Gong Show

Thomas Drance
January 20 2013 12:02AM


Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

After a four month lockout nullified the 2012 portion of the "2012-13 NHL season," tonight's Canucks home and season opener against the Anaheim "don't call us Mighty" Ducks was eagerly anticipated. While there was no pre-game ceremony or banner raising to celebrate the team's second straight President's Trophy; team President and General Manager Mike Gillis and captain Henrik Sedin did address the faithful. Gillis and Henrik Sedin thanked the fans for their patience and loyalty. It was the right tone to strike - personal, apologetic and direct, as opposed to celebratory - but it was just about the only thing Vancouver got right on this evening.

The Canucks were up momentarily in the first period, but Cory Schneider was ventilated and pulled within the first seven minutes of the second period with the Canucks down 5-2. The crowd cheered and Luuuu'd as Roberto Luongo, the center of never ending trade rumours all summer long, entered the game and made a few routine saves. 

It was frankly, an embarrassing performance. But it did set up a fun day of endless speculation for tomorrow. Who will get the nod against Edmonton? Will the Canucks go back to Cory Schneider, or will they stick with the plan to play Luongo against the Oilers young guns (and in doing so set off the hockey media's shrill catcalls of "goalie controversy" continent wide)? Whatever happens, you can rest assured that it will be all fucked up. 

Read past the jump.

- I've got fewer numbers for you this evening than I usually would in a CanucksArmy game recap. For the moment the timeonice.com scoring chance app and advanced stat pages have yet to be re-calibrated for the 2013 season, so I'm flying blind.

I can tell you, however, that the Canucks recorded 9 scoring chances to Anaheim's 12. I can also tell you that Cory Schneider allowed three goals on five scoring chances, in addition to allowing two non-scoring chance goals. I can also tell you that Anaheim out-chanced the Canucks 7-3 in the third period even though they were up by four goals for most of the frame - a testament to the club's inexcusable lack of resilience on this evening. That's about all I've got for now, we'll plug in and post the scoring chance results when timeonice.com gets running at somepoint in the next few days.

- Obviously Vancouver's defense was, uh, not very good on Saturday night. That goes without saying. But let's not go letting the goaltenders off the hook, here. The Ducks only recorded 12 scoring chances and only managed 26 shots on goal in the contest. By any definition this was a "low-event" game and there's really no excuse for allowing seven goals against in such circumstances.

Vancouver's defensive coverage and gap-control will need to improve (or Mike Gillis will be drafting Seth Jones in Newark this July), but make no mistake: it was the goaltending that really let the team down on Saturday.

- One bright spot for the Canucks was their power-play. The Canucks capitalized on two of four power-play opportunities and generated eight shots and four scoring chances with the man-advantage. They looked like a polished unit that has worked together for a while, and that could provide the team with a crutch as they get the rest of their game back up to speed. I also really liked Hansen with the twins, he did well to win a couple of puck-battles along the wall and his net work was picture perfect on Daniel Sedin's power-play tally in the first period.

- Probably the worst part of the team's game on the other hand was their short-handed play. The Canucks allowed three short-handed goals against, in three penalty killing opportunties while facing Anaheim's not at all vaunted power-play. Anaheim's top offensive defenseman, Cam Fowler, was out with the flu on Saturday night and Anaheim's power-play was pretty much awful last season with the same basic personnel. Needless to say: that pretty much sucks.

I think I feel comfortable placing much of the onus for the team's weak short-handed performance on the goaltenders. Selanne was left all alone in the slot for his power-play goal at the very end of the second period (after Cory Schneider had already been pulled) but Anaheim's other two short-handed tallies (Souray's blast to tie the game at two, and Corey Perry's five-hole goal that put Anaheim up by two early in the second period) came off of very stoppable shots. In all Anaheim managed three total power-play shots in the game, and three goals. Yeah, there's no other way to slice this one: Vancouver's goaltending was really bad tonight.

- Daniel Winnik, noted shooting percentage outlier and possessor of "stone hands," scored two goals against Cory Schneider in Saturday night's game. This was a very weird contest.

- The good news? Regression! Cory Schneider was woeful on Saturday but he remains a solid NHL goaltender, and he'll bounce back. Roberto Luongo was better than Schneider was, I guess, but he'll also have better performances than what he showed in relief of Schneider on Saturday night. Saturday's game was just a strange one. If you look beyond the permissive defensive coverage, the complete lack of team speed and the inability to hit anyone in stride with a pass: you'll see a club that looked like they were playing their first preseason game. Which makes sense since that's pretty much exactly what this was. 

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Kaybee
January 20 2013, 12:12AM
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Only positive I can take away is that I like the power play and I like Garrison on it.

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#2 Chris
January 20 2013, 12:19AM
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I guess Spector was right after all. Not a contender?

What's with the f bombs in your articles? It's pretty amateur, I guess maybe that's what you are going for?

