The Stanchies: Canucks’ stars grind out a big overtime win over the Kings

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
1 month ago
You like tests? You like teams showing you that they learned a lesson? Well then do I ever have a game for you!
Yes, the Canucks 2-1 overtime win over the LA Kings wasn’t exactly what you’d call an exciting affair; It felt more like an affair of convenience between two coworkers, too afraid to start their unfulfilling lives over, so instead, they just bang in the staff room.
In fact, managing to survive watching an LA Kings game without falling asleep should win you an award of some sort. A medal or plaque that proudly states the date that you managed to grind out viewing an entire game of LA hockey, which appears to be a mixture of Early 2000s Wild and mid 90s Devils hockey, combined with a hefty cup of aged cantaloupe. That smell you’re imagining right now? Add in a whiff of wet hockey gear and that’s LA Kings hockey.
And to the Kings’ credit, it’s an effective style of hockey come playoffs, where powerplays are few and far between, and taking away the middle of the ice can shut down even the most giant of opponents. It is a style of hockey that many openly wonder if the Canucks have an answer for. If a big boy team decides to clog up the ice, can they find a way to fight through it? The previous 5-1 loss to the Kings felt like it was teasing a kryptonite of sorts for this Vancouver team, an easily exploitable weakness not to be confused with X-Kryptonite, which merely makes your cat have superpowers.
But on Tuesday night, despite a 7:30pm start time clearly meant to weaken the province of BC, the Canucks found the answers they were looking for.
Can they learn all of the lessons from that 5-1 loss? Yes.
Can they beat LA? Yes.
Can they hang with playoff-style hockey? Yes.
Can Costco force you to buy two trays of muffins when you only need one? Oddly, also yes.
It wasn’t a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination. The Canucks are mostly likely burning all evidence of this game as we speak, lest Travis Green ask to borrow it for inspiration.
But it was an effective game. Going down 1-o against an LA team that has the patience of someone waiting for a parking spot at 41st and Victoria? That’s a tough out for any team. And in fact, it felt like the Kings were on the verge of making it a multi-goal lead at various times.
The Canucks, though, they weren’t fazed. They kept grinding it out. They started out-working the Kings. They started getting shots on net. Not good shots, mind you, but shots. And surely but slowly, they bided their time, waiting until either luck went their way or someone would step up and deliver. And step up is just what Elias Pettersson did when he tied the game up, and deliver is just what JT Miller did when he finished the game in overtime.
Oh and did we mention Thatcher Demko’s performance? He had a save of the year candidate that got this game to overtime in the first place.
This is all to say that the team raised its game. They found a way to win. They did all that was asked of them and more.
Except maybe Ilya Mikheyev.
Yeah. Probably not Ilya.
But we’ll get to that.
To the gifs!
Best I’m a slow burner
OK, so here’s the thing: my video capture device died, so I didn’t capture Blueger’s breakaway. It was a nice breakaway! Especially for a guy who hasn’t scored in about thirteen years (I haven’t fact checked that but it feels right), it was nice to see him generate some offence.
But I don’t have a clip of it.
So instead, here’s an offside that kind of shares the same disappointment of watching a failed breakaway:
“Ah I see what’s going to happen here! Oh, in fact, it didn’t happen.”
That’s the same journey you take when a player doesn’t convert on a breakaway.
The point is, Teddy created a breakaway, and that was probably the best Canucks chance until the Elias goal because the LA Kings despise happiness and exciting hockey and only want you to suffer like G did.
Best this is the best we get
You know it’s LA hockey when I have a clip of Carson Soucy defending a dump in, and it’s without a doubt a top-three highlight from the first period:
Carson Soucy went to the School of Chris Tanev where you don’t really notice him a whole lot when he’s there, but you absolutely feel it when he’s not. It’s like when you come home and you know someone’s been in there. You couldn’t say why you know that, but you just do.
Soucy isn’t making fancy passes, he’s not going full Edler and making saves beside his goalie, he’s just calming the play down and making sure he escorts the puck out of the zone quickly and efficiently. He’s the contractor you trust to finish your back deck properly, unlike that Tyler guy who installed a slide that ended in a pit of pictures of your haircut from grade 8, and a variety of candies.
Best we got
You want LA Kings hockey? You want to experience the thrilling lifestyle Hollywood celebrities lead, listening to Guns ‘n Roses and watching quick whistles?
So quick. What a whistle.
Best Q&A
Best next time be specific
When you run into a magical genie and ask for world peace, only to see the entire human population die, you quickly realize you have to be hyper-specific about your wishes.
Which is where we found ourselves when Darrin blurted out a desire to see a goal:
And that’s certainly a goal if I’ve ever seen one. You can tell because a red light went on and a giant horn went off. This was how Romans often signalled that the daily bread was ready for pickup.
