There was a story making the rounds on Twitter this morning about Florida Panthers’ interim coach Peter Horachek. To motivate the team, he told his players that the Panthers had never won at GM Place/Rogers Arena. Tim Thomas was having none of his crap, piping up and telling his team, "I have."
Well, now Thomas has won at Rogers Arena with two different organizations, leading the Florida Panthers to their first win in Vancouver since March 7th, 1994. Not to pump his tires too much though, the Canucks made it easy. John Tortorella called it the "worst game of the year." I’m inclined to agree with Tortorella, because I Watched This Ga– oh we don’t do that here? Okay, then read past the jump for more.
The game got off to a slow start for the Canucks, as Florida jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the Fenwicks and more importantly a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard. Brad Boyes netted a powerplay goal after a mad scramble in front, caused largely by some awful defensive zone coverage. Kevin Bieksa and Mike Santorelli chased the puck to the corner, leaving Edler and Richardson to cover three Panthers out front, like so (Kulikov was lurking just out of frame, he enters the high slot seconds later):
This goal was significant mainly because the Panthers had (and still have) the worst powerplay in the entire NHL at 10.4%, while the Canucks have the league’s best penalty kill at 88.2%. Even so, giving a team as brutal as the Panthers three chances to score on the powerplay means that there was about a 25% chance they would score at least one powerplay goal. The Panthers beat the odds with the man advantage tonight, which is something the Canucks have failed to do quite often.
Vancouver almost surrendered a shorthanded goal to Canucks Army favourite Marcel Goc a little later in the 1st, but Roberto Luongo flashed the right pad to keep the score 1-0:
At this point the Canucks started to pick up their play, taking 21 unblocked shot attempts to Florida’s 9 between the start of the 2nd and Jannik Hansen’s 3rd period go ahead goal. True American Hero Chris Higgins also scored in this stretch, as his shot evaded Tim Thomas like Thomas evades White House visits. The highlights:
Soon after Hansen’s goal,
newly acquired Canuck Panthers 4th line centre Shawn Matthias scored on a nice setup from Canucks rookie centre Nick Bjugstad to tie the game at 2-2. It was all down hill from there, as the Canucks failed to direct another Fenwick at Tim Thomas for the final eleven and a half minutes of the 3rd period, and didn’t manage to get a shot on goal until the Sedins’ final shift of overtime.
The game went to a shootout, where Jonathan Hoobadoo scored the game winner on a sprawling Roberto Luongo. Chris Higgins hit the post, and Mike Santorelli and Alex Burrows both missed their attempts as the Canucks fell to 1 win and 3 losses in the skills competition, scoring on only 13% of their shots – good for 6th worst in the NHL.
Hoo boy. That 3rd period. That just shouldn’t happen, not against the Florida Panthers, not even against the L.A Kings if leading by a goal. From the point when Matthias scored, the Panthers out-Fenwick’d Vancouver 9-0 in regulation. Henrik Sedin admitted to sitting back to preserve the single point. In a tie game. At home. Against Florida. In November. I can’t imagine this was a tactical decision by John Tortorella, especially not in light of his post game comments.
Despite the awful 3rd period, the Canucks pulled 53% of the Corsis, with Henrik and Daniel leading the way at 65.5% and 60.7% respectively at 5-on-5. The twins played monster minutes too, as each had over 25:30 of ice time, leading all players except for Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert.
Shawn Matthias had an astounding 84.6% Corsi% tonight (11 for, 2 against), but that’s probably dampened by the fact that he did not start a single shift in the defensive zone, and saw more time on ice than only Jimmy Hayes and Krys Barch for Florida.
The number that’s really of interest right now to the Canucks is team shooting percentage, though. Since the Toronto game, the Canucks have 12 goals on 237 shots, good for a shooting percentage of 5%, powerplay included. The good news is that no team has finished with a shooting percentage under 7% since the Sedins have been in the NHL, so even if you believe the Canucks are terrible at manufacturing scoring chances you have to admit that they’re due for some major correction soon, and more goals are on the way. They also now sit dead last in the NHL in powerplay shooting percentage at 6.3%, so that is due for some serious regression too.
The bad news of course is that Vancouver now sits 5 points back of 4th place in the Pacific, and 4 points out of the wild card crossover spot and every team they’re chasing has games in hand.
This game stunk. It was awful and Tim Thomas got to celebrate on Vancouver ice for the first time since… I won’t go there. Fortunately, the 3rd period performance looks like the exception and not the norm, so we should expect better performances going forward. Results should start coming too, as teams don’t shoot at 5% forever.
The next game is at home against a team that just lost 7-0 to the 2nd worst team in the entire NHL. So hey, what could possibly go wrong?