A peasant bowing before his lord pic.twitter.com/Rt21rLbPOV
— Gráinne (@wholegrainne) March 8, 2015
After faltering in the desert, Vancouver came in to San Jose looking for a significantly better effort against a Sharks team that has struggled at home of late. Well, the effort was much better, and the results were better, but the process left a hell of a lot to be desired, as some lucky breaks coupled with the heroics of Radim Vrbata, Bo Horvat, and Eddie Lack lifted the Canucks to a much-needed 3-2 win over their division rivals.
Read past the jump for a recap of tonight’s performance.
- For some baffling reason, Ronalds Kenins was a healthy scratch tonight. We’ve sung Ronalds’ praises rather recently, pointing out that he’s performed like a legitimate first liner in nearly all measurable facets of the game since being called up from Utica. Add his physical play and energy he’s brought to the table, and it’s a pretty big head scratcher. If you’re drawing up the roster based solely on recent performance then nearly anyone should be a healthy scratch before Kenins, and it certainly doesn’t make sense to play Linden Vey or Brandon McMillan over him. But hey, good Western Canadian boys right?
- The first period started off with some feeling, as Jannik Hansen got tied up with Brenden Dillon, causing Dillon to crash dangerously into the end boards. A big scrum ensued, setting the tone for the rest of the night. I won’t say the game had a playoff-type feel, but the Canucks were definitely more engaged against the Sharks than they were on Thursday in Glendale. My personal highlight of the night was Nick Bonino earning two-thirds of the Brad Marchand hat trick in one sequence, spearing Melker Karlsson in the groin then punching him in the face.
- Bo Horvat just seems to keep getting better with every passing game. We’ve previously pointed out how rapidly he’s been improving since Ronalds Kenins was called up to Vancouver (see below), and he’s now one of the most efficient 5-on-5 scorers on Vancouver at even strength. It’s not just his goal scoring that’s promising (after all, we know goals can be deceptive), but Horvat also seems to be making small plays with regularity that you don’t see other guys making. For example, shortly after his game tying goal, he was in good defensive position as Dorsett and Hansen forechecked. The Sharks gained control of the puck, and sent an outlet pass through the neutral zone. Instead of simply tying his man up or backing off or playing the puck to his own D, Horvat stepped up, intercepted the pass, forced his way through San Jose’s forwards, and very nearly generated an odd-man rush himself. Small plays like that happening with more frequency will go a long way to turning his strong defensive skills into a large defensive impact.
- And man, was Horvat’s goal ever nice. Big flashy moves are one thing, but to have the presence of mind to realize the puck isn’t settled, see where the goalie is, and make that chip shot with
a literal yetiBrent Burns baring down on you is something else.
- Speaking of something else, both of Radim Vrbata’s goals were beauties too. There was some luck in the first as it bounced in off of Antti Niemi’s pad, but it was still a really creative play. The second was just straight gorgeous:
Niemi’s uncanny ability to make himself way, way smaller than he is will come in handy when he cries on the floor of his shower tonight.
— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) March 8, 2015
- Vrbata also had a hell of a night by the fancystats, placing second on the Canucks behind linemate Nick Bonino with a plus-7 Corsi. He also fired six pucks on net, and missed the mark six more times, giving him a game-high 12 individual shot attempts in all situations.
- It was definitely fun, but let’s not kid ourselves: Vancouver is pretty lucky to skate out of San Jose with the two points. Think of all the close calls the Sharks had: Radim Vrbata pulling the puck off the goal line, the quick whistle and disallowed goal, and of course, this:
— Greg Balloch (@GregBalloch) March 8, 2015
- By War-on-Ice’s count, the Sharks out-chanced Vancouver 31-17 at even strength. The Corsis were fairly close for the majority of the game, but San Jose really pushed hard out of the gate, and again once score effects kicked in. It wasn’t a very good defensive performance by any stretch, and a game Vancouver was fortunate to win.
- Derek Dorsett tangled with Barclay Goodrow early in the game and took on John Scott in the meeting prior so he’s an element that you’d ideally prefer to have in your lineup, but not when he’s getting just slaughtered at even strength. Dorsett was a game-low minus-22 Corsi on the night and seemed to be on the ice for every goal-mouth scramble the Sharks generated in Vancouver’s zone. He was unsurprisingly obliterated by Joe Thornton’s line, going +0/-19 in just over 4.5 minutes of 5-on-5 time on ice against Big Joe. I like scrappyness and toughness too, but having it is a luxury you can only afford if it doesn’t come at the expense of not getting almost scored on every shift.
- More Ronalds next game, please.
Vancouver continues the Death March (get it? Get it? I’ll show myself out) on Monday night as they play host to old friend Ryan Kesler, newly acquired James Wisniewski, the always pleasant Corey Perry, and the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were winners at the deadline, picking up the aforementioned Wisniewski along with Simon Despres and Jiri Sekac, and look poised to take the Pacific division crown this season. Vancouver will look to continue winning hockey games and maintain their grip on playoff home ice advantage, while hopefully getting healthy too.