I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Jets 2

Pass it to Bulis

With the Canucks sinking to the bottom of the NHL standings and with visions of Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier dancing in their heads, Canucks fans might be watching games with one eye on the standings, winding up looking like Colleen Moore in Ella Cinders.

I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to do that. The NHL standings don’t change that much in the course of one evening and you can safely check them once per day and have a solid grasp of the Canucks’ current situation. When, or if, you watch the games, you can safely just watch the games, then check the impact on the standings afterwards. It will save you a great deal of ocular strain.

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I used both my eyes to watch this game.

  • Not that this game truly deserved the attention of both my eyes. Both the Canucks and Jets are out of playoff contention and my goodness did it ever show. Sometimes games between teams at the bottom of the standings can be entertaining, as sloppily-played hockey often leads to turnovers, odd-man rushes, and exploitable defensive holes. While this game had its moments, the rest was like a beginner’s yoga class: long dull stretches.
  • It was time for Tanev vs Tanev 2: The Taneving in this game as brothers Chris and Brandon faced each other for the second time. In nearly 5 minutes of 5-on-5 time against each other, the Canucks out-corsi’d the Jets 5-2, so you can bet the elder Tanev will bring that up at their next family gathering. 
  • The Jets were all over the Canucks early, but Ryan Miller was superb. Actually, that undersells it: he was super-A+. 
  • I’m following the Canucks lead and letting some young, inexperienced jokes get a little more ice time. It might mean fewer laughs now, but it’ll pay off in the long run.
  • Miller had to be sharp, as the Canucks were in full Keystone Kops mode, running around in their own zone and colliding with each other, leading to great scoring chances for the Jets. Miller made like he was playing Baldur’s Gate and saved constantly. He didn’t allow a single goal at even-strength: it took two power plays (and a pretty inept penalty kill) for the Jets to beat him, though a couple posts and missed shots helped.
  • Despite the exhaustion of playing his third game in three nights, Brock Boeser performed well, with six shot attempts, two of them on goal. He nearly had his second goal in as many games after a slick passing play by Bo Horvat and Ben Hutton, but Mark Scheifele tied him up as he drove to the net. The early returns on the chemistry between Horvat, Boeser, and Sven Baertschi are encouraging, which is good, because they’ll pretty much be the first line next season.
  • Their line created the opening goal with 21 seconds left in the first period, as Baertschi won a puck battle behind the net with some swift stick work, then found Horvat, who relayed the puck to the point. While Chris Tanev moved the puck to Alex Edler, Baertschi set up in front and shoved Josh Morrissey in front of goaltender Michael Hutchinson and Edler’s point shot deflected in off Morrissey’s leg. I choose to believe that Baertschi did that intentionally, mainly because I used to believe that about the Sedins, but they’ve deteriorated to the point that I’m not sure they do anything intentionally any more. I need to believe at least one person on the Canucks is a wizard.
  • The biggest consequence of this game, aside from draft position, is that Troy Stecher injured his shoulder on an innocent-looking collision with Brandon Tanev and left the game. Alex Biega, who was playing as a forward, shifted to defence, but the injury opens the door for Jordan Subban to get some NHL action, haha, just kidding, Philip Larsen is still available.
  • It took until game 75, but Brandon Sutter is finally off the power play. They had to wait, you see, for a right-handed shot that is less of a rush scorer than Jannik Hansen. In stepped Brock Boeser, so of course the Canucks’ best scoring chance on the power play came off a one-timer...by Chris Tanev. To be fair to the muffin-shot master, it was a particularly robust muffin, clanging off the crossbar.
  • I’m starting to get worried about Bo Horvat on the penalty kill. He was on the ice for both Jets goals and has the worst goals against per 60 minutes of any Canuck shorthanded. In fact, he’s one of the worst in the NHL in that category. Like a teenaged driver merging onto the highway for the first time, he seems to have trouble getting into lanes. He doesn’t seem to block passing or shooting lanes very effectively.
  • Baertschi bore the brunt of the blame for the Jets’ second goal, as apparently Willie Desjardins was not happy with his decision to shoot on a shorthanded 2-on-1 and Baertschi whiffed on a chance to clear the puck after that. But it was Nikita Tryamkin jumping up in the play looking like he wanted to create another odd-man rush that created the mismatch down low leading to Lowry’s goal. I normally love watching Tryamkin kill penalties, but sometimes his reach exceeds his grasp.
  • I’m still not sure what Willie Desjardins is doing with his deployment. Down by one and with the goaltender pulled, Desjardins turned to his veterans — Edler, Sutter, and the Sedins — along with Hutton and Horvat, playing that sextet for nearly two full minutes. I say nearly, because Michael Chaput was on for part of the final two minutes as well, because he’s a top-six winger now that he plays with the Sedins.
  • It just feels like Desjardins still hasn’t embraced the idea of playing the kids, even when the Canucks might have been more likely to score by running out the Horvat power play unit — Horvat, Baertschi, Boucher, Hutton, and Edler in place of Stecher — and tossing Boeser or Goldobin on the ice with them. In my mind, not only would that accomplish the goal of putting the youth on the ice in pressure situations but also would be more likely to result in a goal. Heck, maybe Desjardins is on Team Tank.

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