Canucks Army Postgame: Power Outage (Again)

 

 Paul Gaustad is a large human. Image via Justin Bourne.

The Nashville Predators came to town with the 3rd worst 5-on-5 save percentage in the entire league, the 5th worst 5-on-5 possession numbers, and seem to have had a tough time preventing the Canucks from scoring on them in recent years. So that would seem to be the perfect remedy for Vancouver’s recent offensives woes, right? Well, if you’re a cynical Canucks fan like me, there’s no way you read a lede like that and went "Yeah!" So good for you. Also, you probably watched the game so you know the answer already.

If you didn’t watch the game, the Canucks couldn’t score a powerplay goal again, only managed one even strength goal again, and now have just eight goals in their last seven games, just like the 2011 Sta– sorry, I won’t go there. Tonight’s 2-1 loss to Nashville wasn’t nearly that painful, but it was still frustrating. Read past the jump for a recap.

The Rundown

As is usually the case when the Preds meet the Canucks, the first period was fairly quick and up-tempo. They play was fairly even at 5-on-5, with both teams attempting 14 shots. The Canucks had a decided edge in powerplay time, as Matt Cullen took a 4-minute high-sticking penalty and Paul Gaustad cross-checked Kevin Bieksa  roughly five minutes later. While the Canucks didn’t score, they at least looked dangerous by moving their feet in the offensive zone, instead of the same bland static setup we’ve been seeing for most of the season. Maybe, just maybe, it was John Tortorella and not Glen Gulutzan that was holding the powerplay back ALL ALONG!

Haha just kidding. That’s insane. It was clearly Henrik Sedin.

Actually though, it was probably Dan Hamhuis who was most at fault for the lack of powerplay goals on the night, as he did his very best Mark Reynolds impression, whiffing on something like five seperate would-be scoring chances. But hey, I guess that’s what happens when you bench your three best offensive defencemen in favour of a guy who’s never scored more than 7 goals in an entire NHL season.

Vancouver came out stronger at 5-on-5 in the 2nd period, culminating in a Chris Higgins goal, off a Dale Weise shot that looked relatively harmless:

Shots on goal are never a bad play. Unfortunately for the Canucks, that would be the only time they would put a puck behind Carter Hutton on the night, as the scoring woes continue. According to Sportsnet, they are tied for last in the NHL for goals in January with the Calgary Flames. More on that later though.

The 3rd period was pretty bad, if we’re being honest. Vancouver only managed to direct twelve shots towards Carter Hutton, with half of those coming after Eric Nystrom took a late penalty to give Vancouver a powerplay. Before that though, Nashville managed to wrestle the lead away from Vancouver off of goals from Craig Smith and Seth Jones (Jones’ goal may have been redirected by Nick Spaling, however). Luongo didn’t look great on the Smith goal, but it’s pretty unreasonable to expect him to stop everything every night, which is what he would have needed to do for the Canucks to win. Nashville took the game by a 2-1 score.

The Numbers

Chart courtesy of ExtraSkater.com.

At even strength, Vancouver modestly out-played the Preds, to the tune of a 54.4% Fenwick, and had a ton of attempts on the powerplay, but couldn’t beat Carter Hutton. Some of the scoring woes are clearly due to icing a lineup that has Zac Dalpe on the second line, some of them are due to being without Henrik Sedin who was crippled long before his ironman streak came to an end, but some of it is also just plain old bad luck. Vancouver’s 10-game rolling PDO is as low as it’s been since their November malaise, except their possession numbers are in the tank too at the moment:

Is this a reason to be concerned? Hell yeah it is. Is this a reason to panic? Probably not, seeing as they went through a similar, worse swoon back in 2011-2012:

They were able to right the ship to a certain extent and win the President’s Trophy before an unceremonious first round loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings that year. I’d expect that they’d do the same soon this year once Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli return to health and the schedule softens up. The thing is, they’ll have to be dominant once again in the stretch drive to sell anyone on being even a moderate contender for the Cup this year.

I still think that even when healthy, Vancouver is another top-6 C playing in the bottom-6 away from contending. Despite what you will most assuredly read in the comments, this recent rough stretch is not indicative of the proverbial window slamming shut. If they could just get the damn powerplay turned around, the outlook on the team may be a good deal more positive.

