The Stanchies: Vancouver Canucks lose a 4-3 thriller to the Salt Lake City Coyotes

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
15 days ago
The good news is the Vancouver Canucks will never lose a game to the Arizona Coyotes ever again.
The bad news is, they gave their deserted friends one last victory to send them off into the sunset.
The ugly news is that Eddie Lack just lost a ton of current and potential future customers.
Yes, with all the talk of the day surrounding the future of the Coyotes, with a move to Utah seeming more and more possible with each passing hour, the game almost felt like an afterthought.
Sure, Elliotte Friedman deep-throated a hotdog on live television to try and draw the viewers in, but for 53 minutes of the game, it even felt like the Canucks already had the Coyotes in their rearview mirror.
For the majority of the game, it looked like the Canucks were going to straight-up lose to a team that, this season, is known more for the interest in the Doan families gym workout plan versus achieving victory in the NHL.
The only thing that got in the way of a tepid, dreary, boring loss was Quinn Hughes decided to put Frank Seravalli on notice by letting him know the Norris trophy is all but his. Editor’s note: Seravalli said on today’s episode of Canucks Conversation that he’s leaning toward voting for Hughes.
Who else could it be but Quinn? Especially after he put on another master class of hockey, practically willing his team back into the game with a three-point game. There was one point in the game where Quinn Hughes had been on the ice for almost three minutes, and the freak of nature didn’t even look tired. He got the puck at the end of this shift and still skated and made a play with the puck.
JT Miller is out for there for a minute and he looks like Robin Williams in Jumanji, scared and confused, wondering where he is and how he got there.
Quinn Hughes? He’s basically a character straight out of James Cameron’s mind, a Terminator sent back in time to stop Brad Marchand from winning another Cup or else the world comes to an end.
He played 27:43 of hockey on the night and he looked fresher and faster than anyone else out there. If that is a preview for his ability and desire to take games over in the playoffs, you might need to adjust the betting lines. Part of me thinks Quinn Hughes would never have left the ice in the third period if given the choice.
The masterclass in erotic high end hockey came to an abrupt end in overtime, however, thwarting the Canucks from getting a second point. That lone point though? It was still useful. It put Vancouver four points ahead of the Oilers in the standings, meaning the Canucks can win out the season and claim the Pacific Division crown. The fun part is the Canucks play Edmonton on Saturday, so their fate is truly in their own hands if they want to end the season as the Kings of the PNW.
All in all, the game ended on a pretty entertaining note. It’s not quite playoff time yet, but you can see glimpses of it sneaking into the players’ game. The emotion from the players is just a little more amped than usual. The intensity is just that much higher. I don’t know if I have ever seen someone try to win a game against the Coyotes as badly as Quinn Hughes did Wednesday night. Hell, even the Coyotes overtime goal celebration had the energy of a team that felt like it had actually accomplished something, which was cute to see.
Which is about as far of a cry as you can get from this time last season, in which people were running draft lottery simulations until 3 am in the morning, convinced that if they ran it enough times, it would translate to reality.
Let’s make some gif money one last time against an Arizona hockey team, shall we?
Best making it work
Best slow beginnings
I don’t want to accuse this game of being rather low event during the first period, but one of the most dangerous shots of the frame was Sam Lafferty plonking Teddy KGB Blueger in the face:
That’s a shot I make in beer league, where my own teammates just sort of expect it from me. Part of them wonders why I bothered even shooting high in the first place instead of my traditional well-meaning shot along the ground, but they still fist bump me on the bench to let me know everything is cool.
Everything is cool, right Dane?
Best let’s dive into the action
Utah saw this team and thought to themselves “Whatever this is, we need it in our State, and we need it now.”
Best exciting game of hockey
This was a game in which Vancouver had 14 high danger chances compared to Arizona’s 5, and it still felt like Vancouver could have had more. The Canucks were getting into dangerous areas and finding open spots on the ice for good looks on the net, but a combination of puck luck and the Coyotes’ addiction to shot-blocking led to a Vancouver team that struggled to score goals.
