Canucks Army Postgame: Canucks Still on Pace for 82 Wins!

Another step closer to the coveted 82-0 season that has eluded this franchise all these years. It wasn’t easy, but the Canucks persevered through a boring and less than fortuitous first half en route to an exciting 5-4 victory in the shootout.

The aforementioned boredom reared its ugly head before the puck had even dropped. The Canucks made their introductions, from the training staff all the way to Top Sixtito. There’s been considerable changes made to this roster and this was about as good an introduction to the new faces as could be forced upon this markets faithful. 

A delayed puck drop did little to alleviate this lull. The Canucks stepped out of the gate flat and listless. An opportunistic Oilers squad with an extended history of disdain for Vancouver hopped on this opportunity to the eventual tune of a 4-2 lead. PDO is a fickle mistress and the Canucks had clearly been neglecting her calls for the better part of this week. Score effects? That’s another story.

The Rundown

Being let down by the Canucks is nothing new. Hell, it might as well be this city’s creed. It was still a little disheartening to see Vancouver be so accommodating of an Edmonton club that was reeling from a 5-2 loss at the hands of their Provincial rival, the Calgary Flames, just a few nights prior. Letting them hang around would be undesirable unto itself, but handing them the possession lead for as long as they did is a cardinal sin.

This courtesy with the puck and unwillingness on Ryan Miller’s part to make a save set the Canucks back early, and jeopardized their chances of victory entirely. It took a strong second half from the Canucks biggest signing this off-season to right this ship. After the Oilers scored their fourth goal, less than ten minutes into the second period, Miller shut the door. I’d hardly espouse blame on more than one of these goals, but this was tilting dangerously close to blowout start territory for Miller. Not how he envisioned making his mark on Rogers Arena in his first appearance as a Canuck.

About those goals, though. The first one was an excellent shot by sort-of ex-Canucks defenceman, Brad Hunt. The Canucks #shouldof signed Hunt, because he’s from Maple Ridge and we all know that the proximity between birthplace and arena dictates ability.

Despite his status as an un-drafted free agent, the Canucks did sign him to play in their farm system with the Chicago Wolves. During his brief tenure with the Wolves, five games and two-seasons from 2011-2013, Hunt spent some time under the tutelage of the current Oilers GM and former Wolves coach, Craig MacTavish. That connection landed Hunt a contract with the Oilers and he’s since used that shot to his advantage to earn a roster spot. Essentially, he is this year’s Antoine Roussel.

Just minutes later, in the most validating of fashions, Teddy Purcell set up Mark Arcobello for a crease side tap-in. It was the exact kind of primary assist that I had so vehemently argued Purcell had in his arsenal. The hobbled Bieksa was left helpless on the play, being walked around by Purcell to set up Arcobello. That was the centers man though, and I can’t help but feel that as such he is responsible for the mansion sized gap in coverage that facilitated that goal. 

The first period wasn’t entirely fruitless for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin split the lead in half with less than ten seconds to go in the period, tipping in a low shot from brother Daniel, high over a well positioned Viktor Fasth for Vancouver’s first goal. It wasn’t anything special, but it was something.

Then, Luca Sbisa things happened. Despite having a tolerable first game, Sbisa had no such luck in the second. A neutral zone turnover to Nail Yakupov wound up in the back of the Canucks net before Sbisa had a chance to even turn and face him. Yakupov turned the jets on and Sbisa hadn’t the speed or gap control to match. It wasn’t an impossible shot to stop and Miller isn’t getting off scotch free here, but the problem being it shouldn’t have ever made it on net.

Score effects and bounces started to tilt the needle slightly in Vancouver’s favour at this point. On what should have been whistled down as a hand pass in the offensive zone by Alex Burrows, quickly turned into a tipped-shot goal by second-line center, Nick Bonino. There is no way this goal should have counted. Now’s a good time to buy a lottery ticket if you’re a member of the Canucks organization. In general, all I’ve ever asked for is fairness from the officials and decision makers in Toronto and by the zebras. That the Canucks are actually starting to come out on top in these decisions is both refreshing and confusing.

Which leads us to the Canucks next goal against. Dan Hamhuis was on the receiving end of a nasty high-stick, one which made him bleed his own blood. Nobody makes Dan Hamhuis bleed his own blood… Nobody! The ensuing double-minor seemed as good a moment as any for the Canucks to finish the comeback and knot things up at three. Instead, Jesse Joensu capitalized on a Canucks turnover and snapped a backhander past an out-sprawled Miller.

The Canucks responded as well as anyone could have hoped. They enacted an exclusivity pact between themselves and the puck, keeping Miller’s workload to a minimum and Fasth’s manic. Shortly thereafter, this paid off in the form of a vintage piece of Sedinery.

After more intense pressure in the 3rd period, Linden Vey potted the game tying goal, his first as a Canuck. It came during a power play, with less than 15 minutes in the third on what I’d call a fire drill in the Oilers zone. Ugly ones count the same, or so they say.

The Canucks didn’t necessarily let up after getting the tying goal, but they did take their foot off the pedal to some extent. The Oilers didn’t drive play to the extent that they did early in the game, but they were chomping at the bit on a few occasions in the Canucks zone and Miller had to be at his best during this time. White knuckle hockey, I tells yeah. Interspersed between all this amazing hockey, was a fight between the unlikeliest of combatants. You guessed Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, didn’t you?

The game would go all the way to a shootout, where newly acquired shootout specialists Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata would miss their attempts, but Ryan Miller would turn aside all three Oilers shooters, setting the stage for Chris Higgins to give Vancouver a come-from-behind 5-4 win:

The Numbers

chart (1)

Score effects are a beautiful thing. You’ll note that right at about the time the Canucks were trailing the Oilers by a score of 4-2, they started to turn things around. In a big way, I might add. The ten or so minutes between shot-attempts for the Oilers is particularly telling. 