Perhaps the 39-year old legs of Vinny Prospal can help, seeing as he’ll be signed to an AHL tryout with Utica as soon as tomorrow. Desperate times, right? In all honesty though, he lead an NHL team in scoring as recently as last season, and is essentially a zero-risk pickup. If he works out, great. If not, he’ll probably have his contract mutually terminated and pursue the twilight years of his career overseas. It’s not at all a sexy pickup, but it could definitely help in the short term.

Here’s Blue Jackets reporter Aaron Portzline with the 140-character scouting report:

I can hardly contain my excitement. 

The Conclusion

A quick shout-out to the Shap crew who did a good deed tonight and auctioned off a #FreeTorts t-shirt for $160, with all the proceeds going to Canuck Place. Thanks for giving back, guys.

As for the Canucks, the short-term pain will probably continue for the forseeable future, so we’ll all just have to grin and bear some more pretty dull hockey. The next game is Sunday against the Coyotes at 5:00 PM. I’ll be doing the postgame for that one too, which I absolutely can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to doing. Oh boy.

What I am excited for is that the super mega awesome Canucks Army rally event at the Pint is just under a week away. Go follow that last link, get your tickets, and come tell Dimitri how much of an idiot he is in person. I hear he really, really appreciates that. Also, the Utica Comets are in town this Friday and Saturday to take on the Abbotsford Heat, the Vancouver Giants play a pair of home games on Friday and Saturday, and the UBC mens Thunderbirds, who are in danger of losing their varsity status, also play on Friday and Saturday. You can go here to purchase tickets and help support this great program and help it remain B.C.’s only varsity hockey program.

In short, it’s a great weekend of hockey ahead, so I hope you all have fun. See you guys later.

  • Big Cap

    The Canucks squeaked a come back win against the 28th place team in a shoot out. They beat the 29th place team by one goal. Everyone starts the “here we go” belief that this club is gonna start a role.

    The fact is, this team can not beat teams equal to them and are clearly outclassed against teams better than them.

    We are seeing the Sedins decline by the week both physically and mentally. What’s gonna happen when the games become even more tight and physical down the stretch when even more will be asked of our top players to preform.

    This club has their 7 best players playing in the biggest tournament of the year, half way around the world. At their ages, they are gonna come back as Zombies and this team will drift off into the sunset finishing somewhere between 9th and 12th.

    Let the Rebuild Begin. Oh wait…We have Gillis as our architect.

    • PuckWatch.com

      Hilarious, my wife repeats this rant after every loss as well…only it includes a lot of F’s and MF’s dashed with a few C’s. Also Gillis is known simply as the useless t*t that traded “insert name here” for “insert name here” and is seldom referred to by name.

      I’d be worried posting like this though, you are on NM00’s cruising radar. It get’s ugly from there.

    • JCDavies

      Because there’s a prize for a third straight 1st round exit?

      It would be much better to be a team like Dallas, for example, and miss the playoffs but have a core to build around for the next few years.

  • JCDavies

    Why is the only player on the active roster with captain experience not being given a chance to, once again, be the lord and saviour of this town?

    Roberto Luongo hurling pejoratives at his defenseman is the kind of reset this franchise could use right about now…

  • Big Cap

    “I still think that even when healthy, Vancouver is another top-6 C playing in the bottom-6 away from contending.”

    Written like a truly delusional Canuck fan.

    “Despite what you will most assuredly read in the comments, this recent rough stretch is not indicative of the proverbial window slamming shut.”

    The Canucks have won as many games as they have lost, have scored as many goals as they have yielded and have perfectly middling possession numbers.

    Despite the silver lining that you will most assuredly read on the interwebs, there is zero reason to believe this is a contender anymore or that the situation will improve by giving raises to the same group and trying again in 2014-2015.

    The window has closed.

    The sooner this is accepted, the sooner the next window can potentially open…

    • jung gun

      You’ve seen how Vancouver’s possession numbers dropped off when Edler and Burrows went down, yes? Before they went down, we were a top 10 possession team in the league. And right when they got back, Hank and Santo go down. So let’s not jump to conclusions. I will admit this team needs to be close to 100% healthy to have a chance at making a run — there’s no doubt.

