Final Score: Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Vancouver Canucks 1
Even the execution of the passing play leading up to the empty-net goal for the Penguins was impressive. They out-worked, out-executed, and obviously out-scored the Canucks. There seemed a level of inevitability after Pittsburgh scored the first goal of the game on the power play at :49-seconds of the 2nd period. The Penguins were the quicker, faster team.
Early Holiday Gifts
The Canucks turnovers were stark.
Looking for possible scenarios where Quinn Hughes’s blind, cross-ice pass in front of his own net was meant for someone, but having a hard time coming up with it. The free puck caromed off the near boards, got picked up by the Penguins Evan Rodriques, who took a couple of steps into the bottom of the left wing circle and smoked it past Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko at 7:29 of the 2nd-period for a 2-0 Penguins lead.
Tucker Poolman fancies himself an offensive defenceman. Please stop. His drop pass turnover after entering the Pittsburgh zone on the left wing boards resulted in four Canucks trapped up ice, a three-on-one the other way, and a goal by Zach Aston-Reese.
The season could actually be described as an odd-man-rush-a-thon.
The Penalty Kill is Murder
The Canucks killed off 75% of the Penguins power plays Wednesday night. Typically not a good number, but in the Canucks case, it’s actually a 12-percentage-point improvement over the norm’. It may have been 100% against the Penguins, but Tanner Pearson floated away from his responsibility, Bryan Rust, who stepped up and ripped home Pittsburgh’s first goal.
The Canucks power play went 0-for-1 and the one attempt never came close to a chance.
Potential Change in Disarray
Here’s a fascinating hypothetical for you to contemplate: How does a lame-duck General Manager fire a coach when he needs permission from an owner who won’t give it to him? At least for “now”.
Big picture, how does he make any other move?
They Said it:
Bo Horvat – Rather than write this out, I’ve decided it’s worth including the audio clip. This is hardly a rousing endorsement when asked about the team buying in and playing for its coach. And yes, he did leave a cliffhanger at “leave it up to …” Hmm, leave what up to whom?
JT Miller – Very uncomfortable when starting the discussion as to whether his team was competing hard enough for one another. “I don’t know. I think sometimes we could probably do that a little more consistently,” Miller said. “I thinking honestly, things aren’t going well and during this stretch, amount of time, it’s really, really hard mentally to stay the course and use our process to win games … when we get everybody to buy in, we’re a really hard team to play against.”
Are they buying in? Pause … pause … “I don’t know,” Miller added.
Head Coach Travis Green – No new answers.
Simmer’s Canucks 3-Stars:
3) – Luke Schenn – For magically managing to be the only plus-player in the Canucks line-up tonight. PIcked up an assist on Vancouver’s lone goal, added a shot, three hits and two blocked shots in exactly 14-minutes of action.
2) – Bo Horvat – The team’s lone goal scorer on a 3rd-period power move to the net, cutting around Penguins defenceman Kris Letang on the left wing boards, strong to the net, flipping it up and past netminder Tristan Jarry. Totalled four shots on goal, three hits, two takeaways, and a blocked shot.
1) – Thatcher Demko – “The Thatcher Demko Show” back for a return engagement. It could have been worse.