Canucks Postgame: Play with Fire, but Don’t Get Burned

Sometimes I try to get ahead of the curve by beginning to put together my recap well before the game is actually over. I chip away during the first and second intermissions, setting things up, before ultimately finalizing everything right after the final buzzer. It’s a pretty common thing to do when covering a game because it allows you to have your thoughts up rather quickly while the topic is still hot.

This time around I didn’t do that for whatever reason, and boy am I glad that I didn’t. The Canucks-Flames game on Sunday night pretty much had it all, before ultimately ending in Overtime on the game winner by Mike Santorelli (pictured above). Let’s get to it all right past the jump.

The Canucks looked dreadful in the opening period, getting outchanced by the Flames 8-4. David Booth scored his first goal since March 14th by tipping home a shot from the point by Garrison. That came just under 5 minutes into the game. After that, it was all Flames. They only managed to give up 1 goal during that time, largely due to the combination of Eddie Lack playing very well, and the Flames generally lacking NHL-level finishing skill. The stat line doesn’t look necessarily pretty for Lack in his debut – 4 GAA, and an .889 save% – but without him, this game could’ve gotten away from the team in a hurry.

At the 1st intermission, when being interviewed by Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, Booth mentioned that you just try to weather the storm, and stay within striking distance when playing the second of a back-to-back on the road. He went on to say that he liked the team’s chances in the coming two periods since the game was still tied..

After thinking that the Canucks couldn’t possibly look more lackadaisical and uninspired than they did in the opening frame, they were somehow significantly worse in the 2nd period. They were outchanced by an 8-1 margin, but again, thanks to Lack’s strong play they limited the damage to only 1 goal against. It was 2-1 through 40 thanks to Mikael Backlund’s beautiful move on a breakaway.

The Flames actually went on to have the 1st 2 scoring chances of the 3rd period, making it 18-5 in that department for the game. 2013 1st round pick Sean Monahan made it 3-1, and Sportsnet’s cameras panned to an incredulous looking John Tortorella. After that he decided to shake things up, and go off of former bench boss Alain Vigneault’s old coaching manual by pulling the ol’ line blender out.

He put Henrik with Higgins and Santorelli, and Daniel with Kesler and Hansen. Only a few minutes later the team rewarded him with a nice Hansen goal coming off of a setup with Daniel. Another couple of minutes later, brother Henrik (probably not wanting to be outdone) set Mike Santorelli up for his 1st goal as a Vancouver Canuck. The Canucks actually briefly took the lead after Richardson set Dutch superstar Dale Weise up for the go-ahead goal, but the Flames sent the game to OT following a wild goal mouth scramble in the dying seconds.

In OT, the Sedins were put back together and nearly won it on their first shift with a good chance that was stopped by MacDonald. Not long after that Kevin Bieksa completed a beautiful rush by showing some patience and hanging onto the puck before finding Santorelli for the easy tap-in. All in all, it was a perfectly fitting finish to a surprisingly entertaining game. Total team effort finding a way to come back and salvage the two points despite essentially snoozing through the 1st 40+ minutes. Thankfully for the Canucks, the Flames weren’t really able to make them pay for that.

I should also note that sometime in the 1st the Canucks moved a struggling Dan Hamhuis away from Bieksa, and paired him up with Tanev (who seriously needs to get a haircut, because that nasty greasy hair is giving me Brent Sopel flashbacks). That meant that Bieksa was paired with Ryan Stanton, who actually looked super competent. He doesn’t really seem to make mistakes, and keeps things simple, which is all you can really ask of him.

We’ll wrap this recap up with a video of highway robbery, as Joey MacDonald totally stoned Chris Higgins with his stick. If you missed it during the game I recommend checking it out because it’s a really sweet save.

Check back tomorrow morning for a closer look at how the scoring chances totals (and some of the other more relevant underlying numbers) shook out.

  • Peachy

    At least Tort’s was honest about the team’s performance despite the win, the compete level was unacceptable. Had it been AV, there would have been some gum chewing and a happy acceptance of the game as if it were the end all be all. Wow, Mr. Tort’s has a thing this franchise hasn’t seen in a long while. something called…”standards”.