A good example of this was early in the first period when Nikita Zadorov found himself skating down 12th and Arbutus on his way to a one-on-one with Coyotes netminder Connor Ingram, only to see Josh Doan pop up out of nowhere to poke the puck away:
If someone had yelled, “Toasty!” I would have assumed I was watching a spirited bout of Mortal Kombat 2 instead of a deadlocked tedious hockey game:
At least Quinn Hughes let people know he was going to go full Red Dead Redemption and get on his horse the entire game by starting the playmaking early:
Quinn Hughes’ ability to gather a defensive rebound and automatically become a dangerous threat is just on another level from anything we’ve seen in Vancouver. He gets that puck, and if you don’t cover him properly, he’s going to go end to end and either get a shot on net, or set up one of his hockey friends for a good look at the net.
The problem is when a team knows that, sometimes they can focus on that too much. This is how the superstars of the league generate room for their linemates. Watch as four of the Coyotes just stare at Quinn Hughes with the puck, allowing Elias to skate freely into open ice, setting up the three on two rush the other way.
Quinn Hughes is basically a fire that’s started in your living room. You can either stand around trying to fan the flames out with your hands, or you can run away and ignore it and just pray your house doesn’t burn down. Either way, you know you’re in trouble.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Corolla Garland also let the fans know he’s ready for a post-season run, as his nifty defensive hands were on display in the first period as well:
If this was a Scott Lynch novel, Corolla Garland would have been tried for pickpocketing and had his hands cut off (or been forced into a thieves guild), but in the NHL, we applaud theft and all that comes with it.
If you thought Garland whispered to Ingram, “See you in the third period…” I can assure you he did not, but it’s fun to think he called his shot, so let’s just all pretend that’s exactly what happened.
Best never feel sorry for the enemy
Canucks didn’t score on that powerplay, but their passes had more purpose, and they were trying to cut through the Coyotes’ coverage rather than just sitting back content to circle on the outside:
They generated chances, and the man advantage looked dangerous; it really did. But it was a stark difference from the last game against Vegas in which the Canucks stacked the lanes and took away the goalies eyes, relying on shot volume and traffic over slick passing through the tracks. Rick Tocchet mentioned the beauty of simplicity after the game about just getting pucks on net and come playoff time, it feels like the strategy they used against Vegas is going to have to be the one they rely on.
Either that or shank the goalie. I assume Gladiator rules are allowed in the playoffs? 2011 taught us that, right?
Best sure, why not
Tyler Myers got what I can only assume was a reputation call, as Chaos Giraffe skating in the general vicinity of Josh Doan drew a penalty for interference:
Fundamentally I can understand that Tyler Myers skating through open space that Doan was heading towards is sneaky. But absolutely no contact was made by Tyler when he swung through the ice behind Hughes. Doan in fact falls before he can even make contact with Myers.
Which means we’re now at the Minority Report part of the season in which I guess precogs are calling penalties now? Like, Myers didn’t actually commit a crime, but he was about to, so the officials gave him two?
Again, I get it. Skating through someone’s path is a passive-aggressive way of setting a pick. But this kind of play happens countless times during an NHL game. If you’re going to call that interference than you’re going to be handing out a hundred penalties a game. You can’t give Myers a penalty because he looked like he was up to no good, which is what this essentially was.
The official basically called the cops on Tyler Myers because they saw him hanging around the mall and they didn’t like the cut of his jib.
Best foot forward
Some players get fuelled by anger and some sort of deflate, but it’s clear Tyler Myers snorts frustration for breakfast. He’s one of those guys who gets on his horse when he feels you’ve besmirched his good name, so it was not too surprising to see him set up Nikita Zadorov for a dangerous shot in the slot after the penalty expired:
Again, the Canucks did generate chances all game long. They just either missed the net, hit the post, or had it blocked. But the process was good! The Canucks were getting into dangerous spots.
