Photo credit:© Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: Quinn Hughes’ Canucks complete historic sweep of Metro New York teams
1 month ago
The East-coasters have certainly had their cages rattled hard during this Canucks road trip.
Days after pumping the Jack Hughes-less Devils 6-4, the Canucks dominated the (former) Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers by a score of 6-3.
Were it not for an absolutely bogus missed call in overtime on home ice, the Canucks could’ve swept the season series against the (again, former-leading) East’s Rangers 2-zip by a score of 9 or 10 to 6.
Across two games, the Canucks outscored their opposition 5-1 at even strength with Hughes on the ice. The Rangers were outscored 2-1 with Adam Fox on the ice. Both players faced similar opposition in their home matchups, deployed primarily against the opposing team’s first line and second d-pairing. With Hughes and Fox on the ice at evens, both teams traded even in scoring chances and goalscoring (on ice for a goal apiece).
It’s away from the head-to-head that Hughes dominated, with the Canucks outscoring (4-0) and out-attempting (31 to 29) the Rangers in all of his minutes away from the Fox matchup. The Rangers, with Fox on the ice, not against Hughes, were outscored 1-0 and out-attempted (34 to 33).
All of this is to say, get wrecked, Wyshynski!
Hughes >>>>>>>>> Fox!
He’s better than every defenseman in the Eastern Conference.
If you thought pointing out how Hughes is better than Fox after the 6-3 win against the Rangers was being cocky, then brace yourself for this game recap.
Quinn Hughes did a lot of great stuff against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
After seeing all three Metro New York teams, only five players from either Conference sit with more points than Quinn Hughes’ 51.
Adam Fox is not one of them.
Let’s get into the game!
Best available lineup
Before anyone loses their minds, Canucks’ rinkside reporter Kate Pettersson confirmed that Ian Cole’s absence was just a maintenance day, with Noah Julsen taking his place on the third pair alongside Nikita Zadorov.
It was a timid start to this one, with both teams icing their top lines against each other for the opening faceoff. Ex-Canuck Captain Bo Horvat won the faceoff, leading to a prolonged run of possession for the Islanders, but as the lotto line settled into their groove, so did the game’s tempo.
To the surprise of no one except Adam Fox enthusiasts, the Canucks recorded the first shot on goal with Quinn Hughes on the ice.
As he’s one to do, Toyota Garland won a puck battle along the half wall, fishing the puck out to Teddy Blueger for a dangerous setup within Ilya Sorokin’s crease.
The first handful of minutes saw Vancouver controlling play within the offensive zone, just lacking that same level of pep in their step that was ever present against the Rangers.
The most egregious event of the opening five was a giveaway from Dakota Joshua that gave Pierre Engvall an uncontested drive around Carson Soucy for a shot.
The first period reached peak energy levels with the Lotto line against the Horvat-Barzal-Lee trio.
After beating Barzal to a puck retrieval in the d-zone, the Canucks’ first line executed a silky smooth quick-up play to spring Brock Boeser into the offensive zone for a rush, only for Miller’s pass to be just narrowly out of reach.
Worst way to endear yourself with the head coach
Look, it’s an early game, and I’m called into Stanchies relief duty on short notice, so I won’t spill too much ink over the Kuzmenko-Tocchet situation.
It ain’t great. We know it. The NHL knows it. Rick Dhaliwal knows it.
This is why I couldn’t help but notice how a gaffe in coverage on the Canucks’ retreat led to the Islander’s most-dangerous chance of the early goings of the game, and Kuzmenko happened to be on the ice for it.
Coaches will try to give a struggling player a leg-up to get them off the schneid, resulting in plenty of offensive zone faceoffs. It’s a lot less work to generate scoring chances when your shift begins in the offensive zone instead of starting from the d-zone, wrestling possession away from the opposition, picking a route through the neutral zone that adheres to your team’s breakout scheme, executing the entry, establishing a cycle or rush chance, and then capitalizing on the scoring opportunity.
With Kuzmenko, Ilya Mikheyev, and Pius Suter starting their shift in the offensive zone, Kuzmenko collapses low to give Mikheyev puck support. Good!
Unfortunately, the Isles poke the puck around Kuzmenko, leading to a breakout. Bad!
