Canucks Weekly Fares: Hardware SZN, A Series Win and an Arty Party

By: Trent Leith / May 6, 2024  

Canucks Struggle To Climch in Five

After Vancouver’s come-from-behind game four victory in Nashville, game five presented them with a chance to finish the series at home, and not step foot in Bridgestone Arena again until the 2024-25 season.

This game, more than others in the series, saw a more respectable volume of shots from both teams make their way to the net, rather than getting blocked or missing. Nashville finished with 22 shots on net, while Vancouver hit the net 20 times. These aren’t staggering numbers, but at least we saw both teams surpass their teens this game.

Still, this game Nashville threw themselves in front of 15 shot attempts from Vancouver, while the Canucks blocked a greater sum of 19 shot attempts from the Predators.

Early on in the game, there was one notable shot block by a Canucks player that wasn’t even a shot block in the traditional sense. Pius Suter, while the Canucks were in Nashville’s end, found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as a Carson Soucy wrist shot on net hit a Nashville stick, and deflected into Suter’s face. Thankfully Suter was able to return to play.

Periods one and two both ended without a change in the score. The most interesting moment in the first two frames came at the very end of period number two when the Canucks left their bench, assuming that the period was over when in reality the refs decided that there were 0.6 seconds left to play. J.T. Miller was somehow made aware of this, as he stayed on the ice during this indiscretion. However, it took the rest of the Canucks a few minutes to get the message and trickle back onto the bench for what was untlimatly an inconsequential puck drop inside the Vancouver zone.

The game’s first goal came after 3:11 into the third period as Nikita Zadorov in an end-to-end play took the puck into the depth of the Predator’s zone and let off a sharp angle shot that had no business beating Juuse Saros, yet somehow it did.

This Canucks lead was shortlived however as Roman Josi put the Predators back in the game by scoring a powerplay goal that was facilitated by a Dakota Joshua Boarding call against Luke Evangelista.

Minutes later, Predators’ Alexandre Carrier earned his team their first even-strength goal of the game. After continued Nashville pressure in Vancouver’s end, Carrier sent a slap shot toward Silovs from the centre of the blueline, which ultimately found it’s way into the back of the net.

It was a disappointing loss for Vancouver. Not only did it mean that the series was set to continue, but it also meant another long flight back to Nashville, and an elimination game for the Predators that this time was set to be played on home ice.

No longer were the Canucks looking at the possibility of closing out the series earlier, and rather now had to be prepared to head into hostile territory to win a hockey game and avoid the possibility of the Predators clawing back for a game 7.

Four Canucks Up for Hardware

In recent history, the announcement of the annual NHL Awards nominees has always come at a time of year when the Canucks are done playing hockey. Furthermore, recent years have seen far few Canucks be nominated for awards. Yet here we sit, in May with the Canucks advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and along with that achievements comes a laundry list of Canucks award nominations.

The bench boss for the Canucks, who led them through this remarkable season, was nominated for the Jack Adams Award. In the coach of the year race, Rick Tocchet will be joined by the Jets’ Rock Bowness and the Predators’ Andre Brunette. All three coaches led their teams through impressive regular seasons.

Brunette led the Predators through a challenging race to end their season as they fought for their playoffs until the very end, and Bowness took what was a second-wild-card team at the end of last season, and helped them finish second in the Western Conference. However, it seems to me like it will be hard to compete with the year-over-year transformation that Rich Tocchet shepherded the Cannucks throughout this season.

Thatcher Demko was also nominated for the Vezina Trophy, with his counterparts being that of Connor Hellebuyck amd Sergei Bobrovsky. Demko holds the edge on Bobrovsky in regards to save percentage across the year, but Bobrosky finished his 2023-24 campaign with more wins than Demko. Hellebuyck bests Demko in both of these categories as well.

Even though Demko isn’t the statistical front-runner in his category, the margins across all three top thir goalies is very slim. Similar to with Tocchet’s nomination, there is a lot to be said about how vital Demko was to his team’s specific success, and how his performance carried a large role in their improved season.

