Vancouver Canucks Fans Get to See Finnish Phenom Patrik Laine, and the Added Bonus of Win Over Winnipeg Jets
The hype was off the charts.
Not so much for the matchup, but for must-see rookie Patrik Laine. The level of cockiness, confidence and competitiveness in the towering Finnish winger has not only inspired the Winnipeg Jets. The Vancouver Canucks certainly took notice Tuesday at Rogers Arena.
There was his initial bold partial break-in, which the second overall pick in the 2016 draft — he of the 18 goals and considerable swagger — forced Ben Hutton to take an interference minor. And there was an early laser-like release of a power-play wrist shot that Jacob Markstrom may not have seen but managed to get a piece of.
However, there was also a level of pushback on the part of the Canucks in a 4-1 victory as Markstrom made 31 saves.
On a night when it looked early like the biggest question was how could the big, speedy and physical Jets be below the playoff bar, the Canucks once again got themselves back in a game — and then back into that polarizing debate about whether they have the stuff to chase down an unlikely wild-card spot.
Jannik Hansen has been vocal about wanting to win here — and not being moved at the trade deadline to a Stanley Cup contender — and proved it in more ways than one. He scored twice and even frustrated Jets captain Blake Wheeler to the point where the winger took a roughing penalty at the end of the second period for punching Hansen during a sideboards confrontation.
And Luca Sbisa logged 9:13 in the first period and looked like he might go north of 26 minutes — he averages 17:40 — and his effort was not lost on anybody wondering how the Canucks were going to manage on the back end without the injured Alex Edler and Erik Gudbranson having wrist surgery Friday in New York.
However, it was the second Hansen effort which proved a turning point.
The winger not only got a shot away just inside the blueline, it was captain Henrik Sedin who went to the net to provide the screen. It must have been inspirational. Less than three minutes later, Baertschi blocked a Dustin Byfuglien shot at the point and sped away and went to the backhand deke to provide the two-goal cushion.
Earlier, Markus Granlund missed on a backhand-to-forehand breakaway move before Bo Horvat fed Baertschi for a glorious chance. All that overshadowed Laine. He scored in his first NHL game, already has two hat tricks and only Sidney Crosby (22) and David Pasternak (19) have more goals and only Leon Draisaitl and Wayne Simmonds have more power-play goals (7). No wonder he’s cocky and confident.
“It’s a big part of who I am,” said Laine. “And it’s a big part of my game that I have confidence. I know what I’m capable of and how good I am — and that’s not a bad thing. People can think what they want, but I know how good I am and I’m not afraid to say it.”
People are now thinking that there might be something to these plucky Canucks.