Suter collapses to the wing, intending to hold the puck at the blue line if the Isles opt for a pass up the right wing to Kyle Palmieri. As the F2 on the retreat, Kuzmenko takes three steps on the backcheck into the neutral zone, giving the Isles a quick 3-on-2 rush opportunity. Bad!
Palmieri executes a dump-in, and Brock Nelson races behind Nikita Zadorov and Noah Juulsen for the retrieval and hooking pass to the net front for Engvall. Neither Suter, Mikheyev, nor Kuzmenko got back in time to deny the pass, forcing Casey DeSmith to make a huge stop for the team.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Cody, it’s a team sport, and you can’t blame one player for a scoring chance against.”
Let me be clear: I’m not blaming Kuzmenko for this high-danger scoring chance from Pierre Engvall. I am, however, pointing out how a sequence like this is likely viewed by the coaching staff, who have demanded Kuzmenko move his feet and be more engaged defensively.
Fortunately, this gaffe didn’t result in a puck in the back of the net!
For further perspective to prove that I don’t have it out for anybody. The Lotto line gave up a tonne of dangerous chances to the Horvat-Barzal duo.
Unlike Kuzmenko, the Lotto line has a much better track record of making safe defensive plays to compensate for their earlier gaffes, like deflecting shot attempts over the netting (above) or steering loose pucks toward the half wall for 50/50 battles (below).
For Tocchet, it’s a lot easier to excuse the gaffes when you know they can make up for them during the same or the next shift. Kuzmenko has yet to show he deserves that same length of rope.
Credit to Kuzmenko, on his next shift, he added some hustle to his bustle, receiving a pass from Suter while crashing toward Sorokin’s net for the club’s fourth shot of the period.
Best PDO things
Naturally, as these things tend to go for the Vancouver Regressions—Er, Canucks—after a sleepy ten-minute start, they kicked things into overdrive through the back half of the opening frame.
First, Nikita Zadorov drew a tripping penalty against Mat Barzal to give Vancouver the evening’s first power play opportunity—an impressive feat considering the size disparity.
The Canucks went power play-less against the Rangers on Monday night, leading to a bit of rust against the Ilses to start.
Despite some crisp puck movement that saw PP1 spend a full two minutes dominating the Isles in their zone, their looks were quite limited. Pettersson rifled a one-timer off Sorokin’s left pad, and Miller missed a short-side wrister.
Fortunately, 15 seconds after Barzal’s penalty expired, Filip Hronek broke the stalemate shortly after shattering Casey Cizikas’ ankle with a one-timer from the blue line.
I’m joking, mostly.
You can almost hear the sound of Hronek’s blast through this audio-less GIF. It was brutal.
With the Isles playing down a man effectively, the Canucks capitalized on the Isles as they scrambled to cover the Canucks’ cycle. Conor Garland, who’d had a terrific period, found Ilya Mikheyev through traffic for a pass, and Hronek capitalized on Mikheyev’s rebound for a blast over Sorokin’s blocker side.
Cizikas needed help down the tunnel, which was not great news for the veteran forward.
The pump-fake and bar-down snipe was, though!
Two minutes later, Quinn Hughes—not Adam Fox—extended the Canucks lead off a great effort from Brock Boeser to maintain possession in the offensive zone.
Without Boeser’s solo effort to hold the zone here, Hughes’s immaculate goal would not exist.
First, the Isles are caught sleepwalking after believing Pettersson had put the Canucks offside at the blue line. The reluctantly awake Hughes recognized the lapse in coverage by the Isles, collapsing down low to support Miller near the goal line.
After bringing the puck up the wall, Hughes then casually drove through the middle of the ice past four Isles skaters for a snipe past Sorokin.
Can Adam Fox do that? Tough to say.
Look, when you score two highlight-reel goals at 5-on-5, you earn a little runway with the special teams.
I hate to inform readers who did not watch the game that the Canucks opened the second period with four minutes on the man advantage.
First, Carson Soucy took a wild elbow from Anders Lee.
Then, Mikheyev drew a trip against Noah Dobson to give Vancouver ten seconds of 5-on-3 power play time before another 1:50 of 5-on-4.
Vancouver dominated with possession inside the Isles zone, and Nils Höglander got a brief look on the second unit, but the early power play was uninspired. Their best look came off a point shot from Hughes, tipped by Miller, dangerously into Sorokin’s five-hole.