Tyler Myers then followed that up by sneaking in from the point after Nils Höglander did what he always does, forechecked like a bastard:
There is something beautiful about watching a team whose smallest players in Garland and Höglander are also the toughest guys to get off the puck.
Back in the day, the media used to rave about Marty St. Louis’s huge massive thigh muscles (it was put up on the screen like the picture in the picture during Lightning games), as if that was the magical power behind a smaller player succeeding in the NHL.
So I’m not demanding we see the calves on these two Clydesdales, but I’m also not not demanding they do this? Is it purely willpower? Is it being low to the ice combined with an indomitable spirt? Or are Garland and Höglander built like Mirko Filipovic, constantly watching Jean-Claude Van Damme videos for workout inspiration?
Best we all saw it coming
And what happens in a game against a lowly opponent in which your team is out-working them and out-chancing them and beating them in all of the underlying metrics you can find?
The other team scores, of course:
A faceoff play that leads to a bad rebound, allowing Josh Brown to open the scoring.
Now, Arturs Silovs has had a lot asked of him during this last stretch. With Casey DeSmith being shakey at the best of times, Silovs found himself playing three games and, to his credit, escaping with three wins. And the kid is only 23 years old, so you’re clearly going to give him plenty of time to fill out his NHL game.
But if there is one critique I can hand out about Arturs, is that it feels like he really struggles to go across his crease. Because when he hits his save animation, he locks himself into that spot, and finds himself chasing the puck. At times he just sort of turns and looks in the general direction of the other side of the net instead of sliding over. Once he commits to a save, it feels like he’s caught flat footed with no way to get across the net.
And on this goal, the initial shot, he punts out a bad rebound. This then gets him stuck in his save animation loop, due to typical EA Sports programming. As a result, he is slow to get over, and he can only offer up a token glove of resistance, instead of sliding his entire body over to try and cover more of the net.
All of which brings us back to Thatcher Demko and how boring he is. We’ve had an entire season of Demko boring us to death with his efficiency, but in a good way. Thatcher never makes saves look hard because he works so hard to achieve that. This is what top goalies in the league do.
Which isn’t an attack on Silovs, it’s clear he was never going to be as good as Demko this season, nor was anyone expecting him to be.
It’s just a nice visual to remind yourself of how god damn good Thatcher Demko is at playing in net in the NHL.
Best getting on that horse
Quinn Hughes gets on his horse like he stole it from The Keane’s Saloon, and rides it all the way to a scoring chance for Elias Lindholm:
Even while spinning and falling, Quinn still makes the perfect pass to Elias.
No other clip in this game has as much “Dad brought his CHL drafted kid to play beer league with him” energy as this. Quinn literally skates right by NHL players and makes them look like tired old men who should feel foolish for trying to poke at the puck on Hughes’ stick.
This clip has real “Stephan Bonnar vs Anderson Silva” energy to it in which Quinn Hughes is smiling and resting against the steel cage while the Coyotes look liked tired old men on steroids trying their best to land just even one punch.
Best bang for your buck
If you’re going to get a penalty for cross-checking Ian Cole, I guess you might as well get your money’s worth by breaking it over his arm.
I love how Ian Cole no sells that shot. Add a yellow bandana and we’re one finger shake away from Ian Cole no selling everything as he Hulks up.
The Canucks powerplay, however? They didn’t want to go simple. They kept trying to carve up the ice. Which resulted in the Coyotes getting the best chance on a Dylan Guenther breakaway:
That save had to have been an homage to Kirk McLean, the kind of shots beating him between the legs but getting just enough of it to make the puck deflect wide.
Hey, credit to Silovs. He made a handful of very timely, very big saves. But it also felt like he was flirting with disaster on a lot of the shots on the night.
Which is hot, don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t love flirting with disaster from across the bar. It just makes for an unsettling experience when the end result is you wake up without your shirt on, with no wallet in your pocket, and wondering how you lost to the Utah Coyotes.
