Presumably photographed the last time the Canucks beat the Sharks. They had Trevor Linden and Willie Mitchell on the roster. (Wiki commons)
If you laid out the Canucks worst 10-game stretches against individual teams, their current streak against San Jose wouldn’t be up there historically, despite having lost nine straight contests.
After the Canucks last loss to the Sharks, I downloaded every Canuck game ever played from Hockey Reference’s huge file, sorted it by franchise and calculated the points and expected wins the team should have earned in the last ten games against a particular team via Pythagorean Expectation.
Now, this includes playoffs, and it’s worth noting that during the team’s 9-game losing streak to the Sharks, they’ve lost three times in OT, and are 1-4 in one-goal games. By expected wins, it’s the team’s 187th worst 10-game stretch against a particular team, and by points, it barely moves the needle. The thing I really noticed downloading all this data is that the Canucks rarely won games between 1970 and 1991, which somewhat explains why everybody over the age of 40 in this town is absolutely miserable when it comes to hockey. I’ll write about some of the worst streaks after the jump.
Puck Drop: 7:30 PM PDT
As promised, here is the franchise’s
five six worst 10-game stretches against individual teams, based on expected wins:
vs. St. Louis between October 23 1997 and January 8 2000 – This is actually a much longer stretch that contains five of the six 10-game stretches on the list. The St. Louis Blues were a very good team after dispatching Mike Keenan and hiring Joel Quenneville at the outset of the 1997-1998 season. During the larger stretch the Canucks went 0-13-1. When they won 4-3 on November 21 2000, it was the team’s first against St. Louis since December 15 1996.
During this particular stretch, the Canucks were not only 0-10 (without any OT losses) but managed to be out-scored 46-11, including a particularly awful 8-1 game on February 15 1999. The Blues got eight different goal scorers, while Donald Brashear was the only Canuck to score (?). Both goalies were used. Garth Snow was pulled after allowing four goals on nine shots in 12:55 and everybody on the team was a minus except for Chris McAllister, who had 14 shifts and 11:26 of ice-time.
vs. Montreal between October 22 1971 and January 14 1973 – Part of the reason the Canucks sucked so badly in the beginnings of franchise history is that while all the other expansion teams got to form their own division, Buffalo and Vancouver were both placed in the “East” Division for the first four seasons of their existence. The Montreal Canadiens were the juggernaut in the early 70s and had their way with the Canucks.
Again, there are multiple ten-game stretches I could use. The Canucks were winless in the franchise’s first 28 games against the Canadiens, managing just two ties. During the ten-game stretch I’ve selected, the team was out-scored 55-14, including four shutouts (of 3-0, 5-0, 6-0, 7-0) and a 9-1 loss on November 24 1972. The Canucks didn’t have a single one-goal game.
vs. NY Islanders between February 14 1977 and February 17 1979 – The Canucks worst stretch against the Islanders doesn’t include any games from the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals. During this ten-game stretch, the Canucks were 0-10, and out-scored 51-17.
Thankfully, the team turned it around on Halloween night 1979 with a 2-2 tie at the Pacific Coliseum, before actually winning consecutive games against the team in the winter and fall of 1980. I can not name a single member from these late 1970s teams and I’m not sure I want to look. It may ruin my impressions of the scouting staff.
vs. Montreal between February 3 1977 and March 8 1979 – Since we last checked on the Canucks vs. the Habs in January of 1973, the Canucks had gone a respectable 2-17-3 against Montreal. This was right during the Canadiens’ run of four consecutive Stanley Cups in the late 1970s and one of the great groups ever assembled. The plucky, kale-eating, granola-munching commies from B.C. didn’t have a chance.
So during this ten-game stretch Vancouver was actually just 0-8-2, with a couple of ties. However their 11-1 loss on March 8 1979 remains one of the biggest defeats in franchise history. Jacques Lemaire scored a hat-trick and the Canucks were out-shot 46-26. So much for 1970s score effects.
vs. Detroit between January 14 1998 and November 24 2000 – Okay, the Canucks didn’t actually beat Detroit at all between February 6 1997 and December 15 2001, but the ten-game stretch I’ve chosen is probably as low as it ever got. The team was out-scored 47-18 by Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan & Co. and managed just two ties.
The worst defeat was a 7-1 loss on November 27 1998. The box-score is actually pretty funny. The Canucks took a one-goal lead into the third period, but Martin Lapointe and Igor Larionov scored at 3:26 and 3:40 of the third. Garth Snow played 43:40 and was removed. I don’t remember whether he was hurt or not, but Corey Hirsch came in and couldn’t stop a beachball. The Wings scored on 5 goals on 13 shots in the third period and walked away with a blow-out victory.
