Canucks Army Postgame: Chris T-mas Came Early

It’s not often when the opposing team can come in to your home barn, score three goals to your two, and you still come out with the win. Well, as little sense as that sentence made, that’s exactly what happened tonight as the Canucks finally broke their five game losing streak, beating the Calgary Flames by a score of 3-2 in overtime.

Read past the jump for a look back at tonight’s bizarre affair.

The Rundown

The game started off in a really weird fashion. After trading shot attempts in the very opening minutes of the game, Luca Sbisa took a tripping penalty below the goal line in Vancouver’s zone. The Flames pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, worked the puck around down low, and after a funny bounce, opened the scoring… by shooting the puck all the way down the ice and into their own net. I may be biased, but this is the goal of the year in my opinion:

The hockey gods can be cruel sometimes, but let it never be said that the Canucks don’t get bounces.

The Canucks also killed off Sbisa’s penalty, and this appeared to provide a spark for the rest of the period. They began to generate some pressure soon after, and were able to build on their 1-goal lead on a powerplay after Josh Jooris boarded Yannick Weber. Henrik Sedin won an offensive zone faceoff, and the Canucks worked the puck down to Alex Burrows in front of the net. Burrows jammed the puck on Jonas Hiller while fighting off two Flames defenders, casing it to squirt out towards Calgary’s Paul Byron. Byron appeared to be focused entirely on the puck however, as Radim Vrbata easily reached in front of him and slid the puck into the open net:

 Vancouver continued to carry the play in the first, but weren’t able to put any more pucks behind Jonas Hiller.

The second frame started off with a scary moment, as Jannik Hansen took a hit from Dennis Wideman while forechecking. Hansen bounced off Wideman, and appeared to be in pain as he skated to the bench doubled over. While on the bench, Hansen appeared to pass out as he suddenly slumped forward, prompting the officials to immediately halt play and bring a doctor across the ice. Fortunately, Hansen was able to leave the bench and walk to the dressing room under his own power. More good news came after the game, as Willie Desjardins indicated that Hansen was doing well in his post-game press conference:

Maybe this scare affected the Canucks’ play, but they definitely were not as strong in the latter stages of the second period. Calgary began to get more zone time and generate more chances about half way through the second, and nearly cut the Canucks lead to 2-1 when Raphael Diaz hammered a slap shot off the post and out, beating Ryan Miller cleanly.

The Flames were eventually able to get on the board shortly thereafter though, as Ryan Miller couldn’t handle a Kris Russell shot from a bad angle, dropping the puck right on the stick of David Jones. Jones, left relatively uncovered because he wasn’t picked up by Luca Sbisa after Chris Tanev left him alone to go chase Russell, shoveled the puck just past Miller on the short side to cut Vancouver’s lead to one goal.

The third period started fairly slowly, but after a nice passing play in Vancouver’s zone left Luca Sbisa chasing, Johnny Gaudreau was able to carry the puck into the high slot as he shoveled a soft, bouncing wrister though Ryan Miller’s 5-hole to tie the game at 2-2. There wouldn’t be much more of a push from the Flames, as they seemed content to run the clock and pick up a single point on the second half of a home-road back-to-back.

Vancouver struck quickly in the overtime though, as the Sedins and Chris Tanev capitalized on an odd man rush, emphatically putting an end to the five-game losing skid:

The Numbers

G32 v Calgary

Courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com

Forgive me in advance for my cynicism, but while a win is a win and I’ll take a win every day of the week, and while the Canucks controlled the flow of play on the whole, but tonight kind of had a “playing down to your opponent” feel to it. The Flames (and Jonas Hiller) played last night against the Dallas Stars, but the Canucks were only a +2 Corsi over the final 40 minutes against what should have been both a less skilled and tired opponent. Score effects are one thing, but they generally aren’t supposed to really show up until the latter half of the third period.

Oddly enough, Vancouver’s top line was the source of their biggest shoot generation issues. Radim Vrbata was a team-low -7 Corsi (38.7%) and was a -1 on the night, but he was fine on the powerplay as he also had 7 shot attempts and a powerplay goal. The Sedins were both also under 50% Corsi on the night at 5-on-5 and were outshot 10-5 when they were on the ice, but once again they were lethal on special teams, helping set up Vrbata’s goal, and making the play to give Chris Tanev the game winner.

