Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchies: The Pettersson highlight, the Kuzmenko lowlight, and Zadorov goes smash
1 month ago
The Canucks managed secure their 30th win of the season Thursday night, grinding out a 2-1 win in a low-scoring affair with the artists formerly known as the Phoenix Coyotes.
I’m also positive that 90% of the games ever played between the Coyotes and the Canucks could be described that way. Games between these two are a lot like Vancouver in the snow: A slow moving affair that usually has some big hits, and you know what, I don’t even want to bother continuing this metaphor because you get it. You get it.
I also don’t want to ponder what the lives of the Wild and Coyotes fans are like, knowing that year in and year out, this is the kind of hockey that lies in store for them. I don’t know how you can handle telling your kids that they’re going to the hockey game tonight, and watching them break down in tears, pleading with you that they’ll do better in school, just please, don’t take them with you.
With all of that being said, that was a pretty entertaining 2-1 victory. As far as 2-1 victories between these two teams go, at least.
Yes, the Canucks used their vaunted turtle shell, bend but don’t break defence in the second half of the game, but at least both teams got feisty? It’s like having a really bland, overcooked piece of chicken that you cover in hot sauce so at least it has some semblance of flavor.
And since we are firmly in “expect the Canucks to win” mode for the rest of the season, even games that end like this are a huge positive. You watch the Oilers literally living out that “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” meme, winning their 12th game in a row, and there is something to be said about a soothing, low-scoring affair in which nobody gets hurt.
So yeah. That was a game of hockey that happened. The Canucks did their jobs, got their two points, and the biggest takeaway from the game is that Kuzmenko might never work in this city again, and that Zadorov probably needs an 8 year contract. Knee jerk reactions? Maybe.
But it’s a game against the Coyotes. Nobody is going to remember this article three days from now, let alone in a couple of months when those takes might age poorly.
Let’s make some gif money, shall we?
Best potent audibles
If ever there was a clip that set the tone for a game, it would be this one. An audible eff bomb dropped mere minutes into the game, leading into one of the more physical games of the season for the Canucks.
Which if we’re reading the tea leaves correctly, is a sign of things to come as teams now view the Canucks as their chance to gain a moral victory?
Like, the bad teams see the powerhouse Canucks and go, “Man, if we could scratch and claw a couple of points outta these guys, that victory would be incredibly moral.”
Other fan bases see Vancouver and if their team keeps it close in a loss, that’s a watermark about how their team is “hanging with the big boys,” and might be a sign that their team is playing “the right way.” and could really “start building off of a game like that”.
Is….is that what Vancouver sounded like for a decade?
Best making it up as you go along
Apparently, Sam Lafferty doesn’t just want to embarrass Ryan Reaves’ scoring output, but he also wants to showcase he can be just as physical. Because he started this game by going full Miley Cyrus:
I feel I should specify that last comment. Sam Lafferty did not choose to live a double life so he could be a music superstar on one hand, and just a regular boy on the other — he in fact came in like a wrecking ball on that hit.
Which, because it’s moral victory season right now, means the opposition don’t take too kindly to the Canucks trying to push their teammates around. This led to Liam O’Brien going full Ludacris on Sam Lafferty:
I feel I should specify that last comment. Liam O’Brien didn’t want to discuss how a girl in his life is the best via badness, he in fact wanted to slap Sam Lafferty.
It’s just a thought, man.
Regardless, Liam drops his gloves, goes bare-knuckle boxing with Lafferty, gets five and a game for jumping on the ice with the expressed purpose of starting a fight and-
Oh, my apologies, Liam only got two minutes for roughing.
That feels like a bad call. That’s a bad call.
I don’t know how you can drop your gloves against an opponent who clearly has no interest in fighting, get in three solid punches, and then only walk away with two minutes for roughing.
But as Hector Barbossa taught me, the NHL rulebook is more like guidelines, than anything, so sometimes you just find something that fits your needs.
Perhaps inspired by the referee’s lack of justice on that play, Lafferty would find himself going full Dolly Parton on Logan Cooley:
I feel I should specify that last comment. Sam Lafferty didn’t want to beg you not to take his spouse away from him, even though he knows you can. He in fact wanted to work 9-5 and put in a complete effort against the Coyotes, even if that meant he had to drop the thunder hammer on them should the situation call for it.
