Canucks Army Postgame: Praise David Booth

Dimitri Filipovic
March 26 2014 09:09PM

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Photo via Hannah Foslien

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!

The Rundown

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. 

The Numbers

via Extra Skater [dot] com:

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-26 Canucks 5 at Wild 2

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-26 Canucks 5 at Wild 2

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 Conclusion

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. 

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Dimitri Filipovic writes about hockey on the internet, and is the Managing Editor of Canucks Army. You can follow him on Twitter @DimFilipovic, and email him at dimitri.filipovic@gmail.com.
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#1 Austin Wallace
March 26 2014, 09:17PM
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If Booth scores 5 more goals between now and the end of the year... Do fans all of a sudden want to keep him?

More importantly, should we get behind this run? The most Canucks thing to happen would be finishing one game out of 8th place.

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#3 Austin Wallace
March 26 2014, 09:30PM
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True, but we have a one time buyout to use. It's valid for this summer, and only this summer. Who else do we use it on?

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#4 BrandonC
March 26 2014, 09:31PM
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Austin Wallace wrote:

If Booth scores 5 more goals between now and the end of the year... Do fans all of a sudden want to keep him?

More importantly, should we get behind this run? The most Canucks thing to happen would be finishing one game out of 8th place.

I think technically that would be the most 2010 Calgary Flames thing ever :)

But at least missing the playoffs might force some changes through management?

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#6 Goon
March 26 2014, 09:33PM
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@Dimitri Filipovic

Booth's not a bad player, he just has a bad contract. With Luongo gone and the cap going up, they probably won't need to recover the $2 million that Booth is being overpaid, so might as well keep him - maybe he'll stay healthy and get some confidence back and pot 20 goals, or maybe won't score much but will remain a really good defensive forward.

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#7 yugret
March 26 2014, 10:00PM
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Austin Wallace wrote:

True, but we have a one time buyout to use. It's valid for this summer, and only this summer. Who else do we use it on?

No-one, use the money saved to fire Torts and Gillis.

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#8 JFR
March 26 2014, 11:31PM
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This was possibly the weirdest game of the season! Booth scored 2 Danny scored and Kass looked like a power forward...... And Burrows wasn't lost for the rest of the season after taking that cheap shot. Everyone that watched that hit thought the same thing..... We are cursed this season!...... Then Burr came back! The most amazing twist so far.

Who knows if it's all real and maybe it's fate trying to convince Ownership to not chuck Booth. Watching descent hockey the last 8 games would be nice becaiuse the Canucks aren't bad enough to get a top 5 pick... So play well boys.

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#9 argoleas
March 27 2014, 02:53AM
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JFR wrote:

This was possibly the weirdest game of the season! Booth scored 2 Danny scored and Kass looked like a power forward...... And Burrows wasn't lost for the rest of the season after taking that cheap shot. Everyone that watched that hit thought the same thing..... We are cursed this season!...... Then Burr came back! The most amazing twist so far.

Who knows if it's all real and maybe it's fate trying to convince Ownership to not chuck Booth. Watching descent hockey the last 8 games would be nice becaiuse the Canucks aren't bad enough to get a top 5 pick... So play well boys.

Over the last while Kassian looks like the player we all think he can be. Hell of a lot more confidence in his game than the first half of the season, when he often looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

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#10 GeezMoney
March 27 2014, 04:39AM
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He has one game and all is well? No thanks.

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#11 JFR
March 27 2014, 07:48AM
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argoleas wrote:

Over the last while Kassian looks like the player we all think he can be. Hell of a lot more confidence in his game than the first half of the season, when he often looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Kassian wasn't so much a deer in head lights as a knucklehead!

He always did good things with the puck on the rush, but in his own zone would do stupid drop passes that turned into scoring chances, took dumb penalties or didn't get back on defense. One of the reporters on the Nashville broadcast brought up that both AV and Torts have put him under the dog house, so there was something going on. The consensus is that you couldn't trust him to be where he was supposed to be defensively. He freelanced....

Guys like Kass wake up when they realize you can effect a game with more than just an Assist or Goal. Linden, Doan, Dustin Brown and I could continue..... They don't or didn't put up 40+ goals to lead. That's what hopefully Kass has figured out.

