CA Postgame: Canucks, ironically, come up small in Jordan Schroeder’s return

"Since neither of us are good at hockey, let’s give rugby a shot, shall we?" [Image via Adam Gretz]

Let’s not sugarcoat things, because losing to the Edmonton Oilers (a team that could actually conceivably be the worst team in the league; yes, even worse than the Buffalo Sabres) surely represents a new low point for a team that has endured some pretty embarrassing results in recent memory. Especially when it happens at home.

But it’s also one that’s not necessarily all that surprising, and certainly one that needs to be put into perspective. Everything is a jumbled mess right now, with players being asked to fill roles their natural talent level doesn’t allow them to fill. Their recent 4-game stretch of "getting by" was more of a testament to their opponents’ misery than it was to the Canucks suddenly turning a corner.

.. and Monday night, the ineptitude that has been a byproduct of missing two of their top 3 centers finally caught up with them, coming back to bite them in the rear. Read on past the jump for a recap of the humbling loss.

The Rundown

This isn’t necessarily all that telling given how few positives there actually were to take away from the overall performance, but Jordan Schroeder was clearly the one shining light amidst it all. In the lead-up to the game I wrote about how this was a perfect opportunity for him to prove that he’s an asset work keeping around (given the dearth of talent currently available down the middle). 

I should clarify that his performance wasn’t *all* great, so don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. He wound up being one of the 7 Canucks to finish with a negative shot differential next to their names, was on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals against, and was quite frankly pretty lucky to have scored both of his goals. If anything, the best thing he did in his return was put Corey Potter under that lethal Imperius Curse.

Still, let’s give him some credit for the goals, if only to try and stifle Alex Burrows’ tears. Given the goal scoring struggles of this team these days we can’t exactly get overly picky with regards to the fashion in which they’re generated. Plus he drew a penalty on Ryan Smyth (who held on to him for dear life just like he’s holding on to the last remnants of his career). 

I’m glad to see that David Booth was credited with an assist on the first goal, seeing as it was his hard work on the forecheck along the boards that freed the puck up for Schroeder. Booth has been snakebitten during the large majority of his tenure as a Canuck, in that most of the sneaky good things he does haven’t translated into counting stat success. It’s absolutely inexcusable for him to be scratched in place of either Dale Weise or Kellan Lain at this point. 

Here’s Schroeder’s first goal:

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.. and his second goal:

Apart from those two goals, there aren’t too many moments to single out and discuss. The game sort of came and went. There was Dan Hamhuis going after Nail Yakupov (who wanted to no part of him, with David Perron finally stepping in). Pretty out of character for Hamhuis to initiate post-whistle physical contact the way he has for two nights in a row now, but he’s probably just fed up all of the poor play. And he’s a smart dude who likely realizes that it’s the only way he’s going to garner himself any sort of meaningful rest time during the game.

There was also this ridiculous save by Luongo, which really is worth a second viewing. Luongo wasn’t exactly tested very often in this one, but I’d say that he also wasn’t all that good in the times that he was. Near the beginning of the game John Garrett went on a little spiel about how Dallas Eakins is a "stickler for stats" and that it was the reason why he was going with the fresh Ilya Bryzgalov instead of going back to Scrivens. "I would think that if you win, you get to play again" he said. On a very related note, I thought Bryzgalov was fantastic for the most part. But this horse is dead by this point..

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Oh, I also unfollowed Ben Kuzma. Let’s get to a chart (finally!). They usually cheer me up.

The Numbers

Image via Extra Skater

Other than some pregame jawing at center ice, and a little harmless dust-up early on, the whole "Kassian finally being forced to answer the bell for his actions" was a total non-story on this night. Maybe the Canucks would’ve been better off had he spent some time in the penalty box, because he was downright awful in this one.

He was tied for a team worst shot differential (42.6%), and was directly responsible for 2 of the goals against (including the empty netter that sealed it). He had been the best Canuck over the past handful of games I thought, but v. the Oilers he was trying to do waaaaay too much waaaaay too often. Consistency is something that is obviously still a work in progress with Kassian, but I’m hoping that this setback doesn’t send him plummeting back down the depth chart. The Canucks can’t afford to be teaching lessons at this point.

