Canucks Army Postgame: Canucks Fight Tooth and Nail, But..

Even Daniel Sedin’s new smile isn’t as ugly as way the Canucks lost this one.

.. the result was once again a fateful one, meaning that all of the positives that could’ve been drawn from the first 57 minutes or so of action seem to ring kind of hollow. The rest of the Western Conference won’t be so kind as to wait for the bounces to start going in the Canucks’ favour, and unless things start turning around sooner rather than later, they’ll have dug themselves an insurmountable hole in the standings.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There were quite a few very good things that took place on Monday night at Rogers Arena; unfortunately one of those wasn’t the two points. Read on past the jump for a recap of the painstaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Rundown

We got word during warmups that the Canucks would be using their 129120121210th different line combinations, with David Booth making his return from the press box to play with Jannik Hansen and Ryan Kesler on what essentially amounted to a 2nd line. That left Higgins, Santorelli and Dale Weise to play on the 3rd line, with Kassian being bumped down to a stint on the 4th alongside Richardson and Sestito. The result was a largely successful one for John Tortorella, for reasons that’ll become obvious as we go along.

The Kings jumped out to 1-0 goal in the 1st, capitalizing on a poorly played 2-on-1 by Jason Garrison. I assume that Mike Gillis was probably at least a little proud in the aftermath of this play, considering he may very well be one of the only people in the hockey world that thinks Kyle Clifford is a good hockey player. 

Just 21 seconds into the 2nd period Daniel Sedin took a high-stick from Jake Muzzin which knocked a tooth out. Somehow, this was called a 2-minute minor, because it’s obviously not as significant an incident as say a slightly cut lip. And even more remarkably, there are somehow people out there that think Daniel was faking to draw a call.

Then Jordan Nolan – who has a history of going after Henrik Sedin – took a run at the team’s captain. Now, I’m not normally one for getting overly worked up about potential intangible benefits that result from physical play/fights/etc, but there’s no denying that the Canucks seemed to play a more inspired game following this incident:

"Henrik is down, Bob, and this is going to be retaliated for."

.. and retaliated for it was. After a few minutes of play which saw the Canucks clearly make a concerted effort to throw their bodies around, Ryan Stanton basically solidifed his Norris Trophy campaign by stepping out of his weight class to throw down with Jordan Nolan. Zack Kassian got a misconduct for his shenanigans with Carcillo (and the two eventually fought in the 3rd, resulting in this masterpiece), and Sestito drew a 10-minute misconduct for.. being Tom Sestito. When all was said and done there were 60 total penalty minutes dished out in the period.

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The Canucks tied the score up before the frame was over thanks to a.. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, sorry mom and dad,.. solo effort from Dale Weise. He played a whale of a game, and I think it’s actually kind of ridiculous that he wasn’t named one of the 3 Stars, but we all know just how exact a science those things are. As if saying those things wasn’t absurd enough, let me finish this paragraph off by pointing out that Chris Tanev was the goal scorer on the play:

Fast-forward to the 3rd period, where the Canucks were enjoying themselves an 0/7 streak with the man advantage. I’m not sure what the most amazing part of the following clip is, but it comes down to 4 options: a) The Canucks actually scored a PPG, b) Jason Garrison made two consecutive slick passes without butchering the entire sequence, c) Henrik Sedin getting pumped up like never before, or d) Jason Garrison get punched in the face during the celebration as a reward for his efforts. Maybe it’s actually e) all of the above.

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It actually kind of looked like this may just be Vancouver’s night, as they continued to dominate the action even after taking the 2-1 lead. With just over 3 minutes left it looked like we were headed for the perfect cap to a strong showing as David Booth showed wheels which he hadn’t had at his disposal the last time we saw him in his charge towards the net. As far as I can tell the Canucks were actually credited for 5 shots on goal during this sequence, but Scrivens, by some act of telekinesis or something that would involve his massive brain, kept the puck out of the net.

.. you can tell where this is headed, can’t you? I’ll lump the two following plays into one, because they both involve a brutal gaffe by a Canucks defenseman. On the game tying goal by Mike Richards, Alex Edler decides to go and attempt a bone-crunching hit for some unreason completely unbeknownst to me. Then, Kevin Bieksa Bieksa’d the play in Overtime, leading to the winner by Anze Kopitar, and a massive black eye to the Vancouver Canucks franchise.

Brutal. If you’re still here with me, let’s get to the numbers..

