If you try to look up “coach’s nightmare” in the dictionary, you won’t see a picture of this game for several reasons.
One is that most people no longer own a dictionary and rely on their phones and the internet to provide definitions of words. So, for many of you, your search for a dictionary in which to look up the phrase “coach’s nightmare” will prove fruitless, and your sleep will be fitful and restless for the next week.
Another issue is that not all dictionaries include phrases and ones that do only include common phrases that are used in everyday speech. The phrase “coach’s nightmare” is somewhat common in sports, but not outside of sports and is unlikely to be included in a dictionary.
Even if it was, of course, most dictionaries don’t have a lot of pictures. Everyone talks about looking something up in a dictionary and finding a picture next to it, but when you actually look up those words, you never find a picture unless you’re looking in a child’s dictionary that has a very small number of words, with an illustration next to each one.
But let’s assume that you own a dictionary that includes all sorts of unusual phrases, complete with illustrations. You still wouldn’t find a picture of this game next to the phrase “coach’s nightmare” because this game literally just happened. Time travel would be required to get a picture of this game into your dictionary.
Besides, a picture wouldn’t really capture just how much of a nightmare this game was, not just for Canucks coach Travis Green, but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, because even though the Penguins won this game, he can’t be happy with the defensive mess he saw on the ice. To really capture “coach’s nightmare,” a single picture wouldn’t suffice.
I can barely wrap my head around it, and I watched this game.
- Nikolay Goldobin’s return to the Canucks lineup did not go as planned. He got a chance at playing on the top line with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller, but that line barely lasted more than a period before Travis Green started blending lines like a charcoal artist. Goldobin got busted down to the fourth line, then benched, and it’s understandable why: the Canucks were out-shot 12-to-1 in shot attempts at 5-on-5 when he was on the ice.
- To be fair to Goldobin, he was far from the only player to struggle in this game. Bo Horvat was out-shot 24-to-2 when he was on the ice at 5-on-5, for instance. And it wasn’t like Goldobin was noticeably bad; the Penguins were just noticeably better. The Penguins were all over the Canucks for the vast majority of this game.
- Also, before you go blaming Goldobin’s lack of defence for the Canucks losing this game, you should probably know that he wasn’t on the ice for any of the Penguins’ 8 goals. He wasn’t on the ice for any of the Canucks’ 6 goals, for that matter, but you definitely can’t pin their third period collapse on him.
- Too many goals. Let’s go.
- Adam Gaudette went 0-for-10 on faceoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. He wasn’t quite as bad against the Penguins — he went 3-for-10 — but it still cost the Canucks. He lost two defensive zone faceoffs that led to goals against, including the opening goal, which was directly off a faceoff: Evgeni Malkin won the faceoff straight back to Jake Guentzel, and he ripped a one-timer past Thatcher Demko’s blocker.
- With Crosby out while recovering from surgery, the Penguins had to rely on their other future Hall of Fame centre. Malkin was a beast, racking up five points, and also drawing the penalty that led to the Penguins’ second goal. He also assisted on the goal, roaming all over the offensive zone to open up the Canucks’ penalty kill before sending a pass right through the slot to Bryan Rust, who oxidized the net with his quick release.
- The Penguins so thoroughly dominated the first period that the Canucks didn’t even get their first shot on net until after it was already 2-0. The Canucks’ first shot on goal came 13:50 into the first, and it wasn’t even a shot. Tyler Myers knocked the puck off a Penguin player’s stick and it happened to trickle through to Matt Murray. The scorekeepers were just being kind.
- Despite the ice being thoroughly tilted against them, the Canucks still managed to score on one of their three shots on goal in the first. As Blade once said (NSFW), some folks are always trying to ice skate uphill, but Quinn Hughes is such a good skater that he actually succeeded. Hughes stole the puck in the neutral zone and burst the other way for a sudden odd-man rush. He set up J.T. Miller, who neatly took the puck off his skate, then sent a backhand just under the bar.
- The Canucks were far better in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals. Whoever gave the motivational speech in the first intermission probably should have spoken up during the second intermission too.
- Elias Pettersson tied the game with his 11th goal of the season. Hughes sent a quick pass up the middle to Pettersson to spring a 3-on-2 and he executed a lovely give-and-go with Jake Virtanen, who sent back a sweet little backhand saucer pass. Like The Februarys, Pettersson had all the time in the world, and sent a vicious wrist shot past Murray’s blocker.