The Edler/Garrison pairing saw a ton of Perron-Gagner-Yakupov, and they were victimized for three goals against. They looked awkward, and weird, and the group of defensemen on this team continue to be the worst in the league when it comes to defending 2-on-1s.

As you can tell from the chart above, other than the rugby scrum that took place in front of Bryzgalov, they mounted a pretty feeble comeback attempt. When a team is trailing in the 3rd period you should in theory see a pretty noticeable spike in shot attempts for said team. But the Canucks only managed to register 11 shot attempts to the 10 by the Oilers. Just not good enough. 

I’m not going to spend any time talking about the power play at this point, since I don’t have a solution for it at this time. At least they didn’t give up a shorthanded goal against, and actually managed to outshoot their opponent when they had the extra man. So.. that’s progress? As Rhys noted last time out, without Henrik around they’re definitely struggling to enter the offensive zone with controlled possession. There’s a lot of dump-ins, and as a result we’re seeing them have to retreat a lot to their own end of the ice to retrieve the puck after it has been cleared.

While it was very positive to see Edler and Garrison on the top PP unit, Tanev and Stanton were on the point for the 2nd unit, which I’m pretty sure is the word-for-word definition of the phrase "one step forward, two steps back".

I hope you don’t think I’m coming across as overly negative because I hate the Canucks or because I’m a big meanie who wants to hurt your feelings. Because I assure you that’s not my intention. I’m just trying to objectively call it like I see it, and what I saw was a performance that wasn’t good enough against anyone, let alone a bottom feeder like the Oilers.

The Conclusion

There’s reason for optimism when looking ahead. No, not for the Canucks.. who are about to run right into the Chicago Blackhawks buzzsaw on Wednesday night. Instead I’m referring to optimism for you and I, because that’s the same night we’ll all be meeting up at The Pint to support a good cause. Come and hang out with us, and I can all but guarantee that you’ll be at least a tad bit happier than you would be sitting along at home, watching it. There will be liquor there.

  • VC

    People say that the plus/minus is a lousy stat, however, when it comes to Edler, it is clearly an honest indication of his poor play.

    I had a laugh at Kesler: ‘We made stupid plays at stupid times. They cheat all over the ice and we played right into their hands.’…so what dude? umm they brought you down to their level of suckiness and you got beat by a worse team?…take some responsibility for your and the other stars on this team’s lack of production.

    This isn’t going to get any better. Even if we do make it in and the inevitable happens, we get the 15th over all pick…Woohoo! Canuck fans we have a lot to look forward to.

  • KleptoKlown

    A loss to the cOilers is never acceptable. Other than the last 4-5 minutes, this was a painful one to watch.

    With this payroll, with these “home town discounts” there has to be better results. This last month has been some of the worst hockey I can recall the Canucks playing in a long time. This team may not be a cup favorite anymore, but they are better than these latest results.

    Anything can happen in the playoffs, and that’s the luck we Canucks fans have to hope for.

  • KleptoKlown

    Hard to win a lot of games when your first line centre is Brad Richardson. Remember when ownership wanted Brad Richards? I guess this counts as a close enough replica.

  • Marsh

    This was a low point for sure and I had a feeling this would happen. Richardson playing on the top line with Danny is a symptom but throw in a lack of effort and sloppy play you have the disease. This team talent could always overcome lethargic efforts but not now. It wasn’t until the last 5 mins that I actually saw two forwards get to a dumped in puck or saw a Canuck beat and oiler to a loose puck. Mix in sloppy passes and lack luster effort and how many 2-1 or 3-2 can one team give up. Good teams recognize their limitations, but this team continues the stretch passes and fancy plays like nothing has changed. KISS… Keep It Simple( you are not) Sedin!

    • KleptoKlown

      I was totally with you until you wrote that terrible KISS.

      That said, I mostly agree with you on this. The Canucks are pretty bad team right now. In fact, had not been for a favourable December, this would be a team looking at whether or not it might be drafting Ekblad or Reinhart (or Bennett). No matter, we’d take the wrong guy.

  • Kessler shows a lot of disdain for guys that cheat all over the ice…..considering he was rather guilty of that affliction himself on this evening.

    Furthermore…. Kassian on the ice in a “hero” situation.
    A damning indictment on available options if ever there was one.


