GILLISBERG! [Image via The Stanchion]
Yesterday afternoon we ran a new feature we’ll be doing on Fridays called “The Watchability Index”, in which we lay out the weekend’s slate of games in the NHL, and rank them based on how entertaining they promise to be.
The Canucks and the Wild are an easy call to be on the bottom of the list (to go along with Calgary/Edmonton, for some perspective and context) because of the long and storied history these two teams have of playing mind-numbingly boring hockey every time they meet. Unfortunately, the ranking was on point, because good god did that 2-1 shootout win by the Wild ever make for putrid television.
I apologize for not getting this recap up last night. There were some unforeseen circumstances that got in the way. But let’s get real: if you were hanging around anxiously waiting for some analysis on that game between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild last night, you’ve probably got bigger problems going on in your life.
There was only one goal scored by the Canucks to pass along in this one, and I’m beginning to sense a trend here. Here are the goals scored by the Canucks in each game since January 10th: 2, 0, 1, 0, 2, 2, 1, 5, 2, 2, 3, 0, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1. They’ve only managed to score more than 2 goals in a game twice in the past 17, which is good for an average of 1.53 goals/game. How is that even possible?
Maybe instead of spending so much time being locked in on getting a center in return for Ryan Kesler in a potential trade, Gillisberg should consider bringing in a player that is capable of scoring a goal every once in a while, regardless of position.
But speaking of Kesler, he made his return to the lineup after having missed just the one game with the finger/hand injury. It sure didn’t look to bother him on that shot that he slingshotted past Kuemper, nor did it look to slow to him for the remainder of the night. It was a pretty good showing for all of the scouts that had their eyes glued on him. While I’d normally scoff at the notion that a player of Kesler’s pedigree has to “show off” for the scouts in attendance, in this particular case I think it was pretty huge for him to prove that he’s healthy enough (at least at this very moment) to contribute.
Beyond that, though? There’s not much to say. Keith Ballard’s book on all of the traumatic experiences he has had at Rogers Arena added another chapter after he had a goal called back due to his teammate apparently being in the blue paint (which he wasn’t, and was a totally bogus call).
When the Wild finally did score, everyone blamed Alex Edler for screening Eddie Lack. Then they blamed him again for having his stick disintegrate on him leading to a turnover. People in this town can’t seem to be rational or fair towards Edler, even if they think otherwise.
It was a pretty thorough domination by the Canucks at 5v5 on this night, as they attempted 59 shots to just the 29 by the Wild. Not a single player on the team finished the night with a negative corsi for %. The most damage on this front was down by the team’s “3rd line” of Booth-Richardson-Kassian.
We keep ranting and raving on this platform about their ability to possess the puck, and at the very least use that to their advantage in preventing the other team from doing anything against them when they’re out there. Booth was on the ice for 18 shot attempts for vs. only 3 against (85.7%), while Richardson wasn’t too far behind with a 20-5 split (80%).
On the blueline, it was the Edler/Tanev pairing that really put in the most work. They both enjoyed a mid-70’s corsi for %, despite seeing a boatload of Parise-Granlund-Pomminville (Minnesota’s top line). It’s funny how, as I mentioned above, people seem to focus on these random singular instances when analyzing Edler’s play, choosing to disregard all of the other good things he does. As for Tanev, he had himself another rough night physically. He had to leave the game a few times after blocking shots, and then went hard into the boards in drawing a boarding penalty on Parise in the overtime. As a slight aside: this was a pretty, pretty, pretty cool thing of Parise to do afterwards to atone for his mistake.
One final note: after failing to score on all 7 of their attempts in the shootout in this one, they’re now 6-44 on the year. That’s 13.64%, which is the second worst conversion rate in the league (behind New Jersey, who has an unfathomably bad 4% rate). Poor Eddie Lack couldn’t get any support, taking the loss despite stopping 22/23 shots against and 6/7 in the shootout.
Next up: Sunday afternoon’s Heritage Classic against the Ottawa Senators. I personally just cannot wait to see that heated rivalry renewed!