Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: Jake Sanderson’s two goals lead Canucks to victory over Senators
1 month ago
If Nearly Neil Diamond has taught us anything, it’s that if you put on enough of a show, people tend to ignore the mistakes.
So on a night in which the Canucks won 6-3 over the visiting Ottawa Senators, you’d think there would be jubilation in the locker room after the game. It was another game in which the Canucks bounced back from a dreadful performance with a big win, continuing to tease the narrative that this team might be for real.
But instead of music blaring out of a JBL Partybox, and maybe Garland trying to tackle the high notes in Take On Me, the assembled media was instead met by a group who didn’t seem fully satisfied. By a coach that didn’t think they played well enough. By an organization that is seemingly constantly striving to be better.
In fact, there was no revelling to be found anywhere. Not a single revel was discovered. Did an unnamed media member accidentally kick a pair of skates halfway across the locker room leading to an Elias Pettersson side eye of death during the media scrum? You’re damn right.
But did any of the Canucks players seem to be relishing the 6-3 victory? Not really.
True, there was no sense of sadness or anger in the air like there was after the Flyers game. None of the players looked dead inside as they did their best to answer questions about being disappointed in the result.
But there was a general sense that after going up 5-0, that the team kind of coasted to the finish line, something Rick Tocchet brought up after the game.
“We didn’t play the right way. We take the two points, but it’s a learning lesson for us. I did not like our 40. I hope our guys didn’t. But hey we won the game. Loved our first period. So that’s basically my assessment of the game.”
And if you thought Tocchet was frank in his assessment of his team’s performance, JT Miller went even harder in the paint.
“I feel like we totally just totally sat on a five goal lead after the first period. Somewhere if we’re going to take steps as a team, we need to play the second and third like it’s nothing-nothing. I thought that we played worse after the first period. Nice to enjoy the win, but you know it’s kind of been going the same all year. We’re going to evaluate ourselves honestly, and we didn’t play very well after the first period.”
And if we’re being honest with each other, the fans of Vancouver are going to love hearing this kind of commentary. The city doesn’t want a team satisfied with incomplete performances. This city doesn’t want to ride any of that “Gee, we’re just happy to be here” energy you have when you get a second date.
No, this city wants a stone cold killer. They want a team ready to win at all costs.
They want a team that will stop at nothing, even if it means openly murdering Thomas Drance in post-game interviews.
To quote Neary Neil, quoting Neil Diamond, “did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein’ a king?” Because the crown is what the Canucks are gunning for.
And that’s exactly how it should be.
Best Stone Cold Killer
It’s not the delivery that kills me. It’s how Miller then looks off Drance as he drops the mic. Like, he’s all done with Drance and he wants everyone in the room to know it. You could not try to murder a person in a media scrum harder if you tried.
This is the equivalent of heavyweight landing a knockout punch in the UFC and just walking away because he knows he doesn’t need to follow up with anything else because his opponent is OUT.
This is the equivalent of telling your wife you actually did the laundry, you just can’t see it on the bed because you already folded it up and put it away.
Lesson of the day? Come at the king, you best not miss…the game…sheet…scoring summary.
(Realistically all media screw up questions and it’s fair game for players to have fun with it. I just enjoy roasting my buddy Drance.)
Best Stone Cole’d Killer
Speaking of New Year’s Resolutions, Ian Cole had it right when he made his goal easy and attainable. Forget setting a goal of losing 20 pounds or eating healthy for a month. Just say you want to score a single goal and go out and do it:
Why set hard goals when you can get that low hanging fruit? It’s why my New Year’s resolution was to try and wear hoodies more often. This is attainable. This is something I can do.
This was oddly enough the cleanest goal on the night for the Vancouver Canucks. It might also have been the purest goal in the sense that they planned to shoot the puck on net and it went straight in. It didn’t bounce off the glass, hit a stanchion, or get tapped in by Jake Sanderson.
It was just a shot through traffic that went to work, collected its pay cheque, and dutifully paid off a bit of its mortgage.
Compared to the rest of the goals the Canucks scored, this one felt downright clever and meticulously planned out.
However, when asked about his first goal after the game, Ian Cole wasn’t too keen on parading around the locker room about his accomplishment.
“I honestly couldn’t care less. Whether I score zero goals or ten goals, it really doesn’t make a difference if we’re winning hockey games and we’re not getting scored on. Like, I’m good.”