Best Jimothy Timothy
JT Miller’s tremendous season continued on Wednesday night, as the Canucks equalized the game off a faceoff play of their own:
Watching JT Miller this year, and I don’t think anyone has as many set plays for faceoffs like Jimothy does. He’s always directing traffic off of the faceoff, and then making these bank passes to himself that he clearly drew up during practice. We have come a long way from “Should JT just play on the wing?” to “JT Miller is a faceoff maestro”, which is just another example of a player leaving (Bo Horvat) not being the end of the world. Sometimes people step up their game when a star player leaves and while JT has always been a good player, it feels like his off-ice leadership and on-ice strategies has taken a giant leap forward this year.
But when a team is winning, everything looks good. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the real improvements start and when the winning vibes are giving you rose-tinted glasses.
For all we know, Bo Horvat would have fit in like aces with this team, but the curious part of you wishes you could see that play out as a fun experiment that would surely get you at least a B+ in Grade 10 science class.
Best blame Markus
The Coyotes responded quickly, almost too quickly if you ask me, by scoring their second of the game with under a minute left in the second period:
On one hand, that’s a lot of bodies in front of Silovs. That’s a seeing eye shot that finds its way past a clearly blinded Arturs. His reaction to the goal was one of a man who is positive that the puck was photoshopped behind him, that this is all fake news. Just another example of AI going too far.
On the other hand, Silovs is standing up straight searching for that puck for an awful long time, and he never gets back down into a wide stance. That’s another Kirk McLean special where you make yourself real thin in net, giving up a lot of room for the puck.
The key to this style, though, is you gotta kick those pads to your left and right. It’s the ABC of goaltending:
Best not like this
The Coyotes then opened up the third period with their third goal of the night:
This might be the only time Quinn Hughes makes another mistake for two months, so take your time to really appreciate it.
It’s not often Quinn Hughes loses the puck like this, much less has it turn into a goal against him.
How bad was this defensive miscue? Quinn Hughes was on the bench the second after the goal was scored, looking at the iPad, trying to see what went wrong.
Even Quinn Hughes is confused at this point when he makes a mistake. We all just sort of assumed it wasn’t possible.
And let me tell you, if a Quinn Hughes mistake puts your team down 3-1 in the third period, that feels like a sign from the Hockey Gods themselves that you aren’t meant to win the game.
Best Twisted Sister
To the Canucks’ credit, they continued to rush the puck into the Coyotes zone, doing that North/South hockey their coach loves so much.
On this play, Dakota Joshua lugs the puck into the zone before finding Carson Soucy for the Garland-esque dropped knee proposal pass to JT Miller all alone in the slot:
It looks like JT misses on the puck and heels it on net, but that’s still a good look at the goalie.
It was a boring game up until this point, don’t get me wrong. Like there will never ever be a time you’re going to say to yourself “man I really miss Arizona, I wanna watch that last game the Canucks ever played against them” for many reasons. But the Canucks weren’t playing poorly enough to be down 3-1 at this point.
Best pick me up speech
In what would be a foreshadow for overtime, Teddy KGB decided to get fancy on a shorthanded breakaway instead of simply shooting the puck:
That’s a play that when it works, it looks fantastic, mainly because it makes the goalie look like a big dumb idiot. A slow puck along the ice going between your goalie’s legs?? What a maroon!
But when it doesn’t work, you end being the maroon. You’re the maroon.
I mean I get it, it’s nice to try and open up the legs, because if you score there JT Miller is going to come up with a fun nickname for you. “Timbits” because you are the hole master, or something along those lines.
But Ingram didn’t have any of that on the night. The guy was covering down low very efficiently, which means you just need to go full Trevor Linden on him and shoot when you get in close. It’s the ABC of breakaways:
Best trouble with the law
One of my favourite moments during a game is when Zadorov and Myers both take a penalty because there is something amusing about having the two tallest men in the building sitting in a box for a forced timeout together.
What tall things do they talk about? How easy it is to pick apples from a tree? How the air quality is so much better up there? Or do they commiserate on the frustration of finding Puma track suits that fit?
