The Vancouver Canucks played a game on Wednesday night. Generally a sentence like that will make you want to quickly close your browser, but not on this night, following their 3-2 shootout victory.
Sure, it doesn’t hurt that they won (for just the 3rd time in 15 games), but far, far more importantly: *things* happened. Some of them were good (hint: the photo above isn’t from a previous season), and some of them were bad (we should be numb to injury news at this point). But at least none of them were of the recently routine and yet still equally embarrassing variety.
On-ice events worth talking about (aside from the aforementioned comedy of errors, and embarrassing blowups) have been so few and far between lately, and it’s because of that, that we’ll gladly accept what went down in Winnipeg. Let’s run through it all just past the jump.
It was all Alex Burrows, all the time. After failing to score a single goal through the first 67 games of the season, he managed to light the lamp twice in this one. Don’t look now, but he only needs 11 more goals to move into 3rd place on the team in goals scored for the year! Only David Booth could’ve seen this coming.
.. that was so nice, let’s do it twice..
There are two other things I’d like to bring your attention to before we get to the numbers:
1) Ryan Kesler got hurt in the 2nd period, after going knee-on-knee with Jim Slater. He didn’t return to the game after gingerly skating to the dressing room following the incident, and immediately following the game it was announced that he was flying back to Vancouver to get some imaging done on the knee. That means he’ll miss at least 3 games, but considering how it looked and how these sorts of incidents can wind up turning out, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it was much longer than that.
I imagine we’ll see Shawn Matthias move up to play between Higgins and Hansen in his absence, like we did tonight. I guess it’ll serve as a good opportunity to see what Matthias can do in a bigger role, playing next to better players.
Especially considering where the team stands at the moment, and the fact that they’ll surely at least re-explore the trade market for him at the draft. Hopefully for his value, this isn’t anything more than a minor sprain or a bone bruise.
For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think Slater did anything wrong on that play. Kesler was reaching for the puck and it was just an unfortunate sequence of events. It was a pretty classless move by the Jets faithful to boo him as he skated off of the ice, though. Obviously he has a checkered diving history, but this most certainly won’t be adding onto it.
2) The overtime was fantastic. It was one of the better ones I’ve seen all season. The Jets had a couple of Grade-A scoring chances right off the bat, and after failing to finish it off, the teams went on to play for five back-and-forth minutes without a single stoppage in play.
If you’re an advocate of expanding the overtime frame to try and lower the importance of the shootout, you’ll probably want to point to this gem because it was a prime example of how fun these sorts of things can be. It truly was exhilarating, despite not a single goal being scored.
It’s a shame that the game had to end in the fashion it did (in a shootout), even if the Canucks came out on the winning end of it.
The Canucks and the Jets came into this game tied in the standings, and after playing 65 minutes of hockey against each other, it’s pretty clear that they’re very evenly matched teams at the moment. The Jets attempted 65 shots to 61 by the Canucks, but the only difference there was due to their power play units being significantly more effective at maintaining OZ time with the extra man.
At 5v5, the Jets won the Corsi Cup by 1 (43-42). In score close situations, it was tied at 32. In terms of specific fluctuations in possession as the game went along, the Canucks actually held a fairly sizeable (relatively speaking) advantage through 2 periods, but really struggled out of the gate to start the final frame. Other than that stretch there, it was basically a series of punches being traded back and forth, varying in strength and duration.
From an individual perspective, let’s give some credit to Nicklas Jensen, for posting the best corsi for % on the team for the night. Despite not being on the ice for a single one of Burrows’ goals, taking another minor penalty, (and failing to convert the Peter Forsberg move in the shootout), I thought he had himself a pretty nice little game. So much so that John Tortorella was singing his praises afterwards. A top prospect getting 19:57 of ice-time in his 3rd game of the season still takes some getting used to around these parts.
One final note – the Tanev/Hamhuis pairing certainly didn’t have one of the finer nights in this one. Yes, they played predominantly against the Ladd/Little/Frolik line, and started the most shifts in the DZ than anyone, but they posted some pretty ugly shot differential numbers that we haven’t been accustomed to seeing from them in the past. Poor Dan Hamhuis seems to be falling apart from all of the wear and tear he has accumulated this season. As for Tanev, he did well to preserve the game at one point late after getting turnstile’d himself:
GIF via Schneider’s Teeth
But amidst all of these numbers, the most important ones that stand out are:
1: number of injured legs Ryan Kesler has now.
2: number of goals Alex Burrows managed to score.
1000: number of games Henrik Sedin has now played in. He most certainly earned this sweet site.
I know how #Canucks fans work. “Good win; just get in the playoffs, maybe draw the Ducks, who obviously aren’t good because Calgary’s up 4-0
— Brad Fay (@SNBradFay) March 13, 2014
Sorry, what were you saying? I was too busy checking the Western Conference playoff picture..
Just kidding. Even with this win, something we need to keep in mind is that the Canucks are the only team in the NHL to have played 68 games so far. The Stars – who currently sit in the final Wild Card slot – have 3 games in-hand on them. The Coyotes have 2, and the Jets (who the Canucks are now a point ahead of) have one as well.
I guess it can never hurt to dream big, but let’s just try to remain reasonable and rational, here. Even if nothing about the Vancouver Canucks this season has been either reasonable, or rational.