Canucks SixPack: An overtime win, a little bit of fun

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Stop me if you’ve seen something like this before.

The Canucks, playing Dave Tippett and his vanilla-brand of Coyotes hockey, got out to a great start, outshooting the desert dogs 15-10 in the first period.

After being unable to convert on any of their chances, the second period starts and they take an unfortunate penalty. The opposition makes them pay.

Before you know it, it’s halfway through the game, the score is 2-0, and Kevin freaking Connauton haunts the team that drafted him with the insurance goal.

That’s the kind of game the Canucks usually lose. But not tonight.

No, tonight was a night where Canucks fans got to have some fun.

The Canucks tied up the game on goals from Radim Vrbata (!) and Luca Sbisa (!!), to send the game to overtime where Markus Granlund scored his first goal in a Vancouver Canucks uniform. Canucks win 3-2.

Let’s keep this party going with a SixPack.

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1. Sometimes it’s just nice to have fun

It hasn’t been an easy year to be a Canucks fan.

Obviously the play on the ice has been poor, but it’s more than that. All the talk of tanking, missed opportunities at the trade deadline, and other logical reasons to be down on the Canucks can get draining after a little while.

A Canucks game on a miserable rainy Wednesday evening against the Arizona Coyotes wasn’t exactly the hottest ticket in town today. But if you were one of the people to buy $20 tickets on the resale market, you got your money’s worth tonight and then some.

Sometimes it’s just nice to kick back your feet, watch the game, and have fun. Sometimes you just want to go to the rink and see a win, damn it.

The Canucks won it for Rosario tonight, and they won it in entertaining fashion.

This was not a Dave Tippett special.

With 65 combined shots on goal, some big saves, and a come from behind overtime win, it was a good night to be at Rogers Arena.

 

2. Jake Virtanen

It’s been quite a season for Jake Virtanen. He started the year as a part-time player, shuffling in and out of the lineup throughout the first three months of the season.

Sure, he was physical, but he did not look comfortable with the puck.

In his first 19 games, he had just 2 points. He was dispatched to the World Juniors in December, where he was underwhelming.

You would have been excused if you thought he belonged in junior for the rest of the year.

But since returning to the NHL, Virtanen has been steady.

In his last 13 games, he has 6 points.

Tonight he was promoted to the top line with Daniel Sedin and Linden Vey (still can’t get used to Vey being on the top line, but I digress).

He told Connor Murphy to sit down.

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He stood up to grizzled veteran Brad Richardson.

And his speed and shot led to the winning goal in overtime.

 

3. The OT winner

One of the most intriguing new wrinkles in the NHL coming into this season was 3-on-3 overtime. Our first looks at it were mesmerizing. End-to-end hockey, trading chances, breakaways galore. How could you not love it?

Then less than two months into the season, the Canucks were 0-7 in the extra frame. Not so fun anymore.

Since then, the Canucks have found their groove at 3-on-3, going 4-2 in their last six overtime games.

Most 3-on-3 we’ve seen from the Canucks, and much of the NHL, has been very calculated and possession-based. That went out the window for a little bit when Willie Desjardins sent Matt Bartkowski, Jake Virtanen, and Markus Granlund over the boards.

Two riverboat gamblers and Granlund? This can only end one of two ways. It almost ended in a loss. Lucky for the Canucks, it ended with a win tonight.

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4. Markstrom stands tall

Is there a goaltending controversy in Vancouver? No?

Vancouver, I thought I knew you.

The Canucks have had solid goaltending this year, but you can certainly debate which goalie gives them the best chance to win on a nightly basis.

Maybe it’s because Tank Nation is taking over, but there hasn’t been nearly as much goaltending chatter as we’re used to.

Jacob Markstrom was named the first star of the game tonight and gave the Canucks an excellent opportunity to win. He won Saturday night against San Jose and stopped 32 of 34 shots on this night, improving his save percentage to .918.

He made several big saves tonight, including this beauty on Viktor Tikhonov.

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5. Slick moves from Hutton

Ben Hutton is growing up before our very eyes.

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Sorry, wrong gif.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

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You don’t see it in the gif, but Luca Sbisa was slapping his stick for the puck like Ryan Kesler in his prime. When you see a guy like Sbisa demanding the puck like that, you have to be thinking “alright, DO SOMETHING with it”.

Sbisa did, of course, tying the game at 2 late in the second period.

But what I enjoyed more than Sbisa-time was the poise with the puck and footwork of Hutton. In fact, it’s been a joy to watch all season.

With Alex Edler and Chris Tanev out of the lineup, Hutton’s minutes have soared.

Hutton played 22:44 tonight, which was actually below his average of 23:15 in the 13 games since Alex Edler broke his leg.

Is he in over his head? Sure. He’s not ready to be a top-2 defenceman yet. He’s certainly not ready to be in a top-4 role with Luca Sbisa as his partner. He had a team-worst even strength Corsi rating to show for it.

But Hutton is showing so much promise in his first season at the tender age of 22 to make you think he could be a top-4 defenceman for many years to come.

 

6. Tryamkin Mania

The Canucks (finally) announced the signing of 6’8″ prospect Nikita Tryamkin today. He’s on his way to Vancouver and boy are people excited about it.

And why wouldn’t we be? He’s a defenceman. He’s big. He’s Russian… And that’s about all we know about him.

Hang on, we know one more thing…

Just like Eric Lindros!

Wait, why are we excited again?

Oh right.

People are so ready for a rebuild in Vancouver, any new young kid with potential is met with open arms.

Will he be the second coming of Zdeno Chara? Who knows. But he’s just 21-years-old. Chara didn’t become Chara until he was over 25.

Maybe he’ll turn into something, maybe he won’t. We’ll see.

But hey, if nothing else…

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Rob Williams Sports Editor at Vancity Buzz covering all sports in Vancouver.
@robthehockeyguy

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