The Provies: JV18 cometh, Marky fades and Boeser adds some Vanek to The Shot


VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues looks on dejected as teammates congratulate Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks after his 20th goal during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 23, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775041088 [PNG Merlin Archive]

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VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues looks on dejected as teammates congratulate Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks after his 20th goal during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 23, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775041088 [PNG Merlin Archive] Not Released

Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, The Province


“I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.”

Jake Virtanen is playing more.

He’s playing better, too.

For weeks, it’s felt like something was looming, something good and something positive.

Tonight, it felt like this something arrived. Maybe it doesn’t last. JV18 has teased before.

In fact, his coach, Travis Green, met with him today on just this topic.

Virtanen was coming off his offensive game of the year, a multi-point night in San Jose. He drove the net. He used his speed. He was a horse.

Green wanted to address with Virtanen what would happen in the aftermath.

“We talked about how he, as a young guy, has had a tendency to play a good game and then take his foot off the gas,” Green said. “He’s got to make sure there are certain standards in his game that have to be met.

“As soon as he becomes that consistent player, his game is going to grow a lot more rapidly.”

He was consistent vs St. Louis.

The Blues couldn’t handle him. He had eight shot attempts and had those shot attempts excelling in a shutdown role.

He also should have drawn multiple penalties

Was it perfect?


Was it promising?

God damn right it was.


There is so much Boeser Kool-Aid making the rounds, no one seems to care the Canucks have gone nine games without a regulation win.

They now sit second last in the conference and look to be on pace for their third straight bottom five finish.

During the past four offseasons, the Canucks have spent a lot of assets/draft picks into “bridging the gap.”

Some of that was trying to squeeze more out of the old core. Some of that was trying to build a team that could be competitive and rebuild.

Much of it is going to feel wasted if they really do finish at the bottom of the league for three straight seasons.

In the meantime, gimme another hit from that Boeser bong


This is the Virtanen I like best. When the hits come to him, and he blows up a 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenceman like he’s swatting away a toy poodle trying to jump on his lap during Christmas dinner.


That’s violent Virtanen. That’s power forward ish right here. That’s the good times.

“I like when guys step up to me and have the speed,” JV18 would later explain.

I’ll bet.

“I like when I can blow them back a bit. Maybe next time we play, he won’t step up and I’ll have more room.”

You may be on to something.


For the first two months, JV18 wasn’t averaging 10 mins a game.

This month, he’s over 12. Today, he saw 16:27 in ice.

“With more ice time, my confidence keeps building and I feel like I have more room out there,” he said.

Funny how this works. But what comes first though? Ice time or the confidence?

“I feel really confident,” he went on.

“I feel like I’m making some plays and getting some chances. Obviously, I have to capitalize.”

It will come.

Interestingly, Green liked at how Virtanen and his line, he played with Gaunce and Dowd, matched up with Tarasenko’s line.

And this is interesting because if you’ve followed Virtanen’s underlying data, those who study it have been suggesting he could shine in a shut down role almost from the moment he arrived in the NHL.



Boeser is leading the NHL in goals since late October. He is carrying this woeful offensive team.

But there he is post-game. You can’t tell if he’s gone six weeks without a goal or just scored for the seventh time in nine.

In a game in which he scored the only goal, and nearly had more, he was lamenting what he could have done differently.

He was talking about a 2-on-1, a play he thought he made it too easy on a goalie who knew the shooter would shoot.

“That type of stuff I can learn from Thomas and his playmaking abilities,” Boeser said.

“I think with the way it’s going, I’m thinking shoot first there, but I think I need to gain some confidence on my playmaking skills.”

My first reaction, I’m sure, is not unlike yours.

Good god man, shoot the puck any time you get it in a situation like that.

But increasingly there is some Vanek in Boeser’s game. He can be a better playmaker. He is going to become one.


He thinks the game better than you do. He’s often two, or even three, steps ahed of opponents.

Remember, he spent time with Vanek in the offseason and you can see the influence peaking out from behind that lethal shot of his sometimes.

Times like this:

He draws a defender in and then sends Vanek in on a great scoring chance. There is a certain veteran feel to a play like that. It’s Vanek-y.

