CANUCKS Postgame: Return of the McIlhinney – Canucks drop Sunday contest in Columbus

I had four cups of coffee Sunday morning, up early for no particular purpose other than to feed the dog and wait for some friends that slept on my living room floor to leave—waiting goes well with a newspaper, and a newspaper goes well with coffee. The point isn’t the number of cups, necessarily, but that those cups were consumed periodically throughout the day and not all at once.

Despite all the caffeine, it wasn’t enough to keep me awake through the balance of the Vancouver Canucks visit to Columbus. An early-season Sunday matinee game against a non-Conference opponent with both teams playing the second half of a back-to-back, and both teams dressing with their starting goaltender? Sign me right up. Watching these sorts of games is a reminder of why we watch hockey in the first place, because it’s fun to irrationally root for certain outcomes of grown humans playing sports.

Vancouver lost 3-1 in a snoozefest. Both teams played poorly.


Brief history on winning goal-scorer R.J. Umberger. He was selected by the Canucks in the first round of the 2001 draft, but after he left Ohio State University, the team couldn’t come to contract terms with him. They cut their losses and traded him to the New York Rangers for Martin Rucinsky, the top-six winger brought in to supposedly fill the void left in the wake of Todd Bertuzzi’s suspension. He didn’t sign in New York and became a free agent, inking a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2004, but was then traded to Columbus so the Flyers could get a first and a third round pick in the 2008 draft.

That first round pick? Luca Sbisa, the defenceman that was traded with Joffrey Lupul to Anaheim for Chris Pronger.

Umberger took a pass from Ryan Johansen midway through the third, catching a couple of Canucks napping—and Chris Tanev in a rare pinch attempt—finishing off a pretty goal past Eddie Lack. It was the only goal of the game with any sort of grace. Marian Gaborik deflected in a bouncer in the early going, and Henrik Sedin tied it up in the second period when he jammed the puck at the pads of Jackets goaltender Curtis McIlhinney, pushing the puck into the net along with McIlhinney. Seemed like the whistle should have blown, but I guess Henrik will take it. Johansen added an empty net goal.


The Canucks didn’t convert on any of their 21 shot attempts in the first period, and the Jackets tightened up in the second and third periods. The Canucks couldn’t generate an awful lot of possession until the very end of the game when they had the goalie out.

The Fenwick (unblocked shot attempt) chart from Extra Skater tells the story. After the Jackets went up 1-0, the Canucks had the run of play until the end of the first. Not sure on the adjustment Columbus made at the break, but it appeared to work:

The shots seemed to even out in the final two frames.

McIlhinney walked away with pretty good stats, stopping 37 of 38 shots, although the Canucks didn’t test him very often. They had their moments, as you might expect with 38 attempts, but McIlhinney wasn’t forced into making any “Lord, how did he get to that one?” stops. On the other end, McIlhinney’s positioning was pretty good and he didn’t fumble a lot of rebounds, meaning he was in good position all night. While viewers tend to complain that shooters put the puck right into the goaltender’s crest, generally the goaltender has a hand in where he’s hit, especially if they give the shooters nothing.

Chris Higgins was stopped point-blank on a pass from behind the net at the very end of the game. Maybe Higgins could have got it a little higher over McIlhinney’s pad, but that discounts giving credit to the player whose pad was in exactly the right place. Most goals tend to enter the net in the lower portion, and on plays like that with a quick pass coming from behind the net, usually putting the puck to the side of the net where the goalie isn’t is the right play.


Other than the play on the winning goal, the pair had a very good game. Per Extra Skater (linked here, same one as above) the Canucks out-attempted Columbus 18-5 with Chris Higgins on the ice in close score situations. 15-5 for Kesler. The Alex Edler and Chris Tanev pairing were also very good, with Tanev going 14-3 and Edler at 18-4. For the most part they roasted the Johansen-Umberger-Comeau line, but hockey is funny and on occasion a player that gets hilariously out-shot is the one that scores the winner.

