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The Stanchies: Missing Elias Pettersson, the PDG thing, and Quinn Hughes stays atop the NHL scoring race

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Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
2 months ago
We meet again, dear reader.
That’s right, I’m writing The Stanchies tonight. (Insert wrestling reference about Hulk Hogan’s gang or something here.)
Usually, I’m editing The Stanchies, but on a night when SOMEHOW Wyatt Arndt, Cody Severtson, AND Lachlan Irvine were all unavailable, I stepped up and am committed to bringing you the best Stanchies I’ve written this season.
Let’s. Freaking. Do. This.
Best I made up a person in my head
Not even the most delusional positive Canucks fan would try to tell you that Quinn Hughes has had a better career than Cale Makar to this point.
Better season to this point? Sure!
One of these players has a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe Trophy to his name. Come on now.
Best it’s not a demotion, it’s a promotion
Anthony Beauvillier seems to have been turning things in the right direction lately.
Late in Monday night’s game against San Jose, Beauvillier found himself on JT Miller’s line along with Brock Boeser in place of Phil Di Giuseppe. When talking about it, Rick Tocchet was sure to frame the decision as a reward for Beauvillier as opposed to a punishment for Phil Di Giuseppe.
And that’s fine, but it did give us a clue as to who the head coach thinks could eventually replace PDG on that line. While Di Giuseppe’s never-quit attitude and hustle are admirable and a key part of that line’s identity, he’s a career AHLer/bottom six NHLer playing on the Canucks’ first line.
You know it’s bad when one of two media members in this city capable of pronouncing Di Giuseppe’s name correctly, Dan Riccio, is pointing it out.
Again: the things PDG provides to that line are important, but ideally, you’d like someone with more finishing ability and overall offensive acumen in that spot. Beauvillier likely isn’t that player, but maybe he can be a stopgap until somebody like Vasily Podkolzin can become that player, or until the Canucks can add someone they really like in that spot.
Remember: Podkolzin started training camp in that spot. The Canucks were clearly hoping he’d be able to take that step this season, but obviously he hasn’t been able to. Di Giuseppe was the clear “Plan B,” but how long do the Canucks stick with him there, especially if they’re heading to the playoffs?
Anyway, Beauvillier got some time with Miller and Boeser tonight while PDG went down to the bottom six for stretches of time. He also got some quality looks on PP2’s limited ice time:
During one of the early shifts in the game when Beauvillier was still playing with Nils Höglander and Sam Lafferty, the trio made some magic happen as Höglander opened the scoring for Vancouver with Beauvillier picking up the only assist on the goal.
Beauvillier was hard on the forecheck all night long, and looked deserving of the minutes he was getting. Beauvillier’s resurgence will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Best this is only the first
Okay, so, as you’re about to read, the refs were very eager to call penalties in this game. If they were bad calls or not we’ll leave up to you — all I’m saying is they were eager.
Ian Cole took the first penalty of the game 13 and a half minutes into the first, with the Canucks successfully killing that one off. Then Conor Garland was called for cross-checking, which allowed Colorado to tie this one up late in the first period:
Back at five on five, Colorado struck again, giving the Canucks a one goal deficit to climb out of after 20 minutes of play.
Best let’s see some power plays
In the second period, there were a lot more penalties to keep track of. Eight, to be exact. Stay with me here:
Mikko Rantanen took a tripping penalty two minutes into the period, then Bowen Byram took a delay of game penalty two minutes later. Then two minutes after that, Val Nichuskin took a tripping minor. Which brings us to this interesting exchange between Josh Manson and Brock Boeser in front of the net. Josh Manson seemed to take issue with the way Boeser went down, and he wasn’t afraid to let Boeser know it, either.
 
