The Canucks shook off their Xxcel demons and secured a 5-2 road win in Minny.
With the exception of one fleeting moment when Byron Bitz sent a back-hand saucer pass to Henrik Sedin for a tap-in, tonight’s win wasn’t pretty. But it was effective, and the Canucks capitalized on a variety of bounces to earn a convincing 5-2 win over the Minnesota Mild. More important than the victory, which, heightened the team’s perch atop the Northwest Division to a K2-like 15 points, it was another solid 5-on-5 performance from Vancouver’s club. Neither the WIld nor the Preds are stellar possession teams, but after the dismal run the team was on, it’s good to see them stop the bleeding.
While the victory was convincing, the Canucks still needed to overcome some weak penalty-killing, and the fastest goal in Minnesota Wild history. That goal, scored 13 seconds into the first by Dan Heatley, should’ve foreshadowed a long-night for the road-team; but from there Vancouver mostly dictated proceedings.
The Canucks capitalized on a mid-period 5-on-3 power-play – the result of a Matt Cullen high-stick on Alex Edler, and a Nate Prosser trip on Cody Hodgson – when Daniel Sedin got just enough on a rebound to direct it past Niklas Backstrom. Maxim Lapierre then put the Canucks up one when he scored a garbage goal off of another Edler rebound. In the second, the team bucked another recent trend by putting in a strong performance in the middle frame, and functionally put the Wild away with a Henrik goal off of a sweet back-hand apple from Bitz. Other than a flukey Malhotra trip, a run in with Clutterbuck and a beauty Setoguchi snipe: it was mostly smooth sailing from there.
A more detailed recap, scoring chance data and the Statistical Three Stars after the jump!
– We’ll start with the basic numbers, the Wild out-chanced the Canucks by a final tally of 16-12. That total number is deceiving though – only five Wild chances came before the Canucks managed to build a two goal lead. At even-strength the Canucks out-chanced their opponent 9-8, and with the score tied the Wild out-chanced the Canucks 2-1.
– Let’s start with the funniest moment of the game. Frankly, that third period would’ve passed by without comment if not for an amusing Maxim Lapierre v. Cal Clutterbuck tilt, and the 49 minutes of penalties assessed in the final 30 seconds of the game. But all of that was a side-show for Bieksa’s long-distance, Dhalsim super punch, or what we’ll preemptively dub "glove-gate." Basically Clutterbuck tried to get non-fighter Dan "guy who suffered multiple concussions last season" Hamhuis to drop the gloves late in a decided game. Kevin Bieksa, blocked from protecting his partner by the official, decided to throw his glove instead, and hit Clutterbuck squarely in the shoulder. Thanks to deadlybearhug (via Sedin-Twins) we have a .gif of it:
Said Bieksa of the toss (via Murph) "during my release I wondered if it was a good thing then after my release I knew it was a good thing." Everything about that rules.
– I’m not sure what Clutterbuck was trying to accomplish there. He definitely didn’t send a message, and instead got clowned. More to the point, do the Wild know how to treat their fans or what? Stink up the joint with a wet-fart of a game, then dutch oven your most dedicated supporters (those unwilling to leave early on principal) by gooning it up in the weaning moments. At least that Granlund kid seems good.
– I’m curious to know if the data is corroborated by the general impressions of our readers, but on this current road-trip the Canucks penalty kill has not been good. While the short-handed unit has maintained a fine percentage (10/12 or 83%) the Avalanche, Predators and Wild were all able to generate a significant number of scoring chances against the Canucks while up a man. This is a departure from what we’ve seen from this club for most of this season – the Canucks are usually very good at limiting chances against while short-handed.
On this current trip that has changed, the short-handed units are surrendering chances like Paris, and the Canucks have required spectacular goaltending. While the Predators are very good on the power-play, the Avs are middle of the road and the Wild are awful, so this is something to watch for. This recent run could be random variation, or it could be something more worrisome.
– Mike Duco had a strong showing, though his possession numbers are ugly. The reason they’re ugly? In the third, David Booth replaced Lapierre for a shift after Lapierre had scored a decision in his fight against Clutterbuck. On that shift, Hodgson, Duco and Booth were pinned in their own end for a goodly length of time while Marek Zidlicky doodled around the offensive-zone. Duco gave his stick to a Canucks defender, and the Canucks were eventually able to ice the puck but not before giving up a handful of "events." While the possession numbers punish that sort of shift, Mike Duco managed to be disruptive in shooting lanes even though he’d given his stick to a Canucks defender earlier on the play. The result: only one scoring chance against, which, I’d think probably scores Duco some points with his coach.
– Vigneault has seemingly made an adjustment to his defensive deployment schemes but I only just noticed it tonight. Recently he’s been playing Edler and Salo in a shutdown role, while sheltering Bieksa and Hamhuis. Tonight, Edler and Salo started considerably more shifts in the defensive zone than in the offensive zone and drew the Koivu line as their primary match-up. Bieksa and Hamhuis on the other hand, spent much of their time starting in the offensive zone and were primarily matched up against Matt Cullen’s line (with Clutterbuck and Erik Christensen). Vigneault must be playing at something, because Salo and Edler are consistently getting it handed to them possession-wise playing these tough minutes.
– So it has come to this: Byron Bitz has woken the Sedins from their midseason slumber. What’s hilarious about this, is that on the last two goals this line has scored – and they’ve scored three in the last two games – Bitz has been the set-up man. You can’t make this stuff up, but both of his assists on Sedin goals have come off of back-hand passes to an open Sedin for a tap-in! "Yeah I know you’re new here, but, usually it works the other way around Byron." What a beauty:
Statistical Three Stars
- Maxim Lapierre
- Cody Hodgson
- Mike Duco
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.
|VAN||1||5:56||D. Seidn GOAL||6||17||22||23||33||35||5||9||21||32||5v3|
|VAN||2||19:11||H. Sedin GOAL||2||3||22||33||34||35||21||25||32||45||46||55||5v5|
Total Chances (Canucks on the left, Wild on the right).
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|