February 21 2013 11:53PM
Classic Bieksa angry face. Hey Vernon Fiddler, impersonate this!
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Despite an uninspired first forty minutes in which the Canucks were out-chanced and didn't look like a team that was particularly eager to break out of a three game losing skid, Vancouver's club rallied in the final frame and managed to defeat the Dallas Stars in regulation on Thursday night.
It was a reasonably solid outing all around for Vancouver's club, though particularly for the third-line of Jordan Schroeder, Mason Raymond and David Booth who were borderline spectacular in relatively difficult minutes. Meanwhile Henrik Sedin scored a beauty, Zack Kassian won a fight, and Jason Garrison had a wicked shift leading to a goal and earned himself a short respite from the wellspring of criticism he's been treated too of late. Also we got to watch Jamie Benn be ridiculously good at hockey and Jaromir Jagr do things no forty something year old man should be capable of, so all around a fun night of hockey.
Read on past the jump.
- We'll begin, where else, but with our trusty scoring chance data. The Dallas Stars narrowly controlled the scoring chance battle in this one with fourteen scoring chances to Vancouver's eleven. At even-strength the Stars recorded eleven scoring chances to Vancouver's nine and with the score tied Dallas dominated the proceedings, out-chancing the Canucks 10-4 in that game-state.
- Like when the Canucks handled the game and lost a week ago against the Stars in Vancouver, Dallas' control of the game didn't really matter because they had rookie goaltender Christopher Nilstrop in net and the Canucks had Cory Schneider. Admittedly Cory Schneider didn't have his strongest game, as he was beaten on three of twenty three shots for a completely unremarkable .880 save percentage and Michael Ryder's second goal was a bit of a softy that beat him five-hole. But no matter, Schneider stopped 8 of 11 "difficult shots" (scoring chances that are also shots on goal) and didn't allow a single goal on a "non-scoring chance."
Basically Cory Schneider gave his team a chance to win, and I'm not sure you can say the same for Nilstrop who was overmatched in this one. He only saved five of eight difficult shots he faced, and was beaten on two non-scoring chances. Think the Stars are missing Kari Lehtonen a wee bit?
- The Stars got on the board right off the bat, as Jamie Benn completely torched the Kesler line and the reunited Bieksa, Hamhuis pairing with a spot of spectacular persistence. Benn basically waltzed through the offensive zone, winning two fifty-fifty puck battles along the way. As he got to the slot, he shot a puck that was blocked by Ryan Kesler, but Benn retrieved it and beat Cory Schneider with a howie that founds its way into the net through a two inch space between Schneider's shoulder and the post. Jamie Benn is a remarkable talent and man, oh man is he ever fun to watch.
- On that disastarous opening shift and the one that immediately followed, Zack Kassian - playing on a line with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins on Thursday night while Jannik Hansen served a one game suspension for his incidental headshot on Marian Hossa - floated through the defensive zone like he'd just sipped from some Fizzy Lifting Drink alongside Uncle Charlie.
Kassian was promptly, and unsurprisingly, bumped down the lineup in favour of Dale Weise - though he was back skating in the top-six again (alongside the Sedin twins at times, as well as Ryan Kesler) in the latter two periods. With about three minutes to go, he was hilariously offside on what could've been a dangerous odd-man rush. His fight against Antoine Roussel was awesome, but so far this has been a roadtrip to forget for Vancouver's burgeoning young power-forward.
- While we're on the subject, I suspect that Canucks fans are going to have Aaron Rome flashbacks with Dale Weise throughout this season. I imagine that he's going to stay in the lineup ahead of Aaron Volpatti at least and, if he continues to struggle as he has of late, Zack Kassian too. Though both Volpatti and Kassian are more physical than Weise and Kassian has way more upside, Weise is the steadiest defensive player in the group and is remarkably polished on zone-exits in particular.
On one shift mid-way through the second period, Alex Edler - who had been on the ice for about seventy seconds prior to this - sent a pass to Volpatti that the grinder whiffed on. The puck went to the point where a Stars defenseman shot it. Schneider bailed his winger out by gloving the puck and stopping play - but that's the sort of potentially critical defensive play that Weise makes every time, and that Volpatti will need to make more often if he wants to stay in the lineup.
- You have to love the edge Volpatti plays with though. He's far and away the most punishing hitter on the Canucks roster.
- Before the game there was a lot of attention given to Vancouver's re-jigged defensive deployments and generally speaking the new pairings worked pretty well. Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis combined for a lovely goal and their chemistry was evident at times (although Bieksa still had a rough game by the scoring chance data). Tanev and Edler had a quiet night, I thought, while Keith Ballard was excellent in limited duty and Jason Garrison was solid as well and dominant short-handed.
Anyway here's a fun fact for you about Vancouver's defensive pairings, though much was made about Chris Tanev's promotion to second line duty and Jason Garrison's demotion to the third pairing, Tanev played less than a minute more than Garrison overall on Thursday. He also only played about ninety seconds more than Garrison did at even-strength. Third pairing minutes just don't mean what it used to in Vancouver.
