logo

The Stanchies: Hughes brothers combine for 6 points in Canucks’ rollercoaster loss to New Jersey

alt
Photo credit:Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
2 months ago
Godspeed to Wyatt Arndt as he recovers from the debilitating illness that brought me onto Stanchies duty last minute.
I didn’t want to say anything, but Vancouver versus New Jersey is my favourite game to cover of the season.
Why?
Because, for one merciful night, the NHL and their various media partners collectively remember that players other than the Tkachuks exist.
I read every CA comment section despite being a regular contributor. I see the ire for the references to “GIF money” across the comment sections of every series we have here at CanucksArmy. It’s not going to change anything. But I do see the complaints.
Do you want to know my equivalent of “GIF money”? Something innocuous and inconsequential to your daily life that really has no business bothering you as much as it does, but it does, for some reason?
It’s the non-stop marketing of the Tkachuks to the entire NHL fanbase through advertisements, intermission highlight packages, and so on.
I can’t stand it.
I get it. They’re brothers who are excellent at hockey, play in the same division, are oozing with personality, they jaw at each other, and they lead their teams in scoring. Plus, their dad is Keith Tkachuk, who is a piece of hockey royalty himself.
That being said, 756 skaters have dressed for the NHL this season, and I think it’s not much to ask the League to discuss more than just two of them regularly.
Come on!
I digress.
Enter Quinn, Jack, and Luke Hughes, arguably the best trio of brothers the NHL has seen play concurrently since the Sutter brothers some half a century ago.
Tuesday night saw the trio play against each other for the first time ever on NHL ice.
It was the Night of the Hughes, Hughs-a-geddon, Hughesanity, the Hughperbowl; whatever elaborate Hughes-based word-play you want to call it, it was a wild game dominated by the Hughes brothers’ skating prowess, offensive dynamism, and creativity.
Remarking on the Devils’ skill and the emotional stakes of the game, Quinn Hughes stated, “I’m glad they’re not in our division, [instead of] playing them four times, we just got to play them twice.”
Too bad, because it’s not often you see an 11-goal hockey game on a Tuesday night!
With that, let’s get into this chaotic roller-coaster of an 11-goal hockey game and see how the Hughes boys did at the hockey!
Best lineup available
A friendly reminder that not only was it a black skate game, but it was the debut of the Canucks’ First Nations Celebration jersey, designed by Musqueam artists Cole Sparrow-Crawford and Cyler Sparrow-Point.
If you haven’t seen them yet, they are an absolutely gorgeous thing of beauty.
Given the Canucks’ push for more black skate jersey nights (more on that later), it’s clear the organization is open to a change to a refresh of their current jersey rotation. And given the club’s admirable decision to honour the Musqueam, Squamish, & Tsleil-Waututh Nations ahead of every home game, I could very well see a world in which Sparrow-Crawford and Sparrow-Point’s refresh of the Orca lands replaces the crest of the current home primaries.
Best Christmas Spirit
Good to know that when Detective McWard isn’t on the case, he’s out donating his time at Canuck Place’s Dave Lede House in Abbotsford alongside fellow Abbotsford Canuck Jermaine Loewen, helping brighten the days of families in need of a little lift during this holiday season.
Good on you, boys!
Bust, I mean Best start
Ignore my “bust” comment. I’m just busting Simon Nemec’s chops. Though it really was a brutal start for the 2022 2nd overall pick.
First, a J.T. Miller-like blind backhand pass in the d-zone that gave Ilya Mikheyev the first shot on goal of the evening.
Then, after the Devils iced the puck, Miller welcomed the rookie to Rogers Arena with a crushing hit along the right wall.
It was a tough first shift for Nemec, who got caught with his head down twice on his first shift of the game.
Physicality was clearly on the agenda for Rick Tocchet’s boys. Nikita Zadorov endeared himself in his debut in front of the home crowd, stepping up in the neutral zone to lay a hard hip-check on ex-Canuck Curtis Lazar that sent him to the ice.
Worst “I’ve made a huge mistake”
Though the first couple of shifts were decidedly in Vancouver’s favour, the game began to slip away from them when the Devils got their footing.
After a half-hearted forechecking effort from Miller, the Devils’ defence capitalized, springing Ondrej Palat and Jesper Bratt into the Canucks’ zone, deep behind Quinn Hughes (bad!) for a two-on-one (even badder!), which gave Bratt a breakaway chance on Demko (literally the worst!).
Incredibly, Demko made the quick stop off his blocker, directing the rebound into the half wall. But the hits didn’t stop coming.
A slow chip-and-chase effort from the Canucks allowed the Devils to send the puck around the boards to the right wall, drawing a pinch attempt from Filip Hronek. The bounce did not go Hronek’s way, and suddenly, Bratt was on his second two-on-one in a matter of seconds.