    • argoleas

      I do appreciate honesty on the part of the coach, and one can find amusement in his takedown of HNIC. If I want honesty, I can find this in numerous forums and posts. Torts is here to provide results. If AV was winnings cups but talking BS, I could have not cared less.

  • Peachy

    The first two periods were lazy and unwatchable. Glad to see they woke up and got the two points. This new division is too tough to give away points. It’s really good to see the 3/4th liners get big goals. It’s been a long time since the bottom six forwards contributed in a big way. Who knows what happened to Santorelli last year, but he is motivated and playing well this year. Biggest problems so far are the teams compete level and the terrible play of the defense. It’s like these guys forgot how to play hockey. Bieksa and Hammy are having a rough start. Hope they start to play better positional hockey. Way too many scoring chances because Dmen are in bad positions.

  • argoleas

    I was able to sneak a peek in of most of the 2nd period, and my god the Canucks looked terrible. All this talk was made before the game of the strong forecheck of the Canucks and how it would be so hard to deal with, but it was the complete opposite. The Canucks could not forecheck at all, and were completely decimated by the Flames’ forecheck. Back-to-back with a flight in between is probably pretty brutal, but it was really not pretty to watch.

    Glad they got the win, but this probably only works against Calgary. If they were playing the Blackhawks or San Jose, it would’ve been a good 7 or 8 to whatever the Canucks managed.

    • Peachy

      Do you have a better idea? Besides kidnapping the players from Chicago and getting rid of Gillis? Whatever has been done here in the last 45 years it surely hasn’t worked. You can’t ask donkeys to plow the fields. That’s why you’re supposed to draft and trade and develop well, than you have the proper animals to do the right job instead of asking your chickens to give you milk.

      • Peachy

        So…and let me get this straight…you’re HAPPY with how the Canucks played?

        Yikes, I hope I was never like you, with those glasses so rosy that that they have their own last name and crummy TV show.

        • argoleas

          You misunderstand completely. No I’m not happy with how they played, I’m being what ppl call realistic. I dont pretend to believe this group s going to win the cup, never did. I didn’t believe that the Pat Quinn era with Linden, Lumme and Mclean would win the cup and they did not. This team IMO does not have what it takes to win the big prize. They are not the hawks. I don;t expect them like others to play like a defending champion…they’re not. They can play above average, maybe make the play off sand win round 1, but not anymore. Their time has passed and it’s safe to say they never had the window.

          I think it’s you who has the rosy glasses. Do you honestly think that this group of guys is cup material? So why should I criticize them for being what i think they are, which is a above average team at best? I wouldn’t expect to get eggs from a cow. Would you? I just like calling it the way I see it. No point in saying what if or if they did this or that…they are an above average team with a cup winning coach…that’a all.

          • argoleas

            And yet, the Pat Quinn era almost did produce that win. How is it that so often we have teams that have bad regular seasons and yet triumph in the playoffs? I dont disagree with the notion that the current mix may be very inadequate, but it is still the core that almost won it all just 2 years ago. Lets see what can be produced in the next month, quarter, and season, then we will see the playoffs.

            Of things work out, the question here would be whether this team has enough pieces available for some very favorable conditions to be enough, like:

            1. Van takes 2nd or 3rd Seed
            2. Hoping for 1st round of San-Jose vs LA
            3. Hoping for 2nd round of St Louis vs Chicago
            4. Hoping both series go to their brutal limit
            5. Hoping Van has an easy 1st round opponent

            I know most will say that #2 is highly unlikely, although LA has not shown a propensity for great regular seasons (#8 2 years ago, and #5 last year, when they lost their regular season series to Van). So them finishing below SJ and Van is something I dont find impossible. They seem to wake up for the playoffs.

          • argoleas

            ” Almost” Hahaha. They would have won if Mcleans five hole wasn’t as big as Oprah’s ass in the 7th game. But if you take your rose tinted glasses off, you would have seen that the series should have been 4-1 for the Rangers. The rangers choked the series when they were up 3-1. The next year they dismantled the team and were never close again. This after how many years wasted? It took a like the Canucks to give NY and Boston their cup in how many decades?
            Teams who have had bad regular seasons and have won the cup? Well, if it’s that easy, where’s the Canucks cup? You don;t understand the regular season is just a training session to get you act together for the play offs, where it counts.

