By: Trent Leith and Brayden Fengler / February 25, 2023
Schenn Scratched, Trade to Follow
Tuesday was Family Day, and Luke Schenn was a healthy scratch for trade-related reasons. Schenn went back home to Vancouver to be with his wife who is expecting to give birth to their third child on March 3rd, the deadline day. With trade talks heating up around Schenn the Canucks saw it fit to protect the asset and keep him off the ice until a trade is completed, Schenn then reportedly asked to spend his time off the ice with his family to help prepare for the large undertaking they are expecting.
Schenn has said multiple times that he wants to end his career here in Vancouver close to his home in Kelowna. But it looks like the waves of free agency may have other plans for the highly respected defender.
It seems like Schenn’s potential trade is hard on more than just the Schenns back home in Kelowna, but even on the team. Hughes told the media post-game Tuesday “The closest thing I can compare it to is Chris Tanev (Quinn’s old defence partner). I’ve seen it before and it sucks – but it’s going to shake out how it shakes out and none of us know how it’s going to happen.”
Game 55: February 21st vs. The Nashville Predators
Down exactly one Luke Schenn, the Canucks took the ice Tuesday night to play the Nashville Predators. The Nashville Predators would open the game by scoring less than 5 minutes into the contest off a scramble in front of Collin Delia. But the goal would be challenged for offside and after the longest video review of all time, the goal was awarded as the Nashville Predators were allegedly onside.
The first period would come to an end without much to report. Except at one point, Quinn Hughes took a wrist shot from the point that was so hard it knocked Saros’s stick right out of his hand. So that was cool. But the Canucks were still down one.
Into the second period, Tomasino would score again after getting by Tyler Myers and chipping one passed Delia. But Andrei Kuzmenko was having none of it and on a breakaway, he made no mistake backing Saros into his net and putting a goal top right corner. Kuzmeko now has 25 goals in his debut year.
Sheldon Dries would go ahead and also score an ugly goal to tie the game. In what was starting to become a pattern in the game, the refs reviewed the goal because the net came off during the scramble.
The Preds would take advantage of the Canucks porous defence and score with 10 seconds in the period. That takes the wind out of your comeback sails a little bit.
The Predators went up 4-2 when Tyler Myers forgot how to skate and comically fell over in such painstakingly slow speed that it allowed the Preds to come into the zone with a multitude of scoring chances at their disposal, before finally potting another.
Conor Garland who is having a resurgence under Rick Tocchet would score the 4-3 goal. On the power play, Hughes would take a floating wrist shot toward Garland who made no mistake on the redirection to bring the Canucks within one. Rooting for the Canucks to win or lose, this game was exciting to watch.
The anti-tank weapon that is Kuzmenko would score again. He would pull the puck out of a scrum on the boards and beat three defenders on the rush. He would play give and go with Miller who allowed Kuzmenko to beat the fourth defender and redirect a slap pass from Miller into the net with a shade over 15 seconds remaining.
The Canucks are getting at least one point out of this game, off to overtime we would go where nothing would be solved. The Canucks came back from being down by two goals twice in that game. Despite getting a point in a season you probably don’t want to earn any, these players are showing up, and while they are outmatched many nights, their determination is making these games worth watching.
Game 56: February 23th vs. The St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are the Canucks equals in the Central Division, both teams currently sit third to last in their respective divisions. With this being the case it’s understandable that Thursday night’s contest between the two clubs was a close one, at least in the end.
Despite the Canucks’ best efforts, The St. Louis Blue left the first period with the only goal of the game to that point. Alexey Toropchenko would score a goal with under five minutes left to play in the frame. J.T. Miller did net a goal just before Alexey’s goal for the Blues, however, Miller’s goal was called back due to goalie interference
The Canucks and the Blues, remained close in terms of chances all period long, with the Canucks dominating in the shots category, but it was the Blues, who would ultimately muscle out the first goal, despite the somewhat even ice surface.
The second period was a similar story. The Canucks started to slide further downhill, as early on in the period Tyler Tucker netted the Blues their second goal of the night. Vancouver just couldn’t finish any of their chances in the second period. They were winning fewer faceoffs than St. Louis, leading to fewer initial chances, but overall Vancouver’s puck control was leading to solid opportunities that the team just wasn’t getting lucky on.
