I Watched This Game: Canucks tighten the screws on struggling Flyers

Canucks 5 - 1 Flyers

Pass it to Bulis

In 1995, Tim Robbins wrote and directed an intense drama about good and evil, responsibility and redemption, named Dead Man Walking. Susan Sarandon earned the academy award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun and anti-death penalty activist, who wrote the book upon which the movie is based.

Robbins was nominated for Best Director, Sean Penn was nominated for Best Actor and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walkin’” was nominated for Best Original Song. By all accounts, it is a brilliant, thought-provoking film.

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I haven’t seen Dead Man Walking.

The movie sticks in my head, however, as I remember what movie I saw instead. I was eleven, a little too young for the R-rated Dead Man Walking. It was picked up at our local theatre for a brief theatrical run after Sarandon’s win at the Oscars and my parents decided to go. As they went to see their film, my friend and I went to the other theatre to watch James and the Giant Peach.

We had the theatre to ourselves. Literally no one else was there. While well-reviewed, James and the Giant Peach flopped at the box office. My friend and I loved it, however, with half the appeal being the empty theatre around us. We yelled at the characters on the screen, moved seats multiple times, tried to throw popcorn to each other to catch in our mouths — typical 11-year-olds-left-to-their-own-devices stuff.

I watched James and the Giant Peach later in life and it holds up without the empty theatre shenanigans.

One thing I remember distinctly was the somber expression on my parents’ faces as they exited the theatre. They looked haunted. Clearly, they had just had a very different experience from that of my friend and me. That expression stuck with me and is probably part of the reason I’ve never sought out the film in subsequent years. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch a movie that evoked whatever emotion was in my parents’ faces.

I’ve never seen Dead Man Walking, but, thanks to Dave Hakstol, I did see a dead man walking when I watched this game.

  • The Canucks can’t be directly implicated in the firing of any coaches this season. Joel Quenneville’s firing in Chicago came closest, fired a week after his Blackhawks lost 4-2 to the Canucks, but losses to the Oilers and Flames in that week were named as co-conspirators. This time, the Canucks might actually have done it: they may very well have gotten a coach fired.
  • The Flyers’ skaters came out firing to start the game, but ran into a hot Jacob Markstrom, who has been slamming the door like my kids slam the freezer when they find out we’re out of popsicles again. Markstrom made his first of many big stops just 20 seconds into the game when Nolan Patrick got in alone. The third-best player in the 2017 draft tried to slide the puck five-hole, but Markstrom had it on lock like Maid Marian.
  • Anthony Stolarz didn’t fare as well on the first shot he faced in the Flyers’ net. To be fair, it came off the stick of noted sniper Chris Tanev.
  • It was the prettiest goal Tanev has ever scored. On a delayed penalty drawn by Bo Horvat, Tanev played a give-and-go with Goldobin, whose backhand pass back to Tanev was a thing of beauty. Tanev then one-upped the pass by cutting down the middle of the ice, evading Ivan Provorov’s pokecheck, and backhanding the puck past Stolarz.

 

 

  • The goal led Nick Kypreos to bizarrely claim during the first intermission that Tanev has untapped offensive potential and just needs more confidence. Look, Kyper, Tanev is turning 29 in a week, he’s in his ninth NHL season, and he has a grand total of 90 points in 419 games. 29-year-old defencemen don’t have untapped offensive potential; if they’ve got it, by 29 it’s been tapped. I may typo his name as Christ Tanev more than I’d like to admit, but he’s not like Jesus, busting out the good wine at the end of the party when everyone’s already drunk. He’s not going to get better with age at this point.
  • Four minutes after Tanev scored, the Canucks made it 2-0 on their fourth shot. Alex Biega threw the puck on goal after some strong work by Antoine Roussel down low. The shot never made it to the net, but Adam Gaudette poked the loose puck to Loui Eriksson, who ripped it past Stolarz like a 30-goal scorer.

 

 

  • Nothing against Tanev and Eriksson, but when you let both of them score on you in the same game, things are really bad. Stolarz got the pull and apparently suffered an injury to something other than his dignity, as the game’s emergency goaltender, UBC’s Rylan Toth, was on standby.
  • Stolarz’s replacement, Alex Lyon, didn’t even get to face a single shot before he allowed the 3-0 goal. After some solid control down low by the Canucks, Josh Leivo sent a centring pass to Brock Boeser, but it hit Andrew MacDonald’s skate and rocketed just under the bar like an Elias Pettersson snap shot. Poor Lyon had no chance.

 

 

  • The Flyers scored their lone goal off a misplay by Derrick Pouliot and a little luck. Pouliot’s pass in the neutral zone was out of the reach of Bo Horvat and Scott Laughton took it the other way. Pouliot gambled, swinging his stick at the bouncing puck, but it skipped past him, leaving Laughton all alone with Markstrom, who couldn’t get his glove on Laughton’s quick shot.
  • That was it for the Flyers, though not for lack of trying. After scoring his goal, Tanev was in more comfortable territory in his own zone, laying out to block what looked like a sure goal for Wayne Simmonds. Tanev is fifth in the NHL in blocked shots, which isn’t exactly a good thing — he sure is spending a lot of time in his own zone this season — but it’s also a testament to just how good Tanev is at getting parts of his body between the puck and the net.
  • Brock Boeser’s 4-1 goal was a set play (as confirmed by Troy Stecher). Off a faceoff win by Elias Pettersson, Boeser rotated to the point, while Leivo made his way to the top of the crease to set a screen. Since the point is an unusual place for a winger to go, Boeser had plenty of room to one-time Stecher’s pass, and the puck found a way past Lyon. Like Frank Vitchard getting his arm chopped off, Lyon did not see Boeser’s shot coming.

 

 

  • That was Tim Robbins doing the chopping in that Frank Vitchard clip, just to bring the Dead Man Walking thing full circle.
  • That goal gave Boeser nine goals in his last ten games, while Pettersson picked up the second assist, giving him points in six straight games. It was one of only two faceoffs Pettersson won all game.
  • Loui Eriksson has made a significant difference on the Canucks’ penalty kill. During a third-period kill, he created two shorthanded scoring chances. On the first, he perfectly read the power play and picked off a pass to the point, springing a 2-on-1 with Motte that Lyon stopped. On the subsequent faceoff, he jumped on a deflected pass in the offensive zone for his own shorthanded chance, forcing a fantastic blocker save.
  • The Canucks have now gone five games and 12 penalty kills without allowing a power play goal against. Sure, it helps that the Flyers have the third-worst power play in the NHL, but, like a ghost wanting a Subaru, the Canucks’ PK deserves credit.
  • You can tell that Hakstol is in a little bit of desperation mode right now: he pulled Lyon for the extra attacker while down by three goals with over five minutes left in the game. It didn’t last long. Jay Beagle and Tyler Motte chipped the puck down the boards and Markus Granlund took the chips and dipped them into the empty net. Motte and Granlund have combined for 10 goals this season — four of them have gone into an empty net.


 

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