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Alright, the Skate has a bit of an unconventional approach today: we first did a live blog, so lots of in-game commentary is down at the bottom here. Before that, some thoughts and observations about Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Wild.
Boeser’s new spot
Brock Boeser usually is one of the shooters on the wing. With Tyler Toffoli sidelined with an apparent foot injury, Boeser has been asked to play the role of the net-front player on the Canucks’ first power play unit.
He picked up a goal by diving for a rebound and swatting it back into the goal. It was perseverance, defined.
“Picking up trash,” Brock Boeser said postgame, with a smile, about him being the net-front guy on the Canucks’ power play.
“We shot the puck a lot and there’s going to be rebounds. You want to focus on being net front and making sure (Wild goalie Alex) Stalock can’t see.”
Antoine Roussel was off like a dart when he saw the loose puck in the neutral zone. He came flying down from the left and pulled a backhand move past Stalock as he sped to the right.
Asked if he’d had a plan to do that from the get go, he claimed it was more about timing.
“I got lucky. A couple bounces,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking … I felt it, that’s the best description.
“It worked. Maybe next time I’ll do something different.”
Fun with numbers
Phase two of the draft lottery goes Monday at 3 p.m. PT
Target the glove?
We know Jacob Markstrom’s catching hand has given him trouble in the past. The Wild still want to make it a thing.
A strong playoff means
Jacob Markstrom’s performance has gotten better with every game. And assuming he carries on with these strong performances, no matter how far the Canucks go or don’t, it will mean massive things for him as a free agent.
It’s obviously going to be a pinched market, but if he comes out of the pandemic playoffs looking at the top of his game, that helps his argument for a strong raise in so many ways.
Slow things down here
Sure, Tyler Motte does things with energy. His teammates appreciate his work. As was well noted, there was lots of cheering from the Canucks’ bench whenever one of their teammates blocked a shot.
Motte blocked seven. Chris Tanev blocked five.
Motte played a lot. But the fact is his line still yielded a lot more scoring chances (9) than they created (3).
As Kent Wilson once noted about blocking shots, they’re like killing rats. Sometimes they have to be done. If it becomes a habit, there’s a bigger problem.
Someone with good sense and a fan of numbers once told me that 75 per cent of hockey is just luck. You can control a good portion of it through numbers but at the end of the day, sometimes you lose because you were unlucky.
Joel Eriksson Ek found the wrong end of his stick at the wrong time.
The game in review
GOAL! 3-0 Canucks.
The Lotto Line hasn’t been great five-on-five, but we’ve seen time and again what a powerhouse they can be on the power play.
Elias Pettersson picked up a nifty goal on a two-on-one, giving him his first goal of the series.
Quinn Hughes picks up his third assist of the game.
Canucks getting two power-play goals while the Wild struggle to make anything happen with the man advantage (they’re running two d-men out most of the time!) sums up this game.
If you were wondering why Boeser pointed to the sky after scoring, here’s why. Today’s a big anniversary in his young life.
Canucks have made life very difficult for the Wild in getting to the net. Markstrom making every save.
Good recipe for success here.
Penalties, penalties, penalties.
It’s been a theme in the qualifiers as a whole and it’s very much the case here in this series.
Virtanen in all this took a really bad penalty. Tripped a Minnesota player behind the Minnesota net, ended the power play a little early.
That said, Minnesota’s power play remains pitiful and the Canucks are back on the man advantage.
Jacob Markstrom made a save in between, the puck trickling just past the post. Knife’s edge stuff here, still.
More fireworks. After Fiala fires a shot on goal after a late off-side whistle, he shoves Edler and then Markstrom. Troy Stecher comes flying over and both he and Fiala end up on the ice after Brandon Sutter shoves the Minnesota forward.
Power play Canucks.
These teams *really* don’t like each other.
Antoine Roussel sees a loose puck in the neutral zone and leaves Brad Hunt in his wake.
Like a shark smelling blood in the water, he accelerated onto the puck, and then got faster as he drove down alone on the net, flipping a backhand shot past Stalock.
With the Wild having a hard time generating much, that’s a potential game-clinching goal.
The bonus to this is there’s a good chance we get Roussel post-game, which is always a wild ride.
It’s the third. Here we go. Big stat here:
A wild last few minutes to the second. Wild have been on the power play after Eriksson knocked over the goalie and came close to scoring once, but Jacob Markstrom pulled the puck back as it trickled towards the goal line.
Tyler Myers made Luke Kunin pay for being in the crease, cross-checking him in the head while also throwing a full-body slam down on him.
It made for a momentary 5-on-3, but no worries as Brandon Sutter won the face-off.
Most face-offs don’t matter, but crucial ones do and that was a high-impact win by Sutter.