The Numbers

Image via @Thats_Offside

It was actually a fairly close game possession-wise at 5v5, but considering the excellence of the Kings in that department, that’s basically a win for the Canucks. Where the dominance came was at 5v4, where the Canucks spent 12.2 minutes of time. Over that span they generated 26 shot attempts, 19 of which went unblocked. To put that into perspective the Kings managed only 3 attempts in their 4.1 minutes of 5v4 time.

Jason Garrison and Alex Edler once again had a subpar game, and hopefully the miscue on the game tying goal late in regulation will force Tortorella’s hand in splitting them up. I’d personally reunite Garrison/Hamhuis and Edler/Tanev, but that’s just me.

The Sedins had an uncharacteristically poor shot differential game, actually finishing <50 CF%, which is a total rarity. They saw a lot of Doughty, Richards/Carter, but still.. weird to see. I guess they somewhat made up for it with the power play goal they generated.

I spoke of Dale Weise’s strong play earlier, and the possession data bared that out. When he was on the ice the Canucks took 11 shots to only 6 against. What makes those numbers even more impressive was the fact that he most commonly saw the trio of Brown-Kopitar-Williams when he was out there. I’d be surprised if he had a game better than this one for the rest of the season, but I still enjoyed it thoroughly for what it was. 

The Conclusion

I’m not sure if you’ve caught on by now, but we’ve basically been Copy/Pasting the same sentiments in this section of the game recaps for a few weeks now. Well, not really.. but we may as well. 

What’s becoming abudantly obvious is that the margin for error – due to a combination of them not being as good as they were in past years, and the competition becoming tougher – has shrunk. One little thing here or there, and the picture being painted suddenly becomes drastically different. That was the again the case in this one.

With that being said, the Canucks are still a good hockey team, and I still think there’s reason to believe that they’ll turn this ugly stretch around and bang out a few wins in a row. A good time for that to take place may very well be the upcoming 4-game road trip, in which they play 4 teams – OTT, NYR, CAR, NSH – that have all had their share of problems this season at one time or another. 
I don’t want you to leave this post feeling bad, so I’ll throw you a bone:

  • Peachy

    The game had me feeling sad.

    The gif of Brown ramming his own head into the glass at high speed made me feel happy. Mostly because it’s Brown, and for once, he didn’t dive.

    And then I rememebered the game and I felt sad.

  • Peachy

    1) It seems to me like there have been a lot of goals this season against the Canucks that have started with a pass from behind the next to a wide up guy in front. Maybe a weakness in Torotella’s zone system. Maybe I’m crazy. Tough call.

    2) I’d like to see Kassian on the second unit power play. He is a big body in front and has tremendous version passing the puck. It might even give him some confidence if he is able to get a couple of points.

  • Peachy

    I guess you could call Brown a real headbanger.

    Seriously though, Canucks have got to win a game or two here, or I’m gonna start calling on them to “sell! sell! sell!”

  • Dimitri, Monday December 2nd, Wreck Beach, you bring the torches and blood of 100 virgins, I’ll bring the live goat and bucket of slightly used pucks. Under the moonless midnight sky we shall perform the ancient ritual to appease the hockey gods and bestow the power of goal scoring unto the Vancouver Canucks.

  • Vancouver needs to stop getting in fights in third period when they’re up a goal. A couple days ago it was Bieksa getting himself taken off the ice for the final five minutes (in which the Canucks were scored on). Tonight it was Zack Kassian killing what was looking like another dominant possession shift by getting in a fight with ten minutes left. I’ve got no problem with Vancouver throwing their weight around in the second – they needed to respond to the hit on Henrik and they did it physically and by scoring a goal, which is great. BUT DON’T FIGHT WHEN YOU’RE UP IN THE THIRD.

      • No, it actually killed a play where the Canucks had possession and what looked like the possibility of a scoring chance for a completely pointless and lame fight. The Canucks actually didn’t sit back at all with the lead, with the chances for the Kesler-Booth especially impressive.

        The problem was a mind-blowing set of gaffes on the last two goals (the first one really should’ve been whistled down for the blatant trip on Richardson in the slot the other way). I have no idea what Edler was thinking in trying to throw a needless big hit behind the net and what was going through Bieksa’s mind with his getting-very-tired-nonchalance is hard to know. I feel bad for Luongo who is looking the best, most relaxed, and most confident that he has since probably 2010. The inability to generate quality shots or even gain the blue line on the PP is appalling. The second unit needs to start, they play with far greater urgency and set up shots for Garrison on a regular basis as opposed to the 1st unit that simply isn’t working.

