Canucks Army Postgame: Stealing the Show

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.

The Rundown

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.

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:

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.

The Numbers

G21 v Chicago

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:

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.

The Conclusion

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.

  • Brent

    “I don’t want to say that this was the biggest win of the season”

    You can say this was the biggest win of the season! Go ahead! I watched this game with some trepidation as I know what Chicago can bring to the table. I was very happy with the outcome. Don’t forget, Crawford made some great saves, so it could have been put away much earlier than it was.

    Now if they can just play like this against LA and SJ and I will start to believe that they may finish higher in the standings than fighting for a wildcard spot.

    Oh yea, agree, Horvat stays.

  • Great recap.

    I’m am all to curious about Horvat, cause to the naked eye he’s holding his own out there. Hansen/Dorsett are probably slightly above avg wingers – but Horvat is pretty smart out there. He anticipates play in his own zone, seems to be in the right spots, can get it through the neutral zone. And when was the last time you saw a rookie 19 year old with his type of face-off prowess. I mean, most rookie centres play on the wing for the 1st year of NHL, or at least half a season. Not only is he playing C, but he’s killing the draws. Who was the last 19 yr old rookie who’s done that. I couldn’t find any in recent memory, not even Coots was good.

    Is he better than Richardson today? Caman, of course he is. And Richardson got Kass on his wing for most this season. If Horvat could have Hansen/Kassian as his wingers, BANG – that’d be pretty. And for gods sakes put Richardson on the 4th line permanently. I don’t know how a 19 yr old rookie can already be better than him, but it’s happened about 3 games ago vs LA.

    Also, when we gonna talk about him going to World Jrs or not? I think if they keep him in NHL, he should def be allowed to go to World Jrs. Why not? IF he’s relegated to 4th line duty in Van, give him more TOI against top young players at World Jrs. I

    • pheenster

      If he keeps up anything approaching this level of play, they shouldn’t let him anywhere near the World Jrs. Why take a chance on him getting hurt in a meaningless tournament?

      I appreciate what you’re trying to say, but the fact is apart from the other participants, no one outside of Canada gives a rat’s a$$ about the World Jrs. If he’s good enough to stay, he should stay.

    • andyg

      If Horvat goes to JRs it might push Cassel or McCann out.

      I would rather show case one of the other 2. We will only have so many spots for a defensive centre moving ahead.

      One of them might look good on an Oilers team.

      • Cassels is American.

        This game was great fun and Bieksa had himself a whale of a game. The Stanton/Weber pairing was a bit rough though – they finished at 38% even strength corsi.

        The Canucks have now beaten four of the five Western Conference powerhouse teams – St. Louis, Anaheim, Chicago, and San Jose, with a loss to Los Angeles. Pretty good, so far.

    • Waffles

      Except Hansen and Dorsett have both outplayed Kassian this season. Honestly Kassian is currently the weakest link in the forward group.
      Hansen has been quietly going about his business all season, to the unwarranted critique of the fans (hey MayRay).
      Funny what a little bit of confidence can do for a guy.
      Now I know as well as anyone that the wheels could fall off at any moment, but the signs are very positive when you have the best performing 4th line in the NHL, who soaked up 13 mins of ice time against one of the leagues best, back to back or no. Lets also keep in mind that the ‘back to back’ was a shellacking of the Oil where their best players had 15 mins of ice time.
      I was at the game last night, and the Canucks completely owned the Hawks in chances and possession, and if not for Crawford, its a blowout.
      I would be hard pressed to switch Horvats line mates at this point, as the 4th line is outperforming the 3rd and has been since Horvats insertion into the lineup. The answer is now simple. 4th is now the 3rd line. Taadaa
      Horvat should be playing 15 mins a night and has shown he can play a shutdown roll against some of the leagues toughest assignments, and not just hold his own, but own them.
      Horvat isnt going anywhere.

      • andyg

        I would agree that the fourth line as currently constructed is playing very well but basically I think as others have mentioned we are rolling a clear top line and 3 x third lines. With Burrows on the 2nd line it actually functions as a second line; with either Vey or Hansen it looked middling at best. The Matthias-Richardson-Kassian line was dominant in some games and the fourth looked invisible at others. I think you’re being way too hard on Kassian — for my money the worst forward we have is Richardson and he is still miles ahead of Sestito, Jensen, or DeFazio or anyone else we could plug in there right now. I think Kassian would have at least half a dozen more points if those on the receiving end of his sweet passes could actually put it in the net. Not that it’s directly relevant but I still find it fascinating that Hodgson who got way more than his season average of 10-12 minutes last night (almost 18) had zero points for a total of 2 all season — for the bargain price of $4.25 million.

        I think when Burrows comes off the injured list I’d sit Richardson — whose face-off skills have gone the way of his finishing ability — and ice a line of Kassian, Vey and Matthias. If you’re going to lose face-offs anyway you may as well get the added offense of Vey since Matthias I think can cover on the PK and I think has better finish than Richardson.

