The Stanchies: Vegas Golden Knights barely break a sweat in 6-3 victory over the Canucks

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
1 month ago
For those of you who missed Travis Green hockey, Tuesday night was a delightful trip down memory lane. No Mark Stone? No Tomáš Hertl? No Adin Hill? No problem when you have the Travis Green system in play!
It had all the classics. It really did.
  • The multitude of odd man rushes against
  • the poor defensive zone coverage
  • the random bursts of offence
  • quickly getting scored on after said bursts of offence
  • enough of a push back to give you a hint of a moral victory speech about not giving up
The only thing missing was a sound byte about how Vegas has a good team over there, or you know what, it sure didn’t feel like a 6-3 game. Throw in a loud Drance chuckle, and I could close my eyes and I’d swear I was right back in 2019.
It was a trash bag of a game, and honestly, we don’t need to spend too much time on it. The Canucks face Vegas once more on April 8th, and once we know the playoff matchups, sure, maybe we dive deeper into this game. Maybe we look at each game Vegas and Vancouver faced off against each other and try and figure out the DNA of the situation.
But on a night where anything and everything could go wrong, I say we wait until the postseason before we reflect too deeply on this one. On the surface, the Canucks simply got their asses handed to them. The glass shattered, Steve Austin walked down the ramp, and he stomped a mud hole into the Canucks. To dig deeper than that, well, they don’t pay me nearly enough to get into the weeds of this one. Nor can I imagine too many people are sitting around super excited to read about Vegas kicking the shit out of Vancouver.
“Hold on honey, we can’t cuddle until I read Wyatt’s thoughts on how Tyler Myers plays two on ones. Also, I’m hoping he drops a Congo reference, I think tonight’s the night.”
So go grab a glass of Unscripted Wine (I recommend the Sauv Blanc), put some Sabrina Salerno on Spotify, and let’s power through this one together.
Because you know what?
This is a hard league to win games in.
Best at least you knew early
I have never seen a goal so clearly state how a game is going to play out quite like Vegas’ first score of the night:
First off, the Canucks execute an incredibly sloppy line change, so right away they’re letting you know that maybe a few of them went through a Hangover scenario. Maybe Tyler Myers went missing for 24 hours, JT Miller and Conor Garland had to track him down, and it took up a lot of juice, you know? The important thing is Vancouver is clearly telling you they are not in the mood for good hockey tonight. You can’t get mad at them when they clearly laid out their plans for the evening.
Secondly, the odd man rush given up. Travis Green hockey dictates that for every shot attempt you try, you must give up an equal amount of odd man rushes. I have never understood the science behind it, but damn it, Travis believes in it so much — who am I to argue?
Thirdly, Casey DeSmith making a huge save, but following that up by trying to push the puck under his glove only to pass it right by himself over to Anthony Mantha for the easy tap in. It’s not often a goalie sauces a beauty of a pass right by himself, but somehow Casey managed to do that on this play.
It was at this point we knew the Canucks were going to lose. It was just a matter of how badly. There is not an NHL club in existence that can survive watching their own goalie deking himself out by trying to pass to himself. It’s like watching your teammate miss all their shots in Warzone before jumping off a building only to break their legs to lose the game, and all you can do is offer up the lie of “it’s ok Jay, there was nothing much you could do there.”
Best doubling down
Ian Cole and Nikita Zadorov both had terrible games, but for different reasons.
We will get to our giant fashionista Russian momentarily, but first let’s watch as both men combine their efforts to try and make you not enjoy hockey quite as much as you did yesterday:
Ian Cole steps up high into the zone, and I will say this as nicely as possible, but he’s not very fleet of foot? He’s not the quickest guy around? Like if there was a bear behind you, but Ian Cole was beside you, you’d probably feel pretty safe? You wouldn’t be too stressed out about the situation.
So he’s caught trying to huff and puff back, leaving Casey DeSmith to try and analyze a messy kind of 3 on 2 rush coming towards him. Zadorov has a kind of, maybe, two on one on his hands, so he gives up quite a bit of room to Jonathan Marchessault to try and maybe, possible break up a theoretical pass. Marchessault is apparently a good goal scorer, though? A notch above Raimo Summanen at the very least? So he just waits out Zadorov and keeps skating closer to the net before picking the corner on DeSmith.
I find with Casey that he’s often flirting with being too far out on the sides of his crease, which feels like it happened on this play, as he gives up a lot of net to his right. He’s clearly not hitting on the ice outside his crease, but he’s at the very least giving it a coquettish wink from afar.
This is just one of those goals where it’s a solid combination of sloppy defensive zone coverage combined with a back up goalie who is clearly not Thatcher Demko combined with Marchessault being really good at scoring goals in the NHL. He’s the kind of player the Florida Panthers could use, if we’re being honest.
