The Stanchies: Miller scores three, Boeser breaks his slump, and it doesn’t even matter

Photo credit:© Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
Trent Leith
1 month ago
Lately, it seems like the Vancouver Canucks play more games at 11 am than they do in the evenings. Monday was no different. The Canucks took the ice for an 11 am PST start to play the Minnesota Wild. The Canucks have not been able to win a game at the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul in over four years, and they were hoping to break that streak.
Will this be the game Brock breaks his scoring slump? Prior to today, Boeser hadn’t scored in seven games; not since his hat trick on January 27th has he scored a goal.
Boeser hasn’t been playing badly, but he certainly has more offence to give. Boeser has always been a streaky player, but he is certainly getting to the point of his cool-down that we start to nervously whisper to ourselves if something is wrong. In previous years, we would be over-analyzing his wrist asking if he is injured again, or doing 2000-word articles about his body language.
But having scored 30 goals, he has bought himself a lot of leeway with fans.
Is this the game Boeser scores again?
Is this the game where the top-six finally takes the bulk of the scoring back?
Is this the game where the PDO comes back to earth?
Well, let’s find out!
The Canucks rolled out the same lineup as they had Saturday night when they played the Jets. The only change was that Casey DeSmith got the start in net. The best part was that Höglander continued to get top-line deployment with his Swedish brethren.
Best Prelude
After Saturday’s game in Winnipeg, a few of the Canucks seemed to feel like the refs were calling the game in the Jets’ favour.
Post-game, Tyler Myers didn’t mince words when talking about the refs. “It felt like we were battling two teams out there,” Myers said.
While everything he said was fair, it seemed to piss off the referee guild. The Wild had six powerplays and the Canucks only got three. But whatever, that happens from time to time.
Do you know what doesn’t happen?
Four two-man advantages are called against one team. But we will get there.
Best Early Start
Ian Cole scored his second goal of the season. Tyler Myers inexplicably did not take an interference call on a perfect pick, allowing Cole to pick his angle and score a beautiful goal through traffic.
How did Myers get away with that? No one knows. The dude is pure chaos. While Myers made a great play to accidentally on purpose make some room for Cole, all the credit goes to Cole for being patient, using his time and space, and placing his shot perfectly.
Worst Roughing
The first two-man advantage was called on this play.
Did you see it?
If you close your eyes and use your mind’s eye really hard to picture Lindholm roughing behind the play you can see a penalty. However, if you watch the clip with your eyes, you won’t see it.
That “roughing” call was the first of three two-man-advantages to come.
The Canucks would kill this penalty off, but they weren’t so lucky later.
Best PDO-ffence
Over 13 minutes into the game, the Canucks finally got their second shot on net. The second shot was also a goal.
The Canucks aren’t efficient because of their high PDO; their PDO is high because they’re efficient. I am sure of it.
This whole play starts with a strong forecheck from Suter. Suter forces the puck into the offensive zone and attempts a cross-crease pass to Miller. The pass was intercepted and made its way back to Noah Juulsen at the blueline, who shot the puck on net.
The puck is then redirected behind the net and Miller jumps on the strange bounce and manages to score. Where have we seen a gritty fan favourite score a goal off the stanchion before? Has that happened in Vancouver before?
Miller ended the longest powerplay drought the Canucks have had since the Canucks were in the Canadian Division in the pandemic season.
Worst Turning of Luck.
The Wild scored next. Hronek made a great play to cover his man and prevent a shot. Unfortunately, Matt Boldy is a very talented player and made a desperate pass across the slot. Hughes did a perfect job tying up Eriksson Ek’s stick, preventing him from getting a shot off. But Canuck Luck returned, and Eriksson Ek was able to redirect the puck past Casey DeSmith with his skate.
There is nothing you can do about that.
Hockey is so random. Stuff like that will happen. You do everything correctly, and you still get scored on. The best thing a team can do after a goal like that is just shake it off and stick to their game.
Which is exactly what the Canucks did, and that is why Ilya Mikheyev didn’t score on this powerplay breakaway.
Just get back to your systems. Get back to normal. And normal for the Canucks is having Ilya Mikheyev having zero puck luck.
Sam Lafferty would then be robbed during a 20-second scramble at the Minnesota goalmouth.
Lafferty had a wide-open net and a defender seemingly fell out of nowhere and blocked the shot.
Knowing the Canucks, their luck was bound to turn any second.
Best Sedinery
The Canucks had some great possession time in the Wild end of the ice. Clay saw the writing on the wall, comparing it to Sedins’ famous shift.
Pettersson got his 29th of the season as he slowly drifted into a pocket of open ice and scored a beautiful goal from one knee. They are worth more on the streets if you score from one knee, or if you go bar down. Everyone knows that.
The Canucks’ top-six is finally scoring again. It seems like everything is coming up Canucks!
Enjoy this feeling. Happiness is a fickle mistress and there is only so much to go around.
Worst Coverage
Matt Boldy found an opening in coverage. And by “an opening,” I mean a “gaping maw,” and Boldy had nothing but time and space on an uncontested breakaway.
We love ourselves a Hronek-Hughes pairing, but with both guys being so offensive-minded, sometimes they both end up a little too high on plays and allow chances like this. It is high risk, high reward.
You will see goals like this from time to time. It is hard to criticize this pairing with all their success this season.
Just like the Eriksson Ek’s goal, you have to shake off a goal like this and just keep playing.