            You could win the cup if you’re the worse team going into the play offs, but rankings don’t have nothing to do with who a great team is. Just like the Canucks presidents trophy and ranking couldn’t get them the cup 3 years ago. Don’t dream yourself into thinking that rankings matter, cause they don’t.

            But don’t also dream yourself into thinking that just because a low ranked team won the cup means that it could happen to a low ranking crappy choke team like the Canucks.

          • argoleas

            Somehow I dont think one makes it to game 7 of the cup final just because everyone spontaneously chokes all along the way for them. Now, one would have to wear a seriously ridiculous pair of glasses to see it like that.

            Lots of teams dont have good regular seasons, yet have great playoffs. I dont see why you are getting so riled up about how easy it is. I dont even see where that entered this discussion. I dont think anyone would ever claim that it is easy. Of course, unless the road is paved with those chokers….

            Look, I get it. You think they absolutely suck, and by your tone they will probably ‘compete’ for 1st overall….draft pick. Actually I would like that result as well, since it would signal a rebuild with a great start. Would hate a middling result.

            Now, nothing has worked here for 45 years? Absolutely nothing? Which team has one of the best records over the last 10 years? Only one teams wins the cup each year, and for four rounds a lot of factors go in, so often it is not predictable. It is one thing to go after specific wrong decisions, even if there are many, that a team does badly, but perhaps a little perceptive here.

          • argoleas

            To be fair, the Kings played a large portion of 2011-2012 with Jack Johnson and without Jeff Carter.

            I don’t think it had anything to do with “waking up” in the playoffs in 2011-2012.

            They simply had their best roster after that trade.

            And while the Kings and Canucks tied for points last season, Vancouver’s division produced 240 points and LA’s division produced 281.

            That changes this year.

            Considering the limitations of the Canucks’ “young” players, how exactly would they go about beating either San Jose or LA?

            At least Edmonton and Anaheim have upside even though both may very well miss the playoffs…

          • argoleas

            Yes adding Jeff carter was a good one, but a team does not suddenly go from barely making it to champion just because of one player. You seriously cant imply that. Surely the coaching change made a change, so hey, maybe that does imply lots of that fairy dust. This may work with Torts as well.

            As for SJ, like what they did with the major trades over the last couple of seasons. Good decisive work by their GM. I think this had as much to do with their success as any of the youth movement, and they will need to deal with their two aging stars as well. I like what they have done, and whatever happens in Van this year, this kind of transition is a must starting in the offseason, by MG or someone else.

            The team may not be adding the youth now, but the team is not full of 30+ players (most seem to be in mid/late 20s), and age does not seem to affect the Sedins, yet. In fact, if you look at averages ( Van is in the middle, below LA and SJ. Lets see how the Torts system works out over the next few months before we leap to any definite conclusions. I’m not going the freak out right now just because either of these teams added another 20 year old.

            Although I have many reservations about the team, and see major question marks, I simply cannot see the automatic doom and gloom. Not yet anyways. Lets see how all these teams go head-to-head.

          • argoleas

            I’m sure if you Google something about ‘Carter/Johnson Corsi’ a number of articles can be found about the Kings’ upward trend…

            Even if we agree that a coaching change ‘may’ allow a team to play better, we must also agree that the opposite is possible: that a team may play worse.

            Personally, I believe that coaches are not really magicians and the players are the players.

            If the team continues its downward slide, I’m not going to hang that on Torts…

            I don’t think looking at average age tells anywhere near enough of the story.

            That average is brought down quite a bit by a number of fringy NHLers and role players at the bottom of the roster.

            Put differently, where on the Canucks roster can we reasonably expect improvement?

            And where on the Canucks roster should we not be surprised if there is a decline?

            I don’t expect the team to completely collapse.

            But give me a reason to expect they’ll be better than SJ or LA this season?

          • argoleas

            I would most definitely agree that the team could slide even more this year, and I would argue it is more likely than not. A lot of things have to go their way, much more than any such favorables for LA or SJ, and this would only get more pronounced in the next seasons. Bot for now, this is the sole season we are concerned with.

