CANUCKS Postgame: Return of the McIlhinney - Canucks drop Sunday contest in Columbus

Cam Charron
October 20 2013 07:31PM

I had four cups of coffee Sunday morning, up early for no particular purpose other than to feed the dog and wait for some friends that slept on my living room floor to leave—waiting goes well with a newspaper, and a newspaper goes well with coffee. The point isn't the number of cups, necessarily, but that those cups were consumed periodically throughout the day and not all at once.

Despite all the caffeine, it wasn't enough to keep me awake through the balance of the Vancouver Canucks visit to Columbus. An early-season Sunday matinee game against a non-Conference opponent with both teams playing the second half of a back-to-back, and both teams dressing with their starting goaltender? Sign me right up. Watching these sorts of games is a reminder of why we watch hockey in the first place, because it's fun to irrationally root for certain outcomes of grown humans playing sports.

Vancouver lost 3-1 in a snoozefest. Both teams played poorly.

THE RUNDOWN

Brief history on winning goal-scorer R.J. Umberger. He was selected by the Canucks in the first round of the 2001 draft, but after he left Ohio State University, the team couldn't come to contract terms with him. They cut their losses and traded him to the New York Rangers for Martin Rucinsky, the top-six winger brought in to supposedly fill the void left in the wake of Todd Bertuzzi's suspension. He didn't sign in New York and became a free agent, inking a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2004, but was then traded to Columbus so the Flyers could get a first and a third round pick in the 2008 draft.

That first round pick? Luca Sbisa, the defenceman that was traded with Joffrey Lupul to Anaheim for Chris Pronger.

Umberger took a pass from Ryan Johansen midway through the third, catching a couple of Canucks napping—and Chris Tanev in a rare pinch attempt—finishing off a pretty goal past Eddie Lack. It was the only goal of the game with any sort of grace. Marian Gaborik deflected in a bouncer in the early going, and Henrik Sedin tied it up in the second period when he jammed the puck at the pads of Jackets goaltender Curtis McIlhinney, pushing the puck into the net along with McIlhinney. Seemed like the whistle should have blown, but I guess Henrik will take it. Johansen added an empty net goal.

WHY THE CANUCKS LOST

The Canucks didn't convert on any of their 21 shot attempts in the first period, and the Jackets tightened up in the second and third periods. The Canucks couldn't generate an awful lot of possession until the very end of the game when they had the goalie out.

The Fenwick (unblocked shot attempt) chart from Extra Skater tells the story. After the Jackets went up 1-0, the Canucks had the run of play until the end of the first. Not sure on the adjustment Columbus made at the break, but it appeared to work:

The shots seemed to even out in the final two frames.

McIlhinney walked away with pretty good stats, stopping 37 of 38 shots, although the Canucks didn't test him very often. They had their moments, as you might expect with 38 attempts, but McIlhinney wasn't forced into making any "Lord, how did he get to that one?" stops. On the other end, McIlhinney's positioning was pretty good and he didn't fumble a lot of rebounds, meaning he was in good position all night. While viewers tend to complain that shooters put the puck right into the goaltender's crest, generally the goaltender has a hand in where he's hit, especially if they give the shooters nothing.

Chris Higgins was stopped point-blank on a pass from behind the net at the very end of the game. Maybe Higgins could have got it a little higher over McIlhinney's pad, but that discounts giving credit to the player whose pad was in exactly the right place. Most goals tend to enter the net in the lower portion, and on plays like that with a quick pass coming from behind the net, usually putting the puck to the side of the net where the goalie isn't is the right play.

KESLER - HIGGINS

Other than the play on the winning goal, the pair had a very good game. Per Extra Skater (linked here, same one as above) the Canucks out-attempted Columbus 18-5 with Chris Higgins on the ice in close score situations. 15-5 for Kesler. The Alex Edler and Chris Tanev pairing were also very good, with Tanev going 14-3 and Edler at 18-4. For the most part they roasted the Johansen-Umberger-Comeau line, but hockey is funny and on occasion a player that gets hilariously out-shot is the one that scores the winner.

Happens. If you need any evidence that the Canucks generally controlled puck-possession in this game, consider that 12 5-on-5 faceoffs were taken in Columbus' end, and just 6 in Vancouver's.

ADDED THOUGHT

So the Canucks go 0-1-1 on the weekend, with Roberto Luongo taking a shootout defeat in Pittsburgh and Eddie Lack getting the regulation loss in Columbus. My theory has always been that it's preferable to start your better goaltender against the weaker team in a back-to-back situation, the idea being that you concentrate on winning the easier game, and anything you get in the game against the stronger opponent is just gravy.

John Tortorella did the opposite of this. Lack certainly wasn't the reason the Canucks lost and it's unfortunately not feasible to discuss alternate realities where this save didn't happen or this save didn't happen or this shot wasn't taken because of good positioning… predicting goalies is voodoo anyway. Tortorella's thought process is interesting because I've noticed a lot of coaches playing for the split in a back-to-back situation.

A split would have been preferable to what the Canucks wound up with. Funny how "Canucks have points in three straight games" can become "Canucks are on a two-game losing streak" in a couple of hours.

