The Stanchies: Vancouver deals Vegas a losing hand as Canucks win 3-1

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanchion
4 months ago
The type of game Vancouver played on Thursday night was the kind of performance we’ve seen more from the visiting teams as of late.
The suffocating defense that denies the middle of the ice.
The relentless pursuit all over the ice, making every loose puck a battle.
The counter-attack game flowing as well as Brock’s hair, if such a thing is even possible.
The kind of game that leads one to wonder “Is Vegas built for the playoffs? Can they win these hard games?”
The Canucks 3-1 victory could firmly be labelled under the “defensive clinic” section of your computer, because how else do you talk about a game in which you held your opponent to a mere four high danger scoring chances?
When you can more accurately describe a team’s scoring chances using the average dating profile (“disarmingly cute!”), that’s a good indicator that a team was shut down on the night. You can almost picture Elias sheepishly grinning as he ruffles the hair of the Golden Knights attempts to score on Demko, before leaving them on read for a week or two.
Aside from some offensive zone time in the second period from Vegas, you were mostly worried about how many Knights would end up on IR before tomorrow’s trade deadline. You were also trying to guess which alcohol the cameraman might have possibly consumed on the night, and what quantity of it, but more on that later.
You know how I know it was a good night from the Canucks? I only had to make three clips in the third period, and two of the three were offensive chances the Canucks generated off of a counter attack.
You know how I really know it was a good night from the Canucks? I have multiple positive things to say about Ilya Mikheyev.
This game felt like the Vancouver team from early in the season, in which the entire roster all had their moments. It wasn’t just waiting and seeing if one line would step up, it was a group effort with players all throughout the lineup making key defensive plays or generating scoring chances.
And if ever there was a way to look in Rutherford’s and Allvin’s general direction with a knowing look, the kind of look that says “Broncos country, let’s ride”, but like, in a non-destructive way, it was with this win. The kind of statement victory that tells management that adding a player or two before the trade deadline? Hey, that might not be the worst idea in the world.
After all, to quote the famed poets Fall Out Boy, this ain’t a scene, it’s a goddamn arms race.
Anyways, I’m not a shoulder to cry on, but I digress.
Best fun stat that is fun because of how fun it is
I remember stating in Quinn Hughes’ first full year in the league that he was already the Canucks best defenseman of all time.
I proudly remind anyone I can of that claim nowadays, as it aged better than my “Lonny Bohonos is the future of this team” take from many years earlier.
Which, to be fair, Lonny was a PROBLEM for the WHL in 1994. 62 goals and 90 assists, leading the league with 152 points.
Sure, Lonny and his Portland Winterhawks lost to the Blazers in the third round, but they ran into Darcy Tucker, Tyson Nash, Nolan Baumgartner, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and the Spengler Cup legend himself Hnat Domenichelli. Nobody was stopping that team that year, not even Brent Sopel and his Saskatoon Blades.
And hey, defensive hockey is cool and all that, but maybe Lonny didn’t need that in his game.
What I’m saying is we all get one wrong once in a while, but mostly because the NHL was wrong, not us.
Never us.
Best for posterity
I just have to include this clip because the majority of the game was spent talking about the camera work.
The top three working theories were:
  • Camera AI was being tested out
  • A random monkey was hired off Craigslist to try and work the camera as the regular guy was put on IR for more cap savings for Vegas
  • Camera man was absolutely blitzed and in hindsight, should be congratulated for doing as well as they did under such circumstances
At times the puck would slowly roll into Vancouver’s zone and if there was even a hint of a pass, that camera zoomed in tight and started flying off to other side of the ice in anticipation of it. The style was very much “Grandma uses a cell phone for the first time to try and capture the bouquet toss at a wedding.”
Best turning of the tides
Apparently all it takes to get the referees back on your side is when Tyler Myers is on the injured list and is no longer cutting promos on officials after games.
That and newest Knight Anthony Mantha being unaware of Vegas’ team rule about “don’t hack guys in the face with your stick”:
The Canucks powerplay, which has struggled mightily for a while now, continued to look about as efficient as the Battle of Karánsebes.
The best chance with the extra man? The engine of the offense Quinn Hughes firing off a shot that led to a couple of chances at a rebound in front of Vegas Knight goaltender Adin Hill:
Sadly for Vancouver, Hill knows the best way to stop a rebound down low is to utilize the Rose Dewitt Bukater style of goaltending, which stretches your body out in an enticing manner and takes away the lower half of the ice.
