Heading into last night’s game against the Ottawa Senators, there were a number of different scenarios that this season’s script writers could have gone with. A lot of them would have been totally believable, too. I could have woken up this morning to watch the two teams that reside in the North Division basement locked in a boring-ass defensive battle, and not at all be shocked. I could have seen both teams trading goals all night long and barely raised an eyebrow. But for them to try and write a Brandon Sutter hat trick into the story arc? That pushes the bounds of believability into the stratosphere.
“It feels pretty good. You never know when or if you’re going to get one - it only took 13 years. I’m pretty excited.” Brandon Sutter, hat trick scorer. pic.twitter.com/jJ0hoBnRYC— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 26, 2021
All kidding aside, Sutter had a monster game, far and away the best we’ve seen from him in a Canucks uniform. It’s genuinely unfortunate that there weren’t fans in the stands to witness it, mostly because it would eliminate any conspiracy theories that it was faked like the moon landings (Okay, sorry... I had to get one more in according to the Wayne Gretzky rule, and I don’t believe the moon landings were faked because tin foil is for use in the kitchen, not as fashion).
"Getting the win is huge for the team and for myself. Just a really well-rounded 60-minute effort for us tonight.” - Demko, following a 35-save performance in his first win of the season. ❌ ❌ pic.twitter.com/B8UMbBfQY8— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 26, 2021
And while I am not exactly doing cartwheels and proclaiming everything’s fine now, there was a lot to like in this game from the Canucks besides the Sutter outburst. Thatcher Demko looked far better and more like what we saw from him last season, stopping 35 of 36 Ottawa shots for his first victory of the season. The other feel good moment of the night was Olli Juolevi getting his first NHL goal. This kid has had a long, hard road to get to where he’s in the lineup, so it was nice to see this one go in for him. That Nils Hoglander assist on Tanner Pearson’s goal was just a thing of beauty. Pure hustle and a deft touch with the puck to plant it on the tape of Pearson’s stick. And how about the production from the bottom six? 4 goals on the night, a most welcome development for a team that’s struggled to score like they did last year.
There are some games where let’s be honest, you should be able to have a night like the Canucks did based on your opponent. As good as it was, there are still concerns, though. The Canucks are still giving up far too many shots, and that’s going to continue to cause problems for them throughout the season. Tyler Myers is struggling even worse than we imagined, and it seems like every time he coughs up the puck it ends up in the back of the net. And after finally notching his first goal of the season Saturday night, Elias Pettersson going pointless in a game where the Canucks put up 7 is cause for concern.
These two teams meet again on Wednesday and Thursday, and we can expect the intensity to be cranked on that one, given the lopsided nature of last night, and the 3 fights that Game 1 of this 3 game set gave us.
AROUND THE NHL
Tonight’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning has been postponed until Feb 22. Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, and Jaccob Slavin of the Hurricanes were all placed on the COVID-19 Protocol list last week, and the cancellation is the 4th straight for the Hurricanes... Even though the Canucks don’t play tonight, there’s a couple games that could interest you: Alex Pietrangelo and the Vegas Golden Knights take on the St Louis Blues as Pietrangelo faces his former team for the first time. And Mikko Koivu will play his first game as a Columbus Blue Jacket tonight as they take on the Florida Panthers. North Division action tonight has the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg to meet the Jets, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are in Calgary as they meet the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.