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"You get lost sometimes, we need to take a look at the details. We won’t win every game, but we need to at least play the right way. I didn’t help matters for this team and we’re in a tough spot right now. It’s up to me to do my job and get this team back."
Those words – which as a whole may’ve been the biggest understatement of all understatements – came from John Tortorella during this morning’s media availability. After going 4-9-2 in the month of January (falling to within 1 point of being on the outside looking in on the playoff picture), I think it’s fair to say that the Vancouver Canucks are pretty happy with the fact that the calendar has flipped a page, revealing a new month.
The team will get its coach back for tonight’s game, and while it remains to be seen whether some more successful showings will come as a result of that, at least we know that they’ll be a more interesting squad to follow. And then there’s the somewhat surprising return of a player whose importance can’t be overstated, and a trade from earlier today, both of which’ll surely improve the team’s chances moving forward.
Puck Drop: 4:30 PM PST
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
Lack starts tonight. Seems Lu gets bean town . The coward!
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) February 3, 2014
Seeing as I was openly critical of the decision to roll with Roberto Luongo in both legs of their most recent back-to-back this past week, it’s nice that the we’re not being subjected to that funny business again.
Obviously the big angle here is that Luongo will be starting in Boston for the first time since, well, you know.. In their only trip to Boston in ’12-’13 Cory Schneider got the start, and with last season’s lockout shortened schedule they didn’t make it out there. So while this is something that’ll surely be played up leading to the puck drop (and during the game), I’m pretty OK with it.
Roberto Luongo is making $6.714 million this season, and he’s the team’s starting goaltender. He stopped 39 of 41 shots he faced against this very team earlier this year. He has also played in the NHL for 14 years now, so he’s probably played in more than his share of hostile settings.
That traumatic incident also happened 3 years ago. If you’re going to be using random past events to determine who plays and who doesn’t, then you might want to try and recall what went down the last time he started in Detroit.
b) The big news of the day was obviously the trade Mike Gillis and Co. managed to swing this morning, swapping Dale Weise for Raphael Diaz. Unfortunately, he won’t be making his debut with the team quite just yet.
Diaz will be meeting with #Canucks coaching staff tomorrow to discuss his role on the team.
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 3, 2014
I assume that means that Diaz will be joining the team in Boston, and making his debut tomorrow night. That’s big, because it means that we’ll only have to sit through 1 game of the Yann Sauve Experience! Poor Yan, who really can’t catch a break. First he gets hit by that car, and then his call-up to the NHL gets overshadowed by the Super Bowl.
We didn’t actually run anything yesterday regarding that news, but in our defense, it was hard to put the chicken wings down and write about a guy that we (generously) ranked as the team’s 17th best prospect just a few months ago..
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) February 3, 2014
Well, then. When I initially posted this preview it was believed that the team would keep Henrik out for two more games, eventually bringing him back on Thursday vs. Montreal. After all.. why risk using him in a back-to-back situation (with one of the games against the Bruins, no less) at this point. But points are at a premium, and they’re clearly getting pretty desperate at this point.
As for Richardson, I have no idea what could be wrong with him, but he’s just another Canuck that we can add on to a long laundry list of guys that’ve missed a game this year.
Let’s get to the underlying data for the Canucks heading into tonight’s game:
|Corsi Close %||51.6% (11th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.33 (15th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.17 (11th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.31 (27th)|
|5v4 SF/60||58.5 (4th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.09 (3rd)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.0 (1st)|
The Red Wings
These are not your dad’s Detroit Red Wings, as they’re barely treading water in the Eastern Conference. To be fair to them, though, they’ve been absolutely ravaged with injuries all season long. If you think that things have been bad for the Canucks, you should check this out (the Wings come in 3rd with most Man Games lost, just behind the Penguins and Ducks).
They’ve basically had two things working for them this season: a) the very fortunate and well-timed move to the weaker conference, and b) the fact that they’ve done an admirable job of accumulating young talent in their system over the years. With guys like Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, and Weiss all missing varying periods of time, they’ve had guys like Nyquist, Tatar, and Jurco do as good a job as you could hope for in filling the void.
If Tortorella and Henrik returning tonight, to go along with the Diaz trade, and the Red Wings not being the Red Wings of old wasn’t enough for you, then there’s this one final optimistic nugget:
[Then again, let’s not forget what Carter Hutton did to this incarnation of the Canucks]
Vancouver’s trip to Detroit will be something of a depressing one tonight. While neither team is likely to do anything of consequence come this Spring, at least one of them has a lot to look forward to in the future. But at least there’s some positive things to leach onto today after a month of misery.
|Corsi Close %||50.9% (13th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.34 (14th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.31 (18th)|
|5v4 GF/60||5.24 (23rd)|
|5v4 SF/60||53.6 (8th)|
|4v5 GA/60||5.77 (10th)|
|4v5 SA/60||48.6 (12th)|
[Stats via extraskater.com]
There has been some digital ink spilled in attempting to analyze what kind of impact Raphael Diaz could have on this team, and I figured I’d devote this section to sharing some of said work.
"He is not physical. He is 5-foot-11 and under 200 pounds. But he does block shots. Even with all those healthy scratches he’s one of only three Montreal players with 100 of them. Even without size, he’s proven to be an effective penalty killer. Also, he can skate. He can move pucks. He can produce on a power play. At the very least, if he’s used, he can’t make the Canucks power play worse. And when Alexei Emelin was out earlier in the year recovering from knee surgery, Diaz played in the top four and looked decent doing it. These are not easy skills to find in a depth blueliner and the fact the Canucks got him for a fourth liner they had lost faith in, well, it is win for Vancouver. A small win, but a win all the same."
"5: With the addition of Diaz, the number of right-shooting defencemen on the Canucks roster. Three of them, however, are out with injuries: Chris Tanev, Kevin Bieksa, and Yannick Weber. That leaves just Diaz and Frank Corrado as healthy, right-shooting defencemen and, with John Tortorella unlikely to give big minutes to the young, untested Corrado, expect to see Diaz get plenty of ice time right away, possibly on a pairing with Dan Hamhuis."
"Every single statistic that can be found will tell you that for the last two years, Raphael Diaz has been the 4th best defenseman the Canadiens have had at their disposal. Better than Alexei Emelin, and so much better than Murray that they belong in different leagues. Raphael Diaz is not a world beater. He is not a top pairing defenseman either. What he is, is a puck mover who plays smart instead of physical."