Best doing what you know
I just assumed that Vegas was so used to trying to store bodies off the ice that out of habit they just started stuffing guys in the penalty box, which led to a short 5 on 3 for the Canucks:
And the good news for Vancouver is that power play? You know the sound it’s supposed to make? The click? Yeah, it finally clicked:
With Vegas collapsing down low, it allowed Elias Pettersson to find an open Quinn Hughes who skated downhill and unleashed the kind of sniper shot that would give Snake flashbacks about Meryl.
The main takeaway is that Vancouver came out of the gates hungry, got some calls to go their way, and made the other team pay for taking penalties. A.k.a. the thing everyone has been screaming at them to do for a while now.
See? When someone tells you that yelling at the TV doesn’t work, show them this game. Show them this game, apologize for the shoddy camera work first of course, but then start yelling again to show how you’re helping.
Best sneaky moves from the professor of pressure
If there is one thing we know about Nils Höglander it’s that the man loves driving hard to the net, and he loves him some toe drags; He’s the Vitor Belfort of hockey in that way.
We also know good things happen at 5 on 5 when he’s on the ice, and although he didn’t score on this play, him driving the puck to the hard parts of the ice allowed Philly Delight to score a goal:
And while we give all the praise in the world to Nils for starting this goal in motion, we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss the filthy nature of that shot from Phil. Perhaps worried about being the best Phil on the Canucks with all the Kessel speculation floating around, Di Giuseppe looks off the net, glances at EP40, and before Adin Hill can process what’s happening, Phil slides the puck along the ice right through the legs of the Knights goalie.
Honestly, re-watch the goal. Hill is caught sliding to his left to get into position for the Phil shot, but then thinks that pass is going right back to the biggest threat on the ice in EP40. You know what they say about guys with big contracts, right? They tend to have big shots.
And in this case, all it takes is Hill starting to slide back the other way before it’s all over and Patrick Stewart has seen everything. His five hole is open, he’s caught in no man’s land, and the puck is in.
It’s what Drance would call a tidy piece of business.
This goal is also notable because it felt like the beginning of sighing about Ilya Mikheyev all game, when in fact, it was anything but.
Best putting in the work
You know a team is playing good when you have the opposition on their heels, and they’re caught collapsing down low in front of their goalie a lot. When you start panicking on the ice, often your first thought is to get close to your goalie because if everything is going to shit, at least you can try and defend the net. Or at least you can be close to the goalie so your coach might not yell at you as much.
And in this game, the Canucks were winning puck battles along the boards and finding open men on the point with time and space. On top of that, they were utilizing more of that layering technique Rick Tocchet is so fond of, which sounds like something you should be dipping chips into at a party:
Elias plays give and go and then unleashes a shot with Pius Suter and Nils Höglander trying to layer in front of the goalie.
It wasn’t perfectly lined up, Hill still got a good look at the shot, but you can see the system in place that the Canucks were trying to utilize.
And as Kevin Woodley has told me, layering screens in front of the goalies make life a nightmare for them, much in the way it’s a nightmare watching Kevin trying to construct a good fantasy football team.
Best hell march
There were a few periods of push back from Vegas, most notably near the end of the first period and during the second period. But those moments tended to amount to significant zone time that didn’t end up with dangerous looks on net. They felt bad, but they weren’t actually that threatening. It’s the equivalent of eating a lot of cheese and beans before bed and assuming the worst but nothing actually happens.
Could I have described that bean and cheese combo as a burrito? Yes, I could have, but I didn’t want to be judged for my 10:30pm “time to write the Stanchies” power snack.
In fact the hardest shot Demko faced in the first period was probably this Eichel shot from long distance where he tried to be sneaky on Demko:
But since Thatcher Demko has made it his life’s mission to defeat Las Vegas any chance he gets, often in spectacular fashion, he was able to kick out the pad at the last second.
Ian Clark would have you believe Eichel couldn’t find the back of the net due to Demko’s pads being as white as the net, but I bet he also believes Starcraft is better than Red Alert and let me tell you something, we don’t have nearly enough time for me to dive into that one.
Best Jeff the Jinx
For the record, the second Jeff tweeted this I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
And apparently JT Miller wanted to help that out by trying to force a pass that turned into an odd man rush against:
Jack Eichel gets the shot off, but Vancouver did a good enough job of slowing down Vegas that it ended up being a shot from distance that Demko saw the entire way.
Which led to the reaction of the night in which Eichel declared an urgent need for fudge:
JT Miller is a tremendous player, and one of the best Canucks we’ve seen roll through town.
But he does have these moments of intense belief in himself where he thinks he can make any pass work.
Which is probably what makes him such a good player, in that he tries to make these kinds of passes. And honestly, the majority of the time they work.
It’s just when they don’t work, nothing looks worse in hockey than trying a cheeky pass that ends up being countered down your throat. It’s like when I send a wink and poop emoji to a serious conversation; sometimes I pick my spots wrong.
