I Watched This Game: Pettersson puts up points; penalty kill disappoints

Canucks 4 - 7 Flames

Pass it to Bulis

It didn’t seem like Elias Pettersson could possibly improve on his fantastic NHL debut, when he scored a gorgeous goal and added a nifty assist. Then he literally one-upped his two-point game on Wednesday with three points on Saturday.

Clearly, what we have here is the beginnings of a pattern. What exactly that pattern is will depend on the third game of his career.

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Ideally, this would be an N+1 sequence, with Pettersson tallying one more point every game. By game 75, he’ll have passed Wayne Gretzky’s record of 2857 career points. By game 82, when Pettersson is putting up a point every 43 seconds to finish with 83 points, it will be old hat. A 3,485-point season, easy as that.

Okay, fine, let’s be more reasonable. Maybe Pettersson will have two points in his third game, establishing a 2-3-2-3 pattern. 2.5 points per game isn’t shabby and would result in a 205-point season, which would only be tied for the fourth-best season in NHL history. See? Perfectly reasonable.

I took leave of my senses when I watched this game.

  • The Canucks are going to lose a lot of games this season. If they lose them like this, scoring four goals, including three points from the wunderkind Elias Pettersson, nobody will be complaining. You’ve got to be like Buzz Lightyear: if you’re going to fall, fall with style.
  • It was a classic Canucks start: Brandon Sutter won the opening faceoff, Alex Edler accidentally iced the puck, and the Flames scored off the ensuing offensive zone faceoff on their first shot of the game. It had a comforting familiarity to it, like revisiting your favourite pub from your hometown and discovering that it hasn’t changed in 20 years. Including all the health code violations.
  • After Elias Lindholm won the faceoff, it was all about the rotation of the Flames skaters. Edler lines up opposite Sean Monahan along the boards. Generally that forward will make a beeline for the net off a won faceoff, but instead Monahan cuts across to the opposite side of the ice, where he’s picked up by Chris Tanev. That left Edler in no man’s land marking no one. Behind him, Lindholm was left unhindered to deflect in the T.J. Brodie point shot.
  • Sutter’s line with Tyler Motte and Jake Virtanen didn’t manage a single shot on goal when they were on the ice together at 5-on-5, but they did have one outstanding shift in the first period. They managed to hem the Flames’ top line in the offensive zone, cycling the puck with Chris Tanev and Michael Del Zotto, then made a full line change with the puck still under control in the offensive zone. That led directly to Pettersson’s first goal. It was the platonic ideal of a checking line shift leading to an offensive opportunity for the young skilled players. It was like seeing a unicorn in real life.
  • Nikolay Goldobin came flying off the bench against the tired trio of Monahan, Lindholm, and Johnny Gaudreau, immediately getting a pair of scoring chances. When he couldn’t beat Mike Smith, Goldobin got the puck back from Loui Eriksson and found Pettersson wide open in the slot. Pettersson swiped right and discovered he and the net were a match.

 

 

  • Just like in the season opener, the Canucks got themselves into some penalty trouble. It was the Canucks, however, that struck first, as Sutter made up for an earlier turnover by taking advantage of a missed Flames pass, breaking out 2-on-1, and going under Smith’s arm like a stick of deodorant.

 

 

  • Calgary struck back just seconds after their power play expired. Mark Giordano somehow out-patiented Chris Tanev, which is like out-lifting Atlas or out-lightning-bolting Zeus. He gave a little leg-kick to indicate a shot, waited as Tanev slid out of the shot-blocking area, then squeaked a quick wrist shot between Jacob Markstrom’s chest and left arm.
  • The Canucks regained the lead in the second period on a power play of their own. A nice zone entry by Brock Boeser led to a chance off the rush for Bo Horvat. The subsequent scramble on the rebound left Pettersson wide open at the right faceoff circle. When Edler slid the puck across, Pettersson made like it had one headlight and drove it home.

via GIPHY

  • Pettersson played 9:46 in his first game. He played 16:05 in this game and you can bet that ice time will climb higher. It’s not just because of his offensive talent, but because of plays like the one he made in the second period a couple minutes after he scored. The puck came around to James Neal and Pettersson read it perfectly, blocking the shot and breaking the other way on a 2-on-1. Pettersson does it all, playing the quote-unquote “right way” at both ends of the rink, and you can tell Green loves it.
  • Even at 19, Pettersson isn’t going to need to be sheltered; other players will need to be sheltered from him.
  • It took two tries, but the Flames tied the game up 3-3. After one goal was overturned on a good coach’s challenge by Green, the Flames scored another. Jay Beagle and Michael Del Zotto got drawn too far over to the boards, leaving Monahan alone in the slot. Markstrom made the initial save, but Gaudreau, who snuck in behind Del Zotto, finished off the rebound.
  • The Canucks went back to work on the power play and Pettersson went into dangle mode to draw another penalty to make it 5-on-3. The extra space made it too easy for Pettersson, who took the puck down low, then looked everywhere except where he was about to pass, zipping the puck right onto Horvat’s stick in front for the 5-hole redirect.

 

 

  • Before the Pettersson hype train goes completely off the rails, let’s remember another highly-regarded prospect also scored five points in his first two games: Alexandre Daigle, the most notorious draft bust of all time. Just like Pettersson, Daigle had two goals and an assist in his second game. He finished the season with a respectable 51 points, but that turned out to be his career high. Pettersson won’t be another Daigle — he’s far too driven compared to Daigle — but let’s not overburden the kid with crazy high expectations; he has enough of those for himself.
  • The Canucks’ penalty kill needs some work. After killing off seven penalties in their first game, they gave up three power play goals in this one, and a fourth just a few seconds after. Basically, the Flames went 4-for-6 on the power play. Jay Beagle was on the ice for all three of their actual power play goals, which is, to be diplomatic, not ideal.
  • We could dwell on those goals, as well as the two empty-netters that led to the 7-4 final score. Instead, I'll just say one thing and then we can look at some fun Pettersson plays. It might behoove the Canucks to let Ben Hutton out of the press box and switch up the D pairings. Because what they have going right now is not working. 
  • More Pettersson!. First, there’s this inside-a-phonebooth toe drag on Lindholm.

 

 

  • How about embarrassing Austin Czarnik with a little change in direction?

 

 

  • And we can’t forget this lovely little blind back pass through the legs to Goldobin that caused two Flames to comedically collide.

 

 

  • Smith actually robbed Goldobin with the glove on that last clip, making a big show of it. That pumped up the Calgary bench and shortly after, Matthew Tkachuk sold a Goldobin slash to get another power play that led to the Flames taking the lead for good. If the game were broadcast elsewhere, they would call that save the TSN Turning Point. As it is, we’ll have to call it the Hockey Night in Canada Hindsight Bias.
  • On the one hand, I’m a little worried about Brock Boeser. On the other hand, he has the same number of goals two games into this season as he had two games into last season.
  • One thing to keep an eye on as the season progressed is that Boeser had his right wrist taped up. It’s unclear if it’s precautionary or related to his wrist injury from last season. Maybe it’s nothing, and Boeser still scored a lot of goals with an injured wrist last season, but it seems noteworthy.

 

 

 

 

 

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