I Watched This Game: Golden Knights chase Markstrom, cruise to easy win over Canucks

Canucks 2 - 6 Golden Knights

Pass it to Bulis

I’ve been looking forward to Captain Marvel for months. I’m a huge nerd. Admittedly, it’s not particularly nerdy to look forward to a movie in the most successful ongoing movie franchise/cinematic universe in the world, but it goes a little further than that.

Captain Marvel is the biggest female superhero in Marvel Comics, so it’s no surprise that she’s the star of Marvel’s first female-led movie, but that wasn’t always the case. Since her creation in the 70’s as Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers has been through the wringer, with a series of awful storylines in the 80’s that robbed her of her agency, her powers, and her solo title. By the 90’s, Danvers was barely in any comics at all.

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It wasn’t until the late 90’s that Danvers was brought back to the forefront of Marvel Comics, in one of my favourite runs of comics of all time: Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s run on Avengers. Busiek’s fantastic four-year run on Avengers defined the team in my eyes, particularly since it pulled so heavily from the old West Coast Avengers dynamic from the 80’s, but let’s not get sidetracked.

Danvers, who renamed herself Warbird in those issues, played a major role in this series. It wasn’t perfect — she went through an alcoholic storyline that was a bit hackneyed, if an understandable development from those awful 80’s storylines — but it centred Danvers as an important part of the Marvel Universe. Other writers, like Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue DeConnick, took Busiek’s development of the character and continued to build her into a powerhouse, to the point that her solo comic has become one of the bestselling books on the market.

Not bad for a character that you would have been forgiven for writing off in the mid-90’s. At that point, she was mostly known for being the source for Rogue’s powers, and even that felt like a piece of esoteric trivia.

So, I wasn’t just looking forward to seeing Captain Marvel because it was the latest big-budget superhero spectacular, but because I’ve watched her grow from an afterthought into one of the most important characters in Marvel Comics. I feel invested in her as a character and my wife and I have been eagerly anticipating the movie for a long, long time.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t go to see a midnight showing on Thursday, as babysitters are hard to come by that late at night. We couldn’t see it on opening night on Friday, as I was coaching soccer practice late in the evening. And on Saturday night, I had to watch the Canucks get thrashed to within an inch of their lives by the Vegas Golden Knights. Again.

I’m not going to lie, I would have much preferred to see Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel pal around with Samuel L. Jackson and punch out octogenarian alien shapeshifters, than see the Golden Knights pal around with Mark Stone and punch holes in the Canucks’ defence.

Sunday, I’m going to watch Captain Marvel. Saturday, I watched this game.

  • Like Sheila in Army of Darkness, this game got real ugly in a hurry. A minute in, the Golden Knights took advantage of a failed clearance by Derrick Pouliot to swarm the slot, creating a fire drill for the Canucks defensively. They reacted like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s students in Kindergarten Cop: chaos. Paul Stastny ripped a shot off the post, then, while the Canucks watched the puck, Mark Stone put the rebound in the back of the net. Poor Jacob Markstrom didn’t have a chance.
  • Markstrom not having a chance was a running theme. He made two spectacular saves prior to the 2-0 goal, kicking aside a Jon Merrill wrist shot, then robbing Alex Tuch on the rebound. It was all for nought: Merrill got the puck back and his second shot attempt banked in off Tuch on the doorstep. Troy Stecher wasn’t able to out-battle the 6’4” Tuch, which is understandable: he’s a big, beefy guy. He’s the meatiest Tuch since Katya Zamolodchikova on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
  • A few minutes later, it was 3-0. Tanner Pearson wasn’t able to contain Tomas “Nose for the Net” Nosek as he drove to the net, but Markstrom managed to stop his backhand attempt. Unfortunately, Alex Edler had unwisely swiped at the puck instead of tying up his man, Cody Eakin, in front. Eakin got to the rebound and chipped it off Pearson and in.
  • The Tuch and Eakin goals were both pretty lucky, as they banked in off bodies in front, but it’s a lot easier to get lucky when you constantly have the puck in the offensive zone and attack the net relentlessly. Also, it may just be confirmation bias, but it feels like the team from Vegas gets luckier than other teams.
  • Elias Pettersson doesn’t have a goal in ten games now, but he came incredibly close in the first period. Antoine Roussel bounced a pass through to him for a breakaway and he beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a deke, but couldn’t beat the post. It was a fantastic chance and a great move, but there’s just one problem: it was his only shot attempt of the game.
  • Pettersson did get in on the Canucks’ first goal, however, providing the secondary assist to stay at a point-per-game on the season. He and his linemates provided some pushback in the offensive zone and Pettersson set up Alex Biega for a one-timer from the point. Biega got his shot past the first shot-blocker and Brock Boeser made like Marie Kondo and provided a neat tip for his 22nd goal of the season.

 

 

  • Fans didn’t get much time to enjoy Canucks goals in this game. Each time the Canucks scored, the Golden Knights responded with a goal of their own within a minute. This time it was Nosek, who bested Boeser’s tip with an even better tip of his own. The Golden Knights got the Canucks in a spin cycle around the perimeter, then Colin Miller threw the puck towards the net, where Nosek, unimpeded by Luke Schenn at his side, deflected it into the top corner.
  • A couple minutes after that, Jacob Markstrom’s night was done. Stastny caught Edler flat-footed and cut past him into the slot before sliding the puck five-hole on the shuffling Markstrom. Five goals against in just over 14 minutes led to the first goalie pull of the season for the Canucks, with Thatcher Demko coming in for Markstrom, whose teammates owe him a nice gift basket, or a couple flights of beer, or something. Their defence had more holes than the Terminator franchise.
  • The Golden Knights took it pretty easy on Demko, or rather, they took the foot off the gas and coasted for the rest of the game after Markstrom was pulled. They had 16 shots on goal in the first 14:17 of the game. Demko faced just 17 shots in the rest of the game.
  • Bo Horvat scored his 20th of the season in the second period off a rush sparked by a nice defensive play by Biega. Nikolay Goldobin angled off Pierre-Edouard “Beautiful Horse” Bellemare at the blue line and Biega stepped up to poke the puck up to Antoine Roussel, who sent Horvat up the right wing. His wrist shot zipped under Fleury’s arm like pit zips.

 

 

  • There weren’t many positive stories for the Canucks in this one, but Biega was one of them. He had a two-point night with assists on both Canucks goals and played a career-high 22 minutes and 22 seconds. The Bulldog has 7 points in his last 11 games. Not bad!
  • Of course, the Golden Knights ruined the good vibes by getting a lucky goal a minute later. Nate Schmidt was wide open after a sloppy line change by the Canucks, and his snapper made like a Florian “Venom” Kohler trick shot: off a stick and through the legs. Leivo’s stick and Demko’s legs, to be specific.
  • During the second intermission, Nick Kypreos suggested that this was the type of game where the Canucks miss Erik Gudbranson, as he could have provided some pushback. I don’t know why analysts on national broadcasts are so eager to prove that they don’t watch any Canucks games, but to be clear, this is the exact type of game where Gudbranson struggled most: against a team with superior speed and superb passing. I’m sorry, but the Golden Knights would have picked Gudbranson apart.
  • Another positive: Jake Virtanen returned to action for the first time since Ryan Getzlaf fractured his ribs. While a little shaky to start, Virtanen got more and more comfortable as the game progressed, finishing with four shots on goal and five hits. He even hit a cross bar in the third period, nearly triggering the first #ShotgunJake in over a month. After the last month, Canucks fans could have used it.

 

 


 

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