Before I wrote this edition of Vancouver Canucks News & Rumors, I decided to research what St. Louis newspapers were saying about their team as the Blues headed into Game 3 tonight with the Canucks, who lead the best-of-seven series two games to none.
So, in this edition of Canucks News & Rumors, I’ll share some of what St. Louis Blues writers are saying, I’ll break down an interesting Sportsnet’s video of captain Bo Horvat’s game-winning goal, and I’ll outline some of the player news as the team heads into Game 3.
Item One: Reading the News from St. Louis
Reading the St. Louis Blues Official NHL site, one quickly sees that the Blues feel they’ve been jobbed by Lady Luck. According to Blues head coach Craig Berube, “I thought we were a better team all night (5-on-5). We worked hard, we were physical, tons of good chances… It’s adversity right now, we just have to fight through it and win the game.”
Although Berube’s tone is calm, he might be right about the team’s bad luck. However, a breakaway goal usually means someone’s made a mistake. It’s interesting to watch Berube’s demeanor throughout the series.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues have had most of the play but have been beaten by a special team’s lightning bolt named Bo Horvat. Goalie Jordan Binnington isn’t seen as an issue because he stops pucks “usually,” but the Canucks’ special teams are ahead 6-2 in the battle of short-handed and power-play units. Special teams seem to be a focus for the Blues during Game 3. (from “Game 3 questions for Blues: Who’s in goal? Can the penalty-kill unit regroup?”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 16/08/20)
Item Two: Breaking Down Horvat’s Game-Winning Goal
As I’ve watched the Canucks’ games, I’ve been impressed by the skill of the young players. How can you not appreciate Horvat? However, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes have also stepped up. Both are skilled and smart, but I’ve also been impressed with their jam. Both seem to be the target of the Blues’ aggressively physical play, which is their Stanley Cup-winning style.
The video below is less than two-and-a-half minutes, but it’s well-edited and shows the game-winner from a number of different perspectives. My favorite part is watching Hughes, after he delivered the overtime breakaway pass to Horvat, just lay on the ice being held down by a Blues player and smiling after Horvat scored. That’s the ultimate payback.
If you watch this video, you can see the entire play from a number of different perspectives. First, you see Horvat get bumped then use that momentum to get into the play. Second, you see Hughes’ perfect pass off the boards to spring Horvat loose.
Third, you see Horvat’s quick moves and head-up play before he goes five-hole on Binnington. Fourth, you see one of the Canucks assistant coaches see a breakaway is happening; and, perhaps thinking he’ll jinx it if he watches, he crosses his fingers until the bench sounds Horvat’s success.
Fifth, you see that – if you look quickly around the same shot of the bench – Oscar Fantenberg seems to care more about his young protégée Hughes being held down by the Blues player than he does about Horvat’s breakaway – that’s one guy stepping up for another. Sixth, and finally, you see Hughes get hit and held down for the entire play while Horvat scores. Notice the facial expressions. It’s almost as if both players know Horvat will score and simply watch.
As I say, thanks to Sportsnet for someone’s great video editing.
Item Three: Canucks’ Player News
Obviously, the Blues are a really strong NHL team and could come back to win four out of five games to take the series; however, the Canucks have played well, too. A number of Canucks players have played especially well during this postseason.
Player One: Rookie Defenseman Quinn Hughes Is Riding a 5-Game Point Streak
There’s a reason Hughes is a Calder Trophy finalist, and he’s continued and even extended his outstanding season with great postseason play. Although he seems (with Pettersson) to have been targeted for physical play by the Blues, he’s scored a goal and eight points in the six games he’s played.
Should Hughes score a point during tonight’s game, he’d equal both Al MacInnis and Zarley Zalapski’s six-game rookie point streaks, which would put him in the record books as one of the best-ever postseason rookie defensemen. (from “Blues notebook: Sanford’s effort to light a spark for teammates in Game 2 worked” Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 16/08/20)
Player Two: Bo Horvat Starts and Ends the Scoring
Bo Horvat started and ended the party by scoring two goals on four shots in Friday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Blues. His first goal was shorthanded and his second was the game-winner. On the first goal, Horvat – for the second time in this series – completely twisted a Blues’ player (this time Jaden Schwartz) into knots to score.
Horvat’s been a monster the entire series, scoring four goals in two games. In fact, the 25-year-old center has dominated play all postseason. These two goals were his fifth and sixth since the postseason restart. Like Hughes, he now has eight points in six games and has scored multiple points in each of the last three games.
Player Three: J.T. Miller Has a Power-Play Assist
It might seem odd to include a player who scored only one assist in a game that featured so many other players’ success stories, but after Game 1 when Miller wasn’t supposed to play but did, he seems to have become the emotional energy for the team. There’s something about him that fires his team up.
Related: Vancouver Canucks All-Time Team
One of Miller’s four shots on net during Friday’s win was tipped in by Pettersson for the third Canucks goal. In six postseason games, he has two goals and four assists, with five of his six points coming on the power play.
Item Four: The Status of Tyler Myers
Tyler Myers left Game 2 with an injury after going headfirst into the boards on Brayden Schenn’s hit. The latest news we have about his status is that, with the quick turnaround, veteran defenseman Jordie Benn will draw into the lineup probably in both Games 3 and 4 while the 30-year-old Myers rests.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
One Canucks player I’m watching is Chris Tanev. He picked up a shorthanded assist on Horvat’s goal and, as always, is blocking numerous shots. Although Tanev isn’t usually a scorer, these postseason games have been different. He has a goal and five assists and now has a four-game point streak.
The Toronto-born Tanev is seeing even more ice time during the postseason than he did in the regular season; he averaged 19:32 time on ice during the regular season but hasn’t skated less than 20 minutes in any of the six games he’s played during the playoffs.
Tanev’s name has been brought up in recent rumors as an inexpensive option for the Toronto Maple Leafs defense. He’s on an expiring contract with the Canucks, but I have to think general manager Jim Benning sees how valuable Tanev is to the team and how much his teammates appreciate his warrior mentality.
Tanev is staying in Vancouver.