The Stanchies: The goalie non-troversy and Elias Pettersson’s Hart campaign
Photo credit:© Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
Two rivals separated by just a handful of points, with at least four wins in their last ten, on a collision course for the ages.
Flashback to 2011, when these two Division rivals met in the playoffs for the first time in their respective histories. It was not a close series. Since that initial matchup, both teams have been to a playoff final but have spent most of the last decade alternating middling playoff success with prolonged stretches of postseason absences.
Despite the similar postseason records over the last decade, the regular season record has heavily favoured the visitor in their head-to-head.
Anyways, that’s probably enough time spent revisiting the Surrey Eagles/Coquitlam Express rivalry ahead of their December 3rd showdown! As much as I’d love to fan the flames on the childish geographic rivalry between the two other Stanchies writers here at CanucksArmy, Wyatt Arndt and David Quadrelli, we actually have a Canucks game to talk about!
And to answer the reader’s question before they race furiously to the comment section: yes, it is pretty lazy to begin your second Stanchies with another intro that leads the audience into believing they’re reading about the Vancouver Canucks.
But I don’t care. The similarities between the Sharks/Canucks’ regular and postseason rivalry with the Express and the Eagles were too juicy to pass up.
Also, unlike the Sharks and the Canucks, the Eagles and Express won their respective trips to the championship final.
I only know how to write about pain.
While it was painful watching the Canucks blow two one-goal leads while outshot 35 to 20, the Canucks managed to avoid existential-crisis levels of pain when they finished their road trip undefeated, with a gutsy overtime win in San Jose!
Let’s get into the action!
Best with apologies to Christpher Faber
Look, far be it from me to tell Bruce Boudreau how to pick a lineup. But Chris Faber didn’t track KHL CORSI for two years to see Podkolzin riding pine for the fourth time this season!
His three assists in 16 games aren’t exactly screaming for more opportunity. But sitting on the bench isn’t helping him work through his sophomore slump.
The kid needs games, whether in the AHL or the NHL!
Don’t make Faber come up with a hashtag!
Best (worst) hangover
The first period was quite slow to start, with both teams trading shotless offensive zone cycles for the opening three minutes. Erik Karlsson continued his resurgence with a dominant opening shift against the Pettersson line, then the Canucks followed the Sharks’ cycle with one from their fourth line.
That’s number 74 in your programs and number one in your hearts, Ethan Bear, recording the game’s first shot. Bear’s point shot sparked the first scrum around the net and woke the sleepy SAP Center.
Minutes later, Nils Höglander continued his long road toward earning the trust of Bruce Boudreau by picking off a pass in the neutral zone. Though the pass was way off its mark, Högs’ steal led to an easy possession change and dump-in for JT Miller.
Weirdly enough, Miller’s dump-in led to the Canucks’ second net front scrum of the night, once more featuring the team’s fourth line.
Deja vu, anyone?
Best Kyle Burroughs anytime goalscorer fuel
The Canucks’ early pressure paid off with multi-time DAWG/60 Award Winner Kyle Burroughs opening the scoring with a heater from the point.
Burroughs’ shot picked the corner better than Andrej Kramaric’s 70th-minute tally against Team Canada this morning!
Sorry, I know it’s too soon.
Check the angle on Burroughs’ goal: through the legs of Jaycob (not the ex-Canuck) Megna and off the inside of Kappo Kahkonen’s post and in.
The goal was great news for the Vancouver Canucks, but not great news for Riley Stillman.
But then again.
Best the “D” in “D-Zone” does not stand for “danger”
A few shifts after his goal, Burroughs gave Thatcher Demko his first real fright of the evening when he deflected a cross-ice pass dangerously over his head.
The deflection worked, but I’m sure someone in the Canucks’ front office tapped their “Play Riley Stillman” sign immediately after.
It was a weird first period. The Canucks’ defence kept working hard for puck retrievals, only to sprinkle in needless giveaways on the same sequence.
