February 04 2014 09:05PM
Is this really necessary?
I was pretty critical of the performance the Vancouver Canucks put forth against the Red Wings last night. They were shut out by a team that has been middling at best this season, which was also happened to be playing in the 2nd leg of a back-to-back. It wasn't so much the result that irked me, but moreso the way in which the game unfolded. Generating 4 shot attempts in a 3rd period when you're down by 1 is pretty much unforgivable at this level, no matter who you are or who you're going up against.
As far as the scoreboard, it was much of the same on Tuesday night. The Canucks once again lost by two goals on the road, continuing their downward spiral. This time around, though, I'm fairly at peace with what I just watched on my television over the course of the past 2.5 hours.
All things considered it was a relatively respectable performance against one of the league's very best. They clearly didn't have any near enough fire power to actually win the game itself, but they avoided embarrassment in putting forth what I'd deem a respectable performance if nothing else. Believe me when I say that things could've been significantly worse.
While I have no issue with how the team itself handled their business, I do have one point of contention which we'll get into just past the jump.
The pride of Vancouver, BC, Milan Lucic scored the opening goal just a handful of minutes into the contest. Initially you'd think, "well either Jason Garrison or Alex Edler are surely to blame!" when you see that they're on the ice for a goal against. And while as fun as that normally is to do (to go along with being correct, especially in Garrison's case), that's not the case this time around.
Take a look at Ryan Kesler's backcheck on the play. Milan Freakin' Lucic beats him down the ice and finishes the play off, while he goes for a casual skate back, finally turning on the jets as he enters the frame near the end of the play to make his effort look better than it was really was. If a Russian player does that - or I guess more prevelantly for the Canucks, Zack Kassian does that - he gets absolutely skewered by everyone for it (to go along with probably getting benched).
In the 2nd period, Daniel Sedin found himself in all alone against Tuukka Rask after two Bruins collided along their own blueline. The result was one of the most pitiful shots I've ever seen someone attempt in an actual in-game breakaway (yet still not remotely approaching a Sedin attempt in the shootout). He basically half-heartedly shot the puck right into Rask's pads, and I truly believe that the team would've been better off if he had just lazily shot it into the crest of his jersey and made him hang onto it for a faceoff.
I say that because the Bruins went right back down and scored a power play goal (what's that?) to make it 2-0. Considering all of the offensive struggles this team has had recently, I'd say that was a game-breaking sequence.
Daniel, for the record, has now attempted 61 shots on goal in the past 18 games since legitimately scoring a goal. This was the last *real* goal he scored (I refuse to count the one he got credited for at the 1:40 mark here, because come on now). I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what on earth has happened to him, and my findings are that I have no idea. He's basically the NBA stars in Space Jam that've had all of their powers sucked out of their bodies at this point.
While Daniel Sedin can't buy a goal to save his life, one guy that is much more fortunate is Raphael Diaz, who finished off a sweet shift in the OZ by sneaking a softie by Rask:
Diaz had himself a really fantastic debut for the Canucks, leading the time by being on the ice for 26 corsi events for. He only saw the Bruins attempt 14 shots against him, as he and Stanton actually came out looking pretty golden while seeing equal amounts of Krejci's line and Bergeron's line.
I will point out that he 9 shifts in the offensive zone (to only 3 in the defensive zone), but that's what we should expect from Diaz. If he's used correctly - in a sheltered role - I think he's going to come out with some very impressive numbers.
After having a goal by Brad Marchand eventually disallowed due to Torey Krug giving Luongo the ol' Rikishi Stinkface (NSFW, and don't open this if you're an overly squeamish individual), the Bruins put the game away with their 3rd goal of the night. It was a Dan Paille breakaway, which happened as a result of two things: a) a horrendous decision by David Booth to force a pass at the end of a long shift instead of making the easy play and dumping it off to a fresh Zack Kassian, and b) Franklin Corrado having his soul ripped out of his body by the NHL level (more on this in a second).
Following the game Roberto Luongo very nobly took all of the blame for the loss. While I commend him for it, I think it's pretty silly. The goals the Bruins scored were for the most part attributable to defensive breakdowns (in some cases stemming from all of the injuries which've forced players that shouldn't be playing to, well, play). He basically needed to be perfect on this night for the Canucks to have a chance at winning, and while he wasn't, the fact of the matter is that his effort is all the way down the list of things that went wrong.
Image via Extra Skater
In the last paragraph on Luongo I mentioned that there's players being forced into action that have no business being there, and when I say that I'm mostly referring to the Corrado/Sauve pairing, which was once again completely and utterly rocked by the opposition.
They were on the ice for a combined 21 shot attempts for and 39 against, which brings them to a 34% CF pairing over the past two games. Corrado was bailed out following a brutal blunder last night by Lack, and in this one he wasn't so fortunate. I'm not completely sure what's happening with Dan Hamhuis, but sadly I think this pairing from hell is something that we could very well see more of in the final two games leading up to the break.
I still think the world of Corrado, but he has shown by now that he's way out of his depth at the NHL level. He's a 20-year old blueliner with 43 games of AHL experience under his belt, so this isn't exactly shocking news. I still have faith moving forward, but for his and the team's sake he'll hopefully get some more seasoning at Utica in short order.
the whole "you have to be super tough and play through everything" culture of hockey is going to literally kill Henrik Sedin— Schneider's Teeth (@SchneidersTeeth) February 5, 2014
If I have one issue with what went down in Boston, it's the handling of Henrik Sedin. In the lead-up to the game in Detroit, I wrote a passage about how I was expecting the team to give him a few more days of rest before finally putting him back into the lineup against the Habs on Thursday. I get that there's some urgency and desperation with this unit right now considering all of the losses that are piling up, but I was still surprised that they'd force him back into duty for a back-to-back scenario.
While his numbers - a 63.3% CF at 5v5 - are still impressive, and he's clearly the team's best option at C regardless of how hampered he may be by his various ailments, it was brutally difficult to watch him out there on this night. The cameras kept panning to him on the bench after a shift, grimacing on the bench, essentially folded like a worn-out accordian.
A professional athlete (unless he's a rare breed like Vince Carter) will almostly certainly say he's good to go if you ask him how he's feeling. I do think that if you're a coach you need to establish lines of communication with you player, and give him some say in the matter. Especially a guy like Henrik Sedin, who's the team's captain and has built up quite the track record.
But I don't understand how you can, with any sort of conscience, watch him stopping short and sticking his arms out to protect his wounded ribs, and keep sending him out on the ice. At some point you need to make the executive decision to shut him down.
Here's a cold, hard truth:
@DimFilipovic Canucks could be 4th in the wildcard race by tomorrow night.— W. Ron Sweeney (@wronsweeney) February 5, 2014
Have at it in the comments section with the "window is closed" and "reset" chatter in the comments section. Before doing so, however, I do suggest reading The Stanchion's post regarding trades from earlier today.