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The Stanchies: JT Miller’s beast mode game, Garland’s misfire, and the Elias Pettersson thing

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
3 months ago
The Canucks lost to the Penguins 4-3 in overtime Tuesday night, and by this point under the Tocchet regime you can almost predict how the post-game scrums are going to play out after a game like this.
First you have the players giving very terse interviews. Now to be fair, I am the last person to argue over the sanctity of the post-game media scrums. They tend to share the same emotional journey you take when you feed a horse a carrot, where occasionally you giggle when your finger gets nibbled, but for the most part, you get out of it what you expected: A couple of minutes interacting with something that doesn’t trust you, but will put up with it until it’s told it can leave.
And honestly, after losing a game in which the Canucks clearly should have won and, in fact, were primed and ready to win after being up 2-0 after the first period, you’d expect them to be angry, upset, or whatever word you want to use to convey someone being mad.
Irked? Piqued? Galled? Indignant? You have plenty of options.
The point is, JT Miller walking in looking quite piqued is par for the course after a game like this. This is a man who is so laser-focused on winning that he claims he didn’t even hear the crowd chant his name. Whether he’s lying or not doesn’t matter because he either hates losing so much that he refuses to value himself in a loss, or he was so laser focused on winning that he was able to block out an entire arena chanting his name for a lengthy period of time.
Either way, he is in no mood to answer questions about a new-look powerplay setup or be asked how he thought the game went.
After that, there was a bit of a scramble for the Canucks to produce players to come talk to the media, which is where Tyler Myers and Ian Cole come in. These guys are the cleaners, the guys who no matter how bad the loss, no matter how excruciating of a game it was, they’re able to walk in and talk to the media and walk them through things. They’re the camp counsellors who’ve seen it all and hey, so what if Jason Voorhees was recently spotted stabbing someone in section 315, the point is you’ve just got to collect yourself and figure out how to be better next time.
They could literally have the Orca blimp crash into the ice in the middle of a game and Cole or Myers would trot out and chat with you like it was no big deal.
“I mean, sure, nobody is expecting an Orca to crash into the ice like that, but that’s what good teams do. They figure out how to deal with adversity. I felt we were a bit rattled after that Orca slammed into Juulsen, but as a group we have to be better at identifying threats like that, and responding to them better.”
On this night Tyler Myers made an appearance and despite Rob Williams trying to trick Myers into calling out the officials again (he asked Myers about his penalty that sent the team down two men, which led to a Penguins goal), he navigated the scrums with the polite, slightly happy tone that any retail worker worth their salt has perfected.
Then Brock Boeser made an appearance, and he shares a trait with me in that when you’re stuck in a conversation you don’t want to be in, you just pick a spot on the wall and stare at it forever, answering questions you don’t want to be answering, and dreaming of that time you cleaned up in a Call of Duty game last week.
The scrums then end when Rick Tocchet comes down to discuss the game, and he has two modes: Really engaging in depth answers in which he is clearly content with the team. And really engaging in depth answers in which he is clearly not happy with the team.
Tonight, he wasn’t happy with the team, but because he’s one of the most engaging coaches the Canucks have had in many years, he openly talked about the mistakes the Canucks made, and how they need to improve everything for the last stretch run of the season.
All of which brings us back to the point that can be simply summarized by saying the Canucks lost a game against a tired Pittsburgh Penguins team, leaving a point on the board. It felt like even more of a loss after the big game the team had against the Bruins, and you wouldn’t be alone in your thoughts of wondering if the Canucks kind of sat back a bit and took this one for granted. That Game 8 kind of hangover can be a tricksy little beast at the best of times.
The good news is the Canucks are wearing the Skate jersey against the Kings on Thursday, so the win is all but guaranteed.
The bad news is, I still need to make gif money, even in annoying losses.
Let’s do this.
Best PK
I only included this gif because there are some shots in person that look 100% more dangerous than they do on the broadcast:
Like I’ll be watching this shot and in person I was like “wow, the Canucks really dodged a bullet eh?” and I look over to Kevin Woodley for confirmation of my thoughts and he just looks back at me with this kind of dismayed sadness that really unsettles me.
And to be fair, in this clip, it just looks like a point shot that Valtteri Puustinen misses the rebound on, but in real life, that looked like it was an inch away from being an easy tap in.
