By: Trent Leith and Brayden Fengler / January 2, 2023
We at StadiumChinatown.ca have decided to bring you more content in 2023. Is that good or bad? You decide. We are introducing a new weekly series called Canucks Weekly Fares.
The purpose of this series is to give Canucks fans a weekly recap to enjoy with a cup of coffee in the morning. You’re a busy person, you can’t stay glued to Twitter 24/7. You have obligations, and you can’t catch every game of the year, so we have you covered. Now you’ll be able to keep up with water cooler talk at work, even if you missed a few games.
We also love leaning into our Skytrain theme. Weekly Fare. Get it? Like transit fare? And like how the Canucks fared – you get it.
With this series, you will be all caught up with the previous week and ready to jump into the next. This series will come out every Sunday morning from here on out. However, due to the New Year’s Eve game and the long weekend, we figured we would put out our first article on Monday.
Game 34: December 27th Vs. SJ Sharks
The Canucks returned from their holiday break to play the San Jose Sharks on home ice. As one last gift for the holidays, the Canucks and Sharks both wore their league-leading reverse retros.
With goals from Horvat, Pettersson, Boeser and Mikheyev the Canucks’ top players were doing the heavy lifting Tuesday night. We also got to see Quinn Hughes score his first goal of the season, which goes nicely with his 28 assists already accumulated in the first 30 games
It was a big night for the Canucks where they beat the Sharks 6-2, bringing them above .500 for the first time this season. The big guns heavily contributed to scoring on Tuesday with Horvat and Mikheyev both having four-point nights, and Boeser having three. It was Mikheyev’s first four-point night of his career.
Spencer Martin had a strong game turning away 24 of 26 shots on net and making his team look good with some incredible saves on the night.
The Canucks are still well out of a wildcard spot, but if they have any wish of climbing up the standings, divisional wins – like Tuesday’s win against the Sharks – are going to be very important.
Horvat Hits 25 in 34
In the first game back from the Christmas Break, Bo Horvat scored his 25th and 26th goals of the season. Horvat has only scored more than 25 goals twice in his career (27 in 2018-19 and 31 in 2021-22). This season is a different story, Bo is halfway to 50 goals by only the 34th game of this 82-game season. Horvat is on track to absolutely shatter his career high in goals.
Horvat is currently on pace for nearly 63 goals this season. Every game he plays makes things more interesting with the captain and his pending UFA situation. It doesn’t help that there are continued reports of the team and the player not getting any closer in their contract negotiations.
Game 35: December 29th Vs. The Winnipeg Jets
On Sam Granger’s 1000th game in the NHL Pettersson immediately took the wind out of the Jet’s sails and set up Kuzmenko for his 15th of the season in the first 41 seconds of the game. Kuzmenko has scored eight of his 15 goals at 5-on-5, proving he is more than just a power play ace.
Travis Dermott played his first game of the season after an injury in training camp. His return didn’t look good on the stat sheet, ending the night with a 14.81% Corsi. With Dermott on the ice, there were only 3 shots for and 14 against. Not the ideal return to the line-up, but one that can’t be unexpected given how much time he missed.
Luke Schenn officially reached 3,000 career hits, the only defenceman to reach such a milestone. Granted, they haven’t counted this stat for a large part of the NHL history and hits can be suggestive, but it isn’t common for the Canucks to have an all-time (positive) stat attributed to them or one of their players.
It was a tough second period for the Canucks in general, but specifically for Collin Delia, who gave up two goals including one on a penalty shot by Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Canucks finished the period with an abysmal 23.68% 5-on-5 Corsi.
The chances of a win were squashed by Scheifele when he scored an empty netter for his third of the game. The Canucks would go on to lose 4-2 and end their short-lived winning streak, finishing the night at an even .500 on the season. But hey, at least they had a strong first period.
In the dying moments of the game, Delia was reluctant to leave his net too early. With precious moments ticking off the clock, J.T. Miller circled back behind the net with the puck in his possession and hit his stick on the back of the net all while yelling for Delia to head to the bench for the extra attacker.
JT Miller tried to clear the air after the game while talking to reporters. “It’s not the coach’s fault, I don’t even know why this is being talked about. Maybe I shouldn’t have done what I did, but it’s not out of anger, I was letting him know to go to the bench. I had full control of the puck. That’s all it was. At the end of the day, it probably looks optically not good. People with other opinions I don’t really give a – you know – care.”
“I think it’s being blown way out of proportion,” Boudreau told the media. “J.T.’s doing everything he can to win at that point and Collin’s being the good person, where he’s the new guy with us, and he’s looking at me for direction. If I didn’t give the proper direction, that’s on me.”
Like anything with the Canucks, specifically surrounding J.T. Miller this season, there was a wide array of opinions on the situation. This moment will likely be unimportant in the grand scheme of things but was at the center of many heated debates over the following days.
Game 36: December 31st Vs. The Calgary Flames
In the team’s last game of 2022, they were competitive yet ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts against their divisional rivals. Despite the Canucks gifting the Flames a handful of high-danger scoring chances, Martin was able to turn away all 13 of Calgary’s first period shots. The fact that Calgary did not capitalize on Martin’s failed stretch pass or any of the other odd-man chances that the Flames earned for themselves was surprising. The first 20 minutes said more about the Flames’ inability to capitalize than the Canucks’ ability to keep up with the pace of the game.
Ultimately, Calgary opened the scoring when Elias Lindholm came down on a Calgary two on one early in the second period and snuck a top corner shot past Martin. Just minutes after the opening goal, Blake Coleman was able to net one of his own when the Flames found themselves on another odd-man rush.
MacKenzie Weegar then earned his first goal as a Flame in the form of a point shot after Calgary dominated possession in the Canuck’s zone. Not a single one of the goals by Calgary was unearned or heavily contested by the Canucks, each goal that they scored served to highlight yet another sloppy or mismanaged shift by the Canucks.
Sheldon Dries scored for the Canucks near the end of the second period with a demonstration of good hand-eye coordination by batting the puck out of mid-air at the end of what was an all-around awkward play.
In the third period, the Canucks were able to grind out one more goal with the help of Elias Pettersson but the real story of the third was Spencer Martin. Martin channeled his inner bubble Demko and kept the door shut despite Calgary controlling the play and peppering the Canucks’ netminder.
J.T. Miller’s behavior continues to be a major topic of discussion after another altercation on the ice. Specifically, with seconds remaining, he frantically waved and then slammed his stick on the ice to get Hughes to move closer to the face-off dot.
Similarly to the Collin Delia situation, regardless of whether Hughes was in the wrong, the fact is that the way Miller is publically communicating with his team is not healthy or sustainable.