April 21 2013 12:33PM
Cory Schneider: the man of the hour.
Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick NHLI/via Getty
The Canucks clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, in a shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings, thanks almost entirely to Cory Schneider. It was a superhuman performance for the young netminder, who by himself is enough of a reason why opposing teams might prefer to avoid the Canucks in the first round.
Unfortunately for the Canucks, and their fans, the list of reasons to want to avoid a playoff series against the Canucks is otherwise diminishing. The back-end is banged up, the even-strength play has been mostly subpar since the trade deadline, and the middle of Vancouver's lineup - and the third line in particular - has offered the opposition only token resistance over the past ten or so days.
Yep it was an ugly win on Hockey Night in Canada for the Canucks. Read past the jump.
This will be a brief recap because I've got an insane busy Sunday afternoon ahead of me. The Red Wings out-chanced the Canucks 18 to 12 on Saturday night, which masks how bad it actually was for the Canucks. Vancouver's club permitted eighteen scoring chances against on Saturday at even-strength and only managed four of their own.
So Cory Schneider was pretty good. In a sequence right towards the end of the game, Johan Franzen busted through Vancouver's defense like they weren't even there (and they might as well not have been) and put a shot on Schneider that Vancouver's rather remarkable young starter turned aside. With the puck loose in the crease, Schneider then swatted the rebound to corner. "He's doing it all!" said Jim Hughson, and quite rightly.
Detroit was putting a lot of quality shots wide on Saturday, so Schneider only faced eleven difficult shots in the contest. But he stopped ten of them and all three of Detroit's opportunities in the shootout. Schneider may have singlehandedly put a nail in the coffin of Detroit's playoff streak.
Really can't say enough good things about Schneider's play on Saturday, even his puck-handling appeared polished. I'd argue, without hestitation, that last night's victory was his signature performance of the season.
Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison had easily their worst game as a pairing on Saturday night, finishing a -10 and a -8 respectively in even-strength chance differential. They basically gave the Datsyuk, Franzen, Abdelkadder line the sort of time and space that would make for a quality Carl Sagan lecture.
Andrew Alberts led the team in defensive zone-starts, was nails on the penalty-kill, played over twenty-four minutes and acquitted himself pretty well. I wouldn't say that he was good, but he was certainly competent enough. Solid outing. Same can be said for Alex Edler who rebounded from an atrocious outing in Dallas on Thursday and played some pretty competent defensive hockey in addition to scoring the game winner.
Keith Ballard and Cam Barker barely played - Ballard because he tweaked his back, Barker because the Canucks have finally figured out what we knew back in January (though in fairness, Barker has been better than we'd expected).
As for the forwards, the second and third-lines continue to get fed at even-strength - even with Roy and Kesler no longer skating on the same line. Chris HIggins will help on this score, and so will having a second top-four quality defenseman in either Bieksa or Tanev (if either returns on time for the playoffs) but I'm not sure it's enough. Vancouver probably just doesn't have enough middle-roster depth to matchup with some of the deeper teams in the West.
What that means is that they'll need the Sedin twins to carry them. The twins played pretty well on Saturday, I thought, especially when you consider how defense oriented their deployment was (8 defensive zone starts, two offensive zone starts). While they narrowly won their matchup against the Zetterberg/Filppula line on Saturday, they were mostly held in check and certainly didn't generate nearly enough quality chances. With the holes that Vancouver has in the middle of their lineup heading into the playoffs, the twins need to carry this club. For the most part they've been up to it this season, but as the games start to matter, merely being "good" (which is what they were on Saturday) isn't going to get it done.
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
|Scoring Chance Totals||1st||2nd||3rd||OT||Total|
|Detroit (EV)||7 (7)||2 (2)||7 (7)||2 (2)||18 (18)|
|Vancouver (EV)||6 (0)||4 (2)||1 (1)||1 (1)||12 (4)|
Individual Scoring Chance Contributions
|Individual Scoring Chances||Taken||Created||Total|
Individual Scoring Chance Differential
|Scoring Chance Diff.||EV F - A||PP F- A||SH F - A||Total F - A|
|Dan Hamhuis||0 - 10||1 - 0||0 - 1||1 - 11|
|Keith Ballard||0 - 1||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 1|
|Jason Garrison||1 - 9||4 - 0||1 - 0||6 - 9|
|Zack Kassian||0 - 5||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 5|
|Steve Pinizzotto||0 - 1||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 1|
|Alex Burrows||3 - 2||2 - 0||1 - 1||6 - 3|
|Derek Roy||1 - 5||2 - 0||0 - 1||3 - 6|
|Ryan Kesler||1 - 6||7 - 0||1 - 1||9 - 7|
|Cam Barker||1 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 1||1 - 3|
|Mason Raymond||0 - 7||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 7|
|Daniel Sedin||2 - 3||7 - 0||0 - 0||9 - 3|
|Alex Edler||3 - 5||4 - 0||0 - 1||7 - 6|
|Andrew Ebbett||1 - 4||0 - 0||0 - 0||1 - 4|
|Dale Weise||0 - 2||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 2|
|Henrik Sedin||2 - 2||5 - 0||0 - 0||7 - 2|
|Jannik Hansen||1 - 6||3 - 0||0 - 1||4 - 7|
|Max Lapierre||0 - 3||0 - 0||0 - 0||0 - 3|
|Andrew Alberts||3 - 5||0 - 0||1 - 1||4 - 6|