Best Abby tough
I feel like you could describe Noah Juulsen how they talk about trucks in a commercial, and it would fit perfectly. Somehow trucks always have rugged determination and I can’t think of a better descriptor for Juulsen:
 
Noel Acciari, insulting the legacy of Ed Jovanovski by wearing 55 as a forward, clips Juulsen and sends him into the boards, almost going full Carlo Colaiacovo.
The thing is, you don’t learn how to survive on the wild streets of Castle Fun Park without understanding how to walk through pain, which is why Noah just gets right back up and walks it off. Those blisters from the batting cage teach you how to embrace hardships in life.
Best back to the Castle
You know what else Castle Fun Park has in it? One of those “test your strength” punching machines. Which I assume Noah didn’t punch, but instead hurled himself into it as hard as he could:
Luke Schenn may have left the Canucks, but his legacy is being honored by Juulsen, who is clearly the teams hardest hitter.
He doesn’t throw hits to show his coach he’s trying, he doesn’t throw hits to pad some stats. This guy throws hits to hurt his opponent.
I was writing during the game and I heard a giant bang and I only had to ask Daniel Wagner “Noah?” and he confirmed a hit attempt was thrown by Juulsen. His hits land different.
Best 5 on 5 beast
The first period, aka that part of the game where life was so easy, showcased Nils Hoglander doing what he does best, which is simply out-working his opponent:
To summarize, Nils finds Tyler Myers at the point with a laser accurate pass, and then collects the rebound and gets a shot off.
Nils then gets the puck back to Myers (who at this point was slamming his stick on the ice, calling for the puck like a young Ryan Kesler), then collects the rebound, but this time scores on it.
When you have a player that is tenacious on the puck, can make a pretty pass, and has the ability to finish around the net?
That right there is a 5 on 5 beast. Hoglander’s shifts have been some of the most exciting to watch this season because you find yourself whispering and urging him onwards. It’s hard not to get caught up in how much effort he puts in a shift, to the point that sometimes, hey, you also find yourself looking over at Kevin Woodley, hoping he approves your take.
He never does, but still, the urge is there.
I imagine playing against Hoglander is exhausting, because there is a gentleman’s agreement in hockey where sometimes you just want to take the puck lazily back into your own zone so you can attempt a breakout.
But much like in 1788, Nils decided invasion was the only option:
The end result is Elias Pettersson gets a solid shot off in the slot, but the main takeaway should be that this is a clip of a defenseman taking a little too long with the puck and turning it over as a result of it.
This is something Rick Tocchet noted both teams kind of got into on the night. Each side making sloppy decisions with the puck, playing a very sobering game of chicken in which the loser has to smash his stick over the net in overtime.
Best Sid the used to be a Kid
We don’t get to see Sidney Crosby too much in Vancouver so I did want to make gif money off of at least one clip of his.
Here he is on the forecheck, dancing around Blueger and with barely a muscle moving in his arms, shoots off a quick pass right to Rickard Rakell:
Sublime work from the man who clearly would have been traded to the Canucks for a playoff run had Vancouver won on the night. That’s something Conor Garland has to live with for the rest of his life.
Best it kind of worked?
The big news on the day was the Canucks splitting up their powerplay into two units like an efficient divorce, with JT Miller getting the house, and Elias Pettersson getting to keep the pets.
The Canucks new look unit of Suter/Miller/Garland/Boeser/Hronek managed to revive a classic Bumpin’ Bo Horvat play:
The absolute best part of this goal is three Pittsburgh Penguins looked at Corolla Garland with the puck on the half-wall and they were not worried in the slightest of his shot. They were practically begging him to shoot the puck at them. They had the kind of confidence you only get when you know you hold the ultimate moral high ground in a fight with your partner, and you’re just waiting to reveal that information to them.
Luckily Corolla understands his value is setting up his teammates and giving them fuel efficient rides whenever he can, so he simply moves the puck to Hronek, who finds Miller, who then finds Boeser who cleverly jumped up into the empty space the Penguins provided him. Space provided mainly by having three players so deep in their zone, caught up in their ongoing campaign daring Garland to shoot the puck at them.
