March 31 2013 10:17AM
This image from eight minutes into Saturday night's game pretty much sums it all up.
Photo Credit: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty.
On Saturday night the Canucks had a golden opportunity to restore their usual vice grip on the Northwest Division, and instead they got blown out by the Oilers in their own barn. It took Taylor Hall less than eight minutes to record a hat-trick as the Oilers scored on their first three scoring chances of the game (also their first three shots) and thoroughly embarrassed the Canucks. I'd imagine it's tough for a proud team to hold their heads up high after that.
We'll get into the nitty gritty of this blowout loss after the jump.
This is one of those games where, although we'll start with the score scoring chance numbers, they didn't really matter that much. The Oilers out-chanced the Canucks 15-9 overall - a total that flatters the Canucks who legitimately brought their F-game to the rink on Saturday night. At even-strength the Oilers controlled the run of play with fourteen scoring chances to just five for Vancouver.
The real core data: the Oilers scored on their first four scoring chances of the game. On their fifth they hit the post. On their sixth they really should've scored except Ales Hemsky decided to read the first half of War and Peace before unleashing a wrister that Roberto Luongo stopped.
Cory Schneider got the quick hook in this one, he was pulled after his second goal just a couple of minutes into the game. Granted he didn't really looked "ready" to start this one but no one on the Canucks did really. Hard to imagine that Alain Vigneault would've been that quick with the hook for Roberto Luongo. But I don't think that's necessarily grounds for criticism. Perhaps Vigneault just wanted to keep his starter fresh with the Canucks playing again on Monday, or alternatively he wanted to do what he could to prevent the Oilers - who were flying out of the gate and play the Canucks again in about a week - from getting in Schneider's head. Whatever he made his decision on, there's no doubt that Luongo played really well making several saves of the astonishing variety in a game where the score really could've been an awful lot worse for Vancouver. That's a scary thought by the way.
Let's give a lot of credit to Taylor Hall who was dynamite off the bat in this one. Dude can flat out fly and is as slippery as a fish in traffic too. His first goal was particularly wicked, as he gave Schneider no real chance with a pitch perfect snipe while coming down on his off wing. Lovely stuff.
The Canucks had no answer for the Oilers who began rolling them early and offered a pretty tepid response in the second and third periods as well. Usually score effects would take over and the Canucks would begin to control the game but that didn't happen on this night. Basically with the trade deadline looming I think the Oilers came to play (they have more to play for, if they'd lost on Saturday night a whole whack of their veterans might be getting ready to be shipped out of town) and it's pretty clear that the Canucks - like Bob Dole - just couldn't get it up for this one.
Anyone else notice the referees getting in the way of the puck a lot in this one? NHL refs are usually pretty good at avoiding play but they weren't particularly good at that in this one. And that's the reason the Canucks lost the game (nope).
I don't think the Oilers are just a bad matchup for the Canucks, or that their dominance in this one was anything structural. The Canucks completely flattened the Oilers when they fell behind early in the second game these two teams played. That contest was in fact, one of Vancouver's most impressive games of the season possession-wise. So not to worry, next week's game will probably be a different story. That'll be especially true if the Canucks are playing NHLers in their top-nine as opposed to Andrew Ebbett, Jordan Schroeder and Steve Pinizzotto...
There've been games where Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis have been excellent as the club's top-pairing. Ultimately, however, I don't like their pairing that much because neither player has serious wheels or plus puck moving ability. That showed up on Taylor Hall's opening goal. I for one am hoping that a Bieksa-Hamhuis reunion isn't too far off (and an Alex Edler-Jason Garrison second pair sounds pretty cool too).
Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts were dust on Saturday. Get well Keith Ballard!
In dispatches from the bright-side, the Canucks power-play recorded four whole scoring chances on Saturday night which is pretty remarkable for this particular iteration of the Canucks. The second unit in particular looked strong. Chances are cool but they're not good enough when your team is in a massive hole.
This Canucks team seems to string together some hard-fought wins in tight games, and then occassionally they get absolutely plastered. My working theory is that they don't have enough depth to compete in track-meet type games at the moment. With Zack Kassian likely to return this week and hopefully some reenforcements coming at the trade deadline, hopefully that'll change.
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:
|Canucks (EV)||3 (2)||3 (0)||3 (3)||9 (5)|
|Oilers (EV)||7 (6)||3 (3)||5 (5)||15 (14)|
Individual Chance Contributions:
Individual Scoring Chance Differential:
|Scoring Chance Diff.||EV F - A||SH F - A||PP F - A||Total F - A|
|Dan Hamhuis||3 - 4||0 - 1||3 - 0||6 - 5|
|Kevin Bieksa||0 - 4||0 - 0||3 - 0||3 - 4|
|Jason Garrison||3 - 3||0 - 1||1 - 0||4 - 4|
|Chris Tanev||2 - 6||0 - 0||0 - 0||2 - 6|
|Steve Pinizzotto||1 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||1 - 2|
|Alex Burrows||2 - 2||0 - 1||3 - 0||5 - 3|
|Chris Higgins||2 - 4||0 - 0||0 - 0||2 - 4|
|Mason Raymond||0 - 3||0 - 0||3 - 0||3 - 3|
|Daniel Sedin||3 - 5||0 - 0||1 - 0||4 - 5|
|Alex Edler||0 - 3||0 - 0||1 - 0||1 - 3|
|Andrew Ebbett||1 - 3||0 - 0||0 - 0||1 - 3|
|Tom Sestito||0 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 2|
|Henrik Sedin||3 - 6||0 - 0||1 - 0||4 - 6|
|Jannik Hansen||2 - 5||0 - 0||1 - 0||3 - 5|
|Maxim Lapierre||0 - 2||0 - 1||0 - 0||0 - 3|
|Andrew Alberts||2 - 6||0 - 0||0 - 0||2 - 6|
|Andrew Gordon||0 - 4||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 4|
|Jordan Schroeder||1 - 3||0 - 0||3 - 0||4 - 3|