It’s the ‘Better Late Than Never’ Edition of the Game Recap. The Canucks kicked off a 3 game tour of the US Midwest coming off what was probably their biggest victory of the season, an impressive 5-3 win over the Western Conference leading Nashville Predators.
The big question heading into this game was would they be able to get some momentum out of what was a huge win at a time when the team was locked in a pretty brutal losing streak? I think if you look at this game, the answer’s a fairly confident yes.
As Canucks fans, we’re all painfully aware of the team’s history (unless you’re the house DJ at Rogers Arena, apparently), and the lack of true superstars this team has had in its almost 50 years of existence. So for the benefit of any new fans and the previously mentioned DJ, let’s recap them, shall we? Pavel Bure. Roberto Luongo. Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Last year was a painful, trying season for the fanbase that was made tolerable by 2 things: The Sedins farewell tour, and the emergence of Brock Boeser. Before injury ended his season, he was giving Mathew Barzal of the Islanders a legit run in the Calder Trophy race. He was everything that we had hoped for and more, the first true sniper the Canucks had since Bure. And then with Elias Pettersson arriving this year, there was (and rightfully so) cautious optimism that the kid who lit up the Swedish Elite League could do this in the best hockey league in the world. This question has also been answered, as Pettersson has been hands-down the best rookie in the NHL so far and it’s not even close. You’re gonna start seeing more Brady Tkachuk propaganda as the season goes on, and anytime some other freshman has a good streak then his tires are gonna get pumped by the outside media. Tune it out, because it’s just noise. It’s not just his point production, but his overall game that makes him the clear leader in the Calder race.
With Boeser and Pettersson (along with the transformation of Bo Horvat into a premiere power forward) the Canucks are slowly arming themselves with the tools they will need to become a contender. The front end is slowly taking shape, but the back end needs work. It should be noted that this was one of the best games defensively the Canucks played all season, and they got a hell of a game out of Jacob Markstrom.
The Canucks didn’t waste much time getting things started, and damned if it wasn’t one of the strangest goals of the season. A wayward Brock Boeser shot comes straight back off the glass, hits Jake Allen and rolls into the net. Not a prototypical Boeser goal by any stretch, but it still counts and it’s 1-0 early.
10 minutes later, Pettersson adds a goal to his assist on the Boeser goal, and ho-hum, it’s another multi-point game for OLASEP.
As Shorty and Cheech point out, this goal right after a huge 4 minute kill was not only a major boost to the Canucks, but had to have been deflating for a struggling Blues team. They’ve already given up a fluke goal and after getting nothing out of a 4 minute man-advantage, they’re down 2-0.
Boeser’s 2nd goal is a tad more impressive than his first, and not just because it’s a beauty snipe on the 2 on 1 with Pettersson, but because of the little play in the Canucks blueline to get the play started.
Pushing the puck out of the reach of the Blues defender to Pettersson, who is already heading up ice, it creates the odd man rush. Colton Parayko tries to play shot, but Petey’s thinking pass all the way, placing it right on the tape and Boeser beats Jake Allen for the 3-0 goal, ending Allen’s night in net. Another huge factor is the save that Markstrom makes on Vladimir Tarasenko, stopping him cold just moments before.
Bo Horvat makes it 4-0 in the 2nd with a nice primary assist for Antoine Roussel. I’ve had my doubts about Roussel, and his eagerness to engage in shenanigans, especially for a team that struggles to kill penalties is frustrating. But since being put on a line with Horvat and Loui Eriksson, Roussel has shown his offensive capabilities and that’s turning into a nice line that can handle tough checking assignments and still produce.
The Canucks could have shut things down at this point, but Pettersson was far from done. After Boeser fans on a shot from the point, Erik Gudbranson makes a really nice pass to Petey in his office, already on one knee looking like he’s gonna crank a shot at Blues goalie Chad Johnson. Instead, it’s a Henrik Sedin-like slap pass to a wide open Nikolay Goldobin at the side of the net for an easy tap in and his 5th goal of the year.
As they head into the 3rd, there is the age old question “Can he get the shutout”? No. No he cannot. Not that I am saying he’s at fault here. It’s a bit of a breakdown all around, and if the Blues were gonna get a goal here, it was gonna be someone scoring their first career goal because Canucks, and that someone was Jordan Kyrou.
The other burning question was could Boeser get his 2nd career hat trick?
Josh Leivo may not have collected a point, but he does a hell of a job providing the screen in front, tying up Parayko and Joel Edmundson, and the puck deflects off Edmundson behind Johnson for the 6-1 score.
So let’s recap, shall we? 5 points for Pettersson (his 2nd 5 point game this season). 3 goals from Boeser (his 2nd career hat trick). A 22 save victory for Markstrom, who was very deserving of 3rd star honours last night. The most impressive thing about Pettersson’s night was those 5 points came in under 14 minutes of ice time. By comparison, he played 19:57 against the Predators Thursday night. And we also had one apology. That was from Tarasenko, who apologized to fans after the game for the team’s poor effort. Things are falling apart in St Louis right now, and it’s a shame to see a team that missed the post season by one point last year struggling after they shipped away one of their best players in Paul Stastny.
Next up for the Canucks is Columbus tomorrow night, as they take on John Tortorella, future Canucks goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets. After that it’s off to Nashville for hot chicken, shitty music and a Predators team that will be looking for some revenge. They will then return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night, and the Edmonton Oilers Sunday.