        I was surprised by pleasantly surprised by the Sbisa-Bieksa pairing yesterday and I actually think that Stanton didn’t look as bad as the numbers suggest. I think he’s still coming back from the injury.

          • andyg

            And this is exactly what I’m not quite ready to be sold on yet — we’re basically getting by on secondary scoring by committee which is fine as long as all of the hot streaks don’t go cold at the same time. I’m all for the fourth line dominating one game and Bonino’s line looking great another. And it’s especially good if Hansen starts potting them at the same time that Bonino hits the iron on WIDE OPEN NETS (I mean seriously how much more open could that have been?). But it’s one game — an incredibly satisfying one which I’ll enjoy for what it is.

            I think I’d feel much happier if the goaltending looked more solid — last night wasn’t a really good gauge as the Hawks didn’t throw that much pressure at Miller. Curious to see how they’ll do against Schneider and the Devils tomorrow.

        • Waffles

          I was going to argue with you about Matthias vs. Richardson. Then I looked at their career stats, and saw that my thinking was coloured by Richardson’s career year last season and Matthias’ career-worst last season.

          Matthias is bigger, younger, faster, and has been a better finisher over the span of his career to date. From what I’ve seen, they are both roughly equivalent on PK. What Richardson has on Matthias is recent face-off performance, and lately that hasn’t been working for him.

          Whether Vey plays with Richardson or Matthias, though, either would be able to protect Vey by taking Vey’s weak-side face-offs from him.

  • pheenster

    Back to backs third in four I don’t care – that was probably the most complete and most satisfying win in three years. Canucks rolled four lines and with the exception of about three minutes in the third never really looked threatened. I would never have thought this before but I’m changing my mind about keeping horvat up – if he’s given actually meaningful minutes here then yes he should stay. He looks like the real deal not just a third line Face off expert but a two way beast.

    • I don’t think team Canada will be deep enough to not at least consider him especially if Horvat stays with the Canucks. But Hockey Canada really doesn’t like it when a player with a dual citizenship even considers playing for the USA, it basically an automatic black-ball. Cassels has never suited up for either team in international competition yet so he is still free to play for either country, hopefully it’s us but more than likely it’ll be USA.

    • andyg

      The point I was making is that we have more centre prospects to develop. If Horvat is progressing at the NHL level then it would be better to see them get the experience.

  • andyg

    Although this was a back-to-back for the Hawks, you have to remember that it was 6-0 against the Oilers by the end of the second. Look at the playing time for the big guns on the Hawks and I can pretty much guarantee they were well rested for last nights game.

  • Easily the best game of the year.

    Strong competition and the Canucks won both the possession and goal battle.

    Not to mention that it was the first game without Hamhuis, a great game by a prospect and a solid effort by Miller after a string of poor performances…

        • Waffles

          Delusional would be getting overly excited about Miller stealing a game when the Canucks get hammered territorialy.

          Or trying to extrapolate too much from one game at home against a team that was playing it’s third game in four nights.

          It is merely one game but it checks off all of the most important boxes: strong competition, winning the goal AND possession battle and doing so with some key players out of the lineup…

      • Waffles

        What exactly has there been to be excited about in the last couple of years?

        The Canucks played a good game against a good team.

        If they do it more often or magically turn into a contender, I will give them the credit they will have earned.

        While I’m not sure if Horvat can keep this up, Hansen & Dorsett (espescially Hansen) are more than generic 4th liners so that’s one area where the Canucks can outplay their opponents…

  • Waffles

    Horvat’s line played 3rd line minutes last night while Richardson’s played the least amount of minutes on the team. Looks like Desjardins will adjust TOI based on in-game performances and which line is “on” for the night.

    TOI – courtesy of ScoreMobile

    Horvat’s Line:
    Dorsett – 13:03
    Hansen – 13:40
    Horvat – 14:27

    Richardson’s Line:
    Kassian – 11:14
    Mathias – 10:21
    Richardson – 11:19

    Really pleased with the coaching staff thus far.

  • Waffles

    LMAO at all the Canucks fans planning the Parade.

    *NEWSFLASH* It’s the regular season and these games don’t mean jack squat.

    By my own metrics the Canucks were VERY LUCKY to walk away with the win tonight. They barely squeaked by in the key possession metrics against a tired team playing their third game in four nights. There were sections of that game where the Canucks were getting outplayed as badly as the Oilers were the night before, but the Hawks did not have the legs to sustain.

    The result would have been much different had the Hawks been fresh.

      • Waffles

        He doesn’t have them. He uses the terminology to troll.

        I’m not sure why anybody is considering the Oilers game as one of the 3 in 4 nights for the Hawks. If you watched it, the game was over after 5 minutes of play. Completely in cruise mode by the 2nd. More like a scrimmage in the 3rd. Maybe it got them a little too secure with their play?

