Canucks Army Postgame: #WinForQuinn

Leading up to tonight’s game between the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks, there was any number of hockey related story lines that could have taken precedence in the hours before puck-drop. Instead, the loss of former Canucks head coach and player Pat Quinn was paramount in our hearts and minds. A time will come for warm reflection, but for today at least the Canucks let us share a human moment and mourn his passing.

Following a chilling moment of silence, fabled Vancouver opera singer Marc Donnelly belted a beautiful rendition of the Irish folk-song, Danny Boy. I know somewhere, in some way, the “Big Irishman” was giving his sideways grin through the entire rendition, cigar in tow.

The Canucks honored the fiery Irishmen’s legacy to the tune of a hard fought 2-0 victory. There’s not a lot to chew on from tonight’s game, but we’ll tackle what little there is on the other side of the jump.

The Rundown

If Vancouver was to honour their bench boss from the 90s, New Jersey certainly wasn’t to be outdone. Shades of Jacques Lemaire and his vaunted neutral zone trap made an appearance early and often, leaving no room for offensive gains from either side. Being on the final leg of a grueling Western road trip certainly didn’t help the Devils cause; especially when one considers that they aren’t the most exciting of clubs on the best of nights. What little did happen in the first was almost always in Vancouver’s favour. 

Canucks 1P Events

I shan’t be making the mistake of confusing high event hockey for high quality hockey ever again. Despite the Canucks sky-high 17-shot first period, little in the way of chances was mustered. And so that trend continued for much of the second. What little entertainment was there in the second came courtesy of yet another Derek Dorsett fight, this time with Seth Helgeson. 

From there the Canucks and Devils exchanged menacing glances and extended forays into each others end of the neutral zone… It was enthralling stuff. The merits of shutdown defensive play in an increasingly offensive NHL have been up for debate for quite some time. By large, there are rare exceptions where talent adverse clubs (like the New Jersey Devils) have to continue this style of play to keep up with their more nimble and creative peers. It can be a largely effective strategy, but not when the primary offensive casualty is yourself. 

The Canucks have so far been a middle of the pack shot suppression team, yet managed to only surrender 20 to the Devils – eight shots lower than their average. For all the Devils ability to make hockey as fast and entertaining as lawn darts, they couldn’t contain the Canucks quick play with the puck throughout. With the ability to use their foot-speed all but negated, it took a quick transition play at the Devils blue line to notch the night’s first tally. Kevin Bieksa intercepted a pass and sent it immediately onto the outstretched stick of Alex Burrows for a deflection past Cory Schneider. 

A whole lot of nothing happened between that goal and the final tally on the night. It got to the point where Rhys was taunting me for even having chosen to do tonight’s post-game:

I am a goof, and really a horrible person on the whole. And yet karma remained on my side! A miscue at the Canucks blue line by Devils defenceman, Marek Zidlicky, led to a Shawn Matthias breakaway. While his original effort was stopped, the rebound bounced off of the repentant back-checking defenceman and in. I always believed in you, Matthias. 

For Devils fans this might be the last breakaway they see this season. For Vancouver, it was the insurance goal needed to put this one away.

The Numbers

Canucks v Devils Corsis

Ahem, that’s some mighty good looking Corsis you got there, Vancouver. All the better when one considers that New Jersey has been a consistently dominant possession squad under Peter DeBoer, and that the Canucks have struggled in this realm for most of the season. 

Leading the charge tonight was Vancouver’s second-line. All three members posted Corsi% north of 70%, with Chris Higgins leading at 77%. The trio started only a quarter of their even-strength shifts in the offensive-zone tonight, so yeah, they were kind of dominant. 

Maybe my drink was spiked, but I’m also seeing that Luca Sbisa had a Corsi of 65% on the night as well. In fairness to the oft criticized evergreen of a defenceman, his underlying numbers paint an accurate picture of what I felt was his best night as a Canuck. He was consistently played against Jaromir Jagr and for the most part kept him in check. At one point in the third, Vancouver’s lumbering Swiss defender even launched the usually sturdy Jagr into the boards, sending Twitter into a frenzy. 

The Conclusion

Vancouver has strung together a few strong performances in a row here and, dare I say it, appears to have a little momentum heading into Friday’s meeting against Ryan Johansen, his Big Macs, and the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets may look considerably different between now and Vancouver rolls in to town, so that will be an interesting storyline to keep your eyes on. Until then, thanks for reading.

  • pheenster

    Forget the game which was pretty boring. That tribute to Pat Quinn was fantastic and the rendition of Danny Boy was phenomenal. Though perhaps the comment that the Devils gave their own tribute with the old mid-90s trap game isn’t too far off…

  • pheenster

    Great tribute for Quinn. Nicely done and very touching. Nice to see them honor Pat.

    It looks like everyone is getting used to the new system. Another solid game.

  • pheenster

    Is it just me, or do the numbers show Bonino and Higgins are negative corsi rel players without Burrows and dominant players with Burrows.

    At 5on5 close he’s on the ice for 70% of the shots, almost 61% corsi and his corsi rel is best on the team at +11.6.

    I’d like to see some wowy work on this to see if Burrows indeed deserves some team MVP consideration so far.

  • pheenster

    High event hockey versus high quality hockey, interesting take.

    It’s interesting to hear that type of descriptive language. I thought the Sedins played well and Bieksa’s pass to Burrows was a brilliant assist. The Canucks were snake bitten with the two on one post for Burrows and Hansens rolling puck that went over the net.

    Tonight’s game was a solid effort in all three zones and Schnieder played well. These are the types of games the Canucks need to play.

    In the past after a statement win against, Chicago, Boston or LA, the Canucks would seem to take a week off acting like they already had proven they could beat the big boys. Nice win Vs Chicago and came out dominating from the jump. Now need to go to Columbus and do the same.

    Lovely tribute to Pat Quinn, hopefully Irish eyes will be smiling all season watching big guys like Horvat, Mattius and Kassian playing well. You will be missed Patty Boy

    • pheenster

      High event hockey versus high quality hockey, interesting take.

      When the reading corsi chart is more interesting than watching the actual game, it was a snoozer. Either that, or you might just be a little bit more of a math geek and less of a hockey fan.

  • pheenster

    DVR and fast forwarding helps!

    I will take a less interesting win over a high quality loss any day….. Sometimes it’s the opponents that you play.

    Jersey has never been fun to watch