  • Mantastic

    i love the opening of the past few postgames, as you keep stating (regardless of win/loss) as the team has hit a “new team low”, trending in the right direction!

  • Mantastic

    Awesome – lol – i hope this game is the one you look back on as being the reason you missed the Playoffs. The Window is closing Vancouver- lol. How did the Granola and Soy sauce taste this morning ? made my night.

    And you , my arrogant for no reason sucknuck
    friends, have a great day.

    Oil Country – stay out or we will jack up your
    fuel prices again.

    • Peachy

      Soy tasted fine. But what business does someone from the Province that leads the country with crippling alcoholism & drunk driving fatalities is in criticizing what we drink in Vancouver?

      • Peachy

        You drink soy sauce? Weird, I just put it on my rice.

        That guy made an arrogant comment about your “arrogant” fans and he should probably just be ignored.

        I love beating the Canucks as much as any other Oilers fan, but fact is… we’re not really in any position to be laughing at anyone.

    • Peachy

      I love these types of comments. Awesome. I love how he finishes by noting that he has something to do with oil prices. This moron probably works in a gas station and has a criminal record. The closest he’ll get to being a contributing member of society is when he attends his A&D counselling and methadone treatment as scheduled.

    • Peachy

      No need to worry about that. No one moron represents a town or team or mssg. board. We have our own idiot on these boards: NoMind00. Just laugh and enjoy the ride!

  • This team is just brutal to watch right now, after the fun of recent years. Is this messy season a blip on the radar, or are we entering into the next phase of this group, like 2004-2008 was for the West Coast Express (Bert/BMo/Naslund)?

    Those were dark years…we weren’t good enough to legitimately compete, but we weren’t bad enough that we could wallow in the misery of a garbage-fire type season (and get a high draft pick). Kind of like the majority of Canucks franchise history! : P

  • The Canucks are still in a playoff spot battling a team located in the desert.

    I could swear that making the playoffs and hoping to get lucky (4 times) is what delusional Canuck fans wanted not too long ago…

  • Peachy

    The Canucks look the worst I have seen in many years. They are not anywhere near the calibre of the top teams in the conference, let alone the league and it’s hard to imagine injuries or not that they are going to go anywhere in the playoffs.

    That said, we still are in the playoffs, we remain — despite the abysmal play of this godforsaken month — only 3 points behind LA (who also have not exactly been setting the world afire unless of course they are playing us). It’s not like we are, you know, 20 or 22 points out of a playoff berth, or have missed the playoffs for the better part of a decade.

    Enjoy your trolling Alberta fans, and remember for you there’s always next year, full of truculence and high draft picks…

    • You’re foolish if you think the Canucks are in a better spot (in terms of the next contention window) than the Oilers.

      While Edmonton may very well (hilariously) piss away a number of high picks, some building blocks for a future contender are already in place.

      Add an Ekblad/Reinhart, a couple of defenseman (whom they may already have in the system) and compotent goaltending and they could EASILY take a step forward like Colorado has this season.

      Vancouver, on the other hand, appears to be on the same path as Calgary during their four 1st round exits following their cup run.

      Both Edmonton and Vancouver are wasting time. But only one franchise has realistic potential for growth in the near future…

      • Marsh

        Wow, a 2 game win streak has you this optimistic about the Oil. You are even more delusional than us Canuck homers. There are no windows in the basement, but if there were for the Oil, you’d think some of the potential would have shown itself by now. They are even worse off than last year.

        The rest of this post is about as strawman as you ever have been. I mean for any REASONABLE fan being in the hunt is much better than hoping for another lottery home run isn’t it? I’m talking in the NOW, not what has happened, or what you think is going to happen.

        I won’t even dare critique the armchair part of this because you’d think they’d have made those moves well before this season…and they involve as much hope as any deluded hockey fan’s wishes. So yeah, you have become one of them.

        I just knew you’d be here at your Oil loving best, but man, you’ll get serious back problems if you stick your head up any further.

      • Mantastic

        Meh. Yes, you can point to all of these rebuilds and say “that’s how it is done!” But that ignores mountains of evidence that says look at the decade of wasteland that was the Blackhawks. Look at the New York Islanders. Look at… well you get my point. So many teams rebuild through the draft and it takes a decade that way.