Even after beating Alex Barabanov in a footrace toward the loose puck in the d-zone, Ethan Bear couldn’t help but immediately throw the puck onto the stick of a trailing Sharks player.
Fortunately, the brutal giveaway was wasted. But it was not a banner period for “safe puck management.”
Best Erik Karlsson-Sheldon Dries rivalry that we all expected
Midway through the first period, Erik Karlsson put the moves on Sheldon Dries in a bad way. The slick dangle led to a barrage of offence for the home team and sparked some life in the very quiet SAP center.
The Canucks aren’t 7-2-1 with Dries in the lineup and 1-8-2 without for no reason! Moments later, Dries had his near-vengeance when he blocked Karlsson’s exit pass to set up a scoring chance for himself.
Best evidence for the “Burroughs should never be a healthy scratch again” crowd
Late in the first, the Sharks sparked a two-on-one rush, and before Tyler Myers could even think to sprawl out on the ice, Burroughs broke up the cross-ice pass and calmly moved the puck out of the zone with a board-and-out.
Elias Pettersson drew the first penalty of the night not long after Burroughs’ clean exit play. But Bo Horvat didn’t score on the man advantage, so it’s not worth talking about.
The Canucks managed just two shots on goal through two power play opportunities.
Best goalie non-troversy
Thatcher Demko looked like the Demko of old when he was forced to turn away several scoring chances.
The Play Riley Stillman sign was tapped more furiously over in Rogers Arena after Noah Gregor stripped Burroughs at the blue line for an entry and dangerous shot on Demko.
The Sharks finished the period having outshot the Canucks eleven to seven.
Fortunately, Demko had his sharpest period of the season.
Which is a sentence I didn’t expect to write in late November!
Best he’s a FREAK
What kind of freak athlete jumps one foot off the ice to catch a high-flippy and immediately enter the zone for a scoring chance setup?
Elias Pettersson, baby!
Elias Pettersson has been unreal this season, for those of you not in the loop. With Pettersson on the ice at 5v5, every player to have skated with Pettersson has seen their expected goals for rates nearly double.
Best there’s no way that’s right, right?
Early into the second, Oliver Ekman-Larsson drew a tripping minor against Kevin Labanc to hand the Canucks their second man-advantage. But once again, the Sharks’ league-leading penalty kill thwarted their efforts.
No, that’s not a typo. The 28th-placed team in the NHL, with a negative-16 goal differential, leads the league currently with the best penalty kill at 90% effectiveness.
Best reason to move Myers to forward
Look, I don’t have any analytics for this suggestion beyond the following:
Tage Thompson big.
Here’s the big man exchanging with Quinn Hughes to cut around the Sharks’ defence for a shot attempt on Kakkohnen.
Now, imagine him at the net front on PP1.
Worst Aman, I can’t believe that wasn’t called!
Okay, it’s not that bad of a missed call, and the Canucks got away with a “too many men” penalty moments later.
I just really needed to get the wordplay in there.
Best worst luck
Before the Canucks could get their standard two-goal lead to lose, Luke Kunin evened things up at one with an equalizer that can only be described as “certainly a goal.”
You really have to feel for Thatcher Demko here.
If only Elias Pettersson were on the ice to jump eight feet in the air again to catch this eephus shot by Kunin.
No. This goal should not spark “goalie controversy” discussions.
Best worst period
After twenty minutes, one Sharks goal, and two Canucks power plays, the two teams combined for 37 total shot attempts but managed just 11 shots on goal.
The Canucks led the way with six shots on net to the Sharks’ five.
If you fell asleep during the second, I don’t fault you.
It was rough.
Best I refuse to call it a goalie controversy!
Karlsson took a peep at Naturalstattrick between the second and third periods and said, “those are some rookie numbers. We gotta pump those numbers up.”
Five minutes into the third, Karlsson was up to his old tricks when he turnstiled Dries at the Canucks’ blue line for a shot into the chest of Demko.
The Canucks’ legs started to feel the effects of their impressive effort over Vegas as the Sharks began to hammer them with odd-man rushes throughout the third.
