Canucks Pulverize the Blackhawks

Thomas Drance
April 23 2013 01:46AM


LoL Duncan Keith
Photograph by Jeff Vinnick via NHLI/Getty

The Canucks have been reeling somewhat of late, partly as a result of injuries along their backend, but they got some relief on Monday night in the form of Chris Higgins. Higgins' presence alongside Derek Roy and Ryan Kesler in Vancouver's top-six was key to a dominant first period performance for the Canucks. The Sedins took over from there, and Vancouver's club didn't look back, completely crushing the Blackhawks by a three to one score that flattered the away side.

It was something of a cathartic victory for the Canucks, and a memorable one that included Daniel Sedin moving into second place on the all-time franchise points leaderboard, and Frank Corrado's rather impressive NHL debut.

Read past the jump for more analysis and scoring chance data.

Let's start, as always, with the key numbers. The Canucks took nineteen quality look in this game, and surrendered only eight to the Blackhawks. At even-strength the margin was similarly impressive as the Canucks took fifteen of their scoring chances with five-a-side, allowing only six against. With the result in doubt - actually wait, it never really was - the Canucks took five scoring chances while permitting zero in a score tied game state.

Cory Schneider wasn't busy but he was good when he was called on to deliver a big save. He made a couple of key stops on Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad in particular that were relatively impressive. His counterpart, Corey Crawford, was similarly good - he had to be or this game could've gotten way out of hand really early.

The Derek Roy line was phenomenal in that first frame, and I thought Ryan Kesler looked pretty good on the wing too. They carried the Canucks in the first period and Roy was actually Vancouver's most involved offensive player according to the "scoring chance contributions" data. That surprised me, as some of Daniel's chances (in addition to his goal) seemed somehow louder in my recollection of the game. But that's why we take notes.

The Sedin twins took over in the second and third periods and completely pulverized Duncan Keith and Nicklas Hjalmarsson in their matchup. Dave Bolland may have hurt his groin early in the game, either way he left the game at some point in the first period, so in a weird quirk both of Vancouver's top-lines were primarily matched up against Jonathan Toews. Toews is a pretty good defensive player (though not as good as his reputation suggests, frankly) but asking him to check two scoring lines might be a bit much...

On the one hand, the Kesler line was dangerous all game and the Canucks significantly outshot the Hawks with them on the ice. On the other, Vancouver's depth players gave back much of what the top two lines and Garrison and Hamhuis produced at the other end. Andrew Ebbett, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Tom Sestito and Maxim Lapierre all had tough outings by the possession data (less so by the scoring chance data though). Which leaves the team with a quandry: do they have enough wing depth to ice two scoring lines without Roy and Kesler playing together? It might be a luxury the club just doesn't have enough depth to afford. But on the other hand, it might be a necessity that they can't afford to do without...

Frank Corrado made his NHL debut on Monday night and was impressive right off the bat. He laid out several big hits, one in particular on Marcus Krueger on Corrado's first shift left the Swedish checking centre clearly winded, and looked competent while handling legitimate second pairing minutes. Corrado fared better by the scoring chance data than the possession data, but he handled himself well and he sure looked like a player...

Cam Barker, however, continued to not look like a player. In a game in which the Canucks out-chanced their opponent by a 19 to 8 tally, Cam Barker somehow finished with a negative scoring chance differential in ten minutes of ice-time. How is that even possible? Based on how seriously Barker has been exposed in the absence of Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev, I'd say it's a safe bet to describe Frank Corrado as already Vancouver's eighth best defenseman. It's not quite yet time to light one up and burn that first year of Corrado's entry-level contract, but he should definitely be in the lineup for Vancouver's next couple of games.

Zack Kassian didn't play very much, but he had a solid game when he did. A goal and two scoring chances taken in less than nine minutes of ice-time is pretty neat, if I may say so. I was particularly impressed with his second goal, scored from Dustin Bfuglien's office in the slot, and a sequence in the first period where Brent Seabrook went to check Kassian behind the Chicago goal and bounced off like green goo in some weak ass Robin Williams film.

Daniel Sedin's second point of the night was lovely, and made that much more enjoyable by Duncan Keith's petulant, useless slash. What a piece of work that Keith guy is. Let's watch him slash Sedin without even a pretense of going for the puck:

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 Total
Vancouver (EV) 7 (6) 6 (6) 6 (5) 19 (17)
Chicago (EV) 2 (2) 2 (2) 4 (3) 8 (7)

Individual Scoring Chance Contributions:

Individual Chances Taken Created Total
Derek Roy 3 2 5
Henrik Sedin 2 3 5
Chris Higgins 3 0 3
Daniel Sedin 3 0 3
Ryan Kesler 2 1 3
Zack Kassian 2 0 2
Alex Burrows 2 0 2
Mason Raymond 1 0 1
Maxim Lapierre 1 0 1

Individual Scoring Chance Differential:

Scoring Chance Diff. EV F - A SH F - A PP F - A Total F - A
Dan Hamhuis 9 - 2 0 - 0 2 - 0 11 - 2
Jason Garrison 8 - 3 0 - 0 1 - 0 9 - 3
Zack Kassian 2 - 1 0 - 0 0 - 0 2 - 1
Alex Burrows 4 - 1 0 - 0 1 - 0 5 - 1
Derek Roy 6 - 3 0 - 0 0 - 0 6 - 3
Ryan Kesler 7 - 1 0 - 0 0 - 1 7 - 2
Cam Barker 1 - 2 0 - 0 0 - 0 1 - 2
Chris Higgins 7 - 1 0 - 0 0 - 0 7 - 1
Mason Raymond 2 - 1 0 - 0 1 - 1 3 - 2
Daniel Sedin 7 - 2 0 - 0 1 - 1 8 - 3
Alex Edler 8 - 2 0 - 0 1 - 1 9 - 3
Andrew Ebbett 1 - 1 0 - 0 0 - 0 1 - 1
Frank Corrado 7 - 1 0 - 0 0 - 0 7 - 1
Tom Sestito 2 - 2 0 - 0 0 - 0 2 - 2
Henrik Sedin 8 - 2 0 - 0 1 - 1 9 - 3
Jannik Hansen 2 - 2 0 - 0 1 - 0 3 - 1
Maxim Lapierre 2 - 2 0 - 0 1 - 0 3 - 2
Andrew Alberts 0 - 3 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 3

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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 23 2013, 01:59AM
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Ok, I am back on the bandwagon.

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#2 JI123
April 23 2013, 06:29AM
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This was only the second game I had missed all season, and I missed us dominate the Blackhawks! It's great to see (from boxscores) that there didn't seem to be any post-whistle scrums and facewashhing etc. and that both teams let their hockey hurt the other team.

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#3 UkeeRob
April 23 2013, 09:31AM
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So much for not having enough righthanded shooting defencemen! So far Corrado and Tanev make me feel better about our future defence even after this "window" is over.

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#4 chinook
April 23 2013, 10:05AM
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Daniel Sedin's second point was "lovely"?!!? What u talkin' bout - figure skating?

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#6 BrudnySeaby
April 23 2013, 10:55AM
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WOW, I liked how the Canucks turned it up a few notches. If they can bring this in every game during the play-offs, all is not doom and gloom yet. Although the 3L remains a concern if AV goes with Kesler and Roy on 2L. In that case I would like to see Schroeder centre Raymond and Hansen as they are stronger possession wise than with Ebbett. Lapierre can then centre a physical checking and energy 4L top crash and bang as much as possible. In our home games AV should then be able to get the favourable match-ups for his lines.

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#7 billm
April 23 2013, 11:54AM
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@Drance

Is there something in the underlying numbers that explains why Av doesn't slot Kassian with the Twins on a ongoing basis? It seems when he gets time with them, he plays a simpler game and produces. He also adds a nice physical presence to that line.

Burrows is going to produce on pretty much any line now and putting him on Kesler's wing gives more scoring punch and allows both Roy and Kesler to play their natural position making the Canucks deeper down the middle.

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#8 Unknown Comic
April 23 2013, 12:40PM
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billm wrote:

@Drance

Is there something in the underlying numbers that explains why Av doesn't slot Kassian with the Twins on a ongoing basis? It seems when he gets time with them, he plays a simpler game and produces. He also adds a nice physical presence to that line.

Burrows is going to produce on pretty much any line now and putting him on Kesler's wing gives more scoring punch and allows both Roy and Kesler to play their natural position making the Canucks deeper down the middle.

It might work. But my feeling was Kassian produced early in the year because he had been playing all season and was playing against competition that had no training camp.

If you're still worried about his defence, then he puts the Sedins at a disadvantage as the top opposition usually deployed against the Sedins would pounce.

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#9 DCR
April 23 2013, 01:13PM
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I believe one reason why Kassian isn't regularly deployed with the Sedins is that while he gets better production with them, they get better production with Burrows.

I was really impressed with Corrado, 10 days after his OHL season finished he was playing top-4 minutes against the NHL's best team and holding his own.

It also seemed that he acted as an enabler for Edler, and if he can stabilize Edler's play in the playoffs, it might be worth burning a year.

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#10 Fred-65
April 23 2013, 02:43PM
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What more can a coach say than put Corrado on for the last minute of a game against Chicago. It's the biggest compliment a player can receive. Kind squashed any argument about AV not liking young players. If you do your job you get to play, if you have frequent brain cramps ( Hello Ballard ) then you don't, age doesn't come into it.

I liked this kid in the prospects game in Penticton a number of years ago. His positional play was off the board. Obviously the Management did to..they signed him there and then.

The next propspect i want to see is McNally.In his case keeping him in college will help a lot. Good coaching and learn the defensive part of the game. so we don't end up with an offensive great and a defensive liability player.

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#11 antro
April 23 2013, 02:43PM
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@DCR

It's probably true that the Sedins play better with Burrows. This was esp. important at the beginning of the year with the injury to Kesler, and the Sedins taking on a heavier load. Kassian wasn't up to the defensive responsibility.

However, if we go with AV's structure of two players that play together, then he could have Sedin-Sedin, Kesler-Burrows, Roy-Higgins as his first three lines. That's not bad. Then Kassian, Hansen, and Raymond move up and down, probably playing Hansen on the line that's going to do defensive heavy-lifting. Lapierre-Weise are then the fourth line. Booth rounds out the pairings if he gets back.

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#12 elvis15
April 23 2013, 03:28PM
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Thomas Drance wrote:

What's wrong with flowery language?

Louis CK agrees with you, he wishes you could still say 'wonderful' without having to do so in a lilting voice.

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#13 Jay
April 23 2013, 06:14PM
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Something I'm confused about: if Corrado plays in playoff games, do those count towards the 5 would need to play to start the first year of his entry level contract?

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