Canucks Army Postgame: We Won! I Guess.

The Canucks never make things easy. With four days rest, all of which I assume was spent ruminating on their last contest against the Arizona Coyotes, it seemed reasonable to expect Vancouver would send the Oilers all they could handle. I’d hardly say they met expectations, but for enough individual sequences they were able to execute a level of dominance over Edmonton that has become commonplace in these match ups. The final, a 5-4 victory for Vancouver, does little to reflect this but counts as a win all the same – Vancouver’s fourth of the season over Edmonton.

Perhaps we’re all too enamoured with Zack Kassian shenanigans and ensuing silliness that an ordinary hockey game, complete with lead changes and momentum swings, has ceased to excite us when these two teams meet. Maybe we expect more of Vancouver against these perennial basement dwellers and barely scraping out a win in this shootout style game leaves much to be desired?

Whatever the case, the Canucks were great at times, but there’s a lot that needs fixing coming out of tonight’s match. Results aside, I’ll try and touch on this on the other side of the jump

The Rundown

Coming out of the gate on four days rest, the Canucks seemed to be a little off on their timing. Some of their better territorial play occurred in the opening minutes of this contest, but it resulted in little to nothing on the scoreboard. One might suggest that the Canucks only break from the Oilers zone in the early goings was the result of a Derek Dorsett fight with former Canuck great, Steve Pinizzotto.

I’m giving the decision to Dorsett. And not solely because Dorsett replaced Pinizzotto through seven degrees of separation on the Canucks fourth line. Like, think about it. Mind blown? Speaking of brain jarring, that wasn’t the only clash of titans in tonight’s contest. Hell, it wasn’t even the only one in the first. Reigniting some 2011 Stanley Cup Finals flames, Kevin Bieksa bull-rushed Ben Scrivens and made Andrew Ference suffer the consequences of defending his netminder. It was cathartic, I guess?

The Canucks came out on top in this one, as far as I’m concerned. What turned out to be the most beneficial part of this sequence for Vancouver was the goaltender interference minor that led to the Oilers power play. Want to take a step into bizarro-world? Jannik Hansen would go in one-on-one with Scrivens, on a breakaway, shorthanded and launch home the opening tally for Vancouver. That wasn’t an earthquake you felt… That was Mount Drancer erupting in full from Toronto. Casualties number in the thousands and in the aftermath all Drance had to say for himself was “I told you so”.

Speaking of eruptions, how about the offensive surge from both club’s in the second? In years past, it always seemed as though the second period was Vancouver’s kryptonite. Seeing them surrender three goals in the middle frame brought back vivid memories of this problem. Or it would, anyways, had Vancouver not sent home another three of their own. I’ll call it a draw and leave happy.

Vancouver spent much of the third period on their heels. Call it score effects, or taking their foot off the gas or whatever. It wasn’t impressive. While poor goaltending from Ryan Miller let the Oilers stay in this game for the first two frames, his veteran savvy was enough to cool him down and hold the fort for much of the third. While his numbers do little to impress, Miller seems to do exceptionally well at putting bad goals or periods behind him. Tonight was one such occasion of this. 

It wasn’t solely Miller that sealed this one in the third, though. It was the unlikeliest of contributors who sent home the game-winning tally. Yannick Weber, who probably wouldn’t have played tonight if not for Luca Sbisa’s fiftieth “illness” of the season, roofed a cross-ice pass from Daniel Sedin past Ben Scrivens for the fifth and final goal of the game. I can’t be the only one who hopes this keeps Weber in the lineup, right?

Try and try as the Oilers did, they couldn’t get that fifth goal necessary to send it to overtime. The closest they came was a kicked in goal with ten seconds left, that would eventually be overturned.

The Numbers

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Much of the talk in today’s preview was about the Canucks being as possession inept as the Oilers thus far into the young NHL season. It was encouraging to see Vancouver assert their possession supremacy over what’s supposed to be a vastly less talented team. That kind of separation is encouraging. Even with the added benefit of score effects, Edmonton was no match.

The Canucks bottom-six did not play well tonight, territorially anyways. The highest Corsi among forwards in the bottom-six belonged to a sparsely used Zack Kassian, who was at 42% 5v5. At the bottom rung of this, you’ll find Derek Dorsett rocking a moribund 20%, and in the middle was Bo Horvat’s 30%. I’d love to blame this on low zone-starts, but all of them were either at or north of 50%. You can’t extrapolate a trend from one point of data, but it was pretty clear that the bottom-6 forwards were having troubles hanging with the fast Oilers.

The Sedin line buzzed along at about a 55% pace at 5v5, which is pretty much par for the course against Edmonton. Most importantly, they combined for a total of seven points. Like a fine wine, they get better with age… against Edmonton – death, taxes and Sedins owning the Oilers. Their second line counterparts had themselves a night, too. They controlled roughly 65% of play tonight, with less than optimal zone-starts. It’s safe to say the Canucks finally have secondary scoring. Tertiary, well, that remains to be seen.

