Canucks @ Sharks: Game 3 Preview

Either the Canucks get in the win column on Sunday, or this face will haunt them (& their fans) over the course of a long summer.

"Over a long stretch of games, counting shots tends to be more predictive of success that counting goals alone, but in the playoffs, it’s the results that count; the teams that can’t turn a good process into short-term results get bounced early."

That is an excerpt from Cam Charron’s post on the San Jose Sharks, and their string of bad shooting luck over the last several postseasons (prior to this one, of course). I figured it was a great place to start the preview for Sunday night’s Game 3, given how very applicable it is to the Canucks at the moment.

All season long we have preached patience regarding the process on this blog, citing possession numbers as a reason for optimism; with the logic being that eventually, if you continue to have the puck more often than your opponent, chances are that pucks will inevitably start finding their way towards the back of the net. Through two games at even-strength, the Canucks are +42 in Corsi and +19 in Fenwick (shot attempts not taking into account those that are blocked).

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But while the team has played two games that they certainly could have very easily won thus far, that’ll be of hardly any solace given the hole they now find themselves in. It’s admittedly difficult to remain patient when you’re staring a swift elimination right in the face. Ultimately, they’ll need some bounces and breaks to go their way in Game 3 if they hope to get into the win column, and make this into a series.

Read Past the Jump for More on the Game.

Broadcast Info:

Puck Drop: 7 PM PST

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Television: TSN

Radio: Team 1040


On Saturday, Jeff Angus wrote about a few potential "quick fixes" which the Canucks should consider regarding their lineup. One particular point I whole-heartedly agreed with was the one on defensemen, which is pivoting off of a point that Drance made in his recap of Game 2. It makes zero sense to me that Dan Hamhuis, easily the team’s best defenseman, has gotten 51 seconds of 5v5 ice-time less in this series than he averaged during the regular season. When push comes to shove, with every shift having added importance, I’d certainly like to see him out there more often. 

The only question I have is who he’ll be paired with, and whether it’ll remain Jason Garrison. This has much less to do with Garrison and his play, and more to do with the fact that I have this sinking feeling in my stomach every time I see Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler out there together. There’s no doubt that they provide moments of brilliance, but the mental errors and questionable coverage is too rich for my blood. Both need to see their share of time out there, but it’s likely in the team’s best interest to limit the amount of times when both are on the ice at the same time. Chris Tanev travelled with the team, but he’s still in a walking boot, and will not be ready to go just yet.

Update: Apparently Edler and Bieksa will in fact be split up. Edler is reportedly being paired up with Frank Corrado (which means that the Canucks have now officially burned the first year of the young defenseman’s ELC), while Bieksa will be playing with Alberts, which is a tandem that we have seen a handful of times in the regular season. All of which ultimately means Hamhuis and Garrison will remain together for the time being.

Speaking of players travelling with the team, Jordan Schroeder made the trip to Northern California. It was hardly surprising news, as there has been an ever-growing clamour for his insertion into the lineup. The fact of the matter is that the Canucks have managed to get just 3 pucks by Antti Niemi through 2 games, and need to generate more offense. I don’t think anyone would find themselves missing Andrew Ebbett were the Canucks to make that shift, quite frankly.

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Update: Unfortunately it appears that Schroeder will not be suiting up on Sunday night. I don’t buy the argument that throwing him into a playoff series in Game 3 on the road would have been a cause for concern. He has the potential to give the Canucks something they need, in a low-risk role, replacing a player that is currently giving the team nothing. A true shame.

As for the situation in net, the team is re-running the 2012 playoffs, apparently. Cory Schneider is apparently healthy enough to suit up, and will be replacing Roberto Luongo. I think it’s fair to wonder if Game 2 was the last time we will see Luongo in a Canucks uniform. If it turns out to be the case, he will go out having put forth two very strong performances that gave his team a chance to win.

There were definitely some positives to build off of from Friday night’s loss. For one, the team clearly made adjustments on the penalty-kill, after having their fecal matter wrecked by the Sharks’ man advantage in the opener. In over 8 minutes of time on the kill, they only allowed four shots. If they can keep that up and limit the damage in that area of the game, it’ll be huge; and something I honestly didn’t expect after the showing in Game 1.

