Vancouver Canucks: 3 takeaways from 3-2 win over Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 13: Troy Brouwer #22 of the Florida Panthers crosses sticks with Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks at the BB&T Center on October 13, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 13: Troy Brouwer #22 of the Florida Panthers crosses sticks with Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks at the BB&T Center on October 13, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

On a night meant to celebrate a milestone achievement for Roberto Luongo, the night took a turn for the worse. The Vancouver Canucks may have won the game, but they lost someone far more important to a terrible injury.

Let’s get this out the way. Mike Matheson is human garbage that should be suspended. The Vancouver Canucks were in Sunrise, Florida to celebrate Roberto Luongo crossing the 1000 game mark last season. Going into it, the night was about celebrating a goaltender who impacted two franchises during his career. Unfortunately, Bobby Lu was injured, so he didn’t even get to play.

Tonight was also the Canucks debut for Antoine Roussel. Alex Biega drew the short straw and will be put on waivers. I expected the Canucks to waive a forward since injuries tend to hit the defence first, but I guess they will take that chance. The Canucks bench boss wanted things to start off well for Roussel, putting him on the Horvat line.

The Canucks were playing a good game in Florida, maintaining control. Penalty killing was successful and the usual suspects did their thing on the power play. Where the game went sideways was thanks to Mike Matheson.

After rookie sensation Elias Pettersson embarrassed him by banking a pass to himself and easily beating Matheson. So what does the neanderthal do? He turns the ice surface into a pro wrestling ring, pinning Pettersson to the glass and delivering a Rock Bottom to the young forward. Patrick Johnston from The Province has both GIFs and I’ll warn you here: it’s not for the faint of heart.

The hit itself was bad, and downright dirty. What was sickening was seeing a woozy Pettersson struggling to get to his feet. You want to stop the hearts of Canucks fans, have them watch those clips. We are all hoping Pettersson is okay, but concussions are not easily predictable in recovery timelines. Here are the three takeaways from the game.

Pettersson ties a record before injury

At this point of the season, it is no surprise to hear that Elias Pettersson scored on the power play. Using his patience and slick puck skills, Pettersson had no problem beating James Reimer with the man advantage.

The Canucks rookie tied for second in an NHL record for points in their first five career games with eight. For those keeping track, that’s tied with Auston Matthews and more than Connor McDavid. He also tied a Canucks franchise record for longest point streak to start a career.

Unfortunately, the celebration would be short lived due to the injury caused by Matheson. Pettersson is the primary reason to tune in today and is the single most important person on the team. He carries the team’s future and a 19-year-old does need to have his head bounce off the glass and the ice. The league is looking at it, but I won’t keep my hopes up.

People mock this sport for having a bunch of dumb guys beating each other up. If the NHL wants to prove those people wrong, they better make a real effort in protecting their players. There is no consistency and most of you know there probably won’t be a suspension. This league has not learned despite the number of careers cut short due to head injuries.

And until that day comes, we will have to expect goons to “balance” things on the ice. Everyone will want to take their pound of flesh until there is nothing left. The enforcer may be dead, but it doesn’t mean dirty players have left the game. There is a bigger issue than what happened in this game and when we get to what Pettersson’s teammates did (or didn’t do), the Canucks have more issues to worry about.

Roussel’s return and another injury

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Antoine Roussel played his first game this season, returning from a concussion. As I mentioned earlier, he got to start on the “top line” with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. By the time we got the second, the Willie Desjardins-esque experiment ended and Sven Baertschi took his place back on that line, trading places with Roussel.

In an unexpected turn of events, Roussel drew a penalty (usually it’s the other way around). Seriously though, he earned a penalty shot. Now when bottom six forwards get penalty shots, we don’t expect much. However, this was James Reimer he was dealing with.

Roussel scored on the penalty shot and it was a solid goal. Now, after the Pettersson hit, there wasn’t much of a response from him (or anyone on the team for that matter). However, I’ll cut Roussel some slack here. I can be sympathetic if a player is not in the mood to fight when it can trigger another concussion after just recovering from one. Although, a hit or two would have been nice. He was not credited with one after the Pettersson injury.

One more Canuck was injured during the game. Jay Beagle broke his hand blocking a shot. He’s killed many penalties, logging the third most minutes. There are other players that can easily step in, but I doubt Travis Green is happy about that.

Lack of response

The rage is truly bubbling below the surface, but I don’t think I can add something new to what many of you are feeling. Your anger is not misplaced. It was a pathetic effort by the rest of the Canucks when they did absolutely nothing when Pettersson got hurt.

If you were caught up the whirlwind within Canucks Twitter last night, for once we saw fans united. Unfortunately, it was the shared disgust of seeing no response. Now, I’m not one for using fighting to solve every problem. But when a team spends this much money on toughness and “protection,” then they better damn well do their jobs.

Because if they aren’t, why the Hell are the Canucks paying them? One of our newest contributors will got into this in more detail tomorrow, but I’m honestly gobsmacked by the passive, almost uncaring response by Pettersson’s teammates.

There’s all this talk about bonding on the road and getting closer as a team. Tell me something. Do close teams just let that happen to one of their own? Nobody had to fight Mike Matheson, but how about throwing a big hit, getting up in his face and doing something more than a light-hearted slash?

But the best part of all is the spinning we get from Iain MacIntyre with a Benning quote. This is what was said in January to justify why Erik Gudbranson is here.

Well, looks like we do have to worry about Pettersson getting picked on. It’s almost like having Gudbranson out there didn’t mean a damn thing. But wait, it gets worse ladies and gentlemen. He says this in the post-game show.

So which is it, Iain? Do these type of players play bodyguard for our future young stars or is it suddenly crazy to expect them to respond to a situation like this? It seemed to work fine for Gudbranson when he broke Travis Hamonic‘s jaw for a dirty hit he threw. Guess it doesn’t go both ways.

This is one of the reasons why people are furious. Elias Pettersson is everything for this team. He is keeping them relevant and it sucks to see him hurt because a moron got upset, choosing to injure Pettersson on purpose.

But it doesn’t end there. This team thinks they can spoonfeed us the same load of garbage year after year and expect us to take it with a smile, no questions asked. Accountability is an important part of a team, whether you rely more on skill or on toughness.

The Canucks think they are the latter, but it turns out that many of their players aren’t good for anything. And how ironic that the people who defended Jim Benning’s summer acquisitions are turning on him right now because they won’t do the job that was advertised.

dark. Next. Vancouver Canucks: Gillis tells all

It’s pathetic that two points in the standings are more important to the Canucks than the well-being of their franchise star. Especially when they won’t mean anything in March when the team is in the bottom five again. Because I think people are starting to realize that if these fake tough guys won’t defend our players, what is the purpose of having them? I’ll answer that for you: there isn’t one.