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The Stanchies: Vancouver Canucks end a season to be proud of in 3-2 loss to Oilers

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
26 days ago
Apparently, miraculous comebacks aren’t as easy as the Canucks have made them look this postseason. It was a hard lesson the fans found out as they watched Vancouver fall 3-2 in a game seven loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Now, there will be plenty of ways to dissect this loss.
Some people will support the team no matter what happens on the ice. The team could put up an 0-82 season and they’d be painting their faces and waving their flags, talking joyously about the solid 45 point season from their top centre, their eyes never blinking as they stare at a spot just above your head.
Some people see Stanley Cup or nothing. You got to the playoffs, so what, you want a cookie for that? Come talk to them when the team is shotgunning beers with Tommy on a parade route down Robson Street.
And for a lot of people, especially after these last long nine years of losing and sadness, the loss will sting, no doubt. But after a week or two, I think a lot of people will sit back and reflect and realize what a special season it was. As Rick Tocchet said after the game, the players put respect back on the Canucks jersey, and that almost felt like an understatement.
Not only did the team make it fun to be a fan again, they also made it a fun team to cover. They made my job more enjoyable than it’s ever been, as I got to write about a season that actually mattered. About results that mattered. About games that mattered.
And for the fans, many people got to experience their first true Canuck playoff run. No, the bubble run didn’t count, that was a fever dream of Rudy Gobert. And as much fun as 2015 was, it’s hard to look back fondly on a series in which Micheal Ferland became Jim Benning’s man crush for life as the main takeaway.
No, 2024 was a run that involved a playoff series win. It involved big moments from a variety of players. It involved shit talking an Edmonton Oilers fan base and taking a very good team all the way to game 7. And sure, losing to Shelbyville is going to be tough to take, what with their lemon trees and attractive cousins everywhere.
But for a lot of people, they got to hang out with friends and make memories for life watching magical comebacks. They got to go to games with family members and make core memories watching the Canucks pull out last second wins. They got to watch a playoff run and think of people no longer with us, basking in memories of watching games together, knowing that they would have absolutely loved this playoff run.
My first thought riding the Skytrain into the game was just how jacked Jason Botchford would be to cover this game 7. To watch a team after almost a decade of losing, finally making a splash in the playoffs. To write about a team that had absolutely enthralled a fan base and connected with them in a way we haven’t seen since the Sedins left town.
Think of how many times you finished off Al Murdoch saying “J…T….”
Admit it, you just whispered “Miller” right now.
Think of Zadorov dressing in high fashion and shit talking Evander Kane all series long.
Think of Corolla Garland capping off a 5-4 comeback win with a fake slapper.
Think of JT Miller’s once-in-a-lifetime tipped shot beside the net.
Think of JT Miller scoring with seconds left.
Think of Brock Boeser’s goal. Which one? All of them.
Lastly, think of you, the fans, and the chants and support you showed this team all year long.
And that honestly is what might stick with me the most. Because after watching a team be down 3-0 in the third period, this crowd never gave up. They started chanting Elias Pettersson’s name in the third period when the team was getting hammered in their own zone. They started chanting JT Miller’s name when they couldn’t make a zone entry to save their life.
The cynic in me wanted to laugh. But damn it, what a testament to this fan base that they didn’t let Oilers fans try and take over the building. The fans fought back. They stood their ground. And then, so did the team.
First Garland scored, so the fans chanted his name too. We will talk about it later but of all the players, it was Garland who looked like the Canucks best forward, playing hard on the puck and willing pucks on net. During the last stretch of the game it was that good old reliable Corolla give you one last ride when no one else would.
Fan support won’t be credited for the Canucks second goal, but I firmly believe they willed Hronek’s shot into the net for the second goal. After watching Hronek pass off on shots all series long, it was downright poetry to watch him finally score a goal.
