This picture was not taken on February 3rd, 2014.
Heading into Monday night, it felt like there was some reason for optimism building around these parts. For the preview, I spent some time talking about how the team was getting its coach back, its best player back, and had just managed to pull off a heist of a trade.
To boot, they were going up against an opponent that has been even more injury-riddled than they’ve been, barely getting by in the LEastern Conference. Maybe they missed Brad Richardson. Or maybe they’re just not very good. Whatever the cause, they wound up going out there and dropping a stinky one on everyone that devoted 3 hours of their early evening to watch some hockey.
It wasn’t that they lost 2-0, but moreso the manner in which they did. Read on for more.
The Rundown The Numbers
via Extra Skater
On normal nights, we start our game recaps on this platform off with a succint summary of what went down, to help paint a picture for those that weren’t able to catch the game. Only then do we get into some deeper analytical analysis. Tonight isn’t a "normal" night, though, because the Vancouver Canucks really managed to redefine incompetence.
The concept of "score effects" is one that I think most readers of this blog are already familiar with, but for those that aren’t (or would like a quick refresher/clarification), I recommend reading this. The term can basically be explained as:
"The overwhelming tendency for NHL teams to play more conservatively with either a big lead or any type of third-period lead, generally yielding the neutral zone with greater frequency and thereby allowing more shots."
I quickly compiled some numbers from the indispensable Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com following the game, to look at what percentage of all shot attempts team control depending on the different score situations. Below are this season’s averages for all 30 NHL teams:
|Fenwick For %|
Not at all surprising, but still nice to visual and put into perspective. The Canucks, for the record, control 58.3% of the fenwicks in the 500+ that they’ve been trailing by 1 this season. It was a listless performance all the way around, with Tortorella calling the team out (very deservedly so):
"We need to change this hockey team. We were a slow team. Lack of offence. This really worries me" – Torts #Canucks
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 4, 2014
It worries me too. The performance on Monday night in Detroit was more than unacceptable, which is saying something considering we’re saying that about a team that very recently got their collective butts handed to them by the Edmonton Oilers on their home ice (who themselves got out-corsi’d by 27 by the Sabres tonight).
The Canucks went into the third period trailing by one. In the following 20 minutes, they managed to get a grand total of 4 shot attempts off against a fairly middling team that’s missing its best player (and another top guy). According to Extra Skater, those attempts read as follows:
47 ft. wrister (miss) – David Booth
29 ft. backhand (shot) – Daniel Sedin
62 ft. slapshot (shot) – Alex Edler
59 ft. wrister (shot) – Dan Hamhuis
(UPDATE: I rewatched it, and with 1:23 Jannik Hansen streaks down the right wing for a legitimate scoring chance to tie the game – which he proceeded to sail wide – but for some reason this wasn’t registered. Regardless, I think the point stands..)
3 of Eddie Lack’s last 5 starts have been shutout losses (LAK, PHX & DET). Guy deserves better from #Canucks in front of him
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) February 4, 2014
I just wanted to give Eddie Lack some quick love before calling it a night, because he was fantastic, and basically the only one that showed up in this one. He stopped 28 of 29 shots he faced, with the only one that got by him bring a result of two of his own players failing to block a shot in front of him and inadvertently screening him. He made a couple of great saves, and even tried his best to provide some comic relief:
GIF via The Stanchion