(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
Well that was more like it!
The Canucks remaing firmly on the chopping block, but with Wednesday night’s performance they’ve secured a stay of execution and will live to play another game on Sunday, in Vancouver. The Canucks were slow out of the gate and frankly looked like a team resigned to their fate through twenty minutes. Cory Schneider, and the hockey gods physics and luck, however, had other plans. With the exception of a pitch-perfect Anze Kopitar snipe and some rebound control issues in the first period – Cory Schneider was absolutely dynamite, and a fortunate bounce off of a Kevin Bieksa point shot gave the Canucks their first fortunate bounce of the series.
In the third period, to their credit, the Canucks took over. L.A. had a couple of chances – a Dustin Brown penalty shot, and a Justin Williams shot from the slot that hit the post – but Vancouver successfully shut the pace of the game down and safely preserved their lead. The club’s power-play looked conspicuously dangerous, cashing in twice and putting the game away in the third.
It wasn’t the Canucks best game, hell, it wasn’t even their best game of the series – but the club got the win they needed and will look to continue their Houdini act going forward.
Know hope, friends!
More analysis, scoring chance data and the statistical three stars (and goats) after the jump!
– Let’s begin, as always, with the most important numbers. The Canucks were out-chanced 21 to 14 in game four, they were out-chanced 12-8 at even-strength and 6-1 with the score tied. The city of Vancouver owes Cory Schneider a massive, massive thank you.
– The Canucks "won" the special teams battle last night, but they required a good bit of luck (and some outrageous play from Cory Schneider) to do so. In six minutes of short-handed ice-time the Canucks allowed six scoring chances against, which, is really not good at all. We tend to expect a chance against every 90 seconds of short-handed ice-time, and consider that "good." A chance against per minute? That’s really, really not good, especially against an offensively challenged club like the Kings. The Canucks are going to need to tighten this up going forward, or they’re going to have to play much more disciplined than they have so far.
– Speaking of discipline, if only to prove that no club is innocent when it comes to ‘playoff hockey’ Henrik Sedin took a shot at Dustin Brown’s head while Brown was on his knees. Dustin Brown is somewhat of a dirty player, and had just finished an egregious slash on Daniel, but the Canucks have no margin for error, and Henrik can’t afford to be suspended. Also, while it wasn’t the massive and grotesque issue unhinged Oilers bloggers predictably made it out to be on Twitter (it wasn’t even the dirtiest incident in the game, Colin Fraser’s knee on Keith Ballard earns that distinction) it was a pretty dirty play on Henrik’s part. Hated it.
– After getting away from hard-matching Pahlsson’s group against Kopitar’s following a dominant game from the Kings first line in game 1 – Alain Vigneault went back to his "checking group" last night and they were much more successful. Kopitar’s line controlled possession, but only managed two scoring chances at even-strength (and one of them was borderline, and the other completely Mason Raymond’s fault). If the third line can continue to play Kopitar’s group to a relative draw – the Canucks could pull off a miracle in this series, yet.
– Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov were the best Kings players yesterday, and the Kings did very well to control possession while they were on the ice. They were matched up primarily against Kesler’s line and they handled that match up very well. Drew Doughty and Rob Scuderi, who make up Los Angeles’ ostensible first pairing, on the other hand were godawful. Let’s call that the "Daniel Sedin effect."
– The Canucks completely dominated the third period, and sealed the game with a dynamic, vintage, first unit power-play shift in that period. That was about as epic a power-play shift as you’ll ever see – the Canucks managed five scoring chances in the space of ninety seconds, and at the other end of the ice surrendered a penalty shot to Dustin Brown, which, Cory Schneider managed to stymie.
– In this series, the Kings have scored two short-handed goals, had a short-handed penalty shot in game 4, and overall the Kings have managed six short-handed scoring chances in the series. Canucks fans hate when Sami Salo isn’t on the point on the power-play, and for good reason: he’s got the best slap-shot of any Vancouver blueliner. He’s also, however, the slowest defenseman on the club and was on the ice when Dustin Brown stole the puck, went in alone and drew the penalty shot on Wednesday. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tanev or Ballard out on the second unit power-play instead. Sure they take some offense off of the table, but they can act as a safety. With no margin for error, I think it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.
– If Daniel Sedin and the first power-play unit find their legs, that’ll change the balance of power in this series dramatically. The Kings have been the rougher team through four games, and they’ve been confidently able to do that because of Vancouver’s complete incompetence with the man-advantage. A couple more power-play shifts like the one the Canucks put together in the third period, however, and LA will be forced off of their game…
– On a related note, boy is it ever good to have Daniel Sedin back. It’s probable that the Canucks will not make it out of the first round, but the priviledge of enjoying some vintage Sedinery on Wednesday night really made me feel better about where the Canucks are at in this series.
– If the Canucks can reproduce their performance from games three and the third period of game four over the balance of this series, they’ll have a fighting shot at forcing game 7. It remains unlikely, but there were some positive signs over the past two games and maybe, just maybe the Canucks can make that fourth Kings win an illusive one. Game five goes Sunday on Griffiths Way.
Statistical Three Stars
- Cory Schneider
- Willie Mitchell
- Daniel Sedin
Statistical Three Goats
- Drew Doughty
- Kevin Bieksa
- Rob Scuderi
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 30154
Totals (Canucks on the left)
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|