Now, in a tight, important game, mistakes will be put in the spotlight. It’s the nature of the beast, really. It’s why we all remember Nathan Lafayette choosing the iron throne but completely forget that time Jiri Slegr whiffed on the one timer in a game in October against the Oilers.
So, on this play, we do have to point out that Fil Hronek committed actions that Allan Walsh refused to tweet about, bumbling the puck in his feet before panicking and playing a lonely game of hot potato.
JT Miller then wanders onto the scene to provide emotional support, or so I assume, as otherwise, I can’t explain why he felt the need to hover over Fil’s shoulder. “I believe in you.” JT whispered, leaving Trevor Moore wide open for the tap in.
It was the kind of mistake the Kings thrive on, the kind of mistake they try to ride out to a 1-0 victory, all while Jacques Lemaire watches on a stream somewhere in Santorini, cackling as he drinks his tropical Mai Tais.
All of which is to say the Kings scored first and it felt like that might have been enough to seal the victory.
Best keep on grinding
The Kings drew a penalty on this breakaway, as Juulsen’s stick waved in the general area of a pair of hands, which is a penalty in the NHL, at least during the regular season:
I do want to point out that Zadorov played this really well, both in coming back to try and hurry the puck carrier, and then skating back hard to Demko so he could get a stick on Kopitar trying to cruise through the crease.
Best wtf is going on
Elias Lindholm would later come back to the bench, but after the rumors started swirling on the Twitter machine today that maybe the Canucks would trade Lindholm in their attempts to bring Jake Guentzel aboard, it felt like clearly the Canucks traded a player mid-game.
Which I think speaks volumes of the reputation of Allvin and Rutherford with this fan base, in that people think they would actually do something like that. That they have enough balls to do the equivalent of clinking beers with someone and then immediately delivering a stone cold stunner to them.
With Jim Benning, it feels like we’re still not sure if he knows Dan Hamhuis hit free agency.
Quite the difference.
Best trifle
The Canucks ran into the best penalty kill in the game in the form of the LA Kings, so it’s hard to tell where Vancouver’s powerplay inefficiencies started and LA’s defensive prowess began.
The much-vaunted layering Rick Tocchet has mentioned wasn’t prominently on display on the night, but it did provide the Canucks with their best scoring chance on the first powerplay:
Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Good.
What’s not to like?
Best diminishing returns
The Canucks’ second powerplay didn’t hit many layers, but it did get a nice tip attempt by Höglander off this Carson Soucy shot:
Now this shot had two things going against it:
  • One, it wasn’t a deft tip. And as we know, only deft tips turn into goals. Sublime tip? Going wide. Slick tip? Post and out. Deft tip? In all day. This was more of a smooth tip.
  • Two, Nearly Nils isn’t allowed to score with the man advantage. He’s dedicated his life to the 5 on 5 lifestyle and I’m at the point where he could have an open net on the powerplay and he’d slide it wide due to his beliefs.
Best imagine there’s no scoring
It’s easy if you try:
At this point it feels like next season is when his speed might return. When his knee has enough time to fully recover from the ACL surgery. Because chipping a puck by a guy and out-racing him for the puck? That’s his bread and butter. And without it? He honestly has struggled to earn a spot in the lineup.
He used to beat McDavid in races. This is something he used to do:

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But now it’s firmly in the Von Miller territory where you watch him play and he looks nothing like his former self.
Which must be frustrating for him. I get that. He is probably more upset about his own game than anyone in this city.
It’s just the Canucks are trying to go on a deep playoff run, and Ilya Mikheyev is sinking every line he gets put on, clutching onto that wooden door while his linemates sink into the murky depths of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Come deadline day, this feels like something the team needs to address. You can’t have this version of Ilya in your bottom six, much less your top six.
Best slowly but surely
As I stated earlier, the Canucks were a slow burn in this game. They started generating more chances in the second period, even if they weren’t the most threatening of shots. Here, Brock Boeser sets up Elias Pettersson for the shot in the slot:
At the very least, that’s a solid 4 out of 10 on the threat meter. Like if that shot was hanging out in your neighborhood you’d lock your car and make sure to stay in well lit areas. You wouldn’t be stressed about it, but you’d make sure to do your due diligence.
Best what if God was one of us?
As many as it takes.
Quinn Hughes gets the puck and rifles a shot on net:
Easy save. Not threatening. But he’s letting Cam Talbot know that they know that he knows that they know he exists.
Then you had Philly Delight throwing a shot from near the point, and again, not very scary:
But you see the puck dropping in front of Talbot? That little misstep? That’s the Canucks trying to make their own luck. And it fits very much in the category of what Rick Tocchet talked about after the last LA game in which you have to take what the other team gives you sometimes.