Bratt made no mistake this time.
New Jersey Devils Goal: 1-0 Devils
Hughes did an admirable job on the retreat to negate the passing option for Bratt. Unfortunately, pundits and Devils fans don’t call him JBITBPITNHL (Jesper Bratt is the best player in the NHL) because it’s ironic.
He good!
Hronek and the Miller line learned that fact the hard way.
The Canucks did manage to pressure the Devils off of the reset. Hughes worked his magic to set Hronek up for the one-timer bomb. Unfortunately, Hronek’s been shooting for speed these days, not accuracy.
Quinn Hughes, though?
My god, watching him work the offensive zone against the Devils was such a treat.
Earlier in the period, Hughes spun off a backcheck from his brother and a forecheck from Tyler Toffoli to play the puck down behind the goal line like it was a non-issue.
Everything he did in the opening frame to try and change the tide for Vancouver looked effortless, like shaking Nathan Bastian at the blue line to wheel toward the slot for a shot on Vitek Vanecek.
Best PP
Though they didn’t see too many shifts in the opening 10 minutes due to Rick Tocchet actively searching for the best matchups for his top six, the Toyota Sales Event line of Dakota Joshua, Conor Garland, and Teddy Blueger continued to be a positive force for good.
With Jack Hughes making a shift change, Blueger leaped onto a mistimed drop pass to attack Colin Miller inside the neutral zone. Blueger’s tenacity frazzled Miller, allowing Joshua to collapse on the puck and race into the offensive zone, drawing Miller into making a hail mary reach with his stick. Joshua drew the trip, giving the Canucks a badly-needed power play opportunity to reset the momentum.
The Canucks got a total freebie off the faceoff draw when Michael McLeod’s stick broke on him immediately at the puck drop. The 6’6″ forward made a foolish race to the bench for a fresh twig, opening up the Canucks to play the puck to the crease for Miller, who scored his 14th of the season.
Vancouver Canucks Goal: 1-1 tie
The power play tally broke a six-game goalless drought for Miller.
Unfortunately, the Devils are a fast team, and like Gene Parmesan, a quick response time is their specialty.
Worst Entmoot
The Garland, Joshua, and Blueger line really gave the Canucks life. Approaching the midway mark of the period, Garland tied up the puck along the half-wall long enough to earn the Miller, Kuzmenko, and Boeser line a faceoff outside the Devils’ blue line.
Colin Miller made it look all too easy when he shook the forechecking pressure of Kuzmenko to zip a cross-ice pass to Jack Hughes for the zone entry (bad!).
Tyler Myers then made one of the more inexplicable passes I’ve ever seen during his Canucks tenure.
After racing to the end boards for the puck retrieval, Jack Hughes sat back and let Myers do his thing. In this case, let Myers pass him the puck immediately after recovering it so he could zip a pass to Erik Haula at the front of the net to regain the lead.
New Jersey Devils Goal: 2-1 Devils
It was so. bad.
Do you even want a replay of the goal?
For the life of me, I can’t figure out if Myers just misplayed the puck or forgot that Hughes was just sitting there. Myers plays the sequence so incredibly slow that it makes no sense that passing up the boards where he knows Hughes’ is would be the option. Even the Ents came to the right decision in Fangorn Forest faster than Myers did on that sequence.
Worst end-of-period speedrun
Not long after, Myers’ Ent-brother Nikita Zadorov drew a high-sticking penalty against Erik Haula to give Vancouver their second straight power play.
Kuzmenko looked shaky, double-clutching with time and space, opting to pass back to Hughes on the line rather than take a shot.
Brock Boeser then whiffed on an empty-net tap-in opportunity before Kuzmenko whipped a half-hearted shot into the thigh of Nico Hischier.
The Kuz of last year rips that shot as hard as humanly possible.
The Kuz of this year, though? He’s off.
The few power play chances Vancouver got seemed to galvanize the club at 5-on-5 for the briefest of moments.
Though he barely played in the first period, Nils Höglander busted his ass on the forecheck, sparking a scoring chance for Sam Lafferty.
However, after a TV timeout, the wheels fell off for Vancouver.
First, Ondrej Palat nearly set up Simon Nemec for his first goal of the year.
Then, Noah Juulsen iced the puck, giving the Devils an offensive zone faceoff.
Teddy Blueger took the faceoff against Jack Hughes but lost.
Hughes then slipped behind Blueger and Noah Juulsen to catch a wrister from Kevin Bahl at the front of Demko’s crease. Hughes then reached around an outstretched Demko to give the Devils a two-goal lead.