The other two main positives are that their best players played like their best players. While the Sedins didn’t generate any goals at 5v5, they controlled play, and looked much more like themselves. I would like to see them take a few more shifts with Zack Kassian on their right wing. He has looked great this series in limited action, and at this point, what is there really to lose? As for Ryan Kesler, he turned it up in the second half of the game in terms of both physicality (just ask Justin Braun), and production (with 2 goals, and winning 19 of 29 faceoffs). If they hope to win they’ll need more of that, and then some.

In advance of  Game 2, I wrote about what kind of daunting task faced the Canucks if they fell down 0-2. Well, it’s now a reality. It’s difficult enough a task to begin with, before even getting into how good the Sharks have been at home this season. They’re 17-2-5, and nearly all of their other home/road splits are staggeringly in favour of their performance at the Shark Tank. 

I’m not saying that this isn’t doable for the Canucks, because it is. But it’ll be tough. They’ll need a combination of some great individual performances, and some of that puck luck they’ve yet to receive in this series, to all click at once.

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Consider some of these bets heading into this one:

Ryan Kesler to SCORE A GOAL and VANCOUVER TO WIN at 5-to-1 odds. We just discussed the flashes of brilliance that he put on display in Game 2, reminding us all just how dominant a player he is capable of being. Heading into this series we all knew that it would be a tight one, and nothing that has happened in the first 2 games has changed my mind. If the same trend continues and the Canucks play as well as they have, surely things will eventually go their way, right? If they are to win this one, it’ll likely be thanks to another herculean effort from Kesler. [PLACE YOUR BET HERE].

Silencing the Shark Tank. We have seen some strong goaltending thus far, and there’s no reason to believe that’ll change in this one. If you believe the Canucks will find a way to get back into the series, then getting 3.75-to-1 odds on the combination of a Canucks win and the total number of goals scored being under 5.5 may interest you. [PLACE YOUR BET HERE].

Go to this PlayNow Sports promo page, register for a PlayNow account, and insert the promo code "CANUCKSARMY" (all caps) and PlayNow Sports will give you $25 worth of "freebets."

Game Day Links


Don’t forget to play StreakCred the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Only $20 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. SIGN UP HERE.

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  • Analysis is flawed :

    I have expected goals for the series dead even. I have Blue Line carry ins ~even & Your own chances data is the same.
    And the Nux were playing at home?!

    These three measures ARE better than Corsi.
    The power of Corsi’s predictive ability alone is overrated by stat nerds (like myself).
    Shot quality exists.
    WE know that yr chance to score increases the closer you are to the net and the more u are in the center of ice. This is obvious.Watch the two game again and convince yourself that
    Nux great Corsi adv. somehow represents a meaningful difference? In other words what does it mean if it doesn’t lead to more HQ chances OR more blue zone carry ins?

    THe onus is NOW on the pro corsi guys to
    clearly state what does a pos. corsi give u tha’ts meaningful besides more HQ chances and/or more blue line carry-ins?

    Yes Series should be 1-1. Nux are unlucky its not. BUT The Nux were badly out-chanced this year (using yr own data) (even if their Corsi was positive). This is Why I predicted the Sharks in 6


    Nux have to play better. The Shark Tank is worst than Boston/Chicago.

    And their coaches chances need a brain transplant?! JS NEEDS TO PLAY! – Ebbett played 4+ minutes? Couldn’t score if Upton was nude and drunk in his bedroom.

    Garrison on 1st PP unit!~

    F$%$ the Twins playing down low D-fence – Tony G called this! & we saw how that went in last 1 min. LOL

    Change their style -I REPEAT the NUX are not built to win 2-1 gms. We have seen that time and time again.

    The NUX have had the lead in 4/5 of their last playoff losses and loss each on! The Nux are not pushing forward when Up 1.

    Without this and or LUI or CS pulling a Kirk Maclean (Game 1 NY) or (Lui game 5 SJ)

    IT’s over in 4.

    Sharks WILL better NUX in Exp. Golas just by being at home.

    On3 final note the greatest Coach in Nux history is now.

