February 04 2012 06:25PM
Bieksa found the back of the net with 35 seconds remaining in Saturday's game.
It's becoming something of a theme of late, but the Canucks managed yet another "great escape" this afternoon in Denver. If the team's inability to control possession wasn't nearing the "20 game milestone," I'd find it amusing! Instead, I'm getting pretty worried. Sure the Canucks are picking up points in most of the games in which they're out-played, but they've been extremely lucky. And their goaltending has been unsustainably good.
Today the Canucks came out flat and let their opponent dictate the pace. The team's trademark creativity was only visible in their own end of the rink, where they produced a greater variety of turnovers than a Pillsbury factory. The team was out-chanced 19-12 at even-strength, the penalty kill was porous, and the first power-play unit allowed three chances against in nearly 6:30 of ice-time.
Despite the team's uninspired play, they managed to get the two points thanks mostly to Roberto Luongo, with habitual fan-base scapegoats Raymond and Bieksa scoring "clutch" markers as well. A more detailed recap, chance data and the statistical three stars after the jump!
- Lets start with the most important numbers, the Canucks were out-chanced 27-18 overall, 19-13 at even-strength, and 9-3 with the score tied. It was another underwhelming possession performance from les boys, and the Avalanche deserved a better fate.
- Kevin Bieksa had a heroic sequence late in the third period, and was much better in the games final twenty minutes.Through 40 minutes, however, him and Hamhuis had their worst performance of the season. They finished the game -4 and -5 in chance differential respectively, but through the first two periods they were both 0-6 in chance differential. While it's not unusual for certain Canucks to struggle occasionally 5-on-5, for Bieksa and Hamhuis, that sort of performance is unprecedented this season.
- One of the few bright spots for the Canucks was Byron Bitz's solid debut performance. In his first game in the better part of two years, Bitz looked ready to provide a heavy-weight physical dimension the Canucks have mostly lacked this season. Bitz threw a massive body-check on Kyle Quincey in the first period, and added a spirited bout with Cody MacLeod that left the Avs welter-weight forward with a fierce facial laceration. He also held his own from a possession stand-point. Definitely a solid debut for Ballroom Bitz, capped off by this bad-ass photo from his fight with MacLeod:
- Jan Hejda is among the most under-rated defenseman in the league, and he had a strong performance for Colorado this afternoon. He played 16 even-strength minutes, most of them matched up against the Sedin twins. While he finished with a negative chance differential, he limited events against and was generally effective. Sure the Sedins are slumping, but for Hejda to play 16 minutes of low-event hockey against the Canucks top-2 lines is extremely valuable for the Avalanche.
- Speaking of the Sedin slump, for the second straight game their line was split up for the third period. The twins both finished in the negatives in possession and in chance differential. I'm not sure what's going on, but hopefully they can get back on track in Nashville.
- In my game preview, I sung the praises of Colorado's arsenal of effective, young two-way forwards. McClement, Landeskog and O'Riley all showed well today and finished in the black from a possession and chance perspective. Landeskog was especially impressive impressive, finishing with a +7 overall chance differential and winning battles all over the ice. The Swedish teenager is already a two-way force in this league, and deserves to get more Calder buzz.
- Manny Malhotra didn't get much ice-time tonight (he rarely does if the team is trying to come from behind), but only allowed 2 chances against despite 6 defensive zone starts and none in the offensive end. While Malhotra is drawing some criticism for "falling off" this season, he's still providing the Canucks with reliable, low-event play in uniquely tough minutes. Combine that with his stellar work short-handed, and anyone calling him "over-paid" or "dead-weight" is sadly, misinformed.
- The Edler and Salo pairing were sieve like in their own end, but at least they were able to generate chances in the Avalanche end while they were on the ice. It's not great, but it' better than what Hamhuis and Bieksa brought to the table this afternoon.
- In January, every shot Cody Hodgson took seemed to find the back of the net, but his possession game fell of a cliff. It's a promising sign that tonight, he was probably the Canucks single best forward from a possession stand-point, even if his luck ran out a bit when he hit a post on a power-play slapper early in the second period.
The Statistical Three Stars
- Roberto Luongo - Made 44 saves on 46 opportunities in the game, then became the first goaltender to beat the Avalanche in a shootout this season, stopping all three shooters. He stopped 17 of 19 chances on goal, as well.
- Cody Hodgson - Positive adjusted fenwick number, one of two Canucks forwards with a positive chance differential at even-strength.
- Alex Burrows - The other Canucks forward with a positive chance differential. Also had a "chance created."
A scoring chance is any puck clearly directed on-net from within home-plate. Generally speaking, we are willing to be more generous with the boundaries of home-plate based on dangerous puck movement if it immediately precedes the scoring chance, or if the scoring chance is screened. If you want to get a visual handle on home-plate, check this image. Big thanks to Vic Ferrari whose timeonice.com scripts enable this entire operation.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20770
|VAN||3||0:34||Bieksa GTG GOAL||3||7||9||21||23||33||6||23||26||27||35||37||5v5|
|7||D. VAN DER GULIK||4:37||0||1||0:00||0||0||1:38||1||0|
Totals (Canucks on the left, Avs on the right).
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|