Canucks Army Postgame: About Those Goals…

 It’s November 22nd, approximately 10:00 PM. The Canucks have just finished a 6-2 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets, featuring goals from five different scorers. Finally, scoring! Positive regression! And with the hated Chicago Blackhawks coming to town tomorrow, busting this tremendous funk comes at the perfect time.

Fast forward 24 hours, and the picture is significantly less warm and fuzzy and wonderful. Once again, the Canucks peppered a goalie with more than 30 shots and failed to score more than a single goal. Meanwhile, a brief lapse in concentration led to two rapid Blackhawk goals, turning a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 defecit in less than 10 seconds. On the balance it was a solid effort, especially against a Chicago team that’s arguably been the most dominant in the NHL once again this season, but an inability to put more than a single puck behind the NHL’s 30th ranked goalie in save percentage cost them more points in the standings. For a more detailed look at the game, read past the jump.

The Rundown

The game started well enough, as both teams came out of the gates with enthusiasm and intensity. Chicago carried the play for the most part, as they out-attempted Vancouver by a 2-to-1 margin and generated some excellent scoring chances, none more dangerous than this Patrick Kane shot on Luongo:

Then, the Hawks got in to some penalty trouble. Ryan Kesler drew a slashing call on Brandon Saad (his 2nd drawn penalty of the period), then Andrew Shaw did a dumb, clipping Daniel Sedin’s skates and taking an interference penalty while on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Jonathan Toews, leading to a Canucks 5-on-3. With Jason Garrison manning the point and a 4-forward set, the Canucks capitalized quickly, as Ryan Kesler fired a rebound through Corey Crawford to give Vancouver the 1-0 lead:

The 1st period was also notable for Tom Sestito stickhandling his way to a glorious chance, and this absurd missed call in the Canucks’ favour. Let it be said that the refs don’t always hate Vancouver.

The 2nd period was largely uneventful as Chicago had the run of play early before the Canucks settled the game down later. Vancouver took a tenuous 1-0 lead into the 3rd, where any hope of milking that home was quickly dispelled.

In a textbook demonstration of score effects, Chicago hemmed the Canucks in their own zone for the early 3rd period, registering 7 unblocked shot attempts to Vancouver’s zero. After an extremely fortunate bounce where a Blackhawks point shot hit the crossbar, rolled across the goal line, and deflected off the far post to stay out, Patrick Kane sent a pass off Andrew Shaw and through Roberto Luongo’s 5-hole to tie the game at 1-1. Then just 9 seconds later, Marcus Kruger capitalized on a 2-on-1 chance, snapping a puck also through Luongo’s 5-hole to give the Blackhawks the lead.

As expected, the Canucks pushed hard to tie the game for the final 15 minutes, but couldn’t beat Corey Crawford, as the Chicago goalie finished with 36 saves in the win.

The Numbers

The 3rd period in this chart may as well be titled "score_effects.png" as it pretty much sums up what happens late in games when one team is trailing. When the Blackhawks were down by one goal, they out-Fenwick’d Vancouver 7-0. When the Canucks fell behind by one, they held a massive 19-3 advantage in unblocked shot attempts.

That big 3rd period masked what was otherwise an ugly performance for a lot of players. For example, Jason Garrison and Alex Edler began the game +2/-8 in Corsi, but both finished just under 50% for the night. As a team, the Canucks were pulling just 28% of the Corsis at one point, but finished the game at a dominant-looking 57.3% of possession. To put that into perspective, they had 10 more shot attempts tonight than they did last night against Columbus. Sure doesn’t seem like it though.

Brad Richardson and Jannik Hansen both played a strong game, as each hovered around 60% for Corsi, despite just a 12.5% o-zone start rate. 

And finally, file this under "kind of a good thing but still probably shouldn’t happen," the top-3 Canucks in shots on goal were Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison, whom you may have noticed are all defensemen. This trio combined for 12 of Vancouver’s 37 shots, and considering that shots from defensemen are generally less likely to result in goals than shots from forwards, it’s probably not a good thing that they’re shooting more often than guys like Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. Offence from your blueline is always a positive, but you just hope that it isn’t coming at the expense of offence from your forwards.

The Conclusion

Losing to a rival always stings, and in a lot of ways it feels like the Canucks are back to square one again when it comes to goal scoring. Still, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the goals should start to come with more consistency even if the Canucks are uniquely terrible at generating scoring chances. However, there’s no reason to believe that they’re uniquely terrible because they’re still a strong possession team. They had passed the division leading San Jose Sharks earlier in the day in score close Fenwick%, and now sit just outside the top-5 teams in the entire league after the Sharks dominated New Jersey and re-took 5th place. Just have to stick to the process and the results will follow. *sucks lozenge*

But just in case you were hopeful that more goals would be in the immediate future, the next game comes against the red-hot NHL GAA leader Ben Scrivens and the extremely stingy Los Angeles Kings. So yeah, get ready just to copy-paste this game review to use it all again Monday night unless Scrivens regresses in a hurry.

