I thought I was watching a reboot of Freaky Friday while watching tonight’s game. I assumed at one point Lindsay Lohan was playing the part of Jayson Megna.
But then Jack Skille got his second goal and I knew even Hollywood would have had to pass on this script.
“Too unbelievable!” they’d cry. “Nobody would believe Megna and Skille would get two goals each!”
“No no, but they did! And Skille, he even did a sword flippy thing with his stick to control the puck and score!”
“Stop it, we need something the audiences will believe. Maybe a 2-1 win where the Twins get both goals?”
“I’m telling you, this ACTUALLY happened. Gudbranson got a goal too! It went off the backboards, then off the goalie’s glove, then in!”
“Get out of our office.”
But true it was, as the Canucks laid a beating on the Tampa Bay Lightning, defeating them 5-1 in what has to be the bluest arena in the world.
Not blue as in sad, but blue as in seats, blue lines, stanchions, jerseys, you name it, everything had a weird blue hue cast over it on the broadcast. Come to think of it, maybe it was a David Fincher film…
Coming into this game, the Canucks were 28th in the league in goals per game. The Lightning? Ninth.
It looked like it was a recipe for another game in which the Canucks would struggle to score. Henrik Sedin would pass on an empty net. Gudbranson would eat a churro. The usual stuff.
But as my good friend (and nemesis in PE in Grade 12) Pat Johnston points out, the Canucks have been incredibly unlucky this season.
Well, lucky for being in the division they play in.
But unlucky in scoring.
As per Patrick’s article:
The Canucks currently have a league-worst PDO of 969, driven by them being second last in both even-strength shooting percentage and even-strength save percentage. Both of those stats have been found to be heavily influenced by luck, meaning that teams on the edges generally move back toward the middle.
The idea being things tend to regress towards the mean, which means a team like the Rangers (sitting pretty at 103.63) is being watched by stats fans around the league for the inevitable drop in play. Or if you’re mainstream media and hate stats, “The Rangers have just run into a cold streak, most likely due to not wanting it enough.”
So the Canucks, being at the bottom of the barrel? Bounces were bound to go their way eventually, unless even the Statistics Gods have joined in with the Hockey Gods in openly hating Vancouver.
Enter tonight’s game!
If you didn’t watch the game and looked at that Corsi, you’d think the Canucks got trucked. Perhaps beaten to death. To the point where the NHL folded the franchise out of embarrassment.
“Do you even puck possession, bro?”
But Corsi does not matter when your high on PDO, and chasing that sweet sweet dragon.
This was the type of game where players can quote the tired but true method of “they finished their chances, and we didn’t.”
Which is essentially what happened.
Despite being outshot 41-30, the Canucks had Skille spinning and sniping goals like it was a Mogilny contract year.
Then there was Megna, looking like a young Jeff Cowan, knocking down last second goals.
And Gudbranson banking in what was 1000000% a goal from NHL 17. I swear to god his goal was nothing but an ad for NHL 17.
Now, take those goals going in, add in Ryan Miller playing like it was 2010 before Crosby crushed his soul, and that’s a recipe for a blowout win, baby!
So here we go now.
Holla if ya hear me though, come and feel me flow.
Yes, Erik Gudbranson, master of “the flow”.
What is “the flow” you ask? It is the Bieksa approved technique of slip and sliding every time you think someone might try and pass the puck in front of you.
Using just your stick to knock down the puck? Child’s play.
Real men? They get down on all four, baby!
When it works, it’s awesome in a stack the pads kind of wave. It looks bad ass, we can all admit it.
The scary thing is when it doesn’t work, and now you have a defenceman lying on the ice, scared, cold, and alone, and not knowing what to do.
Tonight it didn’t cost the Canucks, but it’s been an interesting trait from Gudbranson this season. Some people really only use “the flow” as a last resort, but Gudbranson jumps on that shit the second he thinks someone is going to pass across the net. It’s not too shocking that Hutton and Gudbranson ended the night as the worst pairing in Corsi on the team at 28% and 32% respectively.
He’s like your kid brother constantly hitting the diving poke check button in NHL games.
“The flow” aside, Gudbranson did have two points on the night. He also scored one hell of an ugly goal, but I say that with pride. I love ugly goals more than anyone.
That is legit the most NHL 17 goal of the year. And I know I use NHL 17 comparisons A LOT. Possibly more than Jurassic Park references.
But look at this:
NHL 17 update: It took me four hours to hate this game forever pic.twitter.com/4BzVmA6cZk
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 7, 2016
That’s not too far off.
Needless to say, Bishop was not very good tonight. He looked shaky all night. His rebound control was poor. Dude is out there knocking pucks into his own net. He struggled.