        My one concern of last night is that Miller still looks like he’s figuring out his positioning within the new scheme. Seems a little off on angles and is giving up his feet too early. But rebound control was great in the way that it gave the defence time to clear and cover and not worry about loose pucks around the net. His game was very tidy in that fashion. I know you don’t like the signing, but it’ll pay off later in the season when he gets his bearings.

        I’m almost shocked you have forgotten the most exciting thing over the last 2 years…we got a new President and GM and it’s already making a noticeable impact.

    • Waffles

      “They barely squeaked by in the key possession metrics”

      Even Strength Corsi 51-38 (+13) – 57.3%
      Even Strength Close Corsi 46-26 (+20) – 63.9%

      Even Strength Fenwick 38-26 (+12) – 59.4%
      Even Strength Close Fenwick 33-19 (+15) – 63.4%

      Barely squeeked by huh?

      I too would like to know which possession metrics you are using.

    • Fred-65

      You have to be Idiot00 in disguise. There can’t be two idiots of this magnitude walking the face of the earth. If there is, it certainly must be the precursor to the apocalypse.

      Canucks had a solid effort and nice to see them gut out a win.

      I think I’d like to see Horvat go back to junior after the worlds. Main reasons include being given more significant/meaningful minutes and play a larger role. He’s still young and learning.

      • andyg

        How could he play a larger role in Jr then what he did last night. This kid looks like he has all the tools and the personality to continue his learning process at this level. There is a chance that sending him down may hinder his development. (Set him back a year)

      • andyg

        Oh there’s plenty more than 2 Ted. The real world is rife with them. It’s just that nowadays the internet gives people like this a platform and a rock to hide under at the same time.

      • andyg

        Let it go Ted, NM00 can’t hurt you…

        I’ve been on the fence with Horvat but I’m actually starting to think he really might benefit from this role. For one thing if he really stayed on this line (or on something with say Vey and Kassian) that would be a significant upgrade than anything he’d have in junior or (if we could have sent him there) the AHL. He has not looked out of place — when I look at what lessons he’s already learned (i.e. not trying to stickhandle through the whole team after that first effort) I think he’s the type of player who’s smart enough and has the skill set to really improve.

    • andyg

      How were the Hawks not fresh. They played an middling AHL team the night before, 1 hour away. I love how so many “analysts” never give Canucks credit when they lose a game after having played the night before, but all the big name teams like Hawks get the benefit of the doubt. The truth is the Hawks are not as good this year. Give me examples of when they were outplayed other than a few minutes at the end of 2nd, beginning of 3rd, and they got the advantage on power plays. Canucks have better depth. By the way can we all stop talking about who is the third and who is the fourth line. Under this coach, any line can be first and any line fourth in any given game depending on match ups and performance levels that night. We have 6 offensive forwards and six defensive forwards who can chip in. Unless there are injuries, I do not think Sestito will see the ice again this year, he can’t keep up. I think you will see a rotation of Matthias, Vey, Richardson, Horvat and possibly Kassian if all are healthy.

  • andyg

    Last night’s game shows just what the Canucks can do when they play with determination and energy.

    This team is not the biggest or fastest, but has depth and skill up and down the line up. When they hustle and work hard, they dig out pucks and create turn overs which leads to chances.

    Hansons last couple of games shows how much having guys play on the right lines pays off. With the Twins, there is too much pressure and he changes his game, with Bo and Dorsett he plays his game of creating chances with speed and defense.

    I love the fact that Bo is ramping up his game the closer he gets to the 9th game, it really shows that some players are just instinctively big games players. Some players pile up numbers and stats in blow outs, then others show up when it counts. I believe him sticking around bring excitement and youth to the bottom 6 guys. Gives Richardson a night off or two and doesn’t make him step into a role he isn’t suited for. Horvat will learn a lot being around NHL players and improve every month. There might be some down turns because of the increased schedule, but the Horvat in April should be light years from November.

    Very exciting having the young guys chipping in.

  • Fred-65

    Trying to keep the game in perspective it was a back to back + travel for Chicago. I believe this season the rested team has won 75% of those games. So I expected the Canucks to win.

    Hansen did well and deserves all the credit he gets. But to be honest the Sedins held posession of the puck for long periods which kept the Hawks unable to generate much…for long periods. Horvat was dynamite on the draw again keeping Vcr in posession, he went head to head with Toews numerous times and won his face offs.

  • andyg

    If I remember correctly, didn’t Kesler jump into the NHL in a 4th line role and do about as well (not even as well, maybe) as Horvat? That seems like a good enough reason to keep him in.

    • andyg

      You do recall correctly. As a 19 year old he played well enough to earn a spot on the Moose. I don’t think he got his real shot until he was 21. In that season he managed 23 points.

      But I don’t think the comparison is really fair for either player. Different players, different eras…man time flies it was over 10 years ago since Kes played his first game.

      I hope the best for Bo, he really seems to be a nice kid who appreciates where he’s at. I never really got that sense with Kes. Should be interesting tonight with the obvious backline. Hope Bo lights it up.