Detroit Red Wings 1, Vancouver Canucks 0
The Vancouver Canucks missed the net on golden opportunities early in the first period, JT Miller and Elias Pettersson, and then Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovich (“Na-dell-koe-vitch”) started to feel it. The game became a bit loosey-goosey defensively which was probably not to Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau’s liking. Detroit outshot Vancouver 18-12 in the first period.
Even though a Detroit penalty had just ended, what amounted to a short-handed goal on an odd-man rush gave Detroit the lead at 8:09 of the 2nd period. The Canucks stepped up the offence in the 2nd but the same theme continued … missed nets and great saves from the man wearing the Winged Wheel. Vancouver outshot Detroit 17-13 in the 2nd period.
The third period was essentially the same, while the Canucks power play failed them in general at 0-for-3. Their last opportunity in the 3rd period was their least effective when they needed it most.
Shots finished 43-35 in favour of the Vancouver Canucks.
— JT Miller came in with a 13-game point streak.
— Elias Pettersson returned to the line-up after missing two games while Swedish countryman Nils Höglander sat out with a lower body injury he suffered in practice on Wednesday.
— Thursday night’s line juggles by Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau were worth dictating:
Tanner Pearson, JT MIller, Conor Garland
Vasily Podkolzin, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser
Nic Petan, Elias Pettersson, Alex Chiasson
Tyler Motte, Juho Lammikko, Matthew Highmore
Zadina vs. Hughes
Just ahead of Quinn Hughes falling in the laps of the Canucks at number-7 in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings took Czech Republic winger Filip Zadina at number-six.
Oops. Yeah, I know, hindsight is 20-20, but the Red Wings were in full rebuild mode, desperate for blueline help with a bunch of 18-year-old D-men on the board, and they took a wing. Yes, Zadina was highly touted after lighting up the “Q” with a prolific season in Halifax, but turning down centres or D-men at that stage was a tough act.
It was Ken Holland’s final draft as GM with Detroit. Not to suggest it got him fired by any means, the writing was on the wall, the franchise was ready to hand the reins over to favourite adopted son and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman, who happens to be a Cranbrook native.
If things stay the course, it could go down as one of the biggest muffs in recent history, and for sure in the long history of the Red Wings.
2nd Period 1-0 Detroit – Pius Suter (12) – Vladislav Namestnikov (8:09) Even Strength
It’s hard to imagine a captain of an NHL team who takes more abuse than Detroit’s Dylan Larkin. It stems from the nature of his game which is hellbent. Similar to scorer Peter Forsberg’s injury problems when the Hall-of-Famer was playing in a much tougher NHL, Larkin plays with reckless abandon and with a maniacal competitiveness. He’s a Michigan kid who takes the Red Wings history and his place in it very, very seriously.
Occasionally, you will see Larkin’s drive carry the rebuilding Detroit team to unlikely victories. Tonight was not one of those cases, although he definitely didn’t hurt matters. The entire Red Wings squad seemed to be committed to the style of play presented right from the get-go. Larkin’s spirit only helped carry it.
He’s an NHLer you want your kids to watch.
Simmer’s Canucks 3 Stars:
3) Elias Pettersson – Bounced back from injury to have an effective night. Couldn’t solve Nedeljkovic.
2) Conor Garland – Catalyst and pest who drew both power play opportunities. Literally a magician at times with the puck. Five shots on goal and multiple takeaways.
1) Thatcher Demko – Kept it close all night long for the Vancouver Canucks with ginormous saves throughout.