DETROIT — Points to ponder as Elias Pettersson once again lives up to the hype, Loui Eriksson lives to play with his countryman, Jacob Markstrom deserved a better fate while Bo Horvat and Pettersson nearly won it in overtime before the Canucks fell 3-2 to the Red Wings in a shootout to open a six-game road trip:
Prime-time Pettersson finds net, finds iron
For two days, Elias Pettersson pronouncements dominated both lockerrooms.
The Red Wings recited what has become commonplace in the early stages of this NHL season. Like others, they were going to shadow Pettersson. They were going to take time and space away. They were going to play him hard. They were going to use a five-man unit to shut down one red-hot rookie.
At the same time, the Canucks were trying to turn the dial down a notch on the hyper Pettersson hype. Comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk, Pavel Bure and Peter Forsberg were rolling off opposition tongues here and Travis Green tried to keep a lid on it all.
And yet, it took one shot on one shift for the spotlight to shine once again on the Swedish sensation.
When Pettersson got the puck from Loui Eriksson at the top of the left circle in the first period, his heavy slapshot easily eluded the glove of goalie Jimmy Howard, clanged off the post and found net.
Of course it did.
It’s like Pettersson knew he could find the inside part of the iron for his 10th goal because everything he touches seems to turn to goals. He’s the only teenager in the last 30 seasons (1988-89 to present) to open his career with at least 10 goals through their first 10 career games.
“I’m happy with that but we didn’t win today,” he stressed.
Said Green: “He’s got a hell of a shot. You don’t see a lot of slapshot goals because there’s usually not enough time, but he just happened to have time and a space and took advantage of it.”
The goal also looked like that Wayne Gretzky overtime roof job that beat Mike Vernon in a similar manner in the 1988 Stanley Cup playoffs. Did we just compare Pettersson to Gretzky?
“A good pass from Loui and I kept my speed and I tried to go top corner on the glove side,” said Pettersson. “But we had three power plays and didn’t have any good chances there with our line and we need to see what we can do better because we need to execute the power play.”
Pettersson also sped through two zones in the second period, drew a crowd and feathered a pass to Nikolay Goldobin to remind everybody of his playmaking prowress. Pettersson then found the crossbar in overtime after beating Howard to the glove side before losing the handle on his shootout chance.
With a goal, five shots and eight attempts, you would think it was a point well taken, but he didn’t see it that way.
“It was a point lost,” he said. “We had our chances and it’s a tough loss.”
That’s what you like about Pettersson. Instead of gushing about his goal, his total team buy-in is obvious. The hype around a guy who turns 20 on Monday would turn a lot of young players into a ball of mush. He wasn’t even really taking credit for getting a great overtime shot away.
“I was looking to pass it (puck) over but the defence gave me what I thought was a good scoring chance and I tried to go high glove,” he added. “In the shootout, when I was going to pull it back to my forehand, I didn’t feel the puck was with me and then I lost it.”
Horvat the horse almost wins it
Bo Horvat is shouldering an incredible load in the absence of the injured Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle.
He is sacrificing offence to take crucial defensive-zone face-offs and overall, he had a career-high 40 draws and won 19. He also logged 23:25 and nearly won the game in overtime before being stopped in the shootout.
First the overtime effort.
“It was great pass by Taney (Chris Tanev) and I had a lot of speed and saw my opening and thought I made the right play by going up and over his shoulder,” said Horvat. “I thought that was the right play.”
And the shootout effort?
“I was just trying to wait him (Howard) out and saw him keep backing in and I wanted to get him moving and you’ve got to give it to him because he made a nice save. When you’re in that tight, you’ve got to get the puck elevated.”
Horvat’s bigger concern was the Canucks outshooting the Wings 21-7 through 25 minutes and letting them back in the game — even though the Canucks managed 42 shots without the injured Brock Boeser.
“A game can turn on you in a hurry as soon as you take your foot off the gas,” added Horvat. “Teams are going to push back and I thought we played a great 30 minutes. I thought we deserved better. We know what it’s like to play these one-goal games and I think we’ve been doing a good job keeping composed.
“But it would be nice to be up a couple of goals and keep pushing.”
Said Green: “He’s doing a lot of heavy lifting and I’m not using him as much in the offensive zone because in the back of my mind, I know I can’t overuse him. We’re using him a lot, but he’s a bull and capable of playing a lot of minutes.”
Loui Logic made some sense
Green could have given Brendan Leipsic the lottery ticket as a replacement for Boeser on the Pettersson line. Instead, he aligned Eriksson with his countryman. The obvious reason was to have a responsible defensive presence on the line, but Eriksson did score his first goal of the season Friday and maybe he had some mojo going.
He had a first period to remember. He blocked a shot and had a scoring chance off a partial breakaway. He nearly deposited a backhand and then set up Pettersson. He had three shots and four attempts in the frame.
In the third, he was fed a great pass by Goldobin but couldn’t handle it to snap a 2-2 draw.
“He had lot of chances,” said Green. “Every time we put him with that line, it has done well. Both him and Goldy had looks and I know they want to score.”
No puck luck for Markstorm
It was looking like one of those nights where Jacob Markstrom wasn’t going to need the water bottle.
The Canucks had a 2-0 lead and then came an unassisted power-play goal by Justin Abdelkader that could have been cleared — even though Tanev and Tyler Motte took away the passing seam in the slot — and then a Gustav Nyquist effort that deflected in off Troy Stecher.
And in overtime, Markstrom out-waited Nyquist with a glove save as he moved across the crease before Dylan Larkin scored the lone shootout effort. It was a marked improvement after Markstrom allowed six goals Friday.
