Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: Harry and Meghan watch the Wagon Canucks get back on track
3 months ago
OK look. I’m going to be straight with you guys. Normally we have some fun in the intro section. We talk about the state of the team, the big storyline coming out of the game, and then I mix in some random movie reference, which tends to either be a Nic Cage movie or some show I saw on PBS when I was 5.
And with the Canucks winning 3-1 over the Sharks, with royalty in the building, you best believe I had some prime Shakespeare references to drop. Hamlet you say? Oh no. I had The Tempest all lined up. Rick Tocchet was Prospero and he was going to summon a storm in the form of Quinn Hughes, and while I hadn’t quite figured out who was going to play Caliban, I would have gotten there eventually (Tyler Myers? Tyler Myers.)
But I covered the game from the actual arena tonight, back in press row, where I haven’t been regularly since Covid. Which means I’m a bit rusty in getting The Stanchies done from Rogers Arena.
I forgot about Drance making fun of my outfits, even if it is inspired by Christian Cage, and not a trombone teacher.
I forgot about the intensity and stress of writing the post game article beside my arch-nemesis and rival who also writes a fantastic post game article, in Daniel Wagner (He’s actually a friend and the nicest guy ever but this is my article, so I shall paint him as a villain).
I forgot about how much harder it is to make gifs on a tiny laptop versus my three monitor computer beast at home.
I forgot about random celebrities appearing, this time in the form of Prince Harry, who got more excited over JT Miller’s goal than that time Jovo lost his absolute shit over Matt Cooke tying up game 7 in the last few seconds of the third period. It doesn’t get more distracting than that, if we’re being honest.
So tonight’s Stanchies might have a different feel to them. A little bit shorter. A lot fewer embedded tweets. A little bit more leaning on observations about the players’ post game comments and the vibe in the arena. And yes, the article will be sprinkled with the fear of me missing the last Skytrain home.
But hey. If the Canucks can’t use fatigue as an excuse, neither can I.
You guys want to watch me make some gif money?
Let’s do this.
Best starting out strong
The Canucks, mired in the midst of a two game losing streak, knew they couldn’t take the Sharks lightly. When your coach talks repeatedly about how his guys weren’t willing to compete or protect the guts of the ice, that’s the equivalent of him tweeting at his players and using a bunch of eye roll emojis to describe their effort.
But as this 2023 Canucks team has shown us so far, they keep finding ways to respond when pushed.
The Canucks started the game aggressively by rifling the puck down the ice right to Andrei Kuzmenko, who ditched the full face mask, proving that his infectious smile does indeed heal all wounds:
Maybe Tocchet would have preferred Kuzmenko shoot in that position, but sometimes “give the puck to Elias” is the best option on the ice.
Kuzmenko would then fire an aggressive pass over to Tyler Myers to help generate another scoring chance:
It feels like Kuzmenko will be an ongoing project for Tocchet throughout the season, as he tries to lock him into the style of play he wants, but give Andrei credit, he always seems to adjust his game to try and fit what the coach wants from him.
Also please note that Tyler Myers gets the pass, skates in, and takes the shot. That’s it. That’s all he does.
This is not the Chaos Giraffe we have watched the past several years. In the old days Tyler Myers would have barreled into frame before Kuzmenko even got the puck, driving into the goalie before spiralling into the corner and giving up a two on one in the process.
I think we can officially say that Rick Tocchet is the Giraffe whisperer. In fact, after the game, Rick went so far to say that ever since that infamous Nashville game, in which CG57 absolutely trucked Elias Pettersson, and was a the direct cause of two goals against, his game has been remarkably calm and consistent.
“He’s been one of our best defenseman. Just the way we want him to play, the way our system is, he’s playing it. And he’s embracing it. He’s not getting in trouble. He knows that he’s making the right play. He’s making the first pass to the right guy all the time.”
