The Stanchies: Welcome to the Quinn Hughes Era of Vancouver Canucks hockey
Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
It’s 9pm PST right now.
Do you know where your Eastern media member is?
One can only hope that after days of the kind of coastal wars normally reserved for 90s rap stars and Age of Empires scenarios, that people in the East are finally taking notice of Quinn Hughes.
Now I get it, over here in Vancouver we sometimes have a little TOO much fun talking about players and hoisting them on our shoulders as we do our best attempt to re-create the high point of Gaston’s life. With the burden of three losses in a Stanley Cup Finals series and having to explain to any of your visiting friends that International Village isn’t really a true mall, sometimes you have to find odd ways to let loose in this city.
So yes, The Brabarian was probably hard for other markets to understand.
And yes, Shotgun Jake was a fun movement for a little while.
But if you don’t know Quinn Hughes is the real deal by now, then I don’t know what else to tell you.
I have taken to calling Quinn Hughes ‘Pirlo’ now because to watch him play hockey is to watch elegance on ice. He doesn’t so much carve up the opposition as he does chop them up, slowly simmer them, blend them together, then simmer them down into a nice soup.
We have often lamented in Vancouver that the Canucks have never truly had a top, all out, number one defenceman. Sure, they’ve been close with Mattias Ohlund, Paul Reinhart, Ed Jovanovski, Dennis Kearns, Doug Lidster, Alex Edler, Jyrki Lumme, and Sami Salo in the ten games his body wasn’t broken in pieces.
But it’s never felt like they had the guy that could dominate puck possession, eat up ice time, dance out of his own zone with ease, and produce offence the way Quinn Hughes has.
At the age of 24, just entering his fifth season full season with the Canucks, Quinn is already the sixth all time leading point producer for defenceman in team history with 246. Alex Edler, at 925 games played, sits atop with 409 career points. It’s not a matter of if Quinn Hughes will beat that record, but a matter of when he’s going to smash it.
If this were the Jersey Shore I would have a delightful joke about smushing records, but I don’t want to have to make Quadrelli Google that show.
The point is, the Quinn Hughes era is now. And if we thought last season was good? The sequel looks to be astronomically better.
In the Canucks’ 3-2 win over the Predators Tuesday night, Quinn Hughes was once again the most noticeable player from both teams.
In the Canucks’ 3-2 win over the Preds, Quinn Hughes once again played with the kind of sublime control normally reserved for charismatic, handsome Italian men playing soccer.
In the Canucks’ 3-2 win over the Preds, Quinn ‘Pirlo’ Hughes put the league on notice that he is going to be a PROBLEM this season.
So yes, set those alarm clocks my Eastern media friends. Get some naps in before 7 PST.
Because the way this season is going, you’re not going to want to miss it.
Because if you miss it, when you pretend you watch Canucks games, you’ll still be basing your Quinn Hughes debates off of his rookie season, and you know what, you get it.
You get it.
Let’s make some gif money, shall we?
Best before we get started
Hunter’s 150 point season is pretty much a lock at this point.
Best excuse to post a gif for Eastern media so they learn about Quinn Hughes
You know how you handle a forecheck? By letting Quinn Hughes get to work:
Puck behind the net? Get to the puck quicker, no problem.
Nashville Predator trying to take posession? Stick lift, no problem.
Need to get the puck out of the zone cleanly? Pass it up to Mr. Phil Di Giuseppe, who, perhaps inspired by the beauty and creativity of Quinn Hughes’ puck handling, makes the deftest of touch passes to spring Brock Boeser for an odd-man rush.
Quinn Hughes is your handsome friend that you’ve long stopped trying to match up with, leaving you resigned to inviting them into group photos so you can at least raise the overall hotness of your social circle.
I have had a healthy debate about calling Hughes ‘Pirlo’ or ‘Qirlo’ and you know what, ‘Qirlo’ is working for me.
Qirlo makes everyone around him better. Those are just facts.
For all we know, Qirlo passing the puck to Nathan Lafayette ends in a bar down and in moment.
Yeah, I went there.
Also yeah that was a terrible 2 on 1, but who cares, because Qirlo.
Best dramatic return
I’ll admit, any time an athlete misses time with a knee injury, I assume it will take half a season after they’ve healed to fully hit their stride.