Also, after two more goals against tonight, Luca Sbisa is now a team-low -8 on the season for a GoalsFor% of 41.5% according to War-on-ice. His on-ice goals against per 60 is also the second highest on the Canucks, behind only Zack Kassian. Plus/minus has its issues, mainly that it’s influenced by PDO in small samples, but it’s also worth noting that Sbisa has never had a PDO at or above 100.0 in his career, and has never had a GF% above 46.2% over a full season either. The eye test also back up that he struggles at times and is prone to the big error.

This isn’t to crap on Luca Sbisa so much as it is to illustrate the fact that Vancouver needs some help on D if they hope to go anywhere in the playoffs. At 15:06, Sbisa played more minutes than only Yannick Weber tonight, but you can’t have guys that are chronically prone to getting out-shot and out-scored playing in your top-4. They’re going to need to find some help some time, unless they’re secretly hoping to pick up Mat Barzal or Travis Konecny or Mitchell Marner around 10th overall.

The Conclusion

Vancouver has one more game before the Christmas break, as they’ll wrap up their home stand against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. The ‘Yotes are also struggling this season, so it’s a good chance to put the five game skid firmly in the rear view mirror and build some momentum for the new year and post-break schedule.

We can also hope for a Christmas miracle come Monday too: a game in which Martin Hanzal doesn’t injure anybody. That may be asking for too much, though.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      That was Karma, not Corsi.

      Actually it’s a pretty rare play, how many times in your life have you seen it? For me, I can say I’ve watched thousands of games and maybe seen it happen 4 or 5 times.

      • Andy

        Of course it was luck.

        But leave it to the delusional on here to overlook NM00’s history of sarcasm…

        As if anyone would confuse that goal with a quality shot.

        Other than the parochial defenders of the faith…

        • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

          Not luck, Karma. Weber got credit for the goal, anyone else and it would have been luck.

          For every Ted you lose, you seem to gain one. Don’t feed the trolls.

          I don’t care where the article came from or who wrote it, it was a good read and touched on better ways to look at what a goalie is trying to accomplish out there. Better for those that don’t understand just to admit ignorance than to drag it into an argument.

          As a person who dedicated a fair portion of my life to goaltending and the study of the position, I’d recommend it to anybody that’s into analytics for the position. It’s great to get you thinking of the many variables. It’s a good starting point if you’ve never stopped a puck, or think all goalies do is block shots.

          Good on you for showing some growth and branching out into goaltending. Easily the toughest position to quantify with accuracy. One you actually have to watch to measure as well. Go figure.

          Enough of that, I’ll let you get back to the lovefest you’ve got going on here.

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

            For some reason the rubes that dislike NM00 the most demand the most attention…

            I think there’s value in both watching the game (i.e. scouting) and statistics.

            “Scouting is still an important smell test. If scouts all say someone is a terrible defender, and a stat says he’s the best defender in the world, the truth is probably somewhere in between. Scouts say things for a reason, and you shouldn’t dismiss that.”

            http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/sloan-analytics-cuban-mccracken-jedlovic/

            That’s from Voros McCracken one of the most important pioneers in baseball analytics.

            Something the hockey bloggers should pin up on the walls of their mother’s basements…

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

            Yes, scouting is very important. A knowledge and understanding of what you are watching helps. That generally comes from experience. The more first hand the better, but isn’t that life?

            One thing I’ll never apologize for is having the benefit of many years sitting in a room full of hockey players in a highly competitive setting, and listening to coach after coach go through strategy. Anybody who thinks it doesn’t help forward your thinking about the game has obviously never been there. I don’t look down on these people, if anything I want to share the benefit of my experience with them. That is in the spirit of Hockey the way I was taught it.

            Because of this, it’s pretty easy for me to tell the ones that hide their lack of experience with numbers. They’ve got little else to share and are insulted by questions that they can be answered through the simplest of visual observations. BBOH is just another in a long line of these.

            I’d like to have a discussion at some point with you about “Score Effects”. It seems to me like another one of those blanket stats that ignores individual team styles and in game strategy for the sake of generating a number. Another stat, like save percentage, that could use some fine tuning to make it a little more telling.

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

            I like the comment:

            “There is a tendency to think, “Ooh, I’ve been waiting for this, and now I’ve got it, and it’s the greatest stat in the world.” But you haven’t even looked at it yet. You haven’t looked at what it actually says — what its weaknesses are.”