Best mean ol’ Drance appearance
I don’t have any stats to back this up, but I feel like Garland just inspires anger in people. It’s why he’s constantly drawing penalties like this:
It’s most likely his tenacious efforts on the forecheck that riles the opposition up, but I also have a running theory that he spoils TV shows when he’s digging the puck out of scrum. Whispering about how Dumbledore dies or whatever while giving a quick slash to the ankles gets you to see red real quick.
This penalty from the Sharks sent the Canucks to the powerplay, which while not as dazzling as it has been as of late, still managed to set up the Brushin’ Brocket for the most dangerous chance in the first period:
Sorry, I’m still just thinking of Garland head-locking someone and telling them Keyser Söze was Verbal all along.
Best attempt from the Shorks
To a man, nobody on the Canucks was taking the Sharks lightly, but it sure helped that when they did get their early chances, they fired the puck wide:
And you know why they missed that shot? Because Ian Clark was right. Those white pads. It’s impossible to tell where the pads end and the net starts. It’s science at this point.
If that’s Casey DeSmith in net, with those disgustingly gorgeous black pads on, that’s an easy goal I assume.
I do honestly wonder if Thatcher Demko ever gazes over at Casey’s black pads and just lets out a long mournful sigh. You just know one day he’s going to “accidentally” order a black pair of pads on Amazon. He’s dying to complete his Kirk McLean cosplay, you know he is.
Best if wishes were fishes
The Canucks dominated the first period, but I will say they got better and better as the game wore on. It’s not that they didn’t get good chances in the first twenty, they did! They just didn’t get many great chances.
For instance, here’s a good chance from the Garland/Blueger/Joshua line:
There’s that tenacious forecheck that this line is quickly being known for (Shane dies in Walking Dead), which results in two puck battles being won, leading into a solid shot from Garland.
Then there’s this good chance from Nils Höglander generated off of a brilliant bank pass off the boards from Tyler Myers (making that correct first pass to the right guy Rick was talking about earlier):
That drag move from Nils, that’s the move of a confident man. If I get that puck I slightly wet myself before throwing the puck on net and just praying it hits the goalie. When Nils is trying a drag shot like that, you know he’s feeling it.
Then there’s this good chance from Kuzmenko, who once again tried leaning into that aggressive Surrey Eagles style of North/South hockey:
All good chances, I think we can agree on that. But not great ones. Which is how I would summarize that first period for the Canucks.
It’s like getting 20% off that Phillips Hue lamp you’ve been eyeing on Amazon for a while now. That’s a good deal! But you know what a GREAT deal is? 50% off.
The Canucks just weren’t generating 50% off shots through the first twenty.
Best cons of raising the bar
And you know what happens when you play merely good against a bottom dwelling team? The fans get angry at you. It’s why you should never do the laundry constantly at home. Do it once in a while? You’re a hero. Forget to do it once after doing it for a month straight? You’re sleeping on the couch.
The one nice thing about the Canucks merely playing good hockey is that Quinn Hughes is still ***ing fantastic at the game of hockey:
Hughes forces William Eklund to make a quick decision with the puck, sending it back along the boards, and before Eklund can even come to terms with the fact Prince Harry saw him make such an average play, Quinn Hughes is back on the scene, stealing the puck, and using more trickery and deceit than a Snoop Dogg ad campaign to get the puck over to Philly Delight for the zone exit.
Again, not a GREAT period, but I thought everyone had a moment where they made a solid play or two.
Aside from Anthony Beauvillier, who I’m still not convinced has actually dressed a game this season. It feels like the Canucks are doing the tried and true beer league tradition of signing a player in for games they didn’t play in so they can have enough games to qualify for the playoffs.
Even Noah Juulsen managed to make a solid defensive play, which sure, might not feel like much, but is pretty amazing considering Daniel Wagner buried him alive with his lede today.
Look! Daniel even complimented him with a gif!
See? It wasn’t all bad.
Best the beatings will continue until morale improves
The second period is where it kind of felt like one of those games where the other team gets a lucky goal and then tries to ride it out for 40 minutes. Unless you’re the Oilers and Darnell Nurse is actively campaigning to sink your entire season, then you just gotta go all out.