The Canucks also received two other nominations, Elias Pettersson for the Lady Byng, the award which honours sportsmanship, and of course Quinn Hughes for the Norris, the award which crowns the league’s best defenceman.

This marks both Pettersson and Hughes’ first time being nominated for either award. If Hughes were to win out over his opponents Roman Josi and Cale Makar, this would serve as Quinn’s first official piece of NHL hardware. Pettersson won the Calder Trophy in his rookie year, so he already has that notch on his belt, but collecting something new to put up on the fridge is always nice to see, even if it’s not the Heart Trophy.

Canucks End it in Six

The Canucks returned to Nashville after a disappointing game five in Vancouver. From the first moment of the game, it felt like the team to score first, would win. It was a butt-clencher of a game if there ever was one.

Artūrs Šilovs made a big stop on Anthony Beauvillier early giving confidence to the team and getting a feel for the puck early. The next great chance came from the Canucks when Hughes and Boeser played hot potato with passes and eventually Hughes airmailed the puck high and wide.

Until the final two minutes, all there was for fans of either team was ulcer-forming, butt-clenching action at both ends. Both teams had some fantastic looks and both goalies stood on their heads.

In the second period, Brock Boeser got a four-minute double minor for high-sticking when Boeser made a pass and braced for a hit. Unfortunately, as he did so, Jeremy Lauzon skated face-first right into Boeser’s stick drawing a double minor in the process.

The Canucks weathered the storm on the penalty kill however, no harm no foul.

With 1:39 remaining in regulation, Pettersson won a board battle (!!) and was able to chip the puck along the endboards to Boeser who threw a no-look backhand pass in front of the net for Pius Suter to score on.

The Canucks did their best work when making plays from behind the net in this series, and this was no exception. They also did exceptional work scoring on Saro’s blocker side which was no exception here either.

The Canucks now just had to lock it down for 1:39 to win their first-round match-up. But with 34 seconds remaining, Elias Lindholm took a penalty for cross-checking. Already outmanned 6-5, the Canucks were losing another player on the ice for the rest of the game, unless scored on.

The Canucks, while down 6-on-4, were hemmed in their end throwing everything on the line. You know the saying “Oh so and so has big brass ones“? Well, we can confirm Tyler Myers has big brass ones. He made a series saving block with his taint in the final moments of the game.

In only his 3rd NHL playoff start and his 12th start of any kind in the NHL, Šilovs became the youngest goalie in Canucks history to record a shutout in the playoffs.

Šilovs was remarkable for the Canucks during this series. After being the EBUG in game one, to the starter in game 6, Šilovs has had to step into the highest pressure position imaginable for a 23-year-old rookie with almost no NHL experience. And he not only succeeded, he excelled.

Šilovs was given the post-game puck to put on the board in the locker room post-game and was heavily congratulated by his teammates for his role in the win.

With this win, the Canucks are set to face the Edmonton Oilers in round two on Wednesday, May 8th.

The Shirt

On Thursday as the players were warming up for an optional practice in Nashville, JT Miller joined the team in Šilovs’ shirt.

Not his jersey, his shirt.

Everyone seemed to have fun with it. The media had a laugh, and discussed how Miller was keeping things light for the team in a pressure situation. They talked about how now no one was going to ask Šilovs about his start, they would ask about the shirt. What did the media ask Tocchet? About the shirt. “Oof” was all he said. Zadorov said that Šilovs “Needs to know better”.

It worked, Miller was keeping things light and likely played a role in the team staying calm enough to close the game out late. Hockey is fun, and the Canucks were winning the series 3-2 at the time. It’s okay to enjoy the ride, not just be stressed over it.

The lore of the pink shirt will go down in history.

Actually, Rick, the shirt is available right now. And it is on sale.

Maybe taken them clothes shopping instead Franky.