Happens. If you need any evidence that the Canucks generally controlled puck-possession in this game, consider that 12 5-on-5 faceoffs were taken in Columbus’ end, and just 6 in Vancouver’s.


So the Canucks go 0-1-1 on the weekend, with Roberto Luongo taking a shootout defeat in Pittsburgh and Eddie Lack getting the regulation loss in Columbus. My theory has always been that it’s preferable to start your better goaltender against the weaker team in a back-to-back situation, the idea being that you concentrate on winning the easier game, and anything you get in the game against the stronger opponent is just gravy.

John Tortorella did the opposite of this. Lack certainly wasn’t the reason the Canucks lost and it’s unfortunately not feasible to discuss alternate realities where this save didn’t happen or this save didn’t happen or this shot wasn’t taken because of good positioning… predicting goalies is voodoo anyway. Tortorella’s thought process is interesting because I’ve noticed a lot of coaches playing for the split in a back-to-back situation.

A split would have been preferable to what the Canucks wound up with. Funny how “Canucks have points in three straight games” can become “Canucks are on a two-game losing streak” in a couple of hours.

Next up: The Canucks travel to Long Island and will play the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

  • Not concerned at all. Canucks took significantly more shots and generated more chances than their opponents in both these games, and if they keep playing as they have been for the past few, they’re going to do fine. McIlhinney was surprisingly good in this game.

  • Columbus: the new Wild. Horrendous game, stretches in which neither team seemed to be able to make a pass, figure out how to defend a simple dump in or clear the zone. Terribly boring. Sunday afternoon games in OH. I suppose there’s not a hell of a lot else going on in Columbus…

  • Well it looks like the hockey gods have spoken once again about the Canucks. Shots on goal is like throwing darts at the dart board, it don’t mean squat. The thing that matters is how many can you get in the bullseye, and the Canucks couldn’t score when it counts as usual. But I bet the Sedins are proud of the shots on goal. They’re always proud of failure it seems. I guess the better team lost tonight. LOL. Yeah, don’t think so.

  • Nice stats on Kesler-Higgins. What about reuniting them with Booth? I know two years ago the AMEX line was amazing at driving possession. Booth seems to have become more invisible since he is down on the third line. Teammates? Of depression with being demoted? Worth it to dust that combination off?

    INteresting comments about the goalie selection. I think they had to go with Roberto in Pittsburgh. Just to see how the “best” players play against Sid and the boys. Lack made some good saves tonight but should have had the first one, the second one was pretty as you said, but for that third one, he was just nowhere to be seen.

  • BrudnySeaby

    I think we are starting to see where Mike Gillis’ failure as a GM really shines through. We don’t have anyone who can provide secondary scoring. Who can score on the Canucks? I know, I know… Their Corsi is amazing! But this team has dropped off offensively each season since 2011. Gillis has not brought in an impact forward this team desperately needs. No team built with one great line and no secondary scoring has ever won the Cup.

    The one asset the Canucks had to deal, all they got back was a draft pick.

    I love the way the team played on Saturday, but this team is going to need more than what they have.

    • I know , right? I mean, there’s no way to describe how the Canucks played today but like folks with mental illness. Higgins gets a pass up front late into the game and the shot he took was weaker than a seniors bladder. Those Canucks must have severe mental illness to play like that.

  • asdf

    Hope Horvat, Shinkaruk, Cassels and Subban turn out to be good players. Would like to see Gillis make a trade for a star playmaking forward for the second line. Unless torts is willing to split up the sedins for more than a couple of shifts. Santorelli and Richardson have been good signings, but are more suited to third and forth lines. Might have to give up Edler to make it happen granted he waives his no-trade clause, but Bieksa is playing good this year so it would be worth it if you get the right player back. They should make the playoffs as is, but better secondary scoring would be nice.

