Canucks Army Postgame: March of the Penguins

For the third time this week, the Vancouver Canucks played host to a club on the second half of a road back-to-back. In all three instances their opponents had just played in Calgary the night before, and for the second time this week, the Canucks came out on top. Tonight they did so in convincing fashion, pummeling the Pittsburgh Penguins to the tune of a 5-0 victory.

It was enough to see the Canucks finish their home stand an even .500. Not exactly ideal, but far from disastrous. The bottom-six led the way offensively and a relatively unchallenged Ryan Miller shut the door when necessary. 

Lets break it all down on the other side of the jump.

Highlights

Quick Hits

chart (12)

shot chart

[Canucks.com Recap] [Official Event Summary] [Face-Off Report] [Canucks Postgame Show] [War-On-Ice Stat Pack] [HockeyStats.ca Stat Pack] [NaturalStatTrick Stat Pack]

  • That had to be the best games of Bo Horvat’s young NHL career. Offensively we are starting to see the signs of a player who might be worthy of his ninth overall selection. Defensively, we know he’s earned the trust of Willie Desjardins. It was Horvat’s line that was sent to play Sidney Crosby’s early – all this with the Canucks being granted last change. Consider for a second that Horvat is still 19 and that’s quite the feat. That match-up didn’t last (Horvat ended the night having faced Brandon Sutter’s line the most), but I’d hardly say that Desjardins was sheltering Horvat. It was his line after all that forced an Evgeni Malkin turnover at the Pens blue line, which led to the youngsters goal in the first. 

  • Horvat wasn’t the only Canuck youngster to get things going tonight. Zack Kassian, who had been healthy scratched for quite a few games leading up to this one, finally got his call again and didn’t disappoint. As the story goes, Desjardins reached out to Kassian’s coach from junior, Warren Rychel. Apparently, Rychel suggested to Desjardins that Kassian needs to play with reckless abandon to get things going. It was also (apparently) suggested that getting The Big Guy going with a fight early would help his cause. Scratch one of those two off the list. I’d hardly say Kassian was rumbling around like the Todd Bertuzzi glory days of old, but he had one hell of a tilt with Robert Bortuzzo. The next period Kassian scored on a gimme, for his first goal since October 21st. That wasn’t a typo.

  • What a night for Radim Vrbata. The Czech sniper chipped in two assists on the Canucks first three goals. The first of the two came on the Canucks power play. It was Vrbata’s 500th point of his career, which is quite the milestone for a player drafted in the seventh-round, 212th overall. By the time the night was done, he’d 501 to his credit.

  • Daniel Sedin thought he’d chip in on the power play milestone moments tonight, too. Daniel’s one-kneed gimme of a power play marker early in the third was enough to push him past Markus Naslund for the all-time lead in Canucks power play goals. It was the 115th of Daniel’s storied career.

  • These lop-sided Canucks victories over the Penguins have to feel great for Willie D. Both victories were blowouts, as the Canucks come out ahead in terms of goal differential by a total of 8-0. It was rumoured that the Penguins were in hot pursuit of Desjardins this summer, but lost out to Vancouver who were willing to offer an extra year on Desjardins contract. Maybe a little vindication for Willie? Doubt it. Bet these two wins over the Penguins have felt “real good” for Desjardins all the same though.

Conclusion

Tonight was a great way to close out an otherwise uninspiring home stand. Would have been more encouraging to see Vancouver create distance between themselves and the trifecta of better teams behind them in the Western Conference playoff race over that span, but it wasn’t to be. Next up for Vancouver is a two-game road swing against Central Division juggernauts, the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild. With Minnesota quickly closing in and having won 5 games in a row, all the good feelings generated tonight could evaporate in a hurry with a couple of bad performances.

  • wojohowitz

    Again no comments? Too early or too late?

    3 wishes….
    1. More Canucks would play like Dorsett! I just wish there was a Dorsett to stand up for Dorsett after the Kesler elbow.

    2. Kassian has been the biggest, fastest toughest guy on the rink…. Until he got the NHL. Everyone is dude! Suck it up and try to be better.

    3. It’s transition, would a Canucks fan rather lose out on a playoff spot or get the 8th seed?
    Guess that was two wished and a statement! Darn it!

    • Ruprecht

      Too late. Personally I’ve been battling a flu bug and took a couple of nightime pills at the start of the third.

      1. Kesler will have to answer to Dorsett eventually. Personally, that’s what I want to see in this particular case…but yeah step up for your guy.

      2. In “The Wizard of Oz” Kass would be the Scarecrow. Hope he gets what he needs when he finally meets the Wiz. Or J.D. needs to write one of his #positivespinnerspecials on him…if that doesn’t do the trick, I’ve exhausted all solutions.

      3. Playoffs any day of the week. There’s no substitute for experience with these younger players. It’s almost essential so that they can see what the next level is like firsthand. Even if we get swept, the benefits are too great to dismiss. For winners, getting a taste and losing is the best motivator. I think we’ve got a winner in Horvat, and making the playoffs would be the best next step for him in the long run.

      I liked our team game last night. You couldn’t tell we were missing players because everybody picked up a little bit of the slack. It was one of the more enjoyable games I’ve watched this year…but maybe it’s the flu medication talking.

      On a side dish, Benning is looking pretty smart to me for grabbing Clendening when he did. Like in the nick of time. Our right side would be completely hurting without that move.

  • wojohowitz

    I know rationally that it makes more sense for us to do worse overall and get the rebuild going in earnest but damn games like these are far more enjoyable.

    That was one seriously bitchy Pens team, they deserved to get slapped down.

  • wojohowitz

    As a proponent of strategic tank jobs ( in good draft years). Wins like last night is like eating a whole tub of Hagen Daaz ice cream in one sitting. So bad for you, yet fabulously yummy in the moment….

  • Dirty30

    Compare and Contrast: Bo and Zack

    1. Bo sees the system as something that works so he works within it. And is effective. Zack sees the system as constraining his natural instincts and fights against it and is not effective.

    2. Bo sees the system as a safe place to learn and learns well! Zack sees the system as a threat and sits in the press box and so rails against it and becomes a slow learner as a result.

    Bo is developing under a good coaching system and demonstrates how a system can work and develop young players.

    Zack is the exception that proves the rule and is a player with good instincts and raw talent but will not learn well in a system — that’s already been proven — but kudos to WD for looking at different ways to harness Kassian’s talents without reining him to the point of ineffectiveness.

    If WD can teach Zack how to work his instincts within the system he may just become that player many of us think he can become.

    Bo thinks and skates and it shows in his incremental development.

    Zack learns by experimenting on the ice and can have spectacular success and monumental failure — sitting him only makes him think more — not good for his style of play.

    I’d love to see someone spend the off-season with Kassian teaching him how to effectively work his instincts into the system. He can’t be a wildcard forever.

  • Orpo

    “What a night for Radim Vrbata. The Czech sniper chipped in two assists on the Canucks first goal.”

    What a night indeed, two assists on one goal!

    Just wondering, do y’all employ an editor? Seems to me you rely on your writers to edit themselves, and that is fine or whatever, just some of them are better writers than editors.