Either way, we ended up with this Home Alone-esque look from Zadorov after he took his penalty:
And we ended up with Tyler Myers looking like he was paid to take a cross checking penalty on his turn:
It was suggested that because he got away with the first vicious crosscheck he felt empowered to keep hammering away, but that’s where a veteran of the league needs to know better. Game management dictates you get one free shot in before the officials start looking closely at you to ding you for the second.
Unless it’s the playoffs and your dad is Colin Campbell, then hammer away.
But unless it’s one of those scenarios, you are asking for trouble if you are a tall man hammering away at a smaller player like that. Officials love their size disparity visuals, you have to be wary of them.
The good news for the Canucks was that the returning Elias Lindholm got the best chance on the extended 5 on 3 after a slick Dakota Joshua pass:
Elias gets off a solid enough shot and all things considered, that’s a good outcome for killing off a 5 on 3. Elias Lindholm’s legs have probably never looked better for Vancouver, as both Mikheyev and Lindholm seem to be finding their stride at just the right time.
Do the Canucks need goals and tourist tips for Boden from Elias? Of course they do.
But it’s nice to see the players work rate and speed increase as the playoffs approach.
Best let’s fudging go
Hey, you know who’s the reliable ride that gets you where you need to go?
Corolla Garland:
First off, that’s a sublime pass from Nearly Nils Höglander.
Secondly, that’s just a clinical finish from Conor Garland. This was another game in which Garland played like a top line player, but acted like Tanner Glass on the bench. The ol’ “awww shucks, I’m just happy to be here” routine combined with “I just got lucky out there” vibes may trick people outside of this market, but people in Vancouver know what they’re watching: A stone cold killer.
Garland rises to the occasion in hard games. The guy has never met a puck battle he couldn’t win. And his ability to generate chances around the net for himself or others? That’s something you can’t wait to see in the playoffs. Because when games get tough, and you need a ride somewhere, you’re not going to be calling Tyler Myers and his Ferrari.
You’re going to be dialing up ol’ Corolla Garland and taking a ride in his fuel efficient, road safe Toyota.
Best no really, let’s fudging go
Look at him. He’s not even worried. He’s not asking you to go, he’s telling you to go.
He’s your Uber driver on the night and the next stop is a tie game.
Best too much hot action
It was during this stretch of time in which Quinn Hughes literally had a two and a half minute shift in which he didn’t look gassed or tired at any point, which makes no sense? Like, it kind of scares me? I’m almost positive he’s a vampire at this point?
All of which led to a lot of zone time, a lot of blocked shots, and a lot of almost scoring chances.
The best of which was this Zadorov shot that almost deflected in off of Höglander:
We don’t have the budget to show you all of the gifs during this part of the third period, but just use this gif as an example of how the ice tilted Vancouver’s way. This was one of those periods where it wasn’t a matter of if Vancouver would score but when.
Conor Garland told his team to fudging go, and they clearly did.
Best demands
This was near the end of his long two hour shift. Quinn Hughes, banging his stick, DEMANDING the puck.
Best Canucks d-man of all time and it’s not even close.
Best jinx patrol
With the Canucks drawing a late powerplay, and with Twitter wondering if Elias should be sent to the AHL, Pettersson did this:
This isn’t the hardest shot Elias has ever taken, nor is it the best one he’s had, but he doesn’t care, and nor should he.
As Tocchet said, sometimes just shooting the puck does wonders, and it had to feel good for Pettersson to finally score a goal again, much less a big one. This is the kind of goal you hope gets Elias going, and while it’s a small sample size, he looked like he had some jump and confidence in his game for the next couple of shifts. Seeing a player finally score a goal after a drought does wonders for your game at times.
Quinn Hughes got his third point of the night on this goal by the way. That Norris trophy is locked up in my opinion. This was one of the best games I have ever seen in which one player simply willed their team into getting at least a point.
If Quinn Hughes doesn’t win the Norris Trophy, then the system is broken, that’s all I’ll say.