And hey, sometimes that means throwing pucks on net repeatedly, trying to make your own luck. Maybe one of those shots bounces in. Maybe it takes a weird deflection or Talbot kicks out a bad rebound and the Canucks smash it in. That’s a far better approach than the game against LA, where they weren’t even generating plays that might lead to a lucky bounce.
Best expensive finish
Before we get to the goal, let’s talk about players stepping up and making big plays. Of wanting the puck more than the other team. And how this play from Corolla Garland is a perfect example of it:
With the puck bouncing into a 50/50 situation, he dives and gets to it first. Not only that, he sends the puck back perfectly to the point. He keeps the puck in the zone with possession. The same possession that would lead to the Canucks’ goal.
That pass from Garland was done so well you just know he practices diving for pucks to make a play every day. Alone in his garage. Picturing which route the Canucks are going to plan the parade for. Right after they drop game three so they can win the Cup on home ice.
All of which of course leads to Nils The Feels Who Dislikes Eeels finding Elias Pettersson skating downhill, North/South, right into the slot, aka Rick Tocchet erotica territory:
That’s a big time goal from the player who will be a massive part of this franchise for the foreseeable future. The kind of play that the city and management expect from him in playoff-type games.
I also love how Nils creates separation by literally jumping to his right. He uses that space to find Elias, who does his dekes as only he can, and I am pretty sure Doughty is still expecting Pettersson to shoot it from the faceoff dot instead of scooting right around him, leaving his jock strap twirling around his feet.
Best game saver
The thing about tight games is yeah, sometimes one play can change the game. If the LA Kings score here, we could easily be talking about how Vancouver can’t win these types of games.
Instead we’re discussing how Thatcher Demko has Vezina in his bio:
Alex Turcotte literally looked up to the Hockey Gods and demanded answers that they just didn’t have for him.
Turcotte had the kind of discussion in his head that you just know will lead to three hours of therapy about impostor syndrome.
Thatcher Demko is that guy.
Oh and it also helps to have luck on your side:
Haha Trevor Lewis you little ragamuffin, you shot wide!
Also please note that this scoring chance against was caused in large part to the rare circumstance of Corolla Garland hunting for a big hit. This is something that actually happened. I don’t know if Noah Juulsen is a bad influence on him, but the Canucks are gunning for the playoffs, and Garland is gearing up by trying to throw hits.
But wait, was that a post I just heard?
Haha Drew Doughty you silly goose, you just clanged one off the iron!
You have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good and all that.
Best just a slob like one of us
The problem with Mikheyev is that yeah, without his game breaking speed? You wonder if he has enough ability to stay in the lineup. The puck just seems to die every time it lands on his stick, and lot of the time it’s due to plays like these:
He gets the puck, has some time and space until he skates into a check, so he turns and fires the puck to…nobody. He puts the puck exactly where none of his linemates can get to it. It’s behind the net and at such a bad angle that it easily leads to a zone exit for the LA Kings.
And that’s what I said about Kuzmenko, that once he was dealt? Ilya was in trouble. There is no Kuzmenko to focus on, now it’s just Ilya going out every night, sinking any line he plays on.
Tocchet talks about passes with purpose, and that’s the problem with plays like these, they have no life plan. They have no goals to achieve. These are passes that want to live in their parents’ basement, smoking weed and wondering if they still have their old N64 sitting around somewhere.
Best voyeur tendancies
And even when Ilya is near a loose puck near the crease? He gets boxed out or he can’t find a way to get a stick on the puck, and he ends up watching life pass him by:
It’s just a frustrating brand of hockey to watch right now.
Can he turn things around? Probably.
But until then, he truly feels like a problem the Canucks have to fix by the end of the week.
Best classic
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Best end it with aplomb
The Canucks drew a penalty in overtime and if we know one thing about this team, they are absolutely lethal at 4 on 3 hockey:
Jimothy Timothy Miller powering the puck right through Cam Talbot is the kind of alpha move that earns you cred in Alberta. Just loads up the rifle and unloads.
You’ll notice this was a shorter article. And that’s because it was a low event game. That’s how the playoff games can go, which is why this was such a good test for this team.
And as we have seen all year, it feels like the Canucks DO respond to tests and DO learn from mistakes. It’s why all the PDO talk is met with “Look I know they’ve been lucky, but…” because it feels like at times you do see a great team on this roster.
Which is why the next three games are so interesting. Three games against top teams with a trade deadline thrown in? I can’t even imagine what the narrative surrounding this team will be by the end of it.
All I know is it’s going to be a wild ride.
Or tight.
Like a playoff game.

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