Still, they don’t ask how pretty it was, they just ask how many you got!
Unless you’re Jack Skille. Then you absolutely tell people how pretty it was.
Sometimes creepin’ up, Skille eats em up.
Skille has been a target of criticism for, well, not doing much of anything this season. Entering the game he had one assist. Coach Willie, who loves loves loves rolling four lines, couldn’t even find more than eight minutes a game for him. Despite his last name being ripe for goal scoring puns, he just couldn’t find the back of the net.
But lately, he’s been getting one big chance every other game. He’ll sit in the shadows, then out of nowhere, he’s out there trying to score and end to end goal. It didn’t work. Until tonight.
Look at that. Dude is knocking down the puck on one side, then flipping around and 360-no scoping his stick to knock the puck down for a breakaway. And not only does he muscle his way to the net, but he finishes it perfectly. Upstairs, top shelf, where mom keeps gummy bears.
And he wasn’t even done there!
Post and in! And then he acts like he’s been there before, like he just knew he had that second goal in him. Look at that blasé son of a bitch not even celebrating that goal! That respectful bastard.
He did this in 7:19 of ice time.
Now, this isn’t to say his season is going to turn around or anything, but you have to feel happy for a guy who had to earn his spot in preseason and was struggling to make an impact.
You have now entered the path of the Flavour Unit.
And he is Jayson Megna, and he will just do, by terminating you.
Yes, that is Megna tipping home a sweet goal. Then finishing an end of the period goal with just enough time for Ben Bishop to glance at the clock and pray time had expired.
Tampa Bay was confused to the point they challenged one of the Megna goals, I assume on the basis of “Is Megna allowed to score goals in the NHL??”
He had two goals. Played almost 14 minutes.
Skille and Megna both had chances at a hat trick tonight.
It’s the end of the world, folks.
Next thing we’ll know, Edler will take a slap shot and his stick won’t break.
Checka check it out, on and on and on, rock on to the breaka breaka dawn Miller’s on.
Ryan Miller was awesome against Toronto. He was awesome tonight.
It was 3-1 at one point, and Sutter lost the puck to Tampa Bay. They had a breakaway.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, Ryan Miller is a breakaway god.
Seriously, he is so good at breakaways and shootouts. We spent seasons watching Luongo, the best Canucks goalie of all-time, flop and flounder through shootouts. I would have no problem choosing Luongo in a game seven situation, but if it was a “who do you want in net to stop a breakaway?” I would go with Ryan Miller in today’s NHL.
He just has no **** to give about breakaways. I have never seen a guy care so little about the fact a guy is coming in all alone on him.
So yeah. 3-1, Tampa Bay is coming on really strong. It felt like one of those “score effect” moments, where the Canucks park the bus, and then all of a sudden a high scoring team storms back to tie the game.
Except Miller stoned them. The Canucks maintain their lead. Miller makes a few more amazing saves. The Canucks win 5-1.
Not that Benning will ever trade his golden child, but should he want to, he should send a tape of tonight’s game out to any interested parties at the deadline.
Alas, Miller left the game in the third period. We wondered why?
Ah, tightness. The vague “tightness” that once kept him out for months. Hahah good one.
"Miller felt sore and maybe twisted something, but he should be fine." – Coach Desjardins
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 9, 2016
OK, I doubled down on OPP, but whatever, it works.
So Jim Benning was on during the intermission. He had updates on Larsen and Virtanen. Nothing much of substance was said there. Larsen he hopes will be fine. Virtanen they are happy he’s getting ice time (something people begged for earlier this season to happen).
Then Dan Murphy (his haircut is fixed by the way, very slick) asked Benning about no-trade clauses.
You see, when Mike Gillis ran the team, he was 100% against asking players to waive their NTCs. Maybe it was the player agent still in him, but he felt the players had earned those NTCs so he wasn’t about to ask them to get rid of one. He was widely criticized for this because the NHL is a business, and an asset is an asset.
So when Benning came in and started trading players with NTCs (Bieksa and Garrison), or thought about trading them (Vrbata, Hamhuis), it was seen as a breath of fresh air.
Except now, he’s done with that. With the current crop at least.
He said on air that he feels the current players that have NTCs are the leaders on the team. They show the young players the “right way” to play. Edler made Stecher better, Burrows made Horvat and Baertschi better. It’s up to the players to come to him if they want to waive an NTC. He seemed very much against the idea of trading any player with an NTC at the deadline.
Posturing? Maybe. But Benning, love him or hate him, always seems to be honest even when it’s not advantageous for him to do so.
So maybe don’t expect much at the trade deadline this year.