The Canucks confused everyone by winning a game in sixty minutes.
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
For the first time in seven Roberto Luongo starts, the Canucks managed to end a game without the use of a shootout. What the midwestern hockey fans call "Free Hockey" has become so commonplace for the Canucks, that it almost felt strange to see them take two points in regulation. It has now officially been a month since the Canucks last regulation loss (January 15th against Anaheim), but this was only the third win in the team’s last eleven games that occurred without the use of the shootout or over-time. I’m downright shocked, I tell you!
For the most part, tonight’s affair was a pretty even game. While Roberto Luongo was once again the difference, it was nice to see the Sedins possessing the puck, and realistically threatening to perform acts of Sedinery for the first time in what seems like months! The game also saw Jannik Hansen, who scored the game winner off a lovely set up from fourth liner Cody Hodgson, and Alex Burrows break extended goal-scoring droughts.
A more detailed recap, the statistical three stars and scoring chance data after the jump!
– We’ll begin, as usual, with the core statistics: the Avalanche out-chanced the Canucks by a total count of 21-18, though the teams were tied with 18 even-strength chances a piece, and the Canucks out-chanced the Avalanche 8-6 with the score tied.
– While the Sedin line didn’t score, it has been a while since we saw them properly dominate like they managed to tonight. They were fed their usual steady diet of offensive-zone starts, but they managed to retain possession and direct shots and chances on the Avalanche net at a rate we haven’t seen much of in the year 2012. I’m sure the Sedins combined lack of finish will be pointed out tomorrow in the usual places – but make no mistake: this was the twins best game since they put up six combined points in a late December victory over Minnesota.
– The Kesler-Booth-Raymond line got off to a hot start, and managed to score the opening goal just 13 seconds into the hockey game. Their early goal set off a stellar first period in which their line managed four scoring chances for, and only one against. From there, however, the line fell off and were mostly non-factors over the balance of the game. Their possession numbers were largely ugly, and both Raymond and Kesler finished with a negative scoring chance differential. Despite a mediocre game from the second line, I think they showed enough (especially in the first period) that I’d expect them to get another shot as a unit on Saturday against Toronto.
– Alain Vigneault’s usual deployment patterns (which he’d gotten away from over the past week) returned tonight. The Sedins started 80% of their shifts in the offensive zone, while Malhotra started 9 shifts in the defensive zone and failed to so much as sniff an offensive-zone start in the game. Cody Hodgson, when he played on the fourth line (which he did for the first two periods), started three shifts in the defensive-zone – though one was off of an icing – before receiving four offensive-zone starts in the game’s final period. The game-winner came off of just such an offensive-zone start, so hopefully this trend continues.
– Jan Hejda and Ryan O’Byrne got hammered by the Sedins, but overall had a pretty strong game. Based on the possession numbers they got their teeth kicked in, but when you adjust it for zone-starts (neither player started a shift in the offensive end) it doesn’t look too bad. In terms of preventing the Canucks from taking quality shots – they certainly did their job. That both defenseman posted positive even-strength chance differentials while playing big-minutes against top-competition, in difficult circumstances, is very impressive.
– Cody Hodgson set up Jannik Hansen’s game-winning goal with a beautiful pass, just another flash that he clearly isn’t well suited to a fourth line role. It’s not just that the fourth line is a waste of Hodgson’s offensive gifts (though it is), but he’s also just not good enough defensively yet to handle a low-event grinders role. While Hodgson was eventually bumped up to the third line, and received sheltered deployment in the third frame – by the chance data he still had a sub-par evening. In fact, the only scoring chance Cody Franchise was on the ice for was Hansen’s goal (on which, he was credited with a chance created).
– I had observed on the most recent Canucks road-trip that Vigneault was relying on Salo and Edler in a more defensive role than we’ve generally seen this season, but that seems to have been abandoned as well this evening. Salo and Edler played mostly with the twins, while Bieksa and Hamhuis soaked up the tough minutes and had another extremely strong game. Rome and Alberts on the other hand, were porous defensively. I’m a fan of both players individually, but from what we’ve seen since Ballard went out with injury, I’m unconvinced that Alberts and Rome possess the requisite speed or athletic ability to work out long-term as an effective, low-event, bottom pairing.
– Roberto Luongo had another strong outing, earning the quality start by allowing only one goal on thirty shots against. He was beaten only once out of 16 chance the Avalanche directed on net as well. Even the one goal allowed, which Luongo had no reasonable chance of saving, he nearly managed to make a miracle save on. Luongo has just been on fire recently, and it’s really just too bad that the playoffs don’t run through January and February!
Statistical Three Stars
- Roberto Luongo
- Henrik Sedin
- Jan Hejda
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.
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Totals (Canucks on the left, Avalanche on the right)
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