Vancouver Canucks leading scorer Elias Pettersson will be getting some company at the All-Star Game after all. Even if Quinn Hughes does not get voted in with the Last Man In fan vote, he will be joined by his countryman and starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The news came down late Friday evening that he was replacing Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who chose to take a pass on the game. He joins Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin in declining the invitation.
Even though Markstrom wasn’t originally selected, it’s still thrilling to see one of the biggest feel-good stories in the NHL get the recognition he so rightly deserves. He wears his heart on his sleeve and puts all he has into the goaltending position. It’s great to see that the league notices the immense contribution he has made to the Canucks’ success this season.
The Canucks are now at the 41-game mark and hold a 22-15-4 record, which is good enough for a playoff spot, thanks largely to the play of Markstrom. If it wasn’t for him, they would not be in the same position, I can guarantee you that. He has stood tall numerous times this season, all while battling the loss of his father. He more than deserves this honor, and an article dedicated to his season so far. So without further ado, here are three reasons why he is an All-Star, not only in Vancouver but in the entire NHL as well.
Markstrom Steals Games
One of the attributes of an All-Star goaltender is the ability to steal a game, and Markstrom has done that on many occasions and we’re only halfway through the season. The most recent one was the 48-save effort against the Los Angeles Kings where he must have felt like he was a human pinball machine. The amount of work didn’t phase him as he put the team on his back and led the Canucks to yet another win.
Markstrom has also had numerous third periods where the team in front of him has fallen asleep and allowed an onslaught of shots against. The New York Rangers game in October comes to mind as he had to endure a 17-shot third period with his team nursing a one-goal lead. That was just one of the many games he stole, and I’ve yet to mention the goaltending duel with Petr Mrazek of the Carolina Hurricanes when he came away with a 43-save shutout in a 1-0 overtime win.
The Canucks haven’t had a starting goaltender that could steal games consistently since the days of Roberto Luongo, who ironically was involved in the trade that brought Markstrom to Vancouver. At the time, many people thought they didn’t get enough for the former All-Star. I wonder what those people are saying right now.
Markstrom Provides Stable, Consistent Goaltending
The biggest reason for the Canucks’ success this season has been the stability of their goaltending. It’s been an up and down journey since he joined the team, but all the hard work and perseverance has paid off for Markstrom as he has established himself as a consistent presence in the crease. His efforts have also helped him gain the trust and respect of his teammates which is a strength of any All-Star goaltender.
Marky is one of the best guys I’ve ever played with. We all have his back. I’ll go to battle for that guy any day.Canucks forward Tim Schaller
I believe that is the biggest challenge for a goaltender or even a person for that matter. When you have the trust of the people around you, you can do your job that much better. It doesn’t matter what type of job you have. Knowing that your colleagues have your back makes a huge difference, and we are seeing it first hand with Markstrom and the Canucks.
Markstrom doesn’t just provide solid goaltending, he commits highway robbery consistently too, which is another trademark of an All-Star goaltender. I challenge you to name one that doesn’t give you this multiple times in a season. I’ll wait. You may be looking for a while because I do not think they exist.
Markstrom has done this many times already, and a lot of the time it has led to momentum shifts in the game. If that’s not a characteristic of an All-Star, then I don’t know what is.
Markstrom is Outperforming Other All-Star Goaltenders
When you compare Markstrom with other goaltenders, specifically his Pacific Division counterparts, he is outperforming all of them. His .917 save percentage (SV%) and 2.72 goals against average (GAA) pace all goaltenders in the division including Fleury who was the NHL’s first choice to send to St. Louis.
When you compare Markstrom’s statistics to All-Star Game veterans Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (3.00 GAA, .901 SV%), Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (2.83 GAA, .909 SV%), Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators (3.07 GAA, .893 SV%) and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals (2.99 GAA, .902 SV%), he is better than all of them.
Markstrom has also been a workhorse this season with 28 starts to his credit already. He has started back-to-back games multiple times and is the clear number one goaltender in Vancouver right now. That has not been something the Canucks have been able to say in a very long time. He has earned his stripes as one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL.
If the Canucks hope to make it to the playoffs and make some noise while there, Markstrom will have to be front and center. Judging by his performance this season, he is clearly up to the task. I’m sure his father will be looking down with pride as his son makes his way onto the ice in St. Louis as an NHL All-Star for the first time. Good luck Jacob, Canucks Nation will be behind you every step of the way.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.