Fortunately, totally not embroiled in a goalie controversy, Thatcher Demko withstood the early period onslaught!
Best evidence for the “play Riley Stillman” sign tappers in Rogers Arena
While on the back foot for most of the third period, Kyle Burroughs took a very undisciplined cross-checking penalty to send the Canucks to their first penalty kill of the night.
The tapping of the “Play Riley Stillman sign” inside Rogers Arena at that moment was so loud you could hear it from Port Moody.
True to form, the Canucks gave up a power play goal less than ten seconds into the PK.
Though we respect the hustle, Elias Petterson’s diving effort tipped Couture’s shot, completely changing the angle and leaving Demko in disbelief for the second time in the game.
The compounding mistakes from Pettersson and Burroughs did not affect their DAWG/60 ratings, with both players finishing first and second among Canucks’ skaters.
Best Hart Candidate
On his next shift, after accidentally handing the Sharks a power play equalizer, Elias Pettersson was back on his Hart Candidate s***.
After entering the zone for a shot on goal, Pettersson lured in two Sharks defencemen before finding Ilya Mikheyev for the one-timer to regain the lead.
Can you believe some people wanted this guy in the AHL after his slow start last year?
The primary assist on Mikheyev’s equalizer was Petterssons’s 25th point in his last 18 games.
Mikheyev then returned the favour with a phenomenal diving effort to maintain possession in the offensive zone, leading to a gorgeous tip-in goal from Pettersson on a shot from Ekman-Larsson.
The tiebreaker goal made it 26 points in 18 games.
A special commendation has to go to Ekman-Larsson for the vision on the play to get the puck down low immediately to Pettersson for the redirect.
OEL’s primary assist was his fourth in three games for Vancouver.
Worst time for a Luke Kunin breakout game
With five minutes left in the period, the Sharks dominated the Canucks in shot volume. After a failed high-flippy by Ethan Bear, the Sharks pounced with Luke Kunin’s second goal on the Sharks’ 16th shot of the period.
It wasn’t quite “blowing a two-goal lead” levels of bad.
But handing a loser point to the San Jose Sharks after holding two one-goal leads isn’t the best.
Best one shot, one opportunity
Were his palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy?
Was there vomit on his sweater already?
Was he nervous?
But on the surface, looking calm and ready?
Andrei Kuzmenko from JT Miller to put this one to beddy.
Jonathan Tonathan Miller caught the San Jose Sharks sleeping on a brutal line change to send Andrei Kuzmenko deep into the offensive zone for the game-winner.
Though they were on the receiving end of several bad bounces, the Canucks were generally outclassed in the shot-attempt department by the Sharks. It wasn’t easy, but the Canucks won their third-straight game for the first time this season.
Best healthy scratches WORK
The Canucks are 5-1-0 since scratching Andrei Kuzmenko against the Boston Bruins.
Kuzmenko has ten points — that’s four goals and six assists — in those six games.
Really makes ya think!
Best the rebuild is OVER
Friends with Connor Bedard over, friends with playoff-push back on?
Best but how does this affect the Leafs?
Savour it, Canucks fans.
Best the price just went up
After leading the forwards with 19:28 of time on ice, one goal, and one assist, Elias Pettersson earned his first post-game belt honours this season.
Pettersson is currently tied with Nico Hischier with the third-highest total points at 5v5 with 17. He’s now tied with Mitch Marner, Kirill Kaprizov, and Matthew Tkachuk with the tenth-most points in the NHL.
After this season, Pettersson will have one year left on a $7.35-million bridge deal.
When the deal expires, he’ll be arbitration-eligible, owed a $10.25-million qualifying offer.
Pettersson is going to get paid on his next deal.
It’s time to start cleaning up the books in anticipation of it.
But first, it’s time to enjoy what we’re witnessing from Elias Pettersson right now.
A player quieting his doubters and making his case for multiple major NHL Awards stronger with each game he plays this season.
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