Canucks Army Postgame: No Fly Zone

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.

Highlights

Quick Hits

chart (6)

(Note: Shot plots will be available soon in the linked War-on-ice stat pack)

[Canucks.com Recap] [Willie Desjardins Postgame] [Official Event Summary] [Official Faceoff Report] [War-On-Ice Stat Pack] [Natural Stat Trick 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.

Conclusion

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.

  • Vanoxy

    Poor Eddie Lack gets no run-support at all, but Miller shows up and everybody’s a sharpshooter.

    Also, so much for the people complaining that Hansen never finishes on breakaways. I think he’s 4/4 since mid December.

    Fun game. The team and the fans needed a laugher.
    Thanks Ray!

  • Canucksfan3322

    @Rhys

    “He’s due to run cold and probably get hot again, because that’s how goalies work,”

    Brilliant! You really show your knowledge of the position here. Bold prediction, and I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s how all hockey players work. Teams too.

    Good job finding some negatives about him after a shutout though. I think he’s rounding into form despite our leaky D. Nice to have a little stability back there.

  • Canucksfan3322

    Every team goes through highs and lows during a long season. I live in LA and the Canucks are right there with them…. No one in LA is giving up, and the Nucks have games in hand. Win a couple more games and we are back in the middle of the playoff race.

    I propose we change divisions! Damn the travel schedule Canucks move to the Metro division…. 8-1 this year.

  • Canucksfan3322

    “miller’s okay now he’s average i guess. but he’ll get worse soon again…and then better…and he’s still paid too much.”

    man, a stubborn set here. still giving miller no love. still think it’s a coincidence that the team plays better in front of miller. still think that save % matters more than wins. and i bet you all still wish you had lou to melt down in the playoffs again. and probably think that if he were playing in vancouver right now he would be replicating exactly the success he’s having this year in florida, down to the last decimal point of his save %.

    i bet you wish you still had booth and his sweet corsi.

    there are more things on heaven and earth, dudes, more things on heaven and earth….

    • Canucksfan3322

      Did that game honestly change your opinion of Miller? Other than the save on Schenn (which was excellent though Schenn took too long to take it) it’s not like the Flyers really tested him that much. I enjoyed the game — no matter what I will always want the Canucks to win during the game and won’t ever actively look for them to tank — but let’s be serious, the Flyers are an absolutely atrocious team. Actually I’ve been surprised by how generally crappy every team in the league look this year with the exception of Anaheim on most nights. But the Eastern teams in particular are totally inconsistent and look terrible defensively. It’s like the whole league is jockeying for position to choose well in a deep draft. This may really throw out any strategy to get the better prospects if we can be this middling and still be so close to the top third in the league.

  • Canucksfan3322

    Just because Benning was delusional to give him 3/18 doesn’t mean Miller is as bad as he’s portrayed around here.

    Since his career year, he’s ranked 14, 15, 14, 12 & 16 (so far in 14/15) in starter’s save percentage.

    For the purpose of this ranking, a “starter” is defined as having started at minimum 41 games (24 in the shortened season).

    Miller has averaged over 60 games per 82 game season the last few years so he has demonstrated durability that other goalies (i.e. Reimer, Halak, Hiller) have not.

    He’s basically been the Mark Buehrle of the NHL.

    He’ll give his team a chance each year but he won’t drag a team into the playoffs the way that a Luongo might.

    And at some point he’ll turn into a pumpkin.

    It may very well be on this contract which is why Benning was dumb to give him 3 years and the AAV is a little high too.

    But there is definitely value in a solid average starter that won’t submarine a team’s season…

    • Canucksfan3322

      Lu also had the benefit of playing behind one of the better Defensive corps this team has ever assembled. Miller, not so much.

      The easiest thing to do is blame the goalie when you aren’t outscoring the opposition. But he has very little to do with zone exits and entries, or pucks going into the opposing net. We’ve got much bigger problems than Miller.

        • WTF

          Meh, I don’t eat KD. I have no problem with an ex-goalie’s view of the game. It beats listening to people who have never played the position before and act like it’s easy.

          • WTF

            Why do you assume I and others have never played goal or played it at a competitive level above you?

            Do you have any idea what it is like or are you simply projecting beer league experiences as though it is the equivalent of an elite level pro athlete?

            I’m sure being a professional hockey goalie is difficult.

            Unfortuantely, there are only a couple of dozen goalies at best in the world at any given time that are notable in the NHL…

          • WTF

            With you it’s pretty obvious. As it is when I read somebody who has played. I don’t look down on anybody here or anywhere for sharing experiences. I’ve learned a different view of the game from chatting here, some from you. No need to feel like I’m lording my hockey life over you or anybody. I can’t change where I come from though.

            I don’t play beer league, haven’t since my teens. Athletically I gave up actively playing hockey for surfing a while ago.

            I agree. It’s a difficult position to master at any level.

            Yes, that’s why I come here to discuss such things. It’s a team sport, but I have always gravitated toward goalies and defencemen.

    • Canucksfan3322

      Miller is not a terrible goalie. He’s not a $6million goalie however and as I believe you’ve argued on many previous occasions it’s not his performance as much as his performance relative to the cap implications (especially after this year) that is the issue. Being good on a terrible Buffalo team inflated his rep. The shoddy defense and inconsistent offense just highlights the issue

      • WTF

        He was good on Buffalo teams that made it to the ECF as well.

        I’m not sure what you expect a goalie to do on a poor team.

        Lou, for example, was good or great on a terrible Florida team, below average Canuck team, above average (and briefly elite) Canuck team and probably a below average Florida team with upside.

        Miller is a $6 million dollar goalie for 2014-2015.

        It was simply delusional to offer him 3 years at that rate.

        You cannot (inherently) compare Miller (or Hiller’s contract) to non-free market contracts.

        Players necessarily make more on the open market due to supply/demand and the fact that it only takes money to acquire the player.

        Obviously Schneider is a better goalie than Miller even though they have the same cap hit.

        But it also took a 9th overall pick in a supposedly strong draft to acquire him.

        Miller’s contract is on Benning and co.

        He is another (marginally) overpaid free agent.

        But (so far) he’s pretty much been as expected in that he has given an average team a fair shot at the playoffs…