There’s been a lot of talk around town about how great Miller’s been. Yeah, cute. Coming into tonight’s contest he had a .902 sv%, which would be bad even for Ondrej Pavelec. After tonight’s shellacking, it’s at a tenuous .900. Are these numbers inflated by blowout losses? Sure, but if we decide they aren’t worthy of including in the larger picture that makes up his body of work, let’s remove the St. Louis and San Jose games where he was exceptionally good. Tonight Miller posted a .875 sv%. They won in spite of him.

The Conclusion

This is a game the Canucks should win, so I would advise against getting overly encouraged by this. The Canucks face a real challenge tomorrow night in the Anaheim Ducks, on the second half of back-to-backs. The stage is set in an eerily similar fashion to the last time these two clubs met, save for the fact that tomorrow’s tilt is in Vancouver. Oh, and yeah, that Ryan Kesler guy is back. Or so I hear. See you then!

  • Mantastic

    I have to say the difference between the hot start and the last few games has been the shaky feeling Miller will let a cheapie in that could swing momentum. His fopirst almost 9 starts… Save Dallas, he looked under control and confident, which translated to the team. This 4/5 goals a game is troubling but wins count and let’s hope Lack plays well tomorrow.

    • FredTheCaveman

      Hello long time lurker, first time poster here. It’s worth noting that of those first 9 game 3 were against Alberta League and the rest were mostly against teams like Carolina and Washington so he would unfairly look a lot more impressive. All in all he’s got 12 wins and 3 losses, that’s insanely good.

  • FredTheCaveman

    There’s basically more reason to believe there’s an implosion coming soon than they was this time last season, right? Bad goaltending and a lot of one goal wins isn’t exactly inspiring

  • FredTheCaveman

    I’ll grant that 2 (maybe 3?) goals against were deflections and that terrible sharp angle through the legs happens to many goalies. But the reality is that Miller has looked terribly pedestrian for a while now. The Oilers were never really in this game and had it not been for some five-bell saves by Scrivens (Richardson and Kassian in particular) this shouldn’t have been this close. We’re just lucky we got five goals tonight to overcome Miller. That $6million is starting to scare me for the next two seasons. Markstrom continues to tear up the AHL. I wonder if we can get a sucker to take Miller off our hands at the deadline…

    • Mantastic

      you should have been scared when the rumors were that Miller was going to sign here. NM00 and myself have never been a fan of the Miller signing, and it’s proving itself over the larger sample size.

      • Mantastic

        What the Oilers wouldn’t give for a goalie that was 12-3 right now. You do realize that the sample size is still such that it can still sway his numbers in the opposite direction quite quickly, and also to where they would typical of his career stats. That’s what should be scary that he’s proven over the long haul that he’s much better. Familiarity should bring this out.

        I’ll also make the point he’s playing behind a defensive scheme that is still ironing out the kinks (3 coaches in 3 years) and managing to win. Try that with Scrivens and Fasth..oh wait. A couple of those goals last night were on coverage and half committing to shot blocks. Actually our D played pretty brutal and has a few times this year, yet he still has more wins than most goalies in the league. Argue all you want about the signing, it’s done. I’m pleasantly surprised with what Miller brings to the table.

        I understand you probably know very little about the position, but looking simply at 15 games of stats and calling it a larger sample size to validate your argument is what I find outlandish. Especially when that stat line begins with 12 out of 15 wins. Get real.

        • Mantastic

          yeah his stats haven’t been trending down for years at all! boy was i proven wrong.

          let’s look at career numbers instead of rolling stats of the last few seasons, because that’s better at predicting trends!

          having a goalie that is 12-3 for the canucks means that they would be 12-3 for ever team, genius! goalies win and lose every game for a team game, boy you sure are teaching me a thing or two

          • Mantastic

            Or I could just look at the last 34 games and suggest he’s trending downward based on what you’d refer to as a “larger sample size”. Then say he’d be 12-3 with any team in the league. Seriously, I’m hoping that was sarcasm or trying to put words in my mouth.

            Sure, but this is still the same guy that posted a .923 save percentage with the Sabres last year, his best in 4 seasons. What do you have to counter this numbers wise that speaks to your logic, because I’m missing your reasoning here….and I can’t seem to look past the fact that he’s winning games at a rate he’s never seen since early in his career. What a downward spiral indeed.

          • Mantastic

            19 games is a larger sample size than 13 games right? and a sample size of 19 games is also better than 13 games right?

            yes because goaltenders are the only reason why teams win or lose. he’s the same guy who posted sub .905 with the blues last year? worst in 4 seasons? just keep cherry picking stats, i’m sure you’ll find some random ones to fit your skewed perceptions!