New Jersey Devils Goal: 3-1 Devils
Less than two minutes later, a shot off the left wall from Curtis Lazar ricocheted off of Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod past Demko to give the Devils a three-goal lead.
New Jersey Devils Goal: 4-1 Devils
The Canucks third line gave the home crowd something to cheer for in the dying seconds of the period when a carry-in from Nikita Zadorov gave way to a play to the net from Blueger to Garland and the rebound goal from Joshua to cut the deficit.
Vancouver Canucks Goal: 4-2 Devils
Despite the 4-2 scoreline, Vanecek looked shaky on both Canuck goals.
The absolute worst, most-boring period of hockey ever
Okay, the period wasn’t that bad. But after watching the club get clowned by the Devils’ puck movement and give up three straight goals on home ice, the fanbase’s frustration peaked.
After a hectic final ten minutes of the first period, the opening ten minutes of the second frame saw the two teams combine for a relatively chill eight shots total.
The most notable aspect of the second period was the Canucks decision to shake up the d-pairings. The Entmoot was broken up, with Myers sliding up to a pairing with Quinn Hughes, Nikita Zadorov sliding to a pairing with Noah Juulsen, and Ian Cole settling in beside Filip Hronek.
Linus Karlsson had a decent period after barely playing in the opening 20.
First, it was a hardworking effort on the forecheck alongside Höglander.
Then, it was just a no-nonsense sequence that began with Karlsson breaking the puck out of the d-zone and finished with him stripping Nathan Bastian of the puck for a quick shot attempt on Vanecek.
.
At one point, Karlsson caught a rut in the neutral zone but recovered to send the puck down the left wall for Höglander to attack the zone.
Like I said, it was a pretty boring period. Very inconsequential plays, like these minor highlights of Linus Karlsson’s, were all I had to work with.
As though the players wanted to pay tribute to their returning former head coach Travis Green, the Canucks took a too-many-men penalty with eight minutes left in the period, giving New Jersey their first power play of the game.
The Canucks held strong against New Jersey’s rapid-fire attack. A misplay of the puck from Jack allowed Dakota Joshua to clear the zone.
Upon reentry, the Devils pressed hard for their three-goal lead. Tyler Myers nearly earned his second assist on a Devils’ goal when he played the puck through his legs to Jack Hughes with the net wide open.
After making the initial save, the puck squeaked back out to Jack, who ripped the puck off the crossbar.
It was all New Jersey after their power play concluded. Then Linus Karlsson continued his strong period, drawing an interference penalty against John Marino while awaiting a breakout feed from Hronek while inside the neutral zone.
Though he’d been snakebitten all game, Kuzmenko gave Vancouver their best look of the period when he set up Miller for a shot off the post.
It was a pretty slick sequence, too. Miller caught a clearing attempt to send Kuzmenko behind the defence for a shot on Vanecek. Kuzmenko then caught his rebound off the backboards to set Miller up with a backhand pass to the slot for the one-timer.
As they say in League of Legends e-culture, “That’s a tilter!”
Luke Hughes then drew a penalty against Dakota Joshua in the final minute of the period and scored his fourth goal of the season on the ensuing power play.
It do be like that, sometimes.
Worst “was tonight’s performance the work of Mr.Booth07?”
Again, as if paying tribute to Travis Green, his good buddy Rick Tocchet pulled out the TG line blender from Rogers Arena storage to begin the third period.
Dakota Joshua bumped Ilya Mikheyev off the top line to play with Elias Pettersson and Sam Lafferty, and Nils Höglander bumped Andrei Kuzmenko off the Miller line with Brock Boeser.
On his second shift, Miller drew a tripping penalty against Erik Haula to give the Canucks a fourth power play opportunity. But it was highly unsuccessful.
Kuzmenko continued to struggle, fanning on his pass attempts and freezing with the puck rather than firing the puck on net.
Like the second period, Kuzmenko was clearly overthinking his options. Earlier this season, Kuzmenko acknowledged a need to shoot the puck more. Unfortunately, against the Devils, Kuzmenko was back looking for the perfect shooting lane rather than just firing pucks into traffic and allowing his forwards to attack rebound chances.
The bounces trolled Kuzmenko hard through 40 minutes, and his performance suffered greatly because of it. If he simply shoots more, the weird ones that come off the bounces will eventually fall his way. He needs them to. The team needs them to!
Best BBITBGITNHL (Brock Boeser is the best goalscorer in the NHL)
The line shakeup experiment eventually paid off for the Miller line.
Moments after flattening Nathan Bastian outside the Devils’ blue line with a hit, Miller collapsed down the left wing to set up Brock Boeser with a brilliant cross-ice feed for his 18th goal of the season.
