Flat Canucks Blow Late Lead Against Bottom Feeder

Photograph by: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Canucks played with fire throughout Saturday afternoon’s game against the Avalanche, and ultimately they got burned. From the team’s inability to control play against one of the league’s worst teams, to the fact that they had more turnovers than a restless sleeper – this wasn’t a game that Vancouver deserved to win.

More analysis and also scoring chance data after the jump.

– Let’s start with the scoring chance data because it really does tell the whole story in this one. The Avalanche stole Vancouver’s lunch money on Saturday afternoon, recording 17 scoring chances to 9 for Vancouver. At even-strength Vancouver’s defensive play was extremely permissive as the club surrendered 16 scoring chances to the Avalanche at five-on-five, and struggled to generate much at the other end with only seven chances directed at Giguere…

– While a completely inability to control the game was an issue, it was compounded by Vancouver’s completely inability to play responsible hockey with the puck. Three of Colorado’s goals came directly as a result of Canucks turnovers, and two of those turnovers (by Bieksa on Landeskog’s opening goal, and by Lapierre on Cody MacLeod’s tally were of the ugly variety. With the puck in their own end on Saturday, the Canucks did was StubHub was doing with Avalanche tickets: just giving it away.

– It looked at times like the Canucks would get away with sleep walking through the high-altitude matinee contest. Ultimately the Avalanche were due – they hadn’t won a regulation game against the Canucks in their last twenty, and some of those games looked like Saturday’s – and Cory Schneider was due to get blown up, which he did in this one. Not that the loss was on Schneider obviously – he saved twelve of fifteen "difficult shots" which is respectable – but considering the unsustainable way he’s performed over the past month, he was due for a game in which he allowed four goals on twenty-five shots…

– When Zack Kassian was taken off the second line, the Canucks had allowed three scoring chances against and recorded zero for while also being outshot five to one. On the heels of a quiet offensive game in Calgary for Kassian, and a woeful defensive performance, it’s not really a surprise that he got demoted. Kassian had a better third period and should continue to get an extended look in a top-six role between now and the end of the regular season, but Canucks fans need to chill out when he gets moved down the lineup for a handful of shifts as a result of sloppy play. Kassian’s a young player, and earning ice-time and learning what sort of things you have to do to continue to be successful and get plum minutes on Kesler’s right-flank is part of the development process…

– Kevin Bieksa had a rough outing – his giveaway on Landeskog’s opener was hilariously unforced – and his most regular partner, Alex Edler, wasn’t much better. On the first pairing, Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis were both pretty good considering how thoroughly the rest of the team got stomped by the Avalanche. They got beaten for a goal against on a lovely play from P.A. Parentheau and Matt Duchene that tied the game late in the third. But those are good players and as John Madden might say: good players will make good plays occassionally. The thing is, Garrison and Hamhuis have been good enough together that it’s tough to imagine splitting them up. Bieksa and Edler have worked better this season as a pairing than they did a year ago – which isn’t saying much – but, as we saw on Saturday, they’re still a bit iffy defensively when partenered up. So do you stabilize the defensive pairings by making them more balanced, even if it means splitting up one of the league’s best pairing this season in Hamhuis and Garrison? That’s a tough question that the coaching staff faces headed into the playoffs. Personally, I think I’d see how Jason Garrison on Alex Edler’s right-side works before the games really start to matter.

– Derek Roy only has an assist now in his first five games as a Canuck, and failed to clear the puck on Jan Hejda’s last second game winner. The production shouldn’t worry us considering the defensive orientation of Derek Roy’s deployment – Roy started five shifts in the defensive end and only one in the offensive zone – and his continued ability to help Vancouver generate scoring chances. But even after you account for that, Roy’s line lost their matchup against the Statsny line in this one and, like the rest of the team, will need to be better.

– The four forwards on the first unit power-play thing has run its course. As Jason Garrison showed again on Saturday, his point shot is an outrageously dangerous weapon and failing to utilize that cannon with the Sedin twins on the power-play is just an epic mistake. Another reason it’s pretty much indefensible: Daniel Sedin was on the ice for two even-strength scoring chances against on Saturday while playing as a defenseman immediately after power-plays. So there’s a potential defensive cost to deploying your power-play personnel the way the Canucks are at the moment too.

– On the other hand, every game that goes by – even a last second heartbreaker like Saturday’s – without a serious injury is actually a secret win for the Canucks. Vancouver needs healthy bodies more than they need points. When you think of it that way, maybe having Jason Garrison rip point shots at the net with Ryan Kesler screening doesn’t sound like the best plan…

– I don’t know whether it’s the club "playing down to their opponents" or struggling to find motivation or whatever, but the Canucks have had two pretty ugly outings in a row against the Flames and the Avalanche this week. Just look at the standings and you’ll know how acceptable that is. With back-to-back road games coming up against the Predators and the Blues early next week, the Canucks are going to have to show up if they want to continue to get results and convincingly round into playoff form. If this Canucks team really has found another gear with Kesler’s return and Roy’s acquisition, and I tend to think they have, they’re going to need to polish up their game and prove it. Soon.

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
Vancouver (EV) 4 (2) 4 (4) 1 (1) 9 (7)
Colorado (EV) 7 (7) 4 (3) 6 (6) 17 (16)

Individual Scoring Chance Contributions:

Individual Chance Contributions Taken Created Total
Jannik Hansen 3 0 3
Derek Roy 2 1 3
Daniel Sedin 1 2 3
Maxim Lapierre 1 0 1
Kevin Bieksa 1 0 1
Keith Ballard 1 0 1
Mason Raymond 0 1 1
Ryan Kesler 0 1 1
Alex Burrows 0 1 1

Individual Scoring Chance Differential:

  EV F – A SH F – A PP F – A Total F – A
Dan Hamhuis 2 – 4 0 – 0 1 – 0 3 – 4
Kevin Bieksa 4 – 7 0 – 0 0 – 0 4 – 7
Keith Ballard 1 – 5 0 – 1 0 – 0 1 – 6
Jason Garrison 1 – 3 0 – 0 1 – 0 2 – 3
Zack Kassian 0 – 5 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 5
Alex Burrows 1 – 3 0 – 0 1 – 0 2 – 3
Derek Roy 3 – 7 0 – 0 1 – 0 4 – 7
Ryan Kesler 2 – 4 0 – 0 1 – 0 3 – 4
Mason Raymond 3 – 4 0 – 1 1 – 0 4 – 5
Daniel Sedin 3 – 7 0 – 0 1 – 0 4 – 7
Alex Edler 4 – 6 0 – 1 1 – 0 5 – 7
Andrew Ebbett 0 – 3 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 3
Tom Sestito 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 0
Dale Weise 2 – 1 0 – 1 0 – 0 2 – 2
Henrik Sedin 3 – 4 0 – 0 1 – 0 4 – 4
Jannik Hansen 3 – 6 0 – 0 1 – 0 4 – 6
Maxim Lapierre 2 – 6 0 – 0 0 – 0 2 – 6
Andrew Alberts 1 – 5 0 – 0 0 – 0 1 – 5

External Resources

  • It’s not even the Roy / Kesler thing when it comes to rounding into playoff form. It’s the same issue as the 2011 SCF in terms of a couple of missing pieces (then, Rome and Hamhuis, now Higgins and Tanev) that are throwing the entire team’s chemistry into chaos. The third pairing was abysmal yesterday, and the middle six generally out of sorts. It goes without saying that the team cannot expect to do much in the playoffs if injuries de-rail them so easily, since injuries will happen, but I really, really wish I could see what this team looks like with everyone in the lineup for 5-10 games.