    • Played 4 min, took a penalty, -1, a couple of hits. Not exactly a lot of opportunity to make a good impression but didn’t really make a good one. Fourth line is pretty poor with Schroeder and Burrows injuries reverberating down the lineup. Tom Sestito has played a lot more than he has any right to.

  • Big Cap

    Good to see that everyone’s favorite loudmouth, Ryan Kesler is backing up his Big words from the off – season.

    We all had to listen how he proclaimed how he would be back in a BIG WAY after 2 years of always being injured and now he’s finally healthy. He mumbled how he looks forward to the relationship with Torts to be pushed to the next level.

    RK17’s Stats: YTD: 10 GP, 4 Points and a Minus 5…Season Projection: 82 GP, 33 Points and a Minus 41

    But no worries; Kesler will be soon banged up and sidelined by a bigger, stronger team who are tougher, more talented more committed to winning, than he and his soft teammates are.

    Atta Boy, Kess!!!

    The Window Has Closed In Vancouver.

    • Big Cap

      So does that mean Taylor Hall is on pace for an 80 point -60 season? Because as we all know you can simply extrapolate the entirety of a season’s stats from a 10 game sample because all players always score at exactly the same pace all season.

      Excellent and well reasoned post by you. Bravo!

    • Here’s a shout out to Mr. Big Cap, one of the few who has any common sense and logic here. Suddenly I don’t feel so alone.

      Kesler since the Predator series years ago has been nothing but a waste of time on this team. One doesn’t need to look at stats to see what a time waster and ineffective he’s been. Kesler plays on “team kes” first. He’s moody like a woman, gets injured more times than some poor kid in a sweatshop and when he’s not in a slump he’s moody about being in a slump. With team mates like Kesler you don’t need opponents.

      And after the finals, just like the finals before that one, the organization trades away every single component that got them there the year after, leaving the useless waste here to rot and rust. History always repeats itself here in Vancouver and riots do strike twice.

      The history of the team speaks for itself. Long period of failure, then a lucky run to the finals, then along period of failure. Repeat and refresh for the next 45 years.
      Oh well, there’s always the next 45 years. Anyone here going to be alive in the next 45 years?

      The Vancouver Hipsters will never win a cup.

      • For someone who hates the Canucks so much, you certainly spend a lot of your day talking about them.
        So really what’s more pathetic, the people on here who continue to cheer for their home team because they love the game, or an incompetent fool who spends all his time talking about a team he can’t stand?

        And who exactly didnt the Canucks trade away that was so crucial in getting to the finals exactly? Schnieder? How many games did he play? Samuelsson? Didnt play past the 2nd round. Ehrhoff wasnt traded, and only a moron would take on a that contract anyway. Torres? Salo? Malhotra? Raymond? Lapierre? Rome? None of these guys were traded and had a minimal impact on the run to the finals.

        You are making yourself look like a fool.

        • And there you go again, delusional little boy. “None of these guys were traded and had a minimal impact on the run to the finals.” Really? Than what have the Canucks done since the finals? Oh wait, you are yet again trying to defend the USELESS CORE, on and on and on with excuses backed up by FAILURE.

          You LOVE FAILURE don’t you? And you want everyone else to LOVE failure like you LOVE FAILURE. You cheer and wave your pom poms for FAILURE and you want everyone else to do the same, don’t you? Why should I stand for this crappy team? Why, do you love supporting and standing by such mediocre things? It’s because you have NO STANDARDS. YOU LOVE LOSING AND YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SHARE IN THAT LOSING. It’s in your nature, your being.You’re a selfish tool and you have no shame. the world is full of believing idiot shills like you.

          You always make yourself look like a retard or a shill.

        • And yes, for all your semantics I know not every player was traded away. The Canucks were just too CHEAP to sign them. Either way you slice it, those players are no longer here. They thought that the weakling twins and Kesler and Leaky Luongo was what brought them to the finals. Good move. They must have a cup to back that claim up, right? What, there have been no cups but two embarrassing 1st round exits since then? HOW SHOCKING! I guess I’m right again.

