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The Stanchies: Canucks drop game two in spirited battle against the Oilers, Kelly Sutherland, and themselves

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
Game two may as well have been over before it started when the NHL assigned Kelly Sutherland to officiate Friday’s game.
Nah, that’s a bit overdramatic. The reffing didn’t make things worse, but it certainly didn’t help Vancouver en route to their deflating game-two overtime loss either!
For a refresher on Sutherland’s history with the Canucks: I dug this doozy out of the CanucksArmy archives, courtesy of ex-Manging Editor Thomas Drance.
To call the refereeing in Vancouver’s first round series sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks “controversial” might be putting it too mildly. When Kelly Sutherland is involved, and when you watch the calls that went against the Canucks in the 2013 playoffs, it’s tough not to get your conspiracy theory wheels spinning.
The Sharks enjoyed fourteen more power-play opportunities in the first round sweep than the Canucks did. Compounding the unbalanced number of power-play opportunities is the fact that game four was ultimately decided on a couple of power-play goal resulting directly from very iffy calls. I’m not one for blaming the referees especially not in a sweep, as tempting as it is after the way game four played out.
Sutherland, infamously, was the referee responsible for assessing Daniel Sedin with a 10-minute misconduct for having the audacity to get punched repeatedly in the head by Brad Marchand.
It was Sutherland who called five-straight penalties against the Canucks, including two 5-on-3s during Vancouver’s inevitable game-four loss to the San Jose Sharks.
With Sutherland reffing Canucks games over the past three seasons, Vancouver held a 2-7-1 record. Don’t get me wrong, the Canucks also happened to be quite terrible during two of those three seasons, so that record may likely be all signal without noise. However, for the conspiracy theory-heads in the chat, the Vancouver Canucks record with Sutherland at the helm since 2017-18 still sits at a thoroughly underwhelming 8-12-1.
While Sutherland and company put the whistles away in the third period of the Oilers’ gritty 4-3 overtime victory to even the series at one apiece, it’s hard not to look at the first two periods of Friday’s game and feel that the calls not made dictated the game’s pacing and momentum more than the ones that were.
On Friday night, Kelly Sutherland and co ignored an Evander Kane slew foot on Quinn Hughes, a McDavid high-sticking infraction against Quinn Hughes that drew blood, and a Derek Ryan spear to the groin of Nils Höglander in favour of calling several routine stick infractions. The result was three power plays apiece and several stints of 4-on-4 hockey.
It was simultaneously a well-officiated game and one of the worst officiated games I’ve ever had the pleasure of covering!
Credit to Tocchet, who continued his masterclass in PR management with a favourable review of the NHL’s refereeing guild post-game.
“Tough job, tough job,” said Tocchet when asked about the evening’s officiating. “The only thing I don’t like is the slewfoots. I like Kelly and Eric, and maybe they missed it, but there were a couple of slewfoots on [Hughes] that I didn’t like. But, other than that, what are you gonna do? There was a lot of stuff out there tonight.”
If Rick Tocchet’s first Jack Adams Trophy wasn’t already in the bag following Vancouver’s complete 180 on their 5v5 defensive play that didn’t depend exclusively on getting bailed out by their goaltending, then it was certainly secured in these last few post-game scrums where Tocchet simultaneously kept his team in the good graces of the referee guild, placated a rabid Vancouver fanbase, and pivoted the conversation toward the necessity of catching the evening’s most dangerous infraction in future games. It’ll be fascinating to see how game three will officiated with the series tied heading into Edmonton.
Since Wyatt was busy tonight, it fell to me to cover this trainwreck of a playoff game—one of Vancouver’s worst of the postseason thus far—mired by a nonstop cavalcade of officiating inconsistencies.
Hopefully, it won’t be my last!
Let’s get into it.
Best pre-game vibes
Yes. The third period was brutal, but until they lost, Canucks fans were winning.
Heck, post-game, you could see the Aurora Borealis! At this time of year!
Best Lineup Available
Worstest opposing lineup ever
Okay, it was obviously the winning lineup.
However, I have to say that having two players in Leon Draisaitl and Adam Henrique rushing back from injury to load up for game two should bury any attempt by major media to claim that the Canucks’ comeback victory in game one didn’t put an inkling of doubt into the Oilers’ heads.
Adam Henrique isn’t playing sub-12 minutes because he’s bad. He’s playing 12 minutes because that’s the most he can play before the wheels fall off. Game two may have reverse-inceptioned that doubt out of the minds of the Oilers’ core. But it wasn’t easy.
Best “Wait, Kelly Sutherland remembered he’s from the lower mainland?!” a.k.a the Best Start Ever
https://twitter.com/MrBooth07/status/1789117298806272434
Four minutes into the opening period, Kelly Sutherland showed off his immaculate 20/20 vision, calling a tripping penalty against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the opposing blue line to give Vancouver the evening’s first power play.
 
Considering how the first penalty called in this series was due to the Canucks bench forgetting what comes after five, having Kelly Sutherland spot a legitimate trip from a half-a-kilometre away felt much more “playoff appropriate.”
At this point, I thought, “Maybe all the concern over the Sutherland vs. Canucks was a smidge overblown?”
Boy, did I ever have egg on my face after thinking that!
Despite losing the opening faceoff draw, the Canucks quickly re-entered the zone and set up a criss-cross applesauce passing play, resulting in Elias Pettersson’s first goal of the 2024 playoffs.
Talk about getting that monkey off of your back!
J.T. Miller deserves all the kudos for this goal.
Miller opened the period with heavy shifts against a loaded-up Oilers line featuring Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Zach Hyman, stifling McDavid’s ability to generate speed with some subtle interference and Hyman’s ability to shoot with some classic meat-and-potatoes physicality.
 
Perhaps Elias Pettersson’s previous seven games of less-than-stellar play factored into the Oilers’ defence on the goal sequence. All four penalty killers stood frozen, watching Miller wade down the left wing, ignoring Pettersson’s circling to his home at the right dot.
After drawing in Vincent Desharnais, Miller executed a brilliant no-look pass to Pettersson for the one-timer past Skinner’s left pad.
It was a fantastic start, but of course, no playoff game is without adversity, and no playoff game officiated by Kelly Sutherland goes without a hilariously missed call from Kelly Sutherland!
Best “Pobody’s Nerfect!”
You have to hand it to him. Spotting a tripping penalty from two kilometres away only to miss a boarding penalty while staring at it from five feet away is objectively very funny.
As Tocchet said, it’s a tough job. I can’t say with certainty that I’d have caught the trip, the boarding, or moments earlier when Arturs Šilovs got away with a potential trip on a forechecking Oiler.
I’d like to think I’d catch Miller’s previously noted pick on McDavid or Nurse’s boarding on Pettersson.
But, again, it’s a tough job.
Worst “nothing left to say, really.”
You’ll notice that this Stanchies consists of very few GIFs of Ilya Mikheyev doing whatever it is that he does.
It’s not that he doesn’t possess speed, clean zone entries, or above-average defensive acumen. Ultimately, people want to see GIFs of scoring chances, five-alarm saves, penalties, and goals. Unfortunately, Mikheyev hasn’t had a legitimate scoring chance pop off his stick in close to two months now.
Here, Pettersson goes cross-ice to Mikheyev for a rush chance off the right wing. With all the time and space on the planet, Mikheyv duffs his shot with a muffin into Skinner’s chest.
If anything can be said about the Canucks’ first period of play is that they managed to come out even after struggling mightily to generate any momentum.
I don’t want to be a total Debbie Downer in this one, so here is one of the few positive plays of Mikheyev’s game from Friday night.
Midway through the first, Mikheyev deflected a puck into the bench after the infamous shift clock made its first appearance in the night, mercifully allowing the exhausted Canucks a wholesale line change against the McDrai line.
Yes, that’s how low the bar is for a Mikheyev positive.
Unfortunately for Mikheyev and the Canucks, that shift from McDrai opened the floodgates for the Oilers’ top line to start cooking.
Less than a minute later, the McDrai line was out for a second spin in as many minutes, dominating possession in the Canucks’ zone until Hyman drew a hooking penalty against a flat-footed Tyler Myers at the front of Šilovs’ crease.
Yadda yadda yadda, you can probably guess what happened next.
Actually, hang on. You probably couldn’t guess how many coast-to-coast split saves Šilovs had to make in the opening thirty seconds of the Oilers’ man advantage to keep up with their cross-ice passing.
Actually, hang on. You probably could.
Incredibly, Teddy Blueger fought hard to force the puck out of the d-zone to give the Canucks’ first PK group a line change.