To close the period, Matt Dumba fired a rolling puck at Jacob Markstrom, but the big Canucks goalie didn’t flinch.
This game is nasty and the third should be a sizzler.
Loui Eriksson finds himself running over Stalock.
Don’t look on your bingo card, because Eriksson running over the goalie is not a square you can play.
Finally the Canucks are on the board. Brock Boeser goes horizontal to whack home a rebound on his backhand after Stalock spills a Pettersson one-timer on the power play.
Canucks haven’t been great, but with all the power plays the Wild have been giving them, it was inevitable they’d find a tally.
There’s a storyline for you.
Ryan Hartman has zero respect for anyone. He was lining up a blindside hit on Pettersson before driving him in the boards as 40 ducked.
J.T. Miller came to Pettersson’s immediate defence and dropped the gloves. Fight didn’t really go anywhere, but Hartman started throwing punches *after* the linesmen showed up.
Hartman, you may recall, got speared by Micheal Ferland in Game 1 after one of his teammates grabbed Ferland’s stick near the bench. And Hartman took a dive after being knocked over by Pettersson near the end of Game 2.
Really charming player.
Good forechecking sequence for Brandon Sutter and Antoine Roussel, who force a couple turnovers from pressure alone. Sutter tries to drive the net, creating another good chance for himself.
As several have pointed out, it’s been a notably good afternoon for Sutter … but that’s a statement about how the rest of the lineup is doing too. Canucks need more from their stars.
Power play has had lots of opportunity but very little going.
The second period starts, with a good note about how hard Travis Green leaned on Quinn Hughes. The Canucks did have a trio of power plays, so that has some role in it.
But as many have pointed out, it’s a big-boy time of year. Ride your stars.
And it’s the first intermission.
A cagey opening frame. Wild out-attempted the Canucks at even strength, but just about all the Canucks’ chances were from in close.
Wild took 17 shot attempts at the Canucks’ goal, the Canucks managed 13 the other way. High-danger chances were 7-4 in the Canucks’ favour.
Knife’s edge, this game.
Canucks get their first power play as Mikko Koivu high-sticks Zack MacEwen.
Meanwhile, Jay Beagle has a half-chance, doesn’t score and Ryan Hartman tries to take him out.
Instead he takes out his own guy, Carson Soucy, who hobbles to the bench with what looks like a shoulder injury.
Hartman should have been whistled for a head shot on Beagle. Brutal sequence for the Wild.
The Wild had a power play. Why are they playing two defencemen with the second unit? Is that a statement about how little faith they have in their forwards? Who knows.
Anyway, the Canucks did a good job on the kill. Kevin Fiala got a howitzer off but missed the net and that was the only real moment of substance for the Wild’s first man advantage of the game.
Nothing mindblowing yet, but Wild controlling the shots so far.
A good note from the Canucks’ owner. Early starts make for real sports science challenges for athletes.
At least this isn’t a 9 a.m. start, like what the Whitecaps had to deal with last month in Orlando.
Both teams haven’t had to travel, so that helps, but it’s still going to be pretty true that it’s a lot harder to get players at their optimal when they don’t have a full day to prepare.
Random thought as Kevin Fiala strips Tyler Motte to get low-percentage chance for himself, followed by Bo Horvat having a shot of his own deflected into the stands: the Canucks’ early-game media spread is great.
Usually it’s a selection of eggs, bacon, potatoes and more. Classic breakfast. Sometimes it’s been mixed in with Mexican flavours.
Anyway, it is lunch time.
Early going, a four-on-four because of Myers getting his hands in all the wrong places — that’s holding — and Virtanen getting tripped by Jordan Greenway.
Meanwhile on the American broadcast, seems they’ve done no research whatsoever.
Pettersson hasn’t weighed 165 pounds in years.
Apparently NBCSN has said this in each game of the series. That’s embarassing.
Across the aisle, an update from Ed:
The Wild haven’t scored at five-on-five in the first two games.
It doesn’t look like either Gaudette or Juolevi, who both are out for warmup as extra skaters, are going to draw in … but things could change by puck drop.
We already have some pre-game intrigue: Olli Juolevi and Adam Gaudette are both extra skaters for the pre-game warmup.
Both are listed as scratches on the preliminary roster posted to the NHL’s website, but that could change before face-off. Is a left-side defenceman carrying an injury? That’s the best guess why Juolevi might be out there, as a just-in-case.
Gaudette was a scratch in Tuesday’s Game 2 win, and post-game head coach Travis Green said he was “unfit to play,” though he was spotted in a photo briefly posted by the Canucks of Tuesday morning’s morning skate.
Could he swap back in?
Based on the preliminary roster it does look like Zack MacEwen is drawing in for the injured Micheal Ferland, who has left the bubble and returned to his off-season home in Brandon, Manitoba.
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