    • nucksandbolts

      I agree with everything you say. At this point however, I worry that the only team that would be willing to take on Miller’s contract at these numbers is Carolina if we take on Cam Ward’s. One less year on the contract, but an extra 300k. Either way, I have an uneasy feeling we will be stuck with poor to mediocre goaltending at a high price for a few more years.

    • Mantastic

      In all likelihood, the Canucks were the only team willing to give Miller three years at a $6 million cap hit and that is why he signed in Vancouver.

      If 29 other teams were unwilling to pay Miller what the Canucks paid him this past summer, why would this ugly stretch help his market value?

      “I wonder if we can get a sucker to take Miller off our hands at the deadline”

      For all intents and purposes, the Canucks may very well be the sucker who bought high on Miller…

      • Mantastic

        “For all intents and purposes, the Canucks may very well be the sucker who bought high on Miller…”

        Yes, that is likely true. At the time of the signing I wasn’t too upset about it, mainly because there wasn’t really anyone in the forward ranks I’d have spent money on. But as was pointed out then maybe a cheaper option (i.e. Hiller) would have been a much better investment for lower money and term. This year it doesn’t matter so much but if a mediocre Miller blocks us from bringing up Markstrom or selling low on Lack to create space well that isn’t particularly good asset management at all.

        And to all the people going on about sample size and Miller’s record, forget fancy stats — are you watching these games? Yes he’s 12-3, aka 7-3 not against the AJHL. It isn’t inconsequential that he has 4 wins against an Oilers team whose shockingly poor performances are only rivaled by their fans continued insistence on trashtalking with any other fan base.

        Maybe (I hope) I’m wrong and it’ll all even out. But 20 games (plus his stretch with the Blues) isn’t nothing. Being a great goalie on a terrible team like Buffalo isn’t hard to do — who cares about the bad goals when you stop 45 shots? On a good team making 15 saves is important; on a mediocre team like Vancouver you can’t give up 4 goals a game and expect to survive against the ones who won’t forget to play defense.

        • Mantastic

          Do not bother with Canucks fans and logic. You are talking about the same fanbase who thinks that losing in game 7 entitles them to Burn their own city down. Do not expect them to grasp simple ideas like sample size.

        • Mantastic

          Hiller would have been the ideal contract for this organization’s goals.

          For my own objectives for this team, I would have gone with Lack & Markstrom.

          And if they failed, at least the chances of a bottom 5 pick increase.

          Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem like an option in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto so we shall have to embrace the mediocrity and cross our fingers for a ripoff trade or two…

  • Chungus

    I’m a Bieksa lover so don’t take this the wrong way…
    but does it seem to anyone else like when Bieksa fights, he gets a few good hits in then just falls to the ground? It’s all good though since I’d rather not have him injured.

  • Chungus

    For all the Crap that Torts took from the media and Fans, the Canucks WERE A MUCH BETTER TEAM under him then they are under Willy D. By my own proprietary metrics the Canucks are BOTTOM FEEDERS in the league, alongside Buffalo and Carolina in terms of quality puck possession and other important metrics. Miller is a joke signing and does not reflect well on Benning as a GM, the only reason the Canucks won last night is because the other joke acquisition , Luca Sibisa, was not in the line up.

    The Canucks have been very Lucky to be where they are right now. Their Goaltending is Terrible and my stats suggests it will only get worse.

    They have been very lucky in terms of their shooting percentages and their offence is about to dry up.

    Their quality possession numbers are near league worse, they give up too many shots against, the Canucks should rightfully be near dead last in the NHL. The Funny thing is, that would be GOOD for this team given the upcoming draft class but this JOKE of a franchise can’t even lose properly.

  • Chungus

    For all the Crap that Torts took from the media and Fans, the Canucks WERE A MUCH BETTER TEAM under him then they are under Willy D. By my own proprietary metrics the Canucks are BOTTOM FEEDERS in the league, alongside Buffalo and Carolina in terms of quality puck possession and other important metrics. Miller is a joke signing and does not reflect well on Benning as a GM, the only reason the Canucks won last night is because the other joke acquisition , Luca Sibisa, was not in the line up.

    The Canucks have been very Lucky to be where they are right now. Their Goaltending is Terrible and my stats suggests it will only get worse.

    They have been very lucky in terms of their shooting percentages and their offence is about to dry up.

    Their quality possession numbers are near league worse, they give up too many shots against, the Canucks should rightfully be near dead last in the NHL. The Funny thing is, that would be GOOD for this team given the upcoming draft class but this JOKE of a franchise can’t even lose properly.

  • Chungus

    Stanton was a giveaway machine in the first 2 periods. It’s hard to have good possession numbers as a bottom six forward when the defence on the ice with you keeps giving the puck away.

