Canucks Army Postgame: It Gets Easier, Right?

Dimitri Filipovic
December 19 2013 09:11PM

The Vancouver Canucks continued on with their mini-trip through the Western Conference's Central Division Thursday night in Dallas. Here are the Cliffs Notes for the game: they gave up more goals than they scored, things didn't go nearly as well as you'd hoped they would, and ultimately they weren't able to overcome a slow start. 

An easy narrative would be that they were looking ahead to the looming tilt against the Blackhawks, but I don't buy that for a second really. They looked like a team who had a few defensive breakdowns, and one whose goaltender was not able to match the efforts of the guy on the other end of the ice.

Read on past the jump for a quick recap of Thursday night's loss in Big D.

The Rundown

If you were late getting in because of work - it was a 5:30 PST start after all - you probably missed two quick goals against. Don't worry, we'll get to Roberto Luongo in just a second, but we can't really blame him for either of the first two that got by him. On the first, a bad change by Chris Tanev left Kevin Bieksa scrambling back into the play as Tyler Seguin set Jamie Benn up for a beauty.

After the play, the cameras caught Benn mouthing "nice pass, baby" to his buddy. Why couldn't have last night been Seguin's designated party night? I should point out that Richardson's line was out on the ice for this one, which most certainly wasn't an optimal matchup for the Canucks.

Just 15 seconds later, someone named Colton Sceviour benefitted from a nice pass by Rich Peverley to put an easy one by Luongo. The Garrison-Weber pairing was victimized on this goal. For whatever it's worth Weber wound up being on the ice for 3 goals against in this game, proving that just because you're named Weber, wear #6, and play defense doesn't necessarily mean you'll be awesome.

For a couple of seconds there I saw a few tweets on my timeline lamenting the fact that Kevin Connauton used to be a member of the Canucks organization (after he had been credited with an assist on the 1st goal).. but then he made a terrible decision in getting caught in no man's land, and a nice little chip past him by Santorelli sprung Higgins. He made no mistake about it with a sweet snipe past Lehtonen from his off wing. Unfortunately, this was the only real tangible bright spot for his team, and the only real blemish for Lehtonen who once again shut the Canucks down.

Well, the former isn't really true.. the penalty kill was actually very strong once again, including one particular sequence in which they generated two strong chances in a row (eventually drawing a penalty by Stars). Brad Richardson sure is sneaky as hell with a man down, for whatever reason. Then again, the Stars came into this game with the 29th ranked PP so I'm not sure that it's all that great an accomplishment.

You'll see exactly what I mean as soon as we get to the Numbers section below, but the Canucks absolutely dominated the second period. It seemed like they had control of the puck for the first 15+ minutes of the frame, and near the end of that stretch, had a good looking power play in which they peppered Lehtonen. They didn't get a goal for their efforts, though, and the Stars came right back down and score a brutal back-breaker. It was Canuck killer Erik Cole - who had himself a real nice game, again - who snuck a softie by Luongo. I noted that we can't blame Luongo for the first two goals, but man oh man, this one was all on him..

Canucks Stars right winger buried a 4th goal for the Stars early on in the 3rd, and Luongo was pulled as a result. Shorthouse, Garrett, and Dan Murphy all seem to think that this doesn't change anything, and that Eddie Lack will still start tomorrow against the Blackhawks as was originally planned. We'll see, but remember that the last two times Luongo was pulled early in back-to-backs (against the Kings and the Rangers) Lack still wound up starting the next day.

The Numbers


Image via Extra Skater

Look at that 2nd period. My oh my, the Canucks had 21 shot attempts to just 6 from the Stars during that 16 minute stretch in prior to Cole's goal that made it 3-1 Stars. 

Lehtonen did the job once again. He had given up 23 combined goals in his past 6 appearances, but in this one he was as extra sharp, and has now stopped 69/71 shots he has seen from the Canucks. It's no surprise that his team has won both of those games as a result.

With Weber and Alberts both playing under 14 minutes, we saw Dan Hamhuis once again log a crazy amount of minutes (27:55). Garrison topped 24, while Bieksa and Tanev were both in the 20's. I will say that Bieksa really did not impress in this game, and someone who came off looking really good was Ryan Stanton. I don't think it comes as a surprise that someone as reliable and calm as Stanton has allowed Bieksa to have a bounceback year. Without that presence, you have nights like this.. (which by the way is not to say that Bieksa should be written off, and that he can't come back with a vintage performance against the Hawks tomorrow).

So.. does anyone know why Jannik Hansen is still playing with the Sedins? Sure, he has 3 goals in his past 4 games, but considering the opportunities he has had - and that one of those was a complete and utter fluke against Rask - I'm not necessarily sure that it matters. I've agreed with very many moves that John Tortorella has made this year, but this particular one makes no sense to me. You'd think that you'd want someone who was proficient (or at least competent?) at finishing scoring chances playing next to the Sedins. And while I love Hansen as a two-way player, that's probably one of his biggest flaws. Please come back soon, Mr. Burrows.. 

I wouldn't really call this a disaster. While the Stars sit at 10th in the West, they're a better team than you'd think. As I mentioned in the preview for this one, they've been a very strong 5v5 team that generates a ton of offense, and it was their goaltending that was killing them. A good performance by Lehtonen, and they're scary.

The Conclusion

It's not all bad, because at least the sledding will get easier, right? .. right? Why aren't you answering me? [ /checks schedule]

Oh, well, that's no good. The Canucks have a quick turnaround with a game tomorrow in Chicago against the Blackhawks. Considering the depleted defense, the fact that they just played a game while the Hawks were resting up at home, and that their opponent is pretty darn good at hockey, they've got their work cut out for them. 

If you're looking for a positive it's that the game will be on TSN. We could all use a little break from John and John.