Best close enough
At first glance this penalty on Jesse Puljujarvi felt like a weak call:
It’s only on the replay that you see Lars Eller going full Guile mode with the sweeping leg kick to Elias Pettersson, who somehow a lot of Canucks fans online yelling at him for falling down too much? Which is weird, because I thought as a city we had done that so much to the Sedins, only to look like fools when they became Hall of Fame players, that we’d kind of moved on from that?
I get it, he tries to draw penalties, and he does get hit to the ice a lot, but he still produces considerably more points than a random plug who is very good at standing up on his skates.
I just feel like a decade of depressing hockey in which Jayson Megna was a powerplay option would allow people to kind of back off of a star player like Elias Pettersson for something seemingly so petty, but I honestly feel like the contract debate surrounding him is souring some fans on him.
Unfairly, of course. But it does feel like any benefit of the doubt Elias would get were he to be signed for 8 years is out the window as people are almost preparing for EP40 to demand a trade out of the city.
I feel like I’ve used enough metaphors of my parents divorce for one night, but you get the idea.
Best giving the gift of pizza
I almost wish someone on the Penguins had screamed “BLUEGSY” to make sense of this turnover, but this was probably the worst play of the game from Vancouver’s end of things:
Up 2-0, seemingly in control of the game, and then Blueger just shovels the puck right into the slot. It’s a pass that doesn’t make any sense because again, here is a list of people I would trust to make a no look pass into a no no area like this:
  • Quinn Hughes
That’s it. That’s the list.
The safe play is up the boards. Or perhaps falling on the puck and screaming “oh my god, Crosby has a knife” is another option. Anything but throwing the puck right in front of your goalie.
The gravy lining (it’s like a silver lining, only tastier, but probably bad for you) on this play is Tyler Myers sort of skating in the general direction of the trouble and skating right by Rakell, before lunging back with a poke check that ends up with him looking like he’s found $20 on the ground but isn’t sure if he should take it or not.
I have honestly watched this clip almost a hundred times trying to figure out the mind of a chaotic giraffe, and the best I can tell is he just makes a bee line to double team Sidney Crosby, and then because he has the turning radius of the McBarge, can’t cut back quick enough to try and defend Rakell, so he just sort of flails his stick and mumbles something about chaos being a ladder.
Best reliable Corolla
Treasure this moment and hold onto it for when we get to overtime:
See how Corolla falls down diving for the puck, but gets back up and makes a tremendous play to still steal the puck? And then sends in his linemates for a zone entry?
That’s the Corolla we know and love. The one that you can call when you had a few too many at Greta and need a safe ride home.
Best of the worst
The Canucks bemoaned their second period effort on the night, which makes sense considering that’s the frame they let Pittsburgh get back into the game, but I will say that Elias looked like he had some jam in his game:
We have to remember he’s being asked to play with Ilya Mikheyev, which I imagine is troubling for someone as creative as Elias. It’s like asking someone to write a movie script with you and they respond by eating some mustard packets.
But playing with Hoglander seems like a good fit, which as you can see in the clip, does result in an almost goal.
Now, are almost goals as good as goals? No, of course not. They are the Beyond meat of the hockey world. Beyond goals are simply something we put up with to make ourselves feel better about what’s happening.
But you can’t help but wonder if Elias Pettersson was so distracted by his contract that he missed that shot. Instead of thinking “How do I put this top shelf” he was thinking “I wonder if the mass sports media conspiracy to ruin this Canucks season and thus help journalists win a mysterious legal battle against the owner of the team, the likes of which nobody fully understands, will ever be exposed.”
By the time he’s run that scenario through his head, he simply runs out of time picking the corner.
Best a tale as old as time
The Canucks once again found themselves dealing with a full 5 on 3, as they took two quick penalties in succession. One from Zadorov and one from Myers.
The good news is the officials didn’t then do this three more times, so it’s not as big of a talking point this time around.
It’s more of a PTSD moment from the fans than anything. The Zadorov penalty could be debated, and Myers felt it wasn’t his stick that did the damage, but end of the day at least the penalties didn’t feel like they were being made by Col. Winter.
I think the biggest takeaway was just the sloppy nature of the penalties. Again, after that Boston game where everything felt very tight and focused, this Canucks effort just felt like an old beanbag, filled with years of your cousins silent farts.