I will say this for Cooley, he needs to thank the hockey gods themselves that this wasn’t 1995 and an angry Scott Stevens was watching him ride the tracks with his head down like that.
So ten minutes into this game and the entire talk is centered around the physical game of Sam Lafferty.
I’d say he was a pretty slick trade for the Canucks.
Best line debate
But seriously, I get it. If you score a ton of goals, you tend to get a cool nickname. Unless you’re the Sedins and you’re so talented and technically sound, that people give up trying to give you a nickname other than “The Sedin line.”
Hear me out, though. If you’re an up and coming line with a common theme (That 70’s Line), or the best third line in the league, you have enough clout to get a nickname. You can fight it all you want, but Corolla, you get a nickname.
It’s The Life Line in The Stanchies, but if something else takes off and becomes the clear winner, I’ll follow along.
I mean, part of me respects them not having a nickname. That’s kind of their vibe, they aren’t flashy, they just get the job done in a ruthless fashion. It’s why he’s Corolla Garland after all.
But I feel like this is going to be the one and only season we see this line together, what with Blueger and Joshua being able to update their Linkedin with “Best third line in the league” in the off-season. They are going to cash in as hard as they can in free agency, and fair effs to them for doing so.
If that is to be the case, we need a nickname for this line. We need something to talk about in a bar 10 years from now, fondly recalling this line.
You can’t be three drinks in going “Hey remember Teddy Blueger, Corolla Garland, and Joshua Dakota??”
No, you have to be able to go “Man, remember the West Coast Express?”
We need efficiency.
Best Drago moment
Nikita Zadorov has shown a willingness to fight for his teammate’s honour over any slight, real or imagined, which makes him pretty popular in the hockey market.
Especially when he defends everyone from Elias Pettersson to Sam Lafferty.
It was odd how Liam O’Brien suddenly chased people after this fight.
I can’t quite find the correlation yet, but I’m working on it.
Also this might have been the loudest Rogers Arena has been for a fight in a while. Drago EARNED that Stone Cold Steve Austin music. You can’t just drop the gloves and hug to get that glass to break. You need to go out and whoop some ass to earn that music.
The only thing missing was Drago smashing two beers in the penalty box and slamming them back, which is probably against NHL rules. But you never know until you try.
Best quick on the draw
This might have been the fastest a goal has been waved off this season:
In what should have been another goal for Brock Boeser, The Flow found himself looking deep into the eyes of an official who didn’t even want a hint of a goal celebration. Which is kind of nice in a way. Why tire yourself cheering and hugging if it’s just going to amount to nothing?
And sure, I hear the idea that anytime you’re in the crease, there’s a chance they could call a goal off for interference. But this is much closer to the “toe in the crease” rule than any other disallowed goal this season for Vancouver.
You can make the argument that JT Miller was directed to the crease. You can also argue that Coyotes goalie Connor Ingram initiated contact with his glove on JT Miller.
But the NHL erred on the side of caution and said no goal.
Which hey, if the NHL was consistent on this rule, have at it. If you go blue, the goal won’t go through? Sure, if that is called like that every time, then at least it’s a rule that makes sense, is easy to understand, and is easy to follow.
Unless you’re the Dallas Stars and Brett Hull winning a Cup is far more interesting to your bottom line than the small town Sabres winning it all. Then you just make up some garbage about how if you maintain possession of the puck, you can basically stab the goalie should you choose.
Because of the possession.
Best Tracie’s Facts of Life
JT Miller has a career high 32 goals in a season. Maybe he’s feeling the heat. Maybe he doesn’t want to lose bragging rights on the golf course about being the best American goal scorer on the Lotto Line.
Best gently touching the dagger against you before quickly withdrawing
Sam Lafferty had a chance to end the first period with one of the most memorable individual opening stanzas in quite some time, but was stymied by Ingram:
Honestly, I was about to dedicate 2000 words to Lafferty alone if he scored there, but alas, he did not.
So we shall never mention him again for the rest of the night.