“It’s always tough to lose in a shootout because in overtime, I knew he (Nyquist) was going backdoor and just tried to get over and cover the ice and get the glove over the pad,” said Markstrom. “I like our game. We have a young group and we’re trying to play fast.”
Tanev takes another one for team
Tanev returned after missing five games with a hip bone bruise that was worse than most knew. When struck by a puck on Oct. 24 in Las Vegas, it was like a big hematoma or hip-pointer and there was swelling and bleeding that had to subside.
That didn’t stop Tanev from stepping in front of a second-period power-play slapper and then shaking his leg and shake off the effects of doing what he does best to finish with four blocked shots. He also settled down Derrick Pouliot who has a penchant for turning over pucks in his own zone.
“I think he’s the most-underrated player in the NHL,” said Stecher. That’s my opinion. He’s not flashy, but he does so many little things right. Plays tough minutes against tough lines, plays the PK and is so valuable to our team. He’s not the biggest guy, but his positioning is always good and he’s able to box guys out.”
Said Green: “He looked like he didn’t miss a beat.”
Hutton learns to walk the line
The Canucks came out on the right side of two challenges and Ben Hutton made a good decision on his third goal of the season.
The Canucks won a second-period ruling when Martin Frk looked offside before beating Markstrom to the glove side. And later in the period, Hutton’s wrister from the point went through the legs of Danny DeKeyser and found the short side. The Wings challenged that Eriksson was offside trying to keep the puck in at the blueline. They were wrong.
Hutton’s goal came because instead of just trying to force a shot through, he took a step to the left before his release.
“I was just working on getting it (puck) past the first guy and making a little shimmy move at the top when I saw the first guy and the traffic,” said Hutton. “I didn’t know it was my goal.”
A Pettersson comparison with bite
Pettersson has been compared to Pavel Datsyuk, Peter Forsberg and Pavel Bure. There might be something to the Datsyuk stuff because it’s also coming from Wings coach Jeff Blashill, who coached the well-rounded Russian.
“He (Pettersson) is a different player than most of the young players in the league,” said Blashill. “I’ve never compared anybody else to Pav, but I don’t know if it’s an unreal comparison, but it’s the closest one I can come up with.
“Obviously, he (Datsyuk) was stronger when he got to the NHL, but it’s not built on speed (with Pettersson). It’s more built on hands and hockey smarts, edges and ability to skate in tight areas and draw people to you. And that’s where I think thee’s a real comparison.
“He changes his speed like Pav and maximizes his speed by changing his pace. The game is not about speed, it’s about space and the easiest way is speed, because that’s what most of the young guys have. One way is strength and he (Pettersson) creates it with his smarts, his edges his hands and he’ll pull the puck in tight and put the puck in different areas. He creates space.”
Green has heard dozens gush over Pettersson and Blashill’s plaudits come with merit and pause.
“It’s nice to hear a comparison like that,” said Green. “We’re excited about it but it’s up to us to make sure we curtail it and keep the pressure off.”
Horvat understood Willie’s World
Willie Desjardins did two things when named interim coach Monday after the struggling Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens and assistant Don Nachbaur a day earlier.
The former Canucks bench boss got lost on a walk when trying to find the El Segundo practice facility, but has never lost his coaching message. Desjardins has always had a win-now mantra and that will endear him to veteran players as he works with new assistant Marco Sturm, who coached the German entry in the Olympics, to motivate an aging core.
“He’s a veteran (player) type coach and he respects them a lot and with the veterans they have like (Anze) Kopitar and (Jeff) Carter and (Dustin) Brown and (Drew) Doughty, he’s going to be a real good fit there,” predicted Horvat.
The Canucks centre had to earn his NHL rookie stripes with Desjardins and it wasn’t easy.
Horvat had 25 points (13-12) as a fourth-line centre who averaged 12:16 of playing time and never played more than 14:27. It was a methodical means of ensuring he was first good defensively and his 51.4 face-off efficiency was proof of that.
“He gave me a chance to break into league and didn’t push me,” recalled Horvat. “He didn’t put me in any bad situations and I had to work for everything I got. I didn’t get anything handed to me and I learned a lot. It kind of set the type of player I was going to be, a two-way player and let my offensive game show itself and focus on D part first. That’s why I am were I am today.”
The reality of coaching casualties
First John Stevens. And then Joel Quenneville.
Two head coaches fired in three days by Los Angeles and Chicago respectively.
The Kings jettisoned Stevens, who interviewed twice in Vancouver to replace the fired Alain Vigneault, along with assistant Don Nachbaur on Sunday because the aging Kings lost six-straight games last month and the head coach lost the room. Quenneville lost the battle of a grudging rebuild and differences of opinion Tuesday and the last 11 seasons in Chicago — including three Stanley Cup championships — after running the show in Colorado and St. Louis, don’t mean much today.
“It’s the reality of the world we live in and we all understand that,” said Blashill. “The biggest thing is you get so focused on your own stuff. I was given this quote a while ago: “The best soldiers are the ones who aren’t afraid to die.” The only thing you can control is to do the best job you can and I know perspective because at the end of day, I have a great family to go home to.
“You try to shield them the best you can. My oldest son just wants to just be a kid, he doesn’t want to be the Red Wings coach’s son. Some liked that he was the coach’s son and some didn’t because he didn’t go a good enough job. That’s life.”
Green saluted Quenneville for being tough to coach against.
“You’re talking about an elite coach,” he said. “He’s a smart guy on the bench and is sharp and you can tell the coaches who are always looking for an advantage. For me, I enjoy it. It’s the NHL. When I played, I enjoyed every day and in coaching I have the same outlook. It’s like any job, there’s stress in it and you love the compete and trying to win and it’s all part of it.”
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.