Photo Credit: Jeff McIntosh
By Scott Rosenhek
Well, we got here. After 81 games, the Vancouver Canucks concluded their season tonight. It feels like the Canucks play the Edmonton Oilers at the end of every season, but this year we were greeted with a back to back against McDavid’s Copper and Blue crew.
The Oilers were looking for a chance at the division lead and a playoff date with their intraprovincial rival, the Calgary Flames. For the Canucks, perhaps they could end the season on a high note with a moral victory. As for the fans in Vancouver, we have just one thing on all of our minds.
Tonight’s game also featured the NHL debut of 21-year old Yan-Pavel Laplante. If that name is not familiar to you, the Canucks signed this overage forward from the QMJHL last summer. Much of Laplante’s first year of professional hockey has been mainly with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.
I was about to talk about how nice it was for this young man to realize a dream of playing in the big leagues, but Jeff Paterson just reported on this little tidbit:
Seriously? Seriously? Why would you give Yan-Pavel Laplante the hope of making his NHL debut and instead have a defenceman play forward in his place? Honestly, it’s not like we had a better chance of winning with Philip Larsen playing out of position. It’s decisions like these that will make me happy that Willie Desjardins will not be messing with the lineup next year.
Yeah, it is funny how things work out like that, but at this point I shouldn’t even be surprised anymore.
Alright, save the rants for Monday Musings. Thankfully, the Canucks have decided to give Ryan Miller some much deserved rest, giving Richard Bachman the chance to play tonight.
Fun fact, Bachman was once an Edmonton Oiler in 2014-15, playing in 6 games with a .911 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA. Tonight will be Bachman’s fifth start of the season and he has pulled off an eye-catching .932 save percentage and 2.04 GAA. Yeah, the sample size is incredibly small, but I think Bachman would be a reasonable Plan B if Miller is not re-signed.
The season has been frustrating, but Reid Boucher has continued to be fun to watch. Check out this breakaway chance in the middle of the first.
And just when I feared that things would not get any more interesting, sparks flew shortly after. Michael Chaput was rocked by a hard hit from Eric Gryba and Ben Hutton of all people dropped the gloves to stick up for his teammate.
Video from Sportsnet Canada’s YouTube Channel
It sure was gutsy of Hutton since he does not usually fight, so I respect him for standing up for Chaput. I missed out on yesterday’s post-game, but Bo Horvat also fought Darnell Nurse. The fights were an unexpected reminder that some of the young guys have not quit yet despite how bad the season has gone.
I am more partial to seeing statements made with big hits over fights, but I think there is nothing wrong with sticking up for teammates. There is an argument in the odd choice to start a fight after a clean hit, but I think that is a debate to be had for another day.
But, let’s get back to the best player in terms of points this season. Connor McDavid just makes it look so easy. However, #97 got a little too cheeky with this one.
Shortly after, the Oilers put the pressure on the power play thanks to a penalty by Nikita Tryamkin. Luca Sbisa was trapped on the ice for far too long and Jordan Eberle took full advantage of that fact.
So, it’s the end of the first period and the Oilers are only up 1-0. Canucks are outshot 14-6 and Connor McDavid has yet to get a point. However, there is plenty of hockey left in this game.
Hey! Look at that. Nikolai Goldobin uses his hand-eye coordination to pick up the equalizer on this play.
It’s plays like these that make me hope for a coach that will play Goldobin with the Sedins next season. Henrik and Daniel have played some of their best hockey this year in this late stretch and I think it is pretty easy to see why. I have no personal issues with Brandon Sutter, Michael Chaput or Jayson Megna, but let’s be honest, Willie Desjardins asked them to play well above their ability and was too stubborn to make a change.
The game is tied at one. Getting nervous yet, Tank Nation? I only kid. Besides, it’s the 2016-17 Canucks. It won’t be long before…
It looked like the Oilers where about to really open up the scoring when Anton Slepyshev potted a goal in. However, a savvy coach’s challenge by Willie Desjardins called back the goal for being offside.
This really didn’t matter because shortly after, Drake Caggiula restored the 2 goal lead. Caggiula went hard into the boards after, but I don’t think that mattered much to him. For those counting, McDavid’s assist on the play was his 99th point? The 100 point mark is so close, yet so far.
At the time of the 3-1 goal, Jarome Iginla puts the LA Kings up 3-2 vs Anaheim. It’s almost like Iggy wants to see a Battle of Alberta in the playoffs as well. Oilers maintain the 2 goal lead after two frames.
Jordan Eberle kicks off the third period with hat trick goal. But more importantly, the Canucks gave Connor McDavid what everyone has been waiting for: 100 points. Honestly, I’m happy for Connor. It is hard to score 100 points in the current iteration of the NHL, so congratulations.
At this point, you almost expect the game to just get out of hand. The body language on the bench isn’t pretty and you need to be careful about beating a team down this badly. It usually opens the door for fighting back.
Bo Horvat wins a faceoff and feeds Nikita Tryamkin the puck to just hammer it home. The goal was the second of the season for BFG and I couldn’t be happier. Horvat seems to have a new fire re-ignited, having an excellent breakaway chance and just missing.
For those hoping for a Battle of Alberta, Anaheim has denied that dream with an overtime win for the Kings. The Sharks will be matched up against the Oilers, which means it won’t very likely that the Sharks will giving us their 1st round pick this year. It’s a shame since I really wanted to see the Honey Badger go on a cup run. At least for Jannik Hansen, there is always next year.
What’s that old saying? Don’t count your chickens before they hatch? Well, I guess we will have to see in the next couple of weeks.
Canucks end up losing their final game of the season 5-2. The Oilers outshot them 44-17, which is really fitting. It has been a familiar theme all season, but the silver lining we can take away from this is locking up the 29th place spot in the standings.
Honestly, we should not be proud of mediocrity. But, we need this. We need this guarantee at a top 5 pick. Maybe the lottery goes our way, but with the major wrench that Las Vegas throws into this year’s draws, this was the smartest result the Canucks could have gotten, even if management did not plan for it.
The next few seasons will be testing our patience, especially if the team’s management remains the same. All I hope for is the team wises up to a proper rebuild going forward, so becoming competitive again will take about 5 years instead of the 10 that Edmonton had to stomach.