Great teams have Michael Frolik on the fourth line, Andrew Ladd on the third, and play Dustin Byfuglien as a complimentary forward. Mediocre teams have Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik on their first line, and lean on Dustin Byfuglien as their promary offensive weapon. Bad teams lose to teams who employ Frolik, Ladd and Byfuglien in major roles. Tonight, as with most nights of late, the Canucks were a bad team.
They were thoroughly out-played by a streaking but still below average Winnipeg Jets team, hemmhoraging scoring chances like a hemophiliac at a Gillette factory, and ultimately losing 4-3 on a late goal by Devin Setoguchi. And if things weren’t bad enough, Vancouver lost yet another defenseman to injury. Read past the jump for a recap of tonight’s events.
Winnipeg got of to a quick start in the game, holding an obvious territorial advantage for most of the first period (note: this is a euphemism for "Vancouver sucked"). Zach Bogosian would open the scoring for Winnipeg with a blast from the point that eluded Eddie Lack’s glove just 5 minutes in to the game on a sequence that was largely caused by Frank Corrado’s inability to handle Andrew Ladd in the corner.
Then, the dreaded second quick goal happened as a total defensive zone meltdown left both Byfuglien and Devin Setoguchi alone in front of the Canucks net. Byfuglien slid a quick pass to Setguchi to tap the puck past Lack , bringing the score to 2-0 for the home side. On the play, Yannick Weber dove back across the crease in an attempt to break up the opportunity, but crashed awkwardly into Eddie Lack. Weber left the game after just 3:25 of ice time and would not return.
The shots at this point were 7-2 in favour of the Jets, and that probably undersells how poor ancouver was to start the game. All night, their defence was noticably porous, and they simply could not contain the Jets on numerous occasions. That’s really not a good sign.
The silver lining for the Canucks was that Ondrej Pavelec was the opposing goalie, and with Ondrej Pavelec in net, anything is possible. Even a powerplay goal:
That was Edler’s first goal since November 22nd, and Vancouver’s first powerplay goal in 7 games. I would say that it ended a run of futility, but let’s be honest with ourselves, the futility is still very much running wild and free.
The Jets almost scored to restore their two-goal lead late in the period however, as Devin Setoguchi absolutely turnstiled Jason Garrison before sliding the puck cross-crease to Dustin Byfuglien. Eddie Lack was up to the task as he came sliding across to make the save.
Thanks in large part to the Daniel-Kesler-Kassian line, the second period got off to a much better start than the first. After a long sequence in the Winnipeg zone, Kesler shoveled the puck in front, collected his own blocked shot, and fired the backhand past Ondrej Pavelec to tie the game at 2-2:
But, once again, the Jets responded by taking the play to the Canucks, generating a beautiful Mark Scheifele scoring chance that Eddie Lack turned aside before breaking the tie and restoring their lead on a Michael Frolik goal just two minutes later. Frank Corrado’s pairing was victimized again, but Jannik Hansen and Kellan Lain are to blame here as well, as they decided to go for a change while Winnipeg had control of the puck and were entering Vancouver’s zone.
Of course, once the Jets took a 3-2 lead into the 3rd, score effects kicked in and Vancouver got their first real run of sustained pressure in the game. It resulted in a Jason Garrison goal about halfway through the period to tie the game back up at 3-3:
Eddie Lack would stop one more Winnipeg scoring chance before Devin Setoguchi scored his second goal of the game with just 2:56 remaining to put Winnipeg back up by one goal. Alex Burrows also took a 4-minute high sticking penalty on the play, so he went to the box for 2 of the final 3 minutes. Vancouver never generated much else, losing to the Jets by a 4-3 final.
Extra Skater is down right now, but I’ll post the Fenwick graph when it’s back up again. I can tell you it was pretty ugly after the second period though.
Thanks in large part to score effects, Vancouver finished at a respectable 5v5 Fenwick of 50.7%. Zack Kassian once again led the way for the Canucks, finishing with a 66.7% Fenwick. Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin were similarly strong at +6 and +5 Fenwick as well. On the other hand, the Higgins-Richardson-Burrows line was a disaster. Burrows and Higgins both had a -8 5v5 Fenwick, while Richardson finished at a game-worst -9. The only other forward who finished in the negatives was Jannik Hansen at -1.
Also of note, the Sedins both now sit T-43rd in scoring among forwards. While they haven’t been as potent as they have been in recent years, I can’t help but think that part of this is luck-fueled. Daniel is one of only two players in the top-50 scorers with a personal shooting percentage below 10% (the other being Nicklas Backstrom), and his mark of 7.3% is by far and away the worst. He still sits 15th among all forwards in shots on goal, one spot ahead of Sidney Crosby, so it doesn’t make any sense that his finishing abilities have withered away to below the level of a 4th liner.
The talent is still there, it’s just ridiculously frustrating when he does things like taking a weak slapper on a clean 2-on-1 from a bad angle rather than trying to snap or wrist a puck past the goalie from a better scoring area. His wrist shot was one of the most accurate in the league at one point, and I find it really hard to believe that it’s withered away to the point that it’s unusable at the NHL level. I don’t know if it’s confidence or what, but someone has to get through to him and hammer home that weak half-clappers are a bad idea in beer league. Get back to what made you successful, Daniel. Take more wrist shots.
Vancouver has the weekend off before they travel to Detroit to take on the also beaten and bruised Red Wings, who have been without Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Jimmy Howard for large stretches of the year. As a result, Detroit has struggled to keep pace in the weaker East, and sits just one point up on Columbus, Ottawa, Philadelphia and New Jersey for the East’s final playoff spot.
John Tortorella also makes his triumphant return, hopefully giving the Canucks some stability and energy and all that crap. Anyways, the Canucks need wins and the Red Wings need wins, so it should be a fun game. We’ll see you then.