Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series at CanucksArmy where we give our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to give theirs in the comments section below! The Stanchies will be posted tomorrow morning with Lachlan Irvine making his debut! The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report by Mike Liu — will be posted later tomorrow.
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.
Tonight, the Vancouver Canucks turned in a complete effort at home en route to what some might even call a blowout win.
Because you see dear reader, there wasn’t really a moment o which it felt like the Canucks weren’t going to win this game.
No slow start. No coming back from a multi-goal deficit — and more importantly, no allowing an opponent to come back from a multi-goal deficit.
Just a solid complete effort all around. Put whatever cliche you want in there, tonight was a good showing from the Canucks, who improve their record against Pacific Division opponents this season to 10-2.
Bo Horvat opened the scoring — because of course he did — firing home his 25th of the season. Horvat added another goal in the third to help put the icing on the cake of this one for the Canucks. He also tallied two assists, giving the captain four even strength points on the night.
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Ilya MIkheyev scored his 12th of the year and picked up three assists, Quinn Hughes got the monkey off his back, scoring his first of the season, and Elias Pettersson scored a goal in which Lane Pederson and Luke Schenn picked up the assists on. Like we said, it was a complete effort from the home team and it was fun to watch.
Perhaps most important was the play of Spencer Martin. Quietly — and we say quietly because expectations weren’t exactly super high for him when Thatcher Demko went down with injury — Martin had begun to struggle prior to the Christmas break.
This isn’t to take anything away from the team in front of him or the performance of any of his Canucks teammates, but what Bruce Boudreau said at morning skate seems more important now.
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“It was a difficult task we gave him and a difficult task mentally,” Boudreau said of the Canucks’ usage of Martin prior to Friday. “To have that time off and for Delia to come in and do as well as he did, I mean, that’s a great relief I’m sure for Spencer. Hopefully that little break has helped him out and then he’ll be back to form tonight. He is 10-5-1 in the 16 games he’s played — which you know, I’d like to have that winning percentage right now.”
What the Canucks were asking of Spencer Martin was to win them a whole bunch of games in a role he’s never played before at the NHL level. Hell, he’s hardly played this much in the AHL or the ECHL before. The Christmas break appears to have served Martin well.
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Every time the Sharks looked like they had a little bit of momentum going tonight, there was Spencer Martin to shut the door and swing things back in the Canucks’ favour. Put that all together and you get a commanding victory from the Canucks against a team whose place in the standings suggests that the Canucks should beat them if they hope to make the playoffs.
But of course, there are no easy wins in the NHL, and games like these have been hard to come by for the Canucks.
So credit where it’s due. The Canucks showed up to play tonight and that was reflected in the final score of 6-2 in their win over San Jose.
And just like that, the Canucks are above .500 for the first time this season as they try to claw their way back into the playoff picture.
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If there’s one thing you can’t say about the Canucks, it’s that they’re not fun to watch.*
Most of the time*
That’s our instant reaction for tonight, but of course, this isn’t about us! We want to hear from you! Give us your reaction to tonight’s game in the comments section below!