Canucks Army Postgame: At Least Stuff Happens In A 9-1 Game

 

I am told that there was a hockey game this Thursday night. I am also told that it was aired on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific at 6:00 PM Vancouver time. Well I am not sure about you guys, but when I sat in front of my television set at 6:00 PM Vancouver time, rapt with anticipation to witness the glorious spectacle that is an NHL hockey game, I did not get to witness a hockey game.

I was treated to watching paint dry for three whole, painful hours.

This game was just that bad. It was truly one of those hockey games that made you sit in your seat and question your very dedication to this fickle sport. I debated just turning the thing off and watching Japanese Macaques throw their feces at each other over on the Oasis channel at points during tonight’s game, and in retrospect that probably would have been a better use of my time, but I ultimately decided against it so I could write tonight’s postgame report. Now please do me a favour and read past the jump. I promise it won’t be as boring as the 1-0 Canucks loss we all collectively witnessed.

The Rundown

Phoenix scored a powerplay goal in the first period after a centering pass deflected off of Dan Hamhuis. Martin Hanzal attempted to cripple the entire Canucks team in the 3rd, and nearly succeeded. Apart from that, nothing of note happened. Nothing. I have five lines of notes I wrote while watching this game and they’re all vapid observations like "gee, there sure are a lot of penalties!" or "man, there is not a lot going on tonight!" Well, Henrik had a goal waved off too, but that’s pretty much it.

The only silver lining from last night is that the Canucks didn’t break someone’s neck in a game in which they allowed nine goals, so I guess not allowing nine goals tonight is a step in the right direction. That being said, if Martin Hanzal did partially succeed in his conquest to eradicate all Vancouver Canucks and Santorelli, Booth and possibly Henrik miss any length of time, the outlook becomes rather bleak for a team that’s already having difficulty scoring goals.

The Numbers

Courtesy of ExtraSkater.com.

There were no good or bad players for either team tonight. Everyone was just a varying degree of mediocre. John Tortorella loaded up the top line with both Sedins and Ryan Kesler, and they were predictably the least (most?) mediocre. Daniel and Kesler were the, uh, "best" Canucks with about 60% of the Corsis at even strength while Henrik was a distant 3rd with 52%. But here’s the stat of the night:

That is the number of goals the Canucks scored against Mike Smith, who, as Dimitri pointed out in his pre-game report, has stopped 90% or more of the shots he’s faced just once in his last seven games. That’s quite bad, if you didn’t know. Yet he looked like an olympian against the Canucks tonight. Oh wait…

Really though, these results are starting to highlight some major issues that have been present since early December. While the Canucks went on a great run of success, it was mostly fueled by a nice spike in PDO, as shown by this nice chart here:

Their recent struggles? Not much more than some pretty rapid regression towards the mean, I’m afraid. What’s far more concerning is what’s been happening to their possession numbers. Dimitri wrote a nice article about it a while ago, but I figure it’s alarming enough to keep bringing up. Travis Yost, a quality Sens blogger of "Ukranian hackers deleted me from the internet" fame, illustrates the stark contrast in the Canucks 1st quarter season performance and 2nd quarter season performance with this graph of score adjusted Fenwick:

Only Minnesota has been in the tank more, and they have the added excuse of losing Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise to injuries for a large portion of the second quarter. The Canucks too have been hit with a rash of injuries, and losing Alex Burrows has particularily seemed to hurt. Here is the Canucks 5v5 FenClose with and without Burrows in the lineup:

The biggest change is in FenwickFor per 60 minutes, as Vancouver attempted 6 more shots per 60 minutes in score close situations while Burrows was in the lineup – that’s a huge difference. Surely though, a change this large can’t just be due to one player’s absence, but the ebbs and flows of Vancouver’s possession game seem to coincide with Burrows’ presence in the lineup.

