Bo Horvat has been on an absolute tear for the Vancouver Canucks over the past month.
In the last 15 games, Horvat has scored 13 goals. In one of those 15 games, Horvat played less than five minutes before leaving the game with a stomach problem, so it’s a lot more like 13 goals in 14 games.
His two-goal game against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday was one of his best performances of the season. He was involved in the Canucks’ first three goals, assisting the first, then scoring the next two within 38 seconds of the second period.
Beyond the points, Horvat was dominant in the face-off circle, going a perfect 17-for-17. This included eight game wins in the defensive zone alone, taking more face-offs in the defensive zone than the rest of the Canucks combined.
Surprisingly, another face-off ace was his biggest victim. Horvat faced Jay Beagle seven times and won every draw. Beagle has a better faceoff percentage than Horvat this season — 58.6 percent to Horvat’s 57.3 percent — but Horvat had his number on Thursday night. Maybe it was all those days we practiced facing each other with the Canucks. Maybe Beagle taught Horvat everything he knew, but Horvat kept a few tricks a secret.
“Bruce sent me there for the last draw at the end and I didn’t want to mess it up – I thought I was there at the end, close to perfect,” Horvat said. “I’m happy to have won this last one because Beags is a tough opponent and has fought with him in training in the past.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been 100% in the point before, so it’s cool to have that.”
The two goals brought Horvat to the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career – a magical mark that will forever allow him to claim the ’30-goal scorer’ label, which holds high significance as human beings have a mode of 10 phalanges which gives numbers divisible by 10 a symbolic weight unrelated to their real substance.
But what is hockey if not a bunch of numbers with symbolic weight beyond their real importance? Thursday night, the Canucks moved a rubber disc over a painted line five times, while only allowing the Coyotes to do the same once, and because of that, the Canucks were deemed better than the Coyotes. for at least one night and awarded two points. according to a largely arbitrary system of assigning measures for gains and losses.
These numbers made a large number of people happy and a much smaller number of people sad when I watched this game.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland were playing their first game in Glendale since being traded from the Coyotes and it was especially emotional for Ekman-Larsson, who played 11 seasons with the Coyotes and captained three of them. them. He received a video tribute and one standing ovation from the crowd just under capacity.
- Reported attendance was 9,679. I’m not buying it.
- Not taking anything away from the 5-1 win — any second-half back-to-back win is a good win — but the Coyotes are truly terrible. They’re last in the NHL for good reason. On top of that, they were missing leading scorer Clayton Keller, as well as number one defender Jakob Chychrun and fifth leading scorer Lawson Crouse. I mean, the Canucks were also missing Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes, so maybe it balances out.
- A big story in this game was the chemistry that suddenly developed between Elias Pettersson and Alex Chiasson. Wednesday against the Vegas Golden Knights, Chiasson sent a nice pass to Pettersson for a power-play goal and Pettersson returned the favor for the opening goal against the Coyotes. With Chiasson standing on the doorstep, Pettersson delivered the puck like a UPS driver, except with more speed and accuracy and for better pay and benefits.
- The pass is very fun to watch in slow motion as you can see how close it was to being blocked. The puck appears to go under Cam Dineen’s skate as he lifts it briefly to move it into a parallel position to block the pass. Then goaltender Harry Sateri — whose name doesn’t rhyme, which makes me irrationally angry — almost got the puck back with his stick, but because he reached out to block the pass, he didn’t failed to stop Chiasson.
- Vasily Podkolzin has been excellent in recent games and he has found some chemistry with Conor Garland and Bo Horvat in the second row. On one of Horvat’s many game wins, Garland fed the puck to Podkolzin, who cleverly kept it behind the net. It looked like Beagle had the angle on Horvat, so Sateri was caught completely off guard when Horvat hooked a wrapping shot under his pads.
- Here’s the problem for Sateri: when Horvat shot, his stick hit Sateri’s stick, so when the goalkeeper tried to drop into his butterfly, his left pad fell on his stick, leaving a gap. Maybe the puck still would have gone in if Sateri had been able to drop cleanly, but that certainly didn’t help.
- Less than a minute later, Horvat knocked out Garland and Podkolzin again. It was a nice passing game in transition: Horvat sent a backhand pass into space for Garland to win the area, then Garland sent a no-look pass to Podkolzin in the middle. The puck was a little behind Podkolzin, who was tightly controlled, so without hesitation he turned around and sent a nice backhand pass to a wide open Horvat and Bowie stabbed him.
- “I loved his game from the start,” Horvat said of Podkolzin. “He is definitely becoming himself already at such a young age. You saw the pass he made to me tonight and he makes all these little plays, it’s just a matter of guys burying it for him. He gave me a breakaway in the last game. He just does a lot of things and he’s going to be a really good player for years to come. »
- The Coyotes fought back after goals from Horvat and scored their first after a Travis Dermott turnover in the neutral zone. Nick Schmaltz was coming off the bench, so he snuck past Tyler Myers undetected for a quick breakaway, putting the puck five holes on Jaroslav Halak.
- Less than a minute later, it looked like the Coyotes had repeated Horvat’s feat with another quick goal. Halak was slow to cover a puck in the slot and Nick Ritchie was quick to rush to block the puck at home. Luckily for the Canucks, Ritchie was quick to pounce on the zone entrance and a successful coach’s challenge for offside knocked down the goal.
- It turned out to be a turning point. Dermott made up for his earlier giveaway by sending an excellent pass to take advantage of a poor Coyotes line change and give Pettersson and Chiasson a 2-on-0. Predictably, a 2-on-0 for the dynamic duo of Pettersson and Chiasson was bad news for the Coyotes – Pettersson switched to Chiasson, forcing Sateri to sell for the stoppage, but Chiasson just fired him to Pettersson for the open net tap-in.
- Chiasson was playing with Pettersson because Tanner Pearson left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury following an awkward collision in the neutral zone. Chiasson was then pushed back into the lineup to play with Pettersson and JT Miller on the first line. Honestly, it worked really well.
- “These guys like to have the puck,” Chiasson said, describing what he can bring to that line. “Creating space for them, trying to get recoveries on loose pucks, things like that. You give these guys a second or third opportunity on an attacking shift, they’ll find a way to create good chances. I know my game. I know what I can do to help guys like that.
- Chiasson added another power play goal in the third period to cap off a great game. Pettersson picked up his third point of the night by sending a backhand saucer pass to Ekman-Larsson at the point, whose shot appeared to take a double deflection – off Dineen’s stick handle and then Chiasson’s blade.
- Back-to-back 5-1 wins would be far more meaningful, of course, if the playoffs weren’t a pipe dream at this point. It would take a monumental collapse of the Los Angeles Kings or the Dallas Stars for the Canucks to sneak past them in the playoffs and they would have to go on an incredible winning streak and face the Vegas Golden Knights and maybe the Jets. Winnipeg. claim one of these places. But 5-1 wins are much more fun to watch and write about. I approve.