The Stanchies: The Fight club revival, Bedard watch, Kuzmenko’s freefall, and another dreadful Canucks loss
Photo credit:© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
Two left, folks.
I’m not going to lie to you. The Kings showed the Canucks just how far they need to go structurally before they can be taken seriously. The Kings showed the exact kind of work rate on loose pucks that Rick Tocchet wants from his forwards. Outshot 28-20, the most you could say about the Canucks was they showed some toughness, with fights from Sheldon Dries and J.T. Miller.
Otherwise? What an absolute stinker of a game.
Let’s try to make some GIF money!
Best available lineup
Best news for #TeamTank
Best out of town scoreboard watching (petty version)
A lot needs to shake right for the Vancouver Canucks to win a lottery draw that moves them up to draft one of Conor Bedard, Adam Fantili, Leo Carlsson, Matvei Michkov, or Zach Benson. But that shaking comes from factors completely out of every team’s hands, just a dumb vacuum that hates the city and a few randomly assigned numbers!
The New York Islanders, though?
Bo Horvat’s New York Islanders?
Following their 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, the Isles need A LOT to shake right to retain their 2nd wildcard spot. The Isles have one game left on their schedule—a home game against the Montreal Canadiens—and even a regulation win isn’t enough to secure their playoff aspirations.
We can’t understate how badly they fumbled the bag on Monday night.
The Penguins have two games left on their schedule against the NHL’s bottomfeeders, Chicago and Columbus. Two regulation wins against the league’s worst teams would push Pittsburgh above the Islanders. If the Penguins fumbled the bag and managed just three points, the Isles would secure a wildcard spot on the ‘regulation win’ tiebreaker with a win against Montreal in any fashion.
It’s a long shot, but if the Penguins and the Islanders lose out—a true bag-fumbling for the ages—the Sabres could theoretically squeak in as the final seed IF they manage to defeat all three of their remaining opponents. It won’t be easy. The Sabres have the most challenging schedule of the three. Buffalo’s road to playoffs first began Monday night with a shootout win against the Rangers. Then, not 24 hours later, the Sabres visit the New Jersey Devils. Then, the Sabres finish the week with a second back-to-back—this time, against the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets. Buffalo’s destiny is entirely in their hands, and if they pulled off the hail-mary run, it would be one of the wildest playoff-drought-ending playoff chases in NHL history.
Would it be petty for Canucks fans to root against Horvat’s Islanders and cheer for their expansion brothers in pain, Buffalo?
It’s tough to say.
We don’t care, though.
Bring on the chaos for the sad club!
Most boringest start ever
First thing’s first: the Los Angeles Kings chrome buckets? Hell yeah. Sign me up.
I can’t wait for the Canucks black or blue chrome buckets next season when their marketing department inevitably apes the hottest trend in the Pacific Division.
Second thing? My god, the first five minutes of this game were atrociously boring. Rich Tocchet threw Vitali Kravtsov and Andrei Kuzmenko on a line with Elias Pettersson after benching both for most of the third period against the Calgary Flames. Tocchet cited a need for north/south players to retrieve pucks for EP40, get into shooting lanes, and create space for the 99-point man.
Unfortunately, through two shifts, neither Kravtsov nor Kuzmenko worked to retrieve pucks for Pettersson. Their first shift saw the Canucks pinned inside the d-zone after Kuzmenko whiffed on a weak d-to-d pass at the goal line. The second shift saw Pettersson two-manned in the offensive zone while Kravtsov and Kuzmenko stood flatly around the perimeter.
The Pettersson line didn’t threaten until after the ten-minute mark when Cole McWard uncorked a wrist shot on Korpisalo for the sixth shot of the game.
Again, it was a very dull opening period. Not very GIFable.
We did get this little handoff between Ethan Bear and Pettersson on the McWard shot sequence.
That was neat!
And, of course, we had Kuzmenko spinning for the pass to McWard and the Canucks’ third shift of the game.
The Kings cycle went to work after the McWard chance, with Dan Milstein-client, and future Vancouver Canuck, Vladislav Garvikov drawing a tripping penalty against Phil Di Giuseppe.
Though they didn’t score a shorthanded goal, the dynamic PK duo of J.T. Miller and Pettersson continued to thrive, stifling the Kings’ attack with perfect positioning at the top of the PK diamond.
It’s been a treat all season watching Pettersson’s ability to anticipate passes and take away shooting lanes from opposing power plays. Late in Di Giuseppe’s penalty, Pettersson robbed Adrian Kempe of an opportunity from the slot, sprawling to the ice and springing the puck to Miller for a zone clearance.
In the dying seconds of the period, Conor Garland drew an interference penalty against Rasmus Kupari to give the Canucks a late power play chance.
On the Canucks’ brief power play opportunity, Brock Boeser benefitted from a failed clearance by Vlad Gavrikov to record a shot on Korpisalo right at the buzzer.
The Canucks finished the period with an un-tankly 0-0 scoreline, having outshot the Kings 8-5.
Worst “I’m not ready.”
