Canucks Army Postgame: Malaise over the Mallards

As the saying goes: you have to be good to be lucky. For the second consecutive contest against a Californian team, the Vancouver Canucks found themselves on the favorable side of that adage, stealing a home contest against the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Despite being outplayed for the vast majority of tonight’s contest, hemorrhaging shots and scoring chances alike for the first 50-minutes, opportunistic play from Vancouver’s youngsters and a stonewall performance from Eddie Lack were enough to drag the Canucks to victory.

Lets break it all down on the other side of the jump.

Highlights

Quick Hits

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Canucks

[Canucks.com Recap] [Face-Off Summary] [Event Summary] [War-on-Ice Stat Pack] [NaturalStatTrick.com Stat Pack] [HockeyStats.ca Stat Pack]

  • As has become commonplace of late, the Canucks relied heavily on their goaltending in tonight’s victory. Lack hasn’t necessarily been spectacular since taking over for the injured Ryan Miller. There’s been flashes of brilliance, sure. Also some signs of the same goaltender who struggled under these same pressures towards the end of last season. We’re beginning to see much more of the former though and that bodes well for the Canucks playoff hopes. Vancouver hasn’t been overly accommodating of their budding netminder. Last season he was mercilessly thrown to the wolves and played into the dirt. This season, Lack has had to go three weeks at a time between starts, before an injury to Miller forced him into the spotlight. I’ve been very impressed by the way Lack’s handled it all this season. Hate to be that guy, but if he keeps it up we might just be ushering in another off-season of goalie controversy. 
  • Is anyone else beginning to miss Latvian Lightning? The Canucks bottom-six seems a bit jumbled without him. The fourth line has been struggling mightily to drive possession in his absence. When together, Bo Horvat and Ronalds Kenins are driving play to the tune of 53%. Without Kenins, Horvat’s possession is at a paltry 41.5%. There’s a little something there between these two, you think?
  • Tonight was definitely one of Zack Kassian’s more memorable moments as a Canuck. In the first, it was Kassian who exacted revenge on Ryan Kesler for his cheap shot on Derek Dorsett just one contest earlier, catching Public Enemy No.1 with his head down for a clean and thunderous hit. The following period Kassian was goaded into a “tussle” by Patrick Maroon, who proceeded to turtle almost immediately as the Kassquatch let loose on him – the only downer being that this play cost the Canucks a power play. Then it was Kassian in the third, who weaved perfectly between defenders to create a passing lane for Dan Hamhuis to set his game winning goal up with. 

  • The Canucks had 16-shots tonight. That’s not a typo. Certainly not scorekeepers bias, what with the Canucks playing at Rogers Arena and all. Considering all that’s at stake, it’s been surprising to see the slumber in which the Canucks hit the ice to start these games of late. The Canucks probably out-possessed their shot totals, but it’s an alarming number all the same. Eventually these kind of discrepancies in shot totals catch up. Almost did for the Canucks tonight. 

  • Did Alex Edler and Chris Tanev miss each other? Well, they led all Canucks defencemen in Corsi For% tonight. With these two healthy, the Canucks can ice a legitimate shutdown first-pairing. Dan Hamhuis is mired in a less than stellar season, although in his defense, recovering from a torn groin mid-season can’t be an easy task – nor can be playing with Luca Sbisa as often as he is. In his stead, it’s been a steady dose of Tanev and Edler on shutdown duty. They haven’t disappointed, posting a GF of 57% and Corsi For of 53%. None too shabby.

Conclusion

Tonight’s win wasn’t pretty, but they all count the same at the end of the season anyways. Besides, taking on a California team, Vancouver will surely take ’em any way they can get ’em. Doubly so when Kesler plays for that team.

Next up are the Los Angeles Kings and the opportunity to get three straight wins against Californian squads on Thursday night.

  • Brent

    Agree, very lucky to win that one, but I will take it. Have to admit I was pretty negative at the beginning of the third, figured an implosion was inevitable. Then the Ducks scored and I thought this is it, here it comes. But then the Canucks started playing, Kassian got the goal and they held on! Sweet! Life is good. Weather is great. Fruit trees and magnolias in bloom, what a great place to be! Cough, edmonton, cough.

    And why, oh Why is Macmillan playing?!? Does he have some weird connection to Willie like Vey?

  • 1. No doubt we are going to see more focus on Horvat’s unsustainable Sh%. That said there is really something to be said about the youngster’s knack of either being near the net or making a play to the next at the right time. Yes he is getting lucky, but is in the right spots to get lucky.

    2. McMillan’s game wasn’t awful. It also wasn’t deserving enough to steal a spot from Kenins. The media notices it. The fans notice it. The panel talks about it. Perhaps Kenins’s limp from a week or so prior (the game escapes me) is more serious than the team is willing to let on. As the article notes, his energy with Hansen and Horvat is clearly missing and it seems too obvious for management to not notice.

    3. Zack Kassian.

    4. This team’s mental make-up is puzzling. This was a game that they could have easily rolled over in – it had all the signs just one minute in with the puck hitting a crossbar over a sprawling lack. The Anaheim tying goal was too easy to predict. Unpredictable? The push-back effort. What stimulates this team? What stops them from playing a pressing complete game against SJ in the 6-2 loss, or the loss against the Coyotes?

    5. Burrows Vey Doresett was predictably troubling. Burrows deserves better. Dorset deserves a spot on the team (despite the protests of some fans) but exclusively on the fourth line. Vey… I can’t make brash conclusions on Vey. He’s been awful, but I’m also a proponent of giving youngsters a chance. He has objectively gotten worse since the start of the year. He needs more confidence to play his shifty game but I have no answers as to how to supply it.

