Canucks Army Postgame: All Our Streaks Are Belong to Tampa

The Canucks already saw their sellout streak at home spoiled, but they entered tonight undefeated to start the season. On the second night of back-to-backs, facing a team that doesn’t hail from Alberta, it’s fair to say the Canucks faced their first real challenge of the young 2013-14 campaign.

Tampa Bay with their lengthy list of B.C. born talent – including a very upset Jason Garrison – came to town with hopes of improving upon their 2-1-1 start to the season. The Lightning are the subject of much adulation from pundits everywhere and are generally expected to compete for the Eastern Conference title. With their high-octane offence in tow, they aimed to showcase they were better than their record. A step was taken in the right direction tonight, at the expense of our beloved Canucks.

More on the other side of the jump!

The Rundown

Very little went the Canucks way off the hop. Vancouver slogged their way through the neutral zone with little to no success off the opening faceoff — controlled or otherwise. 

On their first extended foray into the Lightning zone, Henrik Sedin coughed the puck up at the blue line to an eager Ondrej Palat. The PDO All-Star from last season launched a tape to tape pass onto the stick of Steven Stamkos, who happened to be floating around center ice at the time. This type of play doesn’t usually end well for the defending team, and this held true as Stamkos would launch a backhand deke past Eddie Lack. 

That the goal was scored less than a minute into the game made for a bad start for the home team, but for Lack this was doubly ominous. After all it marked his entrance into the 2014 season. Having been relegated to a backup role, this was Lack’s first shot in 12 days. A Stamkos breakaway! Yeah, not ideal. 

It wasn’t until the eight minute mark that things opened up for Vancouver, when an up-ice pass from Alex Edler was jumped on by Chris Higgins. Joining Higgins on this rush was none other than second-line center, Nick Bonino. They tic-tac-toed their way to a Chris Higgins chance in the slot, which was originally stopped by Ben Bishop, until Higgins snapped the rebound home.

Much like last season though, the Canucks first step forward was met with another back. The Lightning would reestablish their lead on Stamkos’ second goal of the night, as he hopped on a loose puck in the slot and out-muscled Henrik Sedin to put a backhander past Lack.

It was Lack who paid the price, but Henrik’s awful first period set the stage. Hank’s sole redemption came in the dwindling minutes of the period, as he and Alex Burrows went gangbusters on the penalty kill and actually generated a beautiful chance for.

Unfortunately for Vancouver, the second period started much like the first. They were sloppy, spent much of the time in their zone and paid the price for it in the form of a Dan Hamhuis tripping penalty. An ordinary tripping penalty generally wouldn’t be noteworthy, but it seemed as though the ensuing penalty kill did much to spark Vancouver’s resurrection back into this game. The Canucks managed to generate more pressure than the Lightning on this kill and as Burrows often does, he drew a penalty. Almost immediately following Hamhuis’ exit from the box, the rushing Canucks led by the Sedins and Edler did some excellent East-West passing before Edler launched a wrist shot high-glove on Bishop.

The penalty kill that set in motion that goal also set the table for much of the remaining game. Vancouver controlled the flow of play going forward and save for a brief spurt of chances, highlighted by an Eddie Lack save on Brian Boyle in the slot, that second period was very much so in the Canucks favor. It’s fair to wonder how much of this coincides with Victor Hedman’s departure from the game due to what looked like an injury to his hand, the result of blocking a puck, but the Canucks began driving play well before that — they just happened to up the ante afterwards. If not for a late Ryan Callahan goal on the power play, this would have been the perfect period for Vancouver.

Vancouver continued this play in the third, but to little or no effect on the scoresheet. Continuing what had been a great night for Bishop, the door was shut and any hopes of a perfect season for Vancouver simultaneously dashed. No matter the Canucks move, the Lightning had an answer in net. 

Interspersed in the Canucks onslaught of third period shots and chances, the Lightning used a rush play from their second-line to put things away for good. A recurring theme for the Canucks in the early going of this promising season reared its ugly head again, as the Canucks center failed to properly track and lift the stick of the trailing forward. In the case of this final goal, Henrik lost track of Alex Killorn who potted home a screened Eddie Lack to seal the deal.

The Numbers

Canucks Corsis GDT4

The Canucks possession game throughout this contest was very encouraging. It’s fair to wonder how much score effects are at work here, but in score-close situations the Canucks still edged the Lightning 36-27. I hate to go there, but process is important over an 82-game season and if Vancouver can continue to play in a similar fashion to tonight’s showing, I’m hopeful for a good season. 

