Alex Burrows battles, kind of, to create traffic against Wild netminder Josh Harding who recorded the easy shutout.
(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
It’s pretty clear that the Canucks just don’t care. That’s not an excuse, and its been so long since the team put in a solid sixty minute effort that you can forgive fans in the Vancouver market who aren’t well disposed to "trusting" this particular team in a seven-game series, but I’m still convinced it’s true.
In tonight’s game against the Wild, the Canucks attempted more even-strength shots (52-45) than Minnesota and had roughly an equal number of shots on goal. Most of those shots, however, were of the dreaded "perimeter" variety, and by the chance data the Canucks were absolutely crushed in this game.
Vancouver’s blueliners took 12 shots, and the forwards took many of the remaining 21 from odd angles, or from well over 40 feet out. Most of those shots hardly troubled Josh Harding. The way the Canucks avoided the "tough areas" of the ice, and were content to just set up point shots repeatedly, indicates to me that the team is cruising and primarily looking to avoid injury.
When you put a half-hearted effort into just about anything, you get the result you deserve. Tonight that meant a two-zip loss at the hands of the league’s worst possession team.
Click past the jump for a more thorough recap, chance data and the statistical three stars.
– Let’s start with the essential numbers, as always. The Wild out-chanced the Canucks 20-9 overall, 18-8 at even-strength and 6-4 at evens with the score-tied. When you consider those numbers, it’s a credit to Cory Schneider that the Canucks weren’t blown out this evening.
– Devin Setoguchi, the Minnesota Wild’s most famous faller, had a very strong game tonight. He finished +5 in scoring chance differential, took four shots on net, created a Wild scoring chance, and generally handed it to the Canucks bottom six in 15 minutes of even-strength ice-time. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks’ most famous faller: Mason Raymond, watched the proceedings from the pressbox. I’m not sure one can fairly claim that Raymond was "missed," but you have to give it to him: through all of his struggles, he at least puts the peddle down to the floor. That’s a lot more than you could say about his teammates tonight.
– Not much going on in this game to dissect, though Erik Christensen’s power-play goal late in the first period came off of a lovely touch pass from Cal "you can tell from my mustache that I own a kimono" Clutterbuck who handled the puck in traffic just long enough to and draw Aaron Rome, and then backhanded the puck to Christensen for the game winner. I’m loathe to admit that anything Clutterbuck ever does is "nifty" but that pass was.
– Not so nifty – Ryan Kesler’s submarine hit on Clutterbuck. Mike Russo described the hit as "Marchand-esque" and I have to agree with the major caveat that this hit wasn’t "five game suspension territory" because it wasn’t as obviously premeditated (Kesler didn’t punch Clutterbuck multiple times in the head prior to the hit). Here’s the hit:
That’s just a greasy play. As Clutterbuck told Russo post-game "normally you go shoulder to shoulder and that’s that," which is exactly right. Bailing out of a hit like this is very different from the sort of hip-check Ballard and Hamhuis used to throw on a regular basis (where you flip a guy trying to smeagol past you along the boards). Kesler isn’t a repeat offender, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a small hit in the wallet – probably to the tune of 2,500$ – as a result of this play.
– The Sedin line was the only line that finished in the black by the chance differential at even-strength tonight, but most of their chances came in the first period (when they managed three). After the first period, the Canucks managed three even-strength scoring chances, a fourth scoring chance on the power-play and then a fifth with their own net open. Five chances in forty minutes, when you’re down one and playing against the league’s single worst possession team isn’t just pathetic, it’s embarrassing.
– The Canucks fourth line was a mess of epic proportions tonight. Lapierre, Weise and Kassian finished the game a -6, -7 and -7 respectively by the chance differential, and they only skated together for about 8 minutes at evens. That means they were regularly pinned in their own end, and were frequently giving up high quality starts. Can Kassian remain in the line-up if he continues to bleed chances again? Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t.
– I really admire Kyle Brodziak’s game and he was on tonight. He played the Sedins to a draw, battled hard all evening and was rewarded with the empty net goal. Brodziak is a rock solid tough-minutes option, and he manages to make life miserable for some of the NHL’s top-players even while playing in front of a swiss-cheese defense corps.
– Finally, Kevin Bieksa had a roundly awful performance tonight, making a couple of unforced errors in his own end and finishing among the statistical three goats. That said, he did at least stand up for Daniel Sedin (in a manner of speaking) by making Nick Johnson (who is the bigger guy) his own personal rag-doll. This image is really the only silver lining on the evening:
Statistical Three Stars
- Josh Harding
- Cory Schneider
- Devin Setoguchi
Statistical Three Goats
- Zack Kassian
- Kevin Bieksa
- Dale Weise
A chance is counted any time a team directs a shot cleanly on-net from within home-plate. Shots on goal and misses are counted, but blocked shots are not (unless the player who blocks the shot is “acting like a goaltender”). Generally speaking, we are more generous with the boundaries of home-plate if there is dangerous puck movement immediately preceding the scoring chance, or if the scoring chance is screened. If you want to get a visual handle on home-plate, check this image. A big thank you is in order to Vic Ferrari, whose timeonice.com scripts enable the entire operation. Yes, there is an app for this.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 21086
Totals (Canucks on the left, Wild on the left)
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