After getting plowed 6-1 in a critical game against the Dallas Stars and falling all the way to 28th in the league in scoring, the Vancouver Canucks return home tonight to Where It All Began and face the Calgary Flames. We all remember what happened last time these two teams met in Vancouver, and we all know that since that fateful night, the Canucks have just 3 wins in 15 games stretched over two months. The pre-post-Torts era that began that 1st intermission has been nothing short of hapless, uninspired, and just putrid.
Fortunately for the Canucks, and unfortunately for fans of the Canucks, Flames, or just hockey in general, Calgary has been hapless, uninspired, and just putrid for pretty much the whole season. They’re just as anemic offensively as the Canucks, so this game is gearing up to just be an absolute barnburner. We may see three goals scored! Are you excited yet!?
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST
The big change tonight is that Nicklas Jensen draws in to the lineup for the first time this season as Zack Kassian serves the first game of his 3 game suspension for boarding Dallas’ Brenden Dillon. As Dimitri notes here, Jensen has been effective for the Utica Comets of late, scoring 9 goals in his last 15 games to give him a total of 15 goals and 5 assists in 51 games on the season. While it’s great to see that he’s on a hot streak, I don’t think you should put more stock into this 15 game stretch than you should put into the 17 game stretch in which he didn’t score a single goal to start the year. Given his shot rate, Jensen’s 15 goals in 51 games put him right around the level that you’d expect him to be at on the year.
The bottom line is that Jensen isn’t producing at a top-6 level in the AHL, and there’s no real reason to believe that he’s a better offensive option right now than, say, Darren Archibald. In fact, Archibald and Jensen had remarkably similar numbers in the CHL – Jensen had 25G and 33A in 57GP in 2011-12 with Oshawa, while Archibald had 26G and 33A in 57GP with Barrie in 2009-10. I’d be surprised if Jensen can really help the Canucks find an offensive spark, but hey, blind hope is pretty much all we have left at this point in the season.
I was going to make a joke about Lance Bouma on the 1st line and Paul Byron on the 3rd, but Vancouver has Nicklas Jensen and Tom Sestito in those spots. Glass houses, throwing stones, etc, etc.
There’s not really much to say about Calgary. Half this roster was playing for the Abbotsford Heat the last time I saw them live (which was a few weeks ago), and much like the Comets, the Heat aren’t exactly lighting it up in the AHL. By my count, there are 7 rookies in Calgary’s lineup tonight including starting goaltender Joni Ortio, and outside of Sean Monahan, I wouldn’t really consider any of them to be too “exciting.”
Dustin Penner used to play for Anaheim but he doesn’t now, he plays for Washington. He will have to be friends with Alex Ovechkin.
— Boring Sean Monahan (@boringmonahan) March 4, 2014
|5v5 Corsi Close %||51.8% (10th)||45.3% (27th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.11 (20th)||1.84 (28th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.11 (10th)||2.57 (25th)|
|5v5 PDO||998 (16th)||980 (29th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.34 (28th)||4.69 (25th)|
|5v4 SF/60||57.6 (4th)||43.6 (27th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.40 (3rd)||6.44 (21st)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.2 (1st)||50.1 (16th)|
Good lord, Calgary is terrible. They are bottom-5 in every category outside of the penalty kill.
A couple more fun tidbits:
- I believe that the loser of this game in regulation falls to 29th in the league in goals for per game. Vancouver sits just 0.01 G/GP above Calgary for 28th right now. Only the Buffalo Sabres have scored less frequently.
- Alex Burrows is flirting with history:
Only one player has played more than 20 games in an NHL season, averaged more than two shots/game, and finished the year with 0 goals
— Rhys J (@Thats_Offside) March 7, 2014
That player was Tim Kerr in 1992-93. He played 22 games, averaging 2.18 SoG/GP.
Alex Burrows has played 33 games, averaging 2.39 SoG/GP.
— Rhys J (@Thats_Offside) March 7, 2014
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m cheering for Burrows to continue to not regress to the mean, just to say that we Canuck fans witnessed history in 2013-14. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on the dams bursting here soon though.
Vancouver really should win this game tonight, but if they do lose: oh well. That just brings us one step closer to Sams Reinhart or Bennett.