The best part of Luc Robitaille’s mid-period gift to Garrett was Cheech reaching for the wine bottle to read the label before the announcer could finish all of his kudos.
Were you still asleep after the boring-ass first period? Were you hallucinating? Did you hear the broadcast right?
Yes, Phil Di Giuseppe replaced Kuzmenko on the first power play unit to start the second period. Kuzmenko did play time on the second power play unit and even took the offensive zone faceoff draw. However, the demotion off of PP1 proved how short the rope is for Kuzmenko and his new bench boss, Tocchet.
Kuzmenko finished the game with 16:07 of TOI, a negative-1 in the plus/minus column, and blanks across the stat sheet; the only skater to do so for Vancouver.
Zero goals. Zero assists. Zero shots. Zero hits. Zero blocks. Zero takeaways.
Conor Garland finished with a similar stat line, but at least he saved a sure empty-net goal in the third period on a line featuring the struggling Beauvillier and Dries.
Kuzmenko’s stat line in premium minutes with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes is less-than encouraging.
Mercifully, after another very dull opening to the second period, the Canucks and Kings started to get chippy.
First, Miller and Kempe engaged in the neutral zone with some chippy shenanigans.
Then Miller stood up Blake Lizotte with a cold shoulder at center ice.
Then, of all people, Sheldon Dries dropped Lizotte in the neutral zone, prompting a rebuttal scrap from Sean Durzi.
And them short kings were swangin’ and bangin!
This bantamweight bout was Dries’ third scrap of the season, tying him with ex-Canuck Riley Stillman and J.T. Miller for 4th-most on the Canucks.
Durzi took an additional minor for roughing to hand the Canucks their second power play of the game. Unfortunately, the Canucks managed just one chance, a shorthanded breakaway for Miller.
Otherwise, it was a pretty underwhelming power play opportunity for the Canucks.
Worst shutout breaker
Again, boring period, chippy energy, yadda yadda yadda, then Arthur Kaliyev scored to give the Kings their first lead.
It was genuinely a bizarre goal sequence. Arthur Kaliyev shook the Canucks defence behind the goal line for a wraparound, and the puck seemingly didn’t cross the goal line for an eternity before the ref signalled the goal.
The goal re-ignited the mid-period chippiness, with Miller scrapping Kempe off a neutral zone faceoff draw.
We’re not going to lie. It was pretty cool. We don’t often see too many planned fights off of faceoff draws these days. The AHL? Frequently enough. The ECHL? All the time! But the show?! Baby, that’s a unicorn!
Considering the Kings’ playoff position, it’s a genuinely baffling strategy to have one of your premiere defencemen and forwards scrapping with a non-playoff team with days left in the regular season.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks did this.
Hahahahahahahahahahah (gallows humour edition)
Gudbranson sure was handsome, though!
Early into another very boring period, Kuzmenko continued his giveaway streak with an offensive zone turnover leading to the Kings’ second goal of the game.
Now, a lot of Canucks fans were furious with Tyler Myers for his part in the goal sequence. But honestly, after accidentally chipping the puck to Phil Danault from inside the d-zone, Myers did a decent job recovering. Following the giveaway, Myers got body position, lifted the stick, and steered Danault away from the crease.
Hard to fault the guy when the Canucks forwards execute another slow line change without possession, and the Kings’ trailer Vlad Gavrikov is allowed to waltz into the Canucks zone without a forward in sight to challenge. Tocchet has cited the team’s inability to overcome adversity and tendency to lean on old bad habits.
The bad habits were out in full force on Monday. And yes, Myers’ habits are frustrating and not going away any time soon. But—I can’t believe I’m writing this—this wasn’t all his fault.
And no, we’re not doing a “Myers isn’t to blame” writeup just because Quadrelli is editing!
Best cardiac Canucks
The Kings came alive in the third, the Canucks fell apart, and Canucks Twitter was a bigger ghost town than Rogers Arena on a weeknight.
So uh, here are some GIFs of the Canucks making things interesting for better and for worse!
First, Delia misplayed a dump-in, forcing Conor Garland into heroics with a terrific denial of an empty-netter opportunity for Trevor Moore.
The second instance of Cardiac Canucks’ hockey featured Quinn Hughes’ attempt to dance around the entire Kings’ lineup for a shot attempt.
It was pretty slick in a game lacking significant “slick” moments.
Lastly, with Colin Delia pulled for the extra attacker, Elias Pettersson executed a one-man chip-and-chase into the offensive zone that went about as poorly as expected.
Drew Doughty caught EP99’s dump-in first and quickly spun to whip a rink-wide shot to bury the empty netter for Los Angeles.
I mean, at least it wasn’t a goal from Joonas Korpisalo.
So there’s that.
But Hughes’ scoring drought extended to five games, and Pettersson sat idly at 99 points with two more chances to crack 100 this season.
It was certainly a game of hockey, folks!
Worst “and they call ME pessimistic!”
Be honest, the Canucks failing to get their 99-point star forward over the hump to 100 in back-to-back seasons would be so incredibly on-brand, right?
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