So for those keeping score at home, the Canucks were down 2-0 six minutes into the game, in Vegas, with Kelly Sutherland officiating.
This is not a recipe for success.
Best cool your jets
There were some extreme reactions on the night, including ones in which yes, people stated the Canucks would get swept easily in the first round. Others wondered who kidnapped Elias Pettersson. Some pontificated about possibly figuring out a way to train an army of gorillas to defend the blue line.
And while I don’t doubt the Canucks could get waffle stomped in the first round, I do think the reaction to Tuesday’s game felt a bit over the top. This team has earned some benefit of the doubt, especially when you watch a lot of top teams around the league struggle as the season comes to a close.
The thing you should take away from the game, however, is that yeah, Vancouver made their own lives much harder than it needed to be. The Canucks made breaking out of their zone look harder than trying to shoehorn in a Congo reference into a hockey article:
Dakota straight up skates into two defenders for reasons I still can’t quite understand, instead of doing the bare minimum of at least skating the puck directly out of his own zone.
Instead he turns the puck over and the puck stayed inside Vancouver’s end.
It was plays like this where you just knew Vancouver wasn’t feeling it, yet we still stayed around to watch it play out, because we’re all sick individuals.
Best if only…
To the Canucks credit (stay with me now), they managed to make the game 2-1 despite being thoroughly outplayed and looking more like the start of a movie where a rag tag plucky group of kids in Minneapolis decides to try their hand at hockey.
And who else should score but the 5 on 5 King himself, Nils Höglander:
The big forecheck from Nils starts this goal off, and then he circles the net like a seagull staring down a plate of food in a tourists hand at Granville Island, before poking in the puck for his 23rd of the season.
It has all the earmarks of a Höglander goal from the hard board work to the willingness to crash the crease to search for loose change.
It was also notable because this was truly the only 20 seconds of the night in which you could actually think to yourself “hey wait a minute, maybe Vancouver can pull this one out of the fire…”
Best holding onto your horses
Alas a mere 20 seconds later (yes, that is correct), Jack Eichel scores after Jonathan Marchessault once again shows the patience of Scott Weaver and somehow threads a pass through four Canucks for the easy tap in:
Arshdeep Bains looks like he puts his entire soul into trying to back check on this goal to catch up to Jonathan, but I’m not sure if he gets above the pace of a brisk jog on that back check. He looks more like a person doing that polite half jog you do when you’re crossing a street late and you want the driver turning into the crosswalk to know you gave it a solid effort to hurry up. The only thing missing was the polite half wave and then the other person nodding back, completing the social contract.
This on its own wouldn’t be the end of the world, but then you have Cole and Zadorov once again overplaying their hands on the goal.
First you have Ian Cole stepping up on Ivan Barbashev to try and make a play on the puck, but he misses. And sure, fine, he tries to block the pass, good on you Ian, who doesn’t like a go getter. But when he fails, he’s now taken himself out of the play. Which, and again I say this nicely, is a problem when you don’t have the legs to get back into position. So now instead of skating back into his zone and defending the slot, he’s watching Jack Eichel skate by him into empty ice. Why is that ice empty you ask?
Because Nikita Zadorov has unexpectedly taken a harder swing to the right then Russel Brand. I don’t know if he put too much faith in the speed of Bains, but he clearly sees Jonathan is off to the races on the breakout, but he still slides hard to his right to cover Jack. Then when he sees Bains is blown up worse than Mark Coleman in the third round against Maurice Smith, he slides back over to Jonathan, leaving Eichel all alone.
The end result of this dominos scenario of sadness is a breakdown in defensive structure, leading to Jack Eichel having a pretty easy tap in.
Best sure why not
If I was a conspiracy theorist I would say there was a PSYOP executed perfectly against Nikita Zadorov, with the intention of making him go berserk. How do you do that? First, you score a couple of goals against him. Then, you call a high sticking penalty on him where he clearly does not make any contact with Alex Pietrangelo’s face:
But Kelly Sutherland is going to Kelly Sutherland, so Zadorov goes to the box of shame. Leading to Vegas scoring its fourth goal of the night:
Vegas does a solid 6.5 out of 10 on layering in front of Casey DeSmith, and that is enough for Noah Hanifin’s shot to find it’s way to the back of the net.
Could they have killed the penalty better? Sure.
Could Casey have made the save there? Yup.
Does it really matter at this point? Nope.
Best signs of life
The Canucks got a later power play, and while it didn’t score, it at least hit the post, which at this point is a pretty sizeable moral victory:
I will say that it felt better having JT Miller rip one-timers from that spot instead of Elias. I don’t know if Pettersson is dealing with injuries or has simply lost his mojo to a time-traveling Dr. Evil, but Ep40 hasn’t felt effective on that side in a while, so at least JT Miller’s one-timer felt like a threat.