But the Sharks almost got said break when a smart Sharks forecheck resulted in a puck bouncing right in front of the net:
I know the first instinct is to go, “Oh Chaos Giraffe!” but that’s just the Tobias Harris effect. Sometimes when you get paid a lot of money and you don’t live up to that contract, it’s hard to lose the reputation of someone actively trying to Darnell Nurse you.
Clearly the old Chaos Giraffe would have powerbombed the Sharks player Givani Smith right on top of Demko before cutting a promo about vitamins.
This Tyler Myers though? He’s got that menacingly eerie Jake the Snake calmness about him:
Once again, that is a situation that the old Chaos Giraffe would have somehow turned the puck into a literal grenade. And as the bomb unit was called into investigate how this could even happen, people would roll their eyes and go “Oh Chaos Giraffe!”
But here, he tries to give a puck outlet for Mark Friedman, and when he gets the puck he sets up a body block to zone out the Sharks, and then draws both of them in so he can give a clean lane for Friedman to send the puck out.
Simple, solid, effective hockey.
Best proof Anthony Beauvillier exists
Anthony Beauvillier started generating chances as the game wore on, and even made a brief appearance in a gif to prove that he does, in fact exist:
Nils makes this play happen by once again using his body for good (spoiler alert, this doesn’t last much longer). His ability to block people out with his body has been very noticeable this season, and something I assume Rick Tocchet watches with pride as he quietly whispers “he coulda played in the 80’s with us.”
But yes, Nils gets the puck, blocks his check, then sets up the 2 on 1 that Beauvillier throws in a little kick on the shot for the added flair.
The shot was actually closer to going in then you might think, so let’s enhance and make a bit of extra gif money:
Hey, it’s better than being put in a gif for making a line change as proof that you played in the game.
Also, Noah Juulsen made the initial pass to Nils, for those wondering.
That was mostly meant for Wagner.
Best Shorks gonna Shork
The Canucks game really ramped up once they thought the Sharks had opened the scoring:
Fabian Zetterlund, the Henrik Zetterberg on Wish, clearly drags his foot into the pad and then blocker of Thatcher Demko as he cuts through the crease.
Was it his fault? Of course not, nobody can see those white pads or block, they practically meld into the ice. You’re essentially snow blind when shooting on white gear, this is what Ian tells me.
So the Canucks challenged, because who wants to get shown up in front of royalty, and the goal was reversed:
Meghan is mostly shocked because the Canucks got a call to go their way. She’s a fan of this team, she knows.
Best Quinn Hughes, God of Hockey
After the Sharks had the temerity to try and score the first goal, the Canucks activated their human cheat code in Quinn Hughes:
I have never seen a Canucks defenseman straight up look like some kid kicking your ass at an EA Sports NHL video game. It’s like someone picked up a controller and decides to dummy you just because they can.
Quinn’s ability to not only ride the blue line and make those little jukes with ease, but now his shot finding power and accuracy? It’s scary. It’s downright scary. It should get its own horror movie franchise. People just hiding in deserted cabins praying that Quinn Hughes doesn’t show up with a hockey stick.
We talk a lot about the “Summer of Kesler” where he shot a puck a million times and became a 41 goal scorer. Well, we need to find out what Hughes did last summer so we can fill in the lore properly when we tell our kids about it.
And just to further showcase that Kuzemnko was ready to work in the proud fashion of Warcraft peons, here he is sneaking in to steal the puck from an EP40 puck battle and just clipping the crossbar with his shot:
Off he goes, then.
Best time to fight and stuff
The big story, aside from the win and the royalty, was this Nils Höglander slew foot, resulting in a five minute major and game misconduct:
This obviously caused a lot of fighting in the fan base, with some saying it was a clear slew foot, and others suggesting Kevin Labanc ran into the leg of Nils and tried to attempt a body lock takedown, only to be thwarted by the Judo prowess of Nils.