Unfortunately, like Kirk Lazarus staying in character until he finishes recording the DVD commentary, the Oilers’ lethal first power play unit doesn’t finish their shift until they score.
And score they did.
It was a tough break for Mr. Šilovs, whose first two saves on the PK were a masterclass in rapid-fire puck tracking.
“He was really good,” said Tocchet. “I’m really proud of him. I thought he was really good.”
If you listen to this GIF closely, you can hear Frank Seravalli cheering from the Rogers Arena press box.
Worst 7:00 PM cheer
Things we love to see? Nils Höglander being a total nuisance toward Darnell Nurse while pressuring on the forecheck.
Things we don’t love to see? Darnell Nurse getting away with several punches in the post-whistle scrum without repercussions.
Fortunately, with three minutes left in the opening frame, Nugent-Hopkins embraced his heritage as a North Burnaby boy and took his second minor penalty of the game.
The Canucks’ power play again looked fantastic but suffered from some brutal luck, where Miller again lulled the entire Oilers’ PK into covering him before dishing a no-look pass to Pettersson for the one-timer, only for Pettersson to snap his stick on the attempt.
The period concluded with Hyman rifling a rebound of a shot from Matthias Ekholm just wide of Šilovs’ net.
As far as conclusions to a single period go, the first period in game two against the Oilers’ is at least in the top five!
Again, I really can’t stress enough how wildly entertaining the Canucks’ 2024 playoff run has been. Even when they lose, something is usually happening in the game that is worth discussing.
Blurst uh-oh.
Never in my life would I have expected to read the words “No Tyler Myers” and be worried about the club’s outlook for the series.
Fortunately, Myers returned to the game midway through the period once things started getting feisty. Unfortunately, Myers looked more like the last four years of Tyler Myers and less like the, “Wait, where has this guy been the entire time?” Myers.
The Zadorov extension justification corner
If his bar-down clapper in game one to tie the game hadn’t convinced you already, then the first 35 minutes of his game two should have done it. The Vancouver Canucks need to re-sign Nikita Zadorov.
In the first period, we saw Zadorov punching down on Corey Perry before sending the Canucks up ice with a high flip into the neutral zone; a sequence that would end with a Conor Garland rebound floating narrowly out of Pettersson’s reach.
 
Late in the first, with the Canucks trying to wrestle back some momentum, Quinn Hughes teed up a wrister on Skinner, which otherwise wouldn’t be noteworthy. However, because Zadorov was wide open at the point for a clapper, I had to clock it because I realized the sequence made me mad at Hughes for not taking the option to drop the puck back to the point for a shot.
This GIF may be the only time in Hughes’ Canucks tenure, past, present, and future, where I ever think, “Hmm. Yeah, maybe Hughes should’ve passed there!”
Zadorov’s play made me want to see a point shot from someone not named Quinn freaking Hughes. That’s the power of the Big Daddy Zaddy at play!
A minute into the second period, Höglander drew a slashing minor against Derek Ryan after picking up an interference minor of his own. However, let’s be clear: It wasn’t a slash but a spear to the boys.
On the 4-on-4, Nikita Zadorov picked up J.T. Miller’s faceoff victory at the left point and rifled it over to Carson Soucy for a wrister down the middle. Brock Boeser, still in his Brockenaissance era, reached out to deflect Soucy’s rising shot down and under Skinner’s pads to re-gain the Canucks’ one-goal lead.
Dan Milstein showed serious restraint in not quote-tweeting a GIF of the goal sequence with the moneybags sequence.
And it’s a good thing, too, because Zadorov screened Šilovs on Ekholm’s equalizer, not 25 seconds later.
Weirdly, no one was Tweeting about Zadorov’s performance in the first 40 minutes until the goal.
Whenever Zadorov isn’t on the ice, people should be Tweeting about Zadorov!
More on this extension thing in a bit.
The Best Momentum Changers
With less than 15 shots for each club after 40 minutes, the game felt closer to the Nashville series than it did to game one. The Oilers and Canucks played heavy hockey with a lot of east-west puck movement, attempting to split the defence. The Canucks “third” line of Elias Lindholm, Conor Garland, and Dakota Joshua picked apart the Corey Perry, Dylan Holloway, and Adam Henrique line. The McDraiMan line eviscerated the Canucks with possession whenever they weren’t playing heavy, chippy hockey against the Boeser, Miller and Suter trio.
