When one considers the short and long term history between tonight’s combatants, it seems like a “letdown game” would be the least of Vancouver Canucks fans worries. By that same token, the Canucks are fresh off a week which saw them face their dreaded playoff rivals from Boston and Chicago, in successive contests – both games Vancouver won. The last of those two games was played just 24-hours prior to tonight’s contest. The setting was ripe for an emotional letdown game from the visiting Canucks.
With the malaise in Vancouver’s game, as they dragged their feet through the opening moments of the first, it was very much so a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Canucks eventually found their legs, and mustered enough offensively to keep this game close and entertaining right until about the third and final frame. With their hard work and third period opportunism, the Canucks didn’t do enough to bury the Flames. They mounted an early offensive push, highlighted by a Lance Bouma goal, which sealed the Canucks fate. The final score was 3-2.
Lets break this all down on the other side of the jump.
- The Hockey Night in Canada crew can sleep easy, having jinxed the Canucks in three separate instances. It began innocuously enough, with Elliotte Friedman reporting on Chris Tanev, his value to the club and what it will cost to sign him. The following period the Tan Man struggled mightily, posting a -2 goal differential. Alexander Edler’s importance to the club was discussed at one point in that same intermission; Edler suffered a mystery “upper body injury” on what looks like an innocent amount of contact between he and Bouma behind the Canucks net. Edler never returned from that injury. Following the CBC drool fest over the Canucks two cornerstone blue liners, Kelly Hrudey broke down Miller’s sv% by quadrant in the offensive zone. One of the highlights of that segment was the finding that Miller is leading the league in sv% from the area we often associate with high quality scoring chances. By the time tonight’s contest was over, Miller had surrendered three goals from that exact quadrant.
Edler update: He suffered an upper body injury and will not return tonight. #Canucks
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 15, 2015
oh hey an alex edler update pic.twitter.com/KH1JLvps4P
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 15, 2015
- In case you missed it, those Calgary Flames have quite the third period goal differential going for them. The best in the league, as a matter of fact. With a late second period goal from Linden Vey to knot things at two, the Canucks did their best to mitigate this factor. Alas, it wasn’t enough. The Flames would add to their league leading differential and tie the Tampa Bay Lightning for the lead in third period goals-for, with a goal from Bouma in the third.
- Side note: Martin Hanzal has been placed on IR and will likely miss the remainder of this season. With a performance like tonight’s, I can’t help but feel like Bouma is taking up that mantle. He had the game winning goal and is likely the main factor in Edler’s injury.
- Unsustainable personal and on-ice sh% be damned, Ronalds Kenins has turned into quite the revelation on the fourth line. Tonight Kenins chipped in with the third goal of his young and budding stint with the Canucks. All three of Kenins goals have come from weak angles. All three are likely to be stopped 99 times out of 100. Also, nothing from his professional career outside the NHL suggests he’s a barn burner offensively. Kenins is due to cool off, and likely in a big way. We can take solace in knowing that even if the goals dry up, Kenins has proven himself to be a useful fourth liner. His possession numbers, while not in the black, are impressive for a relatively young forward. The pesky Latvian also has a knack for contact, as his eight hits from last night’s contest will attest to. Might be a while before we see Brandon MacMillan…
- Things are getting tight in the West. With tonight’s victory over Vancouver, the Flames find themselves tied with the Canucks at 65-points. As has been discussed on multiple platforms by now, they’re a team that should cool off down the stretch. Their possession numbers are abysmal, and their PDO unsustainable. This has all the makings of a late season crash, a la Toronto Maple Leafs of last season. Then again, there’s also the Colorado Avalanche of last season to look at as an example of percentages boosting an undeserving team as far as the playoffs. Calgary’s hot start makes them a more likely candidate to have the latter of those two scenarios play out. Besides, they just work SO. DAMN. HARD. Tonight’s game was the last of the regular season between these two clubs. Shame Vancouver couldn’t seize on the opportunity to tilt the scales towards the former for their Pacific Division rivals.
- By no stretch of the imagination am I blaming Miller for tonight’s loss. By that same token, starting Miller tonight was a completely asinine decision by Willie Desjardins – talk about setting your guy up for failure. I could care less what his gut says. I could care less that tonight was, in effect, a marquee game of sorts. Starting the same goaltender in the second half of back-to-backs is a stupid decision and you can prove as much with a mountain of empirical evidence. Eddie Lack is a more than competent netminder. His .914 sv% is actually better than Miller’s. Right now, we’re lucky to see Lack once a month. New faces throughout management, sure, but I’d like to imagine this years brain trust has learned a thing or two from the failings of their predecessors. Lack is considerably younger than Miller, and by the end of last season his constant starts had driven his play into the ground and deteriorated his body. Miller is 34 years old. This is his first full season in the Western Conference, where travel is vastly more taxing than in the East. For Pete’s sake, he has complained on multiple occasions about fatigue already. I hate to sound like a broken record. This is very definitely not the first time I’ve brought this up. That said, I have one hell of a righteous grievance with the decision making here.
Bottom line: If you don’t take at least a two goal lead into the 3rd against the Flames, they’ll make you hurt.
— Canucks Misconduct (@nucksmisconduct) February 15, 2015
— Cam (@offersheet) February 14, 2015
There ain’t much rest for the wicked. Vancouver gets a one-day break from action, before facing the Minnesota Wild (again) on Monday night. This game, much like tonight’s, will have major playoff implications, as Minny could tie Vancouver and Calgary with a win – a prospect that seemed extremely remote as recently as one month ago. With Devan Dubnyk in net, the Wild seem near impossible to beat of late. They’re 8-0-2 in their last 10 games. A hot goaltender, on already impressive puck possession squad like the Wild could pose serious problems for Vancouver. It will be the last match-up of the season between these two clubs. Hope it goes better than their last meeting. See ya there!