These last 8 games could really mean something if Jensen and Kass can improve and play good NHL hockey

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#12 Ragnarok Ouroboros
March 27 2014, 09:48AM
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@Austin Wallace

If Booth scores 5 more goals, then the Canucks should use this to trade Booth and get an asset instead of buying him out. I still don't think he can be a regular contributor to the team despite this recent spurt.

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#13 PB
March 27 2014, 10:09AM
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I've come more and more around to the idea of possibly holding onto Booth. Not because he's particularly great or that he's trending upwards longterm, but because I am not sure we'd necessarily have a great upgrade on the 3rd line (unless he's actively in the way of playing younger players which might be a consideration). It's his salary amount and cap hit that always stand out but as a percentage of overall cap, it's about 7% and that's not too onerous I think. I look at his comparables (on cap % not cap hit or salary) and while I'd obviously rather have Backes or Eriksson, I think he's a far better deal than Erat, Malone, Legwand or Michalek, the others in his range (and at much lower term and at a younger age)

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#14 Char Richo
March 27 2014, 10:15AM
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David Booth only has 1 more year on his contract. Unless we need the cap space with all our crazy free agent signings we're going to do (and I'm being sarcastic here because I have very high doubts about our ability to land to many big names, and also the free agent depth this off season is SLIM pickins) then I think we keep him.

You don't HAVE to use your buyouts, and it'll be a lot easier to convince the Aquilinis to buy out Tortorella's contract if they aren't ALSO paying out David Booth.

He's actually a good 4th line option these days, it's just unfortunate that he's making as much money as he is. But if we don't end up needing the cap space then why bother?

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#15 Ruprecht
March 27 2014, 11:31AM
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Austin Wallace wrote:

If Booth scores 5 more goals between now and the end of the year... Do fans all of a sudden want to keep him?

More importantly, should we get behind this run? The most Canucks thing to happen would be finishing one game out of 8th place.

It's a gamble both ways. Do you take a chance with the money or the asset? I was sure he was gone, but if he puts together a run that earns him another look why not? It's not like his contract is looking as bad as Clarkson's and there's pretty much equal risk out on the FA market. So if he is beginning to flourish under the system, and earning the coaches confidence, I think he gets the shot next year over somebody from the outside. We bomb down the stretch and it's gets pretty easy. It's kind of a weird parallel that Booth is playing for his professional life at roughly the same time we're playing for our playoff lives. Coincidence?

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#16 argoleas
March 27 2014, 12:47PM
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Austin Wallace wrote:

If Booth scores 5 more goals between now and the end of the year... Do fans all of a sudden want to keep him?

More importantly, should we get behind this run? The most Canucks thing to happen would be finishing one game out of 8th place.

I don't think it is a question of whether we want to keep him. I still think he is getting overpaid, by a mile, and if his contract was in the way of getting a better FA this summer, I say turf him. But I don't see this happening. Him playing well simply means he has As such, at this point he is not worth the cost of a buyout, and there are no cap pressures. I don't see this team pushing for an overpriced FA this summer. And he just has one more year on his contract. If he plays well, there may be room for someone to acquire him this summer thinking also that he just has one more year to go ( even better if it is during the course of next season). The team may get a 3rd round pick out of it. I thus just don't see ownership shelling out the extra cash for nothing.

As for the run, as a fan, I want this team to win, period, and let everything else take care of itself. I look at it this way. If they play so well that the catch up with someone and grab a playoff spot, then perhaps they prove something they haven't all season. And who knows, they may play St Louis in the first round, a team they have owned this season, and Lack was in goal for all games. If the team, on the other hand, falters, then I look forward to the lottery and hope for a win there. Let the chips fall where they may.

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#17 argoleas
March 27 2014, 12:51PM
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JFR wrote:

Kassian wasn't so much a deer in head lights as a knucklehead!

He always did good things with the puck on the rush, but in his own zone would do stupid drop passes that turned into scoring chances, took dumb penalties or didn't get back on defense. One of the reporters on the Nashville broadcast brought up that both AV and Torts have put him under the dog house, so there was something going on. The consensus is that you couldn't trust him to be where he was supposed to be defensively. He freelanced....