      But when we were healthy around the 20-30 game mark of the season, the Canucks showed the caliber of hockey that they are capable of playing. When you have two aging superstars that perhaps don’t have that much elite hockey left in them, that have 4 year contracts and you are in a playoff spot, you do NOT rebuild.

      It’s so typical for Canucks fans to react this way. Every god damn slump there’s an overreaction. And then Vancouver weathers the storm. See 2011-2012, as well as earlier this year.

    • PuckWatch.com

      Hey! Everyone! The window has now officially closed according to GiantDoucher00! No, he isn’t telling us something we already know in his own, sad little way! These are all brand new, fresh revelations! Toad00 does NOT repeat the same thing over and over and does not constantly whine about the Canucks and repeat himself. No sir! He is a breath of fresh air! Love that ShatStain00!

      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway! A little sarcasm for the Friday 🙂

      I agree with a few people and think the Canucks may be better off missing the playoffs. It will be a reality check for Gillis and the ownership. We don’t have the horses! Missing the playoffs may also cause Hamhuis and Edler to OK deals. Dealing either for a legit top 6 NHL player would be ideal.

      I’m not holding my breath for a Cup run this year or anytime in the near future.

  • antro

    Maybe playing the Sedins and Kesler 25 minutes a game wasn’t the best strategy because they look exhausted. Our PP is pathetic because nobody is in front of the net and we have 5 players shooting from the perimeter. I watched Boston last week and big Chara is planted in front of the net to screen the goalie. We tried it a few weeks ago with Sestito and they scored on two consecutive PPs.

    • PuckWatch.com

      Totally agree. our PP Possession numbers are good because we’re taking low risk shots and playing keep away.

      I wouldn’t count many of them as grade A scoring chances.

      Why they had Daniel and Hamhuis on the points instead of Garrison and Edler is beyond me.

      Why are they not putting Kassian in front of the net?

      I like that they’re forced to re-imagine the powerplay formation without Hank though. Because that’s clearly not working either

  • Big Cap

    Nice one – was just going to suggest additional data in these post games. Looking at performance for one game is pretty useless most of the time unless you see it in comparisson to overall performance. It would also be great to see how some of these metrics stack up against league averages, top teams and bottom feeders (as well as the evening’s competition). Just a small request.

  • PuckWatch.com

    Two first round exits, one win. I’m pretty sure ownership is aware. As much as I am not a fan of Francesco, he is aware there is a problem. The issue is does he know it’s Gillis?

    GMMG has this offseason to find a solution to this riddle. Whether they make the playoffs or not, he’ll need to accept what this team is and what it needs to improve — or move on to a rebuild before the roof collapses. IF the roof falls down on this team before GMMG does anything of significance, then how can he remain? Aquillini would be crucified in this city. Maybe the sports department will start taking a closer look at his WorkSafe BC violations involving temporary foreign workers from Mexico.

    It’s just something to keep in mind. There is always more at stake than what you see on the surface.

  • jung gun

    What do you guys think of our chances for next season if we integrate horvat, shinkaruk, and possibly one of the other prospects in the pipes? Elevating kassian to the first line alongside the sedins would free burrows to play with kesler. They could be accompanied by shinkaruk, which makes that a line with lots of scoring threats, though without a bonafide playmaker. Third line: horvat centering hansen and higgins. Throw richardson onto to the fourth and choose whatever plugs are available, like future art ross winner tom sestito. Given that as our forward corps, i’d get rid of garrison, because I don’t see much appeal or upside in him aside from his shot and decent defensive awareness. He could also yield a solid return, potentially an offensive defenseman prospect project who’s a rightie. That said, I’m not familiar with his underlying stats.

    With that setup, I like the look of next year’s team. Horvat will improve dramatically over the course of this year and next, so, come playoff time, he could be a legitimate force worthy of the other team’s respect.

    Anyway, I’m curious as to what you guys thinm. Maybe we need to execute more trades, pull in a character like e. Kane, or someone like that. Also, I’m not trying to start a backseat driver of the franchise discussion, I’m just curious to see what the blog’s readers opinions are.

