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The Stanchies: The Juulsen glow-up, the big Hög, and JT Miller calling game in overtime against Washington

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Photo credit:© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Trent Leith
9 days ago
It has been said for ages that when the Canucks are winning, the city comes alive.
Well, right now, the city is alive.
Despite the Canucks playing their second morning game in a row, you could not go anywhere today without hearing about The Big Game. Good luck getting into a pub or sports bar to watch the game today; you needed to buy tickets ages ago to even think of getting in the door.
It was the fourth game of a road trip, a Sunday matinee against a struggling Washington Capitals team, and despite that, all I heard at my beer league game Saturday night was people asking, “Where are you watching The Big Game tomorrow?”
“Oh, we have six or seven friends coming over. We’ve got tons of food and drinks; even the wives are excited!”
MAYBE my information was wrong. This 3-2 overtime win was the big game heard ’round the world. Everyone came together to support your Canucks today. Heck, I even heard rumours that Taylor Swift was in attendance!
Imagine that! THE Taylor Swift supporting Travis Kelce’s favourite team growing up?
I guess when the Canucks are a winning team, the city truly comes alive.
Let’s get into the action!
Best available lineup
Worst “Uh-Oh”
Nikita Zadorov was suspended for two games for making head contact with Lucas Raymond in Saturday’s afternoon against Detroit. Zadorov was immediately given a five-minute major and game misconduct.
Argue all you want about Zadorov’s intent, size, or the fact Raymond came back. The suspension kept Zadorov out of the action.
With Zadorov out, Mark Friedman got the tap to return to the line-up. Other than Friedman drawing in and Demko getting the start, the lines would remain the same from Saturday’s game in Detroit.
Worst “Not Again…”
The Canucks let in another early goal, but they are improving from their past two games.
See, the Canucks let in the first goal of the game in the first minute of the game in the Boston and Detroit games on this road trip. On Sunday, the Canucks held off the first goal until 1:08 into the first period.
#Progress
Joking aside, the early goals are becoming a problem. Immediately playing from behind, as we’ve seen, is not a sustainable way to start games. Three straight first-minute goals against is giving Jacob Markstrom flashbacks, and I am scared.
The Canucks have allowed the first goal of the game now for six straight games.
Former Vancouver Canuck Nic Dowd opened the scoring in this one. It looked like the Canucks didn’t have time to finish their coffees before the start of the game on this play.
And can you blame them? I hadn’t been able to finish mine yet, either!
The Canucks seemed to get mixed up thinking the puck was going to be rimmed behind the net, and because of that, Ian Cole offered no coverage on Dowd, who was gifted an easy tap-in from the net front.
With the goal, Dowd had already matched a third of his total goals scored while as a Canuck. Unbelievable.
The Canucks certainly came out like they were playing in their second matinee in as many days; the Caps seemed to be all over them, they couldn’t generate any chances, and it looked like it was going to be a long morning. I was already cursing Wyatt under my breath, thinking he’d tricked me into covering this game for my Stanchies debut.
But the Caps were also coming off a back-to-back of matinee games, so there was really no excuse for the poor start from the Canucks. Thankfully, Demko came ready to play.
After the soft cross-check that Hughes was called for on Saturday, leading to the OT loss, it was frustrating watching Hronek get a firm, hard cross-check in the back from Ovechkin that saw him slow to get up.
With Zadorov suspended and Soucy still out with an injury, I think everyone was clenching a little bit until Hronek came out for his next shift.
Best Third Line Ever?
The Canucks third line had a fantastic game again.
According to Natural Stat Trick, Corolla Garland and friends had above 71% Corsi at five-on-five and had a scoring chance edge of 6-1. For those who aren’t stat nerds and don’t fully grasp that kind of spread, that level of control is utter dominance. Like, best in the NHL level stuff from this line.
Now, I am not saying they should be the new “Perfection Line” or anything—they feast on weaker matchups and only had 8:33 of ice time together at even strength—but they surely have to be the best third line in hockey right now. And a lot of that comes from Conor Garland’s ability to drive play.
Garland scored his first goal in six games for his 9th of the year, tying the game on a partial breakaway feed from Noah Juulsen—more on him in a bit—Garland was at the right place at the right time and had the entire right wing to himself to walk in for a goal over Kuemper’s blocker side to tie the game.
It is shocking to me that Blueger, Joshua and Garland had been held goalless in six games prior to tonight. Considering their engines and the offensive zone time they produce, you’d think they would have more to show for it lately. That said, they keep grinding. The success of this line might be one of, if not the most important aspect of this team’s rise in the standings this year.
They just don’t stop.
Not 20 seconds later, Garland was trying to toe-drag around a Washington defender to try and set up Joshua for a backdoor tap-in.
As a reward for their hard work, both Garland and Joshua were first over the boards for powerplay in the first period, and they were on the ice for the entire two minutes as they kept the Capitals hemmed into their end the entire time.
Best Eating of Words
Noah Juulsen has had a serious glow-up this season. At the start of the year, fans and media were researching ways to legally launch Juulsen into the sun so he wouldn’t play anymore.