“(Tommy Gun) doesn’t need to look at you to know where you are,” Boeser said. “I learned that from him in the summer, which is why I was expecting that one from him.”

“That one” he’s talking about is the goal he scored. It was a sweet breakup and set up that Vanek executed.

Tommy Gun doesn’t even look Boeser’s way until the pass has already been mailed.

Has Boeser absorbed some of this Vanek thinking?

“From him, I’ve gained some poise,” Boeser said. “I’ve been watching him for a while and he’s so patient with the puck.

“Earlier in the season, I wasn’t so patient. But I am a lot more poised.”

I kinda laughed when it was suggested in September that Vanek could be a good leader for the young players.

I am not laughing anymore.



Jake Allen on Boeser is pretty great.

“Boeser is a hell of a player,” he said.

He was asked about his two 3rd period saves on him.

“Watching some tape, he’s got such a hard and good release that I don’t think it’s a reactionary save to be honest.

“I think it’s a positional save.

“I think if you try to wave your glove at it, he is probably going to beat you most of the time.

“There are guys like that in the league that you more or less have to be positioned on and read, and he’s one of those guys.

“He’s got a bunch of goals for a reason, he’s got a great shot.”

This was the shot on of the night, and to be honest, I think it’s Boeser’s hardest shot of the season.

I could feel the ferocity in hundreds of feet away.

First, check out that skating to open up some room.

Allen on this one: “It’s one of those ones you try to wave your glove at it you might miss it, you open up a little bit.

“He’s got a great shot. You saw the one on Price the other night, that was a perfect example.

“He’s a hell of a player.”

Yes, yes he is.

Boeser on this one: “Ah, I feel like if I just put that an inch to the left, it would have gone in.”

Was that your hardest shot of the season?

“Yeah, it felt really hard. I wanted to catch him off guard, so that’s why I stopped like that and shot.

“When I do that, that’s when I can put all my weight into it and let it go.”

How about you do that again. Soon.


I tend to agree with those who have been suggesting optics-wise Canucks face a big hurdle when it comes to sitting out MDZ for a game or two.

You can’t sign free agents and then start scratching them three months in without potential free agents from the future noticing.


At this point, I’m kind of hoping Marky starts blaming the refs, his teammates or maybe shitty ice.

Because this is becoming way too familiar:

“There were two goals I want back, especially at this time.

“We’re back playing a better game than we have done.”

Marky said the second shot, the one that squeezed in between him and the post, didn’t hit Hutton’s stick.

It sure looked like it did.

Maybe he’s protecting his dman. Maybe he’s not tracking the puck well.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. He has to stop that one whether it hits Hutton’s stick or not.

The explanation on the first one was a little more unconventional.

Marky: “It was a knuckler and I was just going to deflect it into the corner because they had guys standing there.

“I fanned on it.”

“It’s on me.”

BTW, see Stecher’s palm go up at the end of that play.

Maybe he didn’t mean it this way, but it looked like: WTF, how did that go in?


This is the most Derrick Pouliot has ever played in the NHL.

Last year, 11 games. The year before, 22. The year before, 34. And that 34 was spread over an entire season.

Tonight was game 34 with the Canucks. So 34 in less than three months.

Before December, at evens, the Canucks controlled 53.56% of unblocked shot attempts when Pouliot was on the ice. They controlled 50% of the goals and 52.88% of the scoring chances.

Since, Dec. 1, at evens, Pouliot has controlled 47.44% of unblocked shot attempts, 31.58% of the goals and 44.07% of the scoring chances.



Not sure why, but I believe it.



“But life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last.”

Being real, this is the first significant slice of adversity Hutton has been served.

“You could definitely say that,” Hutton said.

“There’s always adversity playing in the NHL but this is a big one for sure.

“Getting healthy scratched? It sucks.”

I would guess it does.

How did he react when he got the news?

“I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t happy. I was a bit pissed off.”

Hutton, pissed off?

“It’s not a good feeling.

“Now I know I never want to be in that position again. It’s going to make me work that much harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

I’m wary of this idea that players can “work harder.”

But as a smart man once said “it’s all mental” and any edge, no matter how slight, is an edge.