The change in shot attempts for is probably the biggest reason why the goals have dried up of late, as the Canucks have scored just 7 goals in the past 5 games, with 4 of those coming against Pittsburgh. It’s not a "strength of schedule" thing either, as Vancouver has had success against Western Conference and Californian teams this year. In the first half of the season, Vancouver posted a 55.1% 5v5 FenClose% in 6 games against their Californian rivals, but have gone just 44.7% in the 5 games since.

I have no idea why Vancouver’s in a bit of a tailspin right now, but the good news is that given their play earlier in the year against top opponents, it’s extremely unlikely they are a true-talent league-average possession team. Earlier this season, they controlled play to the same extent that Los Angeles and San Jose did, and did so against L.A., S.J., and Anaheim themselves. So, what’s gone wrong? I hate to say, but I have no freaking idea.

The Conclusion

I have never been more excited for a Calgary Flames game, but I guess that excitement could be tempered pretty quickly if Booth, Santorelli and/or Henrik Sedin are injured for any length of time. I’m not sure what would be more embarassing: a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames or the debacle that happened in Anaheim. At least Calgary can’t score either and their goalies are brutal, so it’s as good a chance as any to bump this slump and possibly get back on the right track.

The game goes Saturday at 7:00 PM on Hockey Night in Canada. I don’t have anything else witty or sarcastic to say, so see you then!

  • argoleas

    Pathetic and embarrassing set of games. Haven’t missed a game all year but really don’t care to watch Sat. This team has lost anything they had, confidence, jump aggressiveness cohesion….. You name it the Canucks don’t have it!

  • argoleas

    I’m getting annoyed with the whole “this period/game was as boring as watching paint dry” theme that pops up in game sums every now and then. It’s lazy and doesn’t contribute anything meaningful to the analysis or discussion, and it’s essentially the opinion of the writer. There are enough opinion blogs/columns on the Canucks out there. I don’t come here for that.

    This was a tight game featuring two more or less equally skilled teams, and because of the last powerplay (that we failed to score on) it was pretty exciting right up to the buzzer. Not every game is like the past two against the California teams that were chock-full of all kinds of crazy events.

    • PDO is the sum of a given team’s even strength save percentage and even strength shooting percentage, and it is used as an indicator of luck. Most goalies will have an even strength save percentage of around 0.918, while most teams will have an even strength shooting percentage of around 8.2%. Therefore, a team’s PDO should be around 1.000.

      Small deviations are possible, but we’re talking in the tenths of percentage points. Large deviations, like more than 2%, are susceptible to heavy regression. Basically if a team has a high PDO, they’re scoring too many goals and allowing too few, and it won’t last long.

  • argoleas

    The Canucks overplayed their top players earlier in the season. That’s likely the reason for their strong FENWICK early on. Now the Sedins and Kesler are likely worn out and the FENWICH is dropping. Anyone know where to find the cumulative CORSIs of individual players at various points in the season to see if my guess matches the data?

  • Big Cap

    This team looks tired and worn out.

    Whats gonna happen when the teams 7 best players come back from half way around the world, playing in an intense, gritty, world class tournament???

    This team for years complained how bad their travel schedule was. Now that there in the Pacific Division, there finding out real quick they can no longer pad stats and get easy wins against Edm/Cal/Col year after year.

    I love the comment of “That’s Offside!” cant wait to play Calgary at home. Typical, get embarrassed and exposed on a key road trip then come home and get all excited because you potentially may beat a bottom 5 team at home. Then he and everyone else can tell the world how the Canucks are back and ready to make a run and do some damage in the Playoffs!

    If, and I say IF this team squeaks into the playoffs it will be another one and done series. Maybe they will eek out a win, but very doubtful. We’ve already seen this year how the Canucks stack up against the likes of Ana, LA, SJ, Chi.

    This team is way to soft with to many guys on the wrong side of 30. Gillis has sat back all season and done nothing to improve this team. Its only a matter if time before Torts blows up and acts like Torts.