But please don’t forget the Travis Green rules of giving up an odd man rush after attempting a shot, which was promptly handed over to William Karlsson:
Now on the Canucks broadcast, it’s hard to tell if Casey made the save or if Karlsson hit the post. But since I’m an award-winning journalist, I started digging, and I found an angle from the other side that clearly shows DeSmith made a glorious save on this play:
Casey DeSmith had himself a terrible start to this game, don’t get me wrong. But he did settle down and make several high end saves as the game continued.
Not saying you should be running up to him on the streets to hug him, whispering furtively in his ear “thank you, we’d be nothing without you” but we can at least give the guy credit for managing to find his inner Zenyatta and restore some balance to his game.
Worst benefit of the doubt
So Nikita Zadorov got a five minute major and was kicked out of the game for this hit:
I’m not going to get too deep into debating it being a bad hit or not. I think it’s clear Zadorov was pissed off at this point, and he wanted to finish his check. Did he want to smash Brett Howden’s face into the glass to send a message to Mama Rhodes? Probably not? I think he wanted to hit him hard, and Howden turning away didn’t help things.
But hey, that being a two minute penalty, no issue with that if you want to try and caution players into thinking before throwing big hits near the boards.
Making it a five minute major? After seeing Josh Manson delivering a head shot to a prone JT Miller earlier this season and only getting a two minute penalty? This is where I just assume Kelly is going to Kelly, so the five minute major was handed out.
Which again goes back to my overall point that I have hammered home all season in that NHL officiating is at best, inconsistent, and at worst, a complete and utter joke.
This isn’t a “Vancouver versus the world!!11!!!” point, this is just a “I have a hard time taking this league seriously” thought process when I watch how games are called and how officials are never taken to task for performing poorly, no matter who is playing.
Best burn
Best accidentally on purpose
I’d ask JT Miller if he meant to shoot the puck at Kelly Sutherland here, but I don’t want him to go full Wagner on me by giving me a “geezus f***” response.
So let’s just call this a happy coincidence.
Best reorienting your life goals
The Vegas Knights then got their fifth goal of the night on that Zadorov penalty, when William Karlsson tapped in the rebound on a Pietrangelo shot:
Casey should have had that shot, but then the situation gets worse when Ian Cole shows up with the cardio of Dada 5000, losing another foot race and getting another front row seat to a goal against.
Ian Cole’s play was so bad that it made Leaving Las Vegas seem like an uplifting story in comparison.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been a big fan of what Ian Cole has brought to the team this year, but we have to be honest when he has a stinker of a game, and this might have been his worst of the year.
Best stat chasing
The one good part about the game? Quinn Hughes getting a couple of goals, and the power play looking pretty good.
First, here is the Quinn Hughes goal:
Quick puck movement, with the Canucks layering properly in front of Logan Thompson? That’s a Rick Tocchet wet dream of a powerplay. They took away the goalie’s eyes, man. They gouged them out like it was a sub plot in Seven. That was, dare I say it, a pretty good power play goal.
And you could see it leading up to the goal. The unit was feeling it:
The Canucks continuously got two guys in front of the goalie, and Conor Garland did not look out of place at all working the half boards on the left. He is starting to mesh with that top unit, and if anyone can be tasked with “make grade A passes to Quinn Hughes at the point,” it’s Corolla.
Even if nobody in any league in the entire world is ever going to fall for his fake shot, it’s just part of his charm as he distributes the puck better than most players can on the Canucks.
Best moral victory time
After the powerplay goal the Canucks had a solid stretch of hockey where you could pat everyone on the back and say “hey, at least they didn’t quit.”
First up you have Vasili Podkolzin rushing the net, creating a chance for Ian Cole:
It was quite clear at this point that Ian Cole was not allowed to a single good thing in this game, so his shot was blocked, but we still have to give kudos to Podkolzin bulldozing his way to the net.
Now, eventually he’s going to need to start scoring. Right now, he’s the most dangerous-looking guy who never quite ends up scoring. He creates these rushes, these chances, but he never gets goals out of them. He’s veering dangerously close to being well-read and just a little wild. Ohh, if only someone could tame him.
The Garland and Joshua combine for some grinding along the boards, which ends with Dakota sending a slick pass into Miller, who takes the puck to the net before losing it to a wide open Filip Hronek:
The Pius Suter creates maybe the best chance of the period at even strength with this set up to Brock Boeser:
Thompson just gets a piece of the Brockstar shot, but hey, at least it was a good scoring chance.
So yes, the Canucks did have some pushback in the second period, but that’s also kind of what happens with score effects. You go up 5-1 on a team, and you naturally sit back a bit and try to ride it out. The Canucks used that time to generate some scoring chances, but it’s tough to crawl out of a 5-1 hole against a bad team, let alone a salary cap-cheating top team like Las Vegas.
Best reputation
There is something primal about JT Miller’s play that makes him a fan favorite to a a lot of people. I say this without judgement, if you love JT, please, love away.