Best Högging the limelight
The Canucks have really found their groove with scoring the first period, then diving into the bend-don’t-break routine, so it was no surprise that the opening 20 minutes was when they looked their best:
Hronek tries the giant flip pass, and while Nils is chasing it down, he gets taken out by Sean Durzi, because what else can you do when faced with a wolverine like animal bearing down on your goalie.
FUN FACT TIME: Sean Durzi played two games with the OJHL St. Michael’s Buzzers back in 2014.
You know who also played one game on that same team, in that same year, with the St. Michael’s Buzzers?
What was his stat line in that lone game in the OJHL? Maybe an assist? Surely not a goal, right? What glimpse of his superstar potential did he showcase in that contest??
A 10 minute misconduct.
That was his stat line.
Now, did I dig through a year’s worth of box scores searching for the game sheet of his game? Damn straight I did.
Did I scream and punch the air when I realized I looked up the wrong year? Of course.
Did I use that Corolla Garland compete level to jump right back in there and track it down? This is the god damn Stanchies. Of course I did:
A warm-up violation which can be anything from crossing center during warmup, or putting your helmet on before the anthem is done.
I must know more.
We, must know more.
I have only begun on my journey to discover what happened in this game. I shall find out more. I must.
In the meantime, it does make the Buzzers taking credit for Quinn Hughes being an alumni all the more amusing:
That’s kind of like Toronto trying to take credit for Canucks legend Mats Sundin. It’s just kind of a bit desperate.
Best back to the game
Do you hear a cash register every time Elias gets a point? Because I sure do:
This was the lone powerplay goal for the Canucks, and it was a nice one.
There’s not much to analyze on this play, it’s just JT Miller winning a draw to Hughes, who quickly sends it over to Elias for the one timer. If it feels like they’ve done this before, it’s because yeah, that’s sort of their thing.
The one notable thing about this play is the faceoff win. After getting hammered in the circle recently, the team held a decided advantage on the night, winning 72% of their draws against the Coyotes.
The goal will of course further the conversation around the “will he or won’t he??” anxiety surrounding Elias Pettersson’s contract.
And while I understand the fretting that’s going on, it does hammer home just how damaging the Jim Benning Era was in Vancouver. He used up his budget and ran out of room for a big, long term deal with Elias, so he had to settle on the bridge contract. It’s kind of hard to hold it against Elias that the Canucks made a bet, and failed at it.
I’ve said it in the past, but Elias does have that Pavel Bure vibe around him where you don’t know if he likes you, much less wants to even be seen with you. He holds his cards close to his vest, and is hard to read at the best of times.
Should you be stressed? Probably a little bit. Elias Pettersson is almost on the brink of the giant Matty Tkachuk heel turn, wherein he could leave the Canucks after their best season in a long time, and despite the returns on any trade, and if PDO does its thing, could lead to the Canucks having a very bad season after Elias has left town. I cannot think of a better scenario in which an entire city would hate a former player over.
With all that being said, there is plenty of time for a contract to get ironed out. All you can do is wait it out and see.
I do find it kind of funny the stuff that “leaks” out though. About how Elias Pettersson doesn’t like the noise surrounding him, or him being talked about.
If that’s true, my guy, it’s Vancouver, and your future is uncertain in this town. Patrik Allvin could say nothing at all and people will be talking about writing letters to let you know how much they love and appreciate you to try and get you to stay or turn your game around.
Best sticking it to them
Travis Dermott rests firmly in my memory bank of “oh wow, he used to play here, didn’t he?” guys from the Benning era.
Well, he played here, and here he is scoring a goal against Thatcher Demko:
It’s a bit of a lucky break in that Kerfoot looked like he was just trying to shoot the puck, but it got deflected right to Dermott.
It’s Vancouver, though, and if there was ever a season you couldn’t get too riled up about a bounce going someone’s way, it would be this one.
Best getting involved chaotically
Tyler Minors made his triumphant return to the ice when he got hit with an interference call on this play:
“Big guy make small player go boom” was the official call on the ice I believe.
The Canucks penalty kill, however, was perfect on the night, killing off both penalties. Both of which were taken by Tyler Myers.
