Saturday February 22 - Vancouver Canucks 9 - Boston Bruins 3
What a celebration!
The Vancouver Canucks capped off their big homestand with a huge win as they crushed the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
Here are your highlights — can they fit 'em all in?
I wrote the game story last night, so feel free to start there...
It was a game where I was able to tap into my experience from World Championships — when the goals often keep coming for Canada late in games against opponents like, say, Belarus.
On Saturday, the Canucks scored two in the first, three in the second and four in the third.
Tyler Toffoli's first two goals with the Canucks were a big part of the story. They may have been the team's seventh and eighth of the night, but they came after Boston scored twice in the third to cut the gap to 6-3 — and they both showed great chemistry between the new acquisition and his teammates.
Toffoli was Scott Oake's postgame guest on After Hours. Going through many of the same questions he's been answering all week, he sounded less shell-shocked and more positive about his experience with the Canucks so far.
I guess after all the losing the Kings have done over the last couple of seasons, a 9-3 win feels pretty darn satisfying. And while there has been talk of how his wife works for in L.A. for the Dodgers and the Kings and is pretty entrenched, I found it heartening to hear that she has been up in Vancouver this week — while the weather has been great — and has been enjoying walking around and seeing the sights. Toffoli even said he'd always liked coming to Vancouver as a member of the visiting team, and mentioned that a group of players had gone out for dinner together on Friday night.
He also spoke positively about his new teammates to Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet
“Everybody, I feel, is just a genuine really good guy and wants each other to do well,” he said. “I mean, I scored the seventh goal and guys were happy for me. That’s the vibe it is. Everybody wants to win, everybody wants to do well. We just have to keep building and keep having fun.”
It's still hard to envision how the Canucks would be able to come up with the cap space to re-sign Toffoli in the summer, but the immediate foundation that's being laid down is positive, so we shall see.
On the other end of Toffoli's trade, things are not going so well:
Tim Schaller was pointless in his two home games with the Kings, logging 9:24 in the 5-4 win over Florida on Thursday — where Ben Hutton scored the game-winning goal — and just 6:39 in the Kings' 2-1 shootout loss against Colorado on Saturday.
L.A. coach Todd McLellan did have some nice things to say about Schaller when he was acquired.
The Kings are out of contention but the Ontario Reign are on the playoff bubble, so the waiver move might be intended to make Schaller eligible for the AHL postseason. To do so, players must be on an AHL roster at the trade deadline.
The Canucks re-assigned Justin Bailey, Tyler Graovac and Guillaume Brisebois earlier this week, so they're all set. I expect to see Zack MacEwen will be "papered down" on Monday — although after Jim Benning talked about how MacEwen has earned a long-term spot on the Canucks, maybe his time in the minors is now over?
By the time all was said and done on Saturday, J.T. Miller had three assists and moved up to 16th place in the NHL scoring race with 62 points, and Troy Stecher had a goal and two assists for the first three-point night of his career.
He admitted that he'd heard the trade chatter around his name, which heated up on Saturday when Elliotte Friedman suggested on Hockey Night in Canada that Stecher could be a nice 'stop-gap' for the Leafs if they trade Tyson Barrie, while they're waiting for Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci to come back from their injuries.
Stecher downplayed the idea that his performance on Saturday was some sort of "statement game," but the local boy still mentioned how the memories of 2011 make every win over Boston a little sweeter, and how special it is to play for his hometown team.
Stecher's salary situation makes it nearly certain that he'll be moved — either on Monday, or during the offseason. But the undersized blueliner, who was a long-shot for an NHL career when the Canucks initially signed him out of college as a free agent, has earned a lot of love in this market for his work ethic and commitment to his team.
In other news — Bo Horvat had a Gordie Howe hat trick!
In any other game, that'd earn top billing. It flew under the radar was because his assist on Loui Eriksson's second-period goal wasn't added until after the game was over — and because there were so many other things going on.
Still, Travis Green took a moment to offer some high praise after the game for Horvat, who was matched up against the Bruins' big line of Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak and finished the night as a plus-two, with five shots on goal and a 10-for-12 record in the faceoff circle.
"It was one of the stronger games I've seen Bo play, probably since I've been here," said Green. "I think his game has been trending in the right direction.
"He's got a lot of tough matchups but he's starting to learn the little areas of the game, just the little details from a checking standpoint that for him pay off offensively as well."
In the end, Jacob Markstrom was able to wrap up the postgame media availability on a cheerful note as he explained how his brief absence in the first period was just to wait for his vision to clear after the errant stick of Danton Heinen found its way through his cage — and how there was no way he was going to let an emergency backup steal his spot.
"Congratulations to that guy for his first career NHL win, that's awesome," he said about David Ayres, the Zamboni driver who backstopped the Hurricanes against the Leafs on Saturday night. "Obviously, you love to see it, for me as a goalie, too. That's impressive, for sure, and it's a crazy game.
"It happened in Chicago a couple of years ago, and now in Toronto. These goalies — you know, they're good. They're winning hockey games, these goalies are coming in."
But not on his watch.
"Yeah, no. I wanna go back out there. You don't want somebody to take your job here."
We're now less than 24 hours away from the trade deadline. As I type this, it's been quiet over the last two days, with only Cody Eakin moving from Vegas to Winnipeg and the Leafs obtaining Mikka Salomaki from Nashville in exchange for depth defenseman Ben Harpur.
Former player Mike Commodore has refashioned himself as a hockey insider, and says his goal this year is to break four trades.
According to him so far, we'll see Tyler Ennis heading to Edmonton, Sonny Milano on his way to Anaheim — and this...
Let's see if it comes to fruition...
One other note — if you missed it, Sportsnet has made some really interesting additions to its trade deadline coverage. I'll definitely be tuning in to see what Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler, Paul Bissonnette and Bruce Boudreau bring to the table.
As always, trade deadline coverage begins at 5 a.m. PT Monday on both Sportsnet and TSN.