Well if this is Ilya Mikheyev’s still finding his stride, then that is nothing but good news for the Canucks:
Yes, Juicy Sours (I’m just ball-parking the name based on phonetics) lets in a goal that Dan Cloutier thinks was a bit rough, but Mikheyev’s speed has been noticeable almost right away the last two games.
Sure, his timing isn’t fully there yet, and he’s missing out on the kind of tap-ins Sergio Momesso could only dream of, but his stride and pace have made an immediate impact on EP40’s line.
And coincidence or not, Kuzemnko is making some noticeable hard-working plays to set up his compatriot. As Tocchet opined after the last game, maybe Kuzmenko is afraid to let his friend down, so he finds an extra gear on some of these plays. Look at AK96 fight through a check and then feed a perfect pass to Mikheyev on that play! That’s the kind of play you make in beer league and you don’t stop embellishing about it to your spouse for months.
“Ah babe, you should have seen me, I had a player hanging all over me, and I shoved him to the side but then he took a two hander to my leg but as I was falling to the ice I threw a one handed pass over to my buddy and he tapped it in. We didn’t win free nachos for a penalty-free game, but it was still pretty cool. People stood up and applauded. Ruthkanda forever.”
Best breaking bad
Fil Hronek and Quinn Hughes (aka Filharmonic and Qirlo, I am so sorry for this) have a reputation as a defensive pairing that don’t allow goals against.
Split them up and get one of them to play with Tyler Myers, and sure, you’re going to bleed some goals against.
But together, they have a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger ability to join together and be even stronger. And somehow Hronek is the Green Power Ranger and Hughes is the White Power Ranger. I don’t know how it works, but it just does.
The point is, I honestly wondered if Hronek might struggle watching another man dangle his puck, but the thing with highly skilled players is they seem to enjoy playing with other highly skilled players:
This season has seen more crossovers from Hughes and Hronek than your Grandma during crochet hour.
Quinn Hughes has really leaned into spinning away from his check to create room this season, allowing plays like the one shown above where Hronek can simply skate into the crossover and try to stitch up the opposing goaltender.
The last time we saw this kind of fluidity on the ice was when Ehrhoff and Bieksa were both on their “A” games and puck movement and skating were put on full display.
The pairing of Qirlo and Filharmonic of course makes them a very top heavy defence, but when you can run them 25+ minutes a night, maybe you lean on them now and leave line balancing as a future Tocchet problem.
Like paying your taxes, that’s a trouble for another day.
Best enjoying the moment
Carson Soucy was paired up with Tyler Myers for the game, and I was curious to see how their rough-and-tumble lifestyle would work together.
And early on, it paid off in the form of a deflected shot that I was able to turn into $35 worth of gif money:
This was probably the high point of the game for this pairing.
Best just for Laffs
If the playoffs are truly in the Canucks sights, raising the bottom of the bar is a vital part of that process. Look, we all loved watching Juho Lammikko tapping in 15 points, but it feels like the lack of a solid bottom six has been causing an issue for this team’s ability to produce enough points to make the playoffs.
Is Sam Lafferty an upgrade for this team? It’s always tough to tell, but from the games he’s played for Vancouver this season, he definitely feels like a step forward for this team’s bottom six. Instead of surviving plays and waiting for Tyler Motte to get 13 failed breakaways in a single game, Lafferty is making plays where he out-reads his opponents and shuts down a potential tap in in front of the net:
Not only did he prevent the pass out front on a dangerous play, he took the puck and created a safe zone exit.
The end result was wearing the other team down to the point where they tried to get around Quinn Hughes, who like a young Gandalf, simply told the Preds that they shall not pass:
The end result was a nice pass to Anthony Beauvillier who got one of his three shots on net during the game.
Best accidentally on purpose pick
Carson Soucy found himself playing the largest part in the Predators’ first goal when he tried clearing the boards past two players:
So, a couple of things about this goal.
One, Carson slowed this play down and then still tried to pass the puck around two players along the glass. The odds of him making that pass out of his zone seem about as helpful as a paywall on a hockey website.
Two, Cole Smith throws the most blatant pick of the year on this play when he skates right into Soucy, taking him out of the play, and thus allowing Colton Sissons to go top shelf where Mom keeps the adoption papers.
Hey, that’s a bad play by Soucy, nobody is denying that.
But man alive, that pick thrown by Smith is one of the most blatant interference calls we have seen this season, yet it got treated by the officials like they wanted the game to end as quickly as possible so they could beat the traffic.
Best Italian Stallion
Usually we do the pizza jokes for Philly Delight, but on this play, it’s clear that Brock Boeser is the one who
Brock Boeser’s scoring touch has been the story of the season, what with his lifelong quest to hit 30 goals feeling like a real possibility once more. He is the Frodo of the season, one who has been given a task that must be completed to save the world or something like that.
But we must not forget just how complete Boeser’s game has become, especially his playmaking, which saw him rack up a career-high 37 assists last year.
So it should be no surprise that a bouncing puck is nothing but a mere flesh wound for Boeser, who in full Black Knight fashion fights through it and makes a perfect pass to Phil to finish the play off with a bouncing shot of his own.
To quote C + C Music Factory: “Play that beat, play that beat. Bang!”
Best hard hat mode
Nils Höglander (alt + 0246 for anyone wanting to rock out an umlaut) would then make it 3-1 when he tipped home a shot from Quinn Hughes:
Fun fact about Quinn Hughes: he promised he would find a way to shoot more this season and has backed this up. He had one shot in the second game against Edmonton, but every other game he has had 3+ shots per game.
And not just OEL-type shots where he sadly throws in a soft wrister from the point while both sides ponder why he gets paid so much, no. Quinn Hughes is instead making shifty moves so he can unleash shots that don’t just hit shin pads. They’re shots that maybe his teams can get a tip on.
And in this case, Hughes’ shot does indeed come in and Road Hög makes the perfect tip to make it a 3-1 ball game.
For a road game, the start the Canucks had was about as strong as one could hope for.
Höglander wasn’t done there, as he got a breakaway mere moments later and just missed out on getting a proper shot off:
Coming off of a healthy scratch, you tend to have to impress your coach. It’s hard to imagine Nils didn’t secure his place in the lineup for Friday night with his performance against Nashville.
Best shows of confidence
If this was a Daily Hive article, the title would simply be “Is Ilya Mikheyev’s rizz off the charts??”:
Once again, Mikheyev looked great, which only helped make EP40’s line look fantastic on the night. You have Mikheyev going to the net calling for shots to tip, and you have Elias Pettersson getting himself open to unleash shots that almost go top shelf where Dad keeps the love letters to his high school girlfriend.
If this were a Daily Hive article the title would simply be “The top 10 places to try turnover milkshakes in Vancouver”:
Once again, Philly Delight’s work ethic is clearly something Rick Tocchet loves about his game. But it’s not just work ethic, because anyone can skate hard and not come up with the puck. No, it’s Philly Delight’s ability to work hard and recover the puck that makes him so effective. His hard-charging ways not only cause turnovers, but he is also able to then bring that puck hard to the net.
Like if you could go back in time, you’d swap Phil for Tanner Glass in an absolute heartbeat and then sit back and watch the Canucks win the Cup in 2011.
And finally, if this were on Daily Hive, it would be a sponsored article telling you to buy Quinn Hughes hockey sticks:
Quinn Hughes loses the puck, but then simply gets it back and then stutter steps to his right while tossing the perfect backhand pass out of his zone.
There is just something about Qirlo making the game look so incredibly easy that you start to question just how hard it actually is.
“Surely that was no problem, he barely broke a sweat there. That was such an easy breakout. Geez. I could do that.”
But then you realize how hard Luca Sbisa made a simple pass look when being checked and you realize that dear god, Quinn Hughes is ridiculously good at the game of hockey.
We’ve talked before about how if you give any NHL player enough time and space they turn into Wayne Gretzky. It’s the truly elite players that can do these things with no time and all of the pressure.
Quinn Hughes could have three guys about to land a hit on him and it feels like he’d still thread a nice soft gentle lob pass right to his intended target for a breakaway.
His ability to make these kinds of plays with no time and space is what sets him into Scott Niedermayer-style territory.
Best is Pirlo’s rizz off the charts??
But seriously, is it?
I dare you to watch this and tell me Quinn Hughes is not the Pirlo of hockey right now:
Not only is Hughes spinning away from checks left and right, he’s now lobbing pucks through the air at least five times a game, landing either perfectly on his intended target’s stick or putting it just in front of his target to skate perfectly into.
It’s pure art at this point.
Best reigning it in
The Soucy/Myers pairing was on the ice for the Predators’ second and final goal, and you know what, it wasn’t terrible:
After watching the Chaos Giraffe overcommit and make giant errors in the last game, it felt like CG57 being a bit more reserved in his approach was a good thing.