          When you have good team one year, and then players leave and then the team sucks donkey turd in the years after…you would think a normal rational human being would know that losing those players contributed to the teams downfall. Oh, but not you. You think the Canucks are better off now than they were during the finals, don’t you? Wow, two first round exits and you somehow believe this team is better off without those players.

          You know what’s worse than being retarded?
          You being clearly being a SHILL.

          • You clearly do not understand the meaning of the word semantics. What you stated was inherently false.

            You mean sign Ehrhoff to a 10 year for 40 mill? Yeah that would be a great idea. Name me these players that were so integral to the Cup run. Hell you even thought it necessary to mention Hodgson, who barely even played and had 1 assist.

            And I never said this team was better than the team that went to the finals. What other teams dont get better? How clueless are you?

            There are so many elements that go into a successful playoff run, but you are too simple to even grasp any of them.

            And I wish I was a SHILL (as you like to repeatedly refer to anyone who disagrees with you. Cause then someone would actually be paying me to own you. That would be sweet.

          • Wow, two first round exits, two second round exits and one lucky ass run to the finals where they were embarrassed and you think it’s been a success. You really are living in a dream world, son.

            You ARE a shill. Because no one can be that retarded to still believe in the club that hasn’t won shat in 45-46 years. There are so many elements that go into a successful playoff run? How would your Canucks know that? LMFAO. Seeing as how that donkey of a team hasn’t had real success in the play offs ever. Oh, right, you’re a shill and shills just type for their 4 cents per comment.

            Well enjoy your 4 cents. Your Canucks still suck. I’ll remind you again once their season is over. You have a lot of time to entertain your delusions and make up excuses. Hahahaahahahaa

  • Among all the issues the Canucks have, the biggest one is that they can’t score.

    They went from being a scoring juggernaut to having a pop-gun offense in a matter of two years.

    The odd thing is most of the key pieces are still the same.

    Gotta shake it up and trade a key d man for a scorer.

    • BrudnySeaby

      The Canucks traded all the key pieces that help facilitate scoring after they went to the finals. You can’t bake a cake without baking powder and eggs. All that’s left here on the team is flour and warm water.

      Examples – Torres is gone. Without his hit on Hossa they wouldn’t have gone 3-1 on the Hawks, let alone win the series. Salo, Hogson, Ehrhoff. Rome, the one who put Seguin in the hospital and gave the team a great chance to win, but the Canucks and AV spent the remainder of the series apologizing for biting and getting pushed around like rag dolls. I have never seen a more pathetic game 7 home game in the finals in my life.

      Since then Gillis has been putting sand into the gas tank. He’s taken a team that made it to the finals, lost and instead of improving, has systematically gutting the team slowly and surely, all the while trying to blame his failures on the media, the league, the refs and everything and everyone except himself and his management or there lack of.

      I just wonder how many more failures Gillis team will have before he mans up and admits he has no freaking idea of what he is doing. You can never convince someone they’re wrong. You just have to let them do what they are doing until they trip on their very own feet. Only then will they learn because they will have no one left to blame but themselves.

  • JCDavies

    “The Fenwick (unblocked shot attempt) chart from Extra Skater tells the story. After the Jackets went up 1-0, the Canucks had the run of play until the end of the first. Not sure on the adjustment Columbus made at the break, but it appeared to work”

    Somehow I don’t think drawing 7 minutes in power plays, including two delay-of-game penalties and a bench minor, was discussed at intermission…

    • BrudnySeaby

      This, and we couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with some of those shots, so they actually turned into good breakouts for Columbus. This one was a write off from the start, both teams looked dogged.

  • BrudnySeaby

    Hey Cam, is there anything that can be done about these stupid haters that come here? Canucksarmy was so much more fun last year. Thanks for the good work as usual!!

