Photo courtesy of @TheStanchion who I don’t follow on Twitter because he made mean Mason Raymond jokes and I like Mason Raymond. You can follow him though. You Mason Raymond hater.
Sitting in 10th place in the West with just eight games to go, all games are essentially “must-win” games if Vancouver wants to hold out hope of making a playoff push. Coming off a back-to-back after last night’s win in Minnesota with Eddie Lack making his 13th consecutive start since the Olympic break and Henrik Sedin out with a leg injury, the odds were already stacked against Vancouver.
Sure enough, despite the best efforts of David Booth and Zack Kassian once again, the Canucks were unable to come away with two much-needed points as they lost 3-2 in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche. Worse still, Phoenix gained another point on the Canucks, making their playoff hopes that much slimmer.
Read past the jump for more.
I’m not going to lie, I spent most of the first period thinking of ways that the most recent Department of Hockey Analytics article for the Toronto Star was full of fanciful horseshit rather than intently watching the Canucks play. I won’t link to it here because it’s just so awful that it really doesn’t deserve any more page views, but there was no shortage of ways in which it was full of crap.
Anyways, the Vancouver Canucks opened the scoring courtesy of a Yannick Weber powerplay goal that can only be described as a knuckleball of a play. Jason Garrison fumbled the puck at the point before passing to Daniel Sedin, who sent the puck down low to Nicklas Jensen. Jensen either fumbled the puck or was turned away by Semyon Varlamov as he tried a jam play at the front of the net, but the puck squirted to Weber who buried it into a yawning cage:
Five minutes later, Matt Duchene would fight off a pair of Canucks to jump on a rebound and tie the game up at 1-1. Although he was on the bench at the time, Nathan MacKinnon probably deserved an assist on the goal as the whole offensive sequence was set up by him flying through the neutral zone, gaining the offensive zone, stopping on a dime, and playing the puck to himself .
What was more impressive is that he made this subtle play against Dan Hamhuis, one of the more mobile defenders in the game. MacKinnon backed him off so fast that he had about 10 feet of space to work with once he stopped. The kid’s pretty good.
The Avalanche would take a 2-1 lead in the second period as the Canucks were caught running around in their own zone once again. Cory Sarich pinched in deep to play the puck behind the net to Paul Stastny. Stastny centred from behind the net to Gabriel Landeskog, who caught Eddie Lack looking the wrong way and beat the Canuck goalie short side.
Vancouver wouldn’t register a shot for roughly 10 minutes, but fortunately Zack Kassian was in the right place to poke the puck home to tie the game at 2-2 late in the frame:
The goal was Kassian’s 6th point in the last 3 games as he and David Booth (who tallied an assist on the play for his 4th point in 3 games) try their damn hardest to drag Vancouver back into playoff contention. It’s kind of ironic that after a full season of going “keep these guys together and get them a good centreman, things will start bouncing their way soon!” they’re both starting to get bounces now as the season slowly bleeds out.
Still, it’s kind of nice to see the “don’t buy out Booth” bandwagon gain some steam, even if it is only because he’s on a hot streak now that probably isn’t going to last until the end of the season. I tend to think that what David Booth brings to the table, which is consistently strong possession play and a not-insignificant chance to outscore your opponents when he’s on the ice, are a lot tougher to replace either in unrestricted free agency or internally than many realize.
Especially since the Canucks don’t seem to have a blank cheque from ownership anymore, if the choice is between keeping one of David Booth or John Tortorella, I’m on #teamBooth and #teamMikeJohnstonForCoach.
Kevin Bieksa also left the game in considerable pain, but would return in the 3rd period. Neither team scored in the final frame, sending the game to overtime where Matt Duchene once again thoroughly outclassed the Canucks defense to set up Victoria B.C.’s own Tyson Barrie for the game winning goal. I mean, just watch the clip. It’s hypnotic:
Credit to former-and-sometimes-substitute Canucks Army legend and full-time Zack Kassian hater Thomas Drance for the gif.
One more thought on the Avalanche:
Nathan MacKinnon is like the skilled version of Matt Duchene which is scary because Matt Duchene is also the skilled version of Matt Duchene
— Rhys J (@Thats_Offside) March 28, 2014
Charts courtesy of Extra Skater.
Vancouver held the edge in Corsis, but were out Fenwick’d and outshot by an Avalanche team that’s had trouble doing both this season. David Booth led the way with 18 CF and just 8 CA, while Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias, and Zack Kassian all also had strong nights, each posting a CF% above 60%. Bringing up the rear were Tom Sestito, Jordan Schroeder, and Nicklas Jensen.
Sestito and Schroeder in particular were not good as both had a CF% under 20%. That didn’t really matter though in the scope of things as Sestito only played 4 largely inconsequential minutes.
As for what this OT loss does to Vancouver’s playoff hopes, winning out will put the Canucks at 93 points on the season. Los Angeles has 92, so one win in their next eight games makes them uncatchable. That leaves Minnesota, Phoenix, and Dallas as the teams Vancouver can conceivably catch (with a little help from the hockey gods of course). Here’s what each team needs to do to get to 94 points on the year:
Minnesota: 9 points in 8 games, or 4-3-1
Phoenix: 10 points in 8 games, or 5-3-0
Dallas: 15 points in 10 games, or 7-3-1
In short, Vancouver needs to run the table (against teams like the Rangers, Kings, and Ducks twice) without their captain, leading scorer and best player, while both Phoenix and Minnesota both lose the majority of their remaining games. Sorry guys, but it’s not happening this year.
Vancouver gets a one day break before returning home to face the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. After that, Coach V’s Rangers come to town on Tuesday. If you haven’t heard, we’re hosting a group therapy session viewing party at the Pint that night, so get your tickets, come on down, and I’ll tell you exactly what I think of Bo Horvat. Hope to see you all there. Except you, Wagner.