Five takeaways from the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks scored two power play goals on the evening. Oliver Ekman-Larsson opened the scoring at 13:51 of the first period with his second goal of the season and Conor Garland tallied his fifth goal of the campaign at the 6:54 mark of the second period. His was the game winner. The Canucks man advantage picked up a marker from each of the two “new” units, going two for three on the evening overall, and improved to 16.9-percent on the season. Still not a great number but headed in the right direction.
The Vancouver Canucks worked much of the play through point men. We recently went through the basic special teams formations. As we and Canucks Head Coach Travis Green have pointed out, there are only so many systems a team can run. It’s about variations, movement, and utilizing your talent. Movement of people is just as important as movement of pucks. A stagnant power play is easy to cover.
Conor Garland continues to have a very positive impact most nights for Vancouver, all while using his little cut-off sticks. Garland only stands about 5-foot-8-inches tall off skates, and yet he’s cut another four inches off what would be the “normal” height of his twigs. VHN asked him about it during the preseason. He likes the control it gives him when stickhandling tight to his body, whether in the corners or dangling along the side and end boards.
It’s still odd to watch, sometimes funny, and occasionally it will seem to be a hindrance if he’s reaching for pucks or shooting them. He’s adapted and often manages to “get everything on it”. Friday night’s power play goal was a perfect example as Garland unleashed a one-timer to beat Winnipeg Jets goalie Eric Comrie.
There’s no question the short stick allows him to waterbug more quickly in and around the competition, and there’s no question you’ll find it entertaining, as awkward as it seems.
He wasn’t utterly and completely himself, but Elias Pettersson started to show signs again Friday of getting his old self back. He seemed less apt to hold on to pucks too long, made a couple of strong defensive plays, and picked up his 7th assist of the season.
At times we’ve observed that “Petey” looked like a baby giraffe, almost tying himself into knots while carrying pucks or falling down while desperately trying to make plays.
He seemed calmer Friday and more composed. Maybe reduced ice time and getting yanked off the first power play unit forced a realization. Or that move by his head coach simply took some of the pressure off, giving Petey a chance to find his game in a reduced role.
I haven’t asked Petey a psychological question about playing in front of the Sedin twins, now senior advisors for the Canucks. How much pressure has he put on himself to impress, maybe subconsciously, his heroes Daniel and Henrik? It’s not entirely out of the question. Sweden is a proud hockey nation, a tight-knit country, and Pettersson hails from a medium-sized, seaside city halfway up the country.
One Swede trying to carry the Vancouver Canucks flag while having two of his most famous countrymen, the men who carried it for years, now watching him. That can be daunting.
As it stands, if Petey turns the corner, maybe the Canucks come with him.
They Said it:
“It was nice for our group to get the win tonight,” coach Green said. “Penalty kill was awesome, power play was good, so it was good.” He smirked as he said it and as he drank his water. The penalty kill was awesome because it didn’t play a shift. The Jets were not awarded a power play in this game. The Canucks power play remains the worst in the NHL at 60.3% effectiveness.
“We showed a couple clips this morning to our team, with our neutral zone forecheck,” Green said regarding cleaning up neutral zone transitional defensive play. “We’ve got a lot of young guys, there’s a lot of teaching going on with our group, with our forward group, and I thought they did a nice job of that tonight.”
Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko was actually first to tease the penalty kill, to laughs, during his game analysis:
“Penalty kill was 100-percent,” he said. “That’s huge, no, I thought the guys were on their toes, playing hard defensively first and foremost, and obviously “peeper” (power play) came through with a couple of big goals there. Everyone loves seeing “Burgh” get his first one, that’s something the guys were really pumped about, so that was huge. I think just our commitment for sixty minutes from start to finish was solid and that’s something that we’ve gotta continue to do here.”
Kyle Burroughs, Vancouver native, on getting his first NHL goal and getting it at home.
“I kind of got hit right after, so soon as it left my stick, god knows what happened, I think I was last to celebrate,” he said, “but, what it means, obviously it’s a big accomplishment, especially for me, I don’t score a lot of goals in any league, so to get it here it’s nice, it’s kind of a little bit of wait off my back.”
Simmer’s Vancouver Canucks 3-Stars:
Going with the building’s selections in a Canucks three-stars clean sweep.
3) – Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Goal (2), four shots, two more attempts blocked, a hit and two takeaways. 21:51
2) – Kyle Burroughs – Good night for a third-pair righty playing the left side with his first NHL goal, a blocked shot, and three hits in 13:57 of ice.
1) – Thatcher Demko – There wasn’t his usual save-of-the-month type moments in this win but there were a few biggies, including one in the closing seconds.