And you could see players feed off of it. We’ll get to the game, because for long stretches Vancouver was simply outplayed, but for the last 6-7 minutes, this team did what it has done many times this year: They went out on their shield.
And look, losing the Finals is a very different beast from a second round exit. But I was there in 2011. Watching your team get shutout on home ice in a game seven is a very different experience from being one shot away from tying the game. And yes, the Canucks could have played better. And no, they shouldn’t need to rely on magical comebacks as hard as they did this year.
But none of that takes away from what was a pretty damn special season. Watching JT Miller and Quinn Hughes absolutely exhausted after the game, you just knew they had given every ounce of their sweat and tears to that game.
Of course, the stakes go up from here. The Canucks have cap issues they have to figure out, and the dreaded “expectations” have risen. Vancouver has to show they can keep growing with this core and that this wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan season.
We can save that for later, though. For now, enjoy the journey you took this year. Savor the moments and just sit back and soak in the fact you enjoyed watching hockey again. You got to proudly rep that jersey all season long. You dared to allow yourself to dream of a path to the Stanley Cup Finals. You had fun.
So, what do you say? Lets make some gif money one last time, shall we?
Best checking in with the fans
The vibe was very much “nervous farts” to start the game.
Best Arty Party of the Season
The Boss was tremendous on the night, don’t let that .897 save percentage fool you:
The short story of this game is Edmonton dominated Vancouver through the first half of the game, and went up 3-0 relatively easy.
But were it not Šilovs, this game felt like it could have been 5-0 or 6-0 had Arty not made several highlight reel saves.
And for a kid playing in a game seven, making that massive save to start the game?
Yeah, this kid is cool as a cucumber.
Or he has giant balls.
Whichever metaphor you prefer, really. Though we could combine them?
Artūrs Šilovs has very cool balls.
Best get your motor running
There won’t be a lot of highlights from the first half of the game because the Canucks’ game plan leaned heavily on dumping the puck in and then going for a line change. It was indeed a bold strategy, Cotton.
But there were some glimpses of chances, some coquettish flirting from across the piano as it were, early in the game from Vancouver:
Garland missed the net on the shot, I assume because Vancouver is hard-coded into a low shot lifestyle. The game ended 29 to 17 in shots in favour of Edmonton, but the Oilers also had 21 blocked shots to Vancouver’s 8.
All of which is to say, the journey to hitting double digits in shots was one of the more sarcastic journeys I have partaken in this year.
I do, however, want to point out that Garland was one of, if not the best Canuck on the night. In terms of just being someone who was noticeable, in a good way, Corolla stood out amongst his peers. On a night in which Vancouver just could not get any flow to their game whatsoever, it was Garland winning a few puck battles here and there, and making a zone entry once in a while, that gave you hope that the Canucks might put together a few good shifts.
Now I’m picturing a movie called “A few good shifts” starring Tom Cruise as Conor Garland.
“Colonel Tocchet, did you order a code red?!”
Best tease
With the awful news coming out that Brock Boeser’s season had ended due to issues relating to blood clots, the Canucks had to gameplan a lineup that might provide some offense for a team already starving for it.
And for some reason, that involved Ilya Mikheyev playing with Elias Pettersson and JT Miller.
Now, the response from many people is “Well who else do you put there?” and I usually respond with “Anybody?” while over exaggerating a shoulder shrug.
And while the returns on Mikheyev were par for the course, Elias and JT did generate a little bit of that lotto love early on:
Elias Pettersson lands a big hit and somehow doesn’t get accused of charging, allowing JT Miller to block off the boards and snake the puck away from Edmonton. He then shoots the puck on the net (savour this, the Canucks only got two shots on the net in the period), and Elias has a chance to bang in the rebound.
The stats show that the first team to score in a game 7 holds the edge in victories, so part of you will wonder over the off-season, “What if…” in terms of Vancouver finishing a couple of their early chances.
Maybe the Canucks score and get the crowd jacked out of their mind. Maybe the Canucks feed off of that and find their flow and they start showcasing the team from game five instead of game six.
