The Stanchies: Unsung heroes, Lotto Line’s late heroics, and the Chaos Giraffe’s iconic moment

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
5 months ago
Honestly, I got no introduction for you.
I mean, sure, let’s get the basics out of the way, the Canucks beat the Leafs 6-4 Saturday night early evening, which is always a reason to celebrate. The amount of Leafs jerseys sitting in the seats was sickening, so any time you see them shuffling off into the night looking sad about their life choices is a good moment.
But on a night that ended with the Chaos Giraffe holding Morgan Reilly in a headlock before transitioning into punching Tavares as John skated into the scrum, we don’t have a lot of time for pleasantries. We have a long journey from puck drop to that record scratch “You’re probably wondering how I got here” moment.
Blown leads, power play saviours, Lotto Line going from zero to hero, the Bash Brothers going ham, Corolla Garland coming within a goal of getting his line a nickname, Nylander putting on a clinic, Demko turning into Grant Fuhr, Höglander chasing down 20 goals with like one minute of ice time a game, and Frankie Corrado losing a bet to yours truly?
It just felt like everybody had a moment in this game, whether it was good or bad.
So yeah, we have got some things to talk about.
Let’s make some gif money, shall we?
Best prediction
I like how every fan base has a certain type of unfortunate scenario that always plays out against their team.
In Vancouver, it’s if you’re a random 36-year-old journeyman backup goaltender playing their first NHL game ever, you’re most likely getting a shutout against the Canucks.
(Sam Lafferty only got an assist on the night, alas)
Best coming in hot
Whenever the Leafs play the Canucks, you know it’s going to be a great atmosphere — at least until one team starts getting blown out and their fans just sort of sit silently in their seats looking at their phones.
But when the games are close? It’s a playoff atmosphere. It really is. And it’s amazing, because it’s a game between two fan bases that understand pain more than most sporting franchises in the world. So you can’t even watch both sides hurl insults because it just becomes this sad contest of who mentions 1967 or 1915 first. Both sides know you can inflict only so much hurt on damaged people.
Which means the only victory on the night is the game at hand. That is the only prize that matters. Short term gains are the name of the game. It’s like Game of Thrones, except the prize isn’t a throne; it’s being able to make fun of your cousin Steve, who always wears that Gary Roberts jersey to family functions.
And the Canucks seemed to feed off of that atmosphere, because the first period they had on Saturday? It might have been their most complete period in many seasons. All of which was started by a Höglander goal:
On it’s own, it’s just a nice little greasy goal.
But a couple of things to point out:
  1. The battle level of the Nearly Nils around the net. Aman fights for that puck, causing it to bounce out for Höglander, who then fights through Mark Giordano to bat in the rebound.
  2. Before Quinn Hughes took the shot, that entire shift was a Quinn master class in puck possession in the offensive zone. He went full Jyrki Lumme and skated around the entire Leafs zone before getting hammered to the ice, to which he quickly bounced back up and demanded the puck back before settling into the scoring play you saw in the clip.
All of which is to say “Compete is in our nature” as a team slogan might have been ahead of its time. Like, back then, it felt shitty because it was like that was all the team was offering up.
“Hey, we’re going to lose 5-2, but we’re gonna compete like hell doing it,” doesn’t really sell a lot of tickets.
But in games where it feels like a playoff style game, where the offensive production was matched by the physical price demanded by said game?
All of a sudden, that stupid tagline starts sounding pretty darn apt.
Best bang for your buck
True story, Rick thinks I run, or help run, the Taj account, which I find very amusing. We must never let Rick know the truth of the shadowy cabal behind it.
As for Nearly Nils #1, he got his second of the game on what the kids are called a rizzed up drip king snipe show (surely I got it right this time Quads). Editor’s note: He did not get it right.
Fun fact: The wifi at Rogers Arena was so incredibly bad during the first period that I was initially just going to have simple descriptors of the goals: “Höglander scored from a questionable angle in the corner.”
But we have gifs, and as you can see with most goals that happen with number 8 on the ice, it all starts with Corolla.
Not only does Garland win a race for the puck, as he is the most reliable ride on the team, but even after getting crushed into the boards, he still has the wherewithal to make a no look backhand pass into the slot to Nearly Nils #2. Because that’s what Corolla’s do, they get into accidents, but they don’t break down.
Nearly Nils #2 then passes the puck off to Nearly Nils #1, and after either a fake pass to the point if you’re feeling charitable, or a complete whiff on the pass to the point if you’re feeling accurate, Höglander spins and fires in another wheel snipe celly job.
