Canucks Army Postgame: Ya Blew It!

That's Offside!
January 08 2014 12:30AM

That was an eventful game, for lack of a better term. "Schizophrenic" is a good adjective to describe it. Things went from bad to good to bad then really bad in a hurry, as the Canucks somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory from the jaws of defeat. Read past the jump for a recap of just how the hell they managed to do it this time in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Rundown

Although it wasn't really anything to write home about, the opening frame against the Pens was definitely a massive improvement from the 3rd against Anaheim. Granted, every single skater would have to have been infected by a virus that caused massive brain hemmhoraging to play a worse period, but still. Baby steps. Glass half full. Look at the positives...

BRIAN FREAKING GIBBONS scored on the Canucks. When it rains it pours.

Gibbons' goal came off a breakaway which was the result of a Dan Hamhuis turn over at the offensive blueline - not exactly a banner play from a newly-minted olympian. Other than that, the period was rather uneventful. Jason Garrison looked bad, the Sedins looked good, the run of play was fairly even at 5-on-5, and Taylor Pyatt threw the first hit of his life; pretty much par for the course.

The second period was much more wide open, and Pittsburgh scored off a wild sequence where Evgeni Malkin turned the puck over to Jannik Hansen who couldn't convert on a breakaway. The Penguins took the puck back up the ice and Malkin more than atoned for his mistake with a goal of his own, knifing a soft wrister past Eddie Lack to make the score 2-0. Yannick Weber would have a chance moments later, cranking a laser of a wrist shot off the bar, after Zac Dalpe made a beautiful play in the neutral zone to generate the opportunity.

Kris Letang also came alive in the frame, as the electric Pittsburgh defender (and underrated Olympic snub. How fun would he be with Subban on big ice?) hit a post and had two more grade-A chances that were turned aside by Eddie Lack. The Canucks netminder also turned aside Joe Vitale with a kick save and Sidney Crosby, as it looked like the Canucks were dangerously close to getting blown out once again.

But to the home team's credit, they managed to get things back under control, mostly thanks to this absolute gift from Sidney Crosby:

It's not too often you catch a break like that, and Jason Garrison, who had been having an absolutely miserable night Corsi-ing at a rate of 33% after one period and 38% after two, made no mistake. Vancouver came on strong with a flurry of attempts at the end of the second, but couldn't put another one past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Trailing 2-1, it was up to Vancouver to win da turd, and they looked determined to do just that. Tom Sestito nearly got the party started when he danced (it was an awkward, lumbering dance) around Simon Despres and just missed faking out Fleury and tucking a puck in the far side. It would have been the goal of the year, firmly cemented Sestito's status as a Vancouver cult hero, and force us to break up with our collective blog heartthrob Jamie Benn. Alas, it was not to be so Jamie Benn is still #1 in our hearts.

But it wasn't long after that #2 in our hearts Chris Tanev tied the game at 2-2. I thought the rush leading up to the goal was beautifully executed by Ryan Kesler and Zack Kassian, as Kesler drove the net while Kassian picked up the one guy that no one saw coming for a brilliant chance:

You'll notice that Kassian is good at this passing thing - something Dimitri and I have been talking up for the better part of the season now. 

Oh and the Canucks weren't done there. Soon after killing off a Tom Sestito charging penalty, this happened:

When I saw Chris Higgins on the breakaway, I thought his #20 was really Tom Sestito's #29 at first and I shouted "NO!!!" at my TV, half in disbelief that it was Sestito getting the chance, half out of the realization that of all the guys to get the chance it was going to be the one with hams for fists and Smart cars for feet. Fortunately, Chris Higgins is good at hockey, and he tucked the puck five-hole to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead, a mere 17 seconds before a sublimely slick play from Kassian gave the Canucks a 4-2 lead.

And that was all she wrote! Vancouver closed out the game, holding Sidney Crosby off the scoreboard for just th-- haha no that totally didn't happen. Remember those brain hemmhorages earlier? Those happened instead. Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby scored two goals in 16 seconds to tie the game at 4-4, and send the game to a goalless overtime then a shootout where the Canucks failed to score and Pittsburgh won because of course they did.

