SixPack: Ben Hutton's overtime magic helps Canucks past Coyotes

Nov 18 2016, 11:03 am

The Canucks took on the Coyotes on Thursday night, in what was essentially an audition for the next Mad Max movie. Both teams fighting in a barren wasteland with an uncertain future, horrifying mutations plaguing the lands that need to be put down (Fin), and regardless of who won, neither side would be that much better off.

Such is the life of the 29th and 30th placed teams in the NHL.

But life is such in the NHL that one win can put you at 25th in the league. Or a few points out of a playoff spot. This is the NHL as it stands. A place where Jim Benning can gleefully talk about making the playoffs and mathematically he isn’t wrong.

The good thing about playing the Coyotes? The Canucks look like a decent team. They no longer struggle to score goals, and they can actually generate offence.

The second half of the game Vancouver started taking over. It took them until overtime to do it, but eventually they secured a 3-2 win over those rascally Coyotes.

This is probably the team the Canucks will end up being, one that can and will beat some of the lesser teams. Where that takes them (the hell known as 9th? The playoffs? Costco??) no one knows.

Also, Radim Vrbata ended the night with 9 shots. He was one of the most noticeable Coyotes out there. You think he wanted to stick it to his former team?

He looked good, but it also reinforces the idea that he needs to be super motivated to be the killer Radim Vancouver fans saw in season one. Not the Ross Geller “someone ate my sandwich” we all saw in season two.

See also

1. Willie Watch

Willie Watch is on like Donkey Kong.

The first half of the game looked like a typical Canucks loss. Some scoring chances, but a couple of breakdowns here and there, and all of a sudden the Canucks were down a couple of goals. People were measuring Willie for his coffin at the bench at this point, and asking what his favourite flowers were.

But after an injury to Derek Dorsett, Coach Willie doubled down on the Sedins, and basically rode their backs to gutting out a victory. The Sedins ended up with 20 minutes of ice time, and barely seemed to take a line change in the third period. The Twins can still murder lesser teams, folks.

The Canucks eke out a win, and more importantly, played pretty good for half the game. That buys Willie more time.

Willie Watch is a weird thing because I think most fans get that he isn’t really the main problem. Like, if you find a rat poop in your moldy sandwich, you’re not gonna toss that turd out and think the sandwich is good to go. Most people realize the entire management team is under a magnifying glass right now, and the team’s performance is a reflection of far more than just the coach.

It’s just in the NHL, coaches are often the meat shields for upper management. Benning is going to hold onto that “get out of jail free” card he has in Willie as long as he can. If he gets called into the office and taken to task for a terrible season? “Well the coaching let us down, we should fire Willie. BURN THE WITCH! THROW HIM IN THE WATER! SEE IF HE SINKS!”

So don’t expect Willie Watch to end anytime soon, but don’t expect him to be fired anytime soon either.

(Watch him get fired next week, in which case I will delete this story and shut down the internet).

2. Hutton and Gudbranson

People love Lego because we enjoy it when things go together. And As Hannibal Smith taught us, we just love it when a plan comes together.

So when people saw fast, offensive minded Hutton and then looked at newly acquired Erik Gudbranson, it just felt right. “That guy is super defensive and can murder people with his bodychecks of righteousness, they should  TOTALLY play together.” Hutton would be free to dangle around the ice, while Gudbranson would have his back. Like Malik and Jovo from the olden days.

We basically love to create buddy cop/odd couple situations on defence for NHL teams. Admit it, you can picture them in a sitcom.

“Erik! Did you forget to flush the toilet!”

“Yeah sorry buddy.”

“You’re supposed to be the one cleaning up after ME!”

*cue soundtrack*

“You better not look in the kitchen sink then. Shitter was full.”

*cut to commercials*

And for the first few games, it looked like it was working. Heck, off the ice Gudbranson and Hutton became fast friends, going to concerts with each other, and probably high fiving after they both admitted they were excited for the Gilmore Girls revival.

But then they started to struggle. Then struggle some more. Then it finally got to the point where everyone couldn’t ignore it any longer. They just seemed to be getting caught out of position a lot. Gudbranson was chasing guys like crazy. Hutton didn’t seem to be as sparkling offensively like he was last year.

So the questions started. “Gap control” became the name of the game, with Gudbranson going all in on it. It got to the point where people wondered if Gubranson was throwing Hutton under the bus:

“If I’m chasing out of position to make a play, there has been a breakdown somewhere at some point,” said Gudbranson. “My intention is to get in front of shots and take away passing lanes. We started off well as a pair, but we’ve been kind of separate and a little disconnected and just playing too far apart.

