How did the Vancouver Canucks manage to grab two points on Thursday night? Through Jim Benning.
The Vancouver Canucks trumped over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night by a score of 5-3, managing to get back to the .500 win margin. While the win wasn’t pretty, it showcased much of the Canuck legacy under the Jim Benning management.
Thursday night was made even memorable by the news that the Chicago Blackhawks are out of the running for Radim Vrbata. Trade deadline weeks are always fun, eh? Well, the win against the Senators was certainly a fun one with unexpected heroics from throughout the lineup. It was a match worthy of a dozen thoughts. Here we go.
Thought 1: Emerson Etem Leading the Way
Emerson Etem played the best offensive game of his season with the Canucks, if not the best game all season. He had two goals on four shot and also looked sturdy with one hit. He actually factored in on three goals, placing a perfect screen on Craig Anderson for Matt Bartkowski‘s first of the night.
Thought 2: Granlund passes the Eye Test
It was a good game for Markus Granlund. He was instrumental in creating havoc in front of the net, allowing Etem to pounce on a rebound for the game’s first goal. Granlund notched an assist on Bartkowski’s first of the night, opening his new Vancouver scoring account.
He looked mobile. Who were you, all you who said Granlund couldn’t skate? Look at him going through Erik Karlsson. To be fair, Karlsson did not have a good night.
But does he deserve the hype? Analytics says no. In fact, he was one of the worst players in terms of advanced stats. Granlund lost all six faceoffs that he took. He ended the night with the worst Corsi, at -23.5 percent relative Corsi For.
Granlund did have a minute of penalty kill time. Overall, he brought energy to Rogers Arena and padded his plus-minus by going +3 on the night. Not a bad game.
Thought 3: Benning’s Kids look Good
The powerplay is looking better — at least the second unit is. The first unit gave up a shortie. But this made me forget about everything.
Looking good, the Vancouver future is. In fact, Jim Benning is looking good. Jared McCann assisted on Jake Virtanen‘s goal. Vey assisted on both of Etem’s goals. Even Derek Dorsett and Granlund assisted on Bartkowski’s first goal. Result?
Thought 4: Bartkowski steals the show
Matt Bartkowski had the best performance of his Canuck career last night. Two goals and one assist, eh? His trade stock just skyrocketed.
He played like an Erik Karlsson, but why is he not on the ice for EN? He could have had an easy hat trick!
Thought 5: Alex Biega?
That being said, Alex Biega looked bad. He had less that 12 minutes of ice time, which should be even more eye-popping once you realize that this is Willie Desjardins that he is playing for. He looked horrible, especially on the third OTT goal.
He did lead the defencemen with three hits, though.
Thought 6: Jake Virtanen was really good
Speaking of hits, Jake Virtanen had six hits. SIX. Don’t forget about his goal, either. In fact, with the assist on Bartkowski’s second goal, Virtanen had his first multi-point night of his career.
Thought 7: Special Teams Woes
The short-handed goal given up by the Sedin unit was bad. Worse is the fact that the Canucks should have been scored against at least once more while on the powerplay. The left post saved a goal for Miller’s sake. With the PP not clicking with the first unit anymore, maybe it is time to make some new units for the Sedins.
Thought 8: Fraud Trade!
Meanwhile, this scared me. This is a fraud.
Thought 9: Benning Tried Too Hard
Well, you never know what happens when two GMs are discussing a trade. But after hours of negotiation, Dan Hamhuis never got traded to the Blackhawks. About 10 A.M. Pacific Time, the notion was that the Blackhawks were hard in on Hamhuis. It seemed as if Jim Benning was going to make the trade of the decade, grabbing picks and top prospects while retaining salary.
Well, the Chicago Blackhawks did get a Canuck — a former Canucks who we all love. Christian Ehrhoff. Did Benning try too hard to raise the return?
Thought 10: Standings and the Next Game
As I cap off this late evening edition of ten thoughts, the standings tell me that the Canucks still have a chance.
The Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild are the biggest obstacles standing in the Canucks’ way, Colorado holding down the final wild card in the West. The Avalanche have eight more points having played three extra games than the Canucks have. Meanwhile, the Wild are up against the Washington Capitals. They will have played two games more than the Canucks after tonight.
Does playoff chance mean holding onto Hamhuis and Vrbata? I wouldn’t think so, but I sure hope that Benning doesn’t think so. Let’s see what happens Sunday, the first of three games next week against the San Jose Sharks!