There were a few similarities to Saturday's season-opening win against Edmonton in the Canucks' second game of the season against Ottawa. For starters, the Canucks were more or less outplayed in both contests but stayed competitive. Both final scores were 3-2, and both games featured an early bad goal by goaltender Jacob Markstrom, followed by a strong rest-of-the-game performance.
Other than that, the games had a markedly different vibe. Whereas the Edmonton game showed how fast and aggressive the Canucks could be within Travis Green's system, the Ottawa contest illustrated what happens when the team isn't sharp enough to carry out the coach's orders.
There were defensive miscues, bad penalties, giveaways and sloppy passes. After the Edmonton game, Green said that you'd be hard-pressed to find a player on the Canucks that didn't play pretty well. That was not the case last night.
Three that impressed
1. Chris Tanev
The Canucks' top defenceman (sorry Edler) was on his game. Even if you take away his goal, a seeing-eye wrister from the point that was perfectly screened by Thomas Vanek, Tanev was an unrelenting beast all night. He jumped into several rushes, had some key takeaways and blocked shots, and generally looked every bit like the force the Canucks need him to be.
2. Jacob Markstrom
For the second night in a row, the Swede showed remarkable resolve in bouncing back from a bad goal. This time it was a harmless wrister from the top of the circle by Codi Ceci that slithered through the goalie. After that though, he was solid, as the Canucks were outshot 42 to 28. There were a few highlight saves, but none more so than this absolute robbery of Alex Burrows in his return to Vancouver that some Canuck fans probably wanted to go in.
The fact that the save came just over a minute after the goal from Ceci shows that Markstrom has the mental toughness absolutely necessary for a starting goaltender in the NHL.
3. Jake Virtanen
Once again, number 18 was all over the ice, rushing down the wing with the puck, throwing pucks on net and sparring with Dion Phaneuf. Virtanen played the least minutes of any Canuck last night. Here's betting that doesn't happen again on Thursday against Winnipeg.
Three that didn't
1. Troy Stecher
After the early giveaway that almost resulted in the Burrows goal, 'Stech' looked like had lost his confidence. Markstrom bailed him out on that one, but Green didn't care, as the coach put the young d-man on the bench for large parts of the game. He played more than three minutes less than any other Canuck defenceman, clocking in at 13:40. Oh, and he got hammered into the bench by Burrows.
2. Ben Hutton
Hutton competed hard for most of the night, including blocking a shot that clearly stung him. He soldiered through that and overall played a solid game. But if he doesn't give away the puck behind the net in the third, we might be recapping a Canucks' win right now. Rough one.
3. Mark Borowiecki
The Sens d-man was predictably in over his head whilst trying to play top-four minutes. The Canucks capitalized on Ottawa's depleted defence corps, victimizing Borowiecki twice.
"We weren't great tonight. Our passes didn't seem crisp, I thought we were a little soft in certain areas, which for me, I don't like that. I can handle passes, but I wouldn't want to stand here very many nights and say we were a little soft, but I thought we were in certain areas."
- Travis Green
Green sending Markus Granlund out for the shootout. The Finn had only taken five prior shootout attempts and was the only Canuck to convert.
The refs missing Mark Stone holding down Alexander Burmistrov while the latter was trying to make a play on the puck in the closing minutes of the third period.
Did you see it?
The video tribute to Alex Burrows was nothing short of spine-tingling. A great Canuck, Burrows got his due last night and looked good on the ice, a reminder to Canucks fans of all the joy they got out of the former ECHLer.