As stated earlier, though, this was one of the four high danger scoring chances Vegas got ALL game, so it’s safe to say the Canucks handled their business just fine on the night.
Best always be circling
We already know Corolla Garland has the celly of the year locked up for the Canucks, spinning that stick and sheathing it against the Leafs.
But how does he perfect said celebration you ask?
Well, simple.
Practice. Practice, practice, practice.
You see a faceoff before you, but Garland? He sees the perfect chance to practice spinning his twig:
You have to get reps in where you can. Like that lady who did squats on the Skytrain the entire way from Burnaby to Vancouver in front of me, holding onto the pole and dipping up and down the entire way. You have to respect it.
Best a Quiet Place
Ilya Mikheyev had his usual Gengar first period, but the second period? The second period he started showing up:
Now, part of me wants to ask why Vegas backed off of him so much to give him the time and space to make this button curl into a pass, but the point is, Ilya drove the zone hard, pulled back, and found Brock Boeser with a perfect pass.
It’s a low bar to celebrate, but anytime Mikheyev has a good game it’s found money at this point. For all we know the Canucks stand pat at the trade deadline and the Canucks have to find a way to make this work, so you start looking for any signs at all that Ilya might be able to turn things around. Especially when the team continues to play him with JT Miller and Brock Boeser.
Best shooting your shot
The Knights lone goal of the night? Michael Amadio tossing it on net past a weaponless Ian Cole:
Other signs it’s been a good night for Vancouver? The biggest complaint was a debate about whether or not Ian Cole just should have skated to pick up his loose stick rather than trying to get into the shooting lane. Which was pretty much just a variety of people saying “stupid jerk, why didn’t you just pick up your stick?” so it didn’t get too deep into the hockey strategy side of things.
The Knights did a good job of layering the screens on Demko, though, so while at first glance it looks like a goal just begging to be described as soft, it was actually a tough save. Demko gets a look at the puck last second and the shot was lucky enough to be placed perfectly, giving Vegas their only goal of the night.
Best never go full Dom
If it was Hasek, he would have taken Eichel out at the knees and then stared him down:
The good thing about not going full Dom, though, is that you don’t get a penalty for it? In fact, Demko helped turn this into a good scoring chance for Pew Pew Suter, who would have scored had he know about the nerf to the Taq Evolver.
I just want to take a moment so all my Call of Duty lads can revel in such a nerdy reference.
Best making a case
Vasily Podkolzin continues to be an intriguing piece of the puzzle for the Canucks. With the deadline looming people are wondering if this is an audition for other teams, or simply him getting a well earned shot with the club. To quote the internet, though, why not both?
And he played well on Thursday, as his puck pursuit continues to be a strong part of his game. It’s not the most refined skating I have seen in my life, as times it often resembles Chris Farley falling through a table, but it’s a powerful game. He might not always get the puck, but by god, you remember your life flashing before you very eyes as he flies by you trying to get it.
And he’s also starting to get some scoring chances, like on this play where Lindholm finds him in the slot:
I don’t know if his offensive game will ever evolve to a high level in the NHL, and you can’t really point to his stats before the NHL to get a lot of insight. Climbing up through the ranks of hockey in Russia feels a lot like US college hockey in that a 30-40 game season in which 15 points were scored can be either tremendous or career destroying, there’s no in between.
That being said, it feels like his game has potential. His physical play, his pursuit of the puck, his willingness to battle, those are all hallmarks of the Tocchet system. And with Dakota Joshua’s future with the Canucks in doubt next season (possibly pricing himself off the team), a player like Podkolzin might find his groove riding with Corolla.
Best big boy hockey
Barbashev threw a huge hit which is mostly notable because it reminds of those Barbizon commercials from back in the day:
I have to assume Ivan whispers “Barbashev” under his breath every time he lands a thundering body check.
You too can get the looks, poise and confidence of a defenseman, just pick up the phone and call Barbashev.
Best 32 games is a long time
This is the closest Mikheyev has come to scoring a goal in about three years:
The important part of this scoring chance is Ilya going to the corner to help with the puck battle, and then realizing there are three Knights down low, he rushes to the front of the net where he’s open for a pass.
He doesn’t score, because sometimes hockey gods take pleasure in watching you get angry at the bench while you stare at your stick blankly, but he did all the right things on this play. As cliché as it is, if he keeps this sort of play up, he will score a goal sooner rather than later.
At the very least this was the most engaged and activated Mikheyev has looked in months.
Best generating chances
The next guy to miss a net and cause people to wonder why didn’t he just choose to score instead, was Philly D:
Blueger shovels it on net from the corner, and Phil skates into it and thinks “I’m an elite scorer, I go bar down or nothing” and misses wide. Which I respect. You already had one goal in the game, two isn’t going to make a lasting memory unless you go full Hodgson.
