The Provies: More Benning Qs than As, the next Gretz, the JV18 situation and flipping HNIC to Flowriders


New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) blocks a shot by Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Newark, N.J. T

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) blocks a shot by Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Newark, N.J. T

Photograph by: Julio Cortez, The Province

The only thing better than Boeser’s shot may be the way he takes a hit.

Good thing, because there’s more coming.

The Devils were hyper-focused on the Canucks breakout rookie. Kind of like this city.

Their efforts squeezed his goal-streak dead, and left it’s mark with an old school that crackled across the continent.

It was hard. And it was clean as a whistle.

It also served notice. Things in the NHL are not easy. Boeser won’t always be playing Matt Murray.

The game gets much more challenging and limiting when opponents are coming for you.

The Devils came for Boeser.

They smothered him, They cut off space.

They interfered with him, stealing from him his favourite shooting lanes even with the puck 60 feet away.

They shadowed him, at times, locking him up and limiting the number of opportunities he had to get his hands free and his shots off.

And when it was there, they hit him.

Boy, was it there for Taylor Hall.

You can suggest this never happens if Edler doesn’t clip Hischier from behind, driving the Devils rookie into the boards.

You may be right.

But Edler hit or not, Boeser is going to be a target. You don’t get a point a game and go unnoticed in the NHL.

The Flow was fine, by the way.

He jumped up from that hit

He overcame obstacles. He did everything he always does. Everything but score.

He had six shot attempts. He again helped drive the bus on what was the Canucks best line.

He won board battles. He set up scoring chances.

And he was among the Canucks best players, if not the best yet again.

Boeser may go some games here without scoring. He will not, however, go quietly.

The Canucks lost, sure, but it wasn’t on Boeser.


It will get better for Stecher.

There was some rust. But, man, did he ever bail out Hutton in the second period.

A month or so ago, in the game Stecher got hurt, I was making a pitch the Canucks should look at him as a possible option killing penalties.

He ended up on the ice at the end of a kill, just as Hutton for some reason joined a rush and left two Devils behind him.

The Canucks looked hooped. And then Stecher turned found another gear. Maybe two more.

This is Miles Wood, who may be the fastest skater on the Devils.

The play would have held a lot more meaning if Marky didn’t deliver a pizza a minute or so later.

It wasn’t Stecher’s only highlight.

He won a net front battle with Boyle, who is 6-fo0t-and-forever.

Fan favourite?

I’ll say.


Marky will have to limit giveaways like this if he wants to keep that regular starting gig.

He’s better than that, and Green knows it.



I’ll take this one.

He cheated. That’s how.

I quite enjoy the way Hall is playing this year. And what a cuff to the face it looks like currently for the Oilers

But he cheated on this one. It was sly, and it was effective.

Tanev did what he usually. He played it perfectly. He reached, backhanded a puck into the offensive and then turned to attach himself to Hall, who was looking to break free.

Just one problem. As the officials were watching the puck, Hall, quite brilliantly, hit the Tan Man creating the space he needed.


You see C?

Part of the discussion was about extending Jim, but bringing in someone to handle the contracts and the cap.


That sounds novel.

If only the Canucks had an expert who had years of experience in handling the cap and contracts.

What does it say about the organization, and those in charge, that they’ve, uh, struggled in those areas?


That sound you hear bubbling to the surface is the dawn The Benning Wars.

They will be waged courageously during the next months as people weave back and forth debating whether or not the man with the slicked back hair is worthy of an extension.

I fear, there will be blood.

The Anti-Negs, who supported the GM even when all logic was against them, are emboldened by the performance of Boeser and the promise of Pettersson.

They care not about Eriksson’s contract. They don’t flinch at the Gudbranson trade.

They’ll overlook Virtanen. And they believe in Juolevi.

I heard imac tonight even call the prospect pool “unprecedented.”

Now, at one point both the Sedins were prospects at the same time and now they appear to be heading to the hall of fame consideration.

That’s going to be tough to beat.

I know Pettersson could be Gretzky-esque, but …

We’ll see.

Until then, things will get dirty.