We talked last game about Ian Cole being the best guy to talk to after a loss, well, he’s also the best guy to talk to after a win. The guy will spend 10 minutes breaking down questions and talking to media to the point that you can see the Canucks PR team nervously checking their watches to see when they can brush the media out of the room.
This market does not intimidate Ian Cole one iota.
Best informative lineup tweet
The Professor of Pressure, Phil Di Giuseppe, was put back on a line with Miller and Boeser, but unfortunately left the game in the first period on what looked to be a non-contact injury. It was a lower body malady that Tocchet said might keep him out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.
“I haven’t talked to the doctors or trainers yet, but I don’t think he’s going to be playing for a while. I don’t have the exact timeline.”
Fun fact, I originally wrote “time lime” which sounds more delightful, but just as ambiguous.
Which meant the line blender got put to use, giving us random guest appearances like Ilya Mikheyev playing a shift with JT Miller, leading to this scoring chance:
That’s a nice pass from JT Miller, who is probably one of the more underrated playmakers in the league. Ilya Mikheyev gets off a quick shot, but he has two modes, “score a goal through a goalie’s chest” or “shoot a puck into a goalie’s chest”, and there is no other outcome.
His instincts to curl back and get open for that pass, though? A plus.
Best owning up
We call this pulling a Noah Juulsen, in which you admit you might have been wrong about a player.
(Never fully say you’re wrong for at least a season, give yourself some wiggle room.)
Pius Suter got his first of two goals on the night off of a fortuitous bounce off the glass:
Not to be lost in this goal was the nice pass from Zadorov to find an open Tyler Myers, and Chaos Giraffe doing the ol’ Sedin slap pass down low to Sam Lafferty for the initial tip attempt.
Suter cleans up the trash and literally gets to bat the puck to his feet and tap in the puck past a clearly lost and frightened Anton Forsberg who at this point is starting to have a sneaking suspicion that he’s about to have a short night of work.
Best attempt at a jinx
Despite the cynical curiosity from J-Pats, the Canucks managed to keep the offense motoring, rather than shutting things down after going up two goals. You could almost hear Travis Green howling in agony across the country:
Did Blueger or Suter score? No. These clips are merely to showcase how much offense the Canucks were generating in the first period.
Realistically this game was over after twenty minutes, as the Canucks played fantastic in the opening period. You can see how hard they played and how they were creating those North/South chances Rick Tocchet loves so much.
The issue was the 40 minutes after this period was sloppy.
Did it ever feel like the Canucks were going to lose this game? No. But in terms of having that nice clean win, it really did feel like the Canucks made things more complicated than your dating life.
The good news is we have three goals in a row to showcase that weren’t score by the Flyers!
Best make it three
Elias Pettersson got his 14th goal of the night when he once again busted out his newly acquired skill of wraparounds:
Every year it feels like Pettersson adds a new weapon to his game. He’s like the NHL version of Sylar, I keep expecting to find out he examined the brains of former hockey players to absorb their powers.
Underrated part of this goal? Thomas Chabot flinging the puck angrily out of his own net while Jake Sanderson somewhere seemingly took a blood oath to score two straight goals no matter what the cost.
Best make it four
And thus the infamous JT Miller vs Drancer goal was born:
As you can see, it’s Nikita Zadorov taking the shot that JT Miller then tips, which then goes in off of Jake Sanderson, which I then checked around a hundred times to make sure I got everything right lest JT Miller turn his sights on me.
So I can confidently say that Jake Sanderson put the Canucks up 4-0 on the night, assisted by JT Miller and Zadorov.
Best make it five
Not content to score just one goal, Jake Sanderson seemed committed to burying his team as deep as possible as he would then tip in an Elias Pettersson shot on the powerplay, with “hey we know that guy!” Zach MacEwen:
OK I am being told that it’s Zack MacEwen, and oh god, please, nobody tell JT Miller I got that wrong. I beg of you. Drance can handle that heat, but I can’t.
Pettersson kind of heeled the shot, which compounded with a Sanderson tip, fooled Joonas Korpisalo (now in for Forsberg).
Elias’ body language after the goal seemed a combination of rueful regret, almost as if he demands perfection from himself and if it isn’t a 100mph dapper slapper clapper goal, then damn it, he doesn’t want it.
