February 18 2012 11:25PM
Henrik and Burrows celebrate Burrows' second goal in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Leafs.
Tonight's game between the Canucks and the Maple Leafs was decided early, and then descended into embarrassment for an out-matched Toronto club who looked lost on defense. Right from the outset, the Canucks dominated puck possession, and handily out-shot and out-chanced the Maple Leafs. By the game's 25th minute - the two points, and the clear victory were in the bag for Vancouver.
The Canucks top-line opened the scoring about eight minutes into the game, as Alex Burrows finished off a pretty pass from Daniel Sedin by going nine-hole on James Reimer. Daniel's pass to set up the goal was lovely, and Burrows' finish was clinical - but that was some leaky goaltending on Reimer's part. I swear the puck beat the Leafs keeper through the logo. From there the Canucks continued to dominate, scoring their second goal just 90 seconds later when the fourth line put together a nice shift against Phil Kessel's line, and were rewarded when Manny Malhotra tapped-in a nice Maxim Lapierre feed for his sixth goal of the season.
In the second, Burrows potted his second goal on a blocker-side top-corner snipe that Reimer had no chance on. Burrows was left unmarked in the slot for this goal, and had all-day to pick his spot. Seriously, he was left alone for so long on this sequence that he got lonely, grew a beard and befriended a volley-ball named Wilson.
While Toronto's club generated a number of five-alarm chances against the Canucks, Luongo was mostly up to the task. The Leafs looked momentarily threatening as Phaneuf scored on a slap-stick sequence for Bieksa and Luongo in Vancouver's crease, which, cut the deficit to two - but from there it really went into the tank for the Maple Leafs.
First Clarke MacArthur slipped on the puck, leading directly to the easiest goal Daniel Sedin will score this season. Sedin's tally also ended James Reimer's night. Then Matt Lombardi - who had a very weak game overall - limp-dicked a clearing attempt with an ice-cold Jonas Gustavsson in net, and his team short-handed. The Canucks power-play unit pounced on Lombardi's brain-fart and set up a Sami Salo slap-shot that beat "the Monster" and stretched Vancouver's lead to four. At that point a buxom woman wearing a Viking costume began an obnoxious madrigal, which, was only fitting as the game was functionally all over.
A more detailed recap, your statistical three stars and goats and scoring chance data after the jump!
- Let's begin with the most rudimentary numbers: the Canucks out-chanced the Leafs 22-20 overall, and both teams generated 19 chances at even-strength. Those numbers are deceptive somewhat, as the Leafs had four chances in the final thirty seconds of a complete blow-out. With the score close, the Canucks out-chanced the Leafs 4-2.
- While the Canucks dominated possession and won the chance battle, the difference tonight was goaltending. James Reimer's performance was porous, and he looked especially sieve-like on Vancouver's opening goal. Gustavsson didn't fare much better frankly, surrendering two goals on five chances on goal (Reimer surrendered four goals on nine chances on goal).
- Luongo on the other hand was dynamite, and made several "wow" quality stops that really got HNIC play-by-play guy Jim Hughson going (which is the true mark of a quality Luongo save). While he surrendered two goals, he stopped 16 of 18 chances on goal in the game, and 16 of 17 chances on goal in which he wasn't taken out at the knees by his own defenseman.
- Boy the Leafs just do not have much defensive depth, and that has been exposed as a result of the injury to Carl Gunnarsson. Tonight Ron Wilson tasked rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner with matching up against the Sedin twins, and while Gardiner had a strong game, you're not going to win many games when you're relying on a rookie to shut-down a pair of Art Ross winners.
- The Sedins have been quiet of late, so it was nice to see them light the lamp with a vengeance this evening. The twins combined for a goal and seven assists, and were involved in twelve total Canucks scoring chances (and directly created five chances).
- The Canucks fourth line had a good game considering they scored against the Kessel line and played significantly more minutes than they usually do. Despite their positive adjusted possession numbers, and overall production - by the chance data they had an uncharacteristically "high-event" game.
- You know it's a blowout when Ryan Kesler plays less than 16 minutes in a game, something he hadn't done before tonight in 13 months. Kesler's line had its moments, and generated a lot of possession but didn't really turn that possession into chances - they mostly just set up points shots and tried to get traffic in front of the net. Fine by me!
- For the first time this season, Mason Raymond failed to record a shot on goal in a game.
- Bieksa and Hamhuis were dynamite this evening. If you take away the late flurry in which the Leafs had four scoring chances (and a goal) in the game's final thirty seconds - they combined to go +5 and +4 in chance differential respectively. Against a team like the Maple Leafs - who don't possess a similar, ace shut-down pairing to soak up tough minutes and still win their matchup - I found I noticed and appreciate the quiet dominance of Bieksa and Hamhuis even more than usual.
- Speaking of Bieksa - what a doozy that goal was. Sure it was the team's sixth of the game, but we've had far too few moment of unfiltered Sedinery to enjoy over the past few weeks, so this goal is worth another look:
- My favorite part of that goal, Craig Simpson's impression of "The Count" from Sesame Street. Thanks for counting up the passes Craig, way to add some fundamental insight to the broadcast.
- Elliotte Friedman discussing Mannny Malhotra's role in terms of his defensive zone start percentage, was just awesome. In fact it was one of the best moments in hockey broadcasting I've seen this season, maybe ever. Contextualizing Malhotra's role the way Friedmann did (the Canucks don't use their lines in a traditional way, so looking at Malhotra as a "fourth liner" is flawed) was pitch-perfect, and it's great to see clear, sophisticated analysis of that type on Hockey Night in Canada!
- Finally, it was pointed out on CBC tonight that the Canucks don't "celebrate" their goals. It's nice to know that the team, like Friedman, has bought into fancy-stats to the point where they realize that a goal scored is just another corsi event for.
Statistical 3 Stars
- Daniel Sedin
- Dan Hamhuis
- Kevin Bieksa
Statistical 3 Goats
- James Reimer
- Jonas Gustavsson
- Matt Lombardi
Scoring Chance Data
A chance is counted any time a team directs a shot cleanly on-net from within home-plate. Shots on goal and misses are counted, but blocked shots are not (unless the player who blocks the shot is “acting like a goaltender”). Generally speaking, we are more generous with the boundaries of home-plate if there is dangerous puck movement immediately preceding the scoring chance, or if the scoring chance is screened. If you want to get a visual handle on home-plate, check this image. A big thank you to Vic Ferrari is in order, as his timeonice.com scripts enable the entire operation. Yes, there is an app for this.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20870
Totals (Canucks on the left, Leafs on the right).
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