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I Watched This Game: Canucks drop ten goals on the Sharks

Quinn Hughes had a five-point night as the Canucks routed the Sharks in a game that wasn't a trap at all.
The Vancouver Canucks utterly crushed the last-place San Jose Sharks, scoring ten goals.

“It’s a trap!”

The Vancouver Canucks came into Thursday night’s game riding a five-game point streak while riding a PDO bender. They were facing a San Jose Sharks team with the worst record in the NHL that had yet to win a single game this season and was starting their backup goaltender.

It had all the makings of a trap game — a game in which the Canucks might play down to the level of their opponent like they have so many times before while making a backup goaltender look like a Vezina candidate. The Canucks might have underestimated the Sharks and looked past them to tougher opponents like the 7-1-1 Dallas Stars on Saturday or the division-rival Edmonton Oilers next Monday and get caught by a Sharks team hungry for their first win of the season.

Except, that didn’t happen. At all. Not even close.

Instead, the Canucks stomped all over the Sharks, getting into double digits in goals with a 10-1 win. It arguably should have been 10-0, as the Sharks’ lone goal maybe shouldn’t have counted.

It’s like if the Rebels’ attack run on the second Death Star had actually caught the Empire completely unaware with the deflector shield down and the battle station not even partially armed and operational, allowing Wedge Antilles and Lando Calrissian to fly unimpeded inside to blow up the reactor core in a minute flat. That’s how much this game wasn’t a trap. 

The Canucks of previous seasons would have laid an egg against the Sharks but not these Canucks.

Then again, concerns about this game being a trap severely underrated just how awful the Sharks are this season.

Here’s an indicator of just how bad the Sharks are. For the last two seasons, Kyle Burroughs was a seventh defenceman for the Canucks — a team with a notoriously bad defence corps. Burroughs was a perfectly fine seventh defenceman, who played an honest, physical game when he was inserted into the lineup and was a joy to be around off the ice, but there’s a reason why he wasn’t an everyday defenceman.

In San Jose, Burroughs is quarterbacking the first power play unit.

Burroughs led the Sharks in ice time on Thursday night, playing 22:22. The Sharks basically signed Burroughs to replace Erik Karlsson.

I felt simultaneously happy for Burroughs and also really, really bad for Burroughs after I watched this game.