It happens.


What exactly happened for B-Hutt in his time off?

Video sessions were part of it.

“We went over series of clips from the last few games I played,” Hutton said.

Was the focus gap control?

“It was everything. There were little stick details.

“During the video, he’d ask me what I’d do in the situation if I could play it over again.”

Sounds like an exam.

So you gave him a test?


Right before the Xmas break.

I woulda failed.

Glad he didn’t.


Oh come on now:



“I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, so sue me if I go too fast.”

Wait a second.

Seattle is heading toward an NHL franchis and the Canucks are all about it? They aren’t looking for a payout from league?

Is it odd, then, when the KeyArena announcement happened in June, Francesco Aquilini was IN Seattle talking to media, which he almost never does, and he was telling said media how amazing all of this was?

“This is great. This is fantastic,” he said then.


Generally, the bigger the market you can monopolize, the better.

But there we were:

This seems strange.

Unless he was an investor.

Then it wouldn’t feel strange at all.

Well, maybe a little.


It’s a good Q..

For me, it becomes difficult to ask critical questions like that of this power play when it’s been one of the best in the league for weeks.

I think it is something that will be addressed, probably with Edler.

But not sure a coach can speak to why or why not a player shoots in certain situations.


In Edler’s head sometimes I think he believes he’s Al MacInnis.

He’s got Brett Hull Jr open to his left and he can’t stop taking shots on net.

He’s doing crazy ish, like screaming for the puck like this:

You’d think he’s a D on his way to 20 goals.

He’s got one.

I’ve seen many try to play it off as urban legend.

But it’s a thing.


I need more of these boxes in my life.


Poor Boeser. Even slapping his stick to Eddie doesn’t get his attention.



Hey, he essentially won the job over Luongo in one year and outplayed Miller in another.

It happened.



Was it Guddy who would have been chewed out in your beer league for this pass:

Or was it Stecher whose shank off Godly’s skate led to a goal against.


“But when I woke up this mornin’, could’ve sworn it was judgment day”

If the Canucks are motivated to move Guddy now, and many believe they are, now is soon.

There is more than enough Boeser juice being passed around this market for the Canucks to take an L on the Guddy experiment without much threat of a wild backlash.

At this point, no one is expecting the team will get back what they paid.


If it were me, I’d wait for the next Boeser two-goal game, make a trade for the best sitting offer, sit back and drink from a gold chalice.



We vowed it would happen.

And here we are:

It’s another win for us.

You know who you are.



“Obviously, I want to come in and make an impact tonight and do that something to make players in this locker-room say, ‘OK, we missed Hutty doing that.’”

Did you miss it too?


“So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.”

See people comparing shots, Naslund with Boeser. Heck, people are now saying Boeser is a better goal scorer than Bure.


Allegedly Naslund’s shot wasn’t close.


What do they call this? I’m going to go with Recency Bias.

Not saying Boeser is incapable of this, but this Nazzy goal is from the top of the circle, is launched without backswing and the goalie has no chance.

It’s sick.


“If you didn’t come to party, don’t bother knockin’ on my door.”

Think I want this hoodie.


Boeser is going to be in the all star game, cmon now. Don’t play with me.


There were several.


It didn’t get much play at the time, but it should now.

Brandon Sutter has been sidelined a month.

It’s apparently a groin/pelvic injury, which can be problematic, something that can linger.

We’ve seen it before in Vancouver. Players have gutted it out with things like oblique stomach muscle tears over the course of a season.

These types of situations have generally not ended well. See Hamhuis. See KB-2

In addition, Sutter had sports hernia surgery two years ago so there’s enough here  to generate concern about how the rest of his season is going to play out for him

It was a brutal hit. I mean legal, but the results were ferocious. Sutter gets opened up like a tuna can when his back foot drags, flaring his hips open and this happens just has he’s driven into the boards.

Originally, the Canucks guessed he’d miss three weeks.


“It’s just lagged,” Green explained.


“It wasn’t a setback, it just hasn’t got better like we thought it would,” Green said.


I’m going to go with setback

Green said the team is now expecting Sutter to start skating after the break.