And when you’re down two men, it’s no surprise the Penguins did this:
Good puck movement, find the open man, and that’s a 2-2 game my friends.
Best beast mode: activated
JT Miller was the Canucks best player against Boston and he was the best player for the Canucks again against the Penguins. You want a player to step up in big moments? Here’s JT Miller scoring a shorthanded goal just seconds after the Penguins tied the game up:
Was it a high stick? Maybe. But the effort is unquestionable as JT Miller almost wills this goal into existence.
This is why people in Vancouver want to see the playoffs. Because these are the types of moments that make legends out of players.
Watching JT Miller beat the Bruins and take back the lead against the Penguins, that’s the kind of shit that gets people hyped. You can’t help but want to see the Canucks in a game 7 situation to see who will step up and who will crumble in the moment.
You want to know what’s real, and as Love Island has taught us, the playoffs are the Casa Amour of the hockey world. There is no greater test than the post-season.
So moments like these, where JT teases you and gives you a glimpse of what big game moments might look like? You can’t help but continuously glance at the calendar, waiting for when the real games start.
Which I know, that’s awful. If any city could find a way to lose 20 games to end a season and nuke their season it would be Vancouver. “Looking ahead” in Vancouver usually takes the form of “Hey they should lose one game in Boston so they can lift the Cup on home ice.”
But that doesn’t change the fact that you can feel it in the city, people are getting impatient waiting for the playoffs to arrive. You just have to hope the players aren’t in the same boat and are able to keep their focus better than the rest of us.
Best Snatcher Demko
Sloppy play and turnovers you say?
A slow line change leads to the Canucks giving up a breakaway to Puustinen, which Demko almost makes it look too easy saving it? For the beer leaguers out there who stack the pads on a shoot in, the least Thatcher could do is make it look like he at least struggled to make the save once in a while.
And if ever you wanted a perfect example of Canucks defenders taking just a little too long with the puck, here is Noah Juulsen having an open lane to get the puck off the boards and out but instead holding onto it and giving up a turnover:
A heroic superman dive from Pew Pew Suter blocks the pass across the tracks, but again, it’s a perfect example of the Canucks not making the simple play. They had the ability to get around the Penguins forecheck all night long, but they kept overhandling the puck and not making the quick decision.
It’s something we saw a lot of during the four game losing streak, where you just saw the Canucks rearguards forcing passes or holding onto pucks too long, and you wonder if it’s a fatigue factor, either mental or physical.
Are the forwards not providing good enough outlets? Are the defense trying to do too much? These are the questions you find yourself asking watching this team lately.
That and reflecting on the moment during the game, in which there was a break in play, the crowd was dead silent when all of a sudden the arena suddenly played “WHERE THE FREAKS AT” and a heavy EDM song kicked in while the camera scanned the crowd for, presumably, the freaks.
I wish you could have been there.
Best a chaotic giraffe suddenly appears
We used to see a lot more of this in Tyler Myers’s earlier Canucks career, but he has been bringing it out of retirement lately; The random out of nowhere offensive zone dangle:
He almost dangles his way to a goal, but then, and get this, he goes to a net front presence approach and almost scores.
If this isn’t a perfect clip to prove he deserves a shot on the second unit powerplay in a net front position, nothing will.
I think my favorite part of watching the chaos giraffe is when he pulls off moves like this you aren’t even surprised, you’re just kind of like “yep, there he goes.” You simply text your friends “CG57 is up to his shit again” and they know. They always know.
It’s the same when he does the bad stuff. You just accept it as part of his lore at this point.
Best and his name was JT Miller
Sapsterr on Twitter pointed out this move by JT Miller is more of a Sheamus White Noise finisher, but I wanted to reference John Cena since he was in Poco recently:
Malkin is a big boy. Malkin noticeably handled Quinn Hughes physically at many points during this game.
Jimothy Timothy Miller though? He’s out here hitting finishers on Malkin like he’s trying to win the belt at Wrestlemania. You put JT Miller up against Cody Rhodes and I promise you Cody ain’t finishing his story.
This is who you get an arena chanting your name. When you score huge goals and then suplex the other teams star player to the ice.
