Canucks Army Postgame: Things happened in Winnipeg, for once

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 7.57.02 PM

via Marianne Helm/Getty Images

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.

The Rundown

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 Numbers

via Extra Skater [dot] com:

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-12 Canucks 3 at Jets 2 (SO)

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-12 Canucks 3 at Jets 2 (SO)

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:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
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.

The Conclusion

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.

  • Just watch the Ewing theories pop up as the Canucks score in bunches without Kesler the rest of the way and squeak into the playoffs, losing in 4 games.

    Kesler’s value is driven down, the Canucks get a worse pick and Aquilini’s pockets are the only winners when it’s all said and done.

    If this is anything close to what it’s like to be a flames fan

    *shudders*

    • Cale

      Will the owners really be winners if they get swept out of the playoffs in round 1? How many fans would be choked and not make efforts to attend games? Probably many and you know the viewers are down (I don’t have the exact numbers but I think Sportsnet mentioned viewers went from approx. 600 000 to 200 000 in recent games). Business is not good for the owners.

      I don’t know if Kesler’s value drops by much. He was hit knee on knee. Most people are getting hurt there. We don’t know the extent of the injury. Honestly, if he takes some time off and returns in a bit with some more jump, it might be worth it. Put on a display for other teams!

  • Even though we have a tarnished image, a dysfunctional management/ownership situation and a horrendous number of injuries to key players, I take comfort that we can still beat Calgary and Winnipeg.

    Did anyone notice that the Canucks crappy passing leads to far too many turnovers in both ends of the ice? Also, the Canucks should be encouraged to hit the net because “high and wide” isn’t getting us out of our scoring slump.

  • Cale

    I actually see the Kesler injury as a blessing in disguise. It will certainly improve our draft position, and yet we won’t have to tank in order to do so. We’ll just be legitimately worse, and it’s an easy and ready explanation for why you’re losing hockey games.

        • Cale

          What’s the “usual return”?

          Very good-occasionally elite players like Kesler with term remaining on their contracts are rarely, if ever, traded at the deadline.

          But his value certainly isn’t going to go up as he turns 30 and teams only control his rights for 2 years…

          • Cale

            Pretty much everybody else is here to discuss the team, whether the discussions be cynical or optimistic or whatever. I’m not really sure why you’re so caught up on randomly insulting someone else, but it makes you seem like you’ve got some issues.

            It’s weird, because I tend to agree with both you and NM on a lot of points.. I don’t really understand where your hatred comes from.

          • Cale

            If this is you having fun Ted, what are you like when you’re angry…

            Let’s see if you can stretch your brain enough to form a cogent, logical argument against my alleged BS.

            The word-a-day toiler paper I sent you does not seem to have made you any more articulate…

          • asdf

            If you have to ask that question, I’ll have to ask you if you are really NM00. I’m talking Gillis return, not speculated value from Oiler fans. What could we have expected that wasn’t a step back or sideways? Honestly, I could give a crap because in my mind there was no way Kes moves. Not now, not in the summer. His leadership and experience are too valuable here, and elsewhere you’ll have to pay asking price and be the exact place he wants to be. Which will be high. There, I discussed a sideways deal this morning. You can continue where you want with this, but I’m out. Discussing Kesler trades stopped doing it for me 2 weeks ago.

          • asdf

            I’m hoping Kes, Edler and Hammer get moved over the summer. I doubt Ham wants to go but here’s to hoping. All three can bring good returns and that is what we need since our farm system is on the weak side. We have a few blue chip prospects but there is no guarantee on them. If you can flip each one of these guys for 2-3 almost NHL ready players then have at it.

            The Edler rumors from last summer seemed to have some solid returns (Detroit). If we can do something like that again then have at it. Sadly, I think Gillis might be a year too late…again…

          • asdf

            “What could we have expected that wasn’t a step back or sideways?”

            You’re bang on here.

            It’s highly unlikely a Kesler trade is going to improve the Canucks in the next year or two.

            But the same can be said for the Luongo trade.

            And the Schneider trade.

            And the Hodgson trade.

            But is keeping Kesler until the 2016 deadline the solution?

            The Canucks are going to lose on the Kesler trade just like they lost on the Luongo trade.

            Just like the Oilers lost when they pretty much had to trade away Pronger for the best available offer.

            Just like the Penguins lost when they pretty much had to trade away Staal for the best available offer.

            And missing the rest of the year, if it comes to that, will not help Kesler’s asset value…

          • asdf

            Or they do the right thing and extend him, which hopefully brings your mind back to the present, and our team. Unlike Pronger with the Oil when he played there, and Staal who was the leagues best 3rd line center, Kes is heart and soul territory for this franchise right now. You don’t open the vault for the Sedins and close it on him. You have to accept a few guys get to ride their prime out here to pass the torch. Kes gets my vote because he’s a proven warrior and those guys never quit on anything, they get shut down. We need more of that moving forward.