Due to the amount of special teams play that occurred in this game, Höglander ended the night with only 11 minutes of ice time despite the two goals, something Coach Tocchet addressed after the game.
“I would have had them out there all the time [if not for the special teams ice time on the night]. I thought they were great. Hoggy was like, that second goal, what a shot.”
At 14 goals, Höglander is now six goals ahead of Alex Ovechkin on the season, and fourteen ahead of Wayne Gretzky.
Best descriptions
Back when I thought the wifi was dead, I had written this in place of a video clip:
“Nylander shoots wide and out of the zone, not a good night so far.”
I wish to delete this now.
Best Bubble Demko
If you grew up in Canada, they always hammer home to you in grade three about how a goalie who has a shaky game but never lets in that fifth goal, that’s a Grant Fuhr moment. It’s something Tocchet alluded to in his presser, about how Demko found his groove in the third period, and stopped the bleeding at four.
But in the first period, everything was great for Demko, and he looked locked in:
There weren’t many scoring opportunities for the Leafs through twenty minutes, and that was the best one from Bertuzzi, who normally shies away from shots.
Demko looked fine. Everything was good. Then the second period happened and you know what, we’ll get to that.
Best Bash Brothers
This was probably the best game of Zadorov’s career, and while Myers is scientifically unable to have a perfectly clean game due to his chaotic nature, he also had a high-profile game (both good and bad, as is his nature).
To Markus’ point, however, the stick defence of the Canucks’ back end has improved CONSIDERABLY this season. I still have nightmares to this day of Travis Hamonic standing near the faceoff circle, a dead expression on his face, as he refused to use his stick in any way shape or form to try and influence the life of the puck.
And Myers, he was just as guilty of that. We’ve talked about it: how can a chaotic giraffe be that tall yet have such terrifyingly bad gap control? It made no sense, and we just chalked it up to the chaos.
Yet this season? You see plays like this from Zadorov and Myers, using that long wingspan to knock the puck loose:
Even better, Zadorov then pushes the pace and tracks the puck down to the Leafs’ end, almost generating a scoring chance off of it.
All of which leads to Elias Pettersson throwing a hit on TJ Brodie, because at this point, why not? It’s hard not to watch Big Zaddy go off without getting a little bit inspired yourself.
Whether it’s Gonchar, Foote, Tocchet, or Sami Salo texting tips at 3am, the Canucks’ ability to block shooting/passing lanes and be proactive with their sticks has vastly improved this season.
Best roar like a tiger
Every once in a while, the angry Chaos Giraffe shows up, and I have to tell you, that version of Tyler Myers is OVER with Canucks fans. They love him. It’s a lot easier to forgive faulty slips and slides on defence if you fondly remember him trucking Duncan Keith earlier in the game.
But giraffes are gentle souls, so it remains a mystery as to what unlocks their killer instinct ultra combo.
Against the Leafs, though, Myers was on the prowl, looking to howl, and eat some fowl, and I need to stop rhyming now:
The Canucks haven’t always been the biggest team, but this season, the size, especially on the back end, has been noticeable. Yes, I am suggesting the Canucks have a nice booty. Which leads to moments like this where you can just sit back and lean into your primal nature as you cheer on CG57 dumping Calle Jarnkrok into the bench like a paid lease for Kingsgate Mall you refuse to pay for.
Best celly of the season
Hey, when you score the third goal of the game against the Leafs in Vancouver, you’ve earned the right to go full Chi-Chi Rodriguez:
Once again, you’ll notice that the Garland line scores a goal where Corolla is the one who initiates the zone entry. That bank pass to Dakota Joshua is a tidy piece of business, which leads to Teddy Blueger having the skill to find Garland in the slot after his failed tip attempt.
Which speaks to the success of that line, in that while they may not have deadly shots, or be top six players, they all have enough skill to make better plays then “shoot it towards the net and scream”.
All of which leads us to the greatest goal celebration of the goddamn season:
I used to think Brock Boeser had the best stick twirl in a Skate jersey of all time. Honestly, I thought it was going to be impossible to beat. Look at Brock demanding that camera time, skating right into your living room, twirling that stick.
But as Corolla’s are used to, every time you undersell them, you live to regret it.
Garland not only twirls his stick, he then pauses for dramatic effect. A rookie would go right into sheathing his stick here, but Corolla? He lets the moment breathe. He’s a true pros pro.
And once he knows he has the crowd in his hands? He sheathes that stick. He drops to a knee. And then he flashes his fist upwards in triumph.
If Berlin didn’t just start playing in your head right now, then you are truly dead inside.
