February 08 2014 07:39PM
Sup, ladies? Glen Gulutzan doesn't have a care in the world.
You could spend your entire Saturday night sitting down, with a bottle of your liquor of choice, writing out a list of everything that has gone wrong with the Vancouver Canucks since the end of December. Obviously the root of all of the struggles is the extensive number of injuries they're dealing with, but that's a pretty weak excuse.
Every NHL team deals with their share of adversity on that front over the course of an 82-game season, and this team simply wasn't prepared for it back when they should've been. It also doesn't help that their coach has completely and utterly ran them into the ground, with another listless 3rd period doing them in once again.
Losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and as a result snapping an 11-year steak which we've all come to know and love, is just the latest notch on the belt of embarrassing head scratchers, en route to what will hopefully be a high lottery pick at the end of the tunnel. But before we get there, we need to dig through all of the rubble.
What is there to say? The Canucks started the game off by taking two quick, unnecessary minor penalties; which on paper didn't seem like a wise idea, considering the 4th ranked power play the Leafs came into the game with. They managed to kill both off, though, and actually wound up controlling play thereafter.
They were rewarded for their efforts with a goal (which wound up proving to be the only one of the night), mostly thanks to the controversial coaching decision by Randy Carlyle to put Vesa Toskala in for the final minute of the opening period. I'm sure that Ryan Kesler will take it all the same:
.. aaaaaand then it was all basically downhill from there. In what has become an enduring trend for the Canucks, they completely ran out of gas in the final 20 minutes. I'm not in the room so I have no idea what the actual strategy was, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if it was "hold on for dear life and hope to survive the rest of this game!".
That's usually not a recipe for success, and that proved to once again be the case on this night. The Leafs dominated the first handful of minutes in the 3rd period, and it just seemed like it was a matter of time before the score changed. I think that fans of the team had become resigned to the fact that the Canucks could only hold onto that 1-goal lead for so long. Just on my Twitter timeline alone, there was a "waiting for the other shoe to drop" feel to the discussion.
But what they probably weren't ready for was the guy who would be doing the damage..
Yep. That's Mason Raymond, who the Toronto Maple Leafs signed for a cool $1 million in the offseason after his former team figured his time with them was done. He now has 16 goals on the season, which for those scoring at home, is 3 more than Daniel Sedin. He'd be tied with Chris Higgins for 2nd on the team, which is damning with faint praise, but still.
It's a real shame how his tenure in Vancouver had concluded, and I thought it was pretty dumb how he was treated and perceived by the fans here. I'm thrilled to see him succeeding, even if it is in Toronto. Anyways, Phil Kessel wound up putting the Leafs up for good with a wicked shot that Roberto Luongo had no chance on. Hopefully we're not seeing this same sequence play out again before our very eyes in the next 2 weeks..
As I alluded to with the title of this post, the 3rd goal against bounced off of Alex Edler's face and in. When it rains, it pours. My main takeaway from that sequence was that it was pretty perfect that Tyler Bozak got credit for a 2nd assist after everything that had to happen for the puck to actually go in. I guess they all count the same in the long run.
Chart via Extra Skater
There isn't anything overly noteworthy in terms of individual numbers that jumps off the page at me, except for one thing: I have no idea what on earth happened to Zack Kassian and David Booth in this game. They've looked good next to each other whenever they've been granted the opportunity to play with one another, but against the Leafs they were a total tire fire. 4 shot attempts for vs. 16 against is as bad as it gets.
Meanwhile, Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin had an ~70 corsi for %, yet once again failed to generate a goal. I'd like to think that the math will eventually even itself out and that they'll go on a multi-goal tear sometime soon following the break, but at this point, who knows with them?
I never would've thought in my wildest dreams that these two would be struggling the way they have been this season. It's difficult to make a sensible prediction for how a completely ridiculous situation like this will wind up playing out. All I know is that I, too, would like some answers.
You can read more on this game over at Leafs Nation, where Cam took a look at it from a Leafs perspective.
The Canucks don't play again until February 26th, which is probably a good thing. While a lot of things can happen in two weeks - like Henrik Sedin recovering to look like at least 75% of what he used to be, Alex Burrows resorting to black magic in an attempt to score a goal, and Daniel Sedin finding a good HGH provider - we need to keep things in perspective.
With all of today's action in the books, the Canucks now find themselves in the bottom-10 of the NHL. According to Sports Club Stats, the team has a 23.75% chance of making the playoffs. And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.
It's just a little subplot to keep in mind, I guess. What would you rather see if you were a fan of the Vancouver Canucks: for them to squeak into the playoffs and once again lose in 4/5 games (and in turn, once again picking out of a mediocre draft slot), or for them to have a high lottery pick to show for all of the unfortunate viewing experiences we've been subjected to over the past month. Enjoy your Saturday night, and just keep that question in the back of your head over the next couple of weeks. I'm sure it's a topic that we'll be spending a lot of time discussing..
As for the coverage on this blog moving forward, please do continue to check back in. At the very least we'll have some prospect stuff, to go along with coverage of the Olympic games.