            Certain bloggers need to remind themselves of this before they take Corsi stats as gospel.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      Data requires context. Without it, it’s just numbers. 0.90. Miller’s save percentage or a skater’s PPG? No one knows.

      Remember last season? I believe Stanton scored like, three own goals, two of them pretty much back-to-back. Some called for his head at the time. But it, like Calgary’s own goal last night, were of course unsustainable bad luck. I highly doubt Calgary has that happen again this season. Or even the next ten.

      Also, I’ve noticed lately you’re plugging Sportsnet writers and calling the young analysts on this site “dinosaurs”. Not trying to be a jerk to you or anything, but is this the next thing for the “NM00 persona” that you hinted at a while back? Trolling data guys by hinting at an elevated importance of the “eye test” and experience over data? If so, I’d be disappointed as many would view that as a step back, not forward. Much like hiring Top Sixtito or playing Sbisa in the top four because he’s “toolsy”, or whatever they’re currently calling big, dumb guys who can’t skate or read a play.

      Seriously, though, just don’t join the ranks of the “just watch the game, nerd” guys; there’s already way more than enough of them out there.

      • Andy

        The delusion is commonplace on here.

        But must you be so humourless at the same time…

        Did you actually read the exchange between NM00 and Ruprecht where NM00 linked to Chris Boyle’s work?

        Don’t categorize Boyle with the Damian Cox’s of the world just because they both happen to write on Sportsnet.

        And don’t confuse what the young analysts do on here (for the most part) with innovation just because they do not have the ability to combine numbers with scouting/visual data and logic.

        And don’t speak to NM00 again without turning on multiple parts of your brain…

        • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

          Laughable.

          Don’t act like you’re royalty, pal; you’re arguing on the internet, much akin to competing in the Special Olympics. I’ll address you whenever I feel like it. Run and hide if you want, much like our resident troll does whenever the Canucks hit a winning streak.

          However, I am – unlike yourself, I suspect – big enough to admit when I make a mistake: While I did read your exchange, I did not read your linked article and still haven’t. That’s certainly a fallacy on my part. However, the reason I haven’t read it should be obvious to you, as you clearly felt the need to defend the integrity of someone just because they were with Sportsnet (without any prompting or challenge, I might add), which, clearly calls the believability and integrity of that organization into question. It’s like defending the quality of one particular item on McDonald’s menu as being quality; It’s all garbage fast food and you should know it by now and just not eat it. Period.

          And I’m far from a delusional fanboy. You’d know that if you took the time to analyze any of my posts. I’m simply a guy who simply believes that the world is full enough of idiots making stupid speculations on sports like, “the Calgary Flames scored an own goal. They’re clearly the worst team in the league,” instead of simply acknowledging that they were tremendously unlucky for a few seconds and moving on. Nobody needs another “aspiring blogger” making glib comments about “shot quality” on an own goal. We all saw it both during the game and as it trended on the internet afterward. Do everyone a favor: Get over both it and yourself.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    Man, seeing that Hansen thing was scary, the video of him slumping over looked really bad.

    On the game front, I’ve watched most of the games this season and I’m worried the Canucks are settling down in that sweet spot where they’re just good enough to fight for a playoff spot but not good enough to make a serious run once they’re there. That’s a fine place to be if you’re waiting on some younger pieces to push you over the top, but I don’t see anyone close enough to make a difference in the Canucks organization. I’d be interested to hear other views on their current state if anyone has one.

    Looking towards the future though, I’m pretty pumped to see multiple Canucks prospects play in the World Juniors; I can’t remember the last time they had this many potentially be there. Also, I wouldn’t mind if they got Barzal, Konecny, or especially Marner next year.

  • Andy

    My concern with the Canucks is that they are emulating last season under Torts. They got a break then a good goal……then??

    They just lost all drive! Half the game was left to play and the Canucks looked like they were just going to try and win 2-0 or 2-1. 2 goals later they are in OT. Last year if they got up 2-0 they would put 4 back and let the other team gain the zone and take it to Lack. If they play like this, the playoffs won’t happen.

    The Flames needed to take chances and when they play well they take advantage with turn overs or drawing penalties. When bad the Canucks let the ice tilt and the opponent gain confidence.

    Not too impressive by any stretch, but 2 pts is 2 pts