Canucks SixPack: Canucks bury the Predators

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The future was on display Saturday night as the Vancouver Canucks took on the Nashville Predators on Hockey Night in Canada.

A Hockey Night in Canada game featuring the Vancouver Canucks?

Excellent!

A Hockey Night in Canada game featuring the Vancouver Canucks against the Nashville Predators?

Oh…

This is usually me while watching the Predators:

Homer

Aside from the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, games between these two franchises never have much hype surrounding them and typically don’t amount to anything exciting. Considering the Predators are starting to pull it together while the Canucks are slowly sinking like the Titanic, there was never much hope that this event would rival the excitement surrounding last night’s Justin Bieber concert.

That has to be the stupidest stat I’ve ever seen.

But I guess it’s now 13-4-3…

How fitting for a post-game SixPack.

Final score: Canucks 4 – Predators 2

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1. Jake Virtanen’s start

It’s almost like Scott Oake realized he just accidentally brought back the most annoying way to describe a young NHL player.

Since there really isn’t anything interesting left to talk about this season (other than how much ice time the kids get during the remaining games), the big news before the game was Jake Virtanen finally getting a shot with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

So how did Jake do with the Twins?

Well, he started his first-line stint by beating the hell out of Filip Forsberg after a hard hit on Mike Riberio. Just like everyone expected?

At the very least, it took the Predators’ leading scorer out of the game for five minutes. Plus, it led to a little bit of a throwback that we may never see again:

 

2. The rest of Jake’s night

To be honest? It was rather inconsequential.

Granted, that was tweeted during the second period but I can’t imagine it got any better.

Virtanen finished the game with a team low 9:58 of ice time. Jared McCann was the next lowest at 14:11. I guess it’s important to remember that Virtanen missed seven minutes of the first period serving penalties so he most likely would have eclipsed the 10 minute mark.

Although it may not have been the most dominant of games for Virtanen, his teammates were quick to praise him for setting the tone for the game:

 

3. The rest of the lines

One of the reasons this game could be considered interesting was the lines as blended together by coach Willie Desjardins. Considering the playoffs are all but a pipe-dream for the Canucks (don’t tell that to Bo Horvat…), taking a look to see if there is any unforeseen chemistry is kind of the point of the last few games this season.

I’ve spoken enough about the Sedins with Virtanen so I will leave that one alone.

I’m not sure about the Baertschi-Granlund-Vrbata combo, but that may be because Vrbata has been checked out for a while now and Granlund is still finding his way in Vancouver. Baertschi scored himself another goal and is plugging along just fine. Although I do hope they determine who his center will be next season sooner rather than later.

I’m not sure what Bo Horvat did to deserve Dorsett and Burrows on his wings, but they did notch a couple of goals and had some more chances throughout the game so it’s hard to complain about that combination.

The most intriguing line, however, was the “fourth line” consisting of Jared McCann, Linden Vey, and Emerson Etem. They definitely had their moments even if they didn’t hit the scoresheet. I wouldn’t mind seeing how they handle a few more games together, especially with the way they were able to maintain possession in the Predator’s zone for longer periods of time..

Overall, there were some interesting experiments going on and I wouldn’t mind seeing another game or two with those lines intact.

4. Roman Josi is good at hockey

Yes, Roman Josi is very good at hockey. We all know that and he was more than willing to remind us all night.

However, the rush by Josi that led to the second-period goal from Colton Sissons could not have happened without some key defensive mistakes from the Canucks. Never doubt the ability of Vancouver to screw up their defensive assignments.

As Mike Johnson mentioned on the HNIC broadcast, the reason that Josi was able to spring free in the first place was a communication error between Daniel Sedin and Jake Virtanen. It appeared that Sedin had deferred the assignment to Virtanen, but Jake didn’t quite pick that up quickly enough.

Roman Josi took it from there…

However, Sedin and Virtanen were not the only ones to screw up here:

Simply put, Dan Hamhuis overplayed his check and left Biega exposed to a nearly impossible situation to defend. Everything we’ve learned about defending a 2-1 (take the pass) goes out on the window in this situation because it happens so fast.

And that’s all because of Roman Josi who finished the night with two assists and as second star of the game.

 

5. Bartkowski is still bad

If Matt Bartkowski play this season hasn’t sealed his fate yet, then he seems to be doing everything in his power to make sure Jim Benning doesn’t want to resign him this summer.

And considering how much Jim Benning values mediocre (at best…) defencemen, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Yes, the Canucks are probably doing the right thing by giving Nikita Tryamkin a decent amount of time to get acclimatized to North America before throwing him into the raging tire fire that is the Vancouver Canucks.

Still, based on how badly Bartkowski has performed, would it really have hurt to put Tryamkin in against the Predators?

The CBC panel spent the majority of their second intermission air-time speaking about the hype surrounding Tryamkin and how unfair it is to put this much pressure on a prospect. Which is very true but although there is hype, Canuck fans aren’t expecting a miracle here.

We just want someone better than Bartkowski.

6. Tough Night for Team Tank

The Vancouver Canucks win, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers lose.

Auston Matthews is slowly slipping away.

Add that to the fact that I’ve now made two references to Justin Bieber in one night.

I need to stop now.

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Steve Lancashire Canucks Contributor
@lankey22

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