On Friday night, the Vancouver Canucks were looking to carry over the emotion and offense from their Wednesday night victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Mission accomplished.
Playing host to the Boston Bruins tonight with hopes of victory in consecutive contests the Canucks dismantled their dreaded “rivals” from Beantown to the tune of a 5-2 victory. Shawn Matthias led the way offensively and Miller put in an effective night behind his teammates.
Lets break it all down on the other side of the jump.
- This isn’t Derek Dorsett’s first power play rodeo. Believe it or not, just three seasons ago he was featured on the Columbus Blue Jackets power-play, logging nearly a minute of 5-on-4 time per game. That’s nearly twice as much time as he’s averaging this campaign, and lines up well with the ice-time one might expect a second-unit regular to see. We can debate the importance of a net-front presence on the power-play until we’re blue in the face. It can be a valuable component but I’m hardly convinced that it makes or breaks a power play. We do know, however, that the key ingredient in a successful power play is shot volume. With Dorsett on the ice, the Canucks shot-volume on the power play takes a considerable hit – a more than 10% drop. We really shouldn’t need stats to drive home the message on this one. The Canucks managed just three shots in 5-on-4 situations and didn’t score.
- Shawn Matthias had one hell of a start to this season. He was playing with confidence, providing the secondary scoring and size this franchise had long wanted from its bottom-six before a Stephane Robidas elbow to the chops sidelined him with “concussion-like symptoms”. Returning from his “concussion-like symptoms” it was clear that Matthias was a few steps behind the game. His production and effectiveness tailed off. February has seen a return to form for Matthias. A rate stats dynamo, Matthias has seen his shot totals rise since the calendar turned to February. With tonight’s hat-trick, the first of Matthias’ career, he now has five-goals in his last four games.
- Be it the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, or any of the games between the Canucks and Bruins that followed, Boston could always rely on one either Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic to stir the pot. With Ryan Miller the Canucks netminder this season, there’s another layer. Neither of the two had any effect on tonight’s game though. Neither of them showed up on tonight’s scoreboard. Marchand didn’t register a shot; Lucic finished the night with three. Then again, the night is young and there’s always Granville Street…
- If the Bruins interest in Zack Kassian is legitimate, the bulking winger gave them quite the showcase tonight. Kassian and his solidarity goatee showcased their playmaking ability, chipping in with assists on two of Matthias’ three goals. That’s five points in four games for Kassian. It’s safe to say he’s built some trade value as we head into the deadline. Scary proposition.
- The silver lining to Nick Bonino’s injury has to be Ronalds Kenins insertion into the lineup. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Latvians Lightnings’ play since joining the big club. The scrappy fourth-line forward finished the night with 11:50 in ice-time, eight hits and two shots. Two of the aforementioned eight hits were runs at Big Z himself. There’s no doubting Kenins’ commitment at this point.
The Canucks have done well of late to help their positioning in an increasingly tight race for the final two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference. The Canucks are now one point back of the Sharks for second in the Pacific, with an opportunity to leapfrog them tomorrow with a win over the Calgary Flames. We’ll see you then!