Canucks Weekly Fares: Week 14 Recap

By: Brayden Fengler / January 15, 2023  

Well, the Canucks had a productive week. Productive if you are on team tank that is, and have money riding on this team finishing the season with the most goals against out of any team in the NHL.

Vancouver had a full slate of games on the road during their schedule this week, and whether it was the travel, the way the sleeper, or something else, this team was off. That is to say, if they have really ever been “on” this during this season in the first place.

Game 37: January 8th Vs. The Winnipeg Jets

The Canucks began their most recent east coast road trip with a high-scoring but disappointing outing in Winnipeg. The Canucks kept the first 20 minutes respectable, ending the period tied with the Jets 2-2 and leading in shots. Vancouver “technically” scored more goals than the Jets in the first period. Early in the first, after a nice breakout feed from Bo Horvat, Ilya Mikheyev snuck a low and fast shot past the Jet’s netminder. Unfortunately, a coach’s challenge would ultimately overturn the goal, but still, the compete level was there to start the game.

The first half of the second period for the green and blue was less impressive. Collin Delia and the Canucks were once again the victims of the club’s low-intensity defence, which allowed Winnipeg to put two preventable goals up on the board. By the middle of the second, Bo Horvat put the Canucks within one, thanks to a sharp-angle shot off the back of an incredible solo effort. Later, J.T. Miller, instead of shooting the puck from the top of the faceoff circle, sent the puck low and with speed towards Sheldon Dries’ stick, who was able to net a nice tip in goal.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t a bad forty minutes for Vancouver, despite Delia letting in a long bomb to make it 5-4 Jets in the last two minutes of the second period. In the third period, however, the Canucks halted all backchecking efforts and by the time the game wrapped up, it was 7-4 for the Jets. The worst part about this loss is that the Canucks started so strong in the first, but their defensive effort in the last 40 minutes proved too much to overcome.

Game 38: January 10th Vs. The Pittsburgh Penguins

Spoiler alert, their road trip did not improve. Vancouver once again started strong but squandered their lead just as fast as they took it.

In an uncharacteristic turn of events, it took Vancouver less than ten minutes to build a 3-0 lead against Sidney Crosby and company. They took the first half of the opening frame by storm with goals from Connor Garland, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes. Unfortunately, the second half of the period would belong to Pittsburgh and with 3:30 left to spare in the first, the Pens had tied the game at three a piece. Completely deflating the impressive momentum that the Canucks had only just built for themselves.

The second period was not much better for Vancouver. They failed to produce a single goal through the next 20 minutes of play. Thanks to Evgeni Malkin and Rickard Rakell however, the Penguins scored two more goals in the second. So, after Vancouver opened the game with three goals in the first 10 minutes of play, they then let Pittsburgh completely dominate by scoring five unanswered goals over the next 30 minutes. Vancouver even had three powerplays in the second period, and still couldn’t find the back of the net.

In the third period, despite a Travis Dermott goal that barely made it across the line, and an impressive backcheck during an empty net by Brock Boeser, the Canucks could never again reach the heights that they did during the first period. This is not the 2016/17 Penguins anymore, this team should’ve been beatable, especially with how strong Vancouver started.

Canucks Blown Leads

Tuesday’s loss against the Penguins painted a clear picture of this Canucks team that extends far beyond just that one game.

It marked the third time this season that Vancouver has lost a game in which they lead by three goals. This hardly sounds like a surprising stat for any regular fan of Vancouver who has watched this team allow 4+ goals against almost every game this season. The Canucks do have an impressive offence at times, and sometimes that offence shows up at the beginning of the game, while other times it doesn’t show up at all. What remains more consistent with this team is their lack of defence, highlighted by their league-leading eight losses in which they’ve held a multi-goal lead.

Elias Petterson was Given an “A”

What in the world took so long? This man should’ve been one of Vancouver’s alternative captains long before this week.

Unfortunately, it was not long-lived, but on January 12th with OEL out of the line-up Elias Pettersson was wearing an “A” during the team’s game against Tampa Bay, and oh boy did it look so good.

Call it what you will; a distraction, a bid from ownership to pump his tires, but we’ll call it well-earned, overdue, and needs to be here to stay. Elias Pettersson is a class act, he’s had his share of ups and downs with his production, but through it all, he has never been anything but professional on and off the ice.

