GOOD MORNING! I know that most of you are used to Jimmi’s recaps, but for some reason he’s decided that he needed a couple days away from all this, so it’s been tasked to yours truly to go over what happened last night. Normally Jimmi does a bang-up job getting these up not long after the game’s ended. I have chosen not to do that because a) I live in the Eastern time zone and the game ends after Midnight for me, and b) I am old, and need my sleep so I am less of a cranky bastard. That being said, let’s get on with it, shall we?
FIRST PERIOD: Heading into this contest, the Canucks record against the Sharks at Rogers Arena was pretty bad. I think the last time they actually beat San Jose on home ice Elias Pettersson was still hurtling towards Earth before crashing somewhere in a field in the Swedish countryside. It was bad. So even though the Sharks came into this game having lost 8 of their last 9, hopes were not exactly high that the Canucks could pull out a win for the fans on this last home game of the season.
Much of this season the Canucks media in general have spent time ruminating on Bo Horvat and the Canucks inability to find a pair of competent wingers for the future captain. He’s been part of virtually every possible line combination, which hasn’t stopped him from a productive season, but you feel like he was still being hindered because of it. Then came the trading deadline and the deal that took Erik Gudbranson out of our lives and brought in Tanner Pearson. Already traded from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh earlier this season, Pearson and Horvat have found the chemistry the Canucks have been searching for, and they combined again early in the first on this beauty.
Yes, that was a breakout pass that just missed Horvat from Loui Eriksson. No, that’s not enough to make anyone think that Loui Eriksson has also found his form and this is a line the Canucks can look to next season. Loui is still Loui and needs to go.
Another deal that’s begun to look increasingly good in Jim Benning’s favour is the one that sent the 2nd worst DJ that the Canucks employed this season, Michael Del Zotto, to the Ducks for Luke Schenn. Schenn, who had spent virtually all of the season in the AHL reported to Utica, worked his ass off and then has made the most of his injury-aided call up, becoming a most unlikely folk hero in Vancouver and earning a lot of talk that there should be a contract offered to keep him around another year. The legend grew a little bit shortly after Pearson’s goal when the key to San Jose’s Stanley Cup dreams, Micheal Haley, decided to grit his team to life or something like that.
That’s a tough dude he took on there and did well. This is something that JB definitely noticed, and likely cemented himself a contract offer with. And you know what? I’m cool with that. He’s going to be an inexpensive, experienced bottom pairing guy on a defence that’s going to look different than the one that started this season. It’s been said by many that he’s what the Canucks hoped they were getting in Gudbranson and damn if he doesn’t keep hammering that point home.
The Sharks are still the Sharks, though, and it didn’t take them long to reply. It’s not often that we need to say something negative about Elias Pettersson, but on this goal from Kevin Labanc he really needs to do a better job of tying up his stick and making sure that he doesn’t deflect this past Thatcher Demko. That being said, he will get stronger as in the coming years and gaffes like this will be few and far between. Besides, no one feels as bad about this as he does and we know that.
Adam Gaudette takes a hooking call and that gives a Sharks team that’s already building momentum a chance on the PP. Joe Pavelski, back in the lineup after missing 7 games, connects from Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton and it’s 2-1, and that feeling of dread that always seems to accompany games against the Sharks begins creeping in.
The Canucks PK has been pretty solid over the last little while, but the Sharks made that look super easy. So the Sharks skate off with a 2-1 lead after one period, and probably feel pretty good about themselves. They outshot the Canucks 12-6 and controlled the majority of the play.
SECOND PERIOD- The Sharks again outshot the Canucks, this time by an 11-7 margin, but it was a fairly uneventful period. And then this happened.
Canucks arena now rocking Gangnam Style. Canada’s always just a couple years behind, eh?— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) April 3, 2019
For those of you who don’t wade into the festering cesspool of bad faith actors, cosplay and real life nazis and Leafs fans (shudder) that is Twitter, you might not have been aware of the saga involving the DJ position at Canucks games. In-house entertainment has changed in sports over the years, and it’s gone from an organist cranking out traditional ditties to get the crowd inspired, to today where slickly produced Jumbotron videos and increasing amounts of interaction with fans are a standard at all levels of the game. The Canucks had a DJ by the name of Jay Swing who had been doing a fine job for them, until he was inexplicably fired this season and replaced by DJ Baroness. In this line of work, DJ’s are like certain players in that you’re doing a good job if people aren’t talking about you. Anyway, the Canucks downfall this season pretty much coincides with her arrival and I think that’s the narrative we should be taking away from the 2018-19 season.