Instead we were left with a team that couldn’t score and had to watch as Edmonton outplayed, outworked, and outmuscled Vancouver to the tune of a 3-0 lead.
Best set your watch to it
So here’s the thing. Ilya Mikheyev? He actually had a fantastic chance to score. He got a breakaway 6 minutes in. And I know what you’re thinking, “so did he shoot chest or did he shoot chest?”
The thing is, he made a move. He actually did his dekes, bro.
The thing is, Miley Cyrus taught me that at the end of the day, he’s just being Ilya:
First off notice the forecheck from Elias to set this play in motion. Really sit back and drink it in, because the next part is painful.
Watch as Ilya finally attempts a deke, and manages a good one…only to have the puck roll of his stick.
Now, maybe you see this moment and defend Tocchet and go “See? Mikheyev almost worked!”
The problem is Ilya Mikheyev leads the league in theoretical goals. For whatever reason, he is not legally allowed to put pucks in the net anymore.
This is one of those situations where I will sleep easy not having to think about “What if…” because we know, from the science, that Mikheyev would never have scored that goal, in this universe or any others.
Best scrum scrum scrum
Sometimes I take video clips and forget why, and this is one of them:
I think I wanted to show how these two teams don’t like each other very much? And were struggling to get pucks out of their zone cleanly? Not that it was in question, but $20 a gif is $20 a gif.
They don’t ask you how good, they just ask how many.
Best sign of the times
We have to wait for the list of injuries to know what was fully going on, so all we can talk about right now is what we saw on the ice.
And Quinn Hughes, for whatever reason, was not the dynamic defenceman that played such a huge part in the Canucks success this season.
Don’t get me wrong, he still logged an incredible amount of ice time. He still tilted the ice in his favour more than any other d-man. He was clearly the Canucks most important rearguard.
But in terms of that dynamic skating and edge work we’ve come to know and trust? It just wasn’t there.
And it felt like that hurt the Rick Tocchet system. It’s clear Rick uses a lot of dump and chase in his game planning, and I think Quinn Hughes balanced that out. Quinn normally has the ability to create zone entries at will, and on top of that, use his edge work to dart around the offensive zone and create extended shifts in the oppositions end of the ice.
But Nashville, man, they beat the living shit out of Quinn Hughes. That hit where they sandwiched our boy lives rent-free in my head, I won’t lie.
So again, injuries, beaten down, fatigue, whatever it was? Quinn wasn’t the same guy in this series. And as a result, whenever the team couldn’t find their flow and couldn’t set up sustained pressure in the offensive zone, they no longer had Quinn Hughes’ ability to kind of create that out of nowhere.
That to me played a huge part in the first half of this game going the way it did for the Canucks, and yes that speaks to a depth issue with this roster.
You don’t dance with historical lows on shots on net without going into the off-season trying to think about why it happened, and how to avoid it from happening again.
Best because of the implications
The Canucks big chance to take control of this game came at the end of the first period, when Elias Pettersson got high sticked in the face, badly enough to split his lip up, requiring stitches, resulting in a four minute powerplay for Vancouver:
At this point, the Canucks had been watching Edmonton slowly dominate the period, so this powerplay represented a huge possible turning point. They score here, they win 6-1, and now we’re screaming at Dallas fans about how stars aren’t even real.
But much like it has been since the second half of the season, the Canucks powerplay remained that giant pile of clothes you have in the corner of your bedroom. You know the one, the pile that isn’t quite dirty but isn’t quite clean, so it just sits there, forever, until the end of time.
Rick Tocchet called this powerplay out after the game and said this stretch of time really seemed to sap the energy out of his team, which again, has been a problem for many months now.
And I don’t have any clips to show you because you know what? They couldn’t even generate a single shot on net during the entire four minutes. I’m not even sure if there was a shot attempt. At this point, I couldn’t be sure if someone even thought about a shot. Or knows what a shot is.