    Sorry gang, but this will be the third straight year you get bounced in the first round. (At least you’ll always have 2011)

    • Big Cap

      No need to be sorry. I think most fans don’t expect much from the team and that’s fine. Cheer em on! It wouldn’t shock me if they missed the playoffs but it’s still fun being a fan. Don’t let the toxic morons get you down 🙂

    • Big Cap

      I take issue with your comments for a couple reasons.

      #1: when has Canucks Army ever been a cheerleader type blog? Claiming that That’sOffside is going to suddenly start saying how great the Canucks are after a win against Calgary is not based on the reality of the writing on this blog.

      #2: “Gillis has sat back all season and done nothing to improve this team.” The cap went down last summer – Gillis’ hands are basically tied right now. The trade market is pretty dead. If Gillis’ fails to do something next summer to improve the team when the cap goes back up, THEN I will agree with you that Gillis has done “nothing”.

      • Big Cap

        I agree with a lot of this but do think Gillis missed an opportunity last year. His loyalty and poor talent evaluation let that opportunity pass by.

        More specifically, Burrows should’ve been dealt at the trade deadline last year. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, dealing Burr for Forsberg and a pick or Kuznetsov would have been great.

        Edler had a trade window over the summer and should have been moved. Something like B Schenn and Philly’s 1st pick at the draft for Edler and something small may have done the trick. Or package Edler and Schneids for Colorado’s #1 pick. The options go on. Unfortunately, Gillis did not take advantage of any of these options.

      • islander

        “The cap went down last summer – Gillis’ hands are basically tied right now. The trade market is pretty dead. If Gillis’ fails to do something next summer to improve the team when the cap goes back up, THEN I will agree with you that Gillis has done “nothing”.”

        The cap went down for all 30 teams.

        It’s a pathetic excuse in the typical “woe is us” fashion.

        Gillis doesn’t have a crystal ball.

        We know this because he told us so.

        But he didn’t need one last year.

        Every GM in the league knew the cap was going to be $64.3 million for 2013-2014.

        And yet Gillis jumped the market to give $7 million to Higgins & Burrows and boxed himself into accepting whatever he could get for the goalie he wanted to keep.

        It’s inexplicable that he still has apologists working for him.

        Then again, management skill isn’t a prerequisite for blatant homerism…

  • Chungus

    I had to turn the game off with a minute and half left. A four minute power play to end the game and we couldn’t even enter the zone properly? I understand second night of a back to back and all, but it was absolutely brutal. At some level the PP struggles do have to come back to coaching, don’t they? It’s just too predictable, even if they do gain the zone and set up, too many passes, way too passive, and absolutely no sense of urgency. Daniel already seems hurt, and I think Henrik can use a break from the ironman streak.

    For the current era of the Canucks, this is one of the worst stretches of hockey I’ve seen. Some of it’s bad luck, but there are some previously reliable players who are making far too many bad plays. Bieksa for one makes a ton of unforced errors.

  • Chungus

    Absolute rubbish! I am taking a hiatus from watching any more games right now. Why should I bother to show up when the players aren’t even showing up for the games. Pathetic.

    I hope Calgary creams their a@@ on Saturday and that they don’t make the playoffs this year (at this rate they don’t need any help with this, they’re doing a fine job on their own).

  • Big Cap

    The team will be competitive in almost every game but they don’t have the game breakers. Henrik almost pots one last night and Daniel misses on an almost completely open net. Cup contending teams bury those.

    I also do not want to see Tanev dealt for Ryan O’Riley. ROR is not a sniper/game breaker. He’s kinda like Kes which isn’t bad but not exactly what we need. Gillis needs to think game breaker but I don’t think we get one.

    • Big Cap

      I might get piled on, but I’d happily do Tanev for ROR. I kind of see Colorado perhaps wanting a more established D-man with some decent term left. An anchor for the youngsters.

      Let’s face it, this team rides the scoring of the Sedins. Has been for a couple of years. As soon as that dries up, so do the wins. You’d have to be blind over the last couple of years to see this, and miss the fact that they need help. Still, lot’s of season left. With all of his haphazard swinging, you’d think one has to land over the fence for Gillis at some point.

