January 05 2012 10:38AM
Burrows picks himself out of the Wild net after scoring Vancouver's second goal on Wednesday.
Turns out the Wild aren't some new model for "winning with team defense, and shot quality," nor are they the "the leagues most improved team." Nope, the Minnesota Wild are back to being the Wild whom Canucks fans know, and are totally indifferent towards!
On Wednesday the Canucks took it to their Northwest division "rival" in the first, and sealed the deal in the games first ten minutes by scoring two goals on their way to a three-zip shutout victory. The Wild had no answer, and seemingly no emotional push-back as they offered limited resistance. The "Minnesota Tebows" never really pressed the issue after the Sedin line's second goal, and only managed 8 scoring chances at even-strength throughout the entire game (Vancouver had seven in the first period).
Even score effects couldn't make Mike Yeo's squad look respectable, the Wild continued to be out-chanced throughout, and were out-shot in the third period despite being down two in a "statement game" ostensibly between the Northwest Division's two top clubs.
Chance Data, the Statistical Three Stars and a more detailed recap after the jump.
- Not to be too big a jerk to the hockey fans in Minnesota, but their team needs a new name. Earlier this season when they were surprisingly successful, many took to calling them the Minnesota Mirage, or the Minnesota Tebows. I think it's partly because their name is terrible. For example, it's hard not to feel bad for Mike Russo (the Wild beat writer for the Star Tribune) who is forced to write sentences like "That's absolutely unbelievable when you consider where the Wild was one month ago" or "The Wild's at a fragile juncture." It's just so awkward. Considering how thoroughly un-wild tonight's game was, I like @GMLind's suggestion and think the Minnesota Meh would fit quite well, even if meh is as frustratingly singular as Wild.
- Speaking of hockey in Minnesota, we'd be remiss if we didn't link to the story of Minnesota youth player Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed playing the sport he loves by a hit from behind. Here is Bryan Reynolds' touching take on how the hockey community rallied to support Jabber, and here's a link to Jablonski's CaringBridge site if you'd like to donate in support.
- Also speaking of MIke Russo: since he pointed out that Luongo has historically struggled against the Wild, the Canucks starter has posted 120 straight minutes of shutout hockey. Last night was also Luongo's 700th game of his career, so it was nice to see him celebrate the milestone with a perfect game.
- In the first ten minutes of the first period, the Canucks were mostly dominant with the exception of a Minnesota chance at 15:21 that grazed the outside of the post. Vancouver out-chanced Minnesota six to two in the first ten minutes, on their way to building a two goal lead. Simply put: the Wild never really threatened to make it more interesting, and that was the safest two goal lead I've seen the Canucks hold all season.
- The first Canucks goal was a goofy one, and not a scoring chance, that was credited to Daniel Sedin. It was at least a fifty footer, from the weak side of the left circle that must have hit something in front on it's way to beating Josh Harding (who, unlike the rest of his team, played a fabulous game and recorded a quality start in a losing effort). Alex Burrows' timely screen on Daniel's shot probably facilitated this goal.
- The Second Canucks goal was a classic Sedin rush. Henrik casually flipped a back-hand saucer pass across the ice to his brother Daniel, who neatly slid a pass to Burrows who was charging the slot. Burrows got enough wood on the puck to direct it into the net, and was then directed into the net himself by Justin Faulk. It was an awkward little bit of Sedinery, and another example of Burrows' "dirty-goal" gene getting the job done. It's become increasingly clear that Burrows has surpassed Tomas Holmstrom as the king of shit mountain.
- It was nice to see Malhotra record the empty net goal for the Canucks, as he's playing some extremely tough minutes at even-strength and is doing so rather well (generally). He had 12 defensive zone starts, no starts in the offensive-zone and yet finished even in chance differential and had a positive fenwick and corsi number despite his circumstances. Malhotra's O-zone start rate has dipped below 15% on the season, and his tough-minutes proficiency is a big reason why both the Kesler and Sedin lines are able to get the plum-chances Vigneault gives them. He's arguably even more of an "enabler" this season, than he was in 2010-11.
- The Sedin line was dominant last night, and recorded 8 even-strength chances. Until the Wild acquire a couple of veteran defenders, it's hard to imagine them being able to contain the Canucks top-line sufficiently well to really compete with Vancouver's club.
- Not to be out-done, however, the Kesler line was pretty damn good as well. The reigning Selke winner, and his line-mate/Tonto Mason Raymond, both finished with four chances for, and zero against. When the second line demonstrates that type of 2-way dominance, the Canucks are nye impossible to beat.
- Finally, every Canucks D-man finished with a positive chance differential at even-strength with Salo and Edler leading the way. I've been extremely impressed with the pairing of Alberts and Ballard over the past couple of weeks, and they were solid yet again last night: finishing +3 in chance differential, and providing solid relief for the top-4 in about 15 minutes of even-strength ice-time.
The Statistical Three Stars
- Mason Raymond: +4 EV chance differential, +1 SH chance differential in nearly 2 minutes of SH TOI
- Manny Malhotra: 12 defensive zone starts, positive fen/corsi, even chance differential.
- Dan Hamhuis: +2 EV chance differential, no SH chance allowed in 3 minutes of ice-time, +5 Fenwick.
Here are your advanced stat tables, and last night's scoring chances courtesy the inimitable Vic Ferrari and timeonice.com:
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20582
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|