There was also a brawl, it seemed. Hockey is kind of dumb when one team is getting blown out.
vs. Edmonton between November 8 1985 and April 12 1986 – Let’s call the Oilers dynasty as being between the fall of 1981 and the spring of 1988, when Wayne Gretzky was an Oiler and at his absolute peak. During those years, the Canucks were routinely smashed. During the height of the Oiler years, the Canucks were 8-43-8 and out-scored 325-188.
This particular 10-game stretch begins with the famous 13-0 defeat of 1985. The Canucks were out-scored 62-24 and recorded a single tie. Because they managed to score a couple of goals however, their expected win total vaults them above other stretches of futility from the era.
I was born in the summer of 1988 and the only time I can remember the Canucks being bad for a multi-year stretch is the Mark Messier years. It seems though, that until the early 1990s, every season was the Messier years. Bless those of you that stuck around through all that.
Enough of that. Here are San Jose’s lines tonight:
Comparatively, this is the lineup that’s been mostly around for this current Canucks stretch of futility against one opponent, which really pales in comparison to other long stretches of franchise futility. Brent Burns is out with some sort of mouth problem and Tommy Wingels has filled in for him on the top line.
The team doesn’t seem to be as deep in previous games thanks to a couple of key players getting hurt. There’s Burns, and Raffi Torres is also on the sidelines, which means that Martin Havlat and Tyler Kennedy have had more of an opportunity to make an impression. The Sharks also traded for Mike Brown between now and the last time the two teams played. For whatever reason, Doug Wilson loves his facepunchers.
Tomas Hertl has cooled down. Since the stick-between-legs goal against the New York Rangers that drew so much controversy, Hertl has scored thrice in 11 games, which is still a pretty good 22-goal pace, but probably not enough to land him every Calder Trophy vote.
Well, Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl are the in-lineup Corsi leaders on the Sharks, at 61.9% and 57.8% in score close situations. They’ll usually see the best defensive matchups but generally Todd McLellan is good at getting Hertl away from the best forward competition at home.
Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Tyler Kennedy generally face the toughs for San Jose, while Couture and Joe Pavelski split defensive zone faceoff duties. Be interesting to see whether McLellan keeps Havlat used in a checking role or an offensive role tonight. Be also interesting to see whether McLellan uses his fourth line at all.
Zac Dalpe sits instead of Yannick Weber. Why isn’t the team putting him on the wing, where he’s had some success driving play, and when the team actually has an open spot on the third line? I thought Dalpe was mis-handled in Carolina, but don’t see how the Canucks could make that any worse.
THE NUMBERS GAME
I don’t like the numbers Dimitri uses in his previews, so I’m changing ’em up:
|Corsi Close %||54.9% (4th)||52.6% (8th)|
|5v5 GF/60||3.19 (3rd)||2.53 (10th)|
|5v5 GA/60||1.73 (4th)||2.08 (9th)|
|PDO||1.020 (8th)||100.5 (13th)|
|5v4 GF/60||7.95 (7th)||3.44 (27th)|
|5v4 SF/60||72.7 (1st)||60.5 (4th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.36 (4th)||3.91 (2nd)|
|4v5 SA/60||47.9 (10th)||46.3 (8th)|
|Penalty Differential||22 (1st)||-3 (17th)|
Basically, the Sharks are a very scary team. They are top 10 in the league in pretty well every category. A lot of good offensive teams don’t have elite goaltending, but the Sharks do. Taking penalties against them is not recommended. Their powerplay is beautiful to watch, and penalty killers spend a lot of time doing so.
But, yes, San Jose is better than Vancouver at every statistical category save the penalty kill. On the other hand, the Sharks lost to Buffalo. Not only did they lose to Buffalo, but they, and yes, this is embarrassing, were OUT-SHOT IN SCORE CLOSE SITUATIONS BY THE SABRES 22-24.
GAME DAY LINKS
Shark Attack – $1 gets you $5.20 if the teams combine for over 5.5 goals and the Canucks manage a victory. Six goals is a barrier that these two clubs rarely hit, being so good defensively. But maybe Antti Niemi hasn’t shaken off his hangover from that time he was drunk during that entire game against Buffalo.
Chipping In – $1 gets you $5.75 if Jason Garrison or Kevin Bieksa score a goal and the Canucks win. This is an interesting prop. Over the last three years, Jason Garrison has earned 0.18 goals per game and Bieksa has 0.11. That’s 0.29 goals per game, essentially. The oddsmakers here don’t seem to think that the pair are worth 0.17 goals per game, but because both are on slumps, well, that shuffles the odds in our favour. I’d have this priced at $3.40. Pretty good odds.
Be sure to sign up with the Canucks Army promo code “CANUCKSARMY” to receive $25 worth of free bets.