        Vancouver fans only want winners. There is way too much else to do than support a loser. That’s a fact. A prolonged risky rebuild through the draft is not going to work here.

        • Mantastic

          sitting in mediocrity isn’t going to help either. where do you think teams like Bos, Pits, Chi, LA, SJ, STL get their core players from? the draft. Kessel, Crosby, Geno, Toews, Kane Doughty, Couture, Peitrangelo, Eric Johnson all from high picks. The higher you pick the better the chance of getting an impact player. even still those high picks can then be flipped for other good talent or future high draft picks.

          Yes, you’re right, there is no guarantee of building a winner with high picks but you have a much better chance at doing so, than without.

          • Marsh

            Oy. Although your point is true, those were all very high picks needing finishes in the bottom nine or worse. For the Canucks to draft build even just a first line would take 3 to 5 years of badly missing the playoffs, including development time. Are you suggesting the Canucks deliberately tank? Pittsburgh almost folded until they won the Crosby lottery.

            Incidentally, the team that is now the Hawks were built from 2001 to 2009 excepting Saad and Shaw. During that time the Canucks drafted Bieksa,Umberger,Kesler, Edler, Schneider, Raymond. Hodgson, Schroeder, all with much later picks, and signed Tanev and Lack.

            In the last 4 years, only 5 players available to the Canucks in the draft have been NHL impactful, even assuming they had kept the Quinton Howden pick. They are Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Charlie Coyle, Justin Faulk and Brendan Gallagher.

          • Marsh

            Oh, I agree with you. The immediate future lies in the prospects drafted by the Canucks in the last 4 years. Too early to tell. Some of those guys have to be top 6 players or Gillis is gone.

            As for Horvat’s ranking, he was about 14 right? Shinkaruk was about 10 but obviously nobody believed that. Gillis doesn’t draft Russians and Nichushkin was the next best forward choice at 9.

          • Marsh

            When was the last time the Sharks drafted in the top 10?

            Tanking is a lazy way to rebuild because it takes no thought. “Here, take my best players and in exchange we’ll take hope.” Fans are so gullible. I want to see a winner. You have to do better drafting later in the draft. There are plenty of stars taken later in the first round, lots of busts taken in the top 5. But fans don’t want to acknowledge that.

          • Mantastic

            Couture in 2007. Marleau, Stuart, Setoguchi, Michalek was top 10. all either still with the team or flipped for key pieces of their team now.

            you clearly don’t want to acknowledge that there are way more busts outside of the top 5, than within the top 5. Sure you can build by drafting extremely well outside the top 10 but boy do you have to be very lucky.

      • Mantastic

        Perhaps it’s you who needs the lessons in reading. I didn’t say the Canucks are in a good position — though as the original post suggests the team shouldn’t be as bad as it looks now, anymore than the success in December suggested that it would be a team to make a lot of noise in the postseason.

        My point was that Oiler (and Flames) fans are in a pretty weak position to mock the Canucks who even despite their struggles are overall better than either of them. What’s the basic line — look how bad you are, you can’t even beat basement dwellers like us?

        And isn’t the “potential for growth” line something that the Oilers faithful have had to hear for far too long? Are you Darryl Katz? Did you pen the letter telling everyone to just have patience?

        You make many nonsensical points but the idea of buying out Daniel Sedin to save cap space is, frankly, insane. Which of the amazing UFAs on the open market do you suggest we go for in order to miraculously save the future? Is there a chance that YOU could be hired to be GM and thereby save us from catastrophe? Because you have all the right answers, unlike all of us fools…

      • Mantastic

        Yeah, no I meant the Flames for the Burke-truculence. I see their fans trolling on here too. In either case it’s kind of a sad fate for two pretty good franchises, one to go down the path the of the Leafs and the other to go down the path of the AHL.

  • Fred-65

    I think a lot of fans of recent years are in for a shock. This team for years now has been relavent. Those days seem to be slipping away. I attended last nights game ( season tocket holder ) and I try to justify the expense of buying tickets against other comparible activities….a concert or a good dinner…if you get my drift. Last night between the TV time out when you’re glued to your seat watching people scrape the ice and man it seems to me there are more TV time outs and the constant icings ( I don’t think I’ve watched a game with so many icings) ….it was painfull. If it was a Stones concert it was like Mick Jager didn’t turn up or if it was a a meal that you discovered was moldy and you’d expect a trip to the toilet in short order. I’m actually dreading the game on Wednesday

  • Peachy

    What the “H” has happened to Daniel Sedin?He just looks like he`s floating around the perimeter out there.Unreal,its like he`s totally lost his game.This is a guy who won the Art Ross a few years back?