      • BrudnySeaby

        I don’t think they’re haters. They strike me more as mentally challenged people that don’t really have lives. All they do is complain about the team. The team THEY claim is their fave. They claim to be fans yet slam the team and profess they’re an epic failure unless they win the Cup. Do those people strike you as rational? Didn’t think so. There is a reason NM00 is aka NoMind00. A couple others fit the bill too but…yeah…


        • You still don’t have any standards do you, Ted?
          Still trying call others mentally challenged because they don’t “buy” into the Canucks BS like you do?
          Still trying to make excuses for a club that has never won the cup by saying that it’s not failure if the team doesn’t win the cup? If a team who has never won the cup since its inception 45 years ago is not failure, then I really want to know what is considered failure to you in pro sports?
          Wait…do you even know what failure is in pro sports? No one who says the Canucks are failures has claimed that the team is their “fave”
          Face the facts, the team will never do what it takes to win, so why should anyone not criticize the team. Your “love” and “blind loyalty” sure as heck aint getting them anywhere now, has it?

          PS. If the Canucks are not failures you not only have low standards…you don’t have any standards at all. Keep your standards of
          ‘no standards’ to yourself, son.

        • NMOO is nothing like the trolls. Too pessimistic and occasionally a little pretentious with the predictions but makes some interesting posts and analysis. The others, as so many have suggested, just need to be ignored or mocked. No point actually trying to respond to their drivel in any depth.

    • asdf

      Clicks = $$$ = more haters please.

      If you see a dumb comment, just forget you saw it. I don’t know why people even bother responding or trying to argue otherwise. Any sort of acknowledgement usually leads to more troll fodder.

      • BrudnySeaby

        Yeah, I was thinking the same, ignoring is the best and so I will do that from now on, but I wondered what the official opinion on these trolls is. And as Cam said, he likes ’em! 😉

  • Man, what happened to this site? The quality of the articles is quickly deteriorating and the comment board is flooded with haters. Its disappointing but I find myself looking elsewhere for quality Canucks coverage. Also, what’s with the new guy who writes like he’s 15? AND why all the haters now? We don’t seem to be an especially dominating team this year but more haters than ever on this site. Weirdest part about the trolls? They think you should only cheer for winners. One team wins the cup, 29 losers every year. You cheer based on where you’re from (a silly reason) and sometimes the reasons are even more arbitrary and absurd than that (a great player, a logo, used to live there, etc). None of us have good reasons for wasting our time and money on this, so haters could at least take the time to come up with legitimate and funny criticisms ’cause as it currently is, its turning into white noise of hate and repetitive comments. This is my last post. Good luck Canucks Army

    • BrudnySeaby

      No you are right. We should only cheer for losers and teams who we know have little to no chance for a cup. It’s like, why go pay to see a great Vegas show when you can see one that’s mediocre? Why pay for a bag of fresh crispy apples when you can buy a bag of week old starchy apples for the same price? Makes sense to me.

      I never liked the Canucks and always thought that they were a waste of good real estate but who are you to tell people to cheer for a team they may not even respect. And there are plenty of reasons why the Canucks are not all they seem.

      And why is it that there’s always someone saying that this is their first comment and their last, followed by a good luck and goodbye…as if the world rotated around you ” leaving” this site. Sounds pretty fishy to me. You should have said” Goodbye ,cruel world, I you don’t do as I say, then I’m going to kill myself”.

      Hey, don’t let the door hit you on the way out and in and out and in and pretend out.

    • BrudnySeaby

      First you complain about the quality of the articles and then you complain about the comments and then you complain about your time being wasted and then you threaten to leave?
      Why are you even here to begin with? Get the F&*K out already, DUMBASS.

  • I think an “ignore” button might be useful here. I had to wade though a pile of arguing, the same exact arguments between the same exact people, just to get to the answer to my question. And I probably missed some insight because I didn’t feel like reading the arguments this time.