If this season really is Horvat’s last as a Canuck, that “A” better also turn into a “C” real fast.

Game 39: January 12th vs. The Tampa Bay Lightning

A notable event pre-game was the fact OEL was a healthy scratch. It’s probably for the best, as he has not been good this season, but it really shines a light on how atrocious that trade for him was, and how bad that contract looks moving forward. Quick refresher: the man in the press box tonight costs $7.26M against the cap until the end of the 2026-27 season.

Yep. We got a long way to go with that on the books.

If you missed this game, you missed the same old same old Canucks hockey. They came out of the gate playing well enough, trading goals in the first period. Against a team like Tampa, that isn’t bad. The second period started as more of the same, trading goals again.

The second Canucks goal came on the powerplay when Hughes made a beautiful stretch pass to Miller who made no mistake knotting the game at 2-2.

But in the final five minutes of the second frame, Kucherov scored to put the Bolts up 3-2. With 31 seconds left, Brandon Hagel scored on a wrist shot. The second period would end 4-2.

The fifth goal, as if right on cue, was Steven Stamkos putting away his 499th NHL goal. What followed was a barrage of scoring chances for Stamkos to get his 500th, and knowing the Canucks, I for one was shocked he didn’t get it.

In the third period, Hughes would score his 200th point with a beautiful goal to help kickstart the Canucks getting back into the game and bringing them within two with over five minutes left.

With an empty net and 2:08 remaining in the game, Pettersson scored off a classic one-timer, bringing the game to within one. At 2:05 the Canucks would get a power play and go 6-on-4. Garland would take a punch to the face in what should have been a clear penalty, but alas the refs kept the game at 6-on-4. The Canucks would be stoned on a tic-tac-toe buzzer-beater chance from Lazar of all players.

Ultimately, all the dramatics would be for not as the Canucks would lose 5-4 in regulation.

Game 40:  January 14th vs. The Florida Panthers

The Canucks would take on the struggling Florida Panthers Saturday evening. OEL drew back in and Spencer Martin was back between the pipes.

The Canucks took an early lead when Jack Studnicka floated a soft shot of Sergi Bobrovsky that went clean past him. It’s the kind of save a $10M goalie should save, but are we to criticize bad contracts with the ones on Vancouver’s books?

The Canucks would enter the second period tied 1-1. Within the first minute, Tyler Myers floats a soft shot from the Blueline and once again Bobrovsky. It’s the second floater of the game Bobrovsky has let flutter by him of the game.

Just over a minute after that, Eric Staal scores on a double deflection. The Panthers would take their first lead on the power play after Radko Gudas forced a goaltender interference penalty on Dakota Joshua

The Canucks would end the period down 4-2. Nothing like the Canucks giving up the lead they got early in the game.

The third period would wind up being a bit of a nail-biter thanks to former assistant captain Elias Pettersson Horvat on the powerplay. At first glance, it looked like Pettersson scored his first (!) powerplay goal of the season. But it turns out Bo Horvat got official credit for the goal. On the flip side, that is Horvat’s 30th goal in only the 40th goal of the season.

Horvat is one of his career-high 31 goals in less than half a season. It’s unbelievable, at this pace, he will get over 60 goals this season.

The Canucks are playing the perfect hockey right now for the sake of their future. The last three games have been 5-4, 5-4 and 4-3 losses. It’s fun, high-scoring nail-biting hockey that has resulted in losses helping the Canucks draft capital.

Rick Tocchet Inbound

Elliotte Friedman reported during Hockey Night In Canada that he believes that Rick Tocchet will be the next head coach of the Canucks. We all know Boudreau is not long for the Canucks bench, and rumours of Touchet being the next bench boss have been floating around for a while. This is the most concrete report we have gotten yet connecting the Canucks to Tocchet.

Darren Dreger mentioned on TSN 1200 that a coaching change could come in four to six weeks for the Canucks. This lines up with Tocchet’s current deal with TNT which reportedly requires four weeks of notice of resignation.

Tocchet most recently coached in Arizona from 2017-18 to 2020-21. That means that he previously coached OEL and Garland. Tocchet and OEL have had a rocky relationship in the past, it will be interesting to see if that trend continues if Tocchet is brought to Vancouver. Part of the reason OEL left Arizona was his relationship with the coach. Time will tell, but it’s something to watch for.