Hockey celebrations don’t get better than this.
Best hoisted by their own petard
Again, it’s not often teams sigh wistfully and talk about all those strong, alpha males on the Vancouver Canucks, but that’s where we found ourselves after a solid period of the Canucks beating up the Leafs on the scoreboard and against the boards:
To summarize:
  1. Dakota Joshua reverse hits Giordano and easily shrugs him off in the corner
  2. Tyler Myers takes out Auston Matthews
  3. Brock Boeser shrugs off Bertuzzi like a bad date at the Starbucks at Metrotown, made easier by the fact it’s right by a Skytrain escape route.
Best just before the fall
There’s an infamous wrestling story about how you want your champions to turn heads at the airport. You want them to be these big visual spectacles that just naturally catch your eye, like you almost can’t NOT look at them.
Hulk Hogan walking through the airport with the championship belt muttering about eating too much sushi is preferred over some 5″11 guy with all the technical skill in the world carrying the title sort of thing.
And Tyler Myers is kind of the same way. He lives a very visual lifestyle, whether it’s simply due to his size or the fact he’s born out of chaos.
And some nights, he has a great game, but has a few visual nightmares. And in some games, he has a terrible game, but he has a few visual dream shifts.
And on Saturday, it was more of the former.
First, the good things, such as his physical game. Here, he tries to take out Matthews, fails, and then decides he’ll just hit Pontus Holmberg instead, leading to a zone exit:
That’s the kind of physical game that makes you dream of the playoffs, where the rules get a bit looser, and all of a sudden, that physical pain you are handing out starts to add up on the opposition.
And as we discussed earlier, his stick work also had its moments. Here is the last time William Nylander was denied something in the second period:
That’s cleaner than your work browser’s search history. He keeps up with a fast Nylander, turns with him, and then just simply knocks the puck away, before moving the puck out of the zone.
That is hockey defence 101 right there, that’s something you could teach at UBC, in an online capacity only, due to the impending transit strike.
But then you have moments where his poke check just misses, and he skates back towards his goalie and sets a bit of a screen on a Nylander shot:
There was a lot of debate over this online in terms of if this was a bad goal from Demko or not.
I think it’s a solid mix of a Myers screen and that Demko should have probably had it. It’s also a nice dose of Nylander having fantastic puck protection on that play and realizing he had a shooting lane with a goalie’s vision being impeded in front of him. Give kudos to Nylander because he dragged the Leafs back into this game.
Even Demko himself said he probably should have had this goal, but as Tocchet also pointed out post game, he says that about every goal he lets in.
End of the day, it’s a nice combination of a screen, a goalie not making a save, and Nylander being good at hockey. It happens sometimes.
Best we have a problem now
The problem with letting in that goal is it led immediately to a second Leafs goal, which means their fans started getting happy and getting value out of their tickets, which, gross:
The Canucks are being a little too passive on that zone entry, and giving up a bit too much room, which if you’re playing the Leafs, is playing with fire. They’re a good team, and if you give them time and space, they will burn you. Give them a lead? Sure, easy to beat them.
But give them time and space when they’re down a couple of goals? They turn into the 1985 Oilers.
Another thing to note on this play, Garland had a broken stick as he was backchecking, so you can see him hesitating on how to play it. Using a broken stick is a penalty of course, so he can either drop his stick and sit back to watch how things play out like any good middle manager would do, or he can disguise it by not using his stick to do much. His only play then, really, is the one he attempts: Swing his bent shaft in the general direction of Jake McCabe’s stick at the last second.
Either way, a goal was scored, and the Canucks found themselves feeling a tad bit nervous.
I assume the crowd was as well, or I assume that’s what the one guy who whistled non stop the entire game was trying to tell me.
Best Larry David meme moment
Like I said, not the best night for Myers in the stats column. Visually? He was a stunning beast. But on paper? Not great.
This third goal was another one in which a tip played a part, as Soucy gets his stick on the puck enough to change its trajectory just slightly:
Nothing too terrible on the defence. Soucy pushes Nylander to the outside, but instead of blocking the shot, he tips it enough to deflect it.
Again, you will have a healthy debate tomorrow with your friends about whether it was a bad goal or not.
Should Demko have stopped it? Clearly. As a Vancouver Canucks goaltender, he must stop every single shot; otherwise, it’s legally ok to blame him for all the woes in your life.
But it’s also another play in which hey, maybe you let your star goalie just take that shot one on one from the corner without trying to block it?
Carson Soucy, who has been playing very well for the Canucks, didn’t play a shift in the third period, but no announcement was given about an injury. This means we are in wait-and-see mode in regards to his status for the next game.
