Last night the Canucks played hard for forty minutes against the NHL’s "worst team," it wasn’t enough, and they had to make do with a single point. Les boys came out meekly in the first period and through twenty minutes were thoroughly out-chanced while allowing Columbus to functionally dominate proceedings. Jeff Carter scored on a 4-on-3 power-play after a Ryan Kesler penalty and that was all Columbus needed to get to the shootout.
The Canucks turned things around in the second and third, and were especially good through the first ten minutes of the third, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. While Lapierre got the equalizer, the Canucks couldn’t put the game away despite having a number of quality chances, and several other chances at chances in the games waning minutes and in over-time. In the shootout, Luongo (who was otherwise the best Canuck player) was beaten on all three Columbus opportunities. It’s really not the biggest deal, and the Canucks have still taken five out of a possible six points thus far this road-trip, but it wasn’t their best team effort… A more detailed recap and chance data after the jump.
– Keith Ballard had another strong game. He’s really has had his best couple of weeks in a Canucks jersey so far this month. He was +4 in chance differential at even-strength, disrupted an odd-man rush with a lovely sweeping hip-check on R.J. Umberger, blocked several shots (including one off of his arm) and was key to driving play from the point on several Canucks possessions.
That said, at times he’s still making the game for difficult for himself than it needs to be. The best example was on the play where he ended up getting leveled by Marc Methot. He took the puck down into the slot, faked a shot and then decided to go around behind the net, where he settled for a lower-percentage opportunity than on the clear shot he passed up. Then was decimated and looked as if he might be injured. He wasn’t, but if he’d kept it simple, and wired a low-shot at Mason, he would’ve spared himself some pain and likely created a more dangerous situation off of the rebound than he managed to by holding onto the puck.
– Dan Hamhuis is really taking the "replace Christian Ehrhoff’s offense" thing to heart. In the second period, he floated down into the Columbus zone, got Steve Mason swimming, and nearly scored on a Burmistov-esque tuck-in. It wasn’t a scoring chance, and it didn’t result in a goal, but it was an impressive display of skill and speaks to the sneaky offensive upside he’s shown so far this season.
– Cody Hodgson saw the most limited ice-time among Canucks forwards not named Dale Weise last night. Perhaps Vigneault was trying to "ease him in" after his near concussion against Ottawa last Saturday, but it was frustrating to see, especially because Hodgson played very well in limited minutes. Hopefully this trend is reversed against Carolina on Thursday, and in Toronto on Saturday. I won’t be holding my breath, however.
– Mason Raymond was borderline dominant last night, and I’m amazed by how quickly he’s found his legs upon his return to action. He wasn’t on the ice for a single chance against, personally took several of the Canucks best chances and was zipping around the offensive end like a dervish. Mason Raymond isn’t just fast, he creates space with his shifty skating and sharp turns – it’s part of what allows him to get to the dirty areas despite his relative lack of size. When Booth gets back, the prospect of a Raymond-Kesler-Booth line is beyond tantalizing.
– The Sedins were meh at even-strength, which has become something of a theme for them this season. It’s worrying, and a far bigger long-term issue for this club than the play of Roberto Luongo in the shootout, or the lack of "toughness" on the fourth line. I wonder when major media voices will begin to point this out, and I suspect it will happen when the power-play inevitably dries up for a few games.
– Roberto Luongo followed up on a perfect shootout performance against the Habs with a perfectly awful shootout performance against Columbus. It’s strange to me that he can regularly stone guys like Rick Nash on breakaways at game-speed, and then looks so lost in the shootout… While I don’t think the goals Nash and Wisniewski scored in the skills contest were Luongo’s fault, he really should’ve had that Letestu goal. Otherwise he was spectacular in a relatively high-event game, and as the story goes: there ain’t no shootouts in the postseason.
Statistical Three Stars
- Mason Raymond (+5 in chances, 5 SOG, 1 chance created, perfect in 1:21 of SH time).
- Roberto Luongo (Despite 0/3 in shootout, stopped 11/12 chances on net and 29/30 total shots).
- Keith Ballard (+4 in chances, perfect on the PK, +3 in defensive zone starts).
Here are your advanced stat tables and scoring chance data courtesy timeonice.com.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20442
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