Tonight on Sportsnet: CAR vs VAN pic.twitter.com/YOc34ws9kP
— Gráinne (@wholegrainne) October 29, 2014
As hockey fans, and hockey fans that experienced the 2010-2011 season, we’re kinda jaded by the whole hockey thing sometimes. We love this game and this team and watch every game we can, yet still complain on a fairly regular basis about the entertainment value in games. “Ugh, a Tuesday night game against Carolina? What a snoozefest waiting to happen. Waste of time,” you might find yourself saying as you plan your entire day around looking forward to watching that game that night.
Well, true to form, Tuesday night’s game against Carolina wasn’t exactly a barnburner, but it was a 4-1 win, and a game that the Canucks needed to keep pace in what’s going to be a vicious and unforgiving playoff race in the Western Conference. Read past the jump for a recap.
As is tradition with the Canucks these days, the scoring got underway early. Zack Kassian sprung Brad Richardson on a break, who roofed a puck over Cam Ward to give the Canucks an early 1-0 lead:
The shots were just 7-4 Canucks for the rest of the period, so not much was happening. Daniel Sedin, however, was able to draw a crosschecking penalty near the end of the period that carried over into the second, where Linden Vey was able to capitalize on a Radim Vrbata centering pass to put the Canucks ahead 2-0:
From here, score effects would seem to kick in as the Hurricanes carried the run of play for the majority of the period, until about 3 minutes to go. Then, after a flurry of activity around the Hurricanes’ zone, a Linden Vey pass bounced over the sticks of both Luca Sbisa and Jeff Skinner, right to Yannick Weber at the point. Weber fired a wrister on goal that was deflected by Jannik Hansen past Cam Ward to give the Canucks an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The 3rd was highlighted by a Zack Kassian near goal, a tussle between Brad Richardson and Jay McClement, and a fantastic Ryan Miller save on Jiri Tlusty to preserve the shutout bid. Unfortunately for Miller, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis broke down spectacularly, leading to another Tlusty chance – one that the skilled forward would bury.
Brad Richardson would score one more goal on the night into an empty net, giving Vancouver a 4-1 win and Miller’s 300th win of his career.
Courtesy of HockeyStats.ca
First and foremost, Ryan Miller was very good tonight in his 300th career win, stopping 29 of 30 shots, earning first star honours, and bringing his save percentage on the year to a quite respectable 0.916.
Also, the Matthias-Richardson-Kassian line was really good too, which is somehow appropriate since we kinda called them out for being awful yesterday. The line combined for a goal, while Kassian led all Canucks in Corsi. Richardson and Matthias were also among the best Canucks, both going +15/-11 for a 58% Corsi while starting entirely in the defensive zone and playing mostly against Semin, Tlusty, and Skinner. Matthias knows he’s been quite poor of late, and hopefully this game is the first of many steps in the right direction.
The Hamhuis-Bieksa tandem on the other hand was hot garbage, getting buried by every matchup they played against. Hamhuis was +3/-9 Corsi against Eric Staal, +4/-12 against Riley Nash (who was Carolina’s 2nd line C), and +2/-9 against Victor Rask. That’s a pretty poor night at the office. Even Weber and Sbisa managed to crack the 60% Corsi mark, and they saw a lower offensive zone start percentage tonight too.
Speaking of zone starts, the Canucks weren’t able to generate very many offensive zone starts for themselves at all. The Higgins-Bonino-Burrows line “led” Vancouver with a 42.9% OZS rate, while the Sedins and Vrbata started just 11% of their shifts in the offensive end of the ice. I’m not sure if Vancouver has been bad at getting offensive zone faceoffs all year, but if they have been, that’s a far larger concern than winning just 45% of the draws they’ve taken.
It was hardly a convincing win for the Canucks tonight, and the play of Hamhuis and Bieksa is worrying since it’s part of a trend that’s seen them perform well below their usual career standards for the start of the year, but we know enough about those two that we can say this is more likely a blip on the radar than not.
Regardless, even considering score effects and all that, it wasn’t a great performance for Vancouver, and one they probably won’t be able to keep getting away with as the year wears on. They’ll have to be much better on Thursday to beat P.K. Subban and a dangerous Montreal Canadiens team.