I Watched This Game: Bo Horvat and Loui Eriksson lift Canucks to eight goals in Boston

Canucks 8 - 5 Bruins

Pass it to Bulis

The Vancouver Canucks hadn’t scored eight goals in a game in nine years. It was November 14th, 2009 and Henrik Sedin led the way with a hattrick in an 8-1 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. It was the only hattrick of his career, and it was the capstone of an incredible run while his brother was injured, which was a major argument in his Hart Trophy win at the end of the season.

It was also one of Mathieu Schneider’s 17 games with the Canucks, if that gives you some context. Remember Mathieu Schneider and his very toothy smile? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.

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Nine years. There’s an entire new generation of Canucks fans currently in the first few grades of Elementary School that wasn’t even born yet when that game was played.

Now, less than a week after the Canucks dropped seven goals on the Colorado Avalanche, they racked up eight goals on the Boston Bruins, embarrassing them in front of their own fans. Like in 2009, the Canucks were missing one of their top scorers, with Brock Boeser flying back to Vancouver to see a specialist. But instead of the team’s leading scorer making a statement, Elias Pettersson only had one point, a late-game secondary assist.

That’s right: the Canucks put up 8 goals with just one points from Pettersson.

Heading into the season, everyone wondered just who was going to score goals on the Canucks. 17 games into the season, it seems like the answer is “everyone.” For an ever-so-brief moment, the Canucsk were the highest-scoring team in the league before the Tampa Bay Lightning passed them again.

Even still, they’re on-pace for 270 goals. That’s more than they scored during the 2010-11 season, when led the NHL!

Sure, there’s warning signs that this can’t possibly last — only the Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, and Detroit Red Wings average fewer shots on goal per game than the Canucks — but it’s awfully hard to argue with their results so far. 17 games is a pretty decent chunk of the season and the Canucks are first in the Pacific Division, second in the Western Conference, and third in the NHL.

I’m just going to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts. When the ride includes dominant wins over the Bruins, how can I not? I watched this game.

  • Jaroslav Halak was not the goaltender you would have expected to start this kind of game. He’s been dynamite and heading into this game, he led the NHL with a .952 save percentage. After the Canucks chased him from the Boston crease with five goals on 19 shots, his save percentage dropped all the way to .936.
  • Bo Horvat opened the scoring just a few minutes in, picking up a puck that bounced over David Backes’s stick in the Bruins zone and ripped a wrist shot that beat Halak cleanly from a decent distance. Like the woman on the original cover of Spinal Tap’s sophomore album, it went under the glove.

 

 

  • The Bruins took advantage of an ugly backcheck by Tyler Motte to tie the game. The key to a good backcheck is to read the play, though it’s not just reading — it’s one of the other three R’s: ‘rithmetic. Motte needed to count how many Bruins were in front of him and how many Canucks. There were three of each. That meant he was the fourth Canuck and there was surely a fourth Bruin to cover. That fourth Bruin, Matt Grzelcyk (whose last name makes the other R, ‘riting, pretty dang difficult) took the pass from David Krejci and rifled the puck past Jacob Markstrom.
  • Pettersson may not have recorded a point until late in the game, but he was still had an impact defensively. It was a small thing, but I loved this little mid-air knockdown of a pass on the backcheck to prevent Chris Wagner (no relation) from getting in with speed. Take it as representative of several other nice defensive plays he made.

 

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  • Travis Green made the call to move Loui Eriksson off Pettersson’s line in the second period, hoping to spark some offence. It worked, though perhaps not the way some might have thought: like Hot Rod unexpectedly taking the Matrix of Leadership instead of Ultra Magnus, Eriksson was the one that got the touch and the power, scoring two goals and adding an assist.
  • Eriksson tied the game 2-2 after setting up a backdoor chance for Erik Gudbranson with an aerial pass. Gudbranson missed wide, but Eriksson took the ricochet off the boards and tucked the puck in with a quick move to the backhand. Eriksson pulled it off like the goalscorer he used to be, putting it just inside the post so Halak couldn’t reach it on the dive across.

 

 

  • Ben Hutton continued his remarkable rebound from last season with his fourth goal of the year. After the power play struggled to gain the zone for the first minute, Hutton replaced Derrick Pouliot on the first unit and immediately got a chance off a pass meant for Adam Gaudette. Hutton’s point shot found a way through traffic like a lane splitting motorcyclist and beat Halak over the left pad.

