The Canucks, for the second time in a row at home, played a reasonably entertaining game. This is important to note, because it hasn’t happened often this season.
The Canucks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and carried a 2-1 lead into the third.
The lead quickly evaporated in the third and the Sharks held on for the 3-2 win.
In any other year, you could describe it as a crushing loss. But late in the season where the Canucks look destined to miss the playoffs and are in desperate need of high draft pick?
You could say it was the perfect night.
Perfect game for Canucks. Young guys show great glimpse of the future, Daniel Sedin goes thug, and they don't ruin their draft position.
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) March 4, 2016
See, that’s what the Vancity Buzz SixPack is here for. A little pick me up.
1. The Abbotsford Express
The Canucks got off to a great start in this one, playing one of their more inspiring/entertaining first periods at home this season. They outshot San Jose 15-7 and took a 2-0 lead.
The best part? The kids were running the show.
Jake Virtanen had a great period, controlling the puck and looking dangerous offensively. Sure, his first goal was a lucky bounce off of Joe Pavelski’s skate, but the total body of work was evident to see.
The line of Virtanen, Markus Granlund, and Sven Baertschi, let’s call them the Abbotsford Express, was buzzing all period.
Baertschi’s goal to make it 2-0 came after Virtanen held the puck in the offensive zone for a while. Eventually Dan Hamhuis sent a point shot towards the net and Baertschi tipped it in. Granlund was also providing traffic in front.
I think Canucks fans can accept a game like tonight if they see some hope from young players with talent.
Videos like these help too (thanks to Pass it to Bulis for pointing this out):
2. The rebuild is here
The Canucks had 8 players in the lineup tonight that were 23-years-old or less. Not only did they play, but they played prominent roles.
Ben Hutton played on the top defence pairing with Chris Tanev and played a whopping 26 minutes tonight. Emerson Etem was on the first line with the Sedins tonight and played 19:24. Bo Horvat, who you can easily forget is only 20-years-old, played 18:39.
The other under-23 guys: Virtanen, Granlund, Baertschi, Jared McCann, and Brendan Gaunce played between 10:30 and 14:17.
To put this in perspective, in Game 1 of the playoffs last year, the Canucks dressed just one player (Horvat) that was 23-years-old or less.
The rebuild is here and it will take time.
Trading players on expiring contracts at the trade deadline would help speed that up, but I digress. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
3. High stick controversy
The second period was a different story.
The Sharks came out flying, and peppered Ryan Miller with shots. Miller held the fort, until a Tomas Hertl deflection made cut the Canucks lead in half.
Hertl’s goal was reviewed, but was upheld because of inconclusive evidence.
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) March 4, 2016
Hertl’s stick appeared to be a high and probably should have been called back.
Ryan Miller agreed and spoke candidly about the decision:
“I just watched the replay and I think it’s a high stick for sure. Hundred percent high stick. I don’t think I’ve gotten a high stick call once since I’ve come here. I mean, I don’t know what’s going on.
Hanzal last year, he was six-foot-five. Hertl, who’s six-three/six-four. And if you watch it hit the tip of his blade at the apex of his hands. I don’t know what the league’s looking at. Just cause it’s a goal on the ice, you know, get it right. Or just get rid of the rule.”
Martin Hanzal is listed as 6’6″ and Hertl is only 6’2″, but Miller’s point remains.
Check out where Hertl makes contact. Keep in mind that his stick must be below the crossbar, which is 4 feet above the ice.
If that doesn’t provide enough evidence for you, check out how high Miller reached with his blocker to try and stop the puck. His arm is above his head, and his head is already well above the crossbar.
If you can’t call this conclusive evidence, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to have conclusive evidence for a high stick.
To make matters worse, the Sharks rubbed salt in the wound with a terrible Hertl pun.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 4, 2016
4. No controversy in net
Tonight’s loss, like most nights this year, you couldn’t hang on the goaltender.
It’s been a nice change of pace this season, not scrutinizing every single goal and wondering “Should he have had that? Would the other guy have had that?”. No, this season, Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom have provided consistent, good goaltending and they’ve earned more rope from fans.
Have a look at the graphic Sportsnet flashed on the screen during the second period:
Since returning from injury, Ryan Miller has played 14 games, while Jacob Markstrom has played 6. That’s a 70/30 split and a lot smarter than what we saw last season when Miller started 77% of games before he got hurt in February.
Jacob Markstrom, who was named to Team Sweden’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey yesterday, has played well too through this time.
Two good goalies, yet no goalie controversy? I thought I knew you, Vancouver.
5. Town Hall
Tonight’s game provided some entertainment, but that’s likely to be nothing compared to tomorrow morning’s Town Hall event at Rogers Arena.
Canucks management will be facing the music with season ticket holders, who are likely still fuming after what happened (or didn’t happen) on trade deadline day.
Will it top last year’s Summer Summit?
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) July 10, 2015
A trio of Vancity Buzz hockey writers will be in attendance to find out.
Canucks fan Tanbir became something of a cult hero after last year’s Summer Summit. Will he be there tomorrow?
— Tyson Fedor (@CTV_TysonFedor) March 1, 2016
I hope so.
6. Retiring the cartoon
We said goodbye to one of the greats earlier today.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) March 3, 2016
That’s right, the great ‘Rob The Hockey Guy’ cartoon face announced its retirement earlier today. At the risk of being completely self-centred and narcissistic (that ship sailed long ago), I’d like to share some of the reactions.
People were not pleased.
@RobTheHockeyGuy For the love of God, change it back!
— Coop (@1Cooop) March 3, 2016
@RobTheHockeyGuy but why?!
— Roxy (@RmystiQue78) March 3, 2016
@RobTheHockeyGuy how could you do this to us?
— Matthew Henderson (@mhenderson95) March 3, 2016
The SixPack Godfather wasn’t bothered by it:
Biech was feeling sassy:
Others were more impressed with the quality of the cartoon:
Sonu wanted to seize the opportunity:
And finally, the best response:
Waivers: Robs Cartoon Avatar (VAN)@RobTheHockeyGuy
— Ryan Lestage (@ryr12r) March 3, 2016
Waivers? Just a poor job of asset management if you ask me.