Canucks Army Postgame: Almost Blue It

Tonight’s contest against the St. Louis Blues looked like it was going to go terribly wrong for Vancouver early, but then the home side turned it around to take a big lead, only to let victory nearly slip through their fingertips. In the end, they survived blowing a 5-2 third period lead to bail out Eddie Lack with a 6-5 shootout win.

Read past the jump for a recap of tonight’s game, a devastating hit from a Canucks Prospect not named Jake Virtanen, and a look at one of the most bizarre stats of the season among other goodies!

Highlights

Quick Hits

G62 v St Louis

G62 v St Louis2

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  • The Canucks got down two goals early in the first period, and for a time, it looked like it was going to be one of those nights. Fortunately for the home side, Shawn Matthias was able to pot a goal on a nice saucer pass from Chris Higgins to get the Canucks back into the game. Matthias has been obviously good this season for Vancouver, especially since moving to the wing, but I also think that Higgins has been subtly good too. He’s generated shots, chances, and points at a near identical rate to Matthias, but where Matthias is having a career year for shooting percentage, Higgins is having his worst ever. We know these things tend to be fickle, so I’d expect Matthias to cool off going forward and Higgins to pick up some of the slack. If they make it through tomorrow’s deadline as Canucks, that is.
  • There was a sequence in the second period where the St. Louis Blues fourth line was caught out against the Sedins and Zack Kassian, and as predicted, the shift ended with Steve Ott doing something dumb and stirring the pot. Kassian jumped in and as he was restrained by the refs, ate a stiff right hand from Ryan Reaves, cutting Kassian open and giving him quite the shiner. I have a problem with this because screw anybody that’s not on my team, but at the same time “make them pay on the powerplay” hardly seems sufficient if you’re not the legitimately better club anyways. I look forward to the day where if you take a shot at Hunter Shinkaruk, Cole Cassels will just do this to one of your best players:

  • I thought for sure that Jannik Hansen’s 3-2 goal was going to be waved off due to the “intent to blow” rule, but the NHL amended the rule at the beginning of the season, allowing officials to consult with the War Room in Toronto on these types of plays. Will be good to remember tonight for when this inevitable pops up at the worst possible time of the year and goes against Vancouver then because of course it will:

  • Ronalds Kenins added two assists tonight, giving him 10 points in his first 14 NHL games. Obligatory comments about having an inflated on-ice shooting percentage and how this level of offense is unprecedented at any level for him, and that he’s guaranteed to cool off going forward, but all that aside, he’s playing some legitimately fantastic hockey on the 4th line. Mainly playing with Bo Horvat, his energetic play has helped turn that once moribund unit into a strength for Vancouver, managing to push the play in the right direction and generate both shots and scoring chances. Here’s Bo Horvat’s rolling 10-game Relative Corsi%, with approximately where Kenins joined the team:
keninshorvat

  • Also, Ronalds is the most fun. Go Ronalds.
  • Let’s not mince words: Eddie Lack was putrid tonight for the second outing in a row. He stopped 34 of 39 shots, and looked particularly shaky on Petteri Lindbohm’s 5-4 goal. The Canucks won in large part because Jake Allen and Brian Elliott were worse, but Lack’s had two bad games in a row here. Hopefully he can put them behind him, and the Canucks will need him to do so quickly since Ryan Miller won’t be back soon and Jacob Markstrom is extremely unproven.
  • Fun stat of the night:

  • Okay, so it’s not so fun. Or at least it wouldn’t be if the Canucks hadn’t managed to go 3/3 in the shootout and walk away with a 6-5 win. Rocking a 229.8 goals against/60 seems like a glitch, so I went back and checked all of St. Louis’ even strength goals just to make sure this checked out. Let’s have a look:
  • Goal 1: Alex Biega blows coverage big time, Luca Sbisa chases his man up the wall. Reaves sends a one-timer past Eddie Lack. This is not how you defense, Canucks:
Sbisa1

  • Goal 2: Clendening steps on the ice as Sbisa bungles a clearing attempt, decides to carry it out of the zone, coughs up the puck, and falls over. Alex Pietrangelo scores on the ensuing rush:
Sbisa2

