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.
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.
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.
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.