January 10 2017 10:03PM
Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports
You can take Nashville from Barry Trotz, but if tonight's game is any indication, you can't take Barry Trotz out of Nashville. That was a lifeless game straight from the vaults of the Trotz vs. Vigneault bouts of old.
If not for a high-stick negating a Filip Forsberg goal, the Canucks would've left the first period down a goal with not but four shots to their credit. For a period at least, the Canucks looked like everything prognosticators expected of them, and that was doubly true of their opponents in Nashville.
Nashville didn't let that effort go to waste, though. They picked up right where they left off and put an Auston Watson shot past Ryan Miller for the 1-0 advantage.
The Canucks mounted something of a push soon after, though. Their hyper-modern fourth line pinned the Predators in their zone for well over a minute, generating the first period of sustained offence the Canucks enjoyed all night.
Vancouver didn't mount anything resembling a sustained attack afterwards until they pulled their goalie with roughly two minutes left in the third. They pounced on a poorly timed Colton Sissons turnover and let Brandon Sutter put the puck past a frustrated Pekka Rinne.
Both teams traded barbs in the extra frame. It looked like Vancouver had the upper hand when Mattias Ekholm took a holding penalty in the offensive zone to take down Markus Granlund. Then a quick break in the dying seconds of the overtime power play saw Calle Jarnkrok convert on the two-on-zero with Roman Josi for the winning goal with 1.5 seconds left.
Miller stopped 21 of 23 Predators shots for the Canucks. Opposite Miller, Rinne stopped 29 of 30 Canucks shots tonight.
- There aren't many positive takeaways from tonight. The Canucks had maybe three minutes combined of sustained offensive pressure this evening, and part of that includes three-on-three overtime. If there's one, though, it's the play of their fourth line. They controlled about 66% of 5v5 shot attempts based on Brendan Gaunce's underlying numbers. Gaunce's line had one shift in the second period in particular which really took the top off. They controlled the puck in the Predators zone for over a minute and sent about eight pucks on net in that span. That's impressive. This might not be a one night fling with productivity, either.
- It appears we've seen the last of the Sedins with Jayson Megna. Tonight's the second straight game without Megna anchoring (literally, anchoring) their line. The results? The Canucks controlled about 59% of 5v5 shot attempts tonight when the Sedins were on the ice. Their linemate? Loui Eriksson. They didn't look especially threatening at any one point, but if they keep controlling this high of a volume of shot attempts, the goals will follow. In theory, they will follow, that is.
- Everyone's ready to anoint Bo Horvat as the Canucks best player. The NHL All-Star nod certainly lends credence to the notion, but I remain skeptical we're at that point just yet. Whenever the Canucks hard match Horvat against the opposition's best, like they did tonight, it tends not to go terribly well. Playing primarily against Ryan Johansen, the Canucks controlled 20% of the 5v5 shot attempts. He's almost there, but nights like tonight remind us he's not quite a first line centre yet.
Horvat got crushed head to head vs. Johansen. Willie loves putting him against other team's top scorers, but it's not working. https://t.co/Ybhyb2jyDl— Patrick Johnston (@risingaction) January 11, 2017
- I remain perplexed by the Canucks unwillingness to play Reid Boucher. Based on my first point, I can understand their hesitance to break up the fourth line. That's been found money this season. What's Megna done, though? He's proven a consistent drag on almost every line he's played. He doesn't provide offence. I get that Boucher is a relative unknown to the Canucks, but it's not like he doesn't have 80-plus games of game tape for them to watch and get a grasp of the player they claimed. Did they do their homework before they claimed him, or what?
- Speaking of players on the peripheries of the Canucks roster, let's give Andrey Pedan a look. This tweet from Canucks Army's own Jeremy Davis raises a fairly compelling case in his favour:
Andrey Pedan is rocking a 53.6 5v5 GF% on a Utica Comets team that has a GF% of 42.6, 27th in the AHL.He & Robak are the only D in the black— Jeremy Davis (@jeremydavis89) January 10, 2017
- The Canucks power play stunk tonight. It's stunk most night, but tonight's was especially bad. Vancouver mustered just one shot on three power plays, and let the game end on a two-on-zero breakaway shorthanded. That's not a good look. I hate to pick on Megna, but at this point, what's the risk in taking him off that unit for a player with offensive pedigree. A player like, say, Boucher?
#Canucks had 1 SOG on 3 PP tonight. Oh yeah, something about a SHG yada yada...— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) January 11, 2017
- Troy Stecher looked human tonight. That's been a recurring theme of late, which isn't something I hold against the 22-year-old rookie defenceman. I wonder if we'll see more of this down the stretch. The longest season Stecher's played in the last four seasons is about 52 games, spaced out differently. Playing in a compacted, lengthier NHL schedule, I wonder if we'll see him start to regree as the season wears on.