Well after that dog’s breakfast of a game in New York yesterday, we can probably forgive Canucks fans that decided to say "to hell with this", and do something more productive with their Sunday morning than watch Vancouver play a second consecutive morning game against a bottom-feeder in the worst division in the NHL. And let’s be honest, anyone who missed this game missed essentially nothing. Aside from a bizarre sequence in the 2nd when 3 goals were scored in 37 seconds, it wasn’t a very eventful game.
So if you’re just waking up now, and it’s 4 in the afternoon, you can be thankful that your friends at Canucks Army appreciate you so much that we watched the
spreadsheets entire game and put this handy recap together just for you. Now read the damn thing so our work doesn’t go to waste.
Unlike their showing in New York, Vancouver got off to a very strong start. After Jannik Hansen was denied on a breakaway chance, Ryan Kesler hacked home a rebound on an early 5-on-3 to open the scoring. It was just the 3rd time in the past 13 games and 10th time in 29 games this season that the Canucks opened the scoring of a hockey game. That’s less than good, especially considering the only teams that have scored the first goal fewer times than Vancouver are Florida, Carolina, Ottawa, Calgary and Buffalo.
Then things got weird. After Jannik Hansen awkwardly fell into the boards, Ryan Kesler was allowed a shift with Zac Dalpe and Canucks Army hero, fan favourite, and Vancouver icon Tom Sestito. The sorta-4th line generated some good pressure (!), and led to a Tom Sestito goal (!!) and Zac Dalpe’s first point as a Vancouver Canuck (!!!). The highlights:
Things were looking good at this point. A 2-0 1st period lead, a significant advantage in the Fenwicks, a powerplay goal… It was almost all too good to be true.
Turns out that yeah, it totally was. The first minute of the second period was an abomination, and save for Ryan Kesler stopping the bleeding with his second goal of the game, the last 19 minutes were pretty bad as well. Jordan Staal and Nathan Gerbe scored just 10 seconds apart as Dan Hamhuis and Chris Tanev got hung with the rare minus-2 on one shift. Tanev had a particularly bad sequence, as his broken stick led to the rush that resulted in the Jordan Staal goal, and his blown coverage allowed Eric Staal to walk unmolested up main street and Nathan Gerbe (who was originally Tanev’s check) to fire in the rebound off Lack to tie the game at 2-2.
Ryan Kesler’s second goal of the game managed to take back the lead though, and the Canucks were content to hang on for dear life from there, nursing the 3-2 lead all the way home. The Kesler goal:
The 3rd period was highlighted by Alex Burrows saving a goal by pulling a puck off the goal line during a Hurricanes powerplay. This punctuated a good night for Vancouver’s #POWERKILL, which continues to be the very best in the NHL this year. They killed off all 6 opportunities the woeful Canes powerplay had on the night, and were probably the only reason why the Canucks were able to close out this game. As you’ll see in the next part, it wasn’t a particularly good win.
The game wasn’t good. From the start of the 2nd period, Carolina out-attempted Vancouver 38-12. Sure some of that was PP-driven, but that’s still nothing resembling a strong performance. As for individual performance, it was bizzaro world for the Canucks as the Sedins both uncharacteristically got their teeth kicked in at even strength to the tune of 42.9% Corsi for Daniel and 38.1%(!!!!) for Henrik. By contrast, the Edler-Garrison pairing that has struggled at times this season wound up leading all Canucks regulars in possession, and Mike Santorelli and Dale Weise were tops among Canuck forwards. That chill you just felt was hell freezing over.
If it’s worth anything, the Canucks out-chanced Carolina 14-12 according to excellent Hurricanes blogger Corey Snajzder. So yay for shot quality and all that. Still, it’s nice to get wins you don’t deserve when you massively out-play the Sharks, Kings and Stars and have nothing to show for it. It happens. Let’s enjoy it.
Before we go, I want to make a point about winning low-scoring games. Blake Price tweeted a thing then I tweeted a thing then Cam got involved and there was gunfire and explosions and it got messy. Anyways, Blake brought up the fact that the Canucks had yet to win a game when scoring two or fewer goals this season, and cited the amount of wins that San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago and Anaheim had under these circumstances. He then implied that it was cause for concern, seeing as they were able to win all sorts of games "with ease" in the past.
First of all, even during their back-to-back President’s Trophy seasons the Canucks never had a winning record in games where they scored two or fewer goals. In fact, between 2010 and 2012, they were 24 games under .500 when failing to reach 3 goals in a game. Blake then claimed that the Canucks were 8-0-2 last year when scoring two goals or less. They weren’t. Their actual win-loss record was 5-12. Also, the group of teams he compared Vancouver to this season combined to go 19-47 last year in games where they scored two or fewer goals.
The point is this: losing more games than you win when you don’t score 3 goals is normal. If you expect consistent, continued success in "low-scoring games," you’re going to be thoroughly disappointed. There are valid criticisms of Vancouver, but saying "they’re bad at winning games 2-1" isn’t one of them since every single team in the NHL is bad at winning games 2-1.
No more matinee games. Please for the love of god, no more matinee games. Fortunately, the next game is on Tuesday at a much more reasonable 5 PM PST. Unfortunately, it’s against the Nashville Predators so it’ll be just another barn-burner for sure, but at least Marek Mazanec in net so it’ll give the Canucks the opportunity to score a few easy goals. Oh what’s that? He has a .932 save percentage on the year? Never mind then.