  • Honestly, it probably helped the Canucks that they played so poorly on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, giving Rick Tocchet an opportunity to reemphasize that they can’t afford to get complacent at any point this season against any opponent. Or, as Tocchet put it, “We’ve got to be careful we don’t get fat and happy around here.”
  • Any hope the Sharks had of jumping out to a strong start in search of their first win went out the window when Nico Sturm shoved the toe of his stick into Mark Friedman’s face, causing a wound that required some quick stitches and giving the Canucks’ red-hot power play four minutes with the man advantage. Like a Travis Tritt fan on her birthday in 1992, the Sharks were asking for trouble.
  • It didn’t take long for Brock Boeser to open the scoring. Elias Pettersson kept the puck in at the point after turning it over, then, after Quinn Hughes got a touch, Pettersson put the puck in Boeser’s wheelhouse for a one-timer blast that went top shelf where mama hides her forged passports behind a false wall — mama has a history you don’t know about.
  • My colleague/rival Wyatt Arndt suggested that Boeser's nickname should be, in a nod to his glorious hair, The Brushin' Brocket. I'm on board; what do you think?
  • That was just the first power play of the double minor. They scored again on the second on a Sedinesque play from Boeser and J.T. Miller. Boeser fired a pass from his own blue line that banked off the end boards to a streaking Miller, who hoisted the puck over Kaapo Kahkonen. The play caught the Sharks penalty killers more flat-footed than Stanley Lambchop.  
  • “Our power play was ready to go off the hop,” said Hughes. “We haven’t been too consistent yet to start the year but we expect a lot from ourselves, so I’d say we set the tone tonight.”
  • Boeser’s playmaking has become such an underrated part of his game. This deft little backhand pass to Miller in stride was such a subtly great play, as he held off a check and stayed strong on his stick while neatly two-touching the puck through. The goals make headlines, but I love little plays like this.
  • Already with two assists on the power play goals, Hughes added a goal of his own a few minutes later. He discombobulated the Sharks defensive scheme with some rotation, then fired a wrist shot through a double screen of Nils Höglander and Jack Studnicka. The puck seemed to hit Sturm before tumbling into the net like David “The Bullet” Smith.
  • Boeser added another goal to make it 4-0 on a power play where the movement was really noticeable. Boeser made like Rick Hansen and was a man in motion: he started at the net front, rotated to the left faceoff circle, then slipped into the slot, before sneaking to the backdoor, where he batted in an Andrei Kuzmenko pass that deflected into the air off Kahkonen’s stick. 
  • The most impressive play of the game was a player receiving a pass, which is the most mundane possible description for the work of art that was Pettersson cradling an aerial puck from Kuzmenko and cushioning it ever so gently to the ice under perfect control. It was a sublime bit of skill.
  • Even better, the Canucks scored off Pettersson’s play to make it 5-0. Carson Soucy jumped up into the play and Pettersson hit him with a pass, then Soucy, perhaps inspired by Pettersson, made a lovely play of his own, gifting Ilya Mikheyev with a tap-in goal. Soucy’s pass, like gum, was perfection. 
  • Kuzmenko made it 6-0 midway through the second period. He played a give-and-go in the neutral zone to move in 2-on-1 down the right wing. He kept the puck moving with some quick hands before snapping a shot short side past Kahkonen before bumping the goaltender’s head with his knee. As a sign of how out of sorts the Sharks are right now, Kuzmenko and the Canucks immediately checked to make sure Kahkonen was okay while all of his Sharks teammates skated away.
  • At this point, like when there are two Sith, things were getting out of hand. The puck couldn’t stop going in the Sharks net, even as Mackenzie Blackwood replaced Kahkonen. Sam Lafferty scored the 7-0 goal with a simple burst of speed and a wraparound that wasn’t on net but deflected in anyway off Mario Ferraro’s skate.
  • Pius Suter scored his first goal as a Canuck to make it 8-0 before the end of the second period. Suter pursued the puck to the top of the Canucks zone and knocked down Filip Zadina with a stiff check, leading to a 3-on-1 as Hughes jumped up in the play. Suter swept in the pass from Hughes and the team pointedly did not celebrate because, unlike spices on pork, you don’t want to rub it in. 
  • That was Hughes’s fifth point of the game tying a franchise record for the most points in a single game by a Canucks defenceman. He’s now up to 16 points on the season, which doesn’t just lead all NHL defencemen in scoring but is tied for fourth among all NHL players. 
  • Anthony Beauvillier scored his first goal of the season in the third period to make it 9-0, sending a one-timer on the power play through Blackwood off another great pass from Soucy, who apparently has a playmaking element to his game that we didn’t know about. Stop hiding your light under a bushel, Soucy!
  • Beauvillier then quickly scored his second of the season thanks to some diligent puck pursuit by Conor Garland, who picked the pocket of Ty Emberson, and then set up Beauvillier. In his 500th career game, Beauvillier tucked the puck under the bar where the royal family keeps a secret tunnel from St. James’s Palace.  
  • The comfortable lead let Tocchet give his top players a rest. J.T. Miller played just 15:34 and Elias Pettersson played just 14:32, around five minutes less than their average heading into the game. Quinn Hughes was fifth in ice time on the Canucks defence and might have been sixth if Mark Friedman didn’t have to get repairs on his face twice. 
  • Of course, Hughes’ ice time was also limited a bit by the three minor penalties he took. What a goon.
  • “You don’t want guys to back off because that’s when you get hurt,” said Tocchet about managing the runaway score. “There’s some guys that I wanted to get some more ice time and rest some other guys, so it was kind of nice to get some other guys playing a lot that don’t usually play this much.”
  • The Sharks finally got on the board with less than four minutes remaining — a classic snack goal to keep the Sharks from getting too hungry to score the next time the two teams meet. Really, it shouldn’t have counted. Thatcher Demko was bumped by Zadina before Fabian Zetterlund’s shot, preventing him from getting set to make a save. Or maybe it was Ian Cole’s stick that affected Demko the most, it’s hard to say.
  • While Demko seemed to want Tocchet to challenge the goal to keep his shutout intact, it’s pretty understandable that Tocchet declined to do so. The Canucks were already embarrassing the Sharks — challenging the lone Sharks goal in a 10-1 game would have been about as petty as it gets.
  • It’s okay, Demko. It was a shutout in all of our hearts.
  • This was the first time the Canucks scored at least 10 goals in a game since March 1, 1992 when they thrashed the Calgary Flames 11-0. Sergio Momesso had a four-point game that night with two goals and two assists after opening up the game with a fight 11 seconds in for the Gordie Howe Hattrick. In total, there were six fights in that game, as the Flames didn’t take kindly to the thrashing they were receiving. In this game, there was just one, as Phil Di Giuseppe and Luke Kunin dropped the gloves midway through the second period.
  • Finally, spare a thought for this poor young Sharks fan who was in the arena for their first Sharks game for their birthday and had to witness the Sharks get utterly destroyed by the mean ol’ Canucks. That’s a rough birthday.