Best it was this close
The Leafs almost pulled ahead in the second period when Tyler Bertuzzi decided to use his foot instead of taking a shot:
That is what the kids call a distinct kicking motion, and as such, the goal was deemed illegal.
The punishment for attempted cheating and desecrating the good name of hockey? A faceoff in the Canucks’ zone.
If it feels like the Leafs were pushing the pace, you would be very correct. In fact, it was about this time I started tweeting about the lack of the Lotto Line impact, because you can’t watch Nylander carve up a team and not wonder if JT Miller or Elias Pettersson will have something to say about it.
(Never Brock, he just seems too nice to want to score vengeful goals fueled by spite. Miller though? He would live off of that. Even weirder, I think EP40 would want to score out of spite more than anyone on the team. He has that weird, calm edge to his game. He’s the guy in prison who doesn’t say much but everyone avoids just in case.)
Best finding a purpose
Best push back
Nikita Zadorov starts this entire sequence, and let’s look at how he does it:
Zadorov has that ability to make players around him look like mere children, which brings to mind an odd image of him tossing kids to and fro, but the man seems to thrive when the physicality ramps up.
So he comes in, trucks a Leaf into the corner, and then much like earlier in the game, he gets the puck and skates with purpose.
Playing with purpose is something the Canucks have done well this season, and something that very much feels like a Rick Tocchet sort of thing.
When the second period fell apart, the Canucks weren’t skating with purpose. They weren’t making passes that had any purpose. They just felt like they were chasing the game and being reactive.
Well, Zadorov chased the puck down, and rushed it back the other way, and he went full Quinn Hughes mode, circling the zone with the puck, buying time, and letting his team set up.
Once he left the scene, as Drance points out, Kuzmenko made a tremendous play to keep the puck in the zone, before finally Garland scored his second of the night:
You can see it in that clip. The Canucks are skating with purpose. They are on top of the puck at all times, they are hounding the Leafs into making mistakes.
At the end of all that hard work, the Canucks escaped the period with a one-goal lead, which was absolutely massive for a team that had just gotten its ass kicked by Nylander for almost an entire period.
It also speaks to the depth of this team that the third and fourth line can do all of the heavy lifting on a night in which the Lotto Line couldn’t get its shit together at 5 on 5.
Best passing of the torch
Jared McCann felt like he might be the new king for a few games back in the day. Then Adam Gaudette took it. But now, yes, Conor Garland is the Celly King.
Best what are we even doing here
Starting the third period with a powerplay and a one goal lead, what could possibly go wrong?
It’s not often EP40 makes a bad play like that, and it’s not often Thatcher Demko makes Felix Potvin look like a super aggressive goalie that need to sit back in his crease a bit, but that’s what Mitch Marner found in front of himself when he tied the game up at four.
It should be noted that with this goal, Demko officially went full Fuhr mode. It should also be noted he was practically begging Marner to score top shelf.
Which again, give credit to Marner for making that shot. That’s a good shot.
But we do not, in fact, have to hand it to Elias Pettersson for trying to make that pass.
This was by far the worst game of the season from the Lotto Line, which is a low bar because they’ve been fantastic, but we still need to register it accordingly.
Best if it fails, try try again
The Canucks’ powerplay, which has been dog doo-doo for a while now, ended up being one of the heroes of the game.
And hey, remember when I tweeted this?
That’s essentially what JT Miller did on this goal. He set up shop, dressed up really nice, did his hair, and then turned his skates towards the point and made the ultimate thirst trap for Quinn Hughes to shoot at:
No distinct kicking motion!
You can literally see Miller stop up and straight out his skates to present the horniest pair of skates you’ve ever seen on an ice surface. How is Quinn Hughes not going to want to bang that?
And since Hughes is an actual wizard, he easily sends the puck in to bank it in off of Jimothy Timothy’s feet.
It was a brilliant play and a much-needed one from a line that had gotten lost in the storyline of the game.
Best feeling that groove
Kuzmenko didn’t have a world-beater game, but he did have moments where you started thinking he was getting some of his swagger back:
Him shucking off defenders is a lot like in Hook when Peter finally uses his imagination to see the food and eat dinner. There is clearly a long way to go, but it’s the first sign we’ve seen that Kuzmenko is still in there.
Next we need Kuz to ruthlessly dress down a teammate like Peter did to Rufio, but baby steps. Baby steps.
Best so nice why not do it twice
And to finish off the scoring of the night, the Canucks saw how sexy going backdoor with Miller was, so why not do it with Elias?