A theory he quickly dispelled after the game.
“I’ll take it every day. It’s just one of those lucky ones. I don’t know. It’s just my natural reaction.”
As they say, they don’t ask how it went in, they just ask when it was born.
(Is that not the saying? Sweet geezus, please, I beg of you, don’t let JT Miller see this.)
Best spitting facts
Hey, The Contraceptive Line needs a night off once in a while. That’s why you pay the big bucks to Pettersson and Miller, so they can carry you on the nights where Corolla Garland is a bit low on gas.
Best one man Army
With the Canucks having put up 5 goals on the night, they then proceeded to check out and coast their way to the aforementioned 6-3 victory.
But you do have to give credit to Ottawa, and Claude Giroux in particular, for trying to make a game out of it:
That is Claude Giroux turning back the clock and playing like it is the year 2017. The patience he shows on that puck drag makes you question if Viagra is even needed in our world any longer.
In terms of sloppiness, however, the Canucks are a solid 8 out of 10 on this goal. From the horrible timing on the line change from Garland’s line, to Tyler Myers and Ilya Mikheyev taking turns at missing the puck, culminating in Myers going full Chaos Giraffe as he attempts what can best be described as a desperation road hockey save, it was one of those goals you know Rick Tocchet absolutely hates.
It’s one thing for a star player to pull out a stunning move against your team. It’s another thing to serve it up on a platter to them.
Giroux wasn’t done there as he would then almost bang in a rebound high in the slot:
Thatcher Demko, who is very committed to making every save look really easy, makes that save look really easy, when in reality, this game could have been cut to a three goal lead just like that.
To finish off his time travelling ways, Giroux then pulled a Mario Lemieux fake shot pass through along the blue line:
I am telling you, Claude was feeling it in Vancouver on Tuesday night. He looked like a young Jeff Lazaro for the Senators. It was a very fun throwback.
Best or did they?
Sure, the Canucks stopped shooting in volume and didn’t seem interested in scoring too many more goals, but they did generate some chances.
Despite being outplayed by the Senators for 10 straight minutes, JT Miller and Brock Boeser finally had an extended shift in the Senators zone leading to their best chance of the period:
Did JT Miller score? No, of course not. It’s impossible to score another goal after you’re already locked in on taking out Drance post game.
But he made Ottawa think he might score a goal, which is still a psychological edge.
Ilya Mikheyev then generated a shorthanded breakaway:
Fantastic pass to send Mikheyev in all alone, but since Ilya went to the Tyler Motte School of Not Scoring on Too Many Breakaways and Stuff, he gets denied by the non Joonas brother.
Then with the penalty about to expire, Nikita Zadorov had the vision to send the puck via Purolator over to Sam Lafferty for a breakaway:
But because Lafferty didn’t go to the Trevor Linden School of Shoot the Puck and Don’t Bother Dangling and Stuff, he too gets denied by Joonas.
I assume Korpisalo must have felt unstoppable at this point, like no puck could ever beat him again. That despite breakaway after breakaway, no puck would ever get by him. In fact, it would take a miracle from the Gods themselves (or Chad Kroeger) for any further shot to beat him on the night. It would have to be the stuff of legends, the kind of shot Ovechkin dared not dream of even at the height of his powers.
Anyhoo, Corolla Garland then made a cameo on Boeser and Miller’s line as they attempted to crash the net for a goal to end the period:
Don’t get me wrong, the Canucks played sloppy. They didn’t run a perfect end to this game. If they were washing your car, they clearly didn’t bother doing the roof.
But they also didn’t give up a ton of grade A scoring chances, and they controlled the puck for a majority of the game.
It was just when they screwed up, it tended to be of the big variety.
It has been a while since we’ve seen a good slip ‘n slide from the Vancouver Canucks. We used to see these almost weekly from Tyler Myers, as slipping and sliding is as natural to a Chaos Giraffe as rockin’ and rollin’ and whatnot is to Danny Zuko.
And you know what? We’ve seen some awful slip and slides from Tyler Myers over the years. The ones where he dives down and just slides into space, taking himself out of the play completely.
Well, Fil Hronek has tossed his hat in the ring as a new contender for the slip and slide crown:
That’s the kind of slide that feels premeditated. Like if this was a trial, he’d be getting charged with first degree sliding.