But hey, dat turd? Won it 3-2.

The Numbers

Something something ExtraSkater dot com .

All things considered, it wasn't a brutal game. Pittsburgh held a 55-51 edge in Corsis at even strength, but a 19-10 edge with the score tied. The Sedins and the Canucks depth had a nice bounceback game, as Frank Corrado led all skaters with a 66.7% Corsi For. Once again, Tom Sestito was the top forward on either team, though he was joined by Mike Santorelli at 63.6%. But that's all window dressing. Here's the point I want to make:

 

That shows Vancouver's rolling 10-game Fenwick For%. Since Alex Burrows and Alex Edler have left due to injuries, the Canucks have been in an absolute nosedive. With both Burrows and Edler, they were among the elite play-driving teams in the NHL, and a player or two away from a legitimate Stanley Cup threat in my estimation. Now? Below average and probably not a playoff team. What makes things worse is that we know Henrik Sedin is playing through some kind of hand or wrist or arm or shoulder injury (he took zero faceoffs tonight), and he's posted a 5v5 Corsi% of just 46.9% over the last 5 games.

What's even worse is that Ryan Kesler is at 39.2% over that same span.

I've long suspected Daniel to be nursing some sort of core injury since he's been falling almost as frequently as Mason Raymond was post-back surgery. Going down in a heap after taking a Bieksa clapper in the, uh, midsection certainly doesn't help that, and if Kesler's numbers are that poor you can't help but think he's banged up too. If Vancouver's best 4 forwards, best offensive defenseman, and best goaltender really are injured...

 ..NO. STOP. BAD.

Both Burrows and Edler skated today, so hopefully reinforcements are on the way soon and we won't have to see many more 14-minute nights from Tom Sestito. Not that he's been blatantly poor or anything, but I just want to see good hockey players, not adequate ones.

The Conclusion

This one goes out to you, Alex and Alex:

Next game is Friday at 7:00 PM against St. Louis. Please, join us for more thinly veiled sarcasm, hand wringing and Tom Sestito jokes!

I hope he didn't hear that last bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rhys Jessop - CanucksArmy's resident CHL buff/hater of prospects, depending on who you ask. Follow my ramblings on Twitter: @Thats_Offside. Email contact: thats.offside.hockey[at]gmail.com
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#1 Nolan
January 08 2014, 08:12AM
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Can somebody freaking tell me why the Canucks cannot play a full 60 minute game of hockey. I'm completely baffled. It's not like they can't win, they just don't for some reason.

I'm not saying that they should have won the LA game, but they COULD have, and they most certainly SHOULD have won against the ducks, and then last night... really? Again?

I also don't understand how burrows and edler are going to make that much of a difference. And I mean to the point of them playing a full 60 and being an actual contender.

@ NM00 Any room left over in that "window has closed" camp? I'm thinking of joining...

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#2 Mack
January 08 2014, 12:46AM
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favourite writeup and one of the best things I've read at all in a while. Enjoyed the FF% graphic for the Canucks season and laughed out loud at the Sestito picture at the bottom.

Only game I've been to this year, was a shame to see us throw a point away but as a hockey fan they don't get any better than that really. Crosby's gonna Crosby

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#3 antro
January 08 2014, 05:24AM
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Amazing write-up, and a great follow on twitter--so much fun!

Yeah, the injuries are piling up, and it really is the Sedins and Kesler who haven't been looking like they can. Not surprised to hear they may be nursing stuff. And Saint Santorelli hasn't been able to put them into overdrive.

But I would also note that the Stanton injury also really seems to have thrown off the Canucks' balance on the back end. Bieksa and Garrison don't work that well together for whatever reason.

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#4 NM00
January 08 2014, 01:51PM
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@Nolan

With all due respect, it's quite reactionary to jump off the ledge based on this latest streak.

The Canucks are not as bad as this latest skid.

Though they were nowhere near as good as the arbitrary startpoint/endpoint December streak, either.

