Talk about a roller coaster.
The last couple weeks have seen some serious hills and valleys for the Canucks; three straight wins at home, a come from behind victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champs, a shutout at the hands of the other Hughes and the Devils and then an escape from New York City with two points after the Rangers ragdolled them for the entire third period this morning.
Trying to pin down exactly what this team is isn’t an easy answer; they’ve won five of their last six games but have also struggled to fully outplay their opponents at times. The Devils turned Saturday’s game into the type of boring defense-first event that would make Jacques Lemaire proud, while the Flyers and Blues controlled the play for most of their respective games before the Canucks were able to grind out a victory.
But the truth is, the best version of the Canucks hasn’t shown themselves yet. Elias Pettersson is tied with J.T. Miller for the team lead in points with eight and Brock Boeser is following close behind with seven, but each of them only has two goals so far. New captain Bo Horvat has had an uncharacteristically tough start to the year, with only two goals and one assist so far. And Quinn Hughes is going through the normal NHL growing pains that even the best rookies experience.
And yet, Vancouver currently sits two games above .500 with the opportunity to sweep their season series against the Red Wings and come out of their first major road trip with six out of a possible eight points. This sort of momentum has been hard to come by for the Canucks in recent history, but with a few stars yet to reach their true potential, it could be the difference that puts the Canucks back on the NHL map as a true playoff challenger.
After all, don’t all great roller coasters end at the gift shop?
Goalie Bowl 2020
It wouldn’t be a true Canucks season without a growing debate about who’s in net, and thanks to the incredible early work of both Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko that conversation has already reached a fever pitch.
One could argue that Markstrom and Demko have already stolen multiple games for their teammates; the third period today against the Rangers was a great example of Markstrom bailing the team out, and while Demko had some shaky moments against the Blues, he rebounded to stonewall St. Louis in overtime and the shootout en route to victory.
With both goalies already in midseason form, fans are starting to take sides. Some people are trying to argue why it’s already time to give Demko the reigns and move Markstrom at the trade deadline. Others believe that Markstrom is still the goalie of the future and that Demko could be used as trade bait to improve another area.
Which is why I’m here to ask another question; why are we doing this now?
It’s been a long time since the Canucks had two high caliber goaltenders on the roster while they’re trying to compete for a playoff spot, and in this day in age having one of them simply doesn’t cut it. Regardless of which goalie Travis Green would want on the ice for a potential postseason run, it’ll benefit both Markstrom and Demko if the team embraces load management this season.
The days of a starting goalie playing 60-plus games a year are behind us. The speed and intensity of the game today has gotten to a point where having a goalie play 80% of a team’s schedule can completely wear them down and limit their chances of playoff success. The Canucks are in a great position where they can truly embrace a 1A/1B system, with one goalie playing around 45-55 games and the other takes the remaining 27-37 contests.
If the Canucks really believe they can make a run at a playoff spot, they’ll need both of their netminders to get them there and beyond, so having the debate of which hot hand Travis Green should be rolling with doesn’t make sense right now. Until the team says otherwise, Markstrom is undoubtedly the team’s 1A goalie, while the less experienced Demko takes the 1B role. One might get more starts than the other, but until either hits a cold streak or the playoffs become out of reach, it’s too early to take sides for “The Goalie Bowl”.
Just kick back and enjoy watching one of the strongest netminding combos in franchise history, cause if the last big goalie debate taught us anything, you never know what you have until it’s gone.
Even with all the hype surrounding Micheal Ferland before the season, it’s kind of understandable why he hasn’t found his stride yet. Ferland got sick during the preseason and wasn’t able to get reps in with his expected linemates, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
But after the first two games with Ferland on the top line didn’t produce any points, Travis Green decided to whip out the line blender and Ferland found himself on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen. The move down the lineup hasn’t changed much, but Ferland did finally get his first goal against the Blues on Friday.
But what is alarming is just how much his ice time has cratered over the course of this road trip, culminating in a stunning 7:15 minutes today against the Rangers.
I still have high hopes for Ferland and we are only eight games into the season, but the sharp decline he’s seen in deployment already makes me wonder whether the Canucks’ coaching staff shares my optimism for his future. I’d like to see him get an opportunity with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson since I feel like his skills would complement the pair well, but if the team is willing to work with him there’s still lots of time to set Ferland on the right track
Earlier this week a Canucks YouTube video where Brandon Sutter interviews his fellow players about their seatmates on flights made the rounds on the internet, and I decided to give it a look for fun’s sake.
Here’s some of my very serious notes and analysis:
- What’s the average amount of words Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson say to each other on a full flight? I’m guessing around 12 per hour, and that’s when they’re feeling chatty.
- Sutter goes in on Hughes for wearing his suit on the plane, and he’s not wrong. Word of advice, kids; unless you have a business meeting right after you get off your flight, DON’T wear your suit in the sweaty, gross plane cabin. Wear something comfy that you can change out off as soon as you get to the hotel, cause it’s gonna smell rank and you won’t wanna have to take your only suit jacket to the dry cleaners. Rookie mistake, Quinn.
- Jake Virtanen got totally roasted by Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller – Jake claimed it was cause he was beating them in poker – but the award for Sickest Burn goes to Sutter for calling Troy Stecher “Eminem”.
- When I saw the card table seats, the only thing that popped into my head was how much I’d love to see a group of Canucks playing a rousing round of Cards Against Humanity. I’d also love to know which player would bring CAH on board in the first place.
- Captain Bowie revealed that he, Sutter, Jay Beagle and Tanner Pearson have an ongoing Mario Kart season, but never revealed which characters they play as. I never thought I’d need to know the answer to that question, but now I have to find out. I can’t give you a lot of preliminary guesses at the moment, but I’d be willing to put money on my hunch that Sutter uses Donkey Kong most.
- I don’t know why, but the idea of Tim Schaller being Jay Beagle’s Mario Kart hype man is extremely funny to me.
- That was the most action I’ve seen from Loui Eriksson all year. Too harsh?
Music Theory 101
When it comes to the hockey game experience, the music you hear can have a big impact on the atmosphere in the arena. A strong goal song can both rile up the hometown fans and intimidate an opponent. Which is why I, like so many Canucks fans, endorse bringing back the best goal song of all time: “Holiday” by Green Day.
YouTuber FamousGoalHorns recently started a Change petition to bring the song back, and while the Canucks DJ has set a stupidly high ask of 50,000 signatures to change it back (cause if there’s one thing that’s good for business, it’s ignoring your customers when they resoundingly make a pretty harmless request), I still encourage you to sign the petition if you haven’t already by clicking the link above.
Since there’s a solid chance we won’t get to hear Holiday’s awesome electric guitar riff this season, why not play us out with it today? Green Day, the stage is yours.
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