Elias Pettersson is NHL's First Star of the Week after another 5-point game
Sunday December 9 - Vancouver Canucks 6 - St. Louis Blues 1
The game was hidden on a Sunday afternoon, on the road in St. Louis, on a regional broadcast. But the hockey world still took notice of Elias Pettersson's second career five-point game and Brock Boeser's second career hat trick as the Vancouver Canucks pounded the St. Louis Blues by a score of 6-1.
Fun stuff! Here are your highlights:
The Hockey Gods have dished out plenty of punishment to the Canucks this season—mostly in the form of injuries, as usual, but also a good dose of missed calls and bad breaks along the way. As the team has gotten healthier, its luck has also seemed to start shifting—with no better example so far than Boeser's first goal on Sunday, which bounced into the net off Jake Allen's back after hitting the end glass.
The only reason this counted as Vancouver's first shot of the game was because it turned into a goal, 2:31 into the opening frame.
By the 14:06 mark of the first, Boeser had his second goal, Petey had his third point, the Canucks had a 3-0 lead and Jake Allen had earned himself an early shower—following up his shutout performance in Winnipeg on Friday with three goals on six shots against Vancouver.
As a team, the Blues may have put so much emotional energy into turning the tables after the Jets had victimized them on Patrik Laine's five-goal night two weeks earlier that they had nothing left to give against the Canucks.
After replacing Allen, backup Chad Johnson allowed three goals on 15 shots the rest of the way—Bo Horvat's 14th of the year, Nikolay Goldobin's fifth and Boeser's hat-trick goal in the third period, which was so hard to read that he didn't get a single hat thrown on the ice.
Since the Blues have failed to rally around Craig Berube since he took over a couple of weeks ago, there is fallout in St. Louis on Monday. Now with a 2-6-0 record in 10 appearances with a 3.55 GAA and .884 save percentage, Johnson was placed on waivers on Monday. After spending last season in Buffalo, where his numbers were almost the same (3.55, .891 in 36 appearances), Johnson signed in St. Louis as a UFA on July 1, on a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.75 million.
Tempers also flared at the Blues' Monday practice, as Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sanford dropped the mitts during a battle drill.
Since Mike Yeo was let go, there has been talk that all potential deals are on the table in St. Louis. The vultures are swirling to see if they can extract defensemen Alex Pietrangelo or Colton Parayko, it seems, and I've heard that even Vladimir Tarasenko could be available if the price was right. I wonder if Doug Armstrong will be allowed to make one more big deal in an attempt to turn things around, or if his missteps last summer already have him close to walking the plank?
For all the misery the Canucks have suffered over the years when they've played in St. Louis, it was nice to see the tables turned on Sunday.
As for Pettersson, he continues to work statistical magic that earns him nice graphics from the NHL and the TV networks:
Even when the Boeser-for-Calder train was running at full steam last season, we knew those three five-point games by Mat Barzal were helping him make his own case—one he eventually ended up winning after Boeser went down with his injury last March.
Now, Pettersson's second five-point game has come even earlier than Barzal's did. And with the sense that Petey and Boeser are still just locking in their groove together, the pair's potential is tantalizing.
With 30 points in just 26 games, Pettersson's 1.15 points per game ranks him 24th overall in the NHL, just behind a group that includes Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Matt Duchene and David Pastrnak at 1.17 and just ahead of Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Kane, Gabriel Landeskog Mark Stone and Sean Monahan at 1.13.
If he can maintain that rate of production—and stay healthy—Petey's on pace for 44-44-88 in 76 games. Can you imagine??
As Slightly_Offside reminded me, that would easily shatter the Vancouver team records for points by a rookie (60, by Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka), goals by a rookie (34, Bure) and assists by a rookie (42, by Dale Tallon in the team's inaugural season in 1970-71).
Of course, we learned the hard way with Boeser last season that these projections have a way of not holding up—especially when you do the math right after a big game. With 21 goals and 38 points in 36 games through the end of December last year, Boeser looked like a lock to break Bure's goals and points records. But he slowed down significantly in the second half of the season, ultimately finishing with 29-26-55 in 62 games before his season-ending injury in early March.
Monday marks the second time that Pettersson has been named one of the league's Three Stars. His five-point performance against Colorado back on November 2nd helped him earn second-star honours for the week of November 5.
I was rooting for Jacob Markstrom to pick up his first shutout of the year on Sunday, but Jordan Kyrou foiled my plan with his first career NHL goal, midway through the third period. As a result, Pettersson's first-period goal stood up as the game winner—his third straight for Vancouver after his penalty-shot goal against Nashville and his tie-breaking third-period marker in L.A. back on November 24.
That gives Pettersson four game-winning goals so far this season, one off the league lead that's shared by Landeskog, Yanni Gourde of Tampa Bay and Elias Lindholm of Calgary.
The Canucks have already made their way to Columbus, where they'll take on John Tortorella's Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
A good day to see an inspiring face at practice!
I'm thinking the odds are probably pretty good that Murph will catch us up on what has been happening with Derek Dorsett during a between-periods interview on Tuesday?
Another programming note: Sportsnet has put together a half-hour documentary on the life and times of Brock Boeser. It's scheduled to run right after Tuesday's game:
Other notes from Monday's practice:
One final note for those of you who hate Jacob Markstrom's ear mask: he has worn his new, ear-free mask for both games in this modest winning streak. Seems the new era has now officially arrived!
One other quick note that I just stumbled upon. Seems Jett Woo has taken his World Junior roster snub as major motivation: