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Game #17 Calgary Flames (7-5-1) @ Vancouver Canucks (6-11) – game recap

Before I get into this recap, I wanted to give a shoutout to the staff and hosts of TSN1040 who abruptly lost their jobs after the executives of Bell Communications took the much beloved station off the air Monday. I’ll get more into this issue in my random thoughts post, but to say the least the decision was strange, especially since Vancouver consistently had the best audience numbers.

Onto the recap. The Canucks started a crucial 4 game series (three of which are at home) against the Calgary Flames. A key to winning tonight will be two factors: solving ex-Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom and keeping ex-Canucks Chris Tanev and Josh Leivo off the scoreboard.  Markstrom shutout the Canucks in his first game against his former team back on January 16 in Calgary. In fact, Markstrom allowed 57/59 shots in that mini 2-game series. Chris Tanev stymied the Canucks power play and effectively shut down the Canucks forwards. Leivo didn’t have as big an impact in that series, recording an assist over the two games. The Canucks need to win this series to keep in the playoff race because they have played more games than the rest of the teams in the temporary Canadian division. After trying to mix up the top two lines, the Canucks tried to change their fortunes by swapping Justin Bailey and Antoine Roussel on the bottom two lines to start out tonight’s game. The lotto line was reunited and Bo Horvat was back between Tanner Pearson and Nils Hoglander. Thatcher Demko got the start in net. Could the Canucks snap the 5-game losing streak? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Flames opened the scoring with eighty-five seconds left in the 1st period as Mark Giordano whipped one off the skate of Jordie Benn and in
  • The Canucks tied the game six and a half minutes into the 2nd period as Brock Boeser jammed a rebound past Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom
  • Eight minutes later, Andrew Mangiapane whipped a shot that took a double deflection off two Canucks and in
  • The Flames added a goal just under 6 minutes into the 3rd period as Sean Monahan picked off a pass coming out of the penalty box and found a streaking Johnny Gaudreau, who found himself on a breakaway and snapped it top shelf on Thatcher Demko
  • Thatcher Demko stopped 23/26 shots
  • Final score: Flames 3 Canucks 1

My Take:

  • Now it feels like the hockey gods are just toying with the Canucks. Two of the three goals against were deflections. The dagger 3rd goal was a costly turnover. The Canucks were doing everything they could to win the game, outshooting the Flames 14-8 in the opening period, but they could not solve Markstrom. Markstrom stopped 33/34 shots, including all 9 when the Canucks had the man advantage, increasing his total for the season to 90/93
  • It was a rough night injury wise too and could have been drastically worse. First, Justin Bailey was driven into the boards in the middle period from behind and was forced to leave the game with an upper body injury. Then Tyler Myers looked to have broken his hand blocking a shot. Thankfully he stayed in the game, but don’t be surprised if he misses practice tomorrow for maintenance
  • Thatcher Demko was solid tonight, and he was the victim of poor puck luck on the first 2 goals. It may be that part of the issue defensively is that the Canucks are used to Markstrom bailing out the defense, whereas Demko is not yet at the level of Markstrom, who has played in the NHL 11 years (6 as a starter) whereas Demko is just entering his 2nd full season in the NHL. The Canucks are going to have to start defending better and giving their goalies easier looks
  • Look for Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson to be slotted in the lineup Saturday. First, Bailey looks like he could be out a few games. Second, Zack MacEwen barely played tonight, which usually means a lineup change is coming. Plus Eriksson tends to play well vs. Calgary
  • Olli Joulevi did fine in his 10.5 minutes of ice time
  • The Canucks won 47% of the draws, led by JT Miller and Jay Beagle, who  both won 75% of the draws they took. Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette (both 50% success rates) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks banged out 12 hits, led by Tanner Pearson and Jay Beagle, who both had a pair of hits tonight
  • The Canucks blocked 8 shots, led by Tyler Myers, who blocked a pair of shots tonight
  • Up next, the Canucks look to even this mini series  and score their first win of the season over Calgary. The biggest moral victory would be beating a former teammate. So far the Canucks are a  dismal 1-10 when facing a teammate or coach who departed in the off-season. Bottom line, the Canucks need to find a way past the mental block they run into when they see a former teammate. The Canucks added some players too (Hamonic, Schmidt, Holtby and Hawyrluk). Yes, Hamonic and Hawyrluk are injured, but it’s not like the Canucks didn’t add anybody. It’ll be interesting to see what the lineup looks like in a week. Another reason the Canucks need to turn it around quick is because the Aquilinis probably won’t wait much longer before letting someone go, Benning and/or Green.
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