By: Reid Boerma / March 19, 2023
The Canucks Sign Two New Deals
The Canucks started the week off by making two signings. The first was Phil Di Giuseppe (PDG), whose new two-year, two-way contract was announced by Patrik Allvin on Sunday.
“He has been a reliable forward when called upon in Vancouver this year and has been an impactful player and leader with Abbotsford each of the past two seasons.” Allvin mentioned to the media after the signing.
This deal comes at an NHL cap hit of $775,000 in the NHL and $500,000 in the AHL. As a two-way deal, this will not affect the salary cap when PDG is assigned to Abbotsford. Di Giuseppe has two goals and two assists in 13 games at the time of the new signing.
The second signing was Aidan McDonough’s ELC, announced on Monday morning. McDonough was selected in the seventh round of the 2019 entry draft by Vancouver and scored 124 points over his 124 games in the NCAA.
The 6’2, 205 lbs winger will be joining the Canucks soon. He is likely to get a shot in the top six down the stretch and spend some time in the AHL next season. McDonough is no longer eligible to play in the AHL this season, but unless his showing is lights out, there is no harm in some more development in the minors.
McDonough was viewed as one of the NCAA’s best pure shooters. He hopes to bring that talent to the NHL with him.
“Aidan has continued to improve his game each year since being drafted,” Allvin said, after the signing. “He has steadily grown into a leadership role with Northeastern throughout his time there and our development team is looking forward to working with him as he starts his pro hockey career.”
Game 64: March 14th vs. The Dallas Stars
The Canucks continued their unnecessary streak of dominance in their Tuesday night game against the Dallas Stars. Rick Tocchet’s favourite player got the ball rolling early for the Canucks just 90 seconds into the first period. Off of a J.T. Miller feed, Phillip Di Giuseppe skillfully scored the Canucks’ first goal on Dallas goaltender Matt Murray.
It wouldn’t be long after Di Giuseppe’s opening goal that the Canucks fan favourite would make his first mark on the game. Andrei Kuzmenko, hot off a Guilford mall fan meet-and-greet, buried a puck (that seemed to touch every single Canucks player’s stick) in the net.
Dallas did not take this lying down. After a massive hit from Juulesen on Glendening, Dallas’ Radek Faksa challenged Juulesen to a… sorta fight; it ended up not being enough for the refs to call fighting majors.
Dallas would continue to be a decent opponent for the surprisingly put-together Canucks, as they outpowered the Canucks in the shots department. They did not look to be out of the contest by any means.
The second period is where Dallas’ determination made an impact. Wyatt Johnston would waste no time getting his team on the board with the help of Benn and Heiskanen.
After this goal, the Canucks began to show a few cracks. Frankly, Vancouver was lucky that their visiting opponents did not capitalize on more of the opportunities they were given. It goes to show that the Canucks are still relying too much on luck despite their recent winning ways.
The Canucks scored another goal halfway through the second period after a successful battle for possession by Elias Petterson. Wolanin sent a point shot towards the net and Anthony Beauvillier got enough of it to tip it past Murray.
To bookend the period, Jamie Benn took a beautifully placed wrist shot that sent the puck past Demko’s low blocker with only four seconds remaining. This brought the Stars back into the game, with a score of 3-2.
The third period was more of the same. The Canucks had good chances, a few sloppy turnovers, a lot of loose puck opportunities, and Demko did his Demko thing.
Vancouver earned an odd-man rush early in the third period, and after a beautiful moving backhand feed by Nils Aman, Guillaume Brisebois scored his first goal in the NHL. It was an amazing goal at that, with Brisebois dropping down to one knee to send Aman’s pass rocketing into the back of the net.
Late in the period, Miller also rocketed one past Murray from the middle as he fell to the ice. The Stars finished the game with more shots, hits and faceoff wins than the home team, but could not close the deal. The Canucks team is now 5-0.
Game 65: March 16th vs. The Arizona Coyotes
After beating the Central Division-leading Stars, the Canucks faced off against the Arizona Coyotes in Mullet arena. In contrast to the Stars, the Coyotes sit second last in the Central Division, only ahead of Chicago. It was a battle of two bottom-10 teams that both entered the game coming off their best stretch of hockey this year. There were also big tank-related implications to this game with the Coyotes having the opportunity to tie the Canucks in points on the season.
The Canucks scored first off a nifty tic-tac-toe that started with Pettersson intercepting a weak clearing attempt and passing it to Beauvillier in front of the net. Beauvillier immediately passed it across the crease to Kuzmenko, who made no mistake tapping it into the open net.
