Photo Credit: (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
In what was a historic Friday night game for Henrik Sedin and Vancouver’s NHL franchise, the Dallas Stars – owned by Vancouver businessman and Aquilini rival Tom Gagliardi – were fortunate to narrowly defeat the Canucks in regulation. Beyond the Gagliardi connection, this was a defeat with a decidedly local flavour: the winning goal was scored by Surrey native Brenden Dillon and assisted on by Victoria’s Jamie Benn, the game tying goal was scored by Antoine Roussel who first broke into the professional ranks in the fall of 2011 with the Canucks organization, and also Dallas employs a dude named Aaron Rome who was probably the difference this evening.
It’s ironic really, because the Canucks were the superior club througout on Friday and arguably put together their best sixty-minutes of hockey this season. Heading into Frirday night’s game the Canucks had relied on goaltending so airtight it was downright indecent, and they were due some unfortunate breaks in their own end of the rink. Luck evens out eventually, and it caught up to the Canucks and Cory Schneider in a big way against the Stars. Read on past the jump for more.
– Let’s begin our recap with the scoring chance data. The Canucks handily controlled the quality chance battle in this one, recording 17 scoring chances overall to Dallas’ 13. At evens, Vancouver’s advantage was even more decisive as the Canucks tested the Stars with 15 scoring chances while only allowing 8 against. Sometimes a quality hockey club will lose a game that they dominated and deserved. That’s what happened tonight.
– Unfortunately for the Canucks, Cory Schneider was not up to his usual standard of play. The Stars scored two goals on non-scoring chances on Friday, including Reilly Smith’s opener which deflected off of Kevin Bieksa’s stick and past Vancouver’s otensible starter. The other three-ply softie came late in the second period when Cody Eaken compromised Vancouver’s two goal lead by capitalizing off of a loose puck that Cory Schneider thought he’d controlled. Both of those goals were ugly but these things happen to goaltenders at the NHL level. We really shouldn’t over-react and change our opinion on Schneider as a goaltender – he’s still outrageously good at stopping pucks – but yeah, I’m pretty sure he’d want those two back.
– Maybe the third goal too. We wrote nice things about the goalscorer, Antoine Roussel, during the 2011 Penticton Young Stars Tourney where he impressed us enormously with his physical play and production. Cool to see him contributing on an NHL roster.
– Enough of that, let’s quickly talk about the first period so that we can move on to the second which was un-fucking-believable. Here’s the first in a nutshell: Dallas scored an ugly goal, Mason Raymond scored a goal that should’ve counted but didn’t for no good reason and Ryan Kesler returned and was more or less back to his usual self. Actually he drew a penalty by using his speed on his very first shift. Sure Kesler showed some rust at times – like when he whiffed on a one-timer on the power-play early in the first period – but for the most part he made the Canucks immediately more dynamic on the power-play, and wasn’t hesitant in the slightest to insert himself physically into the game.
– Kesler is occassionally criticized because he doesn’t really have a gear other than "play like a reckless crazy person." The downside of that is that he’s often injured. The upside is that it seems to be infectious. Obviously correlation doesn’t imply causation, but I do wonder if Kesler’s teammates follow his lead when it comes to taking the body. Sure seemed like it tonight.
– The second period was a mammoth one for the Canucks. Vancouver’s club recorded eight of the first nine scoring chances in the frame, while building a 3-1 lead off of goals from Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows. The Daniel Sedin goal – on which Henrik Sedin tied Markus Naslund’s franchise points record – was an odd one, I suppose, but it was also a lovely display of that trademark Sedin persistence:
The only scoring chance recorded on the play above, by the way, came on Daniel Sedins initial shot with 16:47 on the gameclock. Henrik Sedin was credited with a chance assist on that play, but his real assist came roughly ten second later, after he won a puck battle behind the Dallas net and fed his brother for the bank-shot.
– Of course, Henrik Sedin broke Markus Naslund’s a few minutes later with the Canucks already up 2-1 (following a Chris Higgins goal) on a sick dime to Alex Burrows. Let’s watch that one too:
Oh cool, an effortless cross-ice saucer pass past two Stars defenders. Ho hum, just point number 757 of Henrik Sedin’s career. I try to stay objective when I write in this space (up to a point) but I have to say that I feel privileged to have watched Henrik make plays like this for the past decade.
– Henrik Sedin was flying tonight and it was absolutely his best game of the season. Of Vancouver’s 17 scoring chances in the game, Henrik factored in on seven of them. Also how is this for "the most Henrik Sedin stat ever": while he is now the all-time franchise leader in points, Henrik Sedin is not in the top-10 in franchise goal scoring.
– After the Canucks went up 3-1, the Canucks fans in attendance at Rogers Arena did the fan-base proud with a rousing ovation for the Canucks captain. If the Southsiders had been in attendance for those five minutes on Friday evening, you wouldn’t have even noticed them. Would be pretty neat if the arena sounded like that more regularly, huh?
– Mid-way through the second period, the Canucks and Stars took part in what Daryl Reaugh called "a trilogy of truculence." The trilogy included three fights (well duh) in four seconds: the first between Ryan Garbutt and Aaron Volpatti, the second between Vernon Fiddler and Maxim Lapierre, and the third between Eric Nystrom and Dale Weise. Seven goals, three fights and a whole bundle of five-alarm scoring chances: sounds to me like the fans got their moneys worth.
– Heading into this game, Jordan Schroeder had yet to be on the ice for a goal against at even-strength. He was on the ice for a couple of greasy ones this evening – so he was a -2 despite having a fantastic game. With the Canucks pushing the pace all evening, he was very involved offensively.
– The Canucks played an uptempo style this evening, of a type we haven’t seen much of this season (with the exception of the game last weekend against the Oilers, when the Canucks were down for the majority of the proceeding) . It was a welcome change despite the loss and let’s hope it continues. Not only is it more enjoyable as a consumer, but tonight’s result aside the Canucks have the ability to just completely outclass the opposition when they open it up the way they did against the Stars.
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.
|Skater||Chances Taken||Chance Assists||Total|
|Scoring Chances (EV)||1st||2nd||3rd||Totals|
|Dallas||2 (2)||7 (4)||4 (2)||13 (8)|
|Vancouver||4 (2)||8 (8)||5 (5)||17 (15)|