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Dimitri Filipovic writes about hockey on the internet, and is the Managing Editor of Canucks Army. You can follow him on Twitter @DimFilipovic, and email him at dimitri.filipovic@gmail.com.
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#1 NM00
December 19 2013, 11:33PM
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Good to see the Canucks getting back to their roots of falling behind on the scoresheet and THEN throwing everything at the net.

This team really can't afford to sustain injuries considering Utica can only supply them with replacement players...

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#2 JFR
December 19 2013, 11:41PM
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Weber should be sent back to Utica for a long time. The guy is a defensive nightmare. My Canucks hangover theory stands, every time the Nucks have a big regular season show down, usually with the Blackhawks or Bs, and they win.... The go in a post big game slump. I don't know if it's emotional let down or lack of energy but it happens. Hopefully they will be up tomorrow and Eddie will play well.

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#3 PB
December 20 2013, 01:08AM
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@NM00

Good to see you getting back to your roots of doom-and-gloom and barely a word during a seven game win streak.

Newsflash -- pretty much every team struggles with injuries, especially when you lose one of your top wingers and top d-men.

Would be nice to see the Canucks not completely lose their minds after giving up a goal and allowing another one 15 seconds later though.

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#4 Ted
December 20 2013, 12:24PM
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PB wrote:

Good to see you getting back to your roots of doom-and-gloom and barely a word during a seven game win streak.

Newsflash -- pretty much every team struggles with injuries, especially when you lose one of your top wingers and top d-men.

Would be nice to see the Canucks not completely lose their minds after giving up a goal and allowing another one 15 seconds later though.

Honestly, I was hoping Idiot00 had left these boards. I can do without that particular brand of fan. Seeing his posts is as pleasant as stepping in dog sh!t.

Dallas seems to have our number but what can you do. The Canucks are a good team but far from great. I am not expecting to see them in the Finals or even close and that's OK. It might be good to see them miss the playoffs; Gillis may get fired if that happens and we may get another decent pick.

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#5 VBS6935
December 20 2013, 01:02PM
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I am glad NM00 hasn't left the forum. I enjoy all the comments here - at least the parts that aren't personal attacks.

Roughly speaking our Canucks have played about 1/3 of their games against teams with more points than them in the standings, and have earned about 10-15% of the possible points from those games. They have played about 2/3 of their games against teams lower than them in the standings, and have earned about 65-70% of the available points. If that makes them a good team, then I guess they are a good team.

For the rest of the season, they have about 1/3 of their games against currently higher placed teams, and the rest against lower placed teams. If they continue the pace they have set so far, they will end up with around 95 points, give or take 5.

They might make the playoffs, they might not. That uncertainty should be exciting for everyone, whether you are hoping they make the playoffs, or hoping for a better draft pick.

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#6 nateb123
December 20 2013, 02:34PM
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@PB

It is hysterical how he slinks away to his lair of perpetual misery as soon as the team goes on a winning streak. What do he do during that time? Does he go around popping children's balloons on sunny days? Does he spend time correcting people's grammar in Youtube comments sections? It is truly a mystery of mysteries.

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#7 Ted
December 20 2013, 03:02PM
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nateb123 wrote:

It is hysterical how he slinks away to his lair of perpetual misery as soon as the team goes on a winning streak. What do he do during that time? Does he go around popping children's balloons on sunny days? Does he spend time correcting people's grammar in Youtube comments sections? It is truly a mystery of mysteries.

I doubt the grammar one is true. He isn't that bright. MentalMidget00 has a tough time remembering to breathe let alone attacking grammar mistakes.

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#8 NM00
December 20 2013, 07:36PM
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@PB

There's an archive where you can look up my posts when the Canucks win, lose or do neither (such as the offseason).

I encourage you to educate yourself if you would like be historically accurate.

The Canucks' most important players (Sedins, Kesler, Santorelli, Hammer, Tanev, Bieksa, Garrison & the goalies) have been healthy all year.

The fact that injuries to secondary players are exposing their (lack of) depth speaks volumes about the state of the AHL "prospects".

The generic "doom and gloom", "chicken little" and "negative" are as adorable as they are devoid of substance.

Though it's not surprising it appeals to the senses of the groupthink apologists...

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#9 NM00
December 20 2013, 08:07PM
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@Ted

Irrespective of your world view and religious background or lack thereof, I wish you a relaxing, stress free and generally pleasant holiday season Ted...

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#10 PB
December 20 2013, 10:14PM
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@NM00

I'm just going by your latest absences and comments in losses versus victories.

There is a big difference in terms of the players you're listing regarding their impact if out with an injury -- the Sedins, Kesler, Hamhuis, probably Tanev based on his elevated play, certainly Luongo are all central enough that their absence makes a huge difference. I'd put Burrows and Edler in the same tier as Higgins, Garrison, and Lack. Your point regarding significant injuries to complementary players would be more compelling if the Canucks had been sliding down the standings during the injuries to Burrows, Edler and now Stanton. They haven't. This is not to say that the AHL system is brimming with talent; it clearly isn't. However the couple of call-ups we have had -- Weber, Dalpe, Welsh, Archibald -- have all acquitted themselves somewhere between adequately and rather well. So I'm not really sure that this proves your point all that much.

As I've said before I don't actually disagree with some of your points, just your tendency to be a bit of an Eeyore. I think there might be a bit of groupthink about that however...

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#11 Ryan B
December 22 2013, 03:53AM
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nateb123 wrote:

It is hysterical how he slinks away to his lair of perpetual misery as soon as the team goes on a winning streak. What do he do during that time? Does he go around popping children's balloons on sunny days? Does he spend time correcting people's grammar in Youtube comments sections? It is truly a mystery of mysteries.

Unless NM's lair is as cool as Batman's batcave, I'm not interested.

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