The Coyotes went on to take 3 straight penalties including a 10-minute misconduct by Zack Kassian for roughing up Conor Garland before staking onto the bench and putting him into a head-lock. Not often do we see a penalty start on the ice and end on the bench. It was quite the sight and gave the Canucks their third powerplay of the period, though they were unable to capitalize on any opportunities.
In the final minute of the first period, the Coyotes tied the game off a deflected Tyler Myers pass that was picked up by Travis Boyd and fired past Demko’s glove side. Travis Boyd struck again with the game’s only second-period goal that came on the powerplay after Miller took an interference penalty. The Coyotes set up a strong cycle that ended with Boyd skating down the left side with space and sneaking the puck under Demko. The coyotes scored again on the powerplay to go up 3-1. They ended the game with two powerplay goals on only three attempts.
After falling behind by two goals, the Canucks picked up the pace and started to control the game in the third period. With 8 minutes left, Beauvillier forced Juuso Valimako to turn the puck over to Conor Garland who made a nifty pass back to Beauvillier. Beauvillier found Pettersson in front of the net, and with enough time to turn around and maneuver the puck, Pettersson buried a beautiful shot top right corner just below where the crossbar meets the post.
Despite controlling play with a 75 CF% in the third period, the Canucks were not able to overcome the deficit. In the end, they lost 3-2 in a game that saw their 5-game win streak snapped as they went 0 for 5 on the powerplay while also allowing 2 shorthanded goals. It was a return to early season form for a team that had shown big improvements over on special teams – particularly the penalty kill – during their 5-game win streak.
Game 66: March 18th vs. The Los Angeles Kings
Looking to get back into the win column, the Canucks faced off against the Kings on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Before tonight, the Canucks had racked up 11 straight games (9-0-0-2) with points against the Kings. They looked to continue that trend on Saturday.
Ethan Bear returned to the lineup after missing 8 games with an upper-body injury in late March against Boston. Although Bear returned to the lineup, Myers did not play for undisclosed reasons.
Brock Boeser opened the scoring with an outside shot that turned into a knuckle-puck after being deflected off of Edler’s stick, floating past Korpisalo’s blocker. It was Boeser’s first goal since March 2nd against Minnesota, and his 13th goal on the season.
Edler redeemed himself shortly after with a nice play from the slot. The ex-Canucks defenseman had the time and space to place a perfect shot out of Demko’s reach and score his first goal against his former team.
With the game tied in the second, Miller turned the puck over in the neutral zone, allowing Trevor Moore to spring Kempe on a breakaway. Kempe was not able to get a shot off with Brisebois hooking his hands but was rewarded a penalty shot. On the penalty shot Kempe tried to go five-hole on Demko but was easily denied by the netminder. Demko has stopped all three penalty shots he has faced in his career.
Before the end of the period, the Kings scored off a strong forecheck and some luck. Kupari received a tipped pass in front of the net and quickly moved it to an open Grundstrum who tried to kick the puck to his stick. Instead, the puck flipped over both his and Demko’s sticks, rolling into the net and resulting in the second odd goal of the night.
The goal became a heated debate as many fans and media were left thinking there was clearly a kicking motion. Ultimately, the goal stood and the Kings took a second-period lead.
For the second game, the Canucks entered the third period trailing. Unlike Thursday’s game against the Coyotes, the powerplay came alive and helped them tie the game up.
The first face-off of the power play was won back to Hughes who passed the puck over to Pettersson. With plenty of time and space, Pettersson placed another perfect shot past Korpisalo who was screened so well by Brock Boeser that he did not react until the puck was already past him and in the net.
Despite the Canucks being outshot 40-15, extra time was needed. Although the Canucks controlled the play more in overtime, they were unable to score and a shootout would decide the game.
With Demko stopping both attempts by the Kings and Kuzmenko scoring on his attempt, Miller had the opportunity to secure the win.
Miller slowly came down the left side, reaching the boards at one point before gliding back towards the middle. He showed amazing patience, waiting out Korpisalo after faking him out with a move to the backhand and netting a nice goal to seal the win for Vancouver.
This was the first game of the year where the Canucks won while scoring under three goals. Demko was a big reason behind the win as he finished the game with 40 saves and a strong .950 save percentage, while also stopping all three penalty shot attempts. Since his return from injury, Demko has been looking like last season’s version of himself and he’s been a big part of Vancouver’s recent success.