            In terms of possible improvement, we can look to a healthy Kessler and Booth, a more mature Kassian, better Schroeder (I still see him as a possible good center for Booth/Kassian), and I believe we may still hear from Jensen before the season is over. Hansen has been a nice not-so-surpise. And possibly with Richardson and Santorelli showing us more good. And of course Luck with Lack.

            In terms of declines, I agree there are lots of potentials, across the board. And of course there is the depth. Even if all their players exceed expectations, there will be injuries, and thus holes to fill. Do we really want a Alberts/Weber/Sestito 4th line? Ungh…

            Something did happen to this team over the last 2 years that goes beyond just their core getting older. Maybe coaching staleness has something to do with it, maybe not. Personally, I would agree that it would be tough to correlate. Maybe they just overachieved in 2011.

            Can I thus give you (and me, for that matter) a reason to expect they can be better than SJ or LA this year? Not really, but I think the potential is there. I see the potential upside, and the larger potential downside. I guess we just need to watch the games, and see how the season pans out, starting with that SJ game this Thursday.

            As an aside, I can understand Torts not calling anyone up yet, but I do hope he starts to do so regularly after Olympics.

          • argoleas

            LOL, too funny. Although I think that would be more applicable to 1997 than now.

            Look if that is how you see it, all the power to you. And you more likely than not will turn out to be correct. I will not discount it because the odds are that Van will be third in the division and once again lose to LA/SJ in 1st round. I think this is the smart bet.

            But are the pieces there that would work out to a better run? I would say under favorable conditions yes. Can they go as far as the cup final? Stranger things have happened, but it would require a lot of things lucking out. You weight the odds and examine the roster, and see the upside and downside. I do see the downside, but I also see the upside.

          • argoleas

            I’m willing to concede that the Canucks have a better chance of outperforming my prognostication than Jim Carrey had with Lauren Holly!

            But I think the smart bet is another 1st round loss to LA or SJ as well.

            Hence, I’m more than willing to predict it (and have been since last May based on the cap space, org depth chart etc) and be called a fool if I am wrong 🙂

            Sure, there is some upside.

            But every roster has upside and, having scanned the other 29 rosters, I can’t see the Canucks beating teams in terms of upside.

            Hence, I can’t realistically expect a better result than the early exits of the last 2 years even if the Canucks manage to hold off the upside teams like EDM, ANA & COL…

          • argoleas

            Fair enough. I cant fault the analysis.

            Moving on from the Canucks (we have debated that one to death), do you still see LA/SJ taking top spots in the division? How do you rank Anaheim’s chances? Any surprises?

          • argoleas

            If we’re talking regular season, I’d have LA #1 and SJ #2.

            And I expect that to be the 2nd round matchup from our division as well.

            Teams like Anaheim & Edmonton are harder to predict.

            There are a lot of young players in prominent roles and that comes with a high degree of variance.

            I guess I’d go Anaheim #4 and Edmonton & Phoenix at #5 and #6.

            But who knows with those teams. There is a lot of upside so perhaps one of them overtakes Vancouver this year…

          • argoleas

            If it comes to that, and we have Chi/StL on the other bracket, I just wonder if any of these teams will have anything left for the final. Guaranteed 2 rounds of hell for any of these. Although as it is customary, one the these 4 will not make it to the second round (and no, not automatically plugging Van here). Just wonder if a team like Colorado is being overlooked here.

            I for one, apart from Van having a miracle season, would love to see a LA-StL conf final. That was definitely the highlight for me last year. Great series to watch. And a definite grudge rematch.

          • argoleas

            As a hockey fan, LA-STL is the conference finals I’d like to see as well.

            And, if I had to make a prediction right now, that’s what I suspect will be the WCF.

            St Louis is my cup favourite.

            Part of me would like to see Lou get bought out and win a championship in St Louis.

            A championship anywhere would suffice, really.

            But St Louis may have an opening and certainly appear to have the roster to win a cup as long as they get the goaltending…

          • argoleas

            >> Part of me would like to see Lou get bought out and win a championship in St Louis.

            This, however, will not happen. Not the StL part, but the buyout. The only way he is leaving Van is trade or retirement. Maybe one of the idiot teams will finally trade for this excellent goalie. After all, the cap recapture is on Van, and is his contract really that onerous otherwise?