Live the chaotic giraffe, die by the chaotic giraffe.
Best one last attempt
Liam O’Brien, perhaps fearing for his life at this point due to the beating Zadorov handed out to him, was then taken out by old friend Sam Lafferty:
So for those counting at home, that’s three giant hits from Sam Lafferty in a game that was? Say the line…
Tight. Almost like a playoff game.
Best guess who’s back? Back again.
Chaos back. Tell a friend.
I assume at this point Tyler Myers was convinced it was the total amount of penalty minutes that caused the crowd to get behind Zadorov, so he added two more to his total on the night with a slash:
Carson Soucy’s pass goes off the back of Höglander’s skate, which leads to the breakaway, which leads to the angry giraffe moment.
And while it felt an awful lot like the referee saw a breakaway and felt like there was no better time than now to balance out some penalties, that slashing gesture to the hand area has been called all season long from the officials.*
*When they feel like handing out a penalty.
Am I wrong for wondering why Tyler Myers isn’t just leaning into clap bombs all game long? I feel like we had something there. That was a plan I could get behind. Not this slashing the hands stuff.
Best punching above your weight
Sometimes you just want to remember what it feels like to score, you know?
Apparently there is a rule against throwing the puck into the net, and/or driving a small car over an opponent.
No goal was the official call on the ice.
Best oh no
Look, sometimes you just don’t have it in you to get your work done, we’ve all been there:
Filip Hronek nope’s on out of that forecheck from Liam O’Brien, giving us the visual of a many trying very hard not to get hit.
Which hey, I get it, I understand that. But in Rick Tocchet’s world, that’s the kind of thing that gets him to make that face where he’s not mad at you, he’s just disappointed.
I will give Hronek some credit here, I think he was trying to do some mind games on O’Brien. He know Liam just wants to throw hits, so he cuts to the right and Liam forgets all about the puck. Teddy Bluger can skate on in and collect the loose puck and everything is right with the world.
It’s like pulling off a Panenka, sometimes you want to get inside your opponent’s mind and let them know you’ve beat them on the scoreboard and in their own brain.
The problem is when it doesn’t work, you just look lazy. It’s the Alex Mogilny rule. Sometimes you pull off some real cheeky stuff, but when it doesn’t work, it looks awful, and before you know it, you’re refusing to show up to claim your Lady Byng award.
Even if he’s hoping O’Brien is going to follow him, you have to hope Blueger realizes the plan as well, which doesn’t happen here.
End result, a bad looking defensive play from an offensive wizard who can’t quite lose that reputation for not enjoying puck battles.
Best this is what they do
The beauty of having a well-rested Thatcher Demko in your net is when you decide to bend and not break, Demko is able to provide a lot of that unbreakable material:
Even when the Coyotes got their chances, there was boring Demko making boring 5 alarm saves, as usual.
It’s not a good shift when I have to ask, “which turnover do they mean?”
First turnover, he tries to dangle in the offensive zone, loses the puck, leading to a zone exit.
Second turnover, he passes it directly to the Coyotes in the slot, except he’s not JT Miller, so he’s not allowed to do that without consequence.
Third turnover, he just turns and fires the puck up the middle to nobody from behind the net.
It was a rough rough shift in what was a tie game at the time.
I have defended Kuzmenko for a while now, but honestly, after no shifts in the third period from him in this game, I have a tough time seeing him on this team past the deadline.
I know Boeser and Garland have both had similar journeys in terms of “it’s clear their future lies elsewhere”, and all three of them have great hair, but I just cannot see Kuzmenko ever getting the offensive leeway to do what makes him effective. I just don’t see him having a Tocchet game in him.
I’d love to be wrong. But it just feels like if this is an all in season, that second line of Kumzenko/Suter/Mikheyev is a PROBLEM.
Fun fact, Ilya Mikheyev played tonight.
I don’t have any clips of it, but I assure you he did.
Suter is the best of the bunch right now, but that line is screaming for an upgrade.
Best raising your price point
Much like the cost of living in Vancouver, Dakota Joshua’s future price point scares the hell out of me:
Not only is he a physical player who can dish out big hits, but he can also draw penalties.