    By Bye AV tic tic tic is 0/6 in last 6 home games – 4/10 in last 14 playoff games & has ave ~2.1 in last 32 playoff games ?? but all they need is goaltending and luck? LOL

    • I don’t disagree with you about Garrison, Ebbett, etc, but I have some questions…

      Why care about blue line entries? Goals caused by shots, shots by shot attempts, shot attempts by entries. Do blue line entries predict winning better than shots or shot attempts? The only reason we don’t go by goals is due to sample size. We get the sample sizes we need from shot attempts. Why go back one step to something even less meaningful than shot attempts if it doesn’t have a larger sample size?

      Criticizing AV aside, why care about the Canucks’ record in the last 14 playoff games? Still talking about a barely meaningful sample size. Saying they need goaltending and luck isn’t inaccurate when the shooting percentage has been as (unsustainably) low as it has.

      Why care so much about the scoring chance (or shot quality, if you prefer) data? Again, small sample sizes, and only a very small number of players (two of whom play for the Canucks) have proven capable of driving on-ice shooting percentages as a result of “shot quality”.

      • Blue Line Entries matter:,%20Neutral,%20And%20Defensive%20Zone%20Performance.pdf

        Your criticism is flawed as well.
        The post references 2 games of Corsi stats –

        So it suffers the same flaws as u point out!
        BUT I ref. Nux being badly out-chanced this year that’s ****48 games!
        AND even using Corsi Sharks Are Better than Nux this yr!!This IS also what my Chance Data indicates.

        So you see its clear that author is clearly Incorrect! to suggest ALL the tm needs is a few bounces.

        • JCDavies

          “BUT The Nux were badly out-chanced this year (using yr own data) (even if their Corsi was positive). This is Why I predicted the Sharks in 6”

          “So it suffers the same flaws as u point out! BUT I ref. Nux being badly out-chanced this year that’s ****48 games! “

          How many of those 48 games did the Canucks have a 2C? Should we really expect that data to accurately predict future results? Regardless of how the series turns out I don’t think those games have much predictive value to the Canucks post-season success. And the post Kesler return/Roy Acquisition data sample it too small to be worth anything.

          You will probably get to pat yourself on the back by the time this series is over but I’m not sure your analysis is any less flawed than everybody else’s.

      • Mantastic

        hate to break it to you but playoffs are all about small sample sizes where the standard deviations are much larger than regular season games, thus making harder to make predictions. playoffs in any sport have more entangibles factoring in any given game than large sample size metrics.

  • Mantastic

    I think you are both right, sort of.

    Dimitri is right in the sense that it is possible for a team to play a terrible game by any metric, and still win due to a combination of decent goaltending and lucky bounces. He is trying to buoy up the fans I think.

    You wouldn’t pin your hopes on lucky bounces to win 4 out of 7 (though it has happened), which is what I think you are saying.

    Dan is there somewhere where blue line entry data for the NHL (or just the Canucks) is recorded?

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Mantastic

    I guess Rome taught Ebbet how to do that thing AV likes so much.

    2 games in and only 1 Canuck has managed a goal – no reason to give Schroeder a chance when the offense is doing so well.

    Last 15 playoff games:more than 3 goals 0 times, less than 3 goals – 12 times.

    Silver lining is that we will have a new coach next season.

  • Mabell

    The funny thing is, everyone outside of Vancouver is pleased by the complete implosion. Hell I’m an Oiler’s fan so I’ve gotten used to pain etc.

    But nowhere else is a team so hated…numerous NHL players say the team they hate the most is Vancouver – there has to be a reason.

    • Mabell

      I was wondering the same thing myself. It’s not because they are particularly good. It’s their arrogance. No one is a bigger fan of Kesler than Kesler. What a douche. The Sedins are pussies. Lapier is a clown. Even the coach and GM are arrogant pr*cks who are easy to hate.

      I’m a flames fan and will fully admit my interest in the oilers is pretty indifferent. Every team really is like that but despising the Canucks is still pretty high on my list. They dive and are also a complete embarrassment to the sport. That Kesler “injury” in this game was a complete embellishment. Seriously he has a superman symbol tattooed on his chest only instead of the ‘S’ it is a ‘RK’. He likely will jerk off to himself flexing later tonight. No one likes a person like that.

      Literally the only player on this team I would welcome on the Flames is Bieksa. He’s an @sshole but a really effective 3rd defender every team could use.