March 26 2014 09:09PM
Generally speaking, I often write up the game recaps before ultimately deciding on what the title of the post should be. As a sign of protest against NHL [dot] com's absurd reaches at being punny, I try to refrain from going down that route. So sometimes the options are kind of limited.
Tonight is not one of those nights. I spent some time giving considerations to "Northwest Nostalgia", "#ShotQuality", all sorts of others regarding Daniel Sedin finally ending his own personal drought, and even some regarding the team's ongoing quest to keep their slim playoff chances alive.
But in the end, I had to go in the direction of Canucks Army favourite David Booth, who not only scored the team's first two goals of the game - while it was still competitive and in doubt - but also now has tallies in consecutive games. PRAISE DAVID BOOTH!
As you can see from the video, the Canucks had a grand total of 3 shots on goal as a team through the first 15:39 of the game. But then David Booth decided to put on a one-man clinic; he beats Jason Pominville in a puck battle, chips the puck off the boards to himself, retrieves it, and then uses the Wild defenseman as a screen before perfectly placing it between his legs.
It's not exactly like we've never seen Booth put together a highlight like this one, because we have. But most of them usually ultimately wind up culminating with him missing the net. This time he didn't.
.. nor did he here, to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead in the 2nd period. After some good individual penalty killing by Jannik Hansen, Booth was there to capitalize on a blunder by Jared Spurgeon. It wound up being the picture perfect set-up, and Booth made no mistake in blasting it by Kuemper high glove side.
I don't really know how to describe this goal by Zack Kassian in the final minute of the 2nd period to make it 3-1, other than "it's usually a pretty good idea to put the puck on net". And yes, I'm aware of the irony that accompanies me saying that following a game in which the Canucks managed just 19 shots on goal total:
Despite Booth's multi-goal game, and the fact that the Canucks managed to keep their season alive.. the biggest takeaway from this one has to be Daniel Sedin finally scoring a goal for the first time since the calendar flipped to 2014. Well, technically he scored during the Olympics while playing for Tre Kronor, but it had been quite some time since he lit the lamp in a Canucks uniform.
You'll have to excuse Daniel for his - at least for a Sedin - exuberant celebration, but it had been since December 30th. That was a grand total of 23 games, and 66 shots on goal. It still technically wasn't as a result of a shot by Daniel (which has been the biggest criticism of him during this offensive decline; that he has totally lost it as a weapon), but you never know.. sometimes you see one go into the back of the net and the floodgates open.
And finally, Ryan Kesler wound up scoring a power play goal to make it 5-1 (which ultimately ended with a 5-2 score). You'll notice that Alex Burrows registered an assist on the play, which is of note considering the hit to the head he took from Nino Niederreiter earlier in the game.
Much like most of these plays are, it's not exactly all that cut-and-dried. While it wasn't an elbow doing the damage and Burrows definitely put himself in a vulnerable position by reaching for the puck like that in the open nice, I'd imagine this'll still be looked at closely by Brendan Shanahan given the location of the check.
As you can see from the chart above, the Canucks got hammered on the shot attempt front. It was 60-39 in favour of the Minnesota Wild in all situations, and 51-35 at 5v5. But as is usually the case, a lot of it came in the latter parts of the game with the Canucks holding onto a lead. Minnesota held a minuscule 31-30 corsi advantage in 5v5 score close situations, so keep that in mind when evaluating the performance.
But yes, the Canucks finally experienced some of that positive regression we've long been waiting for by scoring 5 times on 19 total shots on goal. As we know, it's all about shot quality.
I thought that the makeshift top line of Daniel-Kesler-Jensen actually looked pretty good all things considered, and the numbers back it up. Aside from Sixtito/Dalpe in limited time, and Jannik Hansen, they were the only ones on the team to finish with at least a 50% corsi for %.
Despite that, I will note that people should probably heed my advice and temper their expectations for Jensen without Henrik Sedin around, because it's a totally different ballgame now. While I didn't think he necessarily wound up playing a bad game per se, his final line reads: 11:48, -2, 0 shots on goal. That was his lowest ice-time since being recalled by the team, for the record. Ignore the "-2", though.
For an example of how fickle and ultimately unrepresentative a stat it is, look at Alexander Edler, who received a minus for this silly bounce off of the stanchion on Minnesota's 1st goal. What won't show up on the stat sheet, of course, is this goal he saved by clearing the puck off of the goal line after it snuck by Eddie Lack (for the 2nd straight game). While Edler certainly hasn't had the type of season we all envisioned coming in, his -29 in 55 games is hardly the reason why.
The Canucks won't have much time to celebrate this offensive breakout with their 75th game of the season tomorrow night in Colorado. The Avs have been one of the league's most positive surprises as they've managed to fight off the regression we've long been expecting en route to comfortably sitting as the 4th most successful team in the Western Conference this season. They're a young, fun team with an awful lot of firepower up front.
But on the other side of things, they've also got a bunch of flaws and have hit something of a rough patch themselves recently. I wouldn't necessarily view their regard as a great representation of just how good a team they really are (at least not yet).
Regardless, we'll have a lot more on this tomorrow.