The Rickster, one of the Anti-neg commanders, has taken my number. He’s coming for me:

You’d have to see my analytics to get it, I guess.

Now, the Rickster and I go back. When he met me in person, he couldn’t have slathered more butter up on me.

But here we are, foes till the end of time.




Yes, the broadcasters were calling out the critics with some shade right before the Canucks gave up a breakaway.

They were countering suggestions the Canucks PP has sucked by pointing out the Canucks were 5th in the league in power play goals.

Now, that’s not exactly how power plays are tracked and ranked.


Nonetheless, they had a point. The power play has been good.

But this is something PP critics and PP apologists are in lock-step on.

No one has criticized the Canucks power play since six games ago.

Then, the legendary overnight bait-and-switch went down.

Boeser ended up in The Spot. And the Canucks have eight power play goals in the six games since.

This is not being criticized. Well, that’s not entirely true.

There’s this:

What took so long?

I’ll hang up and listen.


How many interviews with Canucks managers will it take to answer Dhaliworld’s now legendary tweet?

We’ve seen Aquilini, Linden and Benning all interviewed recently.

We still haven’t taken the temperature on a possible Guddy deal, or how management thinks Virtanen’s ice time is impacting his development.

Or whether Benning would be willing to take on another role in the organization if some other executive is added at the end of the season.

We will now wait.

Round 3 it is.

Somebody’s going to be a hero, aren’t they?


Two-period Jake.

JV18 sat the final 10 minutes, benched again.

This wasn’t a great game for JV18.

His highlights?

Two 50-foot slappers.

The low light.

Losing this board battle way too easily.

I really like the idea of Virtanen in the NHL.

But it can’t go down like this. If he’s not ready to handle this league for three periods, why is he in it?

Things have been trending in the wrong direction. I would call this one the quietest game Virtanen has played.

Part of it is benching, but it was quiet long before the third.

The point of signing a collection of veteran free agents, the Canucks said, was to make sure mistakes from the past weren’t recreated.

In other words, young players weren’t rushed.

Green, memorably, said this isn’t the league you use to get-a-look at guys but he is playing Virtanen every night like he’s trying to get a look at him.

The Canucks need to at least attempt to develop well-rounded Virtanen.

It’s not going to happen if he spends the year developing just two periods at a time.


I do get the Canucks don’t want Goldy on a yo-yo.

But you also don’t want him thinking about returning to Russia.

He’s earned a run of games, sooner than later.

I know his camp says all the right things.

But given his talent, it’s fair to wonder if the Sharks would have ever traded him if Russia wasn’t a possibility.


Was thinking Benning was going to be asked if this is a playoff team right after that one.


Say what?


“I don’t want to throw the Gretzky thing in there too much but it is kind of Gretzky-esque the way he sees the ice in the way that great players do.”

So that happened.

Can we wait till he plays in the NHL before the Great One comparisons?



It means Cupzzzzz.


Oh, you know what’s coming.

What will Edler do?

Will he pass to the hottest scorer the team has or will he take his time, wind up and try to drill a slapper through shins only to wildly miss the net?

I think you know how this ends.


Will Granlund end up being worse than you think or better than you think?

That’s usually the two ways the deep dives go.

But in this case no one has been thinking about the Granlund.



The Canucks remain many question marks away from competing for a Cup even if Pettersson works out.

It’s just so hard to tell how prospects translate, many times even if they’re already have big success in the NHL.

Look at that AVs team, just loaded with 22- and 23-year-old talent four years ago.

If SI covered hockey the same way they cover baseball, they would have a front in 2014 proclaiming Colorado the 2018 Stanley Cup champs.

Colorado had them on seemingly good contracts too.

And this doesn’t even include Tyson Barrie.

How’d that turn out?


Who told Newell to get Boeser in The Spot?

Who is doing the coaching here?


I honestly couldn’t answer it.

There were jokes:

There reasonable answers which should make sense but don’t:

There was snark:

There were theories

Tattoos are tough actually.

And then there was what felt like the right answer tonight:

Gagner still hasn’t found his spot on this team.

