Yes it’s with the Ducks, but Nick Bonino’s been doing a lot of celebrating lately.
Between Bonino and Bo Horvat, Vancouver’s Bos came to play tonight against the struggling Colorado Avalanche. Sure the Avs blew out Vancouver a few short games ago, but Vancouver was rested and ready this time around, and they did not disappoint. After falling behind early, they laid the boots to the Avs, outshooting them heavily and winning by a 5-2 final.
Read past the jump for a recap of Canucks Army Top Prospect Bo Horvat’s first NHL game.
In a nice gesture, Willie Desjardins placed Bo Horvat in the starting lineup, so he could get his first NHL game underway right off the hop. Horvat won the opening draw, his first of eight wins on the night.
But it was the Avs that struck first. Dan Hamhuis pinched in the offensive zone, leading to Brad Richardson to cover for him. Colorado rushed up the ice and Hamhuis failed to pick up John Mitchell, the trailing man, who fired a laser past Ryan Miller to give the Avs an early 1-0 lead.
Colorado would score again with three and a half minutes to go in the first to give themselves a 2-0 lead, as the Canucks were caught running around after some good offensive zone pressure. Jarome Iginla did some good work behind the net, and found Jamie McGinn with a centering pass, who snapped the puck by Ryan Miller.
Now, the Avs aren’t a uniquely bad team when leading by two goals – the Canucks are actually one of the few teams that have been worse – but they are quite bad, and Vancouver is quite good when trailing by two as well. So as you would expect, the rest of the game was pretty thorough domination on behalf of the Canucks. They really began to lay the boots to Colorado in the second period, generating a plethora of chances, including some from Jannik Hansen, Shawn Matthias, and Daniel Sedin, before Henrik Sedin finally broke the ice with just 4 seconds remaining in the period:
From there, the floodgates opened. Derek Dorsett tied the game just 2:27 in to the 3rd:
Then Nick Bonino put the Canucks ahead 3-2 just over two minutes later, finishing off a nice passing play from Linden Vey and Chris Higgins:
Bonino wasn’t done however, as he took another Chris Higgins pass a few shifts later and fired a shot bar-down on Varlamov to put the Canucks ahead 4-2:
And just for good measure, Shawn Matthias took advantage of Gabriel Landeskog blowing the zone early, picked off a breakout pass, and burst in to beat Varlamov low to the blocker side to give Vancouver a 5-2 lead:
The Avs would hold the Canucks without any more shot attempts, but it was all garbage time though. Vancouver skated away with a convincing 5-2 win.
Courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.
First and foremost, Bo Horvat had a really solid night. As advertised, he was excellent in the faceoff dot, winning 8 of 12 draws. He also had a reasonably good night in terms of puck possession, with a 61.5% Corsi at even strength (the team was at 64.4%). Score effects and quality of competition play a role in this, but it’s also worth mentioning that Horvat had a team-low 16.7% offensive zone start rate, and a team-low 8:52 of ice time. He wasn’t used much, but Willie Desjardins appeared to trust him enough to use him in the D-zone.
On to Nick Bonino, who is literally “a better human than Kes,” also had himself a pretty great night. He had two goals on the evening, bringing his season totals to 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points in 13 games – a 70-point pace, which is a pretty high end 1st line total. It goes without saying that Nick Bonino isn’t a high-end 1st line C, and won’t finish the year with around 70 points, but it’s also worth pointing out that for as good as the second line has been – and it has been legitimately good – this offensive success is entirely unsustainable.
Bonino’s personal shooting percentage is nearly twice as high as his career mark, and he came into tonight’s game with an on-ice shooting percentage north or 10%, which is unsustainably high for basically all players not named Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos. He is guaranteed to score at a lower rate from here on out, which is why it’s important for Bonino to continue his very good possession play and not slip below the 50% Corsi or Fenwick line.
As for tonight’s game, the Avs are really quite bad. The Canucks carried nearly a 75% Corsi in the second period, and outshot the Avalanche 37-22 overall. Most of the damage came against Max Talbot, who was a -20 Corsi, yet just a -1 in terms of goals, in just nine and a half minutes of ice time. It was a disastrous outing for Colorado’s depth.
9-3-0 and 2nd place in the NHL feels fantastic right now, but a) it’s early, and b) here’s a little perspective:
After 13 games Canucks had 17 points last year, this year they have 18. Might want to hold off on the parade planning.
— Taj (@taj1944) November 5, 2014
We were still in the “John Tortorella has been good for the Canucks!” stage at this time last season, so there’s still plenty of time for things to go sideways. While this success won’t last, there are lots of promising signs, and we should expect the Canucks to continue to be a strong team for the rest of the year.
Vancouver starts running the California gauntlet this Thursday, as they play the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season, before visiting the Kings and Ducks on a weekend road back-to-back. Alex Burrows will return to the lineup, and with Bo Horvat around, that creates a bit of a dilemma with who will come out. We’ll see this week though, as the Canucks will have to put on the big boy pants to string together a few more wins.