Best Fake Ending
JT Miller channelled his inner what we all wanted Virtanen to be and used his size and speed to drive the net from the right wing and score.
JT Miller scored his third of the night, giving him the second hat trick of his career. Miller had exactly three shots on goal to this point and had exactly three goals. It’s wild what you can do when you pay off the PDO gods to help you out.
Worst Block
Strangely enough, after Miller scored his third goal, the game just ended. It was very bizarre. The TV went entirely blue and then it cut to Gary Bettman in his home office and he said “What a great NHL hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild. Thank you all for watching. We have the best referees in the world!” and it cut to a mystified Dan Murphy trying to explain what just happened.
Or so I am telling myself. This is where things went off the rails for the Canucks. Stop here if you are having fun. Bad things are to happen below. Be warned.
Seriously, turn back. You won’t like what is to follow.
It all started when Graland blocked a shot with his knee.
Garland stayed down for the rest of the possession. You could see him watching, trying to get up to help his team, but he couldn’t get on his feet. He was helped off the ice and we all thought the season was over.
The Canucks can barely afford to lose Dakota Joshua to injury, but Garland and Joshua at the same time? No chance. These two guys are the backbone of this team. Having Garland gone would be awful for this team. And that is so wild to think about.
But just like a Toyota Corolla, Corla Garland might sputter, it might flash its engine light, but it will never die. Garland was able to return in the third period, thankfully.
Best Live By the Sword, Die By the Sword
The period came to an end, but not before Ian Cole had a puck go off his foot and past DeSmith.
Ian Cole giveth, Ian Cole taketh away.
It seems like, despite some awful luck, the Canucks were able to be the better team in this game, largely thanks to JT Miller and his perfectly placed three shots. There were two goals off feet, and one breakaway goal. Really, other than pure luck on two of these goals, the Wild had only made a single play that led to a goal the way they drew it up in their heads. The PDO was finicky in this game.
Best They Really Tried
The Wild were on their second two-man advantage when they thought they scored a goal. And credit to the refs, who tried their damnedest to give them the goal.
As you can see by the overhead replay, this was never a goal. But on the ice, the refs saw the puck sitting in the net when the scramble subsided. They huddled and discussed it, and they decided it was a goal. Then, they huddled, watched the video, realized they had no case for a good goal, and called it off.
These refs were really trying to make it a goal, but ultimately, pesky video reviews thwarted them. “The Canucks will pay for this,” they mumbled to each other after announcing no goal and then cackled like evil villains in a children’s movie. Pettersson was assessed a two-minute minor on the play, and that’s when it all fell apart.
The period ended with the Canucks still killing their 5-on-3.
Worst Final Frame
At the start of the third period, Fleury led the Wild onto the ice; the Canucks had chased Gustavsson and led by two goals. All was well, or so we thought.
Just 29 seconds into the period, the Wild came within one as Eriksson Ek scored his second goal.
This was a strong passing play, and it is what happens when two players outman you.
Then JT Miller took a delay of game penalty for flipping the puck over the glass. You can’t really blame the refs for that one, but the Wild got another two-man advantage. And what happens? The refs put their whistles away, don’t blow a play dead, and the Wild score to tie it 5-5 in 1:23 of this third period.
Now on a 5-on-4, the Wild score again. Eriksson Ek completes his hattrick and takes the lead 6-5 in less than three minutes from the start of the period.
I told you to turn back. It isn’t too late. It gets worse.
Rossi then scored a goal off of his foot. For those counting, that is the third goal to go off a skate and past DeSmith.
I don’t know what to say. The Canucks were simply collapsing. The refs kept calling penalties against them, and Tocchet wouldn’t call a timeout or change goalies. They simply withered on the vine in the third period.
There is no excuse. Was the officiating a little lopsided? Sure. But this is on the Skaters for simply turning into the 2017 Canucks and giving up.
I put that blurb there to try and convince you this was the end of the damage. It is not.
Oh, look, a Wild goal. Kaprizov gets his second. The Wild take an 8-5 lead. They have scored 5 goals in the first 5:12 of the third period.
Best False Hope
Zadorov scored on a beautifully placed wrist shot.
Credit to Brock Boeser for a great screen here. Are the Canucks’ hopes alive?
Bock Boeser broke his goal-scoring drought to bring the game within one.
Hughes gave Boeser a slap pass, and Boeser was able to put it in the net for his 31st goal of the season.
Miller, with the game on his stick, let go a one-timer from the top of the slot that had me thinking, “They are going to pull this off, won’t they?” The net was empty. The story book ending in sight! The Canucks are within one! What a game! What a nail Biter!
Fleury, the Canucks’ kryptonite, said no with a great save.
Worst Ending
Because the goalie was pulled, the Wild were able to score their ninth of the game, effectively putting the game on ice.
Kaprizov wanted to join the hat trick party, and with five seconds left, he was forechecking in the neutral zone and scored his third on the night.
Now, it is no slapshot into an empty net, but I sure didn’t like it.
Best Rollercoaster
This game had its ups and downs. Other than giving up a 5-2 lead to lose 10-7, there were still some things to like about this game.
Let’s be clear: I am not playing the moral victory card here. This sucked.
But Pettersson scored, Boeser ended his drought, the powerplay ended their drought, and the top-six scored five goals. There was a lot to like from the Canucks in this game.
Unfortunately, none of it matters because they got scored on 10 times.

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