I Watched This Game: Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat play overtime heroes against the Boston Bruins

Canucks 2 - 1 Bruins (OT)

Pass it to Bulis

The Canucks players may not care much about the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, but the fans sure do.

Just two members of the 2010-11 Canucks remain with the team: Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Neither are the types to carry a grudge for seven years. They’re both far too calm, cool, and collected for that. On the ice, the rivalry seems all but gone for good.

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Off the ice, however, is another matter. The players may have left the past in the past, but fans still carry it with them. That was clearly evident by the lusty booing that filled Rogers Arena every time that Brad Marchand touched the puck.

There is no forgiveness for Marchand in Vancouver, whether for his uncouth actions during the Stanley Cup Final or his brutal lowbridge on Sami Salo. The intervening years have done little to slake the ire of Canucks’ fans towards Marchand.

So, it was all the sweeter that the Canucks scored the gamewinner in overtime because Marchand fell at centre ice, giving the Canucks’ two most dangerous forwards a 2-on-1.

I enjoyed the schadenfreude when I watched this game.

  • The Canucks had one key thing going for them heading into this game: the Bruins’ depleted defence corps. Already missing Torey Krug, their top-scoring defenceman from last season, the Bruins also lost Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller, necessitating the debut of 19-year-old Urho Vaakanainen and big minutes for the likes of Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, and John Moore. On top of that, the Canucks had all five senses and slept last night.
  • Early in the first period, the Canucks took advantage of the rookie Vaakanainen to open the scoring. Jake Virtanen threw a puck on net from the point and Brandon Sutter out-battled Vaakanainen to find the puck and slide it under Jaroslav Halak from his knees. Perhaps Vaakanainen had trouble moving his arms because of the massive namebar on his back.

 

 

 

  • Jacob Markstrom got his first start in five games and looked like a different man. He evidently put in some long hours with goalie coach Ian Clark while Anders Nilsson had a run of starts. Like 50 Cent, he was on top of the game. He made 30 saves on 31 shots, including a couple around-the-world glove saves. Clearly, he’s not content to sit back and watch Nilsson steal the starter’s job.
  • Troy Stecher gave Markstrom an assist later in the second period, saving a puck off the goal line, for which he got some dap from the goaltender. 

 

 

  • Nikolay Goldobin seems to be taking it upon himself to make up for the loss of offensive creativity caused by Elias Pettersson’s absence from the lineup. He was arguably the best Canuck on the ice, creating numerous scoring chances for his linemates out of seemingly nothing, and finding some chemistry with Brock Boeser. Plus, he was just plain fun to watch, like when he cheekily put the puck through David Pastrnak’s legs on a zone entry.

 

 

  • Every player in hockey makes mistakes during a game; not every player makes a game’s worth of mistakes on one shift. Erik Gudbranson had one of those shifts, starting with a turnover in his own end of the ice, then a giveaway on a terrible pass for a zone entry at the other end. That led to a rush the other way that Ben Hutton was able to stymie, but then Gudbranson ended up chasing the play and got his stick in Sean Kuraly’s hands for a hooking penalty. To top it off, he lost containment on Kuraly on the delayed penalty and the Bruins forward was able to cut to the net for a scoring chance. Gudbranson was fine enough for the rest of the game, but that one shift was, like 1988’s Big Business, a comedy of errors.
  • The second period started with a literal bang, as Bo Horvat flattened Joakim Nordstrom with an open-ice check. Noel Acciari immediately got in Horvat’s face, the two dropped mitts, and Horvat quickly flattened Acciari with a few swift uppercuts, leaving the Bruins forward bleeding. Like a janitor at the Hönes factory, Horvat was cleaning clocks all night.
  • Despite Goldobin having a great game, Travis Green occasionally swapped in Sven Baertschi in his place on Horvat’s line. On a couple occasions it was on a defensive zone faceoff, suggesting that Green might still have some reservations about Goldobin’s defensive game, but Baertschi also joined Horvat and Boeser on a couple offensive zone faceoffs. One explanation is that Green didn’t want to keep one of his leading scorers on the bench for too long, as his linemates to start the game — Adam Gaudette and Jake Virtanen — saw limited icetime.
  • I had to laugh at poor Alex Edler's second intermission interview with Dan Murphy. The interview lasted all of two questions, and it ended with an apologetic look on Edler's face for not providing more compelling answers. It was quintessential Edler.
  • Loui Eriksson ended up with that ever-rare stat line after this game: all zeroes. Given Eriksson’s over-inflated contract and frequent invisibility on the ice, it’s understandable that this led to some questioning whether he even did anything during the game. Here’s the thing: he played around 12 minutes at 5-on-5 against Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, who have combined for 25 points this season. Eriksson, along with Sutter and Antoine Roussel, were tasked with shutting down the Bruins’ dynamic duo and did an admirable job, as their chances were limited and they were held off the scoresheet.
  • Of course, we’re telling a different story about the Sutter line’s shutdown efforts if Bergeron’s third period shot went bar-down and in instead of nailing the underside of the cross bar and bouncing to the boards. Like Ricardo Russo, Bergeron started celebrating a little too early, before he noticed the referee waving it off.
  • The Bruins were buzzing, as bears famously do, before they tied the game. There was Bergeron’s crossbar, Anders Bjork had a shot go off the knob of Markstrom’s stick, then Zdeno Chara hit the post after jumping up in the play. As much as the Canucks were hoping the tying goal was evitable, it was not.
  • It took an absurd shot to finally beat Markstrom and find net instead of iron. Even then, it still had to hit the crossbar before it went in. Nordstrom got around Sutter in the neutral zone, then used Ben Hutton as a screen, firing a wicked wrist shot through his legs that Markstrom didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping.
  • Brock Boeser seems to thrive with the extra space created by 3-on-3 overtime. He scored the Canucks’ first overtime gamewinner against the Pittsburgh Penguins and set up Horvat this time around. It was a marvelous play, particularly considering how dead tired he must have been. He had been on the ice for over a minute before the winning goal, and had a 41-second overtime shift just a minute before that.
  • It looked for all the world like Boeser was just going to pass the puck up and get off the ice. Instead, when Marchand tumbled to the ice in their tangle for the puck, Boeser took advantage and jumped up for a 2-on-1. Horvat sent the puck to Boeser and Brandon Carlo sold out to block the shot that everyone knew was coming. Everyone but Boeser, that is, as he instead slid the puck under Carlo to Horvat in alone, and he deked to the backhand and snuck the puck under Halak’s glove for a gorgeous finish.

 

 


 

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