    • Mantastic

      why would you think adding inexperienced rookies, will help the team? adding 1 forward with the max projected 40pt total over 82 games isn’t a solution, let alone a rookie that was injured his entire draft+1 season…

      • jung gun

        Because horvat has established himself as a solid defensive forward that could handle splitting a shutdown role with kesler’s line, while also producing. I don’t think he’d hit 40 points on the third line, but if he could muster close to thirty that would be pretty damn good. Shink does have limitations, I agree, but He also has tremendous upside and could make a big impact in a top six role. Maybe I’m being naiive though. What would you rather see and why would that be better?

    • jung gun

      I don’t think you can count on any prospects next year. They’re developing and may or may not crack the line up.

      Jense had high expectations but he is struggling right now. He’s recently showing signs of improvement.

      I don’t think the Canucks/Torts are going to hand any top roles to a rookie unless they prove themselves. Kassian is now getting looks at a top 6 role because he is learning the finer areas. He is starting to show signs of turning into a top 6 player but the jury is still out.

      Hunter, Bo, Gaunce, Cassels etc are looking good but I am sure they’ll get a look in Utica before the Canucks. It’s a process and needs to be done in order to properly develop a player. There aren’t too many exceptions to this but there are some.

      Honestly, I would like to see Grenier called up and some guys from Utica. You may catch lightning in a bottle from some of those guys. It’s a tough call though. Torts wants players to earn roles but it’s tough to do that as a call up when you play bottom 6 minutes and aren’t placed in critical roles. Going this route means it’ll take time so you may want to get used to this version of the Canucks.

      • jung gun

        Okay, those are some good points. I didn’t really expect jensen to crack the lineup this year, but I did expect corrado to, so I shouldn’t be planning to watch the prospects in canucks uniforms next season. I’m hoping that grenier makes the jump next season but I’m not sure where he fits in.

        Overall, it sounds like you’re saying the canucks are adopting the red wings style of development. I’m not totally opposed to that, but I also think that the team is starting to lag; legs are looking limp out there. Hertl made the jump for the sharks this season and he’s 19, so I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable to expect players coming out of an extremely deep draft to crack a lineup of waning players. It all depends on development, though. Shink might be the least likely due to injuries, but that kid has heart and skill. Could turn out to be a dynamo next season if his skills don’t drop dramatically.

        Anyway, good feedback. I appreciate it.

        • jung gun

          I do believe a lot of local writers have noted the Canucks do follow the Red Wings mentality in player development. It isn’t unique but it is the comparable often brought up by writers. I think Gillis may have noted this as well.

          I’m not too shocked Corrado didn’t make the lineup. I’d prefer to see him get a season of top 2 D minutes/situations in Utica over lesser minutes in Van and not play all roles. It’ll help him refine his game. I am sure he’ll be up next year and maybe even this year (maybe Gillis moves a D man in a deal). Canucks have decent depth on D.

          Some prospects may make the jump to the Canucks. They have to show something to the coaches/mgmt. It doesn’t seem like it’s decided in advance. If a player shows something then they’d have him come up. Spots aren’t handed out etc. So, a lot of these prospects showed well but not well enough.

          I think Hunter is a need for the Canucks. The organization lacks snipers/game breakers. He might be that guy. Maybe the Canucks deal a D man to Detroit and get one of their prospect snipers in return (like a Mantha). Canucks have a lot of toughness and physical players but the pure goal scorers don’t seem to be there.

          • jung gun

            Word. I’d love to see a trade for a prospect like Mantha, especially if we gave up Garrison and a couple mid draft picks for him. We’re in agreement about that, and I also agree that in retrospect, it’s better to have corrado down in utica. Hopefully things look better next year.

  • jung gun

    Don’t over look Santo being out as a big deal. Hank will be back, hopefully soon, but all of a sudden guys have to move up the line up. In a healthy line up our centers would be Hank, Kess Santo and Richardson, not bad. Now Kess and who ever can win a face off. Santo wins face offs and plays in all parts of the game. There are two silver linings:
    1. Kassian and Booth have started to play better with the increased time.

    2. The Canucks don’t play until Sunday so I can enjoy my weekend.
    P.S….. Sully why not try lain in front of the net on the PP? Goalie could never see around him!

  • jung gun

    Hope Nucks are watching Jets and Leafs! Last PP goal there were two Jets in front of the net screening. Not standing around the net trying to make picture perfect passes. Toughen up and get in front of the net!