There’s still one season remaining on Ryan Miller’s contract in Vancouver, but 26-year-old Jacob Markstrom is still auditioning to be part of the Canucks’ future between the pipes. When it comes to effort, he earned an A-plus Monday night.
Markstrom took the net against the Winnipeg Jets for his fourth start in eight games and he was challenged early and often. After being beaten twice in the first frame, Markstrom wasn’t about to let any pucks by him easily for the rest of the night, and in the back half of the first period that meant he had to spend almost a dozen seconds tending goal without the use of a stick or blocker.
It looks just as crazy as it sounds — watch Markstrom protect his hand — and the play by the young netminder it even more gutsy when he reaches out in the midst of the scramble to pluck the puck off the ice and get a whistle:
It’s frightening to watch the overhead view given that Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa has his foot in the crease when Markstrom starts to put his hand out. It would have been a nightmare if Markstrom’s hand was in the mix with skates buzzing around his crease. Then you have Markstrom picking the puck up as Jets winger Marko Dano takes a stab at it. Luckily, Markstrom’s reflexes were quick enough for him to yank the loose puck up off the ice and out of harm’s way before he took any hacks to the bare hand.
Unfortunately, not even risking his hand’s safety cold help Markstrom earn the win Monday night. He allowed five goals on 29 shots and the Canucks fell to the Jets 5-2. That puts a bit of a damper on what had been a good run of starts for Markstrom, but he’s improving steadily and might be ready for an even bigger role in 2016-17.
In 26 appearances this season, Markstrom has an 11-9-4 record, 2.65 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. This comes the season after he posted an incredible 22-7-1 record in the AHL with a 1.88 GAA and .934 SP and led the Utica Comets to the Calder Cup final.