Guys like Kass wake up when they realize you can effect a game with more than just an Assist or Goal. Linden, Doan, Dustin Brown and I could continue..... They don't or didn't put up 40+ goals to lead. That's what hopefully Kass has figured out.

These last 8 games could really mean something if Jensen and Kass can improve and play good NHL hockey

Just seems to me that the approach taken with him by the team over the last few years was the right one. The kid just had to mature. Instead of giving him the Edmonton treatment by giving him the 1st line job automatically, they forced him to learn how to play a complete game. And now it just looks like he has, and it now allows us to see that offensive game without cringing.

If all those young stars in Edmonton were given the same treatment, perhaps they would have progressed better...

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#18 THHJ
March 27 2014, 12:55PM
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I think with Booth, you only buy him out if the cap space is going to be used on an impact player. If the 4.2 is the difference between adding a top 6 forward, or top pair defender in a trade or via UFA, you have to do it. If the plan is to buy him out to add another 3rd line winger, it's silly. If they think they can buy him out, and then go get for argument's sake Paul Stastny with the space, you do it.

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#19 Fred-65
March 27 2014, 02:12PM
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There are few UFA this summer that really jump out at you. But certain player on the roster will be looking for increases.

http://www.capgeek.com/free-agents/

Tanev Kassian Santorelli maybe Weber

Then we add in

Horvat Shinkaruck Corrado

The NHL warns the Cap might not rise as much as some think ie to around $68 rater than the $70 many expected. It looks financially tight this summer

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#20 Vic
March 27 2014, 03:44PM
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THHJ:

The difference is more of $3.2M (in cap savings) in 2014-2015 - we still take a cap hit of $1.1M in 2014-2015, and 1.6M in 2015-2016.

http://www.capgeek.com/buyout-calculator/?player_id=813

I agree that if its just to get a 3rd line winger then its definitely not worth it - it has to be some compelling UFA of top 6 material. It is the devil we know - Booth does drive play forward, albeit has limited points to add to our general offensive woes to show for it, overpriced as it may be for 1 year of essentially a better than average 3rd liner as he is being used now as. At least he's not of Pahlsson quality - imagine if we got stuck with a UFA signing for a full year of someone getting killed in possession?

Also I seriously doubt the owners will fork over essentially 3.2M for short term cap space relief (it is only for a year before Booth is UFA) that is spread over 2 years (ie the gift that gives again in 2015-16, for Booth to not play.

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#21 andyg
March 27 2014, 06:21PM
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Wow

So much positive talk. I was beginning to think that no one on this site was a Canuck fan. Nice to see.

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#22 JFR
March 27 2014, 06:34PM
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argoleas wrote:

Just seems to me that the approach taken with him by the team over the last few years was the right one. The kid just had to mature. Instead of giving him the Edmonton treatment by giving him the 1st line job automatically, they forced him to learn how to play a complete game. And now it just looks like he has, and it now allows us to see that offensive game without cringing.

If all those young stars in Edmonton were given the same treatment, perhaps they would have progressed better...

I agree completely. Edm thought that they could keep drafting top forwards and all of a sudden over whelm the rest of the league like in the 80's. Unfortunately there is this pesky thing called Defense that includes a goaltender that they didn't bank on.

Outside of the injuries and Torts obviously turning the players into knots by trying to get them to play a style they are not made for, was the Defense! 1-6 the Canucks have the deepest and most talented group in the league, but they have played awful! I put that on the coaches completely also. They are always caught in the neutral zone and give up odd man rushes. Are they DMen that are offensive or offensive guys that are trying to play D? Seems Torts wants his forwards to play defense more and his D men to play offense more. It's so ridiculous that I'm starting to get a headache.

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#23 Fred-65
March 28 2014, 12:52PM
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The thing about Booth is you have to look at his full history of work. A couple of desperation goals late in the season when he's likely approaching a buy out and audtioning for a new team is just not good enough. If any thing it shows a lack of commitment and character.....the fact is the have lights just gone on for Booth and or his agent...he might need another team to find come summer

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