January 03 2012 01:15AM
Michael Handzus was on all of my playoff pool teams when I was a teenager. (Jonathan Hayward, Canadian Press)
The Canucks lost in the shootout to the Sharks, 3-2, although they did earn a point coming from behind in the third period. For full analysis and a recap in scoring chances, click past the jump...
-Let's get it out of the way first: Cody Hodgson had a fantastic game. He won't make the statistical three stars tonight because the overall offense just wasn't good enough with him on the ice, but, man, does he ever do a lot of things right. Watching this game, I thought for sure that somebody would notice how much Alain Vigneault was banking on him late in the game. He played 13:37, was moved up to the second line for the third period in replacement of Mason Raymond, and was counted on especially late, with the last shift in overtime being given to him and Raymond. He then used the time he had to ice the puck, but there you go.
-I was excited to listen to the post-game, after the whole "Cody's minutes are Cody's minutes" fiasco after the Anaheim game, but no reporter in the room seemed eager to discuss Cody Hodgson's increased minutes over the last two games. Whatever. The guy played great, so I'll just flaunt his stat-line here: He was +2 in scoring chances, had two shots on goal (both of them were within the scoring chance zone) and set up Hansen's chance in the first period. He also was not part of the Canucks penalty kill which was awful tonight.
-Enough about Cody. The team lost, and that sucks. Shootouts, the bane of the Vancouver Canucks' existence, suck too. You can't really complain about the fact that when you can't win the game in regulation, it pretty much goes straight to a coin-flip. The NFL does this too, but only a little bit more literally, and the team that loses the coin-flip doesn't get the redeeming loser point that accompanies such a stupid gimmick. Maybe we wouldn't have so much pent-up frustration if the Canucks weren't the 23rd best team in the NHL in shootouts in existence (wait, there are teams worse than Vancouver?) but it sort of stinks. Especially when Roberto Luongo makes a couple of really solid stops and his team in front of him fails to put anything past the guy at the other end.
-Especially when the guy is Antti Niemi.
-The penalty-kill was more awful than the powerplay was awful. They gave up five chances in a little under five minutes. A good powerplay will get two shots and one scoring chance per two-minute attempt. In a little under five minutes, the Sharks recorded ten shots and five chances, which equals out to three real quality powerplays that they somehow failed to score on. But the media guys wanted to talk about the powerplay...
-...and Alain Vigneault had all the answers for the powerplay. I guess the PK wasn't theoretically a problem this game because they didn't allow a goal, but the powerplay was apparently a problem because they "only" went 1-for-6. Also, they tied the game on the powerplay. Vigneault had the answers: they got the goal, they got shots, they got chances, but I'm not sure that the local reporters know how many shots or chances that the Canucks had. They had a lot of opportunities to seal this game in regulation, but the PP was kept to the outside all night and really failed to create anything down low. They got nine shots in a little over 7 and a half minutes and three scoring chances, so I can't qualify that as a good powerplay.
-Alain Vigneault is lucky that the local beatwriters don't know how to use a simple application like timeonice.com, because they might call him out on the fact that he pretty much lied about the powerplay to them tonight.
-I thought that Roberto Luongo played great again. He's been very good lately, very much in 2007 form. He isn't getting shutouts, but he's putting up a lot of two-goal games, which is usually all it takes the Canucks to win now (not tonight). Since he's come back from his injury, he's gotten 13 starts. 9 of those were "quality" starts, (which is a .913 save percentage, or 2-or-fewer goals whilst stopping .885 percent of pucks) and he has a .930 save percentage. Not quite sure what that figures into at even strength, but the point is that he's been really good.
-Except for that Dan Boyle "chance" late in the game that sort of popped up behind him and landed just on the back of the cage. That was a total fluke, and Luongo nearly misplayed a puck that would have cost the Canucks a point.
-Also, this "save" on Joe Thornton after two Canucks players lost their sticks was rather suspect. Marleau fed the puck across the goal mouth right onto the stick of Thornton. All Thornton had to do was put it on net, but he couldn't even do that. Check out the trail of the puck: I followed it with my telestrator (Canucks Army offers only the best technology available) and it looks like that puck was going a foot wide. Sheesh, Thornton, at least when Dan Hamhuis misses his empty nets, he at least puts it somewhere in the direction of the goal mouth. This is only a save for Luongo because his arm happened to be away from the barn door that Thornton was trying to shoot at.
-Joe Thornton actually had a pretty tough game. He took a beating on the post-game show because Jeff Patterson only looks at giveaways. Sure, Jumbo Joe had some brutal ones, but he was only a minus-1 in scoring chances at even strength. Before you look too much into that, look at the zone start report. Thornton had 8 defensive zone starts to one in the offensive end of the ice. He also drew some extremely tough assignments on defense: keeping the Sedins off the score sheet allowing Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture to sift around in the offensive end against Manny Malhotra & 4th Line Co.
-So, good on ya, Joe. Even if you are the loser asshole the fan next to me kept yelling you were all night.
-The final scoring-chance tally was 13-13. With the score-tied at 5-on-5, it was 4-4. This was a remarkably even game between two teams with remarkably even philosophies at, arguably, remarkably-even levels of play. The Sharks were dominating the shot clock through the second period, but they weren't actually getting a lot of chances. I wonder if this is a trend this season, sort of similar to the Canucks in that they take a lot of perimeter shots to set up the shots in close. But the Canucks defense was rather solid, despite some really shaky play around the crease, at keeping those second chances away. Luongo was also covering a lot of pucks.
-Also, the Sharks blocked a lot of Canuck attempts that were inside the "scoring chance area" that could have gone for chances. You don't often see a team do that, but they kept the Canucks' medium-range attack at bay for the most part. On shot blocks though, a minute in to overtime, Daniel Sedin actually blocked a Benn Ferreiro attempt.
The Statistical Three Stars:
1 - Mason Raymond (+3 in scoring chances, 5 shots, one chance created)
2 - Christopher Higgins (+4 in scoring chances, 0 chances allowed in 14:39 at EV and :34 on the PK)
3 - Alexander Edler (+3 in scoring chances, played 1:49 of PK time without, somehow, allowing a scoring chance)
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20572
|VAN||1||4:18||VAN G 1-0 Hansen||1||3||9||22||23||36||17||26||31||60||64||88||5v5|
|SJS||2||18:26||S.J G 1-1 Ferriero||1||2||3||27||32||40||22||29||31||39||44||78||5v5|
|SJS||2||9:28||S.J G 2-1 Marleau||1||4||21||22||23||33||3||8||12||19||31||61||5v5|
|VAN||3||8:26||VAN G 2-2 Hodgson||1||2||3||9||20||25||3||31||39||69||88||5v4|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|