All I want to convey is that I can see why some people like his alpha male hockey because there is something animalistic about watching another human being using physical force to assert their dominance:
Some people might try a sneaky poke check there. I could see Corolla Garland sneaking betwixt the legs of Jack Eichel to steal the puck and zoom away.
But Jimothy Timothy? He goes full Rip Wheeler and just separates Eichel from the puck and takes it. This is his land, and you’d best get off it before he goes back to his barn to get his gun.
Best going for two
Quinn Hughes then got his second goal of the game by skating really well:
He straight up just skates around until he sees a screen in front of Thompson and then fires home a goal.
We’re at the point where we should just hand the Norris over to him now instead of pretending to have to vote for it.
Best holding all of your horses
You give up a 2 on 1 when you score because at this point it’s 5-3, you’ve had your asses handed to you most of the game, so you’re going to be pushing up for goals.
Which yes, can lead to counter attacks:
The Canucks have five d-men by this point, so they’re tired on the back end, so it’s not too surprising one of them got caught deep here. This goal had immense big brother energy where they’ve been letting their little bro think they might win the arm wrestling contest, but mom just put out some snacks, so now it’s time to end it.
We should also talk about Tyler Myers going full Sex Giraffe on this play. I’m going to give him some benefit of the doubt on this one, in that he was probably exhausted by this point in the game. He flopped early on this two on one, but he also somehow managed to flop incredibly slowly, making it real easy to pass around him.
I never like it when players utilize the Sex Giraffe, because dropping to the ice like that truly gives up all control on the situation. It’s a desperation play and when it works, sure, it looks amazing. Sliding into your crushes DMs is fantastic the one time out of a thousand that it works.
But when it fails, it fails badly. Not only that, even when it does work, you’ve blocked a pass, sure, but you don’t have control of the puck. It probably hit your body and bounced around in the slot somewhere.
I will never fully embrace the use of the slip and slide technique, but at this point Chaos Giraffe is what he is, so I won’t waste too much time arguing about it.
Best Milford Man
Elias Pettersson got a lot of flack in this game, but I don’t think he was nearly as bad as people felt he was.
I mean, on one hand you want your star player to be visibly noticeable. If you just secured the bag for all of the money, yeah, I can see fans wanting you to score some goals. To find a way to generate offence. To prove to the people that you’re both Bruce Wayne and Batman.
But sometimes your linemates have to come through for you, because EP40 did set people up in this game. They just couldn’t finish.
First up we had Filip Hronek getting a pass with a lot of open ice in front of him. What did he do? Instead of shooting, he waited until the defender closed in on him, and then he took the shot, which was easily deflected:
You then had Elias Pettersson playing smart defence, stopping a play in his own zone, and turning it back the other way into a rush chance for Ilya Mikheyev.
What did he do? Instead of shooting, he tried to get fancy with a back hand pass, but he lost the puck before he even got a chance to try that:
Ilya’s shot is on the muffin terrorist list, so I know a shot most likely doesn’t go in there, but surely a hard low shot to the pads at least generates a chance at a rebound for Podkolzin to crash into.
Again, I agree that you want to see a more dangerous looking Elias, one that is creating room and getting shots off for himself. But he was still generating offence on the night, it was just in the form of passes to linemates that couldn’t do anything with it.
Best saving the best for last
In what was an all around terrible game, leave it to ol’ reliable Corolla Garland to give us the best highlight of the night:
First, a hat tip to Hronek for showcasing what staying on your feet can do when defending a two on one.
But the main takeaway is watch how Garland starts off behind his net and manages to skate the entire time to get back in the play and make sure there isn’t an easy passing option on that two on one.
This would be the video I would put on loop when I wanted to teach players the value in hustle, loyalty, and respect. About how when you skate hard to get back into the play, it at least gives you the chance to get a stick in a passing lane, or to disrupt the play somehow. Not since Jeff Tambellini have I been so enthralled by a back check.
Again, this game is over at this point. It’s 6-3, your team has shit the bed, but Garland don’t care. Garland just knows he wants to be a good teammate. He wants to play good defence. So he skates his ass off. He gets in those three extra strides Tocchet always talks about, and more.
Look at JT Miller, he’s checked out, he doesn’t even bother. He’s content to see how this 2 on 1 plays out.
But not the reliable Corolla. You can always depend on a Corolla. It never quits on you.
Just a fantastic piece of hockey from a guy that has become an integral part of this Canucks team.
Best closing thoughts
At the end of the day, the Canucks offence continues to be the issue.
Sure, they scored three goals tonight. And the defence and goaltending were more of a problem on the night.
But overall, this team needs to find a way to get more goals from its bottom six, or else the post-season run might not be as long as people hoped.
That or you just pray Bubble Demko shows up.
Either or.

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