Canucks Army Postgame: Big Smoke’d

Well, that was ugly. The Canucks were scored on early and often and in waves from the Leafs bottom-six forwards, and never recovered. It was a night to forget for Ryan Miller, who was pulled on the fourth goal of the night for the Leafs, that came on just the 14th shot he faced. Toronto would add another empty-netter to skate away with a 5-2 victory over the Canucks. 

See how it all went down on the other side of the jump.

The Rundown

Vancouver seemed to pace the Leafs for the most part coming out of the gate, but were fairly lax defensively. I did essentially profess tonight’s contest as a gimme of sorts for the Canucks, who had won seven of their last ten since they have been the superior team in nearly every respect. They had the oft-mentioned momentum thing going for them too!

Alas, it wasn’t to be. The Canucks weren’t able to string together many sequences of sustained offensive pressure for much of the first. On those rare occasions when they did, they weren’t able to get a particularly fantastic look on Jonathan Bernier. 

As peculiar a notion as this is, for all their struggles as a neutral zone team, the Leafs generate much of their offence on the rush. They made the Canucks suffer with this breakneck pace on the first goal, a rush by Jake Gardiner. The original shot was stopped, then with an attempt to clear (the f%&^) out of that puck, Yannick Weber sent it through Ryan Miller’s 5-hole and into his own net. Peter Holland was originally credited with the opening mark, until the scorekeepers realized Gardiner was the last Leaf to touch the puck. 

The second goal you see being scored in that video is by Toronto waiver wire pickup Richard Panik.The Leafs gained the offensive zone with ease and walked around Canuck defenders at will. I honestly can’t say with any conviction who looks sillier on the Panik goal. Is it Kevin Bieksa, who is just walked around and sent spinning? Or is it Ryan Miller, who is faked out to the point where he’s more protective of the corner than his crease? It was a rough start for the Sbisa-Bieksa pairing for sure as they were burned on multiple early Leafs goals.

In retrospect, perhaps that should have been the moment Miller was pulled. That said, a goalie of Miller’s caliber is due a little more leeway than two goals. 

Another two goals, though? Maybe not so much. This theory was tested, though as the Canucks would surrender the next two to fall four behind. If memory serves, the Canucks had rallied to win the last contest where they surrendered a 3-0 lead to the Leafs in the ACC. Andrew Raycroft stole the show and didn’t a little jig at the end. It was great! If only it stayed at three…

As for the goals themselves, it was an awful lot of bad Miller. That goal Peter Holland so cruelly had stolen from him was regained in short order on a short-side snipe high on Miller. Miller had been playing deep in the net on that one, but failed to properly track the puck with Bieksa between the shooter and net. On the next tally from Joffrey Lupul, Miller had no such excuse. It was another short-side shot this time much lower. It’s one Miller could (and likely should) have. It’s the difference between a team being in the game and not. Miller didn’t and he was pulled for his troubles, wearing the most sarcastic and defeated grin his entire way to the bench.

It wasn’t all bad in the second though! Daniel Sedin had the late marker to inch the Canucks effort ever closer to some semblance of respectability. All things being relative, of course. The original effort was stopped by Jonathan Bernier, but Daniel hopped on his own rebound to send the puck past a still Bernier.

The goals were one thing. It seemed impossible from the onset of the second for Vancouver to pull this one out. The genuinely frightening moment from that period was Shawn Matthias taking a Stephane Robidas elbow to the chops, knocking him out of the game. Matthias had been playing the best hockey of his career, and to lose him now could really put a strain on the depth that has been playing so well for Vancouver of late. 

The Canucks entered the third a much hungrier team than they’d been the entire 40 minutes prior. Mostly score related, sure, but encouraging all the same. The Canucks had a monopoly on the puck in this period and for all intents and purposes dominated the territorial play. This eventually culminated in a Chris Tanev goal on a deflection in close. The Canucks upped the ante, kept on the Leafs case, but alas it wasn’t enough. Eventually a Wendel Clarkson empty netter all but guaranteed the loss and that was all she wrote.

The Numbers

chart

Bro, do you even score effects? Vancouver did tonight. Look at that steep incline, increasing in severity with each passing Toronto goal. In total the Canucks had 45-shots on Jonathan Bernier, who one could argue stole the game for the Leafs. Unless, of course, you acknowledge that Miller already handed the Leafs that game with his sub .800 sv% on the night. Miller let in four goals on fourteen shots.

When a team trails for a solid 90% of the game, it’s easier to put up the Corsis, and especially against a team that goes into a defensive shell like Toronto. That said, there were some Canucks with exceptional possession numbers on the night. At the top of the list are the remaining 2/3rds of the Canucks recently amazing third-line. Linden Vey and Brad Richardson both had Corsi For% of 78% while Shawn Matthias, who left the game in the second, had a Corsi for of 80% on the night. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

How did the former Canucks do? Well, David Booth was a solid 54% Corsi tonight and landed his first point as a Leaf on their second goal. Obviously his first point as a Leaf was against the Canucks, right? Santorelli’s night was a lot less impressive. Santo was a brutal 34% Corsi For matching up primarily against the Sedins, and was held pointless. 

The Conclusion

Well, the Canucks are going to need to regroup quickly following tonight’s loss. They’re right back at it tomorrow night in the nation’s capital, facing the Ottawa Senators. It will be interesting to see who gets the start tomorrow night. I’m sure the original plan was for the Stork to get the call, but the original plan didn’t include Lack doing mop-up duty tonight as well. Then again, the Senators are really not good, so will it really matter? See you then.

