The Anaheim Ducks are bad.
That’s not a particularly bold statement. After all, they’re second last in the Western Conference and have the worst goal-differential in the entire NHL. They average the fewest shots on goal in the NHL and give up the sixth-most shots on goal. The only thing keeping them alive this season has been a heroic effort by goaltender John Gibson, and he’s injured.
That’s why it was so embarrassing for the Canucks to get shutout the last time they faced the Ducks. Making it worse, they got shutout by a 26-year-old rookie making his first career NHL start. That goaltender, Kevin Boyle, was back between the pipes for the rematch, but the Canucks reversed their fortunes, with Jacob Markstrom providing an ever-rare shutout at the other end of the ice.
The shutout wasn’t the only reason the Canucks’ last meeting against the Ducks was painful, as Ryan Getzlaf injured both Chris Tanev and Jake Virtanen in that game. Both players are still on the IR with ankle and rib injuries, respectively. Tanev and Virtanen weren’t the only ones who missed this game, however, as Getzlaf himself was absent from the Ducks’ lineup with an injury of his own.
I was planning on making a joke about how Getzlaf only seemed like he wasn’t in the lineup, because he had zero impact on the game. The fact that he actually wasn’t in the lineup, which explains why I never noticed him on the ice, completely obliterated my joke. Getzlaf ruins everything.
I didn’t notice Getzlaf not playing when I watched this game.
- With Erik Gudbranson traded earlier in the day, Luke Schenn got into his first game as a Canuck and acquitted himself quite well. He played a simple, physical game and it worked. He stepped up in the neutral zone to break up rushes, battled hard down low in the defensive zone, and made a good first pass to start the breakout. He finished with four hits and six shot attempts (three of them on net), and led all Canucks’ defencemen in corsi. That’s one heck of a debut.
- While praising Schenn for being a solid third-pairing defenceman, keep in mind what I said at the top of this article: the Anaheim Ducks are bad. I’m a little worried that he’ll get spun around like Tammy Duncan against a faster team. We’ll see.
- After a strong all-around performance against the New York Islanders, Nikolay Goldobin got rewarded with the prime winger spot alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. He got off to a good start away from them, however, with two nifty setups on the second power play unit after a penalty drawn by Schenn. Unfortunately, neither Adam Gaudette nor Ryan Spooner could hit the net on the chances created by Goldobin.
- Goldobin didn’t make the same mistake. Pettersson blocked a shot and broke the other way, sending Goldobin in on the right wing with a lovely cross-ice pass. With Boeser driving up the middle keeping Hampus Lindholm from pressuring the puck, Goldobin ripped a wrist shot, which rung the post like an Ogene before hitting the back of the net. Goldobin must have played some GoldenEye over the weekend, because he found the Golden Gun.
- Perhaps the Goldobin goal rattled Boyle, as he gave up an ugly goal to Alex Biega later in the first. Biega took a long shot from the point and the puck snuck through Boyle’s five-hole. Perhaps the issue was Boyle’s slim-cut low-waisted jeans preventing him from fully bending down into his butterfly.
- Ryan Spooner picked up his first point as a Canuck with the second assist on Biega’s goal, but nearly had his first goal as well. He hit the underside of the crossbar with one shot and had two breakaways, where he tried to slide the puck five-hole both times. Unfortunately for Spooner, Boyle didn’t follow his namesake’s advice and spread his legs.
- Bo “Cap” Horvat was the goat on the lone Ducks goal the last time these two teams met, so perhaps he was looking to make up for it with his effort on Monday. He was all over the puck with a game-high eight shot attempts and scored two goals.
- Horvat’s first goal of the night was also the first power play goal for the Canucks in four games. Boeser, however, deserves a lot of the credit. He and Pettersson out-battled Lindholm for the puck along the boards, then Boeser drove into the slot before sending a slick backhand feed to Horvat down low. With Boyle expecting a shot from Boeser, Horvat had two attempts to whack at the puck like it was Caga Tió to make it 3-0.
- Horvat’s second goal came with a side order of making Ryan Kesler look bad, so it was a big hit with the Canucks faithful at Rogers Arena. First, Horvat dove out to prevent Kesler from escaping the zone, one-handing the puck away from the blue line. Then Josh Leivo out-muscled Kesler along the boards and fed a great pass to Horvat, who looked Kesler dead in the eyes and blew a raspberry at him while shooting the puck past Boyle. Okay, that last part about looking at Kesler and the raspberry weren’t true. But it felt true.
- Even John Garrett couldn’t resist joining in the Kesler slamming: “It would be tiring being a teammate of Ryan Kesler. It would be!”
Cheech out here burying Ryan Kesler, and as usual, Shortie gives it a few seconds of respectful silence before moving along. pic.twitter.com/my7DnF6qfg— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) February 26, 2019
- Markstrom was solid in net for his third career shutout, making 29 saves, but he was helped out by the misfiring Ducks, who sent the puck wide on several great scoring chances. At one point in the third period, Derek Grant missed the net on two opportunities in the space of two seconds: one from the high slot, then again with an open net as the puck rebounded off the boards. The Ducks were missing the net like every time I go camping with no cellular signal.