I am become Raffi, destroyer of windows.
Photocredit: Rich Lam, NHLI/Getty
At the end of the day, the Canucks are a tragic franchise with a sordid history of unspeakably painful losses.
Another chapter in that story was written on Friday night. Down one-to-nothing late in the second, Ryan Kesler began to hit everything in sight. In the third period, he came out and personally brought the Canucks even in the game with a power-play goal. Then he put them up one capitalizing off of a Joe Pavelski turnover. The Canucks shut the Sharks down pretty successfully in the third period, actually, as the Sharks managed only two scoring chances in the frame. One of those came when Desjardins sent a puck off the post. The second was a tap-in goal for Patrick Marleau with fifty-five seconds remaining…
To rub more salt in the wound, the team was ultimately defeated in overtime by former Canucks forward Raffi Torres. Torres and Brent Burns capitalized off of an Alex Edler turnover at the Canucks offensive blueline and went in two-on-one the other way. Kevin Bieksa modestly misplayed the situation, failing to take away both the shot and the pass. Torres finished easily over a sprawling Roberto Luongo, and that was that. The Canucks are now in a massive hole, one they very probably won’t be able to dig themselves out of over the next five games…
Read past the jump.
Let’s begin with the scoring chance data. The Sharks out-chanced Vancouver by a narrow 17 to 14 tally on Friday night, though the Canucks won the chance battle at even-strength (by a razor slim 13 to 12 margin). On the other hand the Sharks crushed the Canucks with the score-tied recording nine scoring chances to just three for the Canucks.
It may not be any solace to Canucks fans at the moment, but at least that was one hell of a fun game to watch. The second period was particularly physical and fast paced, with fourteen scoring chances going each way. That no one scored is a testament to just how absurdly good both Roberto Luongo and Antii Niemi were on Firday night.
Roberto Luongo made a whole host of ridiculous, borderline unbelievable saves. Once again he kept Vancouver in it early as the team weathered an early barrage from the Sharks power-play. In all Luongo stopped all twenty non-scoring chance shots he faced and ten of thirteen difficult shots on Friday. In the first two games of this series then Roberto Luongo has stopped eighteen of twenty-four difficult shots which gives him a "difficult shot save percentage" of .750. He’s been occassionally outrageously good in this series, but by the number he hasn’t been elite in the first two games of this series.
Antii Niemi on the other hand has been. Granted he’s had the lesser workload overall, but he also stopped eight of ten difficult shots on Friday. That brings his cumulative "difficult shot" save percentage up to .866 through two games in the 2013 playoffs. The Canucks need to make life harder for Niemi, but at the same time, he’s just playing some superb hockey right now.
By the possession data, and the scoring chance data, the Sedins did their job tonight. Unfortunately they needed to produce even-strength points and failed on that score, but they were leagues better on Friday night than they were in game one (low bar, I know). At even-strength in game two the Canucks attempted twenty-nine shots with Henrik on the ice, while the Sharks only managed ten. That’s a testament to the fact that the Sedins were at least controlling the territorial play. They did an awful lot better generating quality looks as well, as Henrik was on the ice for eight of Vancouver’s thirteen even-strength scoring chances.
On the other side of the equation was Ryan Kesler, who put in a heroic twenty minutes in a game in which he otherwise struggled. Granted he was battling some tough matchups, was extremely effective in the faceoff circle and short-handed, but he was Vancouver’s worst forward by the possession and chance data in game two. The culprit? His line with Derek Roy and Chris Higgins had a pretty woeful game through thirty minutes while skating together. In fact that line was out-chanced 1-5 in the first thirty minutes of the game and outshot by a wide margin too. Things stabilized for Kesler when he was moved to the middle late in the second period. While on the whole he didn’t have his best game, I don’t really think I need to say that he put in the best 15 minutes we’ve seen from a Canucks skater since Ryan Kesler singlehandedly defeated the Nashville Preadtors back in 2011…
That Nashville series seems long ago, eh?
The other area Kesler really struggled was in over-time. We all know that Kesler is "playing his way back into shape" and I wonder if he ran out of gas. He was on the ice for all four Sharks scoring chances in the overtime period, which is the other reason his numbers look so poor even though he obviously had a massive positive impact on the game.
The Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Maxim Lapierre line was totally nondescript. That’s actually a compliment. I was worried that line might get exploited pretty fiercely going into this game, but instead they played low-event hockey which is really all you can ask from them. If the second line hadn’t been a complete liability, Vigneault’s adjustment may have even worked.
Of course it didn’t work, and I’d say that coaching has been a Sharks advantage in this series. Vancouver’s defensive coverage in particular has been permissive while San Jose seems so polished and prepared to shut down what Vancouver likes to do. Vigneault at least didn’t get tooled in the matchup game the way he did in game one…
Speaking of coaching. Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa had an iffy outing on Friday, and both played were a bit exposed pretty on Raffi Torres’ game winning goal. As a pairing Bieksa and Edler came out mostly even by both the chance and the possession data, but they played a high-event game. The real problem though isn’t their performance, I don’t think, it’s their minutes. Alex Edler spent nearly six minutes more on the ice at even-strength than Dan Hamhuis did. I guess the teams trying to push the offense, but based on the track record of Garrison and Hamhuis driving play better than Edler and Bieksa in tougher minutes, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to make that your second pairing…
Frank Corrado had one hell of a game, as did Andrew Alberts actually. That third pairing has done what’s been asked of them.
On Friday night the Canucks had the Sedins generating chances a plenty, they won the special teams battle outright and Ryan Kelser had several signature sequences that looked like they’d be sufficient to swing the game. And the team still lost. That’s just disheartening.
This series isn’t over, and San Jose still needs to win two more games before the Canucks are eliminated (#hardhittinganalysis). San Jose will very probably manage that, but Vancouver has been the far superior five-on-five team and I don’t think the next two victories will be any easier for the Sharks then the first two were.
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:
|Canucks (EV)||1 (1)||8 (8)||4 (3)||1 (1)||14 (13)|
|Sharks (EV)||5 (3)||6 (4)||2 (1)||4 (4)||17 (12)|
Individual Scoring Chance Contributions:
Individual Scoring Chance Differential:
|EV F – A||SH F – A||PP F – A||Total F – A|
|Dan Hamhuis||2 – 4||0 – 3||0 – 0||2 – 7|
|Kevin Bieksa||6 – 7||0 – 2||0 – 0||3 – 12|
|Jason Garrison||2 – 4||0 – 2||0 – 0||2 – 6|
|Zack Kassian||3 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||3 – 1|
|Alex Burrows||5 – 3||0 – 1||1 – 0||6 – 4|
|Derek Roy||1 – 5||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 5|
|Ryan Kesler||3 – 10||0 – 3||1 – 0||4 – 13|
|Chris Higgins||3 – 7||0 – 3||0 – 0||3 – 10|
|Mason Raymond||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1|
|Daniel Sedin||7 – 4||0 – 0||1 – 0||8 – 4|
|Alex Edler||6 – 8||0 – 0||1 – 0||7 – 8|
|Andrew Ebbett||2 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||2 – 0|
|Frank Corrado||4 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||4 – 0|
|Dale Weise||2 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||2 – 0|
|Henrik Sedin||8 – 3||0 – 0||1 – 0||9 – 3|
|Jannik Hansen||2 – 2||0 – 1||0 – 0||2 – 3|
|Maxim Lapierre||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0|
|Andrew Alberts||5 – 1||0 – 1||0 – 0||5 – 2|