Joshua is putting himself into that vaunted territory of being an overpaid player in the off-season, the dream of any journeyman, really. And I say that without sarcasm, who wouldn’t want to cash in as high as possible on what could be a career year playing with the best linemates of your NHL life?
It’s not hard to envision him pricing himself out of Vancouver, landing a contract upward of $3.5 million if he continues to play at this pace.
Did the Canucks score on that powerplay he drew? No, but Quinn Hughes made this pretty pass:
But what did Quinn Hughes do to get a warmup violation with the Buzzers…
That’s the only question running through my head anytime I see Quinn Hughes now.
Sure, yeah, nice fancy pass, BUT WHAT DID YOU DO BACK IN 2014 AGAINST THE TORONTO JR. CANADIENS?
And yes, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens is just what you think it is, a Toronto team rocking the Montreal logo but with a “JR” in the middle of it, which feels like it should be illegal?
Best reliable car update
What, you thought Corolla Garland didn’t have enough gas in the tank to get to this puck?
Playoff hockey is a different beast, one where players can shrink and shy away from the physical nature of it.
But Corolla Garland is someone I have zero worries about. That guy competes harder than anyone on the team, and his ability to maintain puck possession is absolutely bananas. B A N A N A S.
Best anything you can do…
Speaking of incredible efforts from smaller players, it often feels like Höglander and Garland are competing to show who can be the biggest bastard on the ice:
While Garland has the better puck possession skills, Nils has that snarl to his game, as seen with that reverse hit. Both players are just so hard on the puck.
It’s a far cry from the Adam Gaudette Tim Schaller battles of days gone by.
Best when push turns to shove
When in moral victory season, you take any chance you get to try and win at any aspect of the game.
Including trying to start fights:
I have no highlights to show you because the Canucks powerplay did nothing, BUT I did want to showcase the kind of greasy, pound-it-out game this was.
Best cashing in those cheques
Remember Dakota Joshua? How he can play physical and draw penalties? Well apparently he watched Datsyuk breakaway goals on loop all week, because I don’t know how else to explain this puck drag:
That is just an extremely pretty goal from Joshua. The patience, the skill, the execution, that goal alone will net him an extra million in free agency.
And as Jeff points out, Chaos Giraffe with the perfect poke check sets this play in motion, as does the slick passing from Blueger to Högz to Dakota.
It’s the perfect goal for a team to claim a moral victory against, if we’re being honest.
“We had them, but they got that really nice goal late in the second, it’s hard to be mad at that. Moral victory though.”
Best it’s never over
For all of the reliability in Garland’s game, Höglander has the equivalent of that in feral energy:
I’m just saying, in a dark alley, I would rather be alone with Conor Garland. Mostly because I know he’d get me home safely and with minimal fuel usage. Whereas Nils would probably just try and bite my ear.
Kuz got that Warzone bug where he tries to get his loadout and his game crashes.
And since I don’t have a gif of Kuzmenko on the bench, here’s the Coyotes missing their best chance to tie the game up in the third period:
They don’t ask you how the other team missed a high danger scoring chance, they just applaud it and then make sure the PDO machine go brrrr.
Also for those with keen eyes, you’ll notice that is the first clip posted from the third period. With only 6 minutes left.
This is what happens in Canucks games when they go into Bend Don’t Break mode. They just sort of exist until they win the game.
Best eating one for the team
And in the cases where the Coyotes missed the net, Ian Cole was there to eat shots like Joey Chestnut:
We’ve said it before, but Ian Cole is the media MVP for the way he openly talks about the game.
Which is to say, please don’t get hurt blocking shots, Ian.
We need you for content.
Best final gif countdown
The final good chance the Coyotes got? Demko was already in position making his save animation before the shot even got there:
That is what we call rotational aim assist my friends. Demko is so locked in, he’s like a controller player in Warzone, rocking that soft aimbot.
And that, my friends, was ballgame.
The Canucks ran out the clock, got their two points, and became the first team to hit 30 wins on the season.
Is there a tweet that can express that?
Perhaps there is a visual that will do a better job:
There it is.
More importantly, though, WHAT DID QUINN HUGHES DO?
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