  • The Canucks were actually better than you suggest in the first. The Sedins set up Vrbata for a glorious opportunity early in the period which he shot directly at Bernier and there was at least 2-3 other good scoring chances. The Leafs didn’t look terribly good but they looked better than Miller who was just terribly terrible. I think it’s time to drop Weber and give Corrado a chance — the 30 seconds of useless PP time Weber gets a game (without any points) can’t be worth having him being pushed off the puck or making terrible decisions in front of the net. Bieksa was awful all game — his lost step in skating makes his continued lackadaisical play with the puck not good at all.

    Oh well, these games will happen and there were upsets all over the league with TB losing to a terrible Columbus team, Montreal losing to Dallas, and Nashville, and LA losing too. For the love of god let’s stop rewarding Miller, play Lack and figure out how to get out of the nightmare of Miller’s next two years. Can we send him to the minors?

  • Concur with the other two – except for a spot in the late first and early second, I thought the Canucks played this one well. The game was two posts in a third period powerplay away from being different. This game was a case of the Bernier over-performing and Miller under-performing; if Miller hadn’t handed the game on a platter, it’d been a great game to the finish.

  • Brent

    How about:

    Ryan Miller’s numbers this year are sub-optimal.

    I think it is better english.

    And JD did you watch the first period? Visually they dominated and ever your chart shows that. Hope you get better soon.

    • J.D. Burke

      They concussed me really hard and it hurts.

      Yeah, sure, they had a high-volume of shots, but were there really many great chances? None too many that I remember.

      • I’m trying to think if we watched the same game. At least three come to mind right now – Edler creeping in to tip, Vrbata in the slot, etc, etc.

        In my view, the only story about this game was the goalies – ours sucked, theirs rocked. I thought our play was pretty good.

  • Definitely a tough outing for Miller, but I’m not sure how Sbisa gets a free pass in this article on the 4th goal. That was one of the worst shot block attempts I’ve seen this year. He made the shot almost impossible to stop.

    Also no mention of Burr on the 3rd goal, which was a 5 star giveaway in the slot. Actually a great shot and decision not to mess around by Holland once the Canucks started to scramble.

    The 2nd, yes, big time bite and overcommitment, totally Miller’s fault at a time where we could use the save.

    Weber owns the 1st goal…totally.

    As good as we were in the offensive zone, we negated it by being worse in our own end. We were a step behind all night on the back end and the Leafs made us pay. Not entirely on Miller in my books, our D looked tired and in turn the timing wasn’t there for Miller. I fully understand the smirk, he should have known after Weber scored on him that it wasn’t going to be his night. The Sbisa attempted block was the icing on the cake. I’m sure there were a lot of guys apologizing to him in the room afterward.

    This is the first time in a while I can say our D-corps looked weary. Maybe the Hamhuis minutes are catching up with us? Either way, probably time to start giving certain players some rest in the press box if it continues. An injection of new life wouldn’t hurt for a couple of games.

    Lastly, good on Eddie Lack for coming in while the hornets nest was still buzzing and calming things down. Not an easy thing to do after warming the bench for half of the game If there was a bright spot in our own end he was the man shining the light. Something tells me he’s going to have to steal the show in Ottawa for us to get the win.

  • This seems like an appropriate time to appreciate the Luongo and Luongo/Schneider eras in Vancouver.

    In the five years prior to Luongo’s arrival, the Canucks ranked 26, 25, 16, 12 & 14 in team save percentage.

    During the three years of the Luongo era, the Canucks ranked 3, 8 and 9 in team save percentage.

    During the three years of the Luongo/Schneider era, the Canucks ranked 2, 4 and 8 in team save percentage.

    Last season, the Canucks dipped to 23 and likely would have been lower without a half season of Luongo.

    And so far the Canucks are ranked 24 this season

    http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/team/_/stat/scoring/sort/savePct

    Welcome to the goalie graveyard…

    • Just curious if you have any first quarter stats for when Lu was here. I loved the guy as much as anybody but nostalgia has you forgetting the man was getting legendary for his slow starts. I’d try to dig them up for comparison between he and Miller in a Canuck uni, but for various reasons, I just don’t have the time to go stat mining. I doubt there’s much difference. Over the years most veterans have slow starts. What we’re banking on is the ability to get better as the season heats up. He has proven he’s capable to be unbeatable in small spurts this year. He’s also proven capable of it in the past. Time will tell but as a fan of this team I hope so

      Lu wanted out. There’s a reason why he stood by that decision even after Schneids was traded. As a father, I can understand his reasoning and accept it, not as an insult, but as a sign of the passing of time. We were lucky to have him here while we did, but it’s over, and his reward for his service isn’t as a member of our graveyard in my books. More of a guy that followed his heart to get here, and a guy who followed his heart out of town. When we get nostalgic, we’ve got a nice $800,000 annual postcard to remember him by.

      I think it’s time to let go and embrace the present. It’s the only way to avoid staring at graves and conjuring ghosts.

  • The Canucks weren’t as bad as the score shows, but moral victories count for exactly 0 points….
    The boys have played well their last couple of back to backs, so a win tonight puts them at 4-2 on the longest roadie of the season. Not bad

  • Think it might be time for Coach Willie to rethink his “Workhorse” mentality towards Miller. Don’t know if he wears down on certain nights, but last nights goal in which he slid almost into the corner was ridiculous.

    Lack needs to start more than just second games of back to backs. Competition and rest might be what Miller needs.