
The first was a pretty blatant hook on Josh Doan.
The second was pretty weak, to be honest. Ex-Canuck property Michael Carcone powered around Soucy and cut toward the goal for a shot on Silovs. Carcone clipped Silovs’ stick on the follow-through, somehow drawing a trip against Hughes, who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.
On their fourteenth shot of the game, Dylan Guenther tied the game at one with a nasty one-timer over Silovs’ blocker side.
It was a tough break for Silovs, who had played very well through the first half of the third period to keep the Coyotes’ push at bay. The Canucks looked to be feeling the effects of a back-to-back. Their legs looked a little worse for wear while defending the rush. Players like Cooley and Keller were making mincemeat of the Canucks’ defence throughout the third period with their ability to blitz down the wings and into the slot.
Best (un)sung hero award winner
After Geunther’s equalizer, two Canucks really did not want to lose to the Coyotes: Garland and Hughes.
Immediately after the equalizer, Garland sparked a scoring chance for himself and Dakota Joshua. He sparked a scoring chance on his next shift before engaging in a heavy shift in the d-zone, blocking shots and keeping the Coyotes press at bay.
With two minutes left in the period, Hughes played like a man possessed, looking to punish Arizona for daring to draw two penalties against him. The skating and puckhandling showcase that Hughes put on was the stuff of legend.
To display wheels like this after eclipsing 24 minutes against the Golden Knights the day prior? My goodness.
To display wheels like this after eclipsing 24 minutes against a pressing Coyotes team that’d gotten the better of your team for most of the final 20 minutes? My goodness.
And the accuracy of that shot from Garland to break the tie and secure the victory? My goodness.
Corolla Garland was a great nickname for a guy who was effective at doing the little things to get the job done. But his play of late is
Best relocation candidate
Best “Oh possum, my possum.”
Best Farm update
Jonathan Lekkerimäki continues to hunt for his first point in the AHL.
In the meantime, let’s admire Linus Karlsson’s mid-air tap-in goal that sealed Abbotsford’s fifth-straight victory.
Best audition
Best gallows optimism
Best regular optimism

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