Bitz and the twins celebrate the Canucks third goal… Wait, the twins and who?
On Tuesday night, the Canucks and the Predators continued a recent trend of playing strange, high-scoring games against each other. The Canucks jumped out to an early lead thanks to a power-play goal from Kesler, followed by goals from Byron Bitz and Daniel Sedin (set up by Byron Bitz just twenty-three seconds after Bitz’s goal). We’ll now take a brief musical interlude:
"And the man at the back said Everyone attack and it turned into a Byyyron Bitz. And the girl in the corner said Boy, I wanna warn ya, it’ll turn into a Byyyron Bitz! Byyyyyyron Bitz."
Anyway, back to our gamer, the Predators got two ugly goals in the second and tied the game up. One of their goals came off of the skate of Sergei Kostitsyn, and the second was a puck that Mike Fisher deflected, Luongo stopped, and then kicked into his own net. It was the sort of goal that the Predators specialize in scoring against Luongo: totally unrepeatable fluke goals that make Vancouver’s star goaltender look silly. At least that one wasn’t a bank-shot from below the goal line!
In the third period the Canucks finally took over a hockey game for the first time in weeks! They handily out-chanced the Predators in the frame, and while they were unable to solve Rinne, it was nice to see Vancouver’s hockey club return to something resembling the form fans of the team are used to. In the shootout Luongo stopped five of six Predators shooters, allowing the Canucks to overcome 2 hit posts (by Hodgson and Daniel Sedin) in the skills competition. The bonus point from tonight’s contest puts the team just one game back of the Red Wings for first in the West with one game in hand.
A more detailed recap, chance data and the statistical three stars after the jump!
– As usual we start with the core numbers. The Predators out-chanced the Canucks 22-18 overall and 20-12 with the score tied. The Canucks however, thanks to a dominant third period, out-chanced the Predators 17-16 at even-strength. Vancouver’s hockey club have now taken 16 of a possible 20 points in their last 10 games, despite being slapped around in terms of scoring chances, and possession. The Tebow loop marches on!
– The game got off to a frightening start when Henrik Sedin blocked a Kevin Klein slap-shot and limped off of the ice favouring his right foot. The Canucks "soft" Swedish born captain missed about four minutes of game-play before returning to the ice. By the end of the period, he’d contributed two assists. Despite the injury, and aside from his production: Henrik had a rock-solid game. He played against the Predators best players, started a startling 3 whole shifts in the defensive zone and yet finished +2 in scoring chance differential. He was extremely solid defensively despite finishing in the red from a possession standpoint.
– As for Kevin Klein, the man who took the slapper that nearly derailed the Canucks season, he should go back to pretending he’s the President of the United States. Klein was lovable doing that, but he’s loathsome when he’s launching dangerous point shots at Henrik’s ankles. Also, as a professional hockey player, Klein can’t fix the budget with his folksy, common sense tricks!
– It was all Nashville early, but the Canucks scored the first goal on their first chance of the game. It was scored on the power-play by Ryan "To Catch a Predator" Kesler and was kind of a softy. Sure, Kesler released the shot quickly, and the Canucks power-play was looking dangerous, but I’m sure Rinne would like to have that one back. Other Kesler goals Rinne would like to have back include this one, this one and this one.
– The Predators quickly tied it up when Colin Wilson broke down the left wing on a broken neutral-zone play and beat Luongo with a hard-wrister short-side. Wilson can shoot the puck, but that was something of a weak goal, even if it was the only Predators goal that came off of a scoring chance.
– From there the Predators continued to handle the Canucks, out-chancing them 5-3. Unfortunately for the Predators, the Canucks released their secret weapon: Byron Bitz. Many an eyebrows was raised incredulously when Alain Vigneault put Bitz on a line with Henrik Sedin at practice this afternoon, but Vigneault’s line-juggling proved prophetic. Bitz wired a Henrik Sedin back-hand saucer pass past Pekka Rinne for his first NHL goal since March 20th, 2010! What a beauty:
– Just 23 seconds later, the Canucks struck again. This time Bitz got a shift with both members of the Sedin family, and he contributed the primary assist on Daniel Sedin’s goal. The goal came off of a typical Sedin cycle sequence and was thoroughly hilarious. Bitz received credit for the "chance created" on our end, and it was actually quite a lovely set-up from the hulking winger.
– In the second period, the Canucks out-chanced the Predators 4-1 in the first ten minutes of the frame, but the Predators scored two lucky goals to knot the game up at 3. When you’re on a luck based run like the Canucks are, and are precariously surfing the percentages, you don’t really get to complain about bad bounces. It’s the Timberlake corollary: "what goes around come back around."
– In the third period the Canucks took control of the game in a fashion we haven’t seen in at least a month, and possibly more. They out-chanced the Preadtors 7-2 in the frame, and had their best chance to score when Keith Ballard missed a wide open cage and shot the puck into Pekka Rinne instead. Keith Ballard, despite his awful QualClutch rating, actually had a very strong game. That miss, however, was pretty much typical of the speedy defenseman’s Canucks tenure.
– By the numbers, Mike Fisher had one hell of a game. He bested the Canucks top-line (tonight that consisted of Daniel Sedin, Kesler and Burrows for the most part) in possession and in scoring chances, recorded five shots on goal and finished a +2 (albeit a flukey +2) in the game. Just a fabulous two-way performance.
– Finally, the shootout is a coin flip. For all the agonizing in the Vancouver market about how bad the Canucks and Luongo are in the skill competition, they’re actually just average. But credit where it’s due, Luongo was marvelous and kept the puck out of the net for 5 of the 6 shooters he faced. Hopefully we can put the "Luongo sucks in the shootout" lark to bed.
Statistical Three Stars
- Keith Ballard – True story. Despite his low QualClutch (those two whiffs in close succession 2 minutes into the third period), he produced 4 SOG in tough minutes, posted a +10 adjusted Fenwick and a +12 Adjusted Corsi.
- Cody Hodgson – big game for the Canucks rookie. While he played soft competition, and was situationally sheltered he was dominant. Positive possession numbers, 2 SOG, +3 EV chance differential and one chance assist.
- Jannik Hansen – The Great Dane was benched on Saturday in Denver, but bounced back with a solid outing. +3 chance differential, and only one chance against in 3:15 of short-handed ice-time. Easily the best Canucks penalty killer tonight.
A scoring chance is any puck clearly directed on-net from within home-plate. Generally speaking, we are willing to be more generous with the boundaries of home-plate based on dangerous puck movement if it immediately precedes the scoring chance, or if the scoring chance is screened. If you want to get a visual handle on home-plate, check this image. Big thanks to Vic Ferrari whose timeonice.com scripts enable this entire operation.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20793
Overall (Canucks totals on the left, Preds total on the right).
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