The Canucks as a whole were a roughly 56% possession team, which seems a little misleading to me. Vancouver displayed superhuman selfishness with the puck and refused to share it with the younger kids Oilers for extended amounts of time.

Leading the Canucks in this category would be none other than Alexander Edler, who had a sky-high Corsi% of 73 (!!!). Not far behind Edler in the 60% range are another six Canucks, including Luca Sbisa. Quite impressively, the Canucks limited the Oilers to only five players who even broke even in terms of puck possession.

The Conclusion

Much like the Canucks’ first effort of the season, this one was far from perfect. It’s encouraging that the Canucks could play half of the game in a state of comatose and still keep their heads well above water in puck possession. Context is key though and it’s hard to paint a picture of how dominant this club really is when we’ve just finished bullying basement dwellers.

The Canucks now enter a six day lull in their schedule between this and their next game. They have no shortage of flaws to iron out, but by that same token they’ve just as many positives to build upon. For now, it’s a perfect storm.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    I was at the game and honestly it was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen in a very long time from our Canucks. Very exctied to see where this team heads this season.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    You’re joking, right? Calgary and Edmonton are by far not a team team you would call a contender.

    If the Canucks can beat the Kings and Hawks in their rubber matches this season then that would be something… otherwise put away the viagra.

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

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  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    just wanted to point out, on the Yakupov goal Sbisa had been out since puck drop, SINCE PUCK DROP. 2:20. His inability to make a stretch pass is ridiculous.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    What’s more pathetic, Hamhuis leaving his feet to check a 180lb player (Nugent-Hopkins) or that player calling him out?

    It takes no balls to run players blindly but it takes balls to stand up to the bigger guy!


    Nukz, your time is coming to a close. Look forward to the high draft picks. 🙂

    BTW, did you see how Kasian was almost crying when he got the accidental stick in his face? HaHaHaHa!

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Sounds like someone didn’t get his nappy time…. A little cranky maybe?

      Poor Nuge was getting picked on by that meany Hammy? I think you should go tell teacher that someone wasn’t playing fair.

      Grow up and stay on the Oilers boards. Keep talking about how this is the year all those soft forwards you drafted finally do something…. Well maybe next year.

    • bossram

      Yah that was a clean hit from Hamhuis. The hit into the numbers on Matthias moments later was way dirtier.

      If RNH wants to fight and get punched in the face repeatedly, that’s his perogative. I don’t know how “ballsy” it is to take yourself out of the game for five minutes when you’re the 1C.

      I think it’s a near guarantee that the Canucks will be back in the playoffs before the Oilers. Fans hating on Kassian can cry about that.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    The negatives did stand out… Miller was less than sharp the first half of the game. Kassian and Sibisa made idiotic plays and the team started lethargic at best.

    On the plus side the comeback mentality and scoring rush reminded me of the President Trophy years 2010-2012. A two goal deficit was insurmountable last year, but there was a confidence they would get back in the game. The Twins are back two their dazzling play with Vrbata on the wing and the second line is hard working and scoring some greasy goals. Also like the play of Dorsett. Guy reminds me of Torres and the Canucks haven’t been successful since Raffi left.

    Only against Oil and Flames, but good signs no the less. 6 days to get Juice and other bumps and bruises healed up then back to work. Hopefully Horvat will get a look see next game?

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    I thought Sbisa played a pretty good game besides the one giveaway, you can definitely see his potential. Funny how nobody talks about Tanev’s brutal giveaway on the 4-2 goal but everyone’s all too eager to jump on the Sbisa hate train because he’s not our special little darling Tanev.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Trying to swat the puck down, barely touching it, then having your teammate behind you knock it down does not make it a hand pass. The refs made the right call.

    Honestly I have already seen so many impressive calls by the refs this (pre)season. I’m not just talking about Canucks games either. The calls have been surprisingly unbiased league wide. The perfect example is the numerous PPs the Canucks got this game without getting a phantom call in return. Refs were always waving off goals, ignoring calls and calling absolutely non-existent violations in the name of parity. Now that seems to not be the case. I can only hope it continues and if calls don’t suit the Canucks, we can begin to take some comfort that the Nucks’ discipline, poor play or bad luck are the result of those calls. Hockey how it should be as far as I’m concerned.

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    • bossram

      Are you high? He was terrible, he didn’t get names right in both games, he did not seem to know anything about the Canucks as a team. He talked in vague generalities about everything and got excited about nothing. Shorthouse is a far better play-by-play guy and should be doing the tv involving Canucks. But typical of Eastern media bias, they have to have one of their Toronto guys doing all the national shows. Absolute BS.
      By the way Mr. Burke, that knockdown you said is not a goal, you are wrong. The rule says that you cannot use your hand to intentionally pass the puck to a teammate and if you do play stops, however deflecting a puck is perfectly legal and that is what Burrows did. Pucks have hit players in the butt and deflected to a teammate leading to a goal. Would you call back all of those? Burrows jumped up and knocked down the puck, he was not looking at Hamhuis, nor did he move his hand toward Hamhuis, if anything he was trying to knock it down so that he could play it. That is not against the rules, and that is what ref central said after the game.

  • J.D. Burke

    On the topic of the glove pass… I’m just going to go ahead and come out as saying I was wrong about that and maybe jumped the gun. If you all would be so kind as to check out Pass it to Bulis, they had a great piece on the handpass in question and checked out the rule book to see if it passed. Which it did. That said, I think that’s a play they whistle down 9 times out of 10.