The worst part? The Oilers got the best scoring chance out of it:
Filip Hornek fired off a 95mph backhand pass into the feet of Elias Lindholm, which allowed Connor Brown to race in for the breakaway.
Luckily, The Boss has stone-cold balls, so he made the huge save. But in terms of it being a moment, you have to remember that the Oilers are tied 0-0, and they just killed off a Canucks powerplay, with Edmonton getting the only shot on net out of it. If ever momentum was firmly on their side, it was after this powerplay.
And you know what riles up a fan base more than anything? A team getting ZERO SHOTS ON A FOUR MINUTE POWERPLAY.
Again, this game ended with a much better effort, but man alive, for large stretches of this game Vancouver was getting outplayed handily by the Oilers, reminiscent very much of how game six went.
Best reaping what you sow
You know what happens when you struggle to make a simple pass and can’t get the puck cleanly out of your zone to save your life? You ice the puck and/or invest in bitcoin:
In this case, the previous icing call resulted in Cody Ceci scoring the games first goal.
It wasn’t the greatest shot, and maybe Šilovs wants that one back, but that’s the thing about taking a lot of shots on a goalie: Do it long enough and eventually some might go in. I know Stuart Skinner was putting up Dan Cloutier numbers in this series but when you only get two shots on net in a period, one of which was a dump in from center, well, that’s not going to generate a lot of offense.
Unless Dan Cloutier was actually in net, in which case somehow you’d be up 3-0 on two shots.
Best Arty Party Take Two
You know what shots The Boss doesn’t need back? This one:
Again, even with Demko in net the Canucks would be struggling in this game. That save from Artūrs Šilovs was an absolute game saving moment for the Vancouver Canucks. A moment where they can sit back and reflect upon their choices in life and use a solid round of self-reflection to try and become better people.
The problem was Edmonton was starting to feel it again. Instead of pushing back, Vancouver kept folding. Edmonton, buoyed by the fact they got to stay in a city with actual running water, kept bringing the pressure. All of which resulted in…
Best ABC
Always.
Be.
Closing:
Zach Hyman got a piece of Evan Bouchard’s shot, but the end result is another shot that was perfectly placed to beat Artūrs Šilovs.
We saw it last game where some of the shots that beat The Boss? They were perfect. They were in just the right spot to beat him. They tickled his fancy. They floated his boat. The flicked his…well you get the drift.
And this shot? Same thing, that’s a very well placed puck.
All of which goes back to getting shots on net. Vancouver had some of their own looks early on but they kept missing the net. We saw it against Nashville, too, where they would either miss the net, or fire a slap pass that would go wide. Never has the middle of the ice seemed so mysterious and foreign then it did during this playoff run from Vancouver.
For whatever reason this team could not get pucks on net in volume, and as a result, we saw two rounds from a Vancouver team that made the opposition look like the world’s best shot blocking units of all time. Craig Ludwig sitting in the rafters somewhere, applauding block after block.
Best memories of shutouts
Tocchet spoke after the game and he was much more generous in his critique of the game than I was. He felt second half of period two onwards, Vancouver was building momentum.
And they did do better, they did generate some more shots. Like at least Quinn Hughes got a shot here:
That was probably the most dynamic he looked offensively on the night. That’s the kind of moves we’d see him do all game during the regular season whereas it felt very limited in this post-season. And Quinn has scored from that spot before so it’s a good shot.
It’s also Stuart Skinner in net who has played at a level just above a discarded hoodie during this series.
But it still felt like a low event shot. Especially when you’re watching Edmonton ram the puck down your throat:
Best should have seen it coming
That is true, up until this point the best chances to score in this game were Ilya Mikheyev and then this Sam Lafferty shot:
Nils Hoglander makes a pass so slick it should be in a French pasta recipe, but Sam Lafferty holds onto the puck for a really really really inordinate amount of time, before running out of time and space and then just gives the puck over to Skinner.