They are plenty good enough to get into the playoffs which seemingly is what most fans on here would like to see.

Even though the window has closed...

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#5 NM00
January 08 2014, 01:57PM
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"Since Alex Burrows and Alex Edler have left due to injuries, the Canucks have been in an absolute nosedive. With both Burrows and Edler, they were among the elite play-driving teams in the NHL, and a player or two away from a legitimate Stanley Cup threat in my estimation."

Would it be preferable that Sedin, Sedin, Kesler, Santorelli, Higgins, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Garrison & Tanev succumb to major injury?

Every team has injuries.

And while there are certainly teams that endure exceptional circumstances (the Senators last year come to mind), it's a pretty poor excuse unless you can show that the Canucks have had significantly bad injury luck this year.

I see no reason to believe that has been the case.

What a couple of injuries have done is show how little can be expected from Utica this year.

As shocking as that might be for some...

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#7 NM00
January 08 2014, 07:37PM
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That's Offside! wrote:

5v5 Fenwick Close With Burrows and Edler: 55.5%, 2nd in the NHL.

5v5 Fenwick Close Without Burrows and Edler: 50.7%, 15th in the NHL.

Those are the facts right there. You're not making any sense.

You are not disputing my original claim by posting that.

Those numbers with Burrows & Edler also included a near-fully healthy Canuck roster while playing teams that, in all likelihood, were more banged up.

It's a SSS with a different strength of competition.

If you'd like to show that the Canucks have had a disproportionate number of injuries to key players, go for it.

Otherwise this can simply be added to the pile of illogical claims by the silver lining brigade.

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#8 NM00
January 08 2014, 07:46PM
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@PB

It's not that "everyone has injuries" should stop the conversation.

Perhaps the Canucks have had a disproportionate number.

But That's Offside! is dancing around the subject instead of attacking the original claim.

Although it's refreshing that the "woe is us" pertains to injuries as opposed to penalties for a change...

There certainly are teams every year that sustain major injuries that can legitimately screw up a season (Ottawa last year, though they overcame it).

There's little reason to believe Vancouver is one of those teams, though...

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#10 GeezMoney
January 08 2014, 06:18AM
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I would call that 3rd period a massive improvement over what happened in SoCal over the weekend. That said, what a incredibly disappointing final minute of play. I know Crosby is the game's best, but how you leave him uncovered while trying to preserve a one goal game is beyond me.

This team has lost five in a row(sigh), but this game gave me some hope for Friday. I hope they get it turned around soon. This team can't head back to SoCal losers of six in a row.

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#11 NM00
January 08 2014, 08:02PM
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@Nolan

There's no new leaf being turned here.

I've suggested a first round exit is the most realistic outcome since the summer.

That remains the case.

There will be a lot more talk of "window closing" and "fire Gillis!" at the end of the year.

Fans would do well to be rational about it as opposed to some of the knee jerk stuff that will inevitably occur...

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#12 Ted
January 08 2014, 09:04AM
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Another unlucky collapse at the end. At least they've been close...I guess.

We have the some core and that core seems to pick and choose when to get intense. Maybe if the NHL made every opposing team wear Bruins uniforms?

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#13 NM00
January 09 2014, 10:58AM
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@That's Offside!

"the Canucks are 2nd in the conference in cap hit weighted games lost to injury over the past 10 games. So yes, they are more banged up than nearly every other team they're competing with right now."

Why are you playing the arbitrary startpoint/endpoint game and only considering the last 10 games.

What about the first 35 games?

Better still, what about the entire 45 games of this season?

Keep dancing, though.

You're still not showing that the Canucks have had a disproportionate number of injuries this season.

Or that it can be used to explain the increasingly middling possession numbers that are all catching up to the FenTied...

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#14 Fred-65
January 08 2014, 12:23PM
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Is it my imagination or is this a first trend of the Torts era... giving up leads. I don't recall this being a problem in seasons past....or maybe it's just my memory

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#15 NM00
January 08 2014, 01:59PM
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Fred-65 wrote:

Is it my imagination or is this a first trend of the Torts era... giving up leads. I don't recall this being a problem in seasons past....or maybe it's just my memory

Safe is death...