- Forget second pairing minutes, Chris Tanev needs more short-handed ice-time. He was all over the ice disrupting Dallas' cycle while the Canucks were short-handed and the Stars didn't record a single scoring chance while Chris Tanev was on the ice on the penalty-kill. Tanev played about three minutes short-handed too so, that's pretty slick.
- Let's take a mintue to recap Jason Garrison's early third period goal which put the Canucks up for good because it was awesome. Basically he quickly shoots a loose puck and in doing so fells Dallas forward Antoine Roussel (who is clearly willing to pay the price for his NHL shot, and good for him). Garrison calmly recovers the puck, has all the time in the world since he's just wounded the guy who should be covering him, and he tees up a slapper that beats Nilstrop cleanly. Obviously that's the type of shift that'll help quiet the naysayers.
- Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows combined for an okay goal.
- The Sedins seem to be finding their form, with moments of pure Sedinery coming more and more often over the past ten days. But Alex Burrows stole the show for the top-line in this one. He set up a Daniel Sedin shot in the slot that hit the post and only a couple of seconds later scored a power-play goal on a tip of an Alex Edler shot in the first period. Later on he looked like Henrik Sedin when he set up, uh, Henrik Sedin's game winning goal in the third period, and he also nearly had a second goal on a late second period rush in which he beat all of the Stars defenders but couldn't beat Nilstrop.
- Vancouver's most over-matched forward line at even-strength was pretty easily Ryan Kesler's line, who had their teeth kicked in by the Jamie Benn, Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Morrow trio. Kesler looked particularly bad on Morrow's third period goal that cut Vancouver's two goal lead to one, obviously, but beyond that the line was out-chanced and out-possessed all evening. Anyway, on that Morrow goal, Kesler basically just flubbed the puck right in the slot and Morrow quickly potted it to make the game interesting again. On that defensive zone start, Alain Vigneault replaced Zack Kassian with Maxim Lapierre - who was insurance in case Kesler was waived out of the circle. But you know what they say about the plan's of mice and men... Anyway, in total the Canucks were out-chanced 1-4 with Kesler on the ice at even-strength.
- Vancouver's best forward line? It was actually the Jordan Schroeder, Mason Raymond, David Booth group, who were buzzing all evening and took Cody Eakin's line to school repeatedly. Mason Raymond was particularly strong, while Jordan Schroeder was solid in the faceoff circle and set up two scoring chances as well. David Booth is so, so good along the wall and he's fast enough to keep up with those two speedsters as well. As much as I'd like to see the "AmEx" line reunited, skating Booth alongside Schroeder and Raymond is a good look for the Canucks.
- Here's something worth noting. Thursday's game marked the seventh time in the past eight games that the Canucks have managed at least three goals. Trap it up? More like shut your trap it up. Heyo!
- David Booth drew a penalty with just a tick over two minutes remaining in the game and Vancouver played keep-away as the clock wound down, like ass-holes playing NHL 2013 on-line. It was an epic troll job, and a testament to the puck skill of the Sedin twins and the rest of the first power-play unit.
Scoring Chance Data
A chance is counted any time a team directs a shot cleanly on-net from within home-plate. Shots on goal and misses are counted, but blocked shots are not (unless the player who blocks the shot is “acting like a goaltender”). Generally speaking, we are more generous with the boundaries of home-plate if there is dangerous puck movement immediately preceding the scoring chance, or if the scoring chance is screened. If you want to get a visual handle on home-plate, check this image.
Scoring Chance Totals
|Dallas (EV)||5 (5)||4 (4)||5 (3)||14 (11)|
|Vancouver (EV)||2 (1)||4 (4)||5 (4)||11 (9)|
Individual Scoring Chances
Canucks Individual On-Ice Scoring Chance Differential
|Dan Hamhuis||5 - 5||0 - 0||0 - 2||5 - 7|
|Kevin Bieksa||4 - 8||0 - 0||0 - 2||4 - 10|
|Keith Ballard||4 - 1||0 - 0||0 - 1||4 - 2|
|Jason Garrison||3 - 3||0 - 0||0 - 1||3 - 4|
|David Booth||3 - 4||0 - 0||0 - 0||3 - 4|
|Chris Tanev||1 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||1 - 2|
|Zack Kassian||1 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||1 - 2|
|Alex Burrows||3 - 1||1 - 0||0 - 1||4 - 2|
|Aaron Volpatti||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 0|
|Ryan Kesler||1 - 4||2 - 0||0 - 1||3 - 5|
|Chris Higgins||1 - 6||0 - 0||0 - 2||1 - 8|
|Mason Raymond||6 - 2||1 - 0||0 - 0||7 - 2|
|Daniel Sedin||3 - 3||2 - 0||0 - 0||5 - 3|
|Alex Edler||1 - 3||2 - 0||0 - 0||3 - 3|
|Dale Weise||0 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 2|
|Henrik Sedin||3 - 3||2 - 0||0 - 0||5 - 3|
|Maxim Lapierre||0 - 4||0 - 0||0 - 2||0 - 6|
|Jordan Schroeder||5 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||5 - 2|