  • Goal 3: Clendening steps on ice as Blues gather puck in the DZ, Sbisa doesn’t change. Kassian and Daniel Sedin allow a clean zone entry to Tarasenko, who Sbisa chases down low. Tarasenko drops to Schwartz, who dances past Henrik and sends the puck to Lindbohm. Lindbohm puts a weak one through Lack. This one really isn’t on the D:
Sbisa3

  • Goal 4: Canucks can’t get puck deep while making a change, so Clendening steps on while Sbisa can’t get off again. Vey loses a puck battle to David Backes, Clendening gets isolated on a 2-on-1 down low between Backes and Oshie, and Sbisa stands around and does nothing while Backes has approximately fifty-six whacks at the puck:
Sbisa4

  • And that my friends is how you allow three goals in 47 seconds!
  • One parting pre-trade deadline thought inspired by twitter-ist Kyle:
  • The implication is not that the Canucks should blow it up like Phoenix is doing, but to consider that it’s dangerous just to fall in love with the young guys that you have. You’re going to be competing with other teams in the future, so how good you are isn’t just a function of how good your own prospects are, but also how good other teams prospects are. If you don’t make a concerted effort to maximize the quality of assets you have at a single point in time, you run the risk of being good rather than great. The arms race for 5 years down the road has already started.

Conclusion

Vancouver’s next game is against the currently woeful and struggling San Jose Sharks, but before that there’s a little thing called the NHL trade deadline we have to get through. We’ll be covering anything Canucks-related as it happens, so be sure to stick around for news and analysis of each deal as it happens, and to give your opinion in the comments. It should be a fun day (unless Zack Kassian gets traded. Then we’ll be sad.)!

  • Brent

    Great write up! Bizarre game! Epic third period melt down. Well I guess not that epic, only three goals. Lack made some great stops, but wow, his goals against is moving in the wrong direction. Like you said, St. Louis gaolers were worse. Maybe we can trade them Miller!

    Play Markstrom next game?

  • ikillchicken

    Remember 5 years ago when we were all wringing our hands about how terrifying the Oilers were gonna be in 5 years? We all love to talk about the success stories but we all forget about the utter failures, the teams that draft all these young stars and then…just never really do anything with it. It’s actually a whole lot harder to build a competitive team from scratch than people think, and that’s even if you’re drafting in the top 3. That’s why in the end I still firmly believe it is far more important to draft well than to draft high and to generally manage assets wisely rather than chase this blow it up/rebuild from scratch gamble. As such, I’ll worry about teams competing in the prospects arms race when they actually start to show signs of having a good young team. Until then its all wild speculation. I’ll worry vastly more about teams like Chicago or Anaheim that have a great prospect pool despite already having a great collection of roster players.

  • Brent

    That was two good periods of hockey and a wild period of shinny. Our inexperienced defence shows when killer times like the Blues start circling the pond – we need Tanev and Edler back fast!

    • ikillchicken

      Agreed and the collapses before and after our five-goal burst were mostly the fault of terrible D backing in, losing assignments, being late on the back check and soft goals on Lack. But it also reminded me how little the Canucks really are suited to the playoffs not because of effort or skill but because of the infuriating tendency of the NHL to referee games completely differently in the postseason. It’s rigged to allow teams like the Blues that are big and strong and fast to beat you not only with skill but with idiotic post-whistle and in-game crap. On the second goal it’s true that Sbisa coughed it up at the blue line but he was already shaky due to a clear trip in his own zone that the ref considered but didn’t call. Backes took head shots (as he always does) at least three times and clipped Horvat on a face-off to boot. No penalties. Oshie and Reeves on multiple occasions ran interference that should clearly have been called. And then they call the chintzy slash on Weber and hold on Hamhuis. If you’re not going to call anything, why start with those? And why allow teams to bullrush the goalie or hack and whack after the play? Reeves should’ve been tossed for that punch when Kassian was restrained — real tough guy that one. I’d hate it if the Canucks were a team that got away with this too — it’s not the Blues that irritate me here it’s the league and its dumb shifting standards.

  • Brent

    On Goal #1, the reason Biega blew his coverage “big time” is because immediately prior, Reaves wrestled Biega’s stick out of his hands. Biega was collecting his stick along the boards when Reaves scored. Just sayin…