    • JCDavies

      “I also do not want to see Tanev dealt for Ryan O’Riley. ROR is not a sniper/game breaker. He’s kinda like Kes which isn’t bad but not exactly what we need. Gillis needs to think game breaker but I don’t think we get one.”

      I disagree with you on this, I think pretty much every team could use a ROR. He is similar to Kes but has MUCH fewer miles on him and I think he has shown more offensive ability at 22 than Kes did at that age. I can’t imagine a scenario where they win the bidding war, though.

      • JCDavies

        Yeah, I wouldn’t be heartbroken by that deal. I’d be fine with it if the Canucks could make the trade subject to an extension on ROR. I would hate to deal Tanev for a year and a bit of ROR. That is my only concern.

  • JCDavies

    Fantasy trades are not going to fix this.

    Just because O’Reilly signed an offer sheet does not mean he wanted out of Colorado.

    It simply meant he wanted to be appropriately paid for the work he does.

    Kesler signed an offer sheet with Philly once upon a time.

    And that clearly wasn’t an indication that he wanted out of Vancouver.

    In any case, the Canucks don’t have the chips to land O’Reilly.

    Take a look at the recent history of impact players traded in their early 20s (Richards, Carter (2), Seguin, E Johnson to name a few).

    There’s no chance the Canucks make the best offer for O’Reilly IF he becomes available.

    And he probably won’t be available…

    • islander

      It also doesnt mean he didnt want out. You have no proof of fact either way.
      And whether he wants out or not means nothing if Colorado wants to trade him.
      Colorado needs D, Canucks need scoring. Tanev is one of the best young defenceman around, and is only going to get better.

      Math isnt that hard.

      • islander

        Not sure why you try to use logic and reason with Idiot00.He;s void of such things.

        Anyway, I would deal Tanev for ROR but only if he agreed to an extension. Otherwise it’d be a total rip if we deal Tanev for 1 year and a bit of ROR.

  • DCR

    Why not just trade Tanev, Burrows & Booth for Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle?

    The Oilers get strong 2 way players and the Canucks get the future 1st line they so desperately need…

    • islander

      So,aside from your criticism of all things Gillis, what steps do you think this organization should be taking to take this team to a level on par with the likes of the teams in California?

      • islander

        One can’t snap one’s fingers and turn this team into a contender.

        The reality is that the Canucks’ woes may not be fixable in the short term.

        Try a trade or two (Edler being the most obvious candidate, imo).

        If that does not magically propel this team back to the top of the mountain, blowing it up would have to be a serious consideration.

        Wasting time as the Canucks did last year on the goalie situation and have been doing this year is unacceptable in 2014-2015…

        • islander

          If I may add, put Booth in a plastic bubble until the buyout period. Tough luck on the last one though, just dirty.

          I never had you pegged as a blow it up kind of guy, especially with Gillis at the helm…unless that’s where the bomb drops?

        • islander

          Perhaps I should have been more specifc but I was asking about your opinion on long term solutions for this organization beyond this season. I’m aware that a first round playoff exit is the likely result of this season.

  • DCR

    I do think tiredness is an issue, though not everything. This was the third game in four nights and the second road game of a back-to-back for a pretty banged up team.

  • islander

    Wow, even the everything`s all “sunshine and lollipops” guys are really down after that last game, and I don`t blame them.What!! what..!! the heck has happened to the Canucks skill level? I mean ,3-4 years ago, Burrows was scoring on that backhand,Daniel and Keslar were picking corners,(and remember that between the leg goal scored)?.Now, everyone`s playing like Jannick Hanson on a breakaway,the shot goes wide, or right at the goalie, or that pass across to a wide open net gets miss handled (badly).If not for the generally good defence and goaltending this team would be bottom dwellers.Does anyone have any ideas what has happened? thanks..

  • islander

    What irks me most about the Handzal fine is got what takes him a whole 8 minutes of every game to earn. It takes me 3 hours of work to pay for a parking ticket – where no one gets hurt.