April 11 2013 12:28AM
Roberto Luongo was called upon unexpectedly, and wound up reminding us that he's still very good.
Just hours before the drop of the puck for Wednesday night's game between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, news broke that Cory Schneider was dealing with a flu bug and would not be able to be between the pipes. Enter
Sandman Roberto Luongo, who was making just his first start since March 18th (a span of 11 games).
Not only did he show no rust, but he made 40 stops to keep his team in it until the skaters decided to get going roughly halfway through the 3rd period. After a barrage by the blue'n'white which saw them beat Miikka Kiprusoff three times in the span of 290 seconds, the Canucks held on for a 4-1 victory, padding their lead atop the Northwest Division.
Scoring Chance and Analysis of the Game Just Past the Jump.
I'm not sure whether it was the Calgary Flames' general lack of talent, the footsteps he could hear from Dustin Butler, or the fact that he's just a fantastic goaltender who has somehow managed to stay focused through this trying stretch, but Luongo was stellar on this night. So much so that he was pretty much the only reason the Canucks avoided an embarrassing loss at the Saddledome.
I thought his best work came in the opening minutes of the final frame, with the game still tied at 1. The Flames had 8 scoring chances before the Canucks registered their first of the period, yet the score remained tied. Then as I mentioned above, the Canucks scored 3 goals that could not have been any different; a scrum in front of the net involving some gritty play by Lapierre and Ebbett, a great display of hand-eye by Raymond as he batted the puck in from mid-air, and a classic power play tally by Daniel Sedin to put the game away.
It will be very interesting to see how the Canucks treat the goaltending situation in the coming games, as Luongo's performance has surely earned him another start in the near future. The team has 2 days off before a game in Colorado, and then a tough back-to-back against Central Division competition. You'd have to assume he gets at least 1, if not 2 starts during that stretch.
It's kind of remarkable that there were 44 scoring chances by my count in this game - which surely has to be near the top of the list for Canucks games this season - despite the fact that it was relatively unwatchable for large stretches. I guess there were a handful of barrages by both teams which made the chances come in bunches.
Despite a few promising sequences in the offensive zone, including the shift that stretched the lead to 3-1, the Raymond-Kesler-Kassian line looked lost. I thought Kesler looked far more rusty than he had in his return the other night, but that's understandable. On Monday night I'm sure he was flying high with adrenaline thanks to being back out on the ice in front of the home crowd. Although I guess one could argue that given the amount of blue sweatshirts in the lower bowl on Wednesday night, this was essentially a home game as well.
I'm not sure what Kassian's excuse was, though, as he really set a whole new standard for terrible play. He was out on the ice for 13:53 at 5v5, in which the Flames managed to register 12 scoring chances. I think that's pretty hard to do even if you're trying to see how poorly you can do.
After 5 shots on goal in this one, Daniel Sedin now has 21 combined in the past 5 games. Before this stretch, he was shooting 2.82 times/game on the year. Just as a frame of reference, he registered 3.12/game in 2011-12, 3.24/game in 2010-11, and 3.57/game in 2009-10. Who knows, maybe if he keeps shooting more frequently he might even get to pass his brother in goals! (let's not get crazy, though..)
While the Calgary Flames did manage to register 4 chances on the power play, I thought the most dangerous players during the times in which they had the extra skater were Max Lapierre and Alex Burrows, whose speed and tenacity gave the Flames fits. They created a Lapierre breakaway (leading to a drawn penalty), and a 2-on-1 which nearly resulted in a goal.
You'll notice that I haven't commented on the Canucks' first goal - which was credited to Burrows - because, well, I'm not all that sure what to make of it. It was really tough to tell from the camera angle, but it sure did look like a good goal. I'm just not sure that it should've been Burrows', but after having 2 waived off against Phoenix, it's nice to see one go the team's way.
And on one final note, Dale Weise and Tom Sestito both nearly scored highlight reel goals in this one. I'm just going to leave that comment there to marinate.
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:
|1st Period||2nd Period||3rd Period||Totals|
|Canucks (EV)||5 (5)||7 (3)||8 (5)||20 (13)|
|Flames (EV)||5 (3)||8 (5)||11 (11)||24 (19)|
Individual Chance Contributions:
|Individual||Chances Taken||Chances Assisted||Chances Total|
|Zack Kassian 0||0||1||1|
Individual Scoring Chance Differential:
|Individual||EV F - A||PP F - A||SH F - A||Total F - A|
|Zack Kassian||5-12 (!!)||0-0||0-0||5-12|