            Don’t you also find it funny how players names come up at trade deadline roughly around the time extensions are due? All the trade rumour told me is that negotiations are under way, and that’s a good thing. But I could be wrong because… (Turn Sarcasm meter on here.) The media has never, ever been used as a tool in contract negotiations. It’s taboo.

          • andyg

            “Or they do the right thing and extend him, which hopefully brings your mind back to the present, and our team.”

            I’m sure management/ownership would love to extend Kesler.

            But if Kesler wants to move on (like Pronger, Staal, Heatley etc), they have to accept that and act accordingly.

            “Unlike Pronger with the Oil when he played there, and Staal who was the leagues best 3rd line center, Kes is heart and soul territory for this franchise right now.”

            This is the same line of thinking that allows people to suggest the Sedins are “untouchable” in the name of the empire.

            Newsflash: Pronger in his prime was far more valuable than a 30 year old Kesler, irrespective of whether or not he bled Oiler blue or some other such nonsense.

            “Kes gets my vote because he’s a proven warrior and those guys never quit on anything, they get shut down.”

            More nonsense.

            “Don’t you also find it funny how players names come up at trade deadline roughly around the time extensions are due?”

            Kesler cannot be extended until July 2015 at the earlist so that has nothing to do with this…

          • asdf

            As far as I know extensions can happen anytime within the lifetime of a contract, unless otherwise stipulated. Most extensions are negotiated well before the final contract year so that it isn’t a distraction, why not 2 years to see if there’s commitment to a rebuild? I could care less what your opinion of Kesler is. He’s going to be sought after no matter what because he is an experienced warrior. That is not “nonsense” it’s fact. I just don’t think he wants to go anywhere, maybe we differ on that point. Which is why I can’t see the similarity between Kes’ situation and the guys you keep listing. They wanted out and sang it to the world. You, and everybody else that thinks he wants out are simply speculating. More “nonsense”.

          • asdf

            “As far as I know extensions can happen anytime within the lifetime of a contract”

            You cannot extend a player until he has only one year remaining on his contract.

            This has absolutely nothing to do with an extension…

            I love Kesler.

            He’s an impact centre when healthy.

            But he’s not Pronger-valuable.

            And I don’t trust a max effort guy to age gracefully.

            And keeping him for the next two years while the Canucks are rebuilding is a waste…

          • andyg

            Not Pronger valuable? That’s as strawman as it gets. You’re grasping comparing an unofficially retired defenceman to an active forward value wise. It has to end here before it get’s too absurd.

  • I don’t think most people are naïve enough to think that a win against * Winnipeg * now puts us back in the playoff picture. Realistically, it’s not going to happen…we already shot ourselves in the foot with all those losses in the last 10 weeks. There’s too much ground for us to make up.

    Just wanted to refute @SNBradFay’s claim above that Canucks fans would switch from gloom to playoffs! after a single win.

  • Cale

    Another brilliant piece of asset management by Mike “Milbury” Gillis to watch Kesler’s value dip in a meaningless regular season game.

    Put his body in bubble wrap and leave him on the sidelines for the rest of the year.

    His presence in the lineup is less important than protecting his continually diminishing asset value…

      • andyg

        I forgot…it all comes back to the puppet master…

        If Aquillini is Vito Corleone, is the general manager Michael or Fredo?

        For a number of reasons, I’m hoping he’s Fredo…

        • andyg

          Oh that’s right right you think that Gillis has full autonomy when it comes to hockey decisions.

          You have also failed to enlighten me on the complicated business structure of the company. I always thought that it was a privet company in which the Aquillini’s had full ownership and control of.

          Please correct me if I am wrong.

          • asdf

            “Oh that’s right right you think that Gillis has full autonomy when it comes to hockey decisions.”

            False.

            I’ve never once said this so you might try another rhetorical tool aside from nonsense…

            Oh that’s right. You think there is something uniquely nefarious about Canuck ownership relative to the 29 other ownerships in the NHL based entirely on rumour & gossip.

            Forgive me if I don’t lap up baseless notions devoid of evidence just because you say so…

          • andyg

            You can call it nonsense if you want but the Canucks are structured in such a way that the Aquillini’s have the final say on all key hockey decisions.

            That is a fact.

          • asdf

            You can call it nonsense if you want.

            But all 30 NHL teams are structured in such a way that ownership has the final say on all key hockey decisions.

            That is a fact.

  • andyg

    Yes folks the owners make ALOT of money in the playoffs, because the players are not getting salary….. Profit

    Also anyone that is excited about getting better draft position….. We are basically talking the difference between 6-8 picks. The rest of the teams are way to down in the pts column to be caught.

    Tragic year either way. Bad enough the
    Sat 3 months to take away an all ost sure playoff spot , and not bad enough to get a top 3 pick. Add in weak FAs??

    Maybe Vanik and Callahan.. But Cal didn’t seem to like playing for torts even though he excelled. Bad bad year