- This was Virtanen’s best game of the season offensively, as he made great choices with the puck and took direct lines to the net. He scored the 3-2 goal on one of those drives to the net, skating past Kris Letang to a puck put into space by Zack MacEwen. Sometimes Virtanen just throws these types of puck on net, but instead he made a quick cut to his backhand and tucked the puck five-hole. It was a great move for his 7th goal of the season.
- Less than a minute later, Adam Gaudette gave the Canucks a two-goal lead. Hughes sent a point shot through traffic and Josh Leivo won a battle for the rebound. He swiped the puck on net, then kicked it like Lil Nas X to Gaudette at the side of the net for the finishing touch.
- Guentzel made it 4-3 a minute into the third period, but the Canucks quickly responded on the power play. Demko bailed out his teammates after a muffed drop pass, then the Canucks went the other way and set up a one-timer for Brock Boeser that he slammed wide. The carom off the boards came to Miller, whose shot deflected off Jack Johnson’s stick and went tumbling past Tristan Jarry, who had come in to replace Murray. It was ironic that Murray wasn’t in net, because it was actually a weird bounce, that was pretty lucky, and kind of hilarious, if you think about it. You gotta just laugh.
- Once again, Gaudette scored less than a minute after a Canucks goal. He made it 6-3 after picking off a pass in the neutral zone, then undressing a gambling Kris Letang. His shot went off the far post and in. It was an all-around great game for Gaudette, apart from his faceoff struggles. He scored two goals and led the Canucks in corsi: shots on goal were 8-2 for the Canucks when he was on the ice at 5-on-5. His line with Leivo and Tanner Pearson was the Canucks’ best.
- The Penguins’ fourth goal did come off a faceoff loss by Gaudette, but he only gets one quarter portion of the blame. The bulk of the blame goes to Myers, who not only lost track of Dominik Kahun behind him, but slid right into Demko while trying to block a pass from Jared McCann that never even happened. Instead, McCann shot, the rebound came to Kahun, and Demko had no chance to make the save because he had the Chrysler Building on top of him.
- Give a quarter portion of the blame to Jordie Benn as well, who lost position on McCann for the initial shot. So Myers gets one half portion.
- After Tim Schaller whiffed on the puck while trying to take a puck in shorthanded, Malkin made it 6-5 with a power play slap shot that cleanly beat both of the Canucks’ goaltenders: both Demko and Alex Edler.
- Then the Penguins made it 6-6. Edler had broken his stick and didn’t get a replacement from a forward, so collapsed back to the crease to battle with Teddy Blueger in front. The problem was Troy Stecher was already in front of the net and the man that Edler left behind, Zach Aston-Reese, ended up wide open to fire a rebound past Demko.
- Edler’s passive defence, collapsing back instead of staying with his man, was emblematic of the Canucks in the third period. They were far too passive, allowing the Penguins to cycle the puck around the offensive zone with impunity.
- Jake Virtanen’s two-point game led to a season-high in ice time, but that also resulted in him being on the ice for three of the Penguins’ six goals in the third period. He wasn’t directly at fault on any of the goals, but was the victim of some poor timing on the 7-6 goal that completed the Penguins’ comeback. As he followed Rust across the top of the crease, Virtanen ended up right in Demko’s line of sight: he had no chance to see the shot, which skimmed past Virtanen and beat Demko on the glove side.
- Green made a gamble on the goal, challenging for offside, as Malkin had preceded the puck into the zone. He had control of the puck at the time, however, which means his skates are allowed to cross before the puck. The unsuccessful challenge for offside meant the Canucks got a bench minor for delay of game, putting them shorthanded for two of the final three minutes of the game.
- That gave the Canucks just one minute with Demko pulled for the extra attacker and they couldn’t even get a shot attempt. Malkin did, however, scoring into the empty net from his keister even after Miller cynically tripped him.
- That’s it. That’s all the goals. The Canucks had a three-goal lead in the third period and squandered it, giving up five straight goals. It’s not on Demko either. Maybe he could have come up with a miraculous save or two, but the Canucks kept giving the Penguins golden scoring chances, when they weren’t screening him or actively impeding him. It was a disaster of Fyre Festival proportions.