I will say that if that play had happened to Quinn Hughes or Elias Pettersson, this city would have had torches and pitchforks at the ready. There would have been cries for a 20 game suspension and someone would have started a GoFundMe to buy a car to drive to San Jose to and say mean things at Kevin while he got his morning coffee.
To me, that’s a slew foot. And even if it was unintentional, even if Nils was merely fighting for balance and he didn’t mean to do it, I can’t fault the officials for looking at that and assessing the five minute major.
You can resume your fighting and calling me a blind idiot in the comment section. I think one guy online said he was a referee and that only a moron would think that was a slew foot, so he’s probably the guy to connect with if you want to tear me down a peg.
Best motivational effect
Who needs a rousing speech to rally the troops when a five minute major can do the same thing?
Sam Lafferty, forever known as “Not Ryan Reaves”, scored the Canucks second goal with under a second remaining in the period:
I think I’ll take a break and let Sam Lafferty break down this goal for you:
“Started with a great read by Dakota to break up that play in our zone, and they got the puck deep with not much time left, so take a chance, and Teddy made a nice play to feed that puck over.”
One of the best parts about going to the games and doing the scrums is trying to read the players, and I have to say Sam does not seem to care for scrums. I say this with zero judgement, as I would most likely be screaming at Craig MacEwen to keep the media away from me if I were a player.
But just in terms of general curiosity, it’s always fun to see which players like talking to the media, and which don’t.
Tanev? Would barely say a word.
Tyler Myers? Doesn’t give you anything super insightful but will sit there and answer every question, even in the worst of losses.
Antoine Roussel? Would literally put his arm around you like you were his best friend while answering your questions.
Quinn Hughes? Razor sharp mind and if you bring up a pass he made three seasons ago, his eyes light up at the memory. He is clearly an artificial intelligence created to take over hockey.
Sam Lafferty? Feels like he think he’s being punished having to talk to us dumb dumbs (which again, fair enough).
Best just the tip
It might have been Myers hand that got hit, but as The Simpsons has taught us, getting hit in the balls wins awards, so let’s just all agree to say it hit him right in the plums:
Now again, that’s not a Chaos Giraffe play. You can’t assign that to his past persona. Buddy just blocked a shot, but sadly it was with his nards, so of course he’s going to need a breather. Not everyone can be Sami Salo.
Also if you watch the clip, you can see JT Miller lay out to block the shot, and he just misses it. Something JT put on himself after the game.
“I missed one on the penalty kill today that was kind of a goofy goal off of Mysey, but if I block that one it probably doesn’t end up in the back of the net.”
Best doing their jobs for them
That’s a fantastic clip from Lachlan. EP40 out here calling penalties like a young Sidney Crosby, minus the entitlement.
The powerplay went 0/6 on the night, but it did lead to one moment I want to point out:
Tyler Myers sneaks up the ice and almost tips in that shot from Hronek, once again leading me to ask the question of why isn’t Tyler Myers being put net front on the second power play unit. Imagine that tall behemoth of a man going full Zdeno Chara with the extra man, screening the goalie and creating the chaos he knows so well.
Best scoring race update
Oh no big deal, just Quinn Hughes picking up his second point of the net as he assists on JT Miller’s goal to make it 3-1:
And hey, that’s a great hard working goal. JT Miller coming through yet again to put the Canucks up a goal. The Sharks oddly considering Beauvillier a threat instead of just sending two guys to Miller is also good stuff.
And I hate to say it, but it’s clear that the small colored markings on Blackwood’s pads made it pretty easy for JT to score. You might as well paint a bullseye on the empty net and paint the words “Insert puck here” while we’re at it.
But the best part about this goal was Prince Harry, as previously mentioned, going bananas over it:
Now, I don’t know what was better after the game. Hearing Rick Tocchet say he fist bumped Prince Harry, despite not even knowing if that was allowed, or JT Miller looking very unimpressed over the entire thing when it was asked about in the scrum.
“No” he said when asked if he saw it, then he told the scrum “that has to be the closer” as he walked away as everyone laughed, myself included, because it’s rare moments without hockey cliches like this that you have to treasure in this business.