It’s also the kind of slide where you wonder if he was gassed from skating back so hard, so he just drops and slides so he can at least tell the coach he went all in on the defence.
“I dove bro, didn’t you see me dive? I tried so hard and I got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter, I guess.”
He doesn’t even wait for Giroux to make a move, instead taking all guesswork out of the equation. He commits early and hard, leaving Claude with more than enough time to go toe dragging, as he is known to do, leading to an easy tap in pass for Tarasenko.
Again, the Canucks didn’t play awful, but the mistakes they made were kind of gross. Like that questionable milk in your fridge. It’s probably not bad, but why take chances.
Best go for broke
Hey, when you’re Nearly Nils, and everyone and their mother is waiting on you to bust out the Michigan, you gotta keep people on their toes by trying the bank shot from behind the net:
I do enjoy how Jacob Bernard-Docker casually grabs the puck and goes about his day, but it does bring up the question of if that’s a penalty. Does the puck have to be touching the actual crease to be awarded a penalty shot, or does it being in the air above the crease count?
I would ask further questions but my god, you saw what JT Miller did to Drance, I can’t afford to have this hole in my knowledge get back to him.
Best boots to asses
Again, the Senators tried to do some smart things in this game, mainly keying in on Elias Pettersson and playing him really hard (phrasing, I know):
Earlier in the game EP40 was smashed into the boards near the Senators bench, and a trio of Ottawa players took turns giving him small shots as they skated by. At one point I thought someone shouted “Worldstar!” and it felt like things were escalating.
And as you can see in the clip above, Brady Tkachuk had no problem hacking at Elias’ leg and then accidentally on purpose fall on top of him, shoving his head into the ice, then accidentally on purpose leaning on Elias’ body as he tried to get up.
It’s a smart play and something you’ll see more of, especially in the playoffs.
Now, the Canucks didn’t really retaliate (again, coasting mode was activated after 20), but Zadorov’s role of personal body guard for Elias seemed to be in order as he would later take out Brady:
Not a massive hit, but enough of a shove to the ice to let Brady know he has his eye on him. That’s the kind of stuff that endears a player to his teammates.
Best sloppy joes
The Canucks and Senators then traded chances, with Brady almost scoring first:
Demko denies the goal with a nice pad save, and then Quinn Hughes provides a last second stick to disrupt Brady from depositing the puck behind the Canucks goaltender.
And speaking of players turning vintage, Ilya Mikheyev went full Todd Bertuzzi with this power move to the net:
That’s prime 2003 Bert, where he turns his body sideways to protect the puck, then bursts out of his stance to drive the puck hard to the net.
Again, no goal because that’s just not how Mikheyev rolls, but anytime you can remind me of the 2003 White Unicorn Todd Bertuzzi season, that’s a good thing.
If you remind me of the 2004 Todd Bertuzzi, that’s a bad thing, and we’re probably talking lawsuits.
But 2003 Todd Bertuzzi? If I could relive one regular season, it would be 2003 just to experience that high again.
Best please let this game end for the love of all that is holy
With their goalie pulled, the Senators then made it 5-3, leading to a variety of pained expressions on the face of Rick Tocchet:
It’s a bang bang (vámonos vámonos) play from the Senators, and it was with Garland on the ice, so you know you can just throw this one out the window. Sometimes shit happens. The Senators worked hard, got greasy, and got themselves a third goal.
And even with that, it still didn’t feel like the Canucks were in any trouble. Which either speaks to the Canucks being a better team, or the Senators being a worse team. I shall leave that up to you to decide.
Best put it to bed
All of which leads us to a prime example of this debate, in which Korpisalo did this:
And Demko did this:
On one end, you have a full-on Dan Cloutier moment from Joonas, as the Pius Shooter shot (I wrote shooter by accident, I might be tired, but let’s go with it, don’t tell JT it was a mistake, it was intentional, I like nicknames, I’m the crazy nickname guy) somehow eludes him and bounces over his glove.
On the other hand you have Thatcher Demko going post to post making a gorgeous glove save that you can almost hear Don Taylor speaking about in a sports highlight package.
And that was the game.
The Canucks won. They weren’t happy with it. And now they get to go on another road trip to try and test themselves and prove to the league they are the real deal.
Let’s do that hockey, baby.
To be a fly on the wall…
“First period was great. Do that. Don’t do the stuff in the third period. Fix it and move on.”
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