THIRD PERIOD- As you know, the Canucks have nothing left to play for but pride and making the chances of winning the draft lottery even more minute (let’s face it, if we were meant to have nice things, Nathan Lafayette would have sent Game 7 to overtime in 1994), and with the Canucks riding on the steam of 2 straight shootout victories the Canucks came out in the 3rd period and decided to do something that we haven’t seen a whole lot of this season: Pull off a 3rd period comeback. Enter Tanner Pearson.
The Horvat line breaks down the ice, and Sharks G Martin Jones, a noted Canuck killer, stops both Eriksson and Horvat and appeared at first to have the puck covered before Pearson jams it home for the tying goal. It’s waved off, but then a call from
the heavens Toronto and the War Room declares it a good goal. This was awkward, because things like this do not usually happen to this team. Like, ever. So a celebration ensues and then
San Jose challenges it. Ah, finally something we can relate to. The goal will be disallowed and we’ll just accept it and move on because
So yeah, they lose the challenge. They lose their time out. They lose the lead. It was a surreal moment, friends. With the game tied, the Canucks pressed harder, looking for an unlikely hero. And thus we’re given Markus Granlund’s swan song.
More of this over his time in a Canucks uniform and we wouldn’t be discussing how that number will be up for grabs come training camp, but you know, if wishes were fishes and all that. Same can be said for Eriksson, while we’re at it.
The Sharks got a late PP and pulled the goalie and that set the stage for a guy who, next to Elias Pettersson, really needed this. A 200 foot empty netter for Troy Stecher, who reinvented himself before our eyes this season, might have felt like a bar down snipe after not scoring since Oct 22nd.
TO SUM IT ALL UP- Despite being outshot, this was a decent game from the Canucks. They didn’t collapse after giving up the lead, held the fort in the 2nd and came through with a big 3rd period to reward another solid performance from Thatcher Demko. While we haven’t seen as much of the Canucks backup goaltender as we would have liked this season, he’s been showing signs of improvement each game. They did a good job overall of giving Demko the ability to see shots and when they needed big stops he was there, shutting the door the rest of the way to give the Canucks the opportunity to win. This was one of the issues that hampered the Canucks this season, not being able to get wins from someone not named Jacob Markstrom, and it will definitely help them going forward.
The Canucks handed out their end of the year awards last night, voted on by the fans, and it wasn’t without some controversy.
First up was the Best Defenceman award, and it went to Alexander Edler. There was some discussion that Stecher deserved a serious look for this, and he got my vote here, but I can understand the Edler vote. He had a solid season, especially offensively (note: that is solid for a Canucks d-man. We’re fully aware of how little our defence actually scores).
Next up was the one award that wasn’t fan voted: the 3 Stars Award. A testament to the season the Canucks have gotten from their starter, who began the season as penciled in that #1 slot at best.
The Unsung Hero Award was a no-brainer, honestly. Antoine Roussel has been a revelation for the Canucks, and it’s a shame his season ended the way it did. With his recovery time possibly extending to December, his presence will be missed by the Canucks as the next season gets underway.
He scored his first @NHL goal, on his first @NHL shot, in his first @NHL game. It’s been a record rookie season ever since for @_EPettersson, the #Canucks Most Exciting Player! pic.twitter.com/4QbhrkiJSL— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 3, 2019
I honestly cannot imagine a scenario where anyone else wins this award, let alone garners more than a handful of votes. Elias Pettersson is the Most Exciting Player on the Canucks and it isn’t even close. And then, the controversy...
There’s a lot of people not particularly happy about this, but let’s consider a couple things. First, if Pettersson doesn’t have that tremendous start, the Canucks are still hanging around the basement. They’re absolutely battling Ottawa and Los Angeles for last place without the wins they got from Jacob Markstrom and that’s the truth. He found ways to get wins where in the last few years they were losses and that made a huge difference. That’s why he’s the MVP. Petey is gonna win a ton of these in his time here. Relax and think about the long game.
So now it’s visits to Nashville and St Louis and then that’s it. Then we await the inevitable bad news Tuesday when the NHL holds it’s Draft Lottery before the league converges on Vancouver for the Draft in Mid-June. There’s lots of work for the Canucks to do leading up to that point and beyond, so it will keep us busy as we ponder what lies ahead.