The Stanchies: Elias Pettersson shines as Canucks pull in one point back of Vegas for NHL’s top spot

Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
Look, I know I don’t write The Stanchies much anymore. But when our starter Wyatt Arndt goes down, as do backups Cody Severtson and Lachlan Irvine, you call in the EBUG. And that’s me, David Quadrelli. I edit nearly every edition of The Stanchies, so this should be a breeze. Let’s go on this journey together and make some g– sorry Wyatt, I’m not going to say it. Let’s dive into this game.
Best pregame quote
So a major story heading into this game was that Rick Tocchet decided to scratch Andrei Kuzmenko again. Just when you thought the Kuzmenko-Tocchet storyline was moving in the right direction, Tocchet gives us a new wrinkle.
Now, I’ve found it hard to have a steadfast take on this whole saga, and for the most part, I’ve tended to side with Tocchet. I agreed with his original decision to scratch Kuzmenko, and even more so, I loved the way Tocchet has handled going about rebuilding Kuzmenko’s confidence since. Of course, he’s done that by giving Kuzy favourable matchups while still giving him every opportunity to cook while still picking up reps on the first power play unit.
But when that hasn’t necessarily worked? Tocchet’s going to go with who he thinks gives the Canucks the best chance to win against one of the NHL’s hottest teams.
And as you can tell by the title, he was absolutely right about that. More on Kuzmenko later.
Best “yeah I guess I have to call it now”
Nils Höglander was assessed a two minute minor for his stick breaking.
If his stick doesn’t break, there’s almost no chance this gets called, right?
Best yeah, I’m thinking I’m back
Elias Pettersson has been looking more and more like Elias Pettersson in recent games. As Niqhil told us earlier today, Pettersson absolutely loves torching the Nashville Predators, and continued that tonight. He’s already scored a hat trick against this team this season, and he was a third of the way there early in this one when he opened the scoring for the Canucks.
It wasn’t just the goal for Pettersson. It was an assist, dominant 5v5 play, and a team-leading six shots on goal tonight. When Pettersson is playing like this, it’s going to be hard for any team to hang with the Canucks, as we saw tonight.
Best Åman, what a bounce
For those of you who don’t know, that’s pronounced OH-mahn. Get it? I did a pun, for humour purposes. As the boss around here, I have a bit of a reputation of being a bit uptight and serious. In reality, I’m actually very funny, easygoing, and a fun person to be around. Anyways, here is Nils Aman’s goal, the second of the game.
No Nearly Nils here. Nils Aman found himself with a prime scoring opportunity and absolutely refused to disobey his coach by massaging this puck. No, Nils Aman saw his chance and didn’t think twice before pulling the trigger, beating Juuse Saros. A lesser forward would try to massage this puck. To pump some lotion in their hands and try to stickhandle the puck past Saros while putting on some soothing music — okay, this is the start and end of me using the massaging the puck analogy.
Best the Canucks’ third line needs a name
We’ve known for a while now that this line needs a name. Tonight, they’re getting their first highlight not because they scored, but because their havoc resulted in the Canucks picking up a late power play while already up by two in the first period.
Full marks to that line on this sequence.
Garland getting in hard on the forecheck? Check.
Joshua sticking up for his linemate after Garland is slammed into the boards? Check.
Joshua somehow drawing the only penalty on the play? Check.
Also, that save by Casey DeSmith was just one of many great ones the Canucks’ backup netminder made tonight.
If you liked what you saw from Harman Dayal giving his analysis on the Canucks’ forecheck during the first intermission of tonight’s broadcast, then be sure to watch our show. Did you really think I wasn’t going to give a shameless plug of Canucks Conversation when I’m doing Stanchies?
Best Thatcher Demko impersonator
It’s not easy to be a Thatcher Demko impersonator. Thankfully for the Canucks, their backup goalie has been playing almost as well as their Vezina Trophy-favourite starter.
Watch these highlights. Watch how sharp DeSmith is on his reads here.
