Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Canucks look listless for half of the game, dig themselves a hole, then scramble to try and pull out a victory.
It truly was a tale of two games. The first half was when the Canucks were in a coma, and the second half was when the Canucks were in their midlife crisis and were scrambling to make up for lost time.
Despite going down 4-1, the Canucks made a game of things before finally bowing out at 4-3. There were some highs, there were some lows (spoiler alert: Brandon Sutter’s goal song), so let’s dive into this, shall we?
1. Brandon Sutter
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 17, 2015
Brandon Sutter is the poster child for advanced stats vs old school. On one hand you have a hard working guy, from a hockey family, with bags under his eyes that just scream “I was up all night working in front of the net.”
On the other hand you have advanced stats which views Sutter as a potential black hole for his linemates, someone completely unable to set up his linemates offensively.
It’s going to be a long season, and tonight was one of those games where Sutter won the points battle (1 goal, 2 assists) but he also showed the side of his game that has people worried about his top-six viability.
He really hasn’t shown a great ability to pass the puck so far. A four-on-one early in the game showcased this:
The guy should probably just shoot the puck (which he did later, and scored on). He also picked up a couple of assists at the end of the game just by being a hard worker and keeping the puck in the zone and funneling it towards the net.
That is the kind of player Sutter is when he’s at his best. He works hard in puck battles, and he is shooting the puck instead of passing (never pass). I honestly think his hockey IQ is pretty decent, he has made some nice passes on breakouts, it’s just when he tries to feather the puck, things sometimes get away from him.
Of course, we’re barely into the season, so things can change rapidly, but for now, Sutter is playing pretty decent according to the old eyes.
His goal song though?
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) October 17, 2015
Boo. I dislike it. I hate it.
2. Ben Hutton
Ben Hutton is just fun to watch.
The Canucks have had a couple of young guys come along and impress with their poise in their own end (Tanev, Edler, Corrado for five games), but Hutton does offensive things that are just a joy to watch. You could put together an article on the small things Hutton does in games and it would take a lot of gifs.
For example, that zone exit by Hutton. It’s a small play, but instead of throwing a pass over to a guy who will most likely be closed in on very quickly, he fakes the pass and gets the Blues to bite on it. This then gives him the time and space to try and run up the ice.
The fact a player that young has the confidence, and the ability, to pull that off, is what should have fans excited.
He also does wonders in the offensive zone:
Instead of throwing a shot on net, he feathers it in for Hansen. Glorious.
When you see a power play struggle due to baker Tanev serving up muffins left and right, it’s nice to know the Canucks might have an actual weapon in their arsenal that scare some NHL teams.
3. Power Play
Speaking of power plays, the Canucks went 0-for-5 on theirs. To be fair, they had one power play where they generated a lot of shots, but with Radim Vrbata still looking like somebody told him Santa isn’t real, it really does feel like they could use another weapon out there.
A weapon like, say, Yannick Weber?
Chris Tanev on the point doesn’t scare anybody. If you dressed up as Chris Tanev on the power play for Halloween people would laugh you off the block.
So why not add Weber back into the mix?
Bartkowski isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, why not take him out and throw Weber back in there?
Why not take out Luca Sbi-
OK ok, we all know what will never happen.
Still, when you lose a game by a goal and your power play comes up dry, people are going to question you about leaving your hard shooting d-man at home.
4. Big Country
Ignore the hideous nickname and instead revel in the glory that is Virtanen!
You hear so much more about analysis these days that sometimes you get caught up in it. Take Virtanen for instance. When he was drafted the cries of “why not Ehlers or Nylander??” soared throughout the land. And for all we know, those people could be right. Maybe Ehlers and Nylander end up being so good, and Virtanen ends up being a footnote.
But damn it, for now, just enjoy having a big, strong kid who is fast, can shoot the puck, and doesn’t take crap from anybody.
There is something to be said about playing against a guy who makes your night a living hell, and Virtanen looks like he might bother quite a few teams. Having not had a player like that on the team for many years, it’s pretty fun to see. Sure, his nickname might drag him down a doughnut laden, Orca-buzzed-in-his-hair future, but we’ll cross that road when we come to it.
5. The Oscar goes to…
Upshall the leading contender for the Oscar in the NHL: pic.twitter.com/lZ3hjftgW1
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) October 17, 2015
That is all kinds of amazing. Obviously the Canucks had a lengthy history of Kesler diving to and fro, but it still doesn’t take away from the enjoyment to be had over that head snap. Where’s the sniper?? It was like watching the SNL Dear Sister sketch.
6. Let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how!
For those who didn’t see the game, Burrows isn’t jumping into the bench due to being on a magic mushroom trip, he jumped to avoid a dump in.
Why he turned into a turtle on the bench, well, we might never know.