Could Adam Fox have done that?
Best “bend, don’t break.”
Nearing the midway point of the period, the Isles began to amp up their physicality to compensate for their lack of offence. The Isles had yet to record a shot on goal through the first seven minutes of the middle frame.
Nils Åman took the brunt of the Isles’ physicality, getting bodied three times by New York’s Matt Martin on the same shift.
With pressure mounting, the Canucks began to make mistakes. First, Tyler Myers gave the Isles an odd-man rush with a misplaced pass at the Isles’ blue line.
Seconds later, Myers had his pocket picked by Palmieri along the half wall, forcing DeSmith into heroics against the pressing Islanders.
The Canucks withstood the brief onslaught and did what they’ve always done to negate pressure this year: score highlight-reel goals.
“You score the goal!”
“No, you score the goal!”
Classic Lotto Line s**t.
- Dominate on the cycle long enough that conceding a goal is the easiest route to getting back to the bench.
- Give the opposing team false hope by allowing them to attempt a breakout.
- Resume the Globetrotter-esque run of possession by picking the puck-possessors pocket.
- Execute comical highlight-reel passing play within your opponent’s goal crease to demoralize the last defenceman back.
Worst game management
We all knew it was coming.
The away team getting three-straight power play opportunities? In this economy?!
Anyways, a “hooking penalty” against Teddy Blueger ten seconds after the Pettersson goal gave the Isles fans in-house something to cheer for when Brock Nelson converted on the power play goal on the Isles’ fourth shot of the period.
It was an unfortunate sequence that saw Nikita Zadorov bump Palmieri out of the crease and into the spot where he’d eventually set up Nelson for DeSmith’s shutout-ruining goal.
Funny how that works.
Even funnier was Nelson’s power play goal finishing as the Isles’ final shot on goal of the period.
Vancouver would outshoot the Isles 16 to 4 through the middle frame.
The infamous shift-time clock reared its head and, amazingly, was not working against the Canucks’ favour! The clock showed that the Canucks had dominated possession throughout the second, maintaining over ten minutes of puck possession time in the offensive zone to the Isles’ four.
Best memories of game 8
Tyler Myers, folks.
A brutal sequence in the first ten minutes of the period; atones with a clapper goal while leading a four-man rush in the final ten minutes of the period.
When asked by Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy about hitting the 96 mph mark on his slapper, Myers responded, “Cool.”
It was very funny.
The final period was clinical from Vancouver. Through the first ten minutes of the final frame, the Canucks denied the Islanders literally any chance of generating momentum.
Shots were 2 to 1 in the Isles’ favour in a game where they were trailing by three goals at home against a team playing the second leg of a back-to-back.
2 to 1.
It’s not like they took their foot off the gas, either. They looked for their openings down the stretch, too! Nikita Zadorov coasted on a carry-in, opening the door for Sam Lafferty to crash the net for an attempt.
The second half of the third period saw PDO regression go against them, a rare occurrence, when a wrist shot from the point from Brock Nelson tipped off Brock Boeser’s stick and above DeSmith’s glove.
Nelson’s second of the night gave the Isle’s two goals on their last five shots, a shooting percentage of 40%.
Fortunately, J.G. Pageau wrapped his arms around Filip Hronek, taking a hooking penalty with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
During the Canucks late power play, Hronek shattered the ankle of a third opposition defender.
Tocchet & co then rolled out a second power play unit featuring Garland, Suter, Mikheyev, Myers, and Carson Soucy, after which Garland nearly re-gained the three-goal lead for Vancouver.
Best garbage king
Move over, Loui Eriksson, the Vancouver Canucks have found their new master of the garbage goal: Dakota Joshua.
The Islanders, foolishly believing they could mount a comeback with Sorokin pulled, played the puck right into the feet of Joshua, who scored the most casual empty netter I’ve ever seen (by empty netter standards).
Incredibly, the Canucks managed to rally and outshoot the Islanders 6 to 5 over the final period.
Best Kings of New York
While the L.A. Kings were out proving their fraudulence, blowing a two-nothing lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canucks were making history in Metro NY.
Feels good, man.
Worst “wouldn’t be a Cody-Stanchies without a crushing dose of needless bad vibes!”
Best Adam Fox could never
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