The third period and beyond would be cut from a different cloth, as early on in the frame, the Canucks and J.T. Miller would finally get one that counts. J.T. and Petey teamed up to put one passed Binnington while the Blues were shorthanded, just before the period entered single digits.
This goal would then be followed just over ten minutes later, by another Canucks goal involving J.T. and Petey yet again, however this time it would be scored by Andrei Kuzmenko, in the dying second of the third period thanks to a juicy rebound left in front of the net by Bennington.
Those hoping for a Canucks loss would then be further disappointed as the game headed to OT. Again with time winding down the Canucks would seek to earn another goal. They would of course do just that, thanks to Elias Pettersson, as with just 15 seconds to spare, Petey, off of a solo rush along the far boards, angled himself towards the faceoff dot and took a sharp wrister from that location, which was no contest Binnington.
Canucks would win 3-2 and #TeamTank would shed yet another tear.
The Kravtsov/Lockwood Trade
On Saturday, Feb 25th the Canucks traded forward Will Lockwood and a 7th-round pick in 2026 to the New York Rangers in exchange for 23-year-old left winger Vitali Kravtsov. Compared to the Horvat trade, the stakes a scope of this one are much smaller, but they do speak of previously laid plans by Canucks management.
Vitali has played just 48 games in the NHL since being drafted by New York in 2018. Kravtsov was a 9th overall pick in 2018 so it is surprising that a player picked so high in a draft from five years ago has only played under 50 games in the NHL. This makes Kravtsov a largely unproven asset, whose unproven potential is his biggest draw.
This trade is in line with the idea of finding “reclamation projects” that Canucks management is currently attached to. A trade like this is more of a gamble, than one that can be clearly valued at this very moment. It seems a bit strange too, as Lockwood is only one year older than Kravtsov, and has also played well under 50 NHL games to this point in his career, so his potential is arguably still unknown. I guess in this case the Canucks feel more interested in the evil they don’t know, rather than the one they do.
Game 57: February 25th vs. The Boston Bruins
Within the first minute of the game, on his first shift of the game, Ethan Bear lost sight of the puck and a rising shot caught him directly in the face. Bear immediately went down clutching his head. He then immediately dropped his gloves and stick and made a b-line for the bench, leaving a trail of blood in his wake. The Canucks would announce in the first intermission that he would not return to the night’s game.
With Bear’s injury, it means the Canucks had to play the majority of the game with five defenders. With OEL and Schenn already out of Saturday’s game, that leaves the Canucks playing virtually an entire game against the league’s hottest team with a defence lineup of Quinn Hughes, Tyler Myers, Kyle Burroughs, Guillaume Brisenois, and Christian Wolan. This isn’t going to be pretty.
Hampus Lindholm would open the scoring on the Bruin’s first powerplay with a slapshot. Inside the final minute, fan favourite Brad Marchand would score another from a wrist shot to end the period. The Canucks would trial 2-0 after the first, and it could have been worse, the Canucks trailed 20-7 in shots.
In the second period, the Canucks would fail to score on all three power-play opportunities to that point in the game. If your counting, that brings the Canucks to a total of zero of seven chances in their last two games. The Canucks would have a few good chances in the period, but they would fail to score. They could hang their hat on edging out the Bruins in shots. The highlight of the period for Canucks fans was Wes McCauley levelling fan favourite Brad Marchand with a beautiful hit along the boards. It was a textbook play, but not one you often see from an official. Truth is, Marchand has to keep his head up and stop puck-watching.
Brock Boeser would score the first goal for the Canucks. Conor Garland would set up Boeser who had an easy backhand goal. This is Boeser’s third goal and fifth point in five games, not a bad 26th birthday present. This is the part of the game where the Canucks mount a comeback in a game they have no business being in and both have #TeamTank and #TeamPlayoffs on the edges of their seats.
Linus Ulmark would ice this game for the Bruins, not because he shut down Kuzmenko during the six-on-five Kuzmenko is so good at. Not because he made a fantastic save, but because he scored a goalie goal. One of the rarest things in hockey made sure #TeamTank didn’t collect an extra point. While it’s so cool to see, there is something that feels so bleak about being on the wrong end of a goalie goal. Ulmark is first in Wins, GAA, sv% and now in Goals, what a season he is having.