Canucks Drop a Gimme in Calgary

Cam Barker made his debut in a Canucks loss to the Flames on Sunday night.
Photo Credit: Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

The Canucks barely made it out of Vancouver on Sunday evening in advance of their contest against Calgary. Once the team landed in cowtown, the Canucks had only a couple of hours to transition from the tarmac to the rink. Ultimately they may as well have stayed at home, as they frittered away two points against an overmatched opponent playing in front of an AHL goaltender…

There’s context here of course. Vancouver was coming off of an emotional home win over the Los Angeles Kings the night before and it’s no surprise that they put in a bit of a flat effort in the second game of a travelling back-to-back. Still, Vancouver started strong and ran out of gas late and fell behind for good on a goal that immediately followed a goofy "bench minor" penalty charged against Alain Vigneault in the third.  It was an appropriate way for a listless, frustrating game to end.

Read on past the jump for more analysis.

– Let’s begin with the core data. The Canucks were out-chanced 17-14 overall by the Flames on Sunday. In addition to that, Vancouver recorded thirteen scoring chances at even-strength to Calgary’s sixteen, and the Flames also controlled the game with the score tied recording ten scoring chances to Vancouver’s eight.

– So the Flames narrowly won the chance battle on Sunday night, but that still shouldn’t have been enough when you consider Vancouver’s supposed edge in goal. Needless to say Luongo has a more impressive resume at this level than Danny Taylor does. But Taylor was up to the task on Sunday, stopping twenty three of twenty-five shots including nine of twelve "difficult shots" he faced (scoring chances on goal, including misses that hit the post).

– Luongo actually had the superior save percentage on "difficult shots," (he stopped twelve of thirteen) but he allowed two goals on non-scoring chances including a real softy on a sneaky Mike Cammalleri wrister late in the first that tied the game. Ultimately those two goals were the difference. This loss wasn’t on Luongo or anything – the game-winning goal was particularly unlucky, bouncing in as it did off of Jason Garrison’s skate – but he obviously wasn’t "good enough" to get the win.

– Defenseman Cam Barker made his debut this evening and while he put in an uneven performance overall, that was enough to exceed my expectations for him. No his defensive positioning is not particularly good (though perhaps it will improve as he gets into more games) but he walks the line well in the offensive end and appeared to have a knack for threading the puck neatly through traffic on his point shots. Basically Cam Barker is a very similar type of player to Marc-Andre Gragnani: a high-event defenseman with perhaps some value in the offensive end.

– Coming off of their best performance of the year (hell, it might have been their best performance in a couple of years) the Sedin line was functionally hapless against the Flames this evening. I’d assume they were just exhausted but still, Daniel and Burrows posted a -6 scoring chance differential at even-strength, while Henrik was a -5 and that’s really not good enough to win. Beyond struggling to generate much of anything and spending far too much of the game in their own end of the rink, the twins and Burrows looked completely gassed in the third, and Daniel whiffed on a mostly open net in the game’s dying seconds. That’s the sort of scoring chance Daniel converts, what, 80% of the time? It just wasn’t Vancouver’s night…

– It’s a shame that the twins were so over-matched in this one, because the Canucks legitimately got some secondary scoring from the likes of Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond (who hit a cross bar in the first period), and their newly formed third-line (of David Booth, Maxim Lapierre and Zack Kassian) was buzzing all game. David Booth’s inability to find the back of the net is beginning to reach comic proportions (he now has 13 shots in five games, and no goals) and he was probably Vancouver’s best offensive player tonight. He also seemed to have some chemistry with Zack Kassian, who had his best game in almost a month on Sunday.

– The Cam Barker, Alex Edler pairing were the definition of high-event in this one. Sure they looked dangerous in the offensive end, but they gave that back (and more) in their own end all night long. As such,  I can’t imagine that Alain Vigneault will be comfortable rolling them together too frequently going forward.

– After a lights-out game matched up against the Anze Kopitar line, Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis came back to Earth a bit in this one and both finished in the red by the chance data. The third pairing of Andrew Alberts and Chris Tanev were unspectacular, of course, but they were mostly successful against the bottom-end of Calgary’s roster.

– Finally, the game turned on an Alain Vigneault bench-minor that followed a Matt Stajan hit on Chris Tanev. Stajan got his elbow up around Tanev’s head and Vigneault was apopleptic, hounding the referee for the missed call. He was penalized and the Flames scored the game winner a second or two after the penalty expired. 