And honestly, give credit where credit is due, because that is a fantastic pass and shot from the Predators. We’ve seen Myers close the gap and go skating by his check countless times on goals against, so I think it was reasonable for him to protect the middle of the ice and play it a bit safe on this shot.
And much like last game, Myers had the lowest ice time on defence with 13:44, so you best believe he is going to be doing anything in his power to cut down on over-the-top mistakes by playing a more reserved style.
Best makes you think
Best old habits die hard
JT Miller feasted on drop pass turnovers in 2022, but to his credit, has been one of the best Canucks forward this season.
That being said, there was a bit of PTSD experienced when Miller did a no look drop pass in his own zone that was quickly stolen by the Preds:
Shoulder checks, JT, shoulder checks. You can change lanes whenever you want, just, you know, give a quick peek back before you do.
Best starting strong
The Predators came closest to tying the game up when Andrei Kuzmenko drifted like a Vancouver driver through a stop sign:
Kuzmenko sees the guy open at the point, so he glides off, and Elias Pettersson is slow to the scene to switch coverage.
The end result? A post from the Predators and a promise from EP40 that he will give a post back to the Hockey Gods in return for the favour they granted him on this play.
Best putting in the work
That breakdown aside, the Canucks handled the Predators pretty handily in this game. Not only did they hold Nashville to 17 shots on the night, they won the Corsi wars, which seems to be a nice byproduct of having Quinn Hughes controlling the universe for half of the game.
How good were the Canucks? Their worst Corsi was Soucy, who came in at 55%. Just an absolute fantastic road game from the Vancouver Canucks.
And while you’re here, can I interest you in another Quinn Hughes gif that nets me $74?
The thing that stands out about me the most about Hughes this season is that even after being out on the ice for a two minute shift, he is still making these calm plays where it ends with him making an absolutely brilliant pass that leads to a zone exit/zone entry.
Honestly, Hughes had been stuck out on the ice for a while, but here he is, retrieving the puck and generating a scoring chance off of a Mikheyev zone entry.
Imagine how deflated you would be in beer league to chase a guy down all shift only for him to calmly turn around, fire a lob pass down the ice perfectly to his teammate, and worst of all, look bored doing so. A mixture of bored and kind of feeling bad for you that you ever thought you were getting the puck.
That’s what the Predators were dealing with Tuesday night.
Also notice how Mikheyev’s speed once again generated zone entries for his line. His speed might end up being a very useful element to the Disgusting Brothers.
Best game management time
After calling nothing all game, it only stood to reason that the officials would call a penalty on the exact same play they didn’t call a penalty on Smith earlier:
In this case, Mark Friedman gets called for interference and let’s be honest with each other, that’s the right call. The issue is the officials didn’t seem to have any interest in calling similar penalties earlier.
But first, the good news! The Canucks killed off this penalty and looked great doing it!
But now, the bad news! A chaos giraffe appeared.
Best give and take
With the refs calling two periods like it was the last game of the night at 8 Rinks and they just wanted to go home, it again felt odd to see them call Myers for cross-checking:
Can you call that? Absolutely. Does it line up with how the game was called earlier? Absolutely not.
But as with all hockey/pirate codes, they’re more guidelines than anything. And one such guideline states if you don’t score on a couple of end game power plays, then you have to eat a penalty of your own:
As such, the Predators found themselves getting called for Hronek clearly looking behind him and backing up until he hit a Predator and fell down.
Live by the sword, dive by the sword, as they say.
Best end result
The Canucks then pretty much finished off the game from there.
Oh, they did have two empty net chances from Elias Pettersson:
Part of me wants to think he takes no joy in scoring empty net goals — that it’s not very sporting.
Another part of me wants to believe that Loui Eriksson does indeed hold an elite skill set when it comes to scoring on empty nets.
Best closing statement
And so the season continues. The Canucks are 4-2. The Oilers are 1-4-1. We all know this could change drastically even within a month, but you know what, it’s pretty darn amusing to see the path these two teams have taken.
So enjoy the ride for now. We’ve seen a lot of failed seasons in the last decade. Put on some Diablo 4 season 2, toss on a playlist of Jason Derulo, and just savour the moment until Friday’s game. You deserve it.
Drink it in, man.
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