The Canucks brief win streak came to a halt Wednesday night against Detroit, thanks in part to a weak-looking goal by Tomas Tatar that held up as the winner, but mostly because of a fairly tepid offensive performance from everybody. Generally, the Western Conference has dominated the Eastern Conference this season, but the Red Wings, who are really a Western team in disguise, had their way defensively with Vancouver, and it was like they never really left.
Despite a late third period burst, the Canucks never really mounted anything offensively and their top line lost their matchup quite heavily to Pavel Datsyuk & Co. Still, the Canucks had a late chance with a powerplay, but ultimately wound up on the wrong side of a 2-1 game. The Canucks record is not properly reflected in their play, and they’ve so far won a disproportionate number of one-goal games. After Wednesday’s loss, the team is now 7-1-1 in games decided by a single goal.
Live by the one-goal game, die by the one-goal game.
Daniel Sedin opened the scoring on a shot from a tight area. Look at the image and tell me what doesn’t belong:
The Sedins are rolling through a pretty crazy stretch right now. I don’t remember them producing like this since the scoring title years. I’d guessed that they’d fall off a little due to age, but it seems like a high on-ice shooting percentage will cover it. Probably an unsustainable run, but it’s hard to think of a pair of players that are more fun to watch when they’re producing for the Sedins.
However, at that point the Red Wings had most of the control of the game. The unblocked shots were 11-5 for the Wings, and Detroit never really gave the Canucks an inch. All they had to do was stick to the process. To that point, they hadn’t given up a lot of shots or chances, and they didn’t give up a lot more as the game progressed.
So, in the second, the Wings finally caught their breaks. First, Daniel Alfredsson took a shot that hit the post, but banked off the leg of Roberto Luongo. Tomas Tatar (you may remember him as being on the Slovakian team that knocked off the Americans in quarterfinal of the 2009 World Juniors) scored a goal that could be considered a McSofty. Chris Tanev, who was in position to block the shift, flamingo’d at the last moment and Luongo didn’t get a very clear look at it. Still, as Paul Maurice pointed out in the intermission segment, that’s a save the goalie had to make.
Couple of bad breaks for the Canucks, but it’s not like they really earned them. The Canucks took a penalty late in the third, sending Daniel Sedin off for the final seconds, and after a call on Nik Kronwall evened it up, the Canucks did have a chance for a late tying goal. Off a faceoff win by Sedin, the puck went to Ryan Kesler who had a great lane for a slapshot but just missed picking the far corner.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Roberto Luongo may have allowed a softie for the winner, but a goaltender’s job, as I state it often, isn’t to limit the number of easy goals. It’s to make as many saves as possible, and Luongo did that Wednesday, stopping 25 of 27 and recording a quality start. He made a few big stops in the third that kept the Canucks in it off of Justin Abdelkader:
So, that was neat I guess, and certainly more indicative of his play than the image we cherrypicked to lead this post.
Vancouver never really had an advantage, and it doesn’t even appear that score effects kicked in late. The Canucks really ought to have been pressing in the later stages of the game, but chances, like the Abdelkader one above, mostly went in Detroit’s favour. Just an off-night for Vancouver’s big guns, I guess.
The more concerning thing, however, was that Henrik and Daniel Sedin got absolutely mauled in possession against the Red Wings’ Big Two of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik and Daniel had Corsi For percentages of 33.3% and 37.5% at 5-on-5 tonight, respectively. They got the prime offensive zone starts (Henrik lined up for 12 faceoffs in the offensive zone and 4 in the defensive zone) but the twins matched up for more than 15 minutes each against Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
Sure, that didn’t result in offence out of all the Wings’ puck possession, but the important thing is that they kept the Canucks’ top players off of the shot clock. 20 shots from the Canucks, and 0 came from Kesler, 0 came from Henrik and 3 came from Daniel.
Also, the Canucks managed just two shots on 4:54 of 5-on-4 time. They’d generally done very well this season generating shots on the powerplay, but the man-advantage team was legitimately bad against Detroit.
Concluding thought: Vancouver’s issues tonight weren’t a lack of hits or a lack of secondary scoring. A lack of primary scoring, or the ability to generate any second chances, long sequences in the offensive zone or *gasp* momentum really took a hit out of what the second and third lines could do. Alex Burrows took six shots and wound up with the Sedin twins for a couple of shifts in the third period. Just a mid-game blender for John Tortorella, or an indication that Kesler gets taken off this line?