IWTG: Brock Boeser snipes one, but Mackenzie Blackwood stops the rest as Devils quash the Canucks

Canucks 1 - 2 Devils

Pass it to Bulis

The first meeting between Quinn and Jack Hughes was a little underwhelming. While it did boast a big moment for the Hughes’ brothers — Jack’s first career NHL goal — it lacked a little in the entertainment department. Jack’s was the only goal of the game and the two teams combined for just 49 shots, the fewest shots in a Canucks game this season.

Heck, the Canucks had 49 shots by themselves a few games later against the Los Angeles Kings.

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So, would the sequel offer a little more entertainment value? Would it land among the all-time great sequels — Hughes Trek II: The Wrath of Quinn — or would it be among the worst — Hughes Bigalow: European Gigolo.

It was somewhere in between: Hughes-a-Palooza 2: Electric Boogaloo was better than the first, with some fun moments, but it still wasn’t box office gold. The score was bigger, but not by much, with three goals instead of one. The two teams combined for more shots and scoring chances, but not that many more. From a Canucks perspective, Quinn got a point and Jack didn’t, which is better, but then the Devils still won, which is not.

We’ll have to wait a lot longer for the threequel, as the Canucks aren’t scheduled to faced the Devils again this season. Hopefully, by then we can get Hughesy Potter and the Prisoner of Hugheskaban and not a Matrix Revo-Hughes-tions. I stretched way too far for these Hughes movie puns after I watched this game.

