March 20 2014 12:25AM
According to John Tortorella, Nicklas Jensen "has got some balls". What he also has, is 3 goals in 7 games since being called up, and a point in 4 straight. And unbridled youthful enthusiasm, which he isn't remotely hesitant to put on display whenever he has a chance. It's because of all of those things that his emergence has been such a refreshing and appealing, proving to be so starkly different in nearly every way from the rest of this wretched Canucks season.
While he has all of those things I've mentioned, what he doesn't seem to own is an electronic device on which he'd be able to receive memos. Like the one about the team's newly adjusted goals for the final weeks of the season.
The cynic inside of me is thinking "man, this team can't even tank properly!". And while that's certainly a reality - this 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators gets the Canucks nothing in the long run, only setting them back in the quest for a higher and more valuable draft pick - there's also the part of me that's relieved that there's finally something to be excited about. It has been a long, dull campaign.
It took us a while to get to the "fun" part, though, as the first 40 minutes of this one were fairly dry. There were a decent number of shots on goal and sustained shifts in the offensive zone for both teams, but I'd imagine that the scoring chance count would've been pretty low had we been tracking it.
Then this happened. Look at Dan Hamhuis, stepping up to keep the puck in on an attempted clear by the Predators, before getting the puck over to Henrik (which is almost always a wise idea). Henrik got the puck over to Jensen, who made absolutely no mistake with a wicked wrister that beat Hutton. Thomas Drance refers to that shot of his as "heavy artillery" and it's easy to see why. What a weapon it's proving to be, particularly next to Henrik.
I mentioned how refreshing Nicklas Jensen has been on so many fronts, but especially on the finishing side of things. After having watched so many passes by Henrik result in weak and uninspiring shot attempts by Daniel this season, highlights like these are more than just a little refreshing:
Then just over a minute later, Alex Edler scored on the power play to make it 2-0. Two goals in 73 seconds, with one of them coming on the PP. That's allowed?
This is as good a time as any to mention that Joey Kenward, the team's in-arena host, had the following exchange with Alex Burrows during the 2nd intermission:
"So, Alex.. you guys are used to seeing Pekka Rinne back there for this team. Tell me - how difficult is it preparing for a guy like Carter Hutton?"
Against all odds, I can assure you that he wasn't joking, nor did he appear to be making some sort of tongue-in-cheek remark there, either. If he was, then he should quit his job and go to Hollywood immediately, because he's got a bright future in the acting business ahead of him.
Anyways, Burrows went on to give some sort of generic answer about how it definitely provides a new challenge, but they just need to keep it simple and get the puck to the net. Hockey Talk 101. Based on the softie surrendered to Edler, it appears that the Canucks were finally able to solve the mystery-trapped-in-a-puzzle-hidden-in-a-maze named Carter Hutton.
via Extra Skater:
In the overall fenwick chart above, the Predators appear to have held an advantage over the Canucks, but that was solely due to the power play (they had 8 minutes of 5v4 time to just the 0.1 that resulted in a goal for the Canucks), and some late score effects action. At 5v5 score close the Canucks actually attempted 5 more shots than their opposition. But that's not overly surprising, considering the Preds -- a) played last night, b) having been the worse possession team all year.
If you look atop the Corsi For % leaders for the Canucks on this night, you'll see some familiar faces - David Booth, Zack Kassian, and Brad Richardson, who were on the ice for 18 shot attempts for vs. only 9 against at 5v5. They once again failed to produce any sort of goal to show for their efforts, but they had a handful of pretty dominant shifts in the OZ (including their goofy version of "The Shift"), and continue to be effective. I continue to feel the need to defend them against the vast majority of Canucks fans that think the two wingers in particular are "useless busts".
With Chris Tanev out for the season, it looks like we're back to the Hamhuis/Garrison pairing which was successful last season. They struggled mightily in this game, though, getting hammered with CF%s in the 30's. And that was despite actually getting much more favourable zone deployment than the Edler and Bieksa pairing. If Garrison can't even look passable while playing next to Hamhuis, then.. oh boy.
Finally: it was good to see Eddie Lack bounce back from his mostly shaky road trip, with a 30-save shutout. With the Sabres and Wild next on the docket, he should be in a good position to improve his numbers and put an end to the "he's folding under the pressure of being the number 1 now!" narrative.
PHX next 5 games are FLA, BOS, NYR, PIT & NJD. So #Canucks need help from Luongo, the Bruins, AV and Schneider. Okay then— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 20, 2014
The Canucks just beat a team that lost to the Edmonton Oilers by a 5-1 score last night, and didn't exactly look like world beaters in doing so. Let's maybe settle down for a moment. We should also try to maintain some perspective amidst all of the NICKLAS JENSEN HYSTERIA.
The problem with that is that they'll be in tough to get back onto the tanking path for now, with the Buffalo Sabres coming to town on Sunday afternoon. At least there'll hopefully be a cool ceremony to honour Henrik Sedin's 1000th game.