Game Review: WCF Gm3

Ok guys. We’re only down by a goal. So listen, let’s only take 7 more penalties and we’ll be right back in this.
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks)

Game Day Recon: Western Conference Final Game 3 – Cnaucks @ Sharks

Much like the Sharks did in Game 2, the Canucks lost the plot in Game 3. While the Sharks were too busy retaliating in Game 2 to bother playing hockey, the Canucks just threw themselves into a spiral of stupid penalties.

But despite being shorthanded TEN times, and losing TWO defensemen… the Canucks were one favourable bounce away from getting this game to overtime.

The Canucks played as awful for the first 25 minutes as they have at any time through these playoffs. They were shorthanded ten times. And they deserved almost all of them (with 10 power plays to the Sharks, I’ll say two of them were pretty dubious calls. The rest were all warranted), because the Sharks were outskating and outworking them. The Canucks allowed 3 power play goals and two straight PPGs to start the game, before eventually going down 3-0 before the end of the first period.

They carried their careless play into the start of the second period, before finally turning the game around by the midpoint of the middle frame. The Canucks opened the third period by getting a goal back and getting some momentum… and then they took another penalty and allowed another shorthanded goal. When Aaron Rome got decked by Jamie McGinn, knocking Rome out of the game and the Canucks down to 4 defensemen, the Canucks were given a major powerplay where they potted 2 goals and retook all the momentum… until they took another penalty. And again, they just couldn’t quite get the favourable they needed at the very end to send the game to overtime. Instead…. they took another penalty. And no… not one word of that is hyperbole. That is all fact.

When the Canucks went down 3-0 to the Sharks after only one period. and the Canucks had given up 5 straight power plays goals, flashes of LA from 2010 and Chicago from round 1 flooded my memories. But then the Canucks clawed their way back, depsite taking stupid penalty after stupid penalty. But the Canucks begain finally killing those stupid penalties and got their PK mojo back, until they put themselves on a 3-on-5 and couldn’t close it out.

The bad news is that the Canucks could (and likely will) be without Ehrhoff and Rome for Game 4, meaning Alberts and Ballard will likely slot in for Game 4. The loss of Ehrhoff is big for the Canucks but the Canucks’ defensive depth was testing all year long and they managed just fine. They still have Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler, and Salo on the blueline.

The good news is that the Sharks needed 10 powerplays and the worst 25 minutes the Canucks have played since Game 5 against Chicago to win the game, and they STILL only won by a goal. The Canucks took dumb penalties from the opening minutes until the end of the game and were STILL only one bounce away from sending this game to overtime.

The better news is that the Canucks and Sharks go again on Sunday at Noon Pacific. That means there is no time for the Canucks to dwell on the loss and they gained back the momentum in the third period. The Sharks again didn’t look good in the third period and only scored because the Canucks took two bad penalties.They started to fade again and really didn’t have much of their forwards playing well. Thornton, Boyle and Marleau played very well, playing large minutes, but the Sharks third line was again invisible, while Heatley and Clowe were vacant. This was easily the Sharks best game, and they only won because the Canucks handed them the game with a constant line to the penalty box. The Canucks played lazy and took lazy penalties from start to finish. And STILL… they could have won.

Three Big Stats

Here are my top 3 stats from last night’s game:

1. 10 Powerplays. 15:51 of PP time. The Canucks shot themselves in the foot with their parade to the penalty box. And the Canucks ended up with 7 power plays of their own. A total of 27:09 was played on the powerplay in the game. That’s right – nearly half the game was played on the power play.

2. 0-2 1:55. That was the Canucks stat line while on the 5-on-3. They’ve been bad all season long while 5-on-3 and it showed again. Overthinking passes, looking for the perfect setup. Both the Canucks goals on the major penalty in the third period were quick shots from the defensemen. Not perfect passing plays. Just one-timed bombs.

3. 2G 1A 3Pts 22:41 TOI and 7 SOG. That’s Patrick Marleau’s stat line. Impressive.

Three Big Moments

Here are my top 3 moments from last night’s game:

1. Kevin Bieksa’s third period goal was the second for the Canucks on the major powerplay and brought the Canucks within one. But that’s as close as they’d come.

2. Dan Hamhuis’ third period goal was the first for the Canucks on the major powerplay and seemed to shift the momentum back for the Canucks. Plus it was a howitzer of a one-timer.

 3. Jamie McGinn’s boarding penalty on Aaron Rome. It’s what led to the Canucks’ final two goals and nearly got the Canucks back on even terms with the Sharks.