I am just as confused as you are as to why someone picked up a controller and started playing as Elias Pettersson on this play, but I guess that’s hockey in 2024.
All that matters is the Canucks once again cashed in on the powerplay. Elias found his way to the side of the net, JT Miller recognized the play, and they cashed in their lotto ticket.
Hey, five on five was terrible for the Lotto Line, but give them credit for finding a way to get two goals on the powerplay.
Again, it speaks to this team’s depth that this line got away with this kind of performance and still got a win.
Best calling his shot
It was clear the Leafs would get a couple of powerplays, and boy did they ever, but by this point, Elias Pettersson was dialled in.
He would have gotten away with it, were it not for those damn kids and that post on this shorthanded chance:
Just usual EP40 stuff where he finishes your….sentences before you do. And your passes.
And then the officials managed to call Suter for two roughing penalties on this play because that way, they could even out the call they made on Jarnkrok, who got a cross-checking penalty and a roughing call:
Like straight up, Suter does nothing whatsoever that would make you think, “I better give this guy four minutes for roughing compared to what that other guy did!” but that’s game management for you.
Best finding his inner Fuhr-y
See? He makes saves on tipped shots all the time! He knows how to do it!
Best heart attack city
They say there’s no cheering in the press box, but they never said anything about screaming, which is where I found myself when Myers and Miller took turns trying to make fancy soft push passes in front of their net instead of CLEARING THE PUCK:
I honestly have no idea what gives you the confidence to go “tight game on the penalty kill? Better try and sauce through this cheeky pass for the outlet”.
There are times when I like a skilled games.
And it’s not often I tell people, “Hey, be like Evan Oberg and just slam that puck down the ice.”
But in this situation, be like Evan Oberg and slam that puck down the ice.
Best Bubble Demko has appeared
Hey we can joke about the Fuhr thing all we want, but Demko dialed it in and looked a lot better in the third period:
You know he’s dialed in when he makes two fantastic saves look so boring on first glance and it’s only on the replay you go “oh what the eff, how did he read that??”
I glanced over at Kevin Woodley to see if he was impressed by the saves, but nothing impresses that guy aside from EDM techno songs before a power play.
Best take a journey with me
So at this point, it felt like the Canucks were killing off a penalty for about an hour straight. It was only the last few minutes of the game, but with the Leafs pulling their goalie and Hughes off for tripping (at least it wasn’t a warmup violation this time), the Leafs had all the pressure in the world on the Canucks.
And when teams this good clash, things get chippy. It’s the nature of the beast.
It’s what also led to Tyler Myers absolutely hammering the ever-loving shit out of Morgan Reilly’s back with a cross check, sending his face into the goal post:
Which hey, if this was the playoffs and it was the 2011 Bruins, everyone would be talking about how Vancouver is playing the right way.
And come playoff time, they stop calling penalties on plays like this by the time the third round rolls around, because that’s hockey being played the right way and all that.
So Tyler Myers, he’s just focusing up and getting ready for playoff mode.
But in regular season mode, he got a penalty for cross checking. Which gave the Leafs another powerplay. Which put the Canucks down Hughes and Myers, and already missing Soucy.
Which if the Leafs had managed to score and crawl back into this game? Yeah, Tyler Myers is in TROUBLE.
But when the Canucks win, and THIS is the gif you leave with?
That is Tyler Myers headlocking Morgan Reilly, and with a speed and awareness I had no idea he had in him, Chaos Giraffe then turns and swings a fist at an incoming John Tavares.
I cannot get over the visual of Tyler Myers clowning two Leafs players. I cannot get over the idea of what would have happened had Myers landed that shot clean, because he LEANED into it.
That’s the sort of thing Brock Lesnar does.
Not Tyler Myers.
But I guess Chaos Giraffe does.
Best closing image
Anyways, the Canucks killed off the rest of the time on the clock, and Demko made some good saves, but all I could think about at this point was the LeBron James-like stare Myers gave from the penalty box:
I don’t say this lightly. This was an iconic performance from the Chaos Giraffe.
If you wanted to bottle up what makes Tyler Myers, Tyler Myers, then simply watch this game.
Best man of his word
I had a bet going with old friend Frankie Corrado where if the Leafs lost, he would change his Twitter picture to one of him in a Canucks jersey getting destroyed by Raffi Torres.
He is a man of his word.
And yeah, that was a fun game. I know I keep saying that, but it keeps happening, and I am still not used to it.
Canucks games are fun. The Leafs lost. Tyler Myers is an absolute psychopath.
Hockey is great, you know?
See you next game.

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