Best is that good?
That’s good, but I feel like we can do better.
Best oh that’s good
When you can get into conversations with Al MacInnis and Erik Karlsson, that feels like a good sign that you might be good at hockey.
But I’ve heard he’s not good defensively –
First off, stick tap to Anthony Beauvillier for making the initial backcheck on the play.
But then Quinn Hughes steps in, first controlling the stick of Filip Zadina, who I think has some sort of tie in with the destiny of Hughes, but I’m not sure. It’s rarely brought up. But I digress.
Hughes easily prevents Zadina from getting a stick on the puck, and then bounces the puck off the end boards and spins around Hertl, and then reverses the puck to his trusty sidekick Hronek to get a zone exit.
He is just so good at hockeying. Even when he hockeys, he hockeys the hockey while hockeying.
Best protect the guts
Protect the guts of the ice. Rick Tocchet brought it up again and again after the loss to the Kraken.
Well, the Canucks did a tremendous job of that Monday night, topping it off with defending the lead with the Sharks goalie pulled:
The Canucks keep that puck to the outside, grind down the clock in a board battle, and when the Sharks finally do get the puck towards the slot, who else but JT Miller slides down to block it.
Someone give Pepto-Bismol some money because those Canucks guts are looking mighty fine.
I’m so sorry for that. Its late. The Skytrain stops soon. I’m starting to get worried. Wagner is laughing beside me at his own jokes, so I’m scared he is doing a better article than me. There’s a lot going on right now.
The point is the Canucks played like good teams do. And sure, the Avalanche on Wednesday pose a bigger challenge, but as Rick Tocchet said after the game, this contest had its own value.
“I felt at first the first couple of lines were getting frustrated because they were getting some chances but they weren’t scoring…So you can’t get frustrated. We can’t sell the farm on every play. Sometimes it’s good to have those games where it’s 0-0 halfway through the game, and that’s ok. That’s something we got to keep learning.”
Best having the greatest time gif
Best back in black
When I started the #FreeTheSkate campaign many moons ago, I was very diplomatic in my approach.
“Just bring it back for a couple of games. Let it shine once more as the third jersey. Let us relive some moments that bring back the memories of that iconic 1994 Cup run. Remember Jimmy Carson? Good times, good times. Remember Lafayette’s post? Yeah, me neither.”
And after much pleading and campaigning, the Skate jerseys came back! In all their bold black, red, and yellow glory. It felt like they practically popped off the HD screens, demanding our attention like a coquettish look from an attractive lad or lass across the bar.
We’re now at the point where we don’t just see the jerseys a couple of times a season, we are getting them 15 times this year. I should be happy and pleased with this evolution in the campaign.
To quote Freddy, “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.”
I want it back full time.
I want the white version brought back.
I want to see a playoff run in these bad boys.
To the people who say the jersey is only special because we only see it a few times a year, how about you only drink your coffee three times a year so it really feels like an occasion to celebrate your caffeine fix. Or, you could have it every single day. All the time.
Because here’s the thing. The Quinn Hughes era is here. The blue and green had a good cycle with the Sedins. Couldn’t have gone better, aside from maybe one game 7 adjustment. But it was a glorious era. One that did it’s best to survive the Jim Benning era unscathed.
But the new era deserves a fresh start. It deserves a new look. It deserves a solid run with the skate jersey. Let someone start a “Unglue the Blue” campaign or whatever 20 years down the line to bring back that color scheme.
But right now? It should be all about the red, yellow and black attack. There is just something intimidating about that color scheme. Quinn Hughes shoots harder in it. Elias Pettersson dangles quicker in them. Dakota Joshua hits harder in them. Tyler Myers ‘Tyler Myers’s’ harder in them.
And you can’t help but wonder if management is toying with that idea as well. The Canucks are a thrifty bunch, so it makes you curious as to why they would invest in new black matte helmets for their third jersey.
Is change on the horizon next season? Will the Skate be fully freed?
We shall see.
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