Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from win over Penguins

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 4: Jacob Markstrom
VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 4: Jacob Markstrom /

Once again, the Vancouver Canucks turned heads with a spectacular performance, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. Here’s what we learned from their best game of the season thus far.

Well, the Vancouver Canucks capped off the weekend perfectly for many fans by taking down the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2.

This was by far Vancouver’s most impressive performance of the season. Despite being short of their top two blueliners, they managed to hold off the Penguins high-flying offence and squeezed out a 4-2 win.

All of the focus was on rookie Brock Boeser, who continued his phenomenal rookie season by recording a hat trick in the contest. With the victory, Vancouver moved to 7-4-2 on the season — tied with the San Jose Sharks for third in the Pacific Division.

With the victory, Vancouver snapped a four-game losing streak against the two-time defending champions. One of their toughest games on the schedule is out of the way, and they’re now on to visit the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.

For now, let’s just enjoy everything that happened on Saturday. Here are three big takeaways from Vancouver’s win over Pittsburgh.

Brock Boeser is something else

Many were high on 2015 first rounder Brock Boeser having a solid rookie season, but the man has been off the charts thus far. He came into this game leading the Canucks in scoring, yet he’s also able to post a hat trick against the NHL’s model franchise?

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Boeser always got attention as a sniper/pure goal-scorer. But he’s been all over the ice as a solid setup man as well. He’s up to a whopping 13 points in 10 games on the season thus far. That’s as many as Sidney Crosby, by the way.

With the Sedins nearing the end of their primes, the Canucks have been longing for that next franchise superstar to take the team to another level. It’s still early, but Boeser has shown every sign possible of being that guy.

Scoring three goals and an assist against the Penguins is just another sign of the kid’s talents. While some of you continue to be hard on general manager Jim Benning, keep in mind that he’s the guy who drafted Boeser.

Boeser is carrying the Canucks offence, while most of the forwards continue to slowly find their scoring touches. He’s among the early favorites to win the Calder Trophy in 2018.

Jacob Markstrom: Early Vezina candidate

With every start he makes, Jacob Markstrom continues to prove that his hot start is no fluke. Rather, he’s finally living up to the hype as a No. 1 goalie in the NHL — even if he took a few years longer than expected.

The Penguins dominated throughout the game, but it was Markstrom who stood tall — no pun intended. The 6-foot-6 giant stopped 37 of 39 shots faced, staying calm and poised against this high-scoring Pittsburgh machine.

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With the win, Markstrom moved his victory to 4-3-2. He also has a 2.23 goals against average and .921 save percentage. His performance on Saturday suggests that Markstrom isn’t an early season fluke. He’s simply coming into his own at this point.

The NHL’s best goalies find ways to steal games, even when their team is being outplayed. Markstrom has done that a ton this year, and he should be on your early ballot for the Vezina Trophy. This isn’t an overreaction from one game. He’s been on another level thus far.

Defencemen holding their ground

Unbelievable. Without Alexander Edler and Troy Stecher, the Canucks blueliners continue to find ways in shutting down the opponents top stars. Take away that early Penguins goal on the power play, and their top stars did next to nothing.

Crosby and Phil Kessel each got an assist, but the former was held to just three shots on goal. Meanwhile, Evgeni Malkin was held pointless and only registered two shots. Kris Letang was a minus-three, and the Canucks did just fine in clogging up the neutral zone so he couldn’t skate the puck through.

Last Monday, the Canucks held the Dallas Stars and their offensive juggernaut to just two goals. A few days before, the Washington Capitals only managed two tallies on the Canucks — one of them coming in garbage time.

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New head coach Travis Green is making his defenders play more physically and with a stronger edge. It has worked to perfection, and he deserves a ton of credit for getting the most out of them while two his top three blueliners are out.