And that was something we saw a lot of from Vancouver this series. Tyler Myers for example would get the puck at the blueline and he would just hold the puck and then wait so long until he fired a shot off. Tocchet gave credit to the Oilers for blocking so many shots but part of me wonders if a big part of that issue is simply not getting pucks off quickly. Who amongst us doesn’t enjoy getting off quickly?
Maybe it’s a coaching thing, we know Rick loves getting layers in front of the goalie. Maybe they game plan to hold onto the puck to wait for players to line up in front of the net, I don’t know.
Whatever the case may be, the end result is holding onto the puck so long before shooting allows defenders and goalies to get in position, you lose the element of surprise. Again, Stuart Skinner is essentially a wet paper towel in net at this point, it really feels like you just need to generate shots on a shaky goalie as your main strategy.
Best push it real good
This was one of the few attempts that did hit the goalie, this time in form of a Quinn Hughes wrister:
And again, there is Stuart Skinner making an uncomfortable looking save. He’s exuding the energy of a “TIFU walking in on my parents doing it” reddit thread at this point in the game and Vancouver simply wasn’t testing him enough.
Best reliable ride
All game long, Garland was the forward doing the most for Vancouver offensively:
I don’t have belief in many things in life, especially sports. I was raised by the Canucks to assume everything and everyone will eventually let you down.
But with Garland, anytime I see him enter a board battle for the puck, I just kind of know he’s going to win it. His ability to protect the puck with his stout thighs would make Gimli proud, as he constantly wins battles that you think he shouldn’t.
We also know he can make good high danger passes, something Dakota Joshua used this year several times.
But when he wants to, Garland can drive hard to the net and generate chances as well.
Now, the problem is he doesn’t have a hard shot. That short stick can only flex so hard on Instagram.
But overall, he is such a dynamic player for this team and if you’re looking for a list of players who stepped up and showcased they can be playoff performers, he’s near the top of my pile.
Best inevitability
The problem with facing off against the Oilers is that their powerplay truly is the devil’s magic. So with Sam Lafferty off for tripping, Edmonton did what they do best with the extra man:
Fortuitous bounce off the backboards allows the traitor known as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to score the Oilers third and final goal.
Can we agree that RNH has a last name that sounds suspiciously like a candy bar that was stopped being made in the 70s?
Now, The Boss played fantastic. He has done all that was asked of him and more this season, so please relax when I say this: I think his lateral movement needs work.
Sure, it can result in some pretty dope glove saves, but he seems to get in trouble at times sliding side to side in his crease.
Maybe we’re spoiled by the crisp clean technique of Demko, but there are just moments when Arty turns and dives rather then sliding over. Some of his saves have the desperation of being left on read for 48 hours, that’s all I am saying.
Best number crunching
If you run into people who hated how this game played out and couldn’t find any joy in the attempted comeback, this is why. It was honestly a pretty dreadful and dreary game unto the Garland goal in the third period.
Best never tell us the odds
Best running out of space
Best slow burn
The Canucks third period didn’t start off that great, but it did show some signs of life as Edmonton settled back to try and ride out the lead.
Their best chance to get a goal was on a powerplay, where Elias and Elias combined the power of their names to try and generate a goal:
Pettersson’s pass to Lindholm is a good one, but Elias 2 pushes the puck wide of the net, leaving Elias 1 questioning his decision to share a name with him.
Best Corolla Freakin’ Garland
You just knew if anyone was going to break the shutout, it would be Corolla:
One little mistake by Edmonton was all it took for Garland to jump on the loose puck and score a goal. You know how he scored, even with his baby soft shot? By getting a shot off in a high danger area on Stuart Skinner.
Like I said, Garland was all over the puck like he has been all season, he just has a motor that never quits. He 100% won the Jeff Tambellini Award for Hustle and Bustle that the team still hasn’t officially recognized as a real award yet.
