The Canuck Way’s 10 most notable Vancouver Canucks moments of 2018

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 7: Henrik Sedin
EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 7: Henrik Sedin /
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vancouver canucks /

5. Shotgun Jake takes us by storm

You all saw this one coming. Not just because The Canuck Way’s Chris Faber is a champion of the movement. Not just because it’s fun to watch Jake Virtanen score a bunch of goals sprinkled over a few months. Our fifth Canucks moment of 2018 is one of the many reasons why this season is fun: Shotgun Jake.

What started off as a crazy radio take from Halford and Brough blossomed into a phenomenon that has reached all Canucks fans. When I can go to work and see people walking around in Shotgun Jake T-shirts, it puts a smile on my face. Virtanen knows this market so well, embracing the movement along with his teammates.

I love the creativity we are seeing in this market. The conflict between purists and those willing to accept virtually anything has been a spectacle that amplifies the experience with Canucks Twitter as well as The Athletties. The videos, the fails and the all around fun being had is making it more and more fun to be a Canucks fan. And when you step back, I guess that’s what it’s really about.

This market is tough on Jake (I’m no stranger to that), but is nice to see him make those improvements and have more trust from his coach in more situational use. He may never live up to his draft position, but you want depth players like Jake Virtanen. Guys like him are difficult to come by via trade and get pretty expensive on July 1st. Looks like we all have more beer to buy in 2019.

4. Bo Horvat becomes “The Guy”

Coming it at number four is Bo Horvat. The Grit Wars was supposed to address centre depth to help Horvat since he had to be the team’s number one centre with little support. At the time, we didn’t know that Pettersson was ready to play as the second line centre right away. In fact, we were dreading seeing Pettersson stapled to Sutter to start the season.

But what is undersold during this season is how good Bo Horvat has been. Most teams crumple when they lose two of their centres. To compound things, the team had no choice but to have two rookies play down the middle.

Horvat is playing out of his damn mind. This is his best hockey and this is the Horvat that was lying underneath the surface. The team wasn’t 100% convinced that Horvat could handle all situations and he has answered the call. Well, except the penalty kill, but let’s not lose our head of steam.

Huncho had to do the work of two centres. Let’s get that out of the way. He had to function as a scoring line and a checking line. Horvat took most of the team’s faceoffs and 53% of them (thank you Manny Malhotra). Horvat leads the NHL with 1023 faceoffs and we are halfway through the season! The guy in second took 923.

Not to mention the random assortment of wingers due to injuries. Horvat has been a beast and a leader. Just put the “C” on his sweater already.

3. Elias Pettersson arrives

As we get to the top three, it should be no surprise who you see at this point. Elias Pettersson is a legendary rookie in Canucks lore. The first prospect to create his own religion. While Brock Boeser was humiliating goaltenders last year, Pettersson has humbled a league around him.

You just got to love the modern age that we live in. To capture everything Pettersson does in 4K is incredible and even if you can’t run his clips at that resolution, high definition can still show the kind of magic he can create on the ice.

Pettersson is compared to every great player in this game, past and present. His media death stares have become part of the folklore and after 35 games, we haven’t seen everything from him yet. With all due respect to Rasmus Dahlin, Brady Tkachuk and Miro Heiskanen, Pettersson is absolutely destroying the rookie scoring race.

I thought it wasn’t fair to expect Pettersson to replace the production of both Sedins, but he’s nearly doing that. Pettersson is truly one of the best rookies this franchise has ever seen. I have to give it to the amateur scouts involved. They had the balls to fight for this kid and convince Benning to select him at fifth overall. No other team ahead of Vancouver had the stomach for it. Fine, I’ll give the hat tip to Benning too, even if the pick would have been interesting if Cale Makar was available as well.

2. Brock Boeser at the All Star Game

Okay, the picture gave it way. The second most notable Canucks moment of 2018 was Brock Boeser at the All Star Game. This could have been the tail end of his rookie season and his head to head with Mathew Barzal, but the injury that ended it and the slow down in production softens it.

That’s why we are setting our sites on what he did in Tampa Bay. I mentioned this in projecting who will be at the All Star Game, but what Boeser did put the East on notice.

Related Story. Vancouver Canucks: How the Pacific Division could look at the ASG. light

That moment turned a seemingly one-horse race into an awesome head to head down the stretch. Well, until Boeser’s unfortunate injury. He was one of the few shining lights from last season and it all built up towards the All Star Game.

It wasn’t just goaltenders who became weary of his mighty shot. Defensive players and forwards were not fond of having to block that laser beam. Boeser could break bones with that shot and all goalies would see are those golden locks celebrating at the bench.

A shot so impressive that Pettersson spent an entire a year breaking his own shot into 12 components and mastering each one. Pettersson never credited Boeser with doing that, but look at the friendship forged between them. He must have heard about Boeser’s shot before coming over from Sweden. Okay, I’m projecting a little, but Canucks fans were salivating at the thought of having two booming snipers on the power play.

That All Star Game put a lot of eyes on the Canucks and it makes sense why people outside our market took notice of Pettersson a lot faster than they did with Boeser. That and Pettersson is just carving up the NHL. However, I think Boeser’s rookie season grabbed attention. He was the MVP after all. Sportsnet made a documentary about The Flow (which was great). His skill, shot, character and kindness define him and that was on full display that weekend.

1. Canucks fans bid farewell to the Sedin Twins

The featured image gave it away, but how could this not be the number one Canucks moment of 2018? They were everything and anything for this franchise. Two of the greatest players to wear the black, blue, maroon that became the blue and green.

Things were not going to be the same without Henrik and Daniel Sedin. We’re just about at 3000 words and I’ll be honest, I could write a whole lot of these two. I think TCW alum Tyler Shipley covered it the best when they played their final game.

Henrik and Daniel's final farewell. light. Related Story

We won’t see a duo quite like the Twins ever again. They are future Hall of Famers and I know every fanbase says this about beloved players, but they are the best players to have never won the Stanley Cup. And I don’t think anyone deserved to win it more than those two. The Sedins defined an era. Near identical stats, both hitting 1000 points. It’s the kind of storybook ending that is almost scripted, especially that Arizona Game. Seriously, check the box score.

The NHL was also nice enough to give the King Clancy Memorial Trophy to both Twins. How fitting that both get to share one more achievement before concluding their phenomenal careers. It’s also funny to see the same people who dragged their names through the mud pretend that they respected them all along. I’ll just say Corey Perry and Hart Trophy and you’ll know what I mean.

But this moment signified a tremendous change. During the season, the torch was being passed to the next generation and I would have loved to see these two play with Pettersson. So would Thomas Gradin. The “what if” game is fun, but we all get a cathartic closure here. The Twins got to leave on their own terms, which is something of luxury for most hockey players.

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I will miss them and they will always have a special place in all of our hearts. Fantastic hockey players, terrific leaders and probably the best human beings to join our hockey community. If this is getting you a little misty eyed, I get it. I’ll just leave you the quote used in the broadcast of their final game: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” From all of us at The Canuck Way, we say goodbye to 2018 and wish all of you a happy new year.