On the one hand, I like to see a coach do what he can to protect his players, and it was a goofy call in the third period of a tight game. On the other hand, anyway you slice it: that’s some weak game management from Alain Vigneault, and it turned out to be costly. By the way, here’s Vigneault’s account of what went down per Ed Willes:

“Not one g-damn word. Nothing. I didn’t use the f-word. I stood on the bench for .5 seconds and I said, ‘That’s an elbow.’ And that’s how I got two minutes and that’s how they scored the goal. I’m done here.”

So yeah, that’s pretty weird. All around, Sunday night’s game was a disappointing performance from the team, the refs, and the Canucks headcoach.

Scoring Chance Data

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.

Scoring Chance Totals

Scoring Chance Totals 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Calgary (EV) 6 (6) 9 (8) 2 (2) 17 (16)
Canucks (EV) 7 (7) 4 (4) 3 (2) 14 (13)

Individual Scoring Chance Numbers

Skaters Chances Taken Chance Assists Total
David Booth 4 0 4
Mason Raymond 2 0 2
Alex Burrows 1 1 2
Jannik Hansen 1 1 2
Zack Kassian 1 1 2
Henrik Sedin 1 0 1
Dan Hamhuis 1 0 1
Tom Sestito 1 0 1
Chris Higgins 1 0 1
Daniel Sedin 0 1 1
Dale Weise 0 1 1

Individual Chance Differential

Skaters EV F – A SH F – A PP F – A
Dan Hamhuis 4 – 5 0 – 1 0 – 0
Jason Garrison 2 – 5 0 – 1 0 – 0
David Booth 5 – 1 0 – 1 0 – 0
Chris Tanev 6 – 4 0 – 0 0 – 0
Zack Kassian 5 – 2 0 – 0 0 – 0
Alex Burrows 3 – 9 0 – 1 0 – 0
Cam Barker 5 – 8 0 – 0 0 – 0
Chris Higgins 6 – 4 0 – 0 0 – 0
Mason Raymond 3 – 4 0 – 0 0 – 0
Daniel Sedin 3 – 9 0 – 0 0 – 0
Alex Edler 4 – 9 0 – 0 0 – 0
Tom Sestito 1 – 1 0 – 0 0 – 0
Dale Weise 1 – 1 0 – 0 0 – 0
Henrik Sedin 5 – 10 0 – 0 0 – 0
Jannik Hansen 4 – 4 0 – 0 0 – 0
Maxim Lapierre 5 – 3 0 – 0 0 – 0
Andrew Alberts 5 – 2 0 – 0 0 – 0
Jordan Schroeder 1 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 0
  • Vintage Flame

    Love seeing the Individual Chance Differential chart and wowsa did the 1st line get cleaned out tonight.

    This was an odd game to watch. Honestly, there aren’t many normal games happening in the NHL this yr. Some seriously bizarre results, accompanied with inconsistent and terrible officiating. It’s hard to get a read on any team this yr. I have a feeling someone like Toronto wins the Cup this yr. That’s why kind of season I’m seeing.

  • Vintage Flame

    No offense, but I’ve noticed that pretty much every writer for this blog will give a pretty grim assessment of the Canucks unless the Canucks absolutely dominate like they did against LA. And when the Canucks lose? Let me tell you, it’s getting more and more like in terms of how much is said about the team.

    That being said, love the blog, I just wanted to point something out that I’ve been noticing, otherwise I love reading the blog. It’s a daily ritual of mine.

  • @Lemming the Canucks have had a lot of games in which they were outplayed this season. For me and I think the other writers we just try to call it by the numbers and like we see it. Certainly the tone of our coverage is miles more positive than the MSM in Vancouver (and their negative suck-hole outlook on fucking everything) but we’re not really fanboys either so….

    Anyway thanks for reading.

  • Mantastic

    I don’t know what that criticism is all about. One of the best things about CA’s coverage is that they look at things quite objectively and let the stats do most of the talking, instead of merely picking a side just to gain more buzz and views for their articles or being quite emotional involved like a lot of Canucks fans are.

  • Chris E

    Daniel didn’t whif on that empty net…it was heading straight in when it deflected into the corner off Bouwmeester’s stick. He should have got more mustard on it and lifted it…but hindsight 20/20 and all. I tell you one thing though….after the way the whole third went, everyone in my whole apartment block heard the F-word after that play.