Canucks say goodbye to Nassau Coliseum with convincing 4-0 victory

For the final time in franchise history, the Vancouver Canucks visited the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Sunday night to face the New York Islanders. 

The Coliseum, a concrete blister in the middle of a parking lot in Uniondale, NY, was the site of Vancouver’s losses in Game 1 (an instant classic overtime thriller) and Game 2 of the 1982 Stanley Cup Final – a series in which the overmatched Canucks were ultimately swept by the dynastic Islanders of the early 80s. 

So Vancouver’s 4-0 victory over New York’s other, other team on Sunday brought with it a sense of closure, a spot of karmic payback. The reverse sweep as it were. On the other hand, the club lost Ryan Miller to injury, and any crowing about karma at the moment seems misguided in the extreme. 

Highlights

(Courtesy: NHL.com)

Quick Hits

Shot attempt chart

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 9.45.35 PM

(Courtesy: war-on-ice.com)

Shot attempt location plot

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(Courtesy: war-on-ice.com)

  • Nassau Coliseum isn’t much to look at from the parking lot, but once you’re inside taking in the game, hoo boy. The crowd is savvy and reactive – they regaled their team with loud cheers even when they were down by a wide margin – it’s insanely loud, and the sight lines are perfect. There’s something almost 80s punk rock about the rustic, 8-bit scoreboard and the dilapidated seats. I know one thing for sure: I have to come back as a fan. 
  • Zack Kassian now has three goals in his last two games playing with the Sedin twins. He was even on the first power-play unit on Sunday, and scored a beauty goal, taking a feed from Radim Vrbata and wiring it past Jaroslav Halak on the blocker side. 
  • Eye test alert: when the Sedins and Kassian are cycling it like they did in the first period, Kassian looks like the prototypical Sedin twin line-mate. 
  • Though the Sedins ultimately finished in the red by shot attempt differential, with the score close the Islanders didn’t record a single even-strength shot attempt when they were on the ice. Vancouver managed seven. 
  • After making a series of difficult saves to smother the potent Islanders attack in the first frame, Miller was injured early in the second period when he was run into by Jannik Hansen. Eddie Lack made several astonishingly good saves in relief to preserve the victory for Miller. Both Canucks goaltenders were coming off of uninspired performances on this New York-area trip, but this was probably the best goaltending the Canucks have received in a single game all season. 
  • Bo Horvat continued his red hot February, with the game-sealing goal that gave Vancouver a 3-0 lead in the second period. It was the result of some excellent forechecking by Jannik Hansen, and a nice pass from Ronalds Kenins. Horvat also seagull’d a puck on the forecheck in the first and had a quality opportunity. Some of this run that the fourth line is on is definitely the result of good fortune, but increasingly you’re seeing Horvat get a golden opportunity or two per game. That’s a pretty good sign that it’s not just the bounces driving this.
  • Dan Hamhuis logged nearly eight minutes of short-handed ice-time, nearly three minutes more than his next closest Canucks teammate. At even-strength he regularly double shifted with both Adam Clendenning and Yannick Weber. It’s fair to say that Hamhuis, who struggled in the fall prior to sustaining a serious groin injury, has stepped up in a major way in the absence of Chris Tanev and Alex Edler.

Coming Up

The Canucks now just need a split in Boston and Buffalo (which shouldn’t be hard) and this will have been a very successful road trip. The big bad Bruins are up first, as they host the Canucks on Tuesday night.

  • Vanoxy

    The Isles looked a bit sluggish, after playing last night, but TheNucks were full value for the win.

    Crazy we now have 3 RW options who have been dynamite with the Twins. Nice flexibility to mix n match when the line slumps a bit.

    And Lack was great tonight after coming in cold. I’m always nervous when a goalie goes down and the backup is thrown right into the fire, but Lack has always handled it great.

    Hope we get to see Markstrom get into a game, Miller can take his time and come back fresh for the playoffs. We’re in good hands with Smilin’ Eddie stringing a few starts together.

  • Brent

    Really good road game tonight. Interesting to watch the “2nd-3rd line twins” play so well and the about to get benched Kassian step up!

    As long as the Canucks can keep playing solid hockey with all the injuries, it gives guys Like Sbisa, Clandening, Kassian, Horvat even Kenins chances to prove they can play.

    Kassian took Hanks advice, kept his mouth shut and waited for his opportunity, Guys like Kass grow up bigger, faster and more talented than everyone else. It’s not until they hit the NHL they experience adversity. It’s how guys react that determines if they become top 6 forwards, or guys that float from team to team with the hope things might click. Let’s hope Kass has figured out what it takes to be a top 6.

    If Miller is out for a period of time it will be interesting to see what Benning does. They snuck Markstrom through waivers once, will they bring him up and have him stay protecting 3 goalies…try to trade one when Miller comes back? Let’s hope Miller is only a day to day and that scenario stays a scenario!

    • Vanoxy

      Re: Markstrom.
      He should qualify as an emergency call-up.

      From SBNation…
      ” The NHL permits each team to carry up to 23 players on its active roster, subject to the constraints of the salary cap. However, it also requires a minimum of 2 goaltenders, 6 defenceman and 12 forwards on its active roster at all times. A player is not considered on the active roster if they have been placed on the Injured Reserve List or are suspended by the NHL.

      If the team falls below any of these minimum categories, they are permitted to recall a player without subjection to waivers in order to meet the NHL minimum roster requirements. However, the player must be returned to the affiliate when the player he is replacing returns from their inactive status.”

      To me, this indicates we get to showcase him, risk free, for as long as Miller is placed on the Injured List.

      Consider it our silver lining to the Injury black cloud.

