Sometimes with hockey you get a weird one. Sometimes you get a hard work one, or a high scoring one. And sometimes you get a little bit of everything and some extra stuff you didn’t expect, like a Japadog. And it shouldn’t work but it really does and it’s delicious.
This was Vancouver’s last game in November, which should come as a relief. Historically, the Canucks haven’t fared well this time of year. You may recall they suffered through an 8-game losing streak last November. They’ve fared better in 2019, going 3-3 on this road trip, and they’re still in the playoff mix. However, there are still clear signs of regression from their spectacular October start.
Overall, Vancouver put forth a tremendous effort, skating hard and outshooting the high-flying Oilers 38-30 while holding League-leading Leon Draisaitl scoreless. The weirdness comes from who contributed to the scoresheet, and how. A goal from Loui “Him?” Eriksson, four points from Tanner Pearson, and a quiet night from the top line.
Vancouver returns home for another game against Edmonton tomorrow, where I’m certain they wish to repeat this strong effort. I, on the other hand, wish I had a Japadog. I dealt with serious Japadog cravings while I watched this game.
- If you’re going to be a call-up, you should have a fun last name so I can make some very subtle puns. Unwilling to collect dust on the fourth line, Tyler Graovac put Vancouver up early, bagging a clean power play goal that filtered through Mike Smith and rang off the beater bar, sucking the life out of Rogers Place. It was so clean, in fact, everyone thought it was post-and-out until the horn sounded moments later.
- Vancouver had an excellent first period, scoring two and outshooting Edmonton 16-7, but it almost doesn’t matter when the other side has Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Each player is individually dominant and together they’re a sight to see. McDavid is on pace for an eye-popping 143 points, Draisaitl for 140. Elias Pettersson will need to drop a few more of those patented five-point games if he wants to gain ground.
- Here’s some delicious weirdness. J.T. Miller retrieved a puck while Jacob Markstrom was sprawled on the ice. Miller then slid a pass right through Vancouver's crease, for reasons. This obviously led to a shorthanded breakaway by Tanner Pearson and Miller, where Pearson outwaited the Edmonton defender to slide home a goal. As formulaic a set play as I’ve seen.
- Loui Eriksson took a penalty which set the NHL's best power play to work. After some scrambled action, Ethan Bear fed a waiting Connor McDavid who easily cut the lead in half. Don’t worry, Loui, vindication is just around the corner.
- Five minutes into the second period, the Canucks looked to be setting up a nice scoring play, but then Connor McDavid. (That’s a complete sentence.) McDavid stole the puck at the blueline and fed a hungry Zack Kassian, who rifled a gorgeous snap shot off the far post to tie the game. Kassian has been enjoying the best hockey of his career on that top line, and you both love and hate to see it.
- After taking a pummelling from an Oilers power play, Bo Horvat rushed the net and Tanner Pearson trickled the rebound across the line to restore Vancouver’s lead. It wasn’t pretty, but Pearson and Horvat worked hard for the money, so it’s nice to see the hockey gods treat them right.
- It took 15 games, but it happened. Loui, son of Erik, scored a tap-in goal on a beautiful feed from his linemates: Tanner, son of pear, and Bo, son of Tim. It was one of the easier goals of his career, and I know that piling on Loui is the local sport, but it was impossible not to appreciate his relief and joy.
- Early in the third period, Josh Leivo grabbed Bo Horvat’s feed, circled behind the Oilers net and jammed a wraparound goal past Smith’s right pad. This fifth and final goal felt like a fitting reward for a well-executed game. It also illustrated one of my favourite principles of hockey physics: for every McDavid-Draisaitl, there is an equal and opposite Mike Smith.
- Containing Connor McDavid is like trying to battle a flood with a shovel, but Jacob Markstrom did his part, stopping 28 of 30 and denying Connor on a third period breakaway. That’s good, because as recently as Thursday Vancouver has looked shakier with the lead than I did when I was cast as the lead in a high school play, Makin’ It. (I played a nerd, which, well yeah.)
- Quinn Hughes enjoyed one heck of a game, tallying an assist. He had an underrated defensive moment as he coolly defused a Leon Draisaitl shorthanded chance with one skate. Five minutes later, he set up a beautiful Brock Boeser scoring chance with a blast from the point. Additionally, his deft puck movement created the rush that led to Eriksson’s goal. Both statistically and by the eye test, I’m comfortable going on record that Hughes is good at hockey.
- Back on the subject of Japadogs, the Eriksson-Horvat-Pearson trio worked surprisingly well, effective on both ends of the ice. Tanner Pearson had a career high four points. Bo was the engine, using his big body to create space, earning three assists and playing 22:58. I wish there was some reference I could make re: hotdogs and Horvat, but I am drawing a blank, oh well.
- Alex Edler left the game with an upper-body injury. The team offered no details, but he had a nasty collision early in the first period and ended up playing just 16 minutes. If Edler isn’t ready to go tomorrow night, I'd expect Oscar Fantenberg to slot in.