Canucks Escape Hairy Contest with a Bettman Point

Thomas Drance
April 16 2013 11:29PM


David Backes mocks Zack Kassian's locks.
Safe to say if those two ever throw down, it'll be a mane event! Heyo!

The St. Louis Blues are a blunt instrument of a hockey team.

St. Louis's goaltending is iffy and they can't score a lick, but they play hard and dirty, they take the body, they dominate play, and they absolutely strangle teams with their no-event stylings at even-strength. Luckily for the Canucks, their massive goaltending advantage over the Blues showed up on Tuesday night, and Vancouver's club nearly won a game they had no business even being in.

Read past the jump for scoring chance data and analysis.

- Let's start with the scoring chance data since it's the star of the show and the reason you're here in the first place! The St. Louis Blues crushed the Canucks on Tuesday, recording 22 total scoring chances to Vancouver's 10. They controlled the quality look in this game by a two-to-one margin at even-strength (16 to 8) and with the score tied the Blues out-chanced the Canucks by an 18-7 margin. So yeah, they richly deserved the two points.

- The Blues were nearly foiled because Cory Schneider is a very bad man. Or at least a habitual thief.  Vancouver's starter played inspired hockey in St. Louis on Tuesday night. He stopped 35 of 36 shots overall and foiled fourteen of fifteen difficult shots as well. Schneider stood tall even as the Blues crashed the net and dominated play. Should these clubs meet in the postseason, he is Vancouver's ace in the hole and the single reason why a prospective Blues - Canucks playoff series would be a pure tosssup.  

- This game was filled to brim with out of control scrums, third men in, aggressive chirping and uncalled penalties. While the flow of the hockey itself lagged for large swaths of the game - and really, what do you expect out of a game between teams coached by Hitchock and Vigneault? - the personal enmity between the two clubs was rivetting. 

- At one point in the second period, David Backes hit a vulnerable Keith Ballard behind the Canucks net. Ballard took exception and tried to fight Backes, but Burrows jumped in, grabbed St. Louis' captain from behind and negated a clean major penalty trade-off between one of Vancouver's third pairing defenseman and St. Louis' best two-way player. He sort of emasculated his teammate in the process too. On every level: really dumb play from Burrows, who I think just lost his head in the moment.

- Ballard and Backes nearly fought a second time but a referee intervened in over the top fashion, literally shoving Keith Ballard away from the Blues captain. Not sure I've ever seen that. though I do know I'd be steamed post game if I were Keith Ballard...

- After that second attempted Ballard-Backes fight, Backes chirped Zack Kassian in the penalty box for his mountain man hairstyle and his receding hairline. I'd imagine the next time these two teams meet - and it seems inevitable that they'll draw each other in the first round of the playoffs, for whatever reason - Zack Kassian will do what he can with his fist, to bring about the dawning of the age of Aquarias on Backes' face. Can't wait!

- Let's back to the hockey! The Canucks were outplayed! And rather thoroughly too!

- As we'd forecast in our game preview, the Andrew Ebbett third-line was basically taken advantage of by a legit three-line Blues team. Patrick Berglund and Chris Stewart were that third group's primary matchup, and it was a favourable one for the Blues (to say the least). Compounding that issue, Andy MacDonald's group completely kicked in the Kesler line - MacDonald had a particularly strong game and seemed to be everywhere taking five scoring chances in the contest.

- Obviously that left the Sedin line to do battle with big David Backes and, all things considered, I thought they did alright. At the very least they came out ahead by the possession data and in the scoring chance battle too, albeit by a lesser margin then you'd reasonably expect once you account for zone-starts. Henrik Sedin created four scoring chances while Daniel took two and created a third, so the Sedins were involved and got some looks. Obviously if the Canucks meet St. Louis in the postseason the twins will be counted on to legitimately produce offense, but the Blues didn't come away with two points on Tuesday because Backes dominated the Sedins. Rather it was because St. Louis' second and third lines outclassed Vancouver's...

- Alex Edler's power-play goal was pretty damn lucky, and came just moments after the Canucks surrendered a power-play scoring chance against at the other end. I only bring that fact up because Daniel playing point on the first unit power-play continues to be the worst.

- Of note on Edler's goal: Jannik Hansen's screen on Brian Elliott was Wellwoodian in quality, and on the zone-entry that set the Edler shot up, the Canucks utilized the hated drop-pass zone-entry as a decoy to full effect. The fake drop pass worked wonderfully, so think about that the next time you get irrationally upset about Vancouver's mostly effective zone-entry scheme with the man-advantage.

- Cam Barker, and what follows is a true story, didn't have a bad game. Yes, the flub that led directly to Jay Bouwmeester's game tying goal was ugly and typical of Cam Barker's defensive play; but Barker is what he is and that's a high-event defenseman. Overall Barker played nearly 18 minutes, finished only a -1 in scoring chance differential, and was more or less even by the possession data too. So Barker's performance was fine, it's just that you probably don't want to bring him to a one goal game against a Ken Hitchcock coached club...

- Alex Edler had a really strong defensive game, arguably his best of the season. Playing alongside Cam Barker, who is, y'know, a bit of a liability in his own end, Edler reigned his game in significantly, blocked some key shots, was probably Vancouver's best penalty-killer and made zero glaring errors. Great stuff from the oft-criticized Swede.

- Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts were crushed like Big Pun. The probable reason? They spent eight minutes of their roughly 14 even-strength minutes in the contest skating along the Ebbett line...

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:

Chance Totals 1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Vancouver (EV) 2 (2) 2 (2) 5 (3) 1 (1) 10 (8)
St. Louis (EV) 6 (2) 5 (4) 8 (8) 2 (2) 22 (16)

Individual Scoring Chance Contributions:

Individual Scoring Chance Contributions Taken Created Total
Henrik Sedin 0 4 4
Daniel Sedin 2 1 3
Ryan Kesler 2 0 2
Jannik Hansen 1 1 2
Alex Burrows 1 0 1
Andrew Ebbett 1 0 1
Keith Ballard 1 0 1
Jason Garrison 1 0 1
Derek Roy 1 0 1
Mason Raymond 0 1 1

Individual Scoring Chance Differential

Scoring Chance Diff. EV F - A PP F - A SH F - A Total F - A
Dan Hamhuis 2 - 5 1 - 0 0 - 4 3 - 9
Keith Ballard 1 - 6 0 - 0 0 - 3 1 - 9
Jason Garrison 2 - 5 1 - 0 0 - 1 3 - 6
Zack Kassian 1 - 4 0 - 0 0 - 0 1 - 4
Alex Burrows 5 - 6 1 - 0 0 - 3 6 - 9
Derek Roy 2 - 6 1 - 0 0 - 1 3 - 7
Ryan Kesler 3 - 6 1 - 1 0 - 2 4 - 9
Cam Barker 4 - 5 0 - 0 0 - 0 4 - 5
Mason Raymond 1 - 3 1 - 0 0 - 2 2 - 5
Daniel Sedin 4 - 3 1 - 1 0 - 0 5 - 4
Alex Edler 4 - 5 1 - 1 0 - 1 5 - 7
Andrew Ebbett 1 - 4 0 - 0 0 - 0 1 - 4
Tom Sestito 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0
Dale Weise 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 1 0 - 1
Henrik Sedin 4 - 4 1 - 1 0 - 0 5 - 5
Jannik Hansen 2 - 5 1 - 1 0 - 1 3 - 7
Maxim Lapierre 0 - 2 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 2
Andrew Alberts 1 - 5 0 - 0 0 - 1 1 - 6

External Resources

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Brent
April 17 2013, 12:48AM
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Nice summary as always. I was also surprized at Cam Barkers play. You forgot to mention he drew the penalty that resulted in the Canucks goal. Thus, his smug look when the period ended and he headed to the dressing room. Even with that, I was surprized to see him on the ice during overtime. I thought the Canucks dominated OT but see that yet again they were outchanced. I think that was right at the end.

I found myself becoming enraged at the refereeing with this one. Through my Canucks tinted glasses, it looked like the majority of the calls and non-calls were against us. I guess it is a preview of the playoffs in more ways than one.

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#2 Jeff
April 17 2013, 09:57AM
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Hockey-wise it was tough to watch. A lot of whistles, and non-calls by the officials in their practice of putting the whistles away for the playoffs. But the intensity made up for the game and made it entertaining.

I don't know if anyone noticed but that Edler goal wasn't a fluke if you ask me. The point men (Garrison in particular) had been shooting high a lot, probably some scouting data on Elliot.

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#3 Unknown Comic
April 17 2013, 09:58AM
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Time to put Roy back where he should be?

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#4 Rasmus
April 17 2013, 10:12AM
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Time to get Daniel off the point on the PP. And put Roy back at centre. I thought we acquired him because of a lack of depth at centre. Come on AV. Sometimes line juggling can work, but too many guys are playing out of position when they don't need to be.

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#5 Senrik Hedin
April 17 2013, 10:34AM
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Backes is a great captain... for a six year old.

Blues are so much bigger and stronger... or is that because Ebbett was getting flattened every time he had the puck. Kinda reminded me of Canucks guys going after Wellwood ha.

And srsly why are we using Daniel Sedin on the point? Takes away so many options on the pp, i.e. their patented slap pass.

Why is burrows protecting ballard? I'm sure ballard can easily take burrows in a fight.

Lappy needs to drop the gloves more.

Burrows used to say it doesn't matter if goalies anticipate his fake-shot backhand roof move as long as he executes it right. Haven't seen that kind of confidence in his move this season.

Hamhuis needs to play for team Canada. What a great player.

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#6 EVT
April 17 2013, 10:44AM
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Nice summary. The Blues are not a team the Canucks want to face in the first round. If the Canucks make it out (I agree with you that it is essentially a coin flip), they'll most likely be down a man or two from the grinding, leaving them undermanned for the next round.

It's also nice to see Barker getting some ice time. Something tells me that we'll lose a defenceman or two along the playoff road, so keeping him somewhat fresh should be a priority.

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#7 Gino+Pavel
April 17 2013, 04:02PM
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Guy gets a lot of hate but Barker got picked /interfered by the Blues after being hit from behind, i thought he played a solid game and the replay showed the goal wasn't really his fault. Larwence Gilman was on the radio saying it was a bad bounce and not Barkers fault, either way Barker has been fairly solid for a depth guy.

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