Canucks Army Postgame – Cats Me-ow

Riding a wave of favourable percentages, hot goaltending, and as accommodating a three-game stretch as the schedule can offer, Vancouver put the cherry on top of a three-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory over the newly anointed #FancyCats. This, just two weeks after the Panthers came into Rogers Arena with some guy named “Roberto Luongo” in tow and had their way with the then hapless Canucks.

The “road win” formula was followed perfectly tonight. The Canucks capitalized on early defensive miscues by the young Florida blue line to build an early lead, then sat on that lead until the game was over, preserving their big guns for tomorrow’s game in the process. If not for a Brandon Pirri one-timer (which ended Ryan Miller’s streak of 212:52 without surrendering a goal) there’d be almost nothing to complain about!

Meet me on the other side of the jump and maybe I’ll find something after all!

Highlights

Quick Hits

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[Canucks.com Recap] [Willie Desjardins Postgame] [Official Event Summary] [Official Faceoff Report] [War-on-Ice Stat Pack] [NaturalStatTrick Stat Pack]

  • For a team that was playing their third game in five days, the Canucks didn’t look overly tired to start the night. They were the better of the two clubs early, dominating territorial play and generating offensive chances aplenty. The Canucks first line looked especially potent and were rewarded for their troubles with the opening goal. Henrik tied up his man in the circle, Daniel picked up the trash and sent a beauty of a pass lengthwise to the waiting stick of Radim Vrbata who made no mistake. 
  • I’m not sure what the Canucks want from Zack Kassian. Production? Well, if it’s during the right part of the season. Physicality? Well, sure, but they need production too? It’s an impossible paradigm for Kassian to navigate, but I feel he did as well as could be reasonably expected tonight. Kassian led the team in hits with three and wasn’t exceptionally cumbersome in terms of possession – a more impressive feat, when one considers his linemates tonight have a history of middling-to-terrible possession play. I’m disappointed by the doughnut shot-total, but I remember some exceptional shows of vision and feel that in general the “Kasquatch” was much more engaged than usual.
  • It was nice to see Bo Horvat find the scoreboard again. I don’t necessarily expect Horvat (as a nineteen year old) to light the world on fire offensively – especially given the mountain of evidence that suggests 29-year old Bo Horvat probably isn’t capable of this – but it would be nice to see his name on the score-sheet occasionally all the same. Tonight was one such rare occasion. The young centre kept on a 2-on-1, before launching not one, but probably three shots. Eventually the puck trickled through a clearly exasperated Luongo for Horvat’s first marker in seven games.Capture
  • Speaking of ugly, unproductive stretches… how about that Chris Higgins guy? What ever happened to him anyways? Well, if there’s one thing I can say for the snakebit forward, it’s that tonight he finally generated something in the way of offence. Higgins led the Canucks in shots by a mile with five on the night and comes out almost even in terms of puck control. You have to imagine the goals will follow if he continues to play like that. One can hope as much, anyways. 

  • Huge hat-tip to Ryan Miller! It seems like just weeks ago now that Miller was teetering dangerously into replacement level territory, and yet here he is with a .919sv% on the year. If not for a garbage time goal from Pirri, Miller was mere minutes away from a three-game shutout streak. Assuming Miller doesn’t falter, he could be well on his way to his best season since 2009-10; he’s already matched his shutout total from that season, with 5.

Conclusion

The Canucks are Hansel-hot. As hot as a Steve Simmons #fancystats take. And tomorrow they play their fourth game in six days against the Atlantic Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning. It remains to be seen whether Miller will get the nod in that one. Conventional wisdom suggests that one might not play their 34-year old goaltender – that’s mentioned fatigue as a contributing factor to his slow start – in two straight sets of back-to-back games. Then again, Luca Sbisa made his return to the lineup at Frankie Corrado’s expense tonight, and Eddie Lack may be battling the flu, so all bets are off. 

Catch you then!

    • andyg

      Sbisa was ranged from OK to terrible (as opposed to his terrible to awe-inspiringly-awful) — there was a play where he got the puck behind his net, stopped for no apparent reason, promptly lost it and the Canucks chased for about thirty seconds. He’s big, he can hit at times, he’s really mobile, but he just doesn’t seem to be able to make reads and decisions quickly enough. On the other hand, I don’t think I mind having a rotation of him and Stanton with Corrado; I’d go back to Hamhuis and Bieksa as the 2nd pairing after Edler and Tanev. That gives some actual stability; for all Hamhuis’ rust he looks a mile better than the other three.

      I thought Horvat was generally skating really well last night — I don’t know whether to be scared or impressed that Desjardins plays his line (and Sbisa for that matter) in the very late stages of the game. It’s interesting to see who never gets out there — Vey, Kassian — amongst the youngsters.

  • Vanoxy

    Kassian played well except for a lazy backhand pass out of the zone that got the team stuck. If he and Mattais could click w Bonino I like the size of the wings with Boninos passing ability.

    One thing I didn’t like was the sit back the entire third period and let the Panthers control the play. That period reminded me of last years Torts team. Score 1 or 2 goals, then sit back and pray!

    Tomorrow’s Lightening game is by far the toughest of the trip so let’s see the best effort! The best East teams are nothing compared to the teams in the West so I give the Canucks a good chance even though it’s 4 games in 6 nights and a back to back. The PP will need to be better !

  • Vanoxy

    The crowd, or whatever the opposite of crowd is, in Florida makes for an embarrassing visual for the NHL.

    Pee wee games in New Brunswick have better attendance.

    At least when they move the team to Vegas Luongo will be able to brush up on his poker skills. Mrs Lu might not like it though.

    • Vanoxy

      There are still 2.5 years left on the contract.

      It’s not as though his true talent level has changed significantly in a week.

      But he’s certainly done as much as can be expected which is to give the Canucks a shot at the playoffs…

    • Mantastic

      Yeah, Miller has gone through a killer run against the toughest opponents hasn’t he? 25th place Philly, 28th place Carolina, and 18th place Florida! a real, who’s who of contenders.

    • andyg

      It’s awesome that Miller isn’t giving up terrible goals like he was during that stretch where he couldn’t stop anything (like that Leafs game) and it’s also great that his defensemen aren’t continually scoring on him. He’s also been the beneficiary of some lucky bounces, much as he was victimized by some crappy luck earlier. But Florida threw 6 and 8 shots at him in the first two periods yesterday and Carolina and Philly (who are generally awful) didn’t mount any pressure till mostly the third either. I do think he looks decent but let’s not kid ourselves that he’s been slamming the door on the Anaheims, Chicagos and St. Louis’s of the league.

      I obviously will always cheer for the Canucks to win when I pay money to watch every single game but I’m also not going to pretend that this team is something it’s not. Actually my best case scenario would be that some other team gets so caught up in this win streak by Miller that they offer up something decent for him in a trade and Miller agrees to go

      • andyg

        @Hans

        …Actually my best case scenario would be that some other team gets so caught up in this win streak by Miller that they offer up something decent for him in a trade and Miller agrees to go.

        Not gonna happen. Bennington has Miller’s back, and contract, and blocker and pads, and drives his golf-cart, and godfather of Miller-jr-to-be ….

        I’m good with drama-free-Miller-decent-on-occassion, as opposed to whatever Edmonton or Toronto is serving up.

  • Mantastic

    Sure I did. Just mental…

    But really, as an Oiler fan you should be tanking us for beating the lesser teams in the standings, not being critical of the feat.

    See what I did there?