The end result was a five minute major and a game misconduct for Manson, and a two minute roughing minor for Boeser. Now, typically a five minute major would mark a great opportunity for a power play as efficient as Vancouver’s to go to work, but that wasn’t how this one went.
Once Boeser’s penalty expired, Anthony Beauvillier took a minor penalty for interference — then Tyler Myers took a slashing penalty. These were all called in the span of four minutes!
Thankfully, the four on four that ensued brought some fireworks.
Best putting the rush in rush 
Watch this JT Miller goal during the 4-on-4 sequence, then watch it again.
And again.
All in all, there were ten penalties called in this game. Two in the first period, none in the third. And yet, the Canucks’ power play only got three chances to actually go out there with the man advantage.
Best the things he didn’t do before
JT Miller has been among the Canucks’ most consistent players all season long, and while the point totals are undoubtedly impressive and important in their own right, it’s the things away from the puck that haven’t been there for stretches in seasons past.
Being flat-out uncommitted to back-checking and playing defence is why there was so much chatter surrounding whether or not Miller could play centre, and his overall lackadaisical play under Bruce Boudreau last season had many worried about Miller’s new extension in Vancouver.
This season though? Rick Tocchet has clearly gotten through to Miller, and the 30-year-old centre — yes, centre — has been dialled in all season long. Tonight, there were multiple instances of Miller making a mad dash on the backcheck to break up what would have been five-alarm chances for the Avs.
Here’s an example that came in the second period after Miller’s goal, with both teams at four-on-four. Miller races back and gets a stick in the passing lane at the last second.
Last year? Miller is gliding back into the zone on this play while Thatcher Demko does his best to stop a back door tap-in.
This wasn’t the only instance of Miller on the back check, either.
In a game where the Canucks had a real litmus test in front of them in the form of the Avalanche, Miller continued the strong play we’ve seen from him all season long, even if a mistake ended up allowing Colorado to go score a late goal to put them up by a couple.
You’d much rather take mistakes like that, where the second-best defenceman in the world simply outdoes you, rather than blindly throwing the puck into the middle of the ice and giving the opposition a breakaway.
Best goaltender in the league, still
It’s been noted that Thatcher Demko’s sky-high high-danger save percentage has begun to come down recently. While regression was expected to some extent, I’d like to point out that a lot of the high-danger chances Demko was stopping to start the year are inherently different than the ones he’s been facing lately. Lately, the Canucks have been giving up plenty more east-west chances, forcing Demko to move post-to-post, something Tocchet highlighted as a negative after the loss to Seattle.
Tonight, the Canucks did a better job of guarding that “home plate” area, and Demko, in turn, did a good job at turning away some of the higher danger chances he faced.
Has Demko gotten worse or has the Canucks’ defence been more prone to compounding mistakes, something they avoided very well to start the year? I’m saying the latter.
How is he supposed to stop a shot like this, Colorado’s third of the evening?
Best checking in on the farm
Not to sound like the Colorado-based podcaster who’s tweet opened this article, but do you remember when people were talking about Arturs Silovs’ disappointing start of the season? How Nikita Tolopilo had supposedly leapfrogged him on the goaltending depth chart? How his World Championship MVP performance for Latvia was just a fluke? Those folks have been awfully quiet, and for good reason.
It’s a damn Arty Party out there in Abbotsford right now.
Best no not Mark Friedman and Tyler Myers!
Canucks fans are going to be hoping for good news on the injury front, as both Tyler Myers and Mark Friedman left this game.
Friedman took this cross check to the face in the second period, which went uncalled for reasons unknown.
In the third, Myers blocked a shot and was clearly shaken up. He left the game, leaving the Canucks with four defenceman to try to forge a comeback.
The Canucks went on to lose 5-2, as Colorado added an empty netter.
Now we wait for the injury updates.
Paging Elias Pettersson
So, yeah. It wasn’t a great night for Elias Pettersson, as EP40 continues to look just a bit off. The dominant two-way force that we saw at the start of the year hasn’t been around for a while now, and fans are rightfully concerned, as the Canucks number one centre just doesn’t look like himself.
We don’t know if it’s an injury (although we do know he was “banged up” earlier in the season), but we do know that this version of Elias Pettersson isn’t the one that fans are clamouring for the Canucks to back up the Brinks truck for.
On the ice for all three Colorado goals against, a couple of turnovers, and just not dominating the same way that we’ve come to expect him to in Vancouver.
Here’s hoping that EP40 can put whatever’s plaguing him directly into the rearview mirror and getting back to who everyone knows he can be. There’s no doubt that the Canucks are missing the “real” Elias Pettersson, especially in a game like this one.
As I write this, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone that he’s still 6th in the league with 28 points on the year. And on that note…
Best not so fast Cale
So, Cale Makar has 18 points in his last eight games. That’s great for him!
But don’t let that distract you from the fact that Quinn Hughes still leads the NHL in scoring with 31 points.
Not so fast, Cale.

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