Flashforward to now, and Juulsen is readily one of the club’s most reliable defenders on the team.
Juulsen is like a Casio F91-W. If you aren’t a watch guy, that is a digital watch. If you ask a child to draw a digital watch, they will accidentally draw the F91-W. It is the most generic, nothing watch you can get. But here is the thing: it is cheap and will outperform any $50,000 Rolex you can get your hands on.
If Garland is a Corolla because he is reliable and won’t stop, Juulsen is a Casio F91-W.
Is it flashy? Nope. Will it impress anyone? Nope. Will it always tell you the time? Yep.
Now, F91-W isn’t a nickname that will stick like Corolla Garland, but the sentiment sticks.
Juulsen had a great stretch pass to Garland to open the scoring in the first period. It was a simple, straightforward play, and it worked. There was no fancy edge work, no walking of the line, no bells and whistles, just a nice crisp pass right on the tape.
Here he is late in the first, defending the rush in the neutral zone. He has good gap control, and when he realizes that Malenstyn has nowhere to go and no pass to make, Juulsen steps up and drills him, and the Canucks regain possession for a breakout.
Keep those apologies coming, people; Juulsen has earned them.
Best Goal Race
We all know that Alex Ovechkin is chasing down Gretzky’s goal record. And it is the NHL’s duty as hockey players to do whatever they can to allow that to happen.
The Canucks gave up their obligatory Ovi goal to allow him to chase the record. Unfortunately, it put the Capitals up 2-1.
Technically, Åman scored the goal with the redirect off his foot, but if it didn’t go off Åman’s skate, then Oshie would have scored the goal. So, really, we should all be thanking Åman for letting Ovi get this historic goal on the play.
Don’t look now, but Ovechkin has five goals in five straight games.
At the beginning of the season, it looked like he would be lucky to score 15 goals this year, but he is on a heater now. Keep an eye on him moving forward.
Later, Ovi nearly scored his second on a wrist shot through traffic.
But Demko said, “No way, pal. We already gave you yours. Move along”.
I am sure of it; I can read lips.
Best Heart Eye Emöji
Nils Höglander in the top six has been a treat over these last two games. Höglander scored Saturday in Detroit, making it even harder for Tocchet to demote him to the bottom six again with another spectacular goal today.
Höglander continues to be Canucks fourth-leading scorer, with 16 after Sunday’s action. Nils plays well with Pettersson, and if he keeps up his strong play, he could be a regular fixture on this line, especially now that things are a little bit in flux with the new guy Lindholm around.
Höglander had two strong tip chances in this game. The first came off an Ian Cole shot.
The second was a scramble chance in front of Kuemper off a Quinn Hughes shot from the point.
The last thing I want to point out is Nils’ play without the puck. Here he sees a chance to separate the puck carrier from the puck. Despite his size, he is able to force the Capital off the puck and allow Pius Suter to pick it up and skate it into the offensive zone.
Best Nail Bitter
The Canucks were awarded a penalty in the final three minutes of regulation play which is not something I thought NHL referees were allowed to do. Alas, we got one.
The best chance on the power play came when Brock Boeser shot the puck for Elias Lindholm to redirect on the net.
Brock has been quiet over the last few games but has always been a streaky player. I wouldn’t worry about him maintaining his scoring pace over the back half of the season. Let’s just hope he gets back into the groove soon. If he keeps creating chances, it won’t be long until he is able to score again.
With 11 seconds remaining, our new favourite defender F̶9̶1̶-̶W̶ Juulsen let go a slapshot that got all of us Juulsen-stans excited.
Though he didn’t hit the net, he nearly killed a man when a Caps defenseman blocked the attempt.
The game would once again require OT, and my PTSD from yesterday started to spike.
Like any NHL 3-on-3 over time, some parts were mind-numbingly dull. Fortunately, this one was pretty fun to watch compared to some.
Thatcher Demko had to make a big stop early on a breakaway from Connor McMichael, but he played it perfectly.
Things got exciting when Boeser got a prime opportunity to put the game away but got tangled with Kuemper, who made a big save. The puck came back the other way, requiring Demko to go side to side to try and make a huge save. While he made it over, the puck went off the post, keeping the Canucks alive to live another day.
Jimothy Timothy Miller, in the right place at the right time, put the game on ice.
Elias Pettersson’s shot went off a defender, and McMichael played the puck right to Miller at the top of the right circle. With time and space, Miller took a shot, scoring blocker side to bring the Canucks to a 2-1-1 record on the road trip. The Canucks ended the weekend, once again, with sole possession of first place in the NHL.
Best “is this a dream?”
The Canucks are obviously playing out of their mind. Not a single soul on God’s green earth saw the Canucks holding first overall in the standings on Feb 11th, 2024.
We are no longer arguing over which $4M PK specialist is best, if OEL actually ever left Arizona, or if it was his secret twin brother. We are presently discussing who is the best fit to play with EP40: Höglander or Mikheyev.
Champagne Problems, baby!
What is even harder to believe is that I got to write a Stanchies. It is such an honour to write in the article series that Botch started.
Thanks, Wyatt, for trusting me with this Big Game. 

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