Which is the problem with two goal games, really. One goal game? Good for you. Three goals or higher? Woah, look at Gretzky over here!
Two goals, though? Seems like someone with commitment issues.
If you’re going to be stuck at two goals, you have to make the one of them a highlight reel goal so people don’t wonder why didn’t you just get three goals.
After this chance Vegas generated several long shifts in Vancouver’s end, but again, they were kept mostly to the outside. There was no panic in Vancouver’s game and 95% of the time the Knights walked away either watching Demko make a save or watching the puck calmly being dumped out of the zone.
None of which I will show you because watching defensively efficient hockey doesn’t make me any gif money, and also because the camera operator missed the puck during half the game.
Just think to yourself about that team you cleaned the kitchen really well and nobody gave you enough credit, and that’s the general vibe of this game.
Best reliable ride
You know who you call when you want to finish off a game?
Quinn Hughes.
Or Elias Pettersson.
Or JT Miller.
And Brock Boeser.
But you know who you try on your fifth attempt when the other four don’t answer their phones?
Corolla Garland:
Shockingly this play somehow confused the camera operator, so you don’t get to see the incredible play Lindholm made at the blue line to keep the puck in, so let’s go to a different angle:
Elias Lindholm has simplified his game a bit and instead of trying to make a fancy play, he just shoots the puck. When you combine this with Adin Hill accidentally being programmed with the rebound control of Dan Cloutier, it can generate a scoring chance such as this.
And when you give up a bad rebound in front of you to Garland, that guy is going to mini-stick the shit out of you to score a goal.
Beautiful finish from Garland. Tremendous play from Lindholm to keep that play alive. And just overall an intriguing option for a third line in which Dakota Joshua comes back to play with Garland and Lindholm, if the Canucks are intent upon keeping Elias at center.
Also, my brain will never not want to stop calling Lindholm Hampus instead of Elias.
Best better than no scoring chances
You know why Carson Soucy is good? Because much like Demko, when he’s in the zone, you just don’t have many clips of him. He just quietly goes about his day, playing efficient defense. He calms things down on the back end and it should be no surprise that one of the Canucks best defensive efforts of the season coincided with the return of Soucy to the lineup.
And hey, he can get shots on net that lead to bad rebounds with the best of them:
Sam Lafferty didn’t score, but the fact the Canucks were the team generating the overwhelming majority of plays like this? That’s what Vancouver needed more of and that’s what they got on Thursday night.
One of the best games Vancouver has played in months, right up there with the comeback against Boston.
Best eye test matching the stats
The Canucks earned this win, plain and simple.
Best shaped muchly
After generating a couple of two on one chances, Vegas got their best chance in the third period on a Jack Eichel shot. Jack Eichel appears to be good at hockey as he is about the only Knights player I have mentioned in this article.
The problem is, when Demko is locked in, he’s already made the save before you’ve even taken the shot:
It would have taken a perfect top shelf laser beam to sneak that one by Demko, but Eichel was possibly too exhausted from cursing Demko’s name earlier in the game to get the puck much higher.
And after that point, it was basically the Canucks defending and countering the Vegas Knights when they pressured too hard. That’s what comes with the territory of being down a couple of goals, you have to over extend to try and get back into the game, which can lead to Elias Pettersson wiring a shot at your goalie on a two on one:
Notice how Elias starts this play off by tying up his man down low, and then skating hard up the ice to join the rush. This is what they mean when they say playing smart defensive hockey will lead to scoring chances for you.
Brock Boeser then created a chance on a counter attack by maintaining possession of the puck and dragging it through the offensive zone, mansplaining until he could fire off a shot low and back against the grain:
Pew Pew almost scored on the rebound, and again, this is a perfect example of the Canucks playing the kind of hockey Tocchet wants from his team. Dragging the puck into the middle, generating shots, and charging hard to the net to try and get to loose pucks.
And that was the last clip from the game. I don’t even have a last minute scramble to show you because the Canucks killed off the last two minutes of the game so efficiently.
For a team that was entering a five game stretch that felt like it would define the season for the team, they have gone 3-0 to start it off. It doesn’t get any easier with Winnipeg and the newly revamped Colorado ahead of them, but the fact they’ve gotten six points and looked stronger each game doing so is a good sign for a club wanting to prove it belongs at the head of the class.
And until the game on Saturday, all we can do is wait and see what the Canucks do at the deadline.
Will they add more pieces? Will they find someone with a yellow visor to continue the proud tradition of Eric Weinrich?
Or will they stick with what they’ve got and continue to try and do what they’ve done all year, and surpass expectations?

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