      This could honestly be the best case scenario. Markstrom could look great in 1or 2 NHL starts, then return to Utica and take them deep in the AHL playoffs. Miller can rehab and rest, before coming back hungry just before the playoff. Lack could show that he can carry the day to day workload.

      If it pans out it increases the trade value of our #2 & #3 while keeping our #1 fresh for a late season push.

      Paint me optimistic, or delusional if your name is NM00. 😉

  • Brent

    The Canucks are really starting to piss me off. At the beginning of the season I figured we would be fighting for a wildcard spot. Even when we had the great start I knew they would fall back to earth. Well they did, but it wasn’t a complete crash and burn like last year, it was more like a relatively controlled descent without too much flame. And now they are back on an upward swing. They keep sucking it up and winning just enough games to stay either in or above a wildcard spot. Even with a huge raft of injuries, they still manage to beat good teams like tonight (and lose to sub-average teams as well, like New Jersey). They are in second in the Pacific! WTF! Who would have guessed this at the begging of the season.

    So now something very dangerous is happening, I am starting to feel… hope! thats right, I am somewhat hopeful about this years playoffs. I know it is crazy, and makes no sense. But the young players and recent aquisitions are overachieving, and the veterans are showing an increase in production. The team is sucking it up in the face of adversity, winning gritty games like against the Rangers, something that would have never happened last year. The adversity, like the white flag year, seems to be pulling the team together. So now I am starting to think maybe it won’t be a 4 game sweep in the first round of the playoffs. I mean holy cow, maybe they can actually win the first round, depending on who they play!

    Like I said, this is crazy. I must be delusional. I think I need to go find someone to slap some sense into me. Hey NMOO, where do you live?

  • Vanoxy

    I bet the Canucks are skyrocketing up those charts we were shown earlier in the year showing that Vancouver had gotten lucky in terms of man games lost to injury.

    It’s so nice to see Kassian getting a chance, though I didn’t like his floating around a bit in the 3rd. He needs to bear down more and work on being tenacious and hard to play against. And I’m not talking about scrums or anything.

  • ikillchicken

    If you’re looking to make a case *against Kassian with the Sedins I think there are some valid points to be made. For starters, if you want a real sniper in that spot who’s role is just to finish plays then I doubt you’ll do better than Vrbata. Kassian is not generally *as much* of a natural shooter (although he certainly scored a nice one tonight). And alternatively, if you want more of a net front presence, a guy like Burrows it could be argued is most suited. Kassian is bigger but there’s always been a unique ability behind creating havoc in the crease and Burr has it more than Kassian. He’s also got such a talent for getting his stick on pucks for the tip and jumping on rebounds. And hey, if we’re considering all options, what about Hansen? The Sedins lack of speed can certainly be a problem. Hansen’s ability to transition quickly up the ice and open up space for the Sedins entering the zone and/or to dig out pucks along the boards with his tenacious forecheck is certainly something that bears consideration.

    All that said, Kassian certainly has an upside with the Sedins in that he is more suited than anybody to actually participating in the cycle game. His natural passing ability makes him an excellent 3rd option to cycle the puck with all while being big enough to be hard to knock off the puck. It certainly improves the Sedins most as a puck possession line. What’s more though, I think it could be that Kassian is the Sedins most *complete* potential linemate. Burrows and Vrbata and even Hansen may be superior in certain regards but Kassian is at least pretty good in all those regards. He’s certainly big and fast and can be fairly effective creating space and digging out pucks. He can at least be a big, immovable presence in front of the net. And as he showed tonight, his shooting ability is certainly respectable. He might not be quite as good at any of these things as other people but he’s pretty respectable at all of them and maybe that’s his greatest strength. It allows him to be a dynamic, varied threat who acts as the situation prescribes rather than just be fixed into one role.

    Overspecialize and you create weakness. I think perhaps that’s why a lot of what we try with the Sedins seems to work for a few games and then disappear. Hansen lacks the hands to be a consistent scoring threat. Vrbata is a bit slow and thus they tend to struggle to set up 5v5. Burrows leaves them absent anyone who can simply put the puck on net at a distance, especially being a left handed shooter. Kassian may lack the strengths of the aforementioned guys but he also lacks their weaknesses. Plus, Kassian with the Sedins would let us put Burr and Vrbata together on the second line. Add in a decent play maker like Bonino and you’re got a pretty nice combination there.

    • Dirty30

      One comment: of the players you mentioned who have had playing time with the Sedins, Kassian has had the fewest opportunities to stay on that line despite his success with them.

      Compare that success with the Taylor Pyatt or Steve Bernier experiments in big-body futility with the Sedins and Kassian shows that potential to be more than just another big-body nicely.

      I hope Benning and Coach Wiilie Good are paying attention.

      • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

        Don’t you mean Coach “Real Good” Willie?

        Ask around with the ladies: “Good” Willie is just good. But “Real Good” Willie is priceless.

  • “For the final time in franchise history, the Vancouver Canucks visited the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Sunday night to face the New York Islanders.”
    So Mr. Drance is completely dismissing the possibility of a Canucks – Islanders Stanley Cup Final this season?

    I’ll show myself out…

  • Dirty30

    Have to say I’m worried we’re overusing Hamhuis. I understand that we’re low on defense but dear lord he’s not playing well (getting routinely burned wide) and I have to wonder how much of that is due to conditioning/overuse.

    Need to keep him a little fresher and I would look to the game vs the Bruins to give him a “night off” with somewhere around 18-22 minutes. Do the same vs Buffalo if we’re winning and can afford it.

    Would be nice to have him fresh for a big, physically demanding game vs the Blues.