Also full credit to Elias for setting a bit of a pick there to allow Garland to have some time to get his shot off.
Best depth bomb
Never was the presence of Brock Boeser missed than late in the third when Phil Di Giuseppe got a chance on a breakaway that he fired wide:
Pettersson sends him in clear as day and PDG, he takes a good shot, he really does. He knows where he wants to go with it and he gets it off quickly.
But again, missed nets my friends. Missed nets was the theme of these playoffs as once again Vancouver just could not find a way to force a goalie into making a save. It’s real easy for a goalie to beat you when you can’t get the puck on net.
Not done there, however, was the Chaos Giraffe himself almost generating a scoring chance out of, well, pure chaos:
He drives the puck to the middle of the ice, fakes the shot, moves on, and the Oilers still managed to get a stick on the shot to force it over the net, high and wide.
Which made me incredibly sad because I wanted that core memory of seeing Tyler Myers going full CG57 in the playoffs. I feel like that’s a moment this city, and Tyler, deserved.
If he scores on that play, and goes bar down and in, this city erupts in a way that didn’t for the Hronek goal, that’s all I’m saying. There is a bond now between this city and Tyler Myers after all we’ve gone through.
Best Sami Salo tribute
Hronek is high on my “is he hurt?” list of players because for a guy with such a hard shot, he sure has been hesitant to use it.
But with the season on the line, he dug down deep and he fired off a rocket to make it 3-2:
Nothing fancy here. Simple play, really. See Skinner in net, shoot puck on Skinner. This is how you win. You see Skinner looking over the crowd to try and track the puck but by then it’s too late, Hronek has seen everything.
It’s safe to say that at this point, the building was going absolutely ape shit. The atmosphere? Electric. That’s the thing about this team, despite getting outplayed in this one, they still managed to come within a shot of tying the game up. They tie this game up, Ilya Mikheyev clearly scores in overtime, and Vancouver is off the third round.
So again, I am on board with people who saw this playoff run and didn’t like the Canucks inability to put together a full 60 minute game. I am just as boggled as you by the fact Vancouver had the best game of the series in game 5, they played their most complete game of the playoffs in that contest, only to have two of their worst games of the season to close out the playoffs.
But what you can’t take away from this team was their ability to go out on their shield.
As bad as the ending of this game might have felt to you, I promise you watching them come within a shot of tying it up sits far better with you as time goes by then watching them get shutout.
Best last gasp
Who knew my love of tall defenceman going net front would come back to haunt me so badly:
JT Miller’s shot goes off of Nikita Zadorov’s skate and that’s ball game. And you know what, JT gets that shot off so quickly that if that’s on net, there’s a good chance it goes in before Skinner can even react.
Unfortunately Jimothy Timothy didn’t have one last miracle in him.
As I pointed out in the intro, JT Miller and Quinn Hughes both played nearly half of the entire game. They had nothing left on the last shift, yet they pushed through it. JT Miller made a couple of lazy plays not because he didn’t care but because he simply had absolutely nothing left in the tank. At one point, a puck went towards the Canucks empty net, and Quinn Hughes, who felt like he’d been on the ice for four minutes, had to dig so deep to win the race for the puck so it wasn’t tapped into his net for a goal. You cannot tell me this team didn’t give it their all.
It was a warrior like effort from the team, even if the results didn’t look like it. I know that game is going to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, and people will debate the merits of applauding an effort that didn’t seem to really take off until the end of the game. For me, though, the injuries and depth issues simply caught up to them.
That’s why I find it very hard to call that a failure. In every aspect, this season was a stunning success for a team that many people, myself included, counted out to start the year.
Getting a playoff series win and going toe to toe with a very talented Edmonton team is something the team and fans should be proud of, even if it might take a while to get there.
Tocchet was right. This team put respect back on the Canucks name, and they should be applauded for it.
Best he’s not wrong

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