    • Peachy

      Daniel is the only winger in the league whose production is significantly dependent on playing with a specific centre.

      And that centre happens to be injured now.

      Now that Henrik is obligated to the Canucks for the next 4 years, the organization would do well to trade/buyout Daniel as he is a poor use of 10% of the cap on a team with contending aspirations…

      • Peachy

        I agree with that,but he hasn`t been exactly lighting it up with Henrik in the lineup.Question for you, what would you say is the biggest contributing factor of the demise of the Canucks the last few years?.Did it start with the Grabner trade,Hodgson?,losing Erhoff? Mahotra getting hurt?or something else.
        Thanks for your time..

        • Mantastic

          I would have to say drafting, NTC and signing guys past their prime. Teams like SJ, LA, Chi, STL, Bos, Pens will continue to have cap problems but they have cheap options from drafting well to fill in the holes. Guys like Hertl, Pirri, Saad, Tarasenko, King, Krueger, can easily complement their pre-existing skill for a fraction of the price of the players they were replacing, thus keeping their teams skill level high while falling within the salary cap.

          Vancouver has been unable to replace leaving/regressing talent since Gillis tenure. Yes he did well with Santorelli, Garrison and Tanev but when you make 5 holes at the end of the season and only fill 2 of those spots, you will never succeed. The regression of both the Sedins and Kesler were obvious as well, career high stats were unsustainable but while they were regressing, there was no effort to replace their production.

          • Mantastic

            You hit the nail on the head.

            The rise of this franchise was largely due to drafting/developing guys (Sedin, Sedin, Allen, Bieksa, Kesler, Schneider, Edler, Hansen, Raymond) and some shrewd trades (Salo, Luongo, Ehrhoff).

            The franchise has fallen for the same reason (last drafted/developed regular is Raymond).

            Too little to show for some of the guys the Canucks have drafted as well (Schneider, Grabner, Hodgson, Connauton)…

          • Marsh

            Legitimate points, minimal snark. It’s an argument that i agree with.

            Considering how many of those drafts picks that we sent away (Grabner, Hodgson, Schneider), I think it’s reasonable to note that maybe our problem is as much draft development and asset management rather than scouring/drafting abilities.

          • Mantastic

            I believe the problems that have occurred came from gruesome trades for players that didn’t pan out. Even the Garrison FA signing could be called questionable, but Schultz was the other option that year and he hasn’t done much with the oOil. To me just bad fits with overly offensive one dimensional players like Booth and Ballard in place of true role players. The last time the Canucks were successful they had guys like Raffi Torres that walked the line but gave the team an edge. Hopefully we will get a chance to see a healthy roster compete after the Olympic break and then judge. Remember playing well into the playoffs is more important than seeding these days. No team seems invincible especially Chicago and Ducks. Good teams not great

    • Marsh

      Yikes. Basically besides Girardi there’s really no one in their prime. Marleau and Thornton who just resigned are the others but not exactly known for their playoff performances.

      So other than saving the Canucks’ owners actual money I find it hard to justify not resigning the Sedins as NM00 repeatedly says we made a mistake in doing. Who exactly were we going to get instead? The argument that we don’t draft as well as we once did completely misses the point that all the other players we’ve got through the draft other than Kesler were complementary. We got generationally good players in the Sedins (who are clearly on the downswing though I think the lack of production recently is a combination of overplaying, age, and injuries than all of a sudden sucking) at 2 and 3. When else have we drafted anywhere near that high? Given how low most of our picks have been we’ve actually done a decent job.

      But of course if we’d had 5-6 years of #1 overall picks we’d have won several cups by now, right?

      • Mantastic

        drafted top ten last year and picked a guy ranked outside of the top 10 with it the pick. teams that have finish well and won stanley cups have much better prospect pipelines than the canucks. please don’t think you’ve drafted well considering low draft slots.