Next up: The Canucks travel to Long Island and will play the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#51 PB
October 22 2013, 11:33AM
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@Ted

NMOO is nothing like the trolls. Too pessimistic and occasionally a little pretentious with the predictions but makes some interesting posts and analysis. The others, as so many have suggested, just need to be ignored or mocked. No point actually trying to respond to their drivel in any depth.

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#52 Ted
October 22 2013, 12:12PM
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PB wrote:

NMOO is nothing like the trolls. Too pessimistic and occasionally a little pretentious with the predictions but makes some interesting posts and analysis. The others, as so many have suggested, just need to be ignored or mocked. No point actually trying to respond to their drivel in any depth.

@PB

He makes an odd observation but it is rarely backed up with rational thought. He throws out a bunch of stats and numbers that really don't support his stance or anything else, really. NoMind00's last bunch of numbers included something like the number of cap controlled players or something like that - it means nothing if you don't compare the teams, players and so on. He takes a very general stat, can't verify it and twists it to support his stupidity. Sorry, he really doesn't bring much to the table. Mind you, he is not nearly as bad as Surrey Bob...that guy is just a disaster and a half.

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#53 NM00
October 22 2013, 12:48PM
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Ted wrote:

@PB

He makes an odd observation but it is rarely backed up with rational thought. He throws out a bunch of stats and numbers that really don't support his stance or anything else, really. NoMind00's last bunch of numbers included something like the number of cap controlled players or something like that - it means nothing if you don't compare the teams, players and so on. He takes a very general stat, can't verify it and twists it to support his stupidity. Sorry, he really doesn't bring much to the table. Mind you, he is not nearly as bad as Surrey Bob...that guy is just a disaster and a half.

If I may make another odd observation.

You use the word 'rational' quite a bit for someone who hasn't quite grasped the concept...

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#54 5minutesinthebox
October 22 2013, 01:45PM
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Surrey Bob wrote:

And yes, for all your semantics I know not every player was traded away. The Canucks were just too CHEAP to sign them. Either way you slice it, those players are no longer here. They thought that the weakling twins and Kesler and Leaky Luongo was what brought them to the finals. Good move. They must have a cup to back that claim up, right? What, there have been no cups but two embarrassing 1st round exits since then? HOW SHOCKING! I guess I'm right again.

When you have good team one year, and then players leave and then the team sucks donkey turd in the years after...you would think a normal rational human being would know that losing those players contributed to the teams downfall. Oh, but not you. You think the Canucks are better off now than they were during the finals, don't you? Wow, two first round exits and you somehow believe this team is better off without those players.

You know what's worse than being retarded? You being clearly being a SHILL.

You clearly do not understand the meaning of the word semantics. What you stated was inherently false.

You mean sign Ehrhoff to a 10 year for 40 mill? Yeah that would be a great idea. Name me these players that were so integral to the Cup run. Hell you even thought it necessary to mention Hodgson, who barely even played and had 1 assist.

And I never said this team was better than the team that went to the finals. What other teams dont get better? How clueless are you?

There are so many elements that go into a successful playoff run, but you are too simple to even grasp any of them.

And I wish I was a SHILL (as you like to repeatedly refer to anyone who disagrees with you. Cause then someone would actually be paying me to own you. That would be sweet.

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#55 Surrey Bob
October 22 2013, 02:30PM
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@5minutesinthebox

Wow, two first round exits, two second round exits and one lucky ass run to the finals where they were embarrassed and you think it's been a success. You really are living in a dream world, son.

You ARE a shill. Because no one can be that retarded to still believe in the club that hasn't won shat in 45-46 years. There are so many elements that go into a successful playoff run? How would your Canucks know that? LMFAO. Seeing as how that donkey of a team hasn't had real success in the play offs ever. Oh, right, you're a shill and shills just type for their 4 cents per comment.

Well enjoy your 4 cents. Your Canucks still suck. I'll remind you again once their season is over. You have a lot of time to entertain your delusions and make up excuses. Hahahaahahahaa

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#56 Surrey Bob
October 22 2013, 02:31PM
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@NO STANDARDS

Your grammar and selective memory is so amusing. By the way, your team has not done squat in 45 years and you still cheer for them? Are you retarded? No, just a shill.

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#57 Hard Puck City
October 22 2013, 02:35PM
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@Ted

Teddy with no standards is back! Cheer for my sucky team! Cheer for my sucky team! Gimme an S . Gimme an H. Gimme an i. Gimme a double L. Shill shill Shill! LOL

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#58 Ted
October 22 2013, 04:38PM
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Hard Puck City wrote:

Teddy with no standards is back! Cheer for my sucky team! Cheer for my sucky team! Gimme an S . Gimme an H. Gimme an i. Gimme a double L. Shill shill Shill! LOL

Lol...why don't you create some more IDs and log on and comment on those as well. Love it!

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#59 PB
October 22 2013, 08:04PM
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@Hard Puck City

The word "shill" is very very funny. I like how much you use it.

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#60 Hard Puck City
October 22 2013, 09:51PM
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@Ted

Teddy no standards. LOL I'm sure you love your crappy Canucks and every other crappy Canadian hockey team. Don't you worry your little brain, the Canucks will choke this season again and i will gladly remind you of it. Hahahaa!

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