“We’re going to watch video and see what’s going on and this is a process with a young guy. He (Hutton) has less than 100 games and it takes 300 to learn to defend well.

“He might be going through something and he’s feeling it inside, but you’re excited to work with him and I’ve got to find that connection better than I have. It takes time for a skilled guy and sometimes less is more, but he’s also good when he’s playing on that edge.

“He’s going to be a great player in this league and we’re going to get through this.”

In Canada the Maple Syrup line (you want it sweet, but not too sweet, the line is so hard to ride) dictates that people want athletes to give detailed answers, but on the other hand, sometimes too many details become fodder for discussion the next day in social media. It’s hard for players to be the perfect blend of showing personality but not enough to get into trouble. (Luongo figured out how to game the system by sticking to Twitter).

And you can see how this might look like Gudbranson was putting blame on Hutton, even if he didn’t even mean to do that. That “300 games” line is going to hang over Erik’s head for the foreseeable future. Basically Gudbranson hasn’t learned from Tanev how to grunt your way out of an interview yet, so he was possibly too open about their struggles.

Once Hutton was a target, iMac busted out his claws and went to work. The man who once took down Eddie Lack for being too nice, exclaimed:

So of course, Hutton goes out and does this tonight:

Now one overtime goal isn’t a sign that Hutton is going to start piling up the points. And again, this was against the Coyotes, who have that special ability to make your team feel good about themselves. But it does show that Hutton probably doesn’t need any time in Utica (he is also eligible for waivers).

Hutton also showed he hasn’t lost his sense of humour.

“I hadn’t been playing my best to start the season but get a little goal and maybe start rolling with it,” he said. “You know, got a career high in goals with that goal. It’s nice.”

As for Gudbranson, he looked like he played extra physical tonight:


Hutton and Gudbranson looked good. They passed the eye test (scored goals, hit people, looked like they “wanted it more”) and the stats test (60% Corsi at evens, claimed they loved the movie Moneyball).

The next test is Chicago, where we will see if the two d-men under fire have found a way to up their game. Or perhaps next game iMac can suggest that Hutton try a different sport more his speed like golf, and maybe Hutton will get a hat trick.

Master Motivator iMac.

3. Jeff Paterson depresses me

Well that’s not good.

Damn. That looks like it’s a problem. But at least they won-

Son of a…

4. You want to talk about the game?

Or do you want to see Tryamkin hit some dingers!

Well I mean, if you really want it…


But seriously, Tryamkin is a giant beast of a man. I’ve talked about it before, he doesn’t even have to try hard to dish out big hits.

It unfortunately resulted in a freak injury to Brad Richardson tonight, too.

The angle is awful, but Tryamkin goes to hit Brad Richardson, Richardson ducks and all of Tryamkin’s weight falls on the former Canuck. He looked to bend his right leg badly, and he had to be stretchered off.

Hopefully Brad Richardson is ok, of course, but it does highlight how intimidating it could be to see Tryamkin barreling in on you.

Tryamkin, by the way, led the team with five hits. Hard to imagine him not starting the season with the team next year.

5. Didn’t I see some giveaways?

You want giveaways? I’ll give you some! A giveaway of giveaways??

That’s Alex Edler with a rare flub that didn’t end with his stick exploding into 90 pieces.

Ben Hutton decided to get in on the action, throwing the puck away and giving up a 3-on-2. Luckily the papers sending him to Utica hadn’t gone through yet.

Not a giveaway, but Alex Edler legit got flipped-turned upside down, after a couple of guys who were up to no good, started making trouble in his neighbourhood.

6. Chaput-too Train

Michael Chaput played almost 10 minutes on the night. And while he was most certainly the beneficiary of Dorsett leaving due to an injury, he looked quite good out there.

He made Jack Skille look like an unnecessary piece of the puzzle. Chaput even led the entire team with a 68% Corsi. He also made Dorsett seem like a possible overpaid piece of the puzzle. He didn’t throw as many hits as Dorsett might have, and he didn’t punch a guy for no reason like Dorsett might have, but he won’t lose a lot of puck battles along the boards.

However, small sample sizes and all that. Still, it will be interesting to see if this was the coming out party for Chaput and if he can stick a more permanent job with the big club.

That sound you just heard was Jake Virtanen weeping in Utica.

Bonus content

If you look closely, you can see Father Time chase down Alex Burrows.

Seconds later, Zdeno Chara showed up and stole their wedding cake.

This is Bo Horvat getting a sliver out of his finger.

Seriously, though, that is amazingly awful.

Wyatt ArndtWyatt Arndt

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