Canucks Army Postgame – Silent Night

On the bright side, that game marks the third played between these two clubs this season, which makes for only two being left on the schedule. On a less fortunate note, the Canucks looked the part of a team coming off four days rest, weighed down by Christmas feasts. Despite building a small lead early, Vancouver spent much of this game on their heels.

For their troubles, Vancouver left the Honda Center with just the one point, losing 2-1 in overtime. Not a lot happened, but what little that did is gonna be covered on the other side of the jump.

The Rundown

In the opening moments of tonight’s game, it looked very much so like we might have a product worth watching. The Canucks dominated territorial play early and had generated several scoring chances in the opening minutes. One chance, set up by the hard forecheck of undersized forward, Linden Vey, sticks out in particular. Vey forced the turnover low in the Anaheim zone, before feeding the puck onto the waiting stick of Brad Richardon. B-Rich left that encounter unrewarded, but continued to buzz throughout this period, generating another 10-bell chance before its end. 

The Canucks low shot-total didn’t necessarily inspire, but their scoring chance-to-shot ratio was impressive in the early going. Derek Dorsett, who was a very active part of this opening frame, had a great one himself in front. Dorsett followed this up later, by jumping partaking in the ceremonial Pat Maroon fight. Decision went to Dorsett, but then again, he did kind of throw punches while Maroon had his gloves on… but… ah, forget it. That’s the kind of initiative we like around here!

Tonight’s opening frame was Vancouver’s time to make hay, and unfortunately they left it with the same score they entered with. They did, however, control play and keep Ducks chances to a minimum. It wasn’t until the waning moments of the first that the Ducks really established any continued zone presence, or chances. 

The second period is when the wheels fell out from under Vancouver. It started off in similar fashion to the first, though. There were a series of possession changes and neutral zone play, before Vancouver’s fourth-ish line got them on the board. The play started with an innocent enough chip-and-chase play, both initiated and retrieved by Jannik Hansen. Before the Ducks had any idea what was happening, Hansen flew up the boards, then sent a cross-ice pass to Yannick Weber, who directed a seeing eye shot past Frederik Andersen. Alex Burrows was providing the net-front presence and the Ducks netminder couldn’t see past him to get a piece of Weber’s shot. 

Things got decidedly less fortunate for Vancouver, though. They started to let Anaheim creep back into the game, trading chances with them early. The Ducks started to establish offensive zone time in a big way and had several great chances in the second. Save for a solid defensive shift by Hansen, which saw him break up several passes down low, block a shot in the slot and initiate the breakout, it could have easily been Anaheim’s game-tying moment. 

Ryan Miller also played his part to near perfection, robbing the Ducks on multiple occasions this frame. The most memorable of them being a Luca Spizza delivery three-feat to his right, that was sent into the slot for a grade-A scoring chance from Pat Maroon. Miller read the play perfectly, slid across, and met the shot in short order. The Ducks also ended the period with a last-minute flurry of offense, that had scoring chances aplenty, featuring the crossbar and post saving Miller’s bacon on two occasions. 

The third period was a slow, grueling slug-like movement by both teams to regulations end. Vancouver essentially decided to stop playing, and while the Ducks were peppering them with shots and shot-attempts alike, there wasn’t a lot going on to jump out of your seats for. 

It actually seemed as though the Canucks, with the helping hands of lady luck and Ryan Miller, might drag this one out to an ugly 1-0 victory. Then, following an innocent enough faceoff in the defensive zone, it was a Francois Beauchemin shot from the point that knotted this game up. One would assume that the tied game might breath life into Vancouver’s lifeless bench, but they actually played worse from that moment forward. At one point, Vancouver went nearly eight minutes without so much as a shot attempt. That kind of says it all.

Then, with overtime starting, they woke up briefly. The Canucks began to take advantage of the open ice in 4v4 play. Unfortunately, so too did the Ducks, as the clubs traded chances to close this game out. It was a Ducks chance, which was originally deflected by Chris Tanev on Miller and then sent back home by Cam Fowler, that closed things out.

The Numbers

chart (5)

After a solid first period, that got ugly quick. Vancouver managed to keep their heads above water for most of the game, but would you look at that separation in the third. That’s ugly. Really matches up with what we were watching and is backed up even further by the Canucks shot-total of two (!!!) for the last frame. 

There were only four Canucks who finished tonight’s game in the black for possession. Unsurprisingly, this list is championed by Alex Burrows, Derek Dorsett and Weber. The three of them played a great game tonight. Weber, of course, scored the Canucks only goal as well. Sitting lonely at the bottom of Vancouver’s possession chart is Radim Vrbata, with an abysmal 28% Corsi. 

Ryan Kesler did a splendid job of keeping the Sedins in check, again. Henrik was held to a -3 Corsi tonight when matched against RK17. Really, both of the Sedins were invisible all night. 

Miller had himself a night, despite being credited with the loss. His .935 sv% on the night will go a long way towards helping him creep back into the realm of respectable goaltending. Hopefully he can begin stringing a few more games like these together and pull his save percentage away from Edmonton Oilers-level.

Noted absentee from Canada’s World Junior roster, Bo Horvat, had himself a bit of a rough night. BoHo was just 30% on face-offs tonight and one of his losses played a crucial part in the tying goal. His Corsi For of 42% wasn’t great either.

The Conclusion

This definitely wasn’t Vancouver’s best effort. That said, they are coming off of four days rest and the Anaheim Ducks in their home barn are hardly an easy opponent. It will be interesting to see whether they can bounce back against another Western Conference powerhouse, when they travel to San Jose to face the Sharks on Tuesday. We’ll see you then. 

  • Brent

    Most notable Sedin moments include Henrik getting crosschecked in the back by Kesler and Daniel losing the handle on that bouncing puck hail mary from Edler in OT. On the bright side Miller looked good. The Ducks eyes must light up every time they see Sbisa behind the net with the puck. I wonder if they yell “you’ve got time!” given the amount he takes to make even the simplest of decisions. “Oh wait, why don’t I just reverse it again?” Doug Lidster must cry himself softly to sleep every night watching that gong show given that the most he ever made was about half a million a year and Sbisa gets (even in adjusted 2015 numbers) a lot more.

  • Brent

    Unfortunately the last two periods the Canucks look out matched. The fact they couldn’t draw penalties showed how lackadaisical they played.

    The result was because of Miller, but the Sedins and pretty much every other line could carry the puck through the neutral zone. This team has to work harder than the other team to create chances and they didn’t tonight.

  • Brent

    Tough to see the Sedins struggling like this. Seems like they’ve been negative possession players in the last few games, and have looked out of sorts.

    And HOrvat. First of all, he should be playing for WJC. How many NHL games would be miss? Like 3? So ridulcous they kept him with the big club when he could have that experience. He’s playing minimal, sheltered mins in the NHL – and struggling with those. I think they should send him back down to OHL. He’s gonna be a great NHL player one day, but it clearly isn’t now. This development pattern the new regime is sporting….. sucks. Lets bring up Corrado for a MONTH and put him in the press box the entire time. Lets call up Jensen and park him in the press box for a few weeks. I don’t think this new regime has a clue what they’re doing.

  • Brent

    Pretty decent slew foot by Burr for a point in the standings. Usually the refs catch him at that sort of stuff, but hey, Christmas vacation. Everybody but Miller looked like they were getting rid of sea-legs. Some of those line-changes were slow and painful.