Tonight, DeSmith was nearly perfect, stopping 26 of 28 shots as the Canucks’ tandem continues to push for the title of best in the league.
Best Collin Delia impersonator
Okay, this may be a tad too mean to Casey DeSmith, who had an otherwise stellar game to his point.
But leaning glove side when a guy who has two goals on the year beats you cleanly blocker side? We get to make ONE joke about that.
Best back on the board
Let’s take a quick minute to recap Nils Höglander’s season to this point.
Makes the team out of training camp because there was no way the Canucks could risk losing him on waivers. Starts in a top six role, and quickly loses it. Bounces between the bottom six and the press box while working on video with the Sedins and learning from the rest of the Canucks’ coaching staff. Then he gets his shot, and in the month since, has scored seven of the nine goals he’s tallied this season.
And of course, he’s received plenty of compliments from his coach for his effort on cleaning up the things he needed to clean up. But lately, Höglander’s usage looked like it was in danger of slipping as his line with JT Miller and Brock Boeser began to slow down.
So deflect a puck in after a solid battle with the defenceman in front of the net? That’ll get you right back in Tocchet’s good books.
This goal made it 3-1 Canucks.
Best bounce back game
The last time Quinn Hughes went through a stretch where he tallied three points in the span of six games was last week. Then Hughes exploded for three points against the Tampa Bay Lightning, making up for his “off nights.” Heading into tonight, Hughes had three points in six games as well.
And just like he did last week, Hughes put up some points and was dominant in this game. All over the ice, Quinn was a wizard. With the puck, without the puck — it didn’t matter. Hughes was making all the right plays tonight and was rewarded with two assists and two points in the standings for his team.
Best finding a home
When Pius Suter went down with his injury, he appeared to be finding some real chemistry with Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland. That chemistry was almost seamlessly replaced by Teddy Blueger, who doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
Lately, the Canucks have decided to roll with Suter on Elias Pettersson’s wing. While the results have been mixed, there’s reason to believe that Suter’s two-way profile should allow him to at least be as if not more effective than Sam Lafferty was when he was rolling on EP40’s wing.
But as we discovered with PDG and Lafferty in the top six, those runs don’t last forever, and eventually, the Canucks will likely need to find a steady winger to play with Pettersson and Mikheyev. Adam Henrique should be available at the deadline, and would look great next to Pettersson.
Look, do you want this team to win the President’s Trophy or not?
Best in the driver’s seat
All four lines contributed a goal tonight, and of course, this included the “Needs a Name Line.”
Teddy Blueger scored the Canucks’ fifth goal of the game to put his team firmly in the driver’s seat early in the third period.
This chased Juuse Saros — one of the best netminders in the sport — from the game.
And just like that, the red-hot Predators were left wondering how they got beat so handily tonight by a team that supposedly came back down to earth in November.
5-2 is your final score this evening, with the Canucks outshooting the Preds by a final tally of 35-28.
Best we are so back baby
Yes, the Canucks just might be back. After picking up four straight wins at home, they’ve now picked up five of a possible eight points on this four game road trip. That’s points in seven straight games, for those keeping track at home — a 6-0-1 record.
The Vancouver Canucks’ wagon is back.
Best is this real life?
Folks, it’s almost Christmas, and the Vancouver Canucks are one point back of the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Just like we all thought they’d be.
Best before Thomas Drance yells at me
That’s still a very good place to be, obviously.
So about that President’s Trophy…
Best “so remind me what it is you do here again?” 
With Nashville having won 13 of their last 16 games and the Canucks putting in that effort, where all four lines scored at five on five? Yeah, it would seem that Andrei Kuzmenko is going to be hard-pressed to get another shot in the lineup on Thursday.
If the Canucks want to get him in against Dallas, you’d think that Sam Lafferty would be the odd man out given his deployment and demotion from the top six forward group.
But do you change a lineup that turned in an effort as dominant as this group did tonight?
You tell me.

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