 

 

  • Because Hutton replaced Pouliot, that means Pouliot has still only been on the ice for one 5-on-4 power play goal for the Canucks this season. That seems...less than ideal for the lone blueliner on the first power play unit.
  • The 3-2 lead lasted 32 seconds. Motte got beat off the boards by Jake DeBrusk and a couple passes later, DeBrusk was in front of the net tipping DePuck past Markstrom with Michael Del Zotto waving at DePuck instead of taking DeStick. I am so sorry for DeJokes.
  • Hutton and Eriksson combined to regain the lead for the Canucks with the second power play unit. Once again, Hutton got his wrist shot through traffic and, like everybody in the club, Eriksson got tipsy. He tipped the puck down off the ice and it bounced like a J-Kwon beat over Halak’s right pad, off the post, and in.

 

 

  • Antoine Roussel had a fantastic game, doing what he does best: a little bit of everything. He was involved in an early scrum that got everyone’s emotions riled up. He drew two penalties, including the one that led to Eriksson’s second goal. Then he added a goal, deflecting in a Markus Granlund pass, adding an audible “F***ing rights!” on the broadcast. And he did it all with an outrageous French accent.

 

 

  • Troy Stecher didn’t get an assist on Roussel’s goal, but he did some tremendous work keeping the puck in while evading three Bruins. I haven’t seen bears that unable to catch a kid since Baloo.
  • That goal chased Halak from the net where he was replaced by Tuukka Rask, who is also supposed to be a very good goaltender. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, because apparently not-stopping-the-puck-itis is a contagious disease.
  • DeBrusk got another goal, but I’ll save you DePuns and just let you know that it looked awfully similar to his first goal, just with Gudbranson not tying up his stick instead of Del Zotto.
  • Gudbranson made up for it with his first goal of the season, giving him a two-point game and five points on his current four-game scoring streak. With Tim Schaller providing the screen, Gudbranson flung a wrist shot just inside the far post. Much like Canucks fans with Gudbranson’s four-game streak, Rask never saw it coming.

 

 

  • Granlund had an up-and-down game, with several shifts where his line was trapped in the defensive zone, but multiple scoring chances as well. He finished with two assists and could have had a goal with a little more patience on a second period breakaway. If he had held onto the puck a second longer, he could have tucked it around Rask, but instead Rask made a fantastic save, just getting his left toe on the puck.
  • This wasn’t Markstrom’s best game, but he made a marvelous save on Brad Marchand in the third period. On a broken play, the puck got spit out to Marchand, who immediately fired it on net. Somehow Markstrom got his glove on the puck to keep the score 6-4. It’s the ol’ Grant Fuhr special: the “timely” save that wouldn’t have had to be so timely if he had made a few more saves earlier in the game.

 

 

  • Bo Horvat added a shorthanded goal to make it 7-4 with some help from Rask. After Granlund lofted the puck out of the Canucks’ zone, Rask came way out of his net to play the puck. Horvat chased after the puck, then read Rask’s intentions perfectly, knocked down his pass, and deposited the puck into the empty net.

 

 

  • It seemed like Pettersson would go pointless for just the third time in his career, but we all should have known better. Halfway through the third period, he sent the puck cross-ice to Nikolay Goldobin, who dropped the puck to Shotgun Jake Virtanen in the high slot. The shotgun seemed to misfire, as the puck fluttered off Virtanen’s stick, but shotguns don't have to be accurate, right? The knuckling puck fooled Rask for Virtanen’s sixth goal of the season.

 

 

  • Everything after the eighth Canucks goal seemed superfluous. The Bruins added another, but it was a moot point. Motte argued that he scored a goal, which would have been a Motte point, but it was ruled to have gone in after the whistle, so it was also a moot point.
  • Here’s the thing: Krug got an instigator penalty, since Archibald’s hit was clean and Krug came quite the distance to challenge him. Since it was in the final five minutes of the game, the league will have to review it, as it’s a one-game suspension for Krug and a $10,000 fine for his coach according to rule 46.22. I expect they’ll rescind the suspension — the rule allows for discretion to overturn it if it’s not related to “sending a message” — but it seems so silly for Krug to risk a suspension in response to a clean hit for a fight that he had no chance of winning.
  • What a game. The Canucks can’t expect to score 8 goals on 33 shots every game, but it sure is satisfying when it happens. Bo Horvat led the way with four points, though he also led the way to the penalty box with three minor penalties, and Loui Eriksson had a three-point night. Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson had a goal and an assist each. Who needs Quinn Hughes?
  • (The Canucks do, please don’t take that seriously)
     

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