  • Tyler Myers is starting to make a habit of clearing pucks off the goal line, which makes sense given his tremendous reach. He prevented a power play goal for Taylor Hall halfway through the first period, pulling the puck off the line at the last second after it squeaked through Jacob Markstrom. He’s got more last-second saves than Ethan Hunt.
  • The Canucks got themselves in trouble on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets by taking back-to-back penalties, leading to the Jets’ first goal of the game. They did it again on Sunday. After a penalty kill featuring Myers’ clear off the line, Jordie Benn put the Devils right back on the power play with an unnecessary crosscheck on Miles Wood. That’s a lot to ask of your penalty killers and it’s tough to get your top forwards going when they spend several minutes sitting on the bench.
  • The Devils opened the scoring on Benn’s penalty. Hall passed to Kyle Palmieri in the slot and he one-touched the puck to Wayne Simmonds at the side of the net. Markstrom, already sliding the wrong way, had any possibility of making a desperation save taken a way when Edler unceremoniously dumped Palmieri into him. Like many people that are dumped, Palmieri laid down for a while with his head in his hands, wondering where it all went wrong.
  • 22 seconds later, the Devils made it 2-0. It went from a good defensive play by Quinn Hughes to a bad one in a hurry: Hughes tracked Jesper Bratt and got in his shooting lane, blocking the shot, but then got caught puck-watching and didn’t tie up Bratt’s stick in the slot. Damon Severson’s shot came to Bratt, who spiced things up with a nod to the coming Christmas season, nutmegging Markstrom.
  • That was the game. In 22 seconds, the Canucks lost, as they couldn't put more than one puck past Mackenzie Blackwood. That's what the 60 minutes of gametime boiled down to: this hour had 22 seconds.
  • If Blackwood only played the Canucks, he’d win the Vezina every year. This was his fourth time playing the Canucks in his career and he already has two shutouts. Before he finally allowed a goal on the power play, Blackwood went two hours, 50 minutes, and 58 seconds without giving up a goal to the Canucks. His save percentage is .896 this season; against the Canucks, it’s .982.
  • Looking for some offence in the second period, Travis Green activated the Line Blender 3000™, particularly for Bo Horvat. Heading into the season, we hoped Horvat would have some consistent wingers, but that hasn’t been the case, particularly in this game. He started the game with Sven Baertschi and Josh Leivo, but wound up playing shifts with Tanner Pearson and J.T. Miller, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen, Josh Leivo and Jake Virtanen, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser, and even Tim Schaller and Adam Gaudette.
  • The only players Horvat didn’t play with in this game were Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle. He literally played at least a minute with every other Canuck in the lineup. I’m shocked Loui Eriksson didn’t come out of the press box for a shift with Horvat.
  • Elias Pettersson is snakebit right now, with no goals and just one assist in his last four games. He had a golden opportunity early in the second period off a great passing play by Boeser and Miller, but, with an open side of the net, he toed the puck through the crease and out the other side. He then dropped to his knees and looked heavenward, like Furiosa after she found out the Green Place had turned into a poisonous swamp. Except, instead of screaming, Pettersson just gave heaven a death stare.
  • One positive sign is that the first power play unit finally looked dangerous again after some recent struggles. While they only had four shots on goal, they had ten shot attempts and were gaining and holding the offensive zone more effectively and moving the puck better once they were there. As the meme says, it’s something.
  • The power play came through for the lone Canucks goal of the game, with the much-maligned drop pass striking pay dirt. Hughes dropped the puck to Miller, who fed it across to a hard-charging Boeser, who attacked the blue line with speed down the right wing. That speed also got Blackwood off his angle, giving Boeser room to beat him inside the far post with a wicked wrist shot.
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  • Boeser has been the Canucks’ best player in recent games, though he’s been doing a lot more setting up than shooting. It’s always nice to get a reminder that he has the best shot in the NHL, as proven by science.
  • It’s getting pretty old seeing Elias Pettersson get hooked, held, and tripped without a penalty call. It brings to mind the old Brian Burkeism: “Sedin is not Swedish for 'punch me, or headlock me in a scrum.’” Neither is Pettersson Swedish for “hook me, hold me, trip me, and interfere with me.”
  • Severson gave Pettersson a textbook hook in the third period, with his stick right in Pettersson’s gut, and hauled him down, with even the usually even-keeled John Shorthouse bellowing, “No call?!” in utter disbelief, then adding “What in the world?”
  • Perhaps referee Tim Peel recognized the error, as he gave the Canucks a power play a moment later on an unusual call: an embellishing penalty that wasn’t a coincidental minor. Hall got tagged for the dive after the Devils’ captain sold a hit by Pettersson like The Rock selling the Stone Cold Stunner, leaving his feet to jump into the boards arms first.
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  • The Devils adjusted to the Canucks’ power play by watching Pettersson like a hawk, closer than most penalty kills watch Alex Ovechkin. It would have been a perfect time for the Canucks to switch to their strong-side formation, with Pettersson on the left and Boeser on the right, to get away from simply setting up the one-timer, but they stuck with it, perhaps because the Devils overplaying Pettersson opened up lanes for the rest of the power play.
  • Tanner Pearson is in a slump. He hasn’t scored a goal since October 12th and has just two points in 14 games. He almost made things worse at the end of the power play, as his centring pass to Gaudette was off the mark and accidentally sprung Hall on his second breakaway of the game. Markstrom stopped him again, then a back-checking Edler slid into Markstrom and knocked the net off its moorings, just before the puck crossed the goal line. It was reviewed: no goal.
  • At one point in the third period, Elias Pettersson came out for a shift with Adam Gaudette and Tim Schaller. This was likely just a result of trying to get Pettersson as much ice time as possible in the third period — he played 8:28 in the third, with only Boeser, Miller, and Horvat playing more — but when do you look at the line blender and think, “Have I gone too far?”
  • The Canucks poured on the pressure in the final minutes with the net empty, but struggled to get the puck through to the net. The only shot on goal recorded for the Canucks in the final five minutes was a slap shot by Elias Pettersson from 59 feet out. Their other five shots were blocked or missed the net.
  • More concerning than the lack of shots might be the personnel out with the extra attacker. In the final minute, Sutter and Pearson were on the ice with Pettersson and Boeser, along with Hughes and Chris Tanev on defence. Horvat and Miller didn’t come on with Pettersson and Boeser until the final 19 seconds after an icing. When two of your top four scorers are not on the ice in that situation, something has gone horribly wrong.
  • Now the Canucks haven’t won against the New Jersey Devils in five years. Literally, their last win over the Devils was on November 25, 2014. It’s like they’ve been cursed by some sort of demonic creature, but I just can’t put my finger on the specific one.
  • Finally, my heart goes out to the Markstrom family. After Sunday’s game, Jacob Markstrom announced on his Instagram that his father had passed away after a six-month battle with cancer. This is heartbreaking news and my prayers are with Jacob and his family in this difficult time.

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