“My god, it’s worse than I thought…”
After the fireworks on Wednesday, it was time to get the Second Trevor Linden era underway. The Canucks clearly aren’t in win mode anymore, as the team sat Jason Garrison and Eddie Lack in favour of Frank Corrado and *gasp* Jakob Markstrom, and responded in turn with another loss, their 34th of the season. Fortunately, piling up the losses is probably good for the long-term health of this franchise as every point in the standings avoided brings Vancouver closer to a potential future top-6 centre.
So in the grand scheme of things, Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Avalanche isn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Read past the jump for more.
There seemed to be a lot of just going through the motions at times for the Canucks. I mean, you can’t really blame them because it was an entirely meaningless game and it would benefit the franchise to lose games at this point so they can get a better draft position and consequently be in a better position to win the Stanley Cup in the future. Both teams were fairly even early, but then the Sedins picked up their play and started to hem the Avalanche in on some shifts. Henrik would break the ice too, deflecting a Dan Hamhuis point shot past Semyon Varlamov to make the score 1-0:
The Avs responded later in the period, as Nicklas Jensen made a horrible turnover at the offensive blueline, sending
future Canuck Paul Stastny in all alone on Jakub Markstrom. Stastny fired the puck through Markstrom’s 5-hole to tie the game at 1-1. As awful as the Jensen giveaway was, I thought he had a pretty good game riding shotgun with the Sedins, and made a really good play later in the game to help set up a glorious chance for Alex Edler. It’ll be interesting to see how Jensen plays when he’s removed from the Sedins though. He does have a 58.2% Corsi on the season, but also a nearly 70% offensive zone start rate and all of his 5v5 time spent with either Henrik or Kesler. Unlike a guy like Zack Kassian, Jensen has been given every opportunity to flourish offensively, which is funny since Kassian has been a more prolific scorer than Jensen at every level of hockey.
Paul Stastny would score once again early in the third period to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. With the Canucks standing around and puck-watching in their own zone, Stastny was able to pounce on a rebound in the slot and hammer one by Markstrom.
The Avs lead was short-lived however, as David Booth was able to chip a puck over Varlamov for his 9th goal of the year:
For a moment, it looked like Vancouver was in danger of losing out on a valuable 0 points in the standings. Fortunately, Victoria, B.C.’s own Tyson Barrie saved the day for #tanknation as he jumped in on a 2-on-1, threw a beauty of a move on Alex Edler, and fired a shot under the arm of Jake Markstrom, giving the Avs a 3-2 lead that they would hold on to. John Mitchell added a powerplay empty netter to give Colorado a 4-2 win.
Keeping this short and sweet since none of this really matters any more, but the Sedins were pretty dominant tonight. Henrik posted a game high 79.2% Corsi, while Daniel was a close second at 76.9%. Interestingly enough, they looked fresh at the end of the game after playing only 17 minutes and starting 93% of their shifts in the offensive zone. Huh, it’s almost as if a coach could maximize their effectiveness by deploying them like that every night.
I thought Markstrom was fine, despite a poor 0.888 save percentage. The three goals that were scored on him were really talented players in grade-A scoring chance areas, so some nights some of those are going to go in. But, we’ll see if this is a continuation of a trend or if he shows improvement. We’ll have to wait for next year to see that, though.
Vancouver currently has the 7th overall pick in the NHL entry draft if the season were to end today, and could potentially move as high as 5th if they lose out and Calgary wins out, and as low as 11th. There will be some pretty intriguing names available in that range, guys like Nikolaj Ehlers, Willie Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Anthony DeAngelo, and Nick Ritchie, but for my money there’s a bit of a drop-off in talent after the Reinhart/Bennett/Draisaitl/Dal Colle group (Ekblad, as with all defensemen, carries proportionately more risk than a forward). It would certainly benefit Vancouver to move as close to this top-5 group as possible, just in case one of those top-4 forwards slides.
We’ll have far more draft content once the regular season is completely over, as well as a bunch more fun stuff on the Army. I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to recap another game this season, so if I don’t, I’d like to thank you guys for reading these recaps and making this disappointing year enjoyable. We look forward to seeing you when the Greatest Tank Battle of the season happens on Saturday, as the Edmonton Oilers, veterans of eight consecutive tank battles, roll in their Panzer division on Saturday night. See you then.