        I still hope that the hard work and general good play will pay off but as many others have pointed out the margin for error in playing these good teams simply isn’t there. And at some point I think Tortorella would be wise to send as much of a message to Bieksa or Edler (the two most glaring of the errorfests on most nights) by stapling them to the bench for a period or two, as will of course happen to Stanton or Kassian.

        Booth looked a thousand times better last night, I hope that’s a sign of things to come.

        • Middle management button pushing isn’t going to solve this.

          83 games and a -6 goal differential.

          By comparisons sake, the Canucks had a +51 goal differential in the prior 82 games (2011-2012 regular season).

          Considering the fact that the Schneider safety net is gone and the schedule is harder with the division change, there’s little reason to believe anymore blood can be squeezed from this aging core…

          • The problem isn’t the absence of Schneider — indeed getting Horvat out of that situation is likely much better than having had to get rid of Luongo for nothing. I think the top problem on this team remains the power play. The 5×5 scoring will come (you have to think) but as long as we have such an inept PP which does more to take us out of our rhythm than anything it’s hard to know how we move forward.

          • People are really underestimating how good the Schneider/Luongo tandem was for 3 years.

            The Canucks ranked 2, 4 & 8 in team save percentage during the 3 years of that tandem.

            And the Canucks would have been top 5 last season if Luongo played up to his career .919.

            The Canucks currently rank 23.

            The Canucks have been above the median team percentage every year in the Luongo era.

            That has been a huge part of the success of this team for the last 7 years.

            And while it’s relatively early, who knows how the mentally checked out Luongo finishes the year.

            Perhaps the only thing that regresses is the PK save percentage…

          • I don’t disagree that Luongo and Schneider were excellent together. But the problem still isn’t goals against — he seems to have dropped his penchant for one real stinker per game and looks much steadier overall. In some ways he functions better as the “savior” goalie than as the backstop on a talented team. The fact of the matter is — and I agree with you on this — that no matter how well they are playing in other areas of the game, in the end it’s goals and wins that count.

            Being disappointed in the team’s performance over the home stand doesn’t make one a fair-weather fan. We’ve survived Libor Polasek. We’ll survive this…

          • Again with the goal differential? C’mon man, give that meaningless stat a rest.

            -I loved Booth’s game last night.
            -Count my vote in the “Time to bench Alex Edler” group.
            -I’m one boneheaded play away from placing a vote in the “Time to bench Kevin Bieksa” group.
            -Kassian didn’t choose to fight, he laid a nice clean hit and as per the (stupid and new) norm, was forced to defend himself.

            Keep jumping off the bandwagon, you fairweather Canucks fans. We’re taking names, not letting you back on in April/May/June.

          • Again with the goal differential? C’mon man, give that meaningless stat a rest.

            -I loved Booth’s game last night.

            -Count my vote in the “Time to bench Alex Edler” group.

            -I’m one boneheaded play away from placing a vote in the “Time to bench Kevin Bieksa” group.

            -Kassian didn’t choose to fight, he laid a nice clean hit and as per the (stupid and new) norm, was forced to defend himself.

            Keep jumping off the bandwagon, you fairweather Canucks fans. We’re taking names, not letting you back on in April/May/June.

      • Terrified? They were completely dominating the game with the lead, and forechecking like mad. I havent scene a Canucks team play that tenaciously with a lead….ever.
        We couldnt convert on the multitide of mistakes they were making, and they converted on the two that we did.

  • This stretch of games has to be the worst feeling in a long time. In the Canucks last conference this type of play would have them in first place, but now they are out of the playoffs. This team can beat any team and lose to any team. The extra effort will be needed each night. Every loss comes down to one bad play or one missed assignment. Who knows, getting more familiar with torts system might help or getting a PP goal now and then this team has too much talent to not score on the PP. Put Garrisons shot up top and stop the 4 forwards. Everytime Garrison gets the puck the crowd begs him to shoot.

  • Another game in which the Canucks lost the even strength possession game with the score tied.

    Considering how challenging it is for this team to score goals, the Canucks will need to be much better in this area just to make the playoffs.

    Because this strategy of getting behind and THEN controlling play has shockingly not been working.

    Kinda sad watching Henrik act like he won the lottery after scoring on the 8th PP of the night.

    On the bright side, for those who take comfort in mediocrity, the Canucks gained a point on Phoenix for 4th in the division.


  • Tough one…again. I don’t know if it gets much better but here’s to hoping. I don’t think we have the horses to be contenders and it will be tough to add players (or deal) this season.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t be too heart broken if we missed the playoffs. We’d get a decent draft pick and maybe some of our players with no trade clauses will OK a deal/trade.