Canucks Army GDT #22 – Canucks vs. Devils

Pictured: not Bo Horvat.

The New Jersey Devils are in town tonight, surely to join the rest of Vancouver in the celebration of the commencement of the glorious Bo Horvat era. It’s a neat bit of synchronicity that the team Cory Schneider now carries is the one in town on the day Bo Horvat officially becomes a full-time NHL player, as he’ll play his former team for the second time in Vancouver, and the first head-to-head with Horvat.

For a preview of tonight’s game and a look at Vancouver’s decision to keep Horvat with the big club, read past the jump.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Kevin Bieksa 
Kevin Bieksa
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton
Yannick Weber 
Yannick Weber

Alex Burrows will return to the lineup and take his place on the second line. Linden Vey will sit out as a healthy scratch. Ryan Miller will start in goal.

Defensive Pairings
Andy Greene 
Andy Greene
Damon Severson 
Damon Severson
Peter Harrold 
Peter Harrold
Marek Zidlicky 
Marek Zidlicky
Adam Larsson 
Adam Larsson
Seth Helgeson 
Seth Helgeson

Cory Schneider starts in goal (again) for New Jersey. This will be his NHL leading 21st appearance for the Devils.

Preview

It’s fitting that the Bo Horvat era officially kicks off against the man the Canucks traded to get him. The Canucks announced this morning that Horvat had done enough in his brief audition to remain with the team past the 9-game mark:

However, there was some contention as to whether Horvat would be made available to Canada’s U20 World Junior team. Willie Desjardins seemed to indicate that this wasn’t going to happen, but Jim Benning later mentioned that it’s still a possibility:

Horvat would likely have to be playing some pretty poor hockey and looking at some pressbox time for Vancouver to release him to Canada’s camp, since you’re risking injury while burning a year of his contract if you go that route. Based on how Horvat’s adjusted to the NHL in his first 9 games, that seems unlikely, however. After struggling in his first go-arounds against the best teams in the West, he’s put together a couple of very nice games against Anaheim and Chicago, and deserves to stay in the lineup for now.

We do have to be mindful though that this is the ultimate small-sample decision, and making small-sample decisions is a recipe for disaster more often than not. Horvat still has just a 46.6% Corsi on the year while playing against comparably the softest competition of any Canucks forward. On the other hand, you expect an adjustment period from 19-year olds, and he also has the lowest offensive zone start rate (40%) of any Canuck except for Derek Dorsett (37.8%) and Luca Sbisa (27.8%) since he made his Canucks debut.

As good as he’s looked, and he looked fantastic on Sunday, keeping Horvat with the big club is still a major roll of the dice, and one that may not work out at all this year. As the cliche goes, Horvat will just have to take things one game at a time, work on the little things, and put forth his best effort night-in and night-out, starting tonight against Cory Schneider’s New Jersey Devils.

Formerly a top-end puck possession team, the Devils’ underlying numbers have kind of fallen by the wayside this season. As a result, they’re leaning on Cory Schneider more than ever in more ways than one. Not only has Schneider appeared in 20 if the 21 games the Devils have played this year, but the rate at which the Devils are allowing shots has ballooned by nearly 5 shots per 60 minutes at even strength, and 6 shots per 60 minutes while shorthanded. On top of that, the Devils are spending nearly a minute more per game shorthanded this season than they did last year. Add it all up, and you get a massive increase in workload for Schneider, not only on a total games played basis, but on a per-game basis as well.

It’s not surprising then that Schneider currently has the lowest save percentage of his career then. While the effects of fatigue on performance are poorly understood, it only goes to follow that a more physically exhausted goalie is a slower reacting goalie and therefore a worse goalie. It would be to the Canucks best interests to turn the Devils zone into a shooting gallery then – just as it is every other night of the year.

  • NM001

    I like this review.

    Bo Horvat is nothing to get excited about. His corsi isn’t great, and we might be destroying his career by keeping him in the NHL.

    Cory the guy we traded for Bo, is not as bad as his numbers indicate. Multiple reasons listed why he is better then his numbers, so that we can feel bad about how we clearly lost the trade.

    /end sarcasm

    For once it would be nice if we just said since Bo started off his NHL career we have seen him improve by leaps and bounds moving from sheltered minutes to becoming a defensive face-off ace and winning battles against some of the NHL’s best (Kane, Kesler). The sample size is small but if he continues to improve at the rate he is going he might very we’ll be better then the 3rd line center at best narrative this site has been pushing since the trade was made.

    As for Schneider, maybe he isn’t the Hall of Famer first ballot goal tender some were expecting. This doesn’t mean he isn’t good, just that perhaps it is easier to replace good goaltending through Free Agency in the NHL then it is to find a first or second line center.

    In the long run the trade might very we’ll turn out to be great for us. Even if Cory goes on to have a good NHL career, the ability to replace a goaltender vs acquiring a top 2 centerman who is defensively responsible is really no contest. That’s probably why goalie trades don’t yield much, unlike when a promising first round young forward or defenseman is traded away.