Troy Stecher

Canucks’ Troy Stecher honors late dad after Game 1 goal

As he skated around the Blues’ net after firing home the Canucks’ third goal, Troy Stecher pointed to the sky and yelled, “Let’s go!”

The goal was meaningful for two reasons: It gave Vancouver the lead for good in their Game 1 win over St. Louis. But it was also Stecher’s first goal since his father, Peter, died on Father’s Day from complications of diabetes. He was 65 years old.

The Canucks defenseman opened up about the loss of his dad to Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre last month. Peter Stecher was his son’s first hockey coach and wrote Troy a letter during his rookie season that was never sent. Troy found the letter, which was about how proud his dad was that his hard work led to the NHL, while cleaning out Peter’s apartment.

“I miss my dad every day. It was a big goal at a crucial time,” Stecher said afterward. “We’ve talked about trying to get the win in Game 1 and obviously that gave us the lead, and the boys hunkered down.”

The Canucks knew the magnitude of that goal, not just for the game, but also for their teammate.

“What he went through in the summer was just devastating and I just wanted to go and hug him,” said Elias Pettersson.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Zack MacEwan and Jacob Markstrom also lost their fathers this season. Both were there for Stecher in his time of need.

“Very emotional for him,” Markstrom said. “I know what he’s going through and it’s not easy. For him to show that kind of emotion, I was just so happy he got it. I got emotional as well just thinking about it. I gave him a big hug after the game and to get rewarded with a goal in a big game with everything he has been going through that’s huge.”

It’s not been easy for the 26-year-old defenseman this summer. But getting back to his teammates when summer training camp opened helped him while he grieved.

“It’s been tough at certain moments throughout this process,” Stecher said. “I’m thankful to be surrounded by my teammates and I had a couple of seconds there to reflect on my dad. And the biggest thing was everybody showed their support on the bench instantly and just motivated me to keep me going.”

No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VAN leads series 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver 5, St. Louis 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks never trail, beat Blues 5-2 in Game 1

The young Canucks didn’t look like they feared the defending-champion Blues, at least not in Game 1. The Canucks never trailed in Game 1, breaking a tied third period to win 5-2, taking a 1-0 series lead against the Blues.

Blues found themselves chasing Canucks in Game 1

When we look back at this First Round 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff series, we may say that the Blues eventually neutralized the explosive but inexperienced (and not particularly deep) Canucks. That was not the story of Game 1.

During the first period, both teams scored fairly similar power-play goals, with Bo Horvat and David Perron finding the net with quick shots from the “bumper” position. Vancouver’s power play continued to cause problems, as Elias Pettersson also briefly gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead during the second period. Jaden Schwartz quickly answered with a 2-2 goal as the last tally of that period, yet this would not be the last time the Blues found themselves trailing in Game 1.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

In a moment Jordan Binnington would like to have back, Troy Stecher boomed a shot by the Blues goalie 5:37 into the third. About two-and-a-half minutes later, Horvat bamboozled Vince Dunn with a splendid move to score his second goal of Game 1, and make it 4-2.

While the Blues managed some pushes late in Game 1, they couldn’t come back against the Canucks. After St. Louis got whistled for a late penalty, J.T. Miller scored the 5-2 goal on a power play at first focused on clock-killing.

Vancouver managed one of the bigger Game 1 upsets of the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving the Blues with some serious work to do.

There was some nastiness in Game 1, including this ugly spear by Troy Brouwer on Antoine Roussel:

Will this series get nastier? Perhaps. Considering the makeup of this Blues team, the finesse-heavy portion of the top of the Canucks lineup would be wise to mostly avoid the fray. So far, Horvat, Pettersson, and Quinn Hughes didn’t seem overwhelmed by the moment in facing the defending champs.

One other side note: should the Blues keep an eye on Binnington? As great as Binnington was during that 2019 Stanley Cup run, his NHL sample size isn’t enormous. And, quietly or not, Jake Allen enjoyed a much better 2019-20 season than Binnington did.

Consider this comparison, via Hockey Reference:

Game 1 Canucks Blues Binnington Allen comparison

Just food for thought, particularly if the Blues struggle as the First Round progresses.

No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VAN leads series 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver 5, St. Louis 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award finalists, plus more

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Willie O’Ree Award finalists; bits on Rangers, Bruins, Maple Leafs

• Announcing the finalists for the 2020 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in its third annual rendition: Dampy Brar of Calgary, Alexandria Briggs-Blake of Oxon Hill, Maryland, and John Haferman of Columbus. [NHL.com]

Charlie Coyle‘s agent confirmed that Coyle was held out of Bruins practice Saturday because of an inconclusive COVID-19 test. Coyle was among seven Bruins who were deemed “unfit to play,” with Tuukka Rask, Torey Krug, David Krejci, Chris Wagner, and others also in that situation. In at least Coyle’s case, his agent claims that after that inconclusive test, Coyle’s follow-up test ended up being negative. Considering the speculation swirling around David Pastrnak already, it’s been a turbulent start to Bruins training camp. [NBC Sports Boston]

• Apparently, the Maple Leafs really kicked things up a notch on Sunday. That translated to mimicking actual games more, including a full 60-minute scrimmage with breaks that were a lot like intermission pauses. All of that said, the lineup choices might have been the most exciting. Imagine the anxiety a defenseman would feel having to defend John TavaresAuston MatthewsMitch Marner? Almost seems unfair. [TSN]

• Speaking of the Maple Leafs, really interesting insightful stuff from Jeff Veillette on the team being punished for “investing in themselves.” [Faceoff Circle]

• Larry Brooks writes of Kaapo Kakko bringing a new “swagger” and looking like a new man. Beyond his health risks, that’s a good thought. Because … well, frankly, Kakko quietly suffered through a crummy rookie season. [New York Post]

Like, really bad. Note: it’s not great when you see the old “double walrus” (term I just made up) on someone’s Evolving Hockey RAPM chart:

• More Rangers: after some concern, it sounds like Pavel Buchnevich will be available for the Rangers for the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. [Blueshirts Forever]

Other hockey links

• Bryan Burns of the Lightning website zooms through the pros and cons of media “scrums” on Zoom/the Internet versus the traditional way they’ve been done in person. Reporters generally prefer the old way. What about players, and coaches, such as Jon Cooper? They are more of a mixed bag. [Lightning website]

• Deeply sad stuff from Troy Stecher on the recent passing of his father, Peter. The story is also poignant, though, as Troy discusses a loving letter Peter wrote for Troy that Peter never got to send. It’s a worthwhile, if emotional, read all around. [Sportsnet]

• Sin Bin Vegas believes the Golden Knights’ top line of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny needs a nickname. [Sin Bin Vegas]

Mikko Koivu admits that he’s not ready to make a retirement decision. Honestly, that’s good, because I think I speak for many others in hoping a Selke-caliber forward gets another stab at a truly great run. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

• Oilers Nation’s Cam Lewis believes Edmonton will lean toward starting Mike Smith, not Mikko Koskinen, during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Lewis points to Smith’s experience, in particular. Personally, I wonder if experience is overrated, at least when you consider how often Smith’s looked shaky with all of that mileage on him at age 38. [Oilers Nation]

• Why is it so difficult for defensemen to win, or even become finalists for, the Lady Byng? [The Hockey News]

• Icethetics goes deep (like, really deep) on whether leaks about a Senators rebranding might be legit. And if so, if those tweaks would be well-advised. [Icethetics]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.