— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) January 16, 2015
I said in the pre-game that if there was ever a night for Vancouver’s slumping shooters to look good, it was tonight against Ray Emery and the porous Philadelphia Flyers. And boy, they did not disappoint. The Canucks’ shooters hammered three goals past the struggling Emery in the first 30 minutes of the game before burying a 4th behind Rob Zepp en route to a clean 4-0 road victory.
Read past the jump for a recap of tonight’s bounce-back performance.
(Note: Shot plots will be available soon in the linked War-on-ice stat pack)
- There was a bit of a kerfuffle pre-game when Zack Kassian and Frank Corrado were announced as healthy scratches while Peter Chiarelli was taking to the podium in Boston at the same time. We’ve speculated about a possible Vancouver-Boston trade on here before, and it looked for a moment that something may have been happening. Unsurprisingly, nothing came to fruition, but for the record I wouldn’t hate receiving Matt Bartkowski in a trade, provided the price was reasonable. He’s been a positive possession player, and has had a positive impact on Corsi even considering his deployments. If nothing else, he’s a somewhat young upgrade on Luca Sbisa.
- The record will show the Flyers out-attempting the Vancouver Canucks at even strength, but most of the damage was done early in the first period when a Luca Sbisa giveaway turned into a lengthy Flyers shift in the defensive zone, and after some awful defending on behalf of the Flyers had allowed the Canucks enough golden opportunities to build a 4-0 lead. The Nick Bonino goal was absolutely gorgeous and deserves the Sportscentre hilight of the night for sure, but it probably doesn’t happen if Michael Del Zotto just closes him off and pushes him off balance.
- I thought Chris Higgins had a visible game tonight, especially during the second period when the new-look line of him, Alex Burrows, and Brad Richardson hemmed the Flyers in their own zone and forced an icing. Higgins has been under fire of late for disappearing, and while I won’t vehemently disagree since the whole team has been in a funk since December, it should be pointed out that he’s still Vancouver’s second most efficient scorer at even strength (1.87 pts/60 puts him on the high end of 2nd liners), second best puck possession forward trailing only Henrik Sedin, and a super-high end penalty killer along with Nick Bonino and Brad Richardson so far this year. If you’re looking for problems on the Canucks, Higgins should be pretty far down the list.
- Speaking of Canucks problems, they’ve been in PDO hell of late. Both their shooting and goaltending at even strength has been sub-standard on the whole, but Ryan Miller has pulled his all-situations save percentage up to 0.916 this year with the shutout tonight, which is about NHL average. That’s about what we can reasonably ask for from Miller, as he’s done his part since team goal scoring went in the tank. He’s due to run cold and probably get hot again, because that’s how goalies work, but a 0.916 would be acceptable over the rest of the year. Probably not worth $6m/yr, but that’s not on Miller.
Vancouver is back in action tomorrow as they take on the McEichel sweepstakes contending Carolina Hurricanes in the second half of a road back-to-back. Dan Hamhuis is scheduled to draw back in to the lineup, meaning that either Luca Sbisa (who was torched for a minus-13 Corsi at ES against the Flyers depth players) or Ryan Stanton will be scratched tomorrow, which should help alleviate some of Vancouver’s woes on defense once he gets back up to speed.
The ‘Canes are not a great team, but they are better than their awful record indicates, meaning that tomorrow may be a proverbial trap game of sorts. Even so, Vancouver will look to build on tonight’s win tomorrow at 4:00 PM in Carolina.