Guess who scored a hat trick? pic.twitter.com/uDhutLNyTw
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) November 24, 2014
Tonight was supposed to be Daniel Sedin’s night. The highest scoring winger in Canucks history was playing in his 1,000th game, and he and his brother put on a show, dominating the Blackhawks top lines all night. Still, despite a very impressive two-way performance, the Sedins were upstaged by the unlikeliest of trios: the fourth line of Derek Dorsett, Bo Horvat, and Jannik Hansen.
Each player put forth a multi-point effort, and Hansen potted the first hat trick of his NHL career, giving Vancouver a very impressive 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Reap past the jump for a recap.
It was abundantly clear right off the hop that the Canucks came to play tonight. They made Corey Crawford’s crease into a shooting gallery in the early going, attempting 13 shots in the first 7.5 minutes of the game, compared to just 4 for the Blackhawks. Part of it was taking advantage of a team who played last night, but part of it was putting forth the start of one of the best efforts of the season.
Vancouver continued their strong play through the first, and were eventually able to break through Corey Crawford thanks to Jannik Hansen:
Bo Horvat made a nice play to spot Derek Dorsett breaking up the weak side, and hit him in stride for the pass. Dorsett, who my eyes tell me is pretty fantastic at maintaining control of the puck as he enters the offensive zone especially for a bottom-6 guy, skated down the boards and threw a centering pass into the slot for Horvat, who had busted his ass to get up ice after his pass. Horvat wasn’t in good position to take the puck, but he tied up the defender well enough for a trailing Jannik Hansen to jump on the now errant pass and snap the puck past Corey Crawford to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
Maybe Hansen isn’t a complete offensive liability, but that’s none of my business. pic.twitter.com/E4UpNQ6KyP
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) November 24, 2014
The game was then taken over by some special teams play, including back-to-back Blackhawks powerplays that Vancouver was able to kill off. The Hawks were given a third consecutive man advantage opportunity when Derek Dorsett appeared to slash Adam Clendening’s stick in half, and this would prove costly for Vancouver. A rolling puck came to Duncan Keith at the point, who directed it towards Ryan Miller. Kris Versteeg happened to be providing an effective screen however, as he was able to tip the puck past Miller to tie the game at 1-1.
Vancouver didn’t back off though, as they had numerous chances to re-take the lead. Most notably this powerplay sequence that almost resulted in some vintage wizardous Sedinery on Daniel Sedin night at Rogers Arena:
GIF: Good gracious that Crawford save http://t.co/F4LLOGQiBu
— Steph (@myregularface) November 24, 2014
Nick Bonino also had an open net opportunity early in the 3rd, but he clanked the puck off the post, keeping the game tied. Bonino hasn’t scored a goal in 7 games now, which isn’t really surprising or alarming. Pucks were going in for him at a ridiculous rate to start the season, and he and his linemates were going to start missing opportunities sooner or later – just like every other hockey player to ever play the game.
This is part of the reason why chance generation is so important. These are skilled guys, so while they’ll miss a lot (NHL goalies are really good, remember), pucks will eventually start going in if they keep generating scoring chances. Like Jannik Hansen, for example:
Bo Horvat was credited with an assist on this play, and was likely credited with a faceoff win as well, but I honestly don’t think he touched the puck. Jonathan Toews won the faceoff, but Vancouver’s wingers aggressively jumped the unprepared Hawks, grabbed the puck, and bolted up ice. After gaining the blueline once again – this time with a smart soft dump and a subtle (and gorgeous) head fake to turn Michal Rozsival the wrong way – Derek Dorsett fired a pass towards the middle of the ice, where a streaking Jannik Hansen was able to redirect the puck over Corey Crawford to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead.
At this point, Vancouver was well ahead in the possession battle at 63.8% Corsi, but you knew as well as I did that score effects were about to kick in. Kick in they did, but the Canucks did an excellent job of weathering the storm, preventing any real dangerous chances from Chicago. What’s more is that the Canucks were able to add that all-important insurance goal too:
After pressing all night, the Sedin line finally broke through with a goal. Henrik Sedin gained the Hawks’ blue line and dropped the puck to Chris Tanev. Tanev’s shot was stopped by Crawford, but Radim Vrbata was there to pot the rebound. 3-1 Vancouver.
And then just when you thought we’d reached peak Hansen hysteria, he went and completed his first career hat trick, on a breakaway nonetheless:
That hustle is what just wanting it more than Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith did looks like. Canucks win 4-1.
Courtesy of War-on-ice.com
We’ll get this out of the way right away: Bo Horvat was the beneficiary of some favourable home scorekeeping tonight, as he likely shouldn’t get credit for an assist on Hansen’s second goal since he lost that faceoff and didn’t appear to touch the puck at any point after that. Oh well.
This isn’t a big deal though since Horvat was otherwise fantastic, playing a career high 14:27, mostly at even strength. For the whole game, the Canucks out-attempted Chicago 14-10 when Horvat was on the ice, and I suspect a few of those minuses came in the closing minutes when Chicago was in full-court press mode.
Officially, Horvat also went an astounding 13-3 (81%) in the faceoff dot (though it’s actually 12-4), including 7 wins on 8 defensive zone draws, and the one loss was officially credited as a win and directly resulted in Jannik Hansen’s second goal. Horvat currently sits at 60.4% on the season, which is good for 3rd in the entire NHL, minimum 90 faceoffs taken. I don’t know if he can keep this pace up since he’s basically operating right at the upper bound of elite faceoff men, but it’s an extremely positive sign for a 19-year old.
A couple more fun Horvat things:
Bo Horvat was +7/-1 (87.5%) Corsi against Patrick Kane tonight
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) November 24, 2014
Fun stat of the night: despite 3 5v5 assists, Bo Horvat was just a +1. Why? Because he was actually on the bench for two of Hansen’s goals.
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) November 24, 2014
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Horvat’s linemates were fantastic tonight too. Derek Dorsett and Jannik Hansen should be as good a pair of 4th line wingers there are in the NHL, and it showed tonight. The Canucks 4th line beat up on Chicago’s depth, and were the difference in the game.
Oh, and those Sedin guys were pretty good too. They were once again Vancouver’s best puck possession line, and they did it while rendering the Saad-Toews-Hossa line completely ineffective. They had a couple of glorious chances to get another goal or two, but their biggest impact was making Jonathan Toews look rather average at 5-on-5.
Oh, and the Bieksa-Sbisa pairing had over a 70% Corsi with the most defensive deployment any Canucks saw on the night. This may be a sign of the apocalypse.
I don’t want to say that this was the biggest win of the season, but it was the most impressive win for sure. Even on the second half of a road back-to-back (so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, this game probably looks much different if the Hawks were rested), Chicago is a very dangerous team. The Sedins looked like vintage Sedins, and the fourth line came through in a big way.
My barometer for keeping Bo Horvat with the big club was “is he better right now than Brad Richardson,” and one more night like that pushes us ever closer to a definitive “yes.” Horvat will more than likely play his 9th NHL game on Tuesday, meaning that decision day is nigh, and another performance close to tonight’s will virtually guarantee that he’s played his last game as a London Knight.
In a nice bit of synchronicity, Cory Schneider (or as he’ll soon be known: the sucker we traded for Bo Horvat) will be in town on Tuesday with his New Jersey Devils to take on the Canucks. Schneider may be dead from playing virtually every minute of every game this season, but you know he’ll be amped to take on his old team.