Vancouver Canucks Goals: 5-3 Devils
Though he won’t get a point on the play, Höglander’s pressure forced the Devils’ Jonas Siegenthaler into throwing the puck up the boards while under pressure. Siegenthaler’s failed rim attempt didn’t have the heat required to clear the zone, allowing Miller to pick up the puck for the pass.
Worst ways to impress the coach
After getting demoted to the fourth line alongside Linus Karlsson (having a great night) and Nils Åman (certainly playing hockey against the Devils), Ilya Mikheyev made one lazy defensive check that I wanted to spotlight as an example of “how not to work your back into the coach’s favour.”
It’s not like this lazy poke-check attempt was coming at the end of an exhausting shift or anything. The Canucks started the sequence in the d-zone, with Linus Karlsson moving the puck through the neutral zone for a dump-in from Ian Cole. After a series of exchanges along the left boards, the puck bounced off Karlsson’s stick out of Colin Miller’s reach. Rather than challenge Miller for the puck, Mikheyev coasted down the wing with a half-hearted poke-check.
The Devils gained the zone from this exit, and I bet the coaching staff noted it.
Best Rick Tocchet for Jack Adams
The Canucks really had to work for this one.
Like reaaaaally hard.
And credit to them. Rick Tocchet didn’t like the defence in the first period, so they threw it all in the blender.
He hated how the forwards played in the second, so he threw them all into a blender and effectively played three lines throughout the final 20 minutes.
AND IT WORKED.
After an offensive zone faceoff win by Elias Pettersson, he and Quinn ripped a quick give-and-go down the left wing, resulting in a point shot from Hughes and a tip-in from Sam Lafferty at the front of the net to put the Canucks within spitting distance.
Vancouver Canucks Goals: 5-4 Devils
Then, Nils Höglander and the revamped first line capitalized on an uncontrolled rebound off of Vanecek’s left pad to tie the game at five apiece.
Vancouver Canucks goal: 5-5 Tie
It was pretty wild.
The goal sequence only existed because of Quinn Hughes’ magnificent effort to shake Timo Meier at the Devils’ blue line for a shot on Vanecek from the left wing.
Worst false hope (aka Maybe Lindy Ruff for Jack Adams, actually)
That Lindy Ruff was all business after the tying goal from Höglander. With less than three minutes in a tie game, with a faceoff inside the Canucks’ zone, Ruff called for a timeout. He wasn’t f****** around. He wanted his team to win in regulation. He had zero intention of taking this game to overtime.
It was ruthless.
Then, a non-effort forecheck from Garland and Mikheyev gave way to a breakout for the Devils and a failed challenge from Myers on Jack Hughes inside the neutral zone.
Somehow, the backchecking Nikita Zadorov did not take a penalty for hauling Hughes to the ice on his breakaway drive on Demko.
That neither Zadorov nor Jack took penalties for their infractions (hooking and abusing the officials) was a sight to behold.
It didn’t matter though. A lazy clearing attempt gave the Devils a late chance to set up a cycle, and a poorly controlled rebound from Thatch Demko gave Jesper Bratt, of Jesper Bratt is the best player in the NHL fame, a tap-in.
New Jersey Devils Goal: 6-5 Devils
Hronek had the right idea, chasing the puck possessor up to the circles. But Dakota Joshua backs off of Bratt after he drops below the goal line, resulting in Pettersson, Cole, and Joshua scrambling aimlessly through the slot, trying to defend the point shot from Kevin Bahl.
During his post-game availability, Tocchet couldn’t believe the lapse in coverage. “You could blame all five guys on the ice for that. I still don’t understand where guys were going on that play. That’s why we keep hammering these guys on details.”
A disappointing goal sequence after such a valiant effort to make a blowout into a game.
The Canucks pulled Demko for a late drive. But it was too little too late.
Best deep breaths
Peak jersey botch
Worst (but best) Conspiracy Theory
The Vancouver Canucks added a black skate jersey to their rotation 47 days after dropping their full “black skate” schedule to their website.
Days ago, Quinn Hughes launched his TEAM 43 program that brings first responders from the community to Canucks home games. The logo for his initiative was noticeably in the black skate colours.
Is it a conspiracy to believe that the Canucks leadership group is driving the organization toward wearing the black skate more than prescribed? We all know the players love wearing it! I asked David Quadrelli to ask Hughes about it in the post-game scrum, but he forgot to ask.
Elias Pettersson’s Player Series hat was quite literally the black skate jersey embroidered on a hat!

Failed to load video.

“I like the flying skate logo.” – Elias Pettersson.
Should we be bracing ourselves for another jersey refresh for 2024-25?
Worst analytics
Uh oh.
I’m sure Rick Dhaliwal will have Dan Millstein’s full reaction to Tocchet’s comments tomorrow morning on Donnie & Dhali.

Check out these posts...