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#4 Mack
January 20 2013, 12:40AM
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I liked Garrison for the most part. Looked good on the powerplay and really moved the puck well. That part of his game was really under-reported in the summer I think. Edler seemed to be okay on the right side as well. Maybe this can work.

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#5 Ventilation
January 20 2013, 02:38AM
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Was so happy to see NHL hockey again, that I spent most he game laughing my butt off. It's one game- meh. Why can't I enjoy watching Hansen trip over the imaginary line. Or the Sedins miss routine passes. Or 22 yr old Tanev face more 2-on-1s in one game that he did all of last yr.

It was funny stuff. Obviously an anomaly. Glad I have it PVR'd so I can show fickle fans when they 3peat this year.

Onto the next....

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#6 Hayek
January 20 2013, 02:48AM
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I am an Oilers fan, and generally dislike your team, and your fans. But please don't think it is the end of the world after one game. Also don't set up a lynch mob for Schneider. The NW is still too weak a division for anyone to catch you guys. Maybe next year the Oil can challenge you guys, and maybe the Avs in 2-3 years, but until then, just sit back, relax, and win the division.

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#7 JCDavies
January 20 2013, 02:59AM
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@Hayek

You guys need a goalie?

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#8 Stack Pad Save
January 20 2013, 09:21AM
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Do you think the Canucks are in the market to trade for Knabibulin from the OIlers to get a decent back-up?

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#9 boxman
January 20 2013, 10:19AM
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After your sad foul mouthed excuse for a blog went after the oilers, Drance, last nights debacle and sad goaltending display was just the first instalment of karma. It's going to be a long year for nuck fans. After Gilles managed to make head cases of both of the Canuck goalies the writing was on the wall Bwah ha ha ha ha!!

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#10 abbeef
January 20 2013, 10:39AM
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Using the "f-bomb" is definitely amateurish. I quit reading at that point as it showed the intellect put into the article.

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#11 CowboysRidingT-Rexes
January 20 2013, 11:04AM
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whoo, f-bomb! keep it up, i like that passion!

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#12 Jamie E
January 20 2013, 11:08AM
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I'm not hugely bothered by the loss. I expect a slow start from the Canucks. It doesn't make me happy, but I'm not pounding the panic button like some.

What did bother me intensely was how passive the team was. Your down by four goals in your own barn on opening night in front of hockey starved fans. At least make the other team pay a physical price for embarrassing you.

Instead we're like a team of Quakers. That bothers me a lot and it remains the reason why I don't see our very good club as a Stanley Cup winning team.

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#13 pelhem grenville
January 20 2013, 12:22PM
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DSF...you in here?

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#14 positivebrontefan
January 20 2013, 05:53PM
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Ventilation wrote:

Was so happy to see NHL hockey again, that I spent most he game laughing my butt off. It's one game- meh. Why can't I enjoy watching Hansen trip over the imaginary line. Or the Sedins miss routine passes. Or 22 yr old Tanev face more 2-on-1s in one game that he did all of last yr.

It was funny stuff. Obviously an anomaly. Glad I have it PVR'd so I can show fickle fans when they 3peat this year.

Onto the next....

3peat???

If the Presidents cup is your idea of success you have issues. Cup wise you have no more to show for than the Oilers in the last ten years, and nobody remembers the Presidents Trophy winners. They remember Cup winners. Nothing else. But you wouldn't know anything about that because you've never won one. Which is why you criticize anyone that talks about a storied past like the Oilers have.

Good luck continuing celebrating failure.

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#15 positivebrontefan
January 20 2013, 05:57PM
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Thomas Drance. I enjoy your style and had a good chuckle about your Oilers bashing exercise the other day, especially when one of the locals, Dan Tencer, had a his shy fit on twitter about it. However the F-bomb isn't needed here.

Some younguns read this site and I think it's below your style anyways.

Just my two cents. Keep up the good work.

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#16 Graphic Comments
January 20 2013, 06:27PM
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Wow. Surprised at all the piling on for a rather minor linguistic choice. If you ask me, being unconventional in all sorts of ways is what makes blogs, this one and others, superior to the pablum you find in the newspaper.

Think of it as cable vs network TV.

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#17 Saynotocanuckfanboys
January 21 2013, 11:58PM
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WHAT ELSE IS NEW? |dont the Caunucks always choke? The choked against boston, choked the 1st round away against the kings last year, and now thyre choking at the start.The organization has no real intention of winning no cup, and the same fanboys just keep coming to games year after year. You cant feel sorry for folks who want to be fooled. nothing new, this year, another choke, followed by excuses and than followed by another lame slogan for 1014. its been 40 years and not one cup, and when places that grow plam sugar cane like coarolina can win the cup, the scam is long exposed. It all depends on what the fanboys are gonna do, and you can bet theyll pay more good money to watch that joke of a team lose again and again and again. Oh, theres alwasy next year, our goaloes are good ebnough, Av is good enough, gilis is good enough. They should FIRe every single wone of them, the useless sedins to the entire management, scouting, you name it, losers do what they know best..and thats lose.

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