Playing wing on the shutdown line was not how the team envisioned it when they signed him to a three year deal.


Is this good?

If Sutter is hurt, and it looked that way, and in the next couple of games, the Canucks get lit up by a top line …

God help us all.


The hope at one time was that Pettersson would sign with the Canucks when is Swedish team is done, come to North America and finish out with Utica at the end of the Comets season.

But it now appears he will be a candidate for Team Sweden’s World Championship team and he’d definitely be doing that ahead of the AHL.

Despite the Gretzky comparable, Pettersson is not yet a lock, though there are some around him who would be surprised if he’s not on it.

I reached out to Uffe Bodin, editor in chief of Sweden’s Everysport Media Group and we were talking about Pettersson still being among the bubble players for that Oly team.

“He should have a really good shot,” Bodin said. “Only problem is he won’t be able to participate in the last tournament before the Olympics due to the WJC in Buffalo.

“My guess is that the WJC will be histry-out at making the Olympic team.

“If he shows them he can compete internationally, which has been a question mark, he should be on the team.”


Neither the Canucks or Pettersson’s agent seriously considered him as being ready for the NHL this season.

Too much inexperience and at this size, around 160-165 pounds, it was seen by anyone as an option.

And that makes Gradin’s comments even more remarkable:

You know what that means to me?

Gradin is convinced this is the last year for the Sedins in Van.



What if the Canucks had been able to get a D like Butcher?

Right now, their non-NHL depth on the blueline is Juolevi and a long, awkward silence.

After undressing Hutton tonight, Butcher has 17 points.

The Canucks eight defencemen combined have 31.

Nine of Butcher’s assists have come on the power play, including this toe drag good enough to leave Horvat drooling.

Hutton get any kings on this fishing trip?


Has any goalie in the history of hockey discredited one man goals as  much as Murray has attempted to discredit The Flow?

I think not.

“Pretty much all the goals he got were hilarious if you think about it,” Murray said.


“I mean, you have to look at some of those goals and just laugh.”

You do?

Uh, no.

That montage of Boeser scoring five goals against Murray over sad music while the goalie talks about how lucky and hilarious the goals is pretty good.

But what is really hilarious?

Murray, with two Stanley Cup rings, was beat clean five times in two games and it was by a rookie.

So until he can prove he make a save against him, Murray has a new daddy.


Unfortunately, custom goal songs are a myth.


Oh, he bought one all right.

More than one actually.

And the Flowriders movement exploded.

How did it all start?

Cam: “I saw a similar design on Reddit (about Steve from Stranger Things) and posted on twitter that we need something like this for Brock.

“A couple of days goes by and Gráinne replies with ‘I hope you weren’t kidding because I made this’ and she has this amazing design.”

God bless, Gráinne.

Cam: “The initial campaign was for 50 items (shirts and hoodies). I thought it might take a week.

“We sold 50 in 6 hours.”


What about the other goalie?

Tonight was the fifth time in seven Marky’s save percentage has been under .900 for the game.

Interesting exchange between JPat and Green today.

The coach was asked if there’s any way he could see himself letting Nilsson stretch out his game with a run of starts.

“It just depends on how both goalies play,” Green said.

“Nilsson has played well. Marky has played well.

“Dan and I talk a lot about it. Between the two of us, I listen.

“I have a lot of respect for the mental side of goaltending. When you have two guys, you need to make sure you’re not just worried about one guy, you’re worried about both.

“Who knows, maybe there will be a time where we go back and Neely gets on a run. The only time we really went on a run (with one) was at the beginning of the year.

“I think that’s because Neely was finding his game. And Neely probably lost two starts with the baby.

“Other than that, the starts would look a lot different.”

Not sure “a lot” is accurate.

But a two start swing would make it 14-9 in favour of Marky.


It’s been a long winter in Vancouver.

Years long.

How long? I legitimately don’t remember when the last time the city’s hockey fans had something to be excited about.

The 2012 Presidents’ Trophy? The moment before the Keith-on-Daniel hit?

It’s been that long.

