It was a game that was supposed to be about Brock Boeser finally making his 2017-18 NHL regular season debut. And while that was definitely part of the subplot, with Boeser registering an assist and looking generally like a bona fide NHLer, some more noticeable plotlines started to emerge in the Canucks' 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Respect your Edlers
Alexander Edler was hurt during the game and left during the first period, though it was hard to tell exactly when. The severity of the injury that Travis Green would only call “lower body” is not known.
In Edler’s stead, Michael Del Zotto admirably but ill-advisedly played over 27 minutes. His usual partner, Erik Gudbranson, only played 18:06. Even with the Edler injury, Troy Stecher logged 14:32.
Nostalgic for 2001?
Rogers Arena was filled with empty seats, especially in the lower bowl, to the point where many media members up high in the press box remarked about the empty spaces arena that was packed to the brim in the season opener (obviously) and quite well attended in the shootout loss to Ottawa.
Those observations from the top ended up being correct, as the Canucks announced a crowd of just 15,589, which comes in as the lowest such number since December 10, 2001, when only 15,370 showed up for a 1-1 tie against Tampa Bay (yeah, ties happened back then).
Jake Virtanen was once again the Canuck to see the least amount of ice time, but this time he was benched for most of the third period, playing only seven seconds in the final frame.
Three that impressed
1. Tyler Myers
The Jets defenceman was all over the place, hitting Canuck forwards, blocking shots and scoring via an absolute snipe that sailed over Markstrom, off the crossbar and in.
2. Brock Boeser
We had to. Brock had some great plays on the puck and instincts away from it. He also caused the Canucks first goal with a high, hard shot that forced Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck to cough up a juicy rebound for Daniel Sedin.
3. Connor Hellebuyck
Other than two largely unstoppable goals (the Sedin rebound and a wrister from the point by Chris Tanev that ricocheted off a Jet), ‘Hell Boy’ was perfect. He is making a case to usurp veteran Steve Mason (who came over in the offseason as a free agent, ostensibly to fix the jets’ goaltending woes) as coach Paul Maurice’s number one option in net.
Three that didn’t
1. Brandon Sutter
Sutter has emerged as one of coach Travis Green’s go-to players and that’s fine when he’s shutting down the opposition’s top players, like he did against Connor McDavid. But for the most of the game it felt like Sutter was chasing the puck. He hogged a lot of minutes in key situations, misses the net on a big breakaway in the second period and misread the play numerous times, often resulting in Jets’ scoring chances.
2. The Gudbranson-Del Zotto pairing
After two solid games, the Guddy-DZ combo looked lost in both ends of the ice. Del Zotto was a -3 and Gudbranson a -2, but even that doesn’t really convey how hopeless the pairing was against the Jets’ top two lines — which, to be fair, are quite the handful.
3. Loui Eriksson
After spending the first two games with Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat, Eriksson was demoted to make room for Boeser and played with Markus Granlund and Jake Virtanen. Eriksson looked by far the worst of the three, and one got the sense that Green thought so too, as he played the Swede less and less as the game went on. He ended up on the ice for just under 13 minutes.
Paul Maurice going with ‘Hell Boy’ once again. Look for Maurice to keep riding him until he loses.
The icing call on the Canucks with 1:47 left in the third on a puck that was at best a 50-50 battle the refs should have let play out. It looked like Sutter was going to handedly outrace his man to that puck and beat out the call.
Did you see it?
Horvat caught Jets star Mark Scheifele trying to deke through three Canucks and leveled him cleanly.
“Yeah, just keeping it simple.”
- Tyler Myers, on the secret to Winnipeg winning two games after two straight losses.
"I thought it might have been our best game."
- Travis Green, with a real puzzler.