At one point I was half-expecting JT Miller to come out to Steve Austin’s theme song in the third period, chair in hand, to help Mankind win a title. That’s the kind of energy the crowd had for JT on the night.
Which makes it all the more sad that in the post-game scrum JT Miller said he didn’t hear them chanting his name.
You heard it JT.
You heard it.
Best truth denier
I promise you if JT Miller had scored here or set up a goal, the crowd would have lost it’s absolute shit:
I’m not a huge fan of using Ryan Kesler as a comparison for players. I feel like until you win a playoff series all by yourself, direct comparisons are definitely not allowed.
So when people talk about JT Miller being like Ryan Kesler, part of me dies inside. I feel like that doesn’t give nearly enough justice to the 200 foot nature of Kesler’s game. Ryan Kesler literally broke his body for this franchise, and that needs to be given the respect it deserves.
JT Miller, as good as a player as he is, has definite “why would he do that” lapses in his defensive game.
But if ever there was a time I would ponder using a Ryan Kesler comparison for JT Miller, it would be the last couple of games. Purely for the fact he’s taken over games and been the biggest factor in them, and provided that gritty, visceral hockey excitement that the Ryan Kesler’s of the world can provide. That animalistic “that guy is fighting on my behalf” tribalism kind of sports watching that only a few players can bring out in fans.
Best almost got it
So close. Just a bit off.
Best blowing the lead
Hey Nils, you gonna get Eller?
 
No? Ok.
For context, Noah Juulsen just moments before this clip, ate a shot in the back to block it. Also, Demko no longer has his stick.
So with Noah struggling to remember a life before pain existed, he’s sort of just existing in front of the net. Zadorov either stays on the scene because he thinks Noah isn’t a functioning human being at this point, or he just stays low to help block a shot with Demko having no twig on hand.
At this point they are still kind of ok. Living dangerously? For sure. They are basically living like someone who walks into Starbucks and asks for the banana bread untoasted. Questionable, but nothing terrible yet.
The play that makes this fall apart is when Hoglander tracks the pass and cuts to the right, and doesn’t pick up on Eller skating down the guts of the ice. As Tocchet would point out postgame, Nils gave up the center of the ice, and at that speed, in that spot, Demko is pretty much screwed on the Lars shot.
That makes it two goals in which a Canucks player made the wrong read, and was unable to cut back quick enough to make a play on the player who scored the goal.
It was just a night of sloppy hockey, it really was.
Best where the freaks at
JT Miller’s line was the best on the night, mostly because JT was driving things ahead.
Here he throws a big hit and Pew Pew Suter, who has fit in extremely well with Boeser and JT, makes an excellent read on the puck and tracks it down before a Penguin can get to it:
Suter anticipates where the puck was going to end up, so him quickly cutting behind the net allowed him to find JT Miller in front for the quality scoring chance.
Best it should have been over
Brock Boeser got the biggest Beyond goal on the night in overtime:
Boeser would comment that he wished he had gotten this up high, and that it would probably haunt his dreams on the night, and you can see why.
Sometimes when a big play happens, the press in media row all crane their heads and gather around the TV sets up here to see what went down, and I promise you, after that Boeser attempt there were a lot of “how did that NOT go in??” questions being asked.
That and “are there any more cookies left?”
But mostly it was about how that didn’t go in.
Best third period meltdowns
Remember how reliable Corolla Garland is?
Well, not here:
It’s not often Garland fumbles the puck like this, and as you can see in the replay, he does his usual best effort to get back into the play. He continues to put pressure on the puck, and tries to clog the shooting and passing lanes, but then he stumbles and falls to the ice.
This then leads to JT Miller skating to the backdoor to prevent the tap in, but that leaves his previous man wide open in the slot, and despite having just made three incredible saves in the seconds before , Demko can’t come up with a fourth miracle.
You know what, here are those three saves, Demko deserves acknowledgement for what he did:
 
Alas, sports is a fickle beast, so instead of talking about the Canucks finding a way to win, we’re now discussing why they can’t seem to get in a groove since the All-Star break.
The good news is Tyler Myers will be there to discuss it with us either way.
Because that’s what he is. A gem of a guy who will guide us through the highs and lows of hockey.
Best jersey Botch
Always a classic.

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