Vancouver Canucks, Straight Up: Johnny Hockey catches fire

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      Two goals in as many games is not how the Vancouver Canucks imagined starting their season. Not with a revamped forward group and not with the rest of the NHL’s teams putting the record books on notice in terms of goals scored.

      And definitely not against the two teams from Alberta, the Canucks’ would-be natural rivals (at least until the Seattle Somethings drop the puck).

      But that’s the situation after a Saturday night in which the Canucks, despite numerous powerplays and decent chances, couldn’t quite come through.

      Granted, they were playing a hungry Flames team that had just lost a tight game to the team that ended their impressive season, the Colorado Avalanche.

      Here’s what else we saw in the Canucks’ 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames.

      Calgary Flames on Twitter

      Three that impressed

      1. David Rittich

      The Flames goaltender was spectacular at times, flashing the glove hand often and taking away decent chances from the likes of Brock Boeser, Tyler Myers and Elias Pettersson.

      Some wondered whether Cam Talbot (who the Flames signed in the offseason) would take over the crease in short order. But after a shaky game against the Avalanche, Rittich is clearly out to dispel that narrative. 

      2. Adam Gaudette

      After sitting in the pressbox for the Canucks’ first game, Gaudette made his debut and he made it well. Granted, he played just under 12 minutes of hockey, but he looked solid centering the team’s third line. It will be hard for coach Travis Green to justify taking him out of the lineup next game, as he even complimented the young forward’s effort.

      3. Johnny Gaudreau

      The Flames’ stud winger had two assists and an empty net goal on the night. Both the assists were of the primary variety.

      First, he got his stick on an ill-advised Tyler Myers pass, allowing Elias Lindholm a chance to bury it by Jacob Markstrom, which he did.

      Then, he sped away from Quinn Hughes in the Canucks’ zone for long enough to find a streaking Sean Monahan.

      Not a bad night for Johnny Hockey.

      Three that didn’t

      1. Tyler Myers

      The aforementioned turnover was the obvious lowlight. Scoring on a point blank chance would have made up for it. He also had six shots and mixed it up with the Flames bench during one sequence.

      There are times when he can glide by the opposition with ease and others in which his choppy puckhandling causes problems for him. Last night, one bad moment cost him huge.

      2. Micheal Ferland

      Often, players who pride themselves on physicality play their best games against their former teams. That wasn’t the case for Ferland, who broke into the league with Calgary and spent four seasons there.

      He hasn’t quite found a rhythm with Pettersson and Boeser on the first line yet (the line was out-Corsi’d by a decent margin), and admitted after the game that he needs to be better. You’d at least expect Ferland to bang some bodies out there, but he was mostly quiet.

      3. The Canucks’ bench 

      Two too-many-men penalties? That is the toughest of looks.


      - If the Canucks players weren’t on their game, the social media team sure was. Earlier in the day, the Flames posted and then deleted an Instagram post with some questionable ad placement. 

      During the game, the Canucks brought the hammer.

      - Along with Gaudette, Virtanen looked pretty good on the third line as well. He had a couple nice chances in close. If Green is going to put Eriksson back in the lineup, it probably won’t be at the expense of Gaudette or Virtanen. Look out, Tim Schaller?

      - One wonders how long until Josh Leivo is kicked off the first powerplay unit. Not that he’s been bad (he had probably the team’s best chance of the entire game and just couldn’t quite bury it), but with the unit struggling, there is bound to be change.

      - Same goes for Alex Edler, as Quinn Hughes has been the bright spot on an also inefficient PP2.

      - Anyone looking for Jacob Markstrom to regress after a strong season would be hard pressed to find much evidence in the first two games. He’s been good.


      “Little sloppy, didn’t like our passing, thought we turned over pucks, a couple pucks that cost… that made us spend some time in our zone,” - Green on the Canucks’ rough second period

      “We had scoring chances, we had looks, we just have to finish.” – Elias Pettersson

      “I don’t know, we need to be better, we haven’t been good the last two games, and you know, it’s frustrating” – Micheal Ferland

      “We felt really good, creating chances, played most of the game in O zone, which is nice.” – Johnny Gaudreau

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