That this sequence from McDavid didn’t result in a tiebreaker from Draisaitl was supremely fortunate for Vancouver.
I don’t know what they call this goaltending technique on a save like this, so all I will say is, “It looked good!”
Šilovs’ save here gave way to a fantastic sequence from Sam Lafferty, who I honestly forgot was in the lineup until Craig Simpson called out his name on the zone entry. Lafferty’s rebound chance off of Skinner’s left pad raised the crowd’s decibel level inside Rogers Arena.
Lafferty’s near-goal sparked some significant momentum for Vancouver.
Moments later, Carson Soucy bobbled a pass at the Oilers’ blue line, giving McDavid a rush opportunity the other way. Soucy recovered with a tremendous poke check on an incredible backchecking effort that drew an even bigger reaction than Lafferty’s near goal!
Soon after Soucy’s backcheck, Dakota Joshua drilled Leon Draisaitl into the d-zone half wall, which drew an even bigger reaction than the Soucy backcheck reaction!
Pandemonium! Some would say!
Not me. But some, probably.
The Canucks started feeling the mojo off these back-to-back-to-back plays, culminating in Höglander picking off a board-and-out inside the offensive zone to set up Conor Garland with a pass for a sharp-angle shot on Skinner.
Best “that was a freebie!”
You know, I was really worried that my decision to do a pre-write about Kelly Sutherland would backfire when I took on the Šilovs to Wyatt’s DeSmith role.
Bless Kelly from Richmond for coming up huge in the back half of the second period with a handful of “wtf?” moments to talk about and keep my pre-written pre-amble very relevant!
Following a TV timeout midway through the second period, both clubs took turns taking and getting away with egregious infractions.
Again, Kelly Sutherland things.
Most of those were fine. But the egregious errors were those that went uncalled.
Moments after missing a neutral zone trip on Elias Lindholm, Pius Suter flipped the puck over the glass for an uncharacteristic delay of game penalty while under pressure. The play sparked a post-whistle scrum along the boards, which saw Soucy take an offsetting roughing minor against Draisaitl.
Twenty-five seconds into the Oilers’ Draisaitl-less power play, Myers drew a holding-the-stick penalty against Hyman to negate the power play and leave the Oilers sans two of their most potent offensive threats.
During the 4-on-4, McDavid got away with a twofer: Holding the stick of Brock Boeser to allow the Oilers an exit from the d-zone before high-sticking Hughes in the face in the neutral zone ahead of a line change.
The high stick drew blood against Hughes, adding insult to injury over the missed call.
For his sake, Sutherland should have called something, anything, against Myers on this sequence that nearly gave Edmonton an empty-net goal.
For every minor penalty that was called, there were at least two more that were much more deserving of calls. McDavid should have netted the double minor for the high stick on Hughes. However, he should have also had a hooking call against him while defending on the backcheck. Sam Lafferty ripped past McDavid for a screen at the net front on a Pettersson shot, but McDavid got his stick all the way under Lafferty’s right arm, hauling him up and away from Skinner’s crease and negating any attempts at a rebound.
To fuel your rage heading into your weekend, Evander Kane also tried to stab Hughes (allegedly) with his skate well after he’d ditched the puck in the d-zone.
“Kelly, hello? Are you there, Kelly?”
Best poetry; it rhymes
Remember when I said I’d return to the Zadorov extension thing in a bit?
Šilovs-like was my ability to plan my actions ahead of time for the best possible result. Would Tocchet be proud of me? Does anyone even read these?
Anyways. for the second time these playoffs, Nikita f****** Zadorov muscled down the left wing for a shot over the shoulder from an impossible angle to give the Canucks the lead.
Like all Canucks fans anticipated: Nikita Zadorov, the NHL’s leading goalscorer among defencemen this playoffs.
Worst equalizer
It’s always a tough one: gaining the lead off of a gorgeous goal from one defenceman, only for another to play a game of Twister against the world’s best hockey player on the backcheck.
I hope “left foot red, right foot green” was worth it, Tyler.
Worst stress hockey
The Canucks’ third period had that kind of vibe, though. It opened with a two-minute power play for the Oilers, devolving into a soul-crushing double-digits-to-one lead on the shot counter by the midway mark.