Someone joked “after the break” could mean February.

Im guessing he means Dec. 27.

That could mean he’s back for the Jan. 2 game.


To be honest, I thought this too.

Canucks PK before Sutter injury: 78.3 (22nd)

Canucks PK since Sutter has been out:  74.5 (26th)

Closer splits than I had anticipated.


Do you ever get that feeling Boeser has been in the league for years, not months?

Maybe it’s the muted cellies.

It’s plausible it’s the been-there-done that magnetism. He’s led the NHL in goals since the end of October, and when talking to him he exhales a mood like he could just as easily be on a three-week pointless slump.

Then there was today.

JV18 was hamming it up — or maybe he really is going to order a case of Boeser’s sticks.

Either way, Boeser, somehow summoning a subdued, mentoring tone you’d expect from your old man, said:

“It’s all mental, Jake.”

Didn’t see that coming.

He’s not wrong.

The goal JV18 scored Thursday with Boeser’s stick actually had nothing to do with Boeser’s stick.

It was a backhand and he miss-hit it.

The goal had everything to do with a player going to the net.

It boggles some Virtanen still needs to figure out when to go to the net.

I have a theory, he’s still trying to figure out his speed and how it relates in the NHL game.

You can’t just say “always go to the net.”

I asked Green if JV18 fully grasps how fast he is and what that speed can do.

“He’s learning to,” Green said.

“That is such a big advantage for him. He tracks people well. He tracks the puck.

“He’s exceptionally fast in this league, in the NHL, which is a fast league.

“He’s taking steps. We have to keep making sure that it’s one step in front of the other and he doesn’t take a step back.”

That right there may be the most complimentary the coach has been toward JV18 publicly.

And it comes in a month where he’s playing more than two minutes a game more than he did in October and November.

I remember people saying more ice time wouldn’t help him.

Yeah….. about that.


Twenty goals. Twenty.

“It’s probably more than I expected at this point,” Boeser said, with a slight grin.

“But it’s the result of all the guys in this locker room.

“It’s the result of the Sedins on the power play. All the players who have set me up.”

Oh teammates are going to love that.

How does one stay so grounded? I seriously can’t tell if you’ve gone a month without a goal right now.

“I don’t know where it comes from,” he said.

“I think I just know I can’t be satisifed.

“If I get satisfied, it’s going to go downhill fast.

“I like to score goals and produce. But I know, and I’ve talked to people about this, you can tail off.

“There could be a few weeks where I don’t score and I know I have to keep the compete level up.

“Make sure I’m doing the little things.”


On using Boeser’s stick:

JV18: “I’m probably going to use it again tonight. Not gonna lie.”

You ever done that before?

“No, never.”

What’s the difference?

“It’s a difference in flex of five. I think the lie is different too. I don’t even know. I just picked it up and said I was using it.”

How did you come up with the idea?

“It”s because he has 19 goals. You can’t go wrong with it. He scores every shot he takes, pretty much.”

Did you tape it?

“Yeah, I taped it myself. He puts wax on it. I had been using white tape for a while and I switched to black. Maybe that was the difference.”

Are you superstitious?

“No. But I guess I have to start to be. I told our trainer this morning to oder double the Brock sticks for me.

“Hopefully they’ll come in soon.”

Really, you’re sticking with it?

“I may have to keep using Brock’s stick until they come.”

The flex can change everything. Does it change how you get the puck off?

“Not really. I feel pretty good with it. It feels pretty similar. There’s not a huge difference.”


Maybe JV18 can go back to his old stick now?


JV18: “It’s probably not the stick. It’s probably the player.”

Damn it.

It probably is.

“Say say , two thousand zero zero party over, oops.

“Out of time.”




VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues looks on dejected as teammates congratulate Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks after his 20th goal during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 23, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775041088 [PNG Merlin Archive]

Not Released

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues looks on dejected as teammates congratulate Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks after his 20th goal during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 23, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775041088 [PNG Merlin Archive] Not Released

Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, The Province

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 23: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues looks on dejected as teammates congratulate Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks after his 20th goal during their NHL game at Rogers Arena December 23, 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775041088 [PNG Merlin Archive]

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