            It absolutely floors me that a team like Philly wastes money like they’re Donald Trump, yet is skittish on Lou. What, they cant part with a high pick or a Couturier? Give me a break. With their attitude they should get used to more high draft picks in the future. Heck, they will probably first inquire about the Sedins before the thought enters their mind to ask for Lou.

            Any thoughts on how long Holmgren lasts?

          • argoleas

            I think Hextall is Philly’s GM to begin next year…

            As for Luongo, he’s my favourite Canuck of all time and arguably the best goalie of his generation.

            Maybe Lundqvist but goalies who are superstars in their early 20s like Lou was are extremely rare.

            That said, the buyout possibility depends on how he performs this year I think.

            If he puts up his usual .919, there may be a market for his services or the Canucks may simply keep him.

            However, if there is a bit of an erosion of skill and he’s merely an average starter or worse, perhaps the buyout becomes a conversation between management and ownership.

            This is the last year that a buyout that doesn’t affect the cap is an option.

            Lou still has 9 years (and at least 5 legit years) left on his contract.

            While fiscal responsibility isn’t a hallmark of NHL GMs, specifically when it comes to goalies, I’d be reluctant to take on Lou’s contract without the Canucks picking up maybe $10 million of the bill.

          • argoleas

            Any mediocre tennis player has the ability to fluke it to the French Open finals. The point is, do you really think any at this point can beat Djokovic or Nadal? I wouldn’t bet on that. Just like I wouldn’t bet a penny on the canucks going all the way. Would i bet the Canucks can upset a team along the way? Yeah, that’s what the Canucks are good at, winning when you expect them to lose…but when they really have to win a game for all the marbles…not a chance. Their record shows this. And if you know anything about gambling, it’s that you never gamble with your emotions. When the Canucks have a great team based on things other than rankings and easy wins, then they may have a chance. Until then, it’s just all wishful thinking. If you wanna be the champ you’re going to have to beat the champ, no way around it, rank means nothing.

          • argoleas

            >> eah, that’s what the Canucks are good at, winning when you expect them to lose…but when they really have to win a game for all the marbles…not a chance.

            I think this is a bit harsh, and weird to say. This can be said of most teams. So if the team just accepts the role of an underdog, they cant be beat! Genius!! Dude you have to admit you are bitter.

            I sure as hell would not put any team at the level of a Nadal or Djokovic, or why not, S.Williams. You simply do not see that kind of domination in the NHL these days.

            Can they upset a team (and here we are talking about SJ or LA)? I agree it is possible. But a SJ, LA, then CHI. That I dont see. Only if:
            – individual players on team have career years, and great plaoyoffs
            – SJ plays LA in first round, and they pound the crap out of each other, and Van has easy opponent.
            – StL plays Chi in second round, and they pound the crap out of each other
            – Boston/Pittsburgh/Other limps to the final

            Unlikely? Hell yeah. But a somewhat plausible scenario? Maybe. But its the only path possible.

          • argoleas

            You can look at any stats to pad an opinion. I’m sure someone out there can look at the benefits of child exploitation but the point is very few teams in the league now have never won the cup, the Canucks are one of them. When you’ve been going to college for 45 years and you haven’t once got the top marks in the class, it’s more than an indication that what you were doing wasn’t working. Maybe you didn’t study hard enough or and maybe you just weren’t smart enough. My opinion would be unfair if the Canucks were in the league for just about 5 years, but when you’ve been around as long as the Canucks have without winning just a first cup, there’s no need for sugar coating.

            As for tennis domination, you have to understand that NHL players are more financially secure than tennis player. To play in the NHL means you have a contract, you have a pay check. You are then playing for money and then the cup. A tennis player is playing to get paid every time. If you don’t win the tournament, you dont get the big pay day. If you don’t make it past the 1st round, you don’t get paid. you may have to beg your country to pay for some of your living expenses, travel etc. Serena is dominant because she has worked hard to be the best.She has no choice, if Serena cannot win for even year, her career is finished.

            If you aren’t near the top in tennis, how are you going to make enough to eat? Nobody gives Nadal a contract to play tennis. If Nadal doesn’t compete during a tournament, unlike an NHL player, he doesn’t get paid. Making the NHL means you get a contract. Making the pro tennis league doesn’t mean anything if you can’t win. If there was relegation in the NHL like they have in European football, you can bet that teams like the Canucks and Sabers would feel feel a little more “urgency” when it comes to winning. 45 years later and no championship is more than enough proof that the Canucks do not know what “urgency” means.

