With near parity in the bottom rungs of the Western Conference playoff ladder, tonight’s contest was just the first of what will surely become an almost endless streak of “must win” games for Vancouver. Facing a red-hot New York Rangers team, this presented a tall order for the undermanned Vancouver Canucks and their patchwork defense corps.
Vancouver pushed play in the opening minute of the first, but waned as the clock ticked on an otherwise embarrassing first frame — one which saw Vancouver out-shot 14-4 and trailing 1-0. It was looking like the Canucks AHL blueline was in for a long night. With an early Shawn Matthias tally in the second though, the Canucks were able to shift into second gear and play the part of NHL equal for the remainder of the game.
These clubs traded and goals and chances from that point forward, before a last minute marker from Captain Canuck himself, Henrik Sedin, knotted things at four, ensuring overtime. A fast-paced and open extra frame wasn’t enough to decide this one, leading to the dreaded
gimmick shootout. The Canucks made quick work of the Rangers, beating them 2-0 in the shootout on Alex Burrows and Radim Vrbata goals. The final score 5-4 Vancouver.
- Lets just go ahead and deal with the elephant in the room here: Ryan Miller had himself a rough night. At least two of the Rangers four-goals get filed under “wishes he had that one”. By that same token, I don’t feel the final score does justice to his performance on the whole though. Further to that point, every goal Miller surrendered was from an area we generally associate with high quality scoring chances. It’s not like they were blue-line floaters. Besides, Miller built plenty of equity on the strength of his great first period.
I will say this: Miller played really well apart from the four goals he gave up. He made some really good saves. But, y’know, four goals.
— Daniels Wagners (@ADanielWagner) February 20, 2015
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 20, 2015
Open season on Ryan Miller. Canucks are lucky to be in this game right now.
— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) February 20, 2015
- Hat-tip to Willie D for an ultra-aggressive approach to tying tonight’s contest. With just under five minutes left in the third, Desjardins iced a group of four forwards with the one defenceman. With time winding down and the Canucks needing a late equalizer, I can’t help but appreciate the ingenuity displayed with this decision. Desjardins followed this up by pulling the goalie earlier than usual. Whatever magic Willie was working paid off, as the Canucks would tie it with exactly 2-minutes left in the third.
Kudos to Willie Desjardins for going with 4 forwards at 5-on-5 and pulling the goalie (relatively) early. Aggression paid off.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) February 20, 2015
- Not exactly an illuminating first performance from B.C. born, Canucks depth forward, Brandon MacMillan. The waiver wire pick-up was more-or-less invisible. I didn’t notice any glaring errors, and that surely counts for something from a 13th (?) forward in his first game with a new club. The underlying data would suggest MacMillan was struggling to push play, posting a 33% Corsi for. It was interesting to see MacMillan used on the penalty kill. Clearly he’s earned the trust of Desjardins, having iced nearly two-minutes shorthanded tonight.
- Another great performance for the Sedins tonight. The Twins each had a Rel. Fenwick of 20.67% on the night and combined for four-points. Interestingly enough, the two traded traditional roles, with Henrik potting two-goals and Daniel playing the role of playmaker on both. The two have combined for 15-points in February alone. Daniel has already surpassed his point total from last season with his two assists tonight. Henrik is tied with last year’s 50-point mark. This, with well over 20-games left in the season.
- I have to say, I’ve been very impressed with Alex Biega’s game since joining Vancouver. Admittedly, I knew very little about the diminutive stay-at-home defenseman from Utica before his arrival with the big club. Rarely do I notice Biega and for a defenceman playing 17-minutes in just his second NHL game, that counts for something. Biega was second to only Luca Sbisa (yes, seriously) in Corsi For% on the night, with a solid 57% showing.
Ain’t no complaining with tonight’s results. It won’t be long before the Canucks get a chance to build on them either, playing the New Jersey Devils in less than 24-hours from now, too. The familiarity tour continues, as it will be former Canucks netminder, Cory Schneider who is likely in net for the Devils tomorrow night. See ya then!