There were a few drags on the Canucks possession tonight, but none were more apparent than Dan Hamhuis. Here’s the overlord himself on Hamhuis’ struggles:

The Canucks leading possession players land on both ends of the Canucks Army affection spectrum. Leading the way with a silently effective night was Chris Tanev, with a Corsi Rel% of 30.56. Next in line is Nick Bonino, who had a great night, as exemplified by his Corsi Rel.% of 20.54 on the night. Those were the leading possession players for each positional group.

Want some encouraging news regarding the Sedins and their usage? Tonight was a lot more 2010-11 than it was 2013-14, and that is encouraging. This club needs to rely on them offensively and did tonight, to the tune of 70% offensive zone starts. 

This isn’t necessarily a numbers thing, but I think the Canucks need to take a good look at their defensive depth and how they feel it can hold over the rigors of an 82-game season. Below is a picture of the shift chart. Notice, if you will, that Yannick Weber saw the ice once in the entire second period. The Canucks are one injury into their top-six. Not good.

TOI GDT4

The Conclusion

With the odds stacked against them, hosting a legitimate contender on the second night of back-to-back action, it’s hard not to feel all warm and fuzzy about the Canucks performance. They were driving play for the entirety of this game and were it not for an outstanding performance from Ben Bishop, it’s hard not to imagine them winning this game. In the mean time, I’m more than willing to settle for a…

  • BlazingSaitls

    I posted this on the Oilersnation pg but I feel its apropos to post it here also.

    ‘So Canucks go for the sure thing and play Miller against the Oilers and then put Lack in against Stamkos and the gang?

    I guess the culture of losing is contagious.’

    ‘I’d play my best goalie, at home, against Stamkos, Hedman and the gang. Not use my best goalie against the worst team in the NHL just because its a sure thing. I’d play Miller both games or Lack vs Oilers, Miller vs Lightning.

    Lack vs Lightning, at home, this early in the season seems right out of Eakins playbook.’

    Sure Canucks got 4 points but at what cost? hehe. I think you guys have spent too much time around the Oilers this season 😉

    • BlazingSaitls

      LoL what?

      Your comparing willie to eakins because we started lack who is scheduled to start in the 2nd of back to back games this season? We did the same thing with lou and schneider, schneider got some hard games his second year and he typically rose to the occasion.

      Lack is a good goalie and not someone they feel should be labeled as a backup, but someone who will eventually be a number 1, he is going to get some hard games. We dont view him as a lifetime backup, some even feel he is going to outplay miller.

    • Assume for the sake of argument that you’re not just trolling, that Miller is a substantially better goalie than Lack, and that Desjardins starts Lack against Edmonton and Miller against Tampa Bay. What happens?

      Lets say Miller allows one fewer goal against Tampa Bay, while Lack allows one more goal against Edmonton. Vancouver still loses 3-2 to Tampa Bay, while the Edmonton game is now 1-1, goes to overtime, and best case scenario the Canucks win and have given one point to a division rival, or they lose and come away from the back to backs with only one point, while Edmonton gets two. The way they played it, Canucks got two points out of this back-to-back and Edmonton got zero. That’s fine by me.

      And all that is assuming Miller is a substantially better goalie than Lack, which is *not* a given.

  • mk

    awesome game by Lack Who brought him to the club?

    Oh yeah, Gillis!

    The gift of Gillis just keeps on giving and giving.

    I seriously believe that Gillis was sent down by god to punish Canuck fans for being so deaf and arrogant.

  • BlazingSaitls

    OK Canucks Barmy Army. Lack is better than Miller or at least just as good. I get it. You over-value players to 😉

    I honestly feel the goalies were not managed properly in this case.

  • BlazingSaitls

    Lack won the preseason competition for the #1 goalie spot and earned the right to play The Steven Stamkos experience.

    Or at least that’s what some dullard around here was preaching not long ago…

  • BlazingSaitls

    The first two goals were not on Lack, it was all lazy plays on Hank then Hammy. I don’t think anyone would like to see Stamkos in full stride for the first shot of the season.

    The overall game was neither a moral victory or a defeat. It was just one of those games during an 82 game season. The Canucks played well enough to win, but Bishop was very good. Slow starts need to be dealt with some how. The Canucks can not keep having to dig themselves out of holes and expect to make the playoffs.

    Attention to detail needs to be cleaned up. When you have a guy like Stamkos on the ice, tricky little passes like Hank attempted will end up in the back of the net. The D needs to be tough on the boards in their own zone. Hammy took a swing and miss behind Lack and Tampa controlled the puck and Stamkos potted that shot also. Detail!

    Also new West Coast HNIC crew is about as boring as it gets. Where’s Shorty?!!

  • Spiel

    The 4th Tampa goal was goalie interference. Filpulla’s skates where in the crease before the puck and his position kept Lack from moving in his crease toward the shot. That said there is no way the d should have let him get set up there.