The Vancouver Canucks entered Saturday night’s game looking to put Thursday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings behind them, and they did just that on the back of another strong performance from Ryan Miller and the Sedin twins. Vancouver’s powerplay scored twice, Henrik Sedin scored his 200th and 201st career NHL goals, both into empty nets, and Miller held the Detroit Red Wings off of the scoreboard for most of the night, en route to a 4-1 win.
Read past the jump for a recap of tonight’s performance.
- First and foremost, Ryan Miller was very strong tonight. He stopped 29 of 30 Red Wings shots and held the visitors off the scoresheet until they were already trailing by two goals late in the third period. Miller is not 4-1-1 in his last six outings with a 0.937 save percentage in that same span, which has pulled his average save percentage on the year up to 0.911 – close to the lower bound of what we expected. This means that we can reasonably expect Miller to have another stretch or two like this before the season is out. On the other hand, we can also expect another run of poor play too. Such is life with goalies.
- The play-by-play team of Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson made a comment in the first period that I found kind of odd. They said something along the lines of “with Kassian’s size, no one should be able to stop him when he goes to the net!” This was a bit of a throwaway comment, but I think it represents a line of thinking with Kassian that’s a bit misguided – mainly that his physical tools should make him some kind of invincible behemoth when he sets his mind to it. The fact of the matter though is that while he is big, he’s not that big.
- I asked Josh (who’s actually bigger than Kassian) run some numbers. Kassian is less than one standard deviation larger than the average NHL player in both height and weight, meaning that most guys are near enough to the same size as him to not have a significant physical disadvantage.
- Nick Kypreos tore into Nick Bonino in the first intermission, highlighting all his “soft” plays. I don’t think this type of analysis is always fair, but it is worth noting that Bonino has all but vanished since the beginning of December. You know the numbers by now: one goal, one assist, and pretty much invisible on most nights. While we’ve been lamenting the possession deficiencies of the fourth line, the fact of the matter is that the guys playing eight minutes a night aren’t going to sink you so much as your second line not scoring will.
- The biggest reason why Vancouver won tonight: special teams. Their penalty kill has been phenomenal all year, and the powerplay looks to be shooting the puck more since Alex Burrows was moved to net front duty on the first unit, and scored twice tonight. If the Canucks hope to be competitive going forward, they’re going to need to lean heavily on their special teams, since 5-on-5 looks like it’s going to be an issue.
The Canucks have another tough test ahead of them as they play host to the resurgent and dangerous New York Islanders on Tuesday night. The Isles have rode the offseason acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and Mikhail Grabovski among others back to not only relevancy, but into contention for the Eastern conference title. It’ll be a fun game, and hopefully not a repeat of last time the Isles came to town. We’ll see you then.