Since, it’s been a post-apocalyptic world for us here.

Many burrowed underground, others tried to survive at sea level on canned goods, peering out our boarded-up windows, curled up in hollows and shacks (albeit $2 million shacks).

From our cold, dark, lonely existence, we could see 18-year-old Sam Bennett, Laine, the never-ending Aust-on-athon, and Lord McDavid on loop.

He’s the one who was virtually unanimously picked by media (17 of 18 I saw) to win the Hart this season. As if you didn’t know.

It was like everywhere we turned someone was living a better life. Everywhere we turned, all we could see, from coast to coast, were Negans. Cocktail drinking, cigar smoking, sun bathing Negans, surrounded by multiple beauties catering to their every desires.

Even this season, Boeser got off to a good start here, we stayed in our lane. We shut up.

He was good, but we understood there were — what? — a dozen other young players in Canada who were better.

You didn’t think about us, we got it.

But then something changed. The first sign of spring appeared like drops of holy water, something we had not seen in half a decade.

Like groundhogs smelling spring, we stuck our heads out of the hole for the first time in a long time and looked around.

Holy shit, look what we saw.

Boeser had more points than Nylander and Marner.

The same number as Auston.

More than Laine, and the same number of goals.

And Boeser has been scoring more points-per-hour and goals-per-hour than McJeeze.

Good god, what has he done?

He has shone a sliver of light on this dark corner of the hockey world, and we know it could be gone tomorrow (that’s the way it goes).

So in this brief moment of confidence, fearlessness, we are making a demand.

(And no, we don’t think Boeser has won the Calder).

All we want is for one prominent member of the media outside Vancouver to say:

“Brock Boeser is the frontrunner for the Calder.”

That’s it.

And we have to move fast, because this is going to be a great race all season.


The best chance is to flip Friedman from Keller to the Flowriders.

Yes, he’s on Keller, to this point of the season.

But he’s smart. When smart people are confronted with overwhelming evidence and data, they change their minds.

Smart people are malleable.

Let’s first take on his position: Friedman gives bonus points to Keller because he’s a standout on a bad team.

(of course, many at the start of year thought the Coyotes had more talent than the Canucks, who had longer odds and were picked by most to finish behind them).

The HNIC broadcaster has made some excellent points on it, but I will counter with this:

Up by two goals, teams generally defend differently. Hence, score effects.  And Keller has had a couple garbage time points this year with his team losing by at least three.

Now, we get into the essentials, because the Calder is almost always a points race:

Boeser has more points playing fewer games and fewer minutes.

Before tonight, Boeser was 8th in the league, min 200 games, in 5-on-5 points-per-hour (3.14)

Keller was 78th (2.14)

Boeser was 3rd in the entire NHL in 5-on-5 goals-per-60. Third.

Keller was 17th.

Boeser was 22nd in individual scoring chances per 60.

Keller 63rd.

Boeser was 18th in individual shot attempts per 60.

Keller was 127th.

The Canucks had scored 60.87% of the goals with Boeser on the ice. That 60.87 GF% meant Boeser ranked 69th.

Keller’s Coyotes have controlled just 40% of the goals when he’s on the ice.

His GF% of 40 was 360th in the NHL. Three-hundred-sixty.

Keller has been on the ice for 21 ES goals against. Only five players in the league have been on the ice for more against.

And the most improbable number of all, Boeser had the fourth best points-per-60 rate in the NHL on the power play.

Before Boeser, it was an awful power play, pathetic and predictable. It had been second last in the NHL cumulatively for the past five years.

Keller was 121st.

If there are numbers that suggest through a quarter of a season that in any way Keller has outperformed Boeser, I haven’t seen them.

Our demands are meagre.

And they probably expire soon, because who knows which rookie is going to go on a hot streak next.

All we ask is that on this day, The Flow be proclaimed frontrunner for the Calder.


We see this Sat night:













New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) blocks a shot by Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Newark, N.J. T

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) blocks a shot by Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Newark, N.J. T

Photograph by: Julio Cortez, The Province

New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) blocks a shot by Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Newark, N.J. T
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