It isn’t news that the Colorado Avalanche are in tough this season. Despite an impressive GoalsFor% north of 53% last year, the Avs underlying numbers told the story of a club that was benefiting from favourable bounces at all ends of the ice. Their combined sh% and sv% at even strength made for an unsustainable PDO well north of the mean 1000.
Those factors made the Avalanche a poster boy for regression heading into this season. In large part, they have been. Small samples have driven the needle several ticks below expected percentages though and it seemed reasonable to expect them to bounce back. And oh, how they did against our beloved Vancouver Canucks.
Whether it was regression to the mean, some of Colorado’s newer and more legal NOT marijuana related attractions or a combination of both, Vancouver left the Pepsi Center a disheveled shell of their former selves of last night. I’m not saying the Canucks embarrassed themselves, but the final score was 7-3 and they gave up almost 50 shots.
More on the other side of the jump!
The Canucks entered tonight on somewhat of a high, fresh off their 4-1 victory over the highly talented St.Louis Blues. Ryan Miller was the starting goaltender for that match and with his 31 save performance, he surely made the “hot-hand” temptation an enticing one for first year head coach, Willie Desjardins. In a stroke of reasoned coaching – the likes of which I’m still having a hard time getting used to – Desjardins went with Eddie Lack for tonight’s match in Colorado.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. In practice, Lack was shelled and looked much more reminiscent of his post-Olympics self from last year than the pre-Olympics Lack that was dominating for Vancouver. How much of this is workload related, I can’t be certain of. The Canucks did surrender 48 shots to the shot-volume adverse Avalanche tonight.
Before we delve too far into the mess that was tonight’s final, it bears mentioning that the Canucks were able to hang in there with the Avalanche for much of the first half of this game. At two points, even, they had a lead. The first such occasion came ten seconds into the game, when an Avs clearing attempt was intercepted along the half wall and just as quickly launched onto the waiting stick of Henrik Sedin, who notched his third-goal of the young season with a low snap-shot. It took the Avalanche multiple scoring chances and over ten minutes of a monopoly on puck possession before potting the tying goal on Jarome Iginla backhand.
This goal was summarily topped by a disputed Alex Burrows goal only minutes before the intermission. The goal was originally called off due to an apparent kick, but the combination of an overruling in the newly minted “huddle” and a video review were enough to prove Burrows innocence.
An otherwise open second period led to traded chances by both clubs and an otherwise entertaining on-ice product. I’d hardly say the flow of play was opposite the Canucks net, but it was still competitive at this point. On one of these traded chances, though, Luca Sbisa had a moment. After defending a Ryan O’Reilly rush about as perfectly as is humanly possible, he proceeds to take an imbecilic slashing penalty on a completely disengaged O’Reilly. While the Avs didn’t capitalize on this opportunity directly through the power play, they would score on an extended series of puck possession that led to their scoring immediately after it. Believe it or not, it was Sbisa had come out of the box and had actually failed to properly track the scoring Av, Matt Duchene. So much bad in such a short period and somehow it always gets worse for Sbisa.
Everything went downhill from there. To say the Canucks unraveled seems like an understatement, and gives off the impression that they had been keeping pace in terms of possession. Still, the goal totals indicate that they did lose themselves at this point to the untrained eye. What a mess.
The Canucks would give up another power play goal only minutes after the first, making it two unanswered. Nick Bonino, in an act of unmitigated stupidity, attempted to channel his inner Barry Bonds and knock a puck mid-air into the stands behind Semyon Varlamov. Unfortunately, his stick caught the face of an Avs forward in the process. This led to another Coloradp power play, which was compounded by a Shawn Matthias hook and an ensuing two-man advantage. The Avs would capitalize on this with an Erik Johnson goal from the point.
It didn’t seem imaginable at this point that the Canucks situation could get more bleak. Then the third period started. The Canucks surrendered two goals in the first six minutes. The rest of the game was a formality. The Canucks would tally another goal, but it was matched by another two for Colorado. The inhumanity.
The Canucks don’t know how to score effects. None of this makes sense. The Avs are considered one of the poorest possession teams in the league and despite all their woes last season the Canucks entered this one respectable in that regard. I’d like to write this off as an anomaly, but they weren’t exactly great last night as far as puck possession goes.
A chief contributor to this discrepancy in possession is none other than Luca Sbisa. I’m not saying he’s the worst defenceman in the league (editor’s note: he’s not), but I’m starting to entertain the thought. Here’s Rhys on how I should handle this:
I told @JDylanBurke that he wasn’t allowed to beat on Luca Sbisa unless he was a -2 with 20% Corsi.
Sbisa is a -3 with a 14% Corsi.
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) October 25, 2014
It’s funny because it’s true. In the early goings of this season I was advised against ragging on Sbisa too heavily. It will happen organically, so why force it? Rhys was right in this sense. Rhys did, however, give me the go-ahead under the above listed conditions. It should be noted that his Corsi% was 29% for the night, but he was also a team leading -5.
Let Frankie Corrado play. Make a trade. Force Ryan Stanton into the lineup before he’s healthy. Call up Bobby Sanguinetti. I dont care. Save us from this lumbering funeral pyre of a former first-rounder. He’s not costing the Canucks the season, but he’s a serious hinderance all the same.
The Canucks have a chance to get back in the win column on Sunday as Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals pay a rare visit to Rogers Arena. Puck drop is at 6:30 PM, and hopefully the Canucks actually come to play at that time, seeing as they haven’t exactly arrived for the opening faceoff in 2 of the 3 games on this road trip.