Best sneaky good defense
Brock Boeser isn’t a flashy defensive player, he’s not out there diving and screaming “look at me!’, flipping his golden locks, trying to get the attention of Eastern Media.
Instead he does smart little stick plays to help his team out:
Brock gets his stick on a cross crease pass with under two minutes left, and let me tell you, it was massive. That is yet another play in which Silovs looks oh so slow to get across his crease, creating another tap in scenario were it not for Brock’s defensive back check.
Best silly games in overtime
Once a game gets to overtime in the regular season I don’t really sweat the details too much. It’s a weird format, albeit an exciting one, in which it really is all about puck possession and puck luck.
And the Canucks, they had their chance to win it several times.
The first was Elias Pettersson trying to deflect a puck fivehole on the nice feed from Hronek:
But what have we learned from Ingram this game? The dude keeps those legs locked tight. Five-hole goals are not an easy task against this kid.
Best guilty by association
The Canucks then took a penalty in overtime when Brock Boeser gently caressed the inner thigh of Dylan Guenther with his hockey stick:
It sounds much more sensual than it was, but the end result was Brock standing still, and poking his stick in the general area of Dylan. Once Guenther fell down, you could almost see the salacious grins of an NHL official getting to call a penalty in overtime.
This feels like a play in which the visual was far worse than the crime itself, but that’s the NHL for you. How many times do we hear “Don’t put yourself in a position for the refs to call that!” when watching a hockey game? Two things are true, Brock was tired and got pyloned, but that really wasn’t much of a trip.
The good news is that Coyotes didn’t score on the powerplay. In fact, the Canucks got the best chance out of it…
Best earning that contract
The thing that stood out to me on this play was a tired Elias Lindholm working his bag off at the boards, which led to Hronek making the incredibly smart pinch on the puck:
The second they awarded a penalty shot, part of me wondered if the league should allow a team to choose between a penalty shot and a powerplay. The Canucks were still short-handed, so if they didn’t end the game on the shot, 24 seconds is still a long time to kill off in overtime. It feels like the honorable thing to do would be to let the aggrieved team choose their fate.
Alas, the NHL isn’t a Disney movie as much as I want it to be, so Hronek had to take the penalty shot:
I mean, if that works, sure, that’s bad ass. If Hronek makes Ingram flinch, that’s an iconic goal. That’s something that gets played at end of season highlight video packages, it becomes iconic.
But Ingram had those legs locked down all night long. There was a clip shown during the timeout after the penalty shot was drawn in which Hronek was chatting with the bench. People wondered if advice was being given and Ray Ferraro mentioned on the broadcast that you can’t let people into your head in those moments, you just have to take your shot.
So I don’t know if someone on the bench said “Fake clapper my man, fake clapper” or if Hronek got an urgent text from Allan Walsh telling him a fake clap bomb overtime goal would net him an extra million, but people need to stop ignoring the Trevor Linden rule of shooting on breakaways. Come in with speed and pick your spot. It’s effective. It’s efficient. And it doesn’t look that bad if you don’t score.
Best the Arizona Coyotes have won the Stanley Cup
Clearly the players had been through a lot on the day, and with their future home up in the air, it makes sense that the Coyotes would celebrate a hard fought win:
Clearly Teddy KGB lets his man get to the net for a tap in, so there is plenty of blame on the breakdown of his coverage on this goal.
But once again this goal just highlights how immobile Silovs is in net. His pad is outside the post, he’s not locked into the net, so when he makes his save animation he just sort of splays out on the ice. He has no chance at all of making a desperation save, he just has to watch as the puck gets tapped in his net. It also felt like an aggressive stance to take, to square up to a shooter who has a bad angle, and not having your skate against the post to push off of.
Again, not end of the world stuff, but just a game that hammers home how good Thatcher Demko is.
Which will be put to the ultimate test if he gets into the nets against the Oilers on Saturday.
Three games left my friends.
Three games left and then the games actually matter.
Best jersey Botch
Best victory lap

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