  • Mantastic

    All this talk about corsi, fenwick, and 5-on-5 sv% is getting nauseating. Advanced statistics are a useful tool in identifying a teams’ weakness and areas of improvement, but to the extent that so many readers on this blog are using them to point out how “bad” the Canucks are is just getting ridiculous.

    Last time I checked, the league standings aren’t based on corsi, fenwick, or 5-on-5 save percentage, its based on one stat – points and the only way to get points is to win hockey games. At the end of an 82 game season nobody gives a rats arse what a teams’ corsi or fenick percentage is, the only thing that matters is the number in the ‘W’ column.

    Before fancy stats came along how did we judge how good a team was? By looking at the standings and right now the Canucks are 2nd in the pacific and 6th overall.

    The advance stats say that the Oilers are a marginally better hockey team, if that is the case then why are Oilers 3 points out of DFL and the Canucks 3 points out of 1st?

    Over the last 3 seasons the Ducks have been one of the worse possession teams in the western conference yet they are still considered “the beast of California and one of the best teams in the conference” Why? Because they were/are winning hockey games.

    Fancy stats don’t mean S^*T. Winning games is the only thing that matters.

    • Mantastic

      *looks at LA Kings fancy stats over the last 3 seasons vs Leafs 2012 fancy stats vs Avs 2013 fancy stats*

      yeah fancy stats don’t correlate to winning at all!!

      • andyg

        I’m not saying fancy stats don’t correlate to winning, I’m saying that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if they out corsi their opponents it matters if they outscore their opponents. League standings aren’t based on corsi% they are based on points which are accumulated by winning. Advance stats be damned, they are finding ways to win hockey games. After 82 games the advance stats don’t mean jack, wins do.

          • Mantastic

            2013-2014 playoff teams

            Team Wins 5/5-CF% 5/5-GF/60
            Boston 54 4 3
            Anaheim 54 19 1
            Colorado 52 25 4
            StL 52 6 8
            SJ 51 5 7
            Pittsburgh 51 21 10
            Chi 46 2 2
            Tampa 46 11 11
            Montreal 46 26 25
            LA 46 1 26
            NYR 45 7 17
            Min 43 22 27
            CBJ 43 18 13
            Phi 42 17 12
            Dal 40 14 6
            Detroit 39 9 14

            “scoring is not usually sustainable without good fancy stats, neither is winning.”

            10 of 16 (63%) teams who made the playoffs last year had a large difference between their wins ranking and their 5/5-CF% ranking and 6 of 16 (38%) teams had a large difference between their 5/5-CF% ranking and GF% ranking – Including the fancy stat darling Kings, 1st CF%; 26th GF/60 at even strength.

            You show me an advanced statistic that, with the utmost certainty, determines the number of games a team wins and their final place in the standings.

            Even if you dig down deeper into CF% and FF% 5-on-5 in close score situations it’s still only about 50% accurate in predicting where at team will finish (within a few spots) of their league ranking over the course of an entire season.

            Advance statistics only tell us part of the story. They are by no means the be-all-end-all measurements of weather a team is a “good team” or a “bad team”.

          • Mantastic

            2013/2014
            5 on 5 situations

            LA Kings CF%-1st, FF%-1st, GF/60-26th, Wins-10th

            Colorado CF%-25th, FF%-27th, GF/60-4th, Wins-3rd

            “scoring is not usually sustainable without good fancy stats, neither is winning”

            Like I said in my post above and the – stats back it up – goal scoring and winning are sustainable without good fancy stats and having good fancy stats by no means guarantees a team is going to score goals and win games. This is proven by the fact that 10 of the top 16 teams in the league last year had a huge discrepancy between CF% ranking and wins ranking and 6 of the top 16 teams had a huge discrepancy between their CF% and GF/60. And if I had more time today I am sure I would be able to find you examples of teams that had good advanced statistics but missed the playoffs.

            Show me an advanced statistic or a combination of advanced statistics that, without a shadow of a doubt, determines how many goals a team will score, and how many games they win.

    • Mantastic

      You sound like A Colorado Avalanche Fan or a Leafs Fan Circa First half of last year.

      You Refuse to believe what the stats are telling you.

      The Canucks are a HORRIBLE TEAM. They are bottomd dwellers in Quality Possession Numbers. Bottom Dwellers in Goaltending and they have a pop gun offence which is playing over their heads.

      Try to deny that all you want, but come the end of the season The Canucks should be a bottom 3 team in the league.

      • pheenster

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that naive. I know what the stats are telling me, and I do believe them. Like I said I’m not discrediting them in any way because they provide valuable insight into how the team is playing. The Canucks are a mediocre possession team with terrible goaltending, that’s what the stats say.

        Are the Canucks defying the odds right now – yes. Is everybody waiting for the shoe to drop – yes. But the last time I checked, the goal is outscore the opponent not out corsi them. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is winning – regardless of how they won.