Thank the Latvian Gods for Arturs Šilovs, who was the only Canuck skater that looked sharp throughout the third period.
The o-zone time clock made several appearances over the back half of the period, notably due to some piss-poor exit attempts from Filip Hronek following several lost board battles.
It hasn’t been a great playoff for the pending RFA with ARB rights. For every glorious highlight-reel offensive or defensive play of Zadorovs is a lacklustre, underwhelming shift pinned in the d-zone featuring Hronek.
Factoring Hughes’ presence in Canucks offensive zone possession, d-zone breakouts, and neutral zone control, it’s stunning to see how little Hronek factors into any of what Hughes is doing.
Hronek’s camp may have John Klingberg’d him by turning down a reported 8x$6.5-million-dollar extension because this playoff run has done him absolutely zero favours on a new deal.
After getting crushed 15-2 over the final 20, the Canucks and Oilers were unfortunately going to overtime.
AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Considering how awful the third period went, every Oilers touch in the offensive zone during overtime felt like an impending disaster.
Even after forcing an icing on the opening shift, the Oilers responded with a d-zone faceoff win and a quick-up through the neutral zone to send Draisaitl down the left wing for a shot into Šilovs’ glove.
The Garland-Joshua duo tried to break the momentum in Vancouver’s favour with an awkward angle shot, but Skinner—who hadn’t seen a lot of action through the third period—stayed sharp.
Five minutes into overtime, Rick Tocchet threw out the lotto line in a last-ditch effort to wrestle a semblance of momentum to his team’s side.
Sure enough, that, too, brought nothing but more offensive zone time for the Oilers.
Then, Connor McDavid skated coast-to-coast and dropped off for Evan Bouchard at the Canucks’ blue line for a perfect slap pass to Ian Cole at the net front.
Wednesday saw Cole play one of the most disastrous opening periods of recent memory, gifting the Oilers a power play in the opening minute before picking up the primary assist on two additional goals.
Naturally, after responding with a Milford Man performance through the first 60 minutes, Cole would have a literal hand on the game-winner.
“I do [feel bad for Cole],” said Tocchet. “We always tell our D, get out of the blue because bad things happen in there.”
Granted, the underlying numbers for Cole weren’t great, either. In his minutes, the Canucks were out-attempted 22 to 7, but I can’t say Cole’s decisions in the d-zone (game-winner aside) were as loud as some of the other Canucks’ players who struggled as badly in the d-zone against the Oilers’ fastball.
The Canucks had last-change against an Oilers team playing a less-than-50% Draisaitl on its top line and a less-than-50% Adam Henrique in its bottom six in front of incredibly shaky goaltending for the second game in a row, and they got crushed over the final period.
Crushed.
No point in sugarcoating it. The Vancouver Canucks had zero response to the Oilers’ press during the third period. Maybe the moment was too big for them, perhaps the well of hail-mary miracles has finally run dry, or maybe this is the second time in two series that the Canucks have given up the second game of the series, and the real difference was a matter of bounces. Maybe this is actually the Aurora Borealis’ fault?
“Thirteen 5-on-5 chances,” said Rick Tocchet bluntly about his club’s third-period effort. “Too many guys were flipping pucks out when we didn’t have to. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about our team in the third. That’s playoff experience; you have the puck, you have someone on your back: Skate with it. Keep your heart rate down. I just felt like as soon as somebody got [the puck], they flipped it. Everybody.”
Best pleading the fifth
Best goalie guild slander
Honestly, Bieksa’s post-game goalie-guild slander made me feel pretty good about the result.
It wasn’t a total loss!
Best Jersey Botches courtsey of @Samanthacp_
I won’t tell you what I originally had written for this subsection.
But I will tell you that the screengrab I sent to Quads had him regreeting, giving me self-edit and self-post privileges.
Best “find Petey a winger”
Death, taxes, and Ilya Mikheyev duffing a scoring chance with a muffin.
If the Canucks want to make this a series when they travel to Edmonton, they need any other combo than Höglander and Mikheyev on Pettersson’s wings. It’s not working. It hasn’t worked for months.
Tocchet seemed pretty exasperated with the bottom of his lineup for being unable to accomplish much of anything in the non-McDraiMan minutes.
“Some guys need to pick it up,” said Tocchet. “You can’t be a liability. If you’re not getting much ice time, there’s a reason why, and we need some guys to pick it up.”
 

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