I Watched This (Preseason) Game: Troy Stecher stands out in Canucks loss to Kings

Pass it to Bulis

Growing up, my family didn’t have cable TV, but even if we had, we wouldn’t have been able to watch every single Canucks game, because every game wasn’t televised.

At most, we would watch the Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada on CBC, if they deigned to show a Canucks game at all. Occasionally there would be a game on another local channel, but that’s it.

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Nowadays, every single Canucks game is televised. If you have cable with any sorts of sports package, you can watch every game this season. You know, if that’s something you want to do.

We’re at the point where almost every preseason game is televised as well. But that “almost” trips people up. Because this game wasn’t televised, at least, not in Canada. Since it was a neutral site game in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sportsnet evidently didn’t want to send a team to cover the game.

There was a moment when I wanted to be outraged about this. How dare they not televise this game! Who do they think they are? Except it’s one single preseason game. It really was not that long ago that there were multiple regular season games that could only be watched by buying a ticket and going in person.

Besides, the Canucks still streamed the game online for free. And that is how I watched this game.

  • Honestly, I’d rather talk about the Philadelphia Flyers’ new mascot, Gritty, than this game. Because Gritty is fantastic. I don't care if he's a discount Youppi or Philly Phanatic; I unapologetically love that weirdo with the googly eyes and disturbingly spherical belly.

  • What’s that? I’m contractually-obligated to write about the Canucks? I can’t write about Gritty or show any further pictures or videos of Gritty because it would disturb any small children who happen to be reading this? This unnecessary conversation with a non-existent editor has gone on too long and no one finds it funny? Fine. Let’s talk Canucks.
  • Oh boy, what a mess. The Canucks were soundly outplayed in this game, but that’s pretty understandable when you look at the Kings lineup, which wasn’t far off from what you would expect from them in the regular season. Their top-10 scorers from last season were all in the lineup, as was newly-signed Ilya Kovalchuk and number-one goaltender Jonathan Quick. I can just imagine Travis Green seeing the submitted lineup and yelling, “It’s preseason and we’re in Utah! No one cares about this game! Chill out!”
  • Of course, then you look at the Canucks and realize they basically iced their opening night lineup minus Elias Petterson, Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev, and Jay Beagle. This might just be how the season is going to go for the Canucks.
  • Since the game was in Salt Lake City, where they don’t have a professional ice hockey team, there were some quirks: the official scorekeepers were from the ECHL, so the usual stats weren’t available. The lights were set up for basketball, so the neutral zone was nice and bright, but the nets were shrouded in darkness like unexplored territory in Age of Empires. And Jacob Markstrom’s net kept coming off its moorings.
  • You just had to laugh at Markstrom getting the first penalty for delay of game when his net first came off its moorings. The net itself caused the longest delay of the game when it came off again a moment later. I wanted to make like Robin Williams and tell Markstrom, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”
  • The first goal wasn’t his fault either. No, the blame primarily falls on Michael Del Zotto, who got caught puck-watching and lost his check in the slot. Michael Amadio took a hit from Alex Biega behind the goal line to make a play to Kyle Clifford, who whipped the puck to Tyler Toffoli wide open in between the hash marks. The quick passing gave Markstrom no chance to get set and Del Zotto couldn’t get to Toffoli in time to disrupt his shot.
  • The best Canuck on the ice was easily Troy Stecher. He did everything. He won battles in the defensive zone, jumped up in the rush, led the forecheck, drew penalties, and fired a game-high six shots on goal. While a lot of the Canucks lineup seemed checked out, Stecher was thoroughly checked in. Like, he downloaded the hotel’s app to skip any potential lineups at the front desk, and agreed to receive emails and notifications from the hotel. That’s how checked in he was.
  • Stecher had the lone assist on the Canucks’ only goal. On the penalty kill he stole the puck from Ilya Kovalchuk, then sent a long bank pass to Sam Gagner coming out of the box. Gagner, in on a 2-on-1 with Tim Schaller, kept the puck and sent a Vanekian slap shot off the post and in.

 

 

  • That wasn’t even Stecher’s best moment of the night. That came later in the second period when he pulled off a Savardian spinorama on Drew Doughty, getting a backhand chance and drawing a penalty on the perennial Norris candidate. I am full on board with Stecher going full rover this season. I want to see him all over the ice like a waddle of penguins

 

  • The pairing of Erik Gudbranson and Olli Juolevi hasn’t looked all that bad so far this preseason, but they struggled against the Kings. The 2-1 goal came after a brutal pinch by Gudbranson that led to a 1-on-1 situation for Juolevi, who didn’t anticipate Toffoli knocking down an aerial pass against the grain, which gave him a chance to get a shot from the slot. The puck went through Markstrom’s body like a Hogwarts ghost.
  • Gudbranson and Juolevi were again on the ice for the 3-1 goal. Both were equally burned: Alex Iafollo beat Gudbranson wide, while Anze Kopitar burst by Juolevi in the neutral zone and Juolevi never got back to challenge when Iafollo centred for Kopitar. It was ugly defending, for which there is no alibi.
  • Gudbranson did get one smashing hit in, as he absolutely bulldozed Kyle Clifford. It was a great hit that caused a brief turnover, though Nikolay Goldobin wasn’t able to do anything with the puck. Regrettably, Gudbranson immediately took an unnecessary holding call on the subsequent backcheck. That just seemed to be the way it went for Gudbranson in this game: one step forward, one trust-fall-with-no-one-behind-him back.

via Gfycat

 

  • I don't mean to harp on Gudbranson and Juolevi. Most of the Canucks were bad in this game. It's just that the rest of the lineup was bad in non-descript, generic ways, while that pairing was ad in specific ways that led directly to goals against.
  • Sam Gagner got the Canucks only goal, but he gave one back in the third period. After he broke his stick in the defensive zone, Gagner broke for the bench to get a replacement at exactly the wrong moment. As soon as he went to the bench, his check, Dion Phaneuf, jumped up and got a perfect pass for a one-timer, blasting it past Markstrom.
  • So, uh, Brock Boeser...he hasn’t looked very good in the preseason. Are we going to talk about this? Is anyone else concerned? Or have we all agreed to just sweep it under the rug and assume he’ll be better once the regular season starts?
     

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