Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images
After a four month lockout nullified the 2012 portion of the "2012-13 NHL season," tonight’s Canucks home and season opener against the Anaheim "don’t call us Mighty" Ducks was eagerly anticipated. While there was no pre-game ceremony or banner raising to celebrate the team’s second straight President’s Trophy; team President and General Manager Mike Gillis and captain Henrik Sedin did address the faithful. Gillis and Henrik Sedin thanked the fans for their patience and loyalty. It was the right tone to strike – personal, apologetic and direct, as opposed to celebratory – but it was just about the only thing Vancouver got right on this evening.
The Canucks were up momentarily in the first period, but Cory Schneider was ventilated and pulled within the first seven minutes of the second period with the Canucks down 5-2. The crowd cheered and Luuuu’d as Roberto Luongo, the center of never ending trade rumours all summer long, entered the game and made a few routine saves.
It was frankly, an embarrassing performance. But it did set up a fun day of endless speculation for tomorrow. Who will get the nod against Edmonton? Will the Canucks go back to Cory Schneider, or will they stick with the plan to play Luongo against the Oilers young guns (and in doing so set off the hockey media’s shrill catcalls of "goalie controversy" continent wide)? Whatever happens, you can rest assured that it will be all fucked up.
Read past the jump.
– I’ve got fewer numbers for you this evening than I usually would in a CanucksArmy game recap. For the moment the timeonice.com scoring chance app and advanced stat pages have yet to be re-calibrated for the 2013 season, so I’m flying blind.
I can tell you, however, that the Canucks recorded 9 scoring chances to Anaheim’s 12. I can also tell you that Cory Schneider allowed three goals on five scoring chances, in addition to allowing two non-scoring chance goals. I can also tell you that Anaheim out-chanced the Canucks 7-3 in the third period even though they were up by four goals for most of the frame – a testament to the club’s inexcusable lack of resilience on this evening. That’s about all I’ve got for now, we’ll plug in and post the scoring chance results when timeonice.com gets running at somepoint in the next few days.
– Obviously Vancouver’s defense was, uh, not very good on Saturday night. That goes without saying. But let’s not go letting the goaltenders off the hook, here. The Ducks only recorded 12 scoring chances and only managed 26 shots on goal in the contest. By any definition this was a "low-event" game and there’s really no excuse for allowing seven goals against in such circumstances.
Vancouver’s defensive coverage and gap-control will need to improve (or Mike Gillis will be drafting Seth Jones in Newark this July), but make no mistake: it was the goaltending that really let the team down on Saturday.
– One bright spot for the Canucks was their power-play. The Canucks capitalized on two of four power-play opportunities and generated eight shots and four scoring chances with the man-advantage. They looked like a polished unit that has worked together for a while, and that could provide the team with a crutch as they get the rest of their game back up to speed. I also really liked Hansen with the twins, he did well to win a couple of puck-battles along the wall and his net work was picture perfect on Daniel Sedin’s power-play tally in the first period.
– Probably the worst part of the team’s game on the other hand was their short-handed play. The Canucks allowed three short-handed goals against, in three penalty killing opportunties while facing Anaheim’s not at all vaunted power-play. Anaheim’s top offensive defenseman, Cam Fowler, was out with the flu on Saturday night and Anaheim’s power-play was pretty much awful last season with the same basic personnel. Needless to say: that pretty much sucks.
I think I feel comfortable placing much of the onus for the team’s weak short-handed performance on the goaltenders. Selanne was left all alone in the slot for his power-play goal at the very end of the second period (after Cory Schneider had already been pulled) but Anaheim’s other two short-handed tallies (Souray’s blast to tie the game at two, and Corey Perry’s five-hole goal that put Anaheim up by two early in the second period) came off of very stoppable shots. In all Anaheim managed three total power-play shots in the game, and three goals. Yeah, there’s no other way to slice this one: Vancouver’s goaltending was really bad tonight.
– Daniel Winnik, noted shooting percentage outlier and possessor of "stone hands," scored two goals against Cory Schneider in Saturday night’s game. This was a very weird contest.
– The good news? Regression! Cory Schneider was woeful on Saturday but he remains a solid NHL goaltender, and he’ll bounce back. Roberto Luongo was better than Schneider was, I guess, but he’ll also have better performances than what he showed in relief of Schneider on Saturday night. Saturday’s game was just a strange one. If you look beyond the permissive defensive coverage, the complete lack of team speed and the inability to hit anyone in stride with a pass: you’ll see a club that looked like they were playing their first preseason game. Which makes sense since that’s pretty much exactly what this was.