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#16 Ryan B
January 08 2014, 03:28PM
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@NM00

Agreed, to get into the playoffs was the first goal entering this season, much like every other season prior to it. Once you get in, anything can happen.

Was anybody really counting on any help from Utica to begin with? We took the best player (Lack), were 50/50 on taking the second best (Corrado), were (are?) unsure of what we have with our third (Jensen). Our best prospects got sent back to the CHL.

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#17 Ryan B
January 08 2014, 04:52PM
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@gjdorey wrote:

Speculation/wish the canucks are padding Sestito's stats to trade him to a east coast team that doesn't watch games

That would be awesome.

Dear Eastern Conference,

A second round pick will get you the sniper that is Tom Sestito, quite the bargain.

Signed,

Mike Gillis

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#18 Ryan B
January 08 2014, 06:25PM
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That's Offside! wrote:

5v5 Fenwick Close With Burrows and Edler: 55.5%, 2nd in the NHL.

5v5 Fenwick Close Without Burrows and Edler: 50.7%, 15th in the NHL.

Those are the facts right there. You're not making any sense.

Wow.

Simply amazing how different a team can look when they lose a top-6 forward and top-4 defenseman to injury.

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#19 north island #1
January 08 2014, 02:14PM
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Does anyone know the record on blown leads, and how many have the Canucks had this season? Also, have you noticed in many of the tying goals someone,(last night it was Sid) is left alone at the "left " side of whoever`s playing goal`s crease.

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#20 PB
January 08 2014, 07:20PM
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@NM00

I think the better comparison would actually probably be the Penguins themselves. They have been absolutely decimated (including Malkin, Letang and Orpik at various points plus Neal due to suspension) and yet their play doesn't seem to have suffered at all.

Every team has injuries it's true, but as you say it's whether or not you have the depth to overcome them. And the problem is that if your only way of overcoming them is by riding your top players so much that you burn them out you end up in the situation we seem to be in right now -- Sedins seemingly gassed (or injured), Kesler trying but perhaps in the wrong way (seen him make too many 1 on 3 attempts in the last few games), and Hamhuis playing half the game and consequently making a few mistakes.

There are a few players who are still playing hard -- Higgins, Tanev, Kassian I think has looked excellent in the last little while, Hansen, Weber has actually looked decent, and Sestito has clearly made a deal with the devil to not suck as much as he usually does. But I cannot fathom what Bieksa, Garrison, and Booth in particular have been doing the past few games. Some lazy and sloppy play from guys who haven't been ridden that hard and don't appear injured.

For once I certainly agree with you that we shouldn't panic about this skid any more than assuming December means planning a parade. But there are some really worrying trends here (fancy stats or not). End of game collapses and -- especially -- the quick goals I cannot remember seeing that happening so frequently to any Canucks team in years. I generally like Tortorella but I have to wonder about the preparation in those cases.

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#21 Nat
January 08 2014, 11:41AM
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@That's Offside

"With both Burrows and Edler, they were among the elite play-driving teams in the NHL, and a player or two away from a legitimate Stanley Cup threat in my estimation. Now? Below average and probably not a playoff team."

When you say a player or two, what position are you thinking? D or forward? Also, would these players need to be impact players (1st/2nd line, top 4 D) or are you just thinking we need complementary pieces?

I'm just trying to grasp how close or far away we are from legitimately competing for the Cup this year.

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#22 @gjdorey
January 08 2014, 04:25PM
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Speculation/wish the canucks are padding Sestito's stats to trade him to a east coast team that doesn't watch games

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#23 Nolan
January 08 2014, 05:31PM
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@NM00

You turning over a new leaf for the new year? Holy voice of reason.

Reactionary, maybe, but it doesn't hurt to familiarize yourself with your options...

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#24 Ruprecht
January 09 2014, 10:17AM
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Ryan B wrote:

Wow.

Simply amazing how different a team can look when they lose a top-6 forward and top-4 defenseman to injury.

Unless you're the Penguins?

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