November 03 2011 09:29PM
The Canucks sucked tonight, but this picture rules.
Clutterbuck getting hit is great, the fans in the shot are funny, and you can see the puck going the other way to spring a Minnesota four on one. Perfect.
Through 12 games this season, the Canucks have been the picture of inconsistency. While, for the most part, they've played well and been the victims of poor puck luck - tonight was a different story. In tonight's game the Canucks were man-handled in every which way, and lost the game in a 20 minute stretch that began mid-way through the first period and ended mid-way through the second period in which they were out chanced by their division rivals by a tally of 17 to 2. Ouch.
It's becoming clear that Sami Salo's presence in the top-4 is required for this team to perform the way the fans in Vancouver, and the guys in the locker room expect. This is a major, worrisome issue considering Salo's overall fragility and advanced aged. With Salo out nursing a "sore" groin, the Canucks defense featured a top four pairing composed of Edler and Alberts. The pairing was an unmitigated disaster as Alberts finished -7 in chance differential and Edler finished -3...
The defense was worse than the underlying numbers, or even their chance differential indicates. Alberts and Bieksa went "swimming" on a number of occasions, Edler is not only completely neutered offensively when he plays the right side, but he's a liability defensively too, and the team as a whole had more turnovers than Pilsbury throughout the game.
By the third period Alain Vigneault was putting his lines in the old blender, and some of his choices were probably indicative of his displeasure with certain players. Bieksa, who was as responsible with the puck as John McCain was with his Vice Presidential selection, was taken off the 2nd unit power-play and replaced by Alexander Sulzer in the third period. Manny Malhotra, far and away the worst Canucks forward tonight, was finally dropped to the fourth line in favour of Maxim Lapierre; while Cody Hodgson was elevated to play with the twins. Hodgson was actually solid in the game despite his team's total no-show, as was David Booth who battled hard and had a number of dangerous shifts even while he remains unable to find twine.
But the story of the game was defense. The average game that I count chances for has 35 chances both ways, tonight the Canucks allowed the Wild 29 total chances in sixty minutes. Minnesota actually set a franchise record for most shots in a home-game tonight, and it certainly looked like it. Cory Schneider may have allowed five goals, but that is about as good as you'll see a goaltender play in game in which he is functionally blown-up. He had a number of jaw-dropping saves, and frankly, this game could've been a lot worse, which is amazing to think about because it was already a whole forest of ugly.
Finally, it should be noted that score effects did not take over in this game. Even with the game well in hand the Wild continued to dominate the Canucks physically and in the chance count. That's rare, and a credit to Minnesota coach Mike Yeo, and to the Wild's complete and utter hatred for this Canucks team. I'd make fun of it as indicative of the Wild's infatuation with the Canucks as a "rival," but I'm just too impressed by the ferocity with which Minnesota's club ripped the Canucks throat's out to resort to mockery. While the Canucks have had some ugly games so far this season, tonight was far and away the worst of a sordid bunch.
The silver lining? The team will have a chance for immediate redemption tomorrow, is getting Aaron Rome back soon (which will stabilize the right side of the defense to some extent) and at least we know that tomorrow night's game can't possibly be as bad as tonight's was. Can the Canucks find the form required to avoid embarrassment, not just against St. Louis tomorrow, but against the hated Blackhawks on Sunday? Let's just hope that Salo's sore groin isn't too, too serious...
Here's your advanced-stat tables courtesy Vic Ferrari and timeonice.com.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20174
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|