March 23 2014 09:24PM
There were a handful of topics to focus on heading into Sunday's game between the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres: Daniel Sedin was making his return to the lineup. As was teammate Ryan Kesler. Captain Henrik Sedin was being honoured with a pregame ceremony for reaching the 1000-game mark for his career a while back.
But even with all of that in mind, we naturally couldn't help but be drawn back to the Zack Kassian v. Cody Hodgson discussion, which I figure will never stop being a thing. Not that one random regular season game in March means anything in the grand scheme of things, but let the record show that Kassian decidedly laid waste to his contemporary, much like the Canucks did to their (even more) beleaguered opposition.
If you missed it, we documented all of tonight's events in GIF form with a running thread throughout the game. It's something that we'll hopefully do at least a couple of more times over the course of these final couple weeks of the season. If anything noteworthy - whether it was a goal, injury, or random play worth discussing - happened, it's there. You can thank @SchneidersTeeth for that.
Via Extra Skater..
Good lord, the Canucks were absolutely and ridiculously
dominant playing against the Buffalo Sabres, that much is clear. They held a 49-16 shot attempt edge in 5v5 score close situations, and a 79-42 advantage in total. That 65.3 Corsi For % is good for their 3rd best of the season, just slightly behind two early season games against the Stars and Oilers.
So with that in mind, you'd figure two things:
1) Eddie Lack likely had a quiet night.. and he did. Despite only giving up 2 goals and registering the win, he ended the night with a subpar .889 save %. A couple of unlucky early bounces followed by the puck constantly being on the other end of the ice will do that to you.
2) Everyone posted strong possession numbers.. which is sort of true, except for the fact that Top Sixtito and Zac Dalpe somehow wound up with a 25 CF% in just under 6 minutes of 5v5 time. Oh, Sixtito, you never cease to provide us with things to talk about!
But for the overwhelming majority, this was a banner night. David Booth - to go along with his goal! - was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for v. only 2 against. Kesler's line, despite not generating a goal, posted an ~75% corsi night. The Sedins topped the 70% mark themselves.
Kevin Bieksa had himself a remarkable line as well. He on the ice for an out-of-this-world 36 shot attempts for.. and yet somehow, none of them managed to find the back of the net. It happens.
Finally, Cody Hodgson managed a 27.3 CF%, while Kassian posted a 60.7% corsi night. There's a bunch of other great stats about how Kassian's 4 assist night was the first by a non-Henrik Sedin Canuck since Brendan Morrison back in '05, and how Kassian's assist output for the night matched Hodgson's over the past month in surpassing his even strength production for the season. But that's just beating a dead horse at this point, because we get it. This was a no contest all the way around.
With their win on Sunday, the Canucks have improved their playoff odds according to Sports Club Stats from 0.3 to 2.8%. It's still the longest of longshots at best, and they'll probably have to win their final 9 games to even have a shot at that final spot (to go along with some help from the team they're chasing).
They're currently only 1 point behind the Stars for 9th, and 3 behind the Coyotes for 8th, but those teams have 2 and 3 games in hand on them, respectively. In case you're looking to do some scoreboard watching: the Stars host the Jets tomorrow before going to Chicago on Tuesday. The Coyotes have a back-to-back vs. Rangers and Penguins the next two days.
It's conceivable that the Canucks could head into their next game on Wednesday in Minnesota being within striking distance against the two teams ahead of them with those games in hand out of the way, but it's all about that "perspective" we've been preaching from a while now.
Despite the fact that the efforts have been noble lately, they've also come against some very mediocre teams, and that'll soon change once the Ducks, Avs, Kings, and Rangers appear on the schedule. Meanwhile, the Devils and Jets are still close enough in their rearview mirror that getting a pick where a legitimate asset will be on the board is still conceivable.
Let's not sight of the real short-term goals amidst a little misleading stretch of success.