            I mean, we can debate this in another 45 years if they don’t win a cup. The question is, will we be alive then? 45 years is a long time, man. when someone you know doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do for 45 years, you really should stop expecting it.

          • argoleas

            Then why are we even talking about Tennis here? Seems to me the comparison is out of step, and you are just confirming it. You are now just criticizing your own decision to use it as a comparison.

            Yes, some teams have not yet won. I just dont see the continuity you associate with the 45 years. Do they have the same ownership, GM, or even rink? Or maybe its just the water? It’s just silly.

            I think all we are doing here is observing the team, discussing how it is improving or not improving, and making comments about where they may end up. I think it’s fun. And you sounds like the guy with the sign “The End Is Near”. Actually, let me rephrase that: “The End was 45 years ago”. By all means, do so if that works for you.

          • argoleas

            Ownership? You hit it on the nail man. Ownership has never had any real intentions for trying to build a winner to get the cup. Why do you bother concerning yourself when you know full well this team isn’t built to be a winner. Proof is in history and yesterday. You can ignore that and ask yourself how to make your donkey win the Belmont Stakes all you want, I’m realistic and do not expect donkeys to win horse races. If the Canucks won this years first round, that would be icing on the cake from what I see.

            I’m not gonna sit here and debate what they should be doing that will make them a winner when I kknow there’s no point. If you want to believe that they can be race horses, that’s your belief, not mine. I let cows be cows and i don;t waste myself with expecting they are going to be any different.

          • argoleas

            But ownership has changed a lot over the last 45 years. Say what you want about Aquilini, but the man does want a winner, and is willing to spend to make that happen. I dont see that this was any different under the previous owners. Now, one can debate their hiring choices and meddling (Messier, anyone?), but I do not doubt their sincerity of wanting to have a winner.

            Wow, did not realize that getting into the second round still qualifies on as a “donkey” By the way you describe them, they seem only worthy of being eligible for high draft pick. But that is your right.

            Smart money is on a first round exit against SJ or LA, but who said fans are smart….

          • argoleas

            45 years and no cup and no urgency certifies them as donkeys. It’s too late for urgency now, man. Just like it’s too late to start working out at 85. LOL

          • argoleas

            That all might be true or not, I don’t care, how does it have to do with the fact that the canucks were awful and would’ve lost if the opponent was different?

          • argoleas

            Typically, you lose a game if you’re more awful than the opponent. That’s what happens is sports. He who makes the least amount of mistakes wins. It’s called ” winning ugly”, You take what you can get man. You think if Boston had a choice last year they would have rather played the Hawks than the Canuck’s? Yeah the Canucks played awful, but not as awful as the Flames, so what? i never said they were gonna win the cup.

            What are you trying to say man? What if every team stunk worse than the Canucks when they play them? what if every other team stunk less then the Canucks? You asked me a question that logic has already answered. Would you also go to BestBuy and ask the salesman if the fridge you ordered would be the same as the different model someone else ordered?

    • Peachy

      FN has an interesting image of scoring chances.

      Though the Canucks and Flames and similar quantities of chances, the super-tight concentration of Canuck chances around the net is interesting. Something the Canucks appeared to struggle with last year was converting shot attempts to scoring chances. I don’t have any data on that, just a perception. Too early to tell, but maybe something to keep an eye on?

      • Peachy

        I saw that too. It’s definitely consistent with Torterella’s “go to the net” philosophy. Frankly, I preferred the CA write up and the FN scoring chances data, so for this game I’ll take the best of both worlds. I hope CA starts posting scoring chance diffs again though.

  • argoleas

    His contract for the next 5 years calls for him to get paid 6.7M/year. I dont think this is a lot to ask if he is playing up to potential.

    I can see cash being part of the deal if it is a sweet deal of picks/prospects on the other side. This ownership will not give him away for free if he is playing well. I think the odds are he will have an excellent year, and a few more of them before he is done.

    BTW, I rank him very highly too. I know he had his bad moments, but the team would not have even achieved what they have over the last 7 years without him. He is a cornerstone.