  • Big Cap

    Typical Canucks:

    Beat a weak non playoff contender, and you all believe everything is leading towards winning the Cup.

    Play an Opponent with equal or better talent but more has more heart, and you lose. Score 1 goal in the process, and blame everyone around you.

    Except the fact that this team is soft and has way to many players who are on the wrong side of 30.

    The Window had closed in Vancouver.

    This team will NOT make the playoffs.

    1 Playoff win in three years.

  • Big Cap

    the team has dropped a notch to become a mediocre squad, other teams are moving forward…as the team is configured now, we are done, window is shut. the only real question is do you blow it up, or rebuild on the fly.

  • Big Cap

    It’s only a matter of time before the coach figures out that “gunslinger defence man”Bieska’s imation of forward is too high risk and is costing way too many scoring chances against Vancouver.
    Need to upgrade forwards,dump Booth,eat some of his contract and add some scoring.
    Will barely make it into the playoffs and another early golf season , only when fans stop supporting the fictional consecutive “home seat sellouts” will the owners get the message and build a team that has a realistic chance of playing deep into the playoffs.

  • Big Cap

    With this loss to the Hawks, the Canucks now have a -5 goal differential in their last 82 games including 9 playoff games.

    Throwing the kitchen sink at the Hawks’ net after being down 2-1 is hardly a good process.

    The Canucks are mediocre in terms of shot attempts in score tied situations and that’s while facing a disproportionate number of inferior conference teams & without a significant injury:

    Considering the goal differential over the last season of games, it’s debatable how good the “process” has been.

    On another note, gutsy call by the Hawks to rest Hossa for the playoffs…

    • JCDavies

      “and that’s while facing a disproportionate number of inferior conference teams “

      The Canucks aren’t really outliers in this, certainly not beyond any margin of error.

      The top 15 teams from your link:

      Team: GP / GP vs East / %vs East

      CHI: 24 / 9 / 37.50

      LA: 24 / 12 / 50.00

      STL: 22 / 10 / 45.45

      SJ: 23 / 9 / 39.13

      NJ: 23 / 12 / 52.17

      DET: 24 / 13 / 54.17

      MIN: 24 / 13 / 54.17

      TB: 23 / 12 / 52.17

      BOS: 23 / 18 / 78.26

      DAL: 22 / 8 / 36.36

      PIT: 24 / 18 / 75.00

      ANA: 26 / 17 / 65.38

      VAN: 22 / 13 / 52.00

      NYI: 24 / 17 / 70.83

      COL: 22 / 11 / 50.00

      I don’t really think there is enough there to make accurate predictions based on strength of schedule but if you wanted to do that, you could also point out that only two teams have played a higher percentage of their games against arguably the toughest division – the Pacific. I mean, if you wanted to present both sides, that is.

      Also, if you use score-close 5v5 Corsi and Fenwick (larger sample size) the Canucks are 5th and 6th in the league, respectively.

      • JCDavies

        All I mean by disproportionate number of East teams is that the Canucks will face the Western conference quite a bit more in the final 57 games.

        And at some point one would think the Canucks will have to play with a significant injury or three and may have to pay the piper for all the extra minutes the primary and secondary players have been playing…

  • Big Cap

    This streak is just unbelievable. The Canucks are not playing that badly, they are just snake bit. Their opponents seem to get one more break per game than they do. Bringing up a young player isn’t the answer, the team has more than enough talent to score. If I was torts I would shake things up a bit by trying Kassian with the twins, dropping Kessler to center Higgins and burrows the ice a line of Santorelli Hansen and Booth . Fact is there has to be a place for booth. 3/4th line somewhere. The guy is making 4.5 and can’t score sitting in the press box. Something needs to click with this team.

  • JCDavies

    Not too shocking. Canucks scoring issues have been around for a while now. Torts may want to try some others and see what sticks – like a Welsh or Kassian. Give them some top 6 time. At this point, it couldn’t really hurt.

    • you can only give chances to guys who won’t hurt the team by giving up 2-on-1’s every other shift…

      kassian is a talent for sure, but he’s got to show more consistency and hockey smarts before tortorella will take a chance on giving him more ice time.

      what the canucks need desperately is a 22/23 year old shinkaruk type of player…