    6. Mathias Bonino Vrbata needs to be better.

    7. Did anyone notice Corrado? I mean that in a positive way… while admittedly in a busy bar I saw nothing glaringly wrong about the youngster’s game.

    • bigdaddykane

      Ive bagged on Vey before. I agree with you totally. I like that Willie D will allow rookies to find their game…..but man, did Vey mow the lawn in the summers for the Desjardins household or something? The guy has done everything in his power to earn a press box spot, but keeps getting trotted out there. He looked better tonight than previous games *cough cough St Louis game* but is a black hole out there. So far he’s too small, not fast enough, awful in the face off, doesn’t hit anything other than the ice when he gets knocked off the puck, and makes poor passes. Unless Kenins is injured, WTF is Vey/Macmillan doing on the ice? If Kass goes back to the press box over Vey when Richardson finally heals up im gonna tear out my few remaining hairs.

  • bigdaddykane

    Big game by the big fellah. Maroon made no friends with that Marchand impression. Horvat is making Gillis look pretty smart. I didn’like a lot of his moves/picks in the final couple seasons (Booth,Ballard, Pahlsson, Schroeder,Roy,tossing picks in on deals that helped empty the cupboard) and hated both the Coho trade as well as the Schneider deal, but Horvat, Kassian and Matthias look nice in canuck colors. Gilly, I take back a lot of the smack I talked about you. Without those three the canucks have zero secondary scoring. seeing Kesler on his @ss was icing on the cake.

    • To add to some nice Gillis move:

      He brought us Tanev, Lack, Kenins, Biega, Markstrom, Stanton, Hamhuis, Corrado, Jensen, Gaunce, Shinkaruk, Cassels, Richardson, Higgins, Hutton, Subban, McNally, having a promising future or are established players who are at least good if not awesome. To add to Matthias, Bo & Zack.

      Think about those free agent pickups we got from the Gillis era. We signed Eddie Lack, Chris Tanev, Ronald’s Kenins, to their first NHL contract like we discovered them. There was afew failures like Kellan Lain & Micheal Zalewski and maybe Darren Archibald, & looks like Joakim Ericksson. But maybe Alex Biega & Brandon Defazio will turn out well. Another few players we signed that I’m still curious about are Curtis Valk & Dane Fox. Who knows. Alex Burrows(a pre Mike Gillis free agent Canuck success, also made it all the way from ECHL

      And now we have Jim “The Goldminer” Benning as our GM. Let’s see the GMJB additions.

      Radim Vrbata, Ryan Miller, Nick Bonino, Derek Dorsett all pretty good additions. Not overly impressed with Linden Vey, Luca Sbisa. Not sure about Bobby Sanguinetti yet. He’s good in AHL that’s all I know.

      During the season gold mining has included very the impressive Adam Clandening, Promising Dman Audrey Pedan, & winger Scen Baertschi. With a
      couple depth/not going anywhere Forwards Brandon McMillan, Cory Conacher, and Will Acton.

      Am I forgetting anyone?

      • bigdaddykane

        Yeah those were all good pickups that I didn’t/forgot to mention. Gillis seemed to get fleeced on trades (the Florida deals spring to mind) and had a media persona that certainly did him no favors. I thought his greatest strength was finding diamonds in the rough like Tanev that he signed out of nowhere. He was a pretty good contract negotiator too. Hating Kesler is popular in Vancouver because of how his departure went (and lets face it, when he’s not on your team he’s a greasy POS. Now i know why the nation couldn’t get behind us on the 2011 run) but Gillis got him to sign for less than full share. We all didn’t like those no trade clauses but thats what you get when you ask a player to take a hair cut on a contract. I still prefer the new regime to the old, but I think I have to temper my anti-Gillis views a bit

      • bigdaddykane

        Jake Virtanen & Jared McCann. Curtis Valk was invited to camp in Whistler this past fall and signed by JB. I’m checking Alex Biega’s route to the Canucks too. Pretty sure he’s a JB pick up as well.
        I liked MG. Didn’t he also steal Erhoff & Malhotra from SJ?
        I really like JB. I like the idea of having a GM with a scouting background instead of another lawyer. Apologies to all my friends in the legal industry.

  • acg5151

    This team reminds me a little of the 2012 Kings… They always seemed to g good goaltending and took advantage of opportunities.

    The last stretch the Canucks have played well against top teams and did tonight. Sure the shots were lopsided, but they played tough against a tough team. Especially Kassian ,Sbisa and Dorsett. For a change, Kessler was getting run and it was fun to watch.

    The only blip was a very bad pass by Bonino through the middle of the ice that caused the one goal. He had at least two of those. If you aren’t going to score or win face offs don’t create bad turnovers.

    The Kassquatch really showed how he can play with the twins, when motivated. He was tough down low and set great picks. Also when Morrron… Slew footed Hank he was there to make sure they know it won’t be tolerated. No more rabbit punches

  • Thefreshpots

    Poor Dan Hamhuis. The Community Man pulls off an absolute beauty of a setup for Kassian’s game winning goal and all that’s mentioned is his “less than stellar season”.

    Good PGT, but caman, give credit where credit is due.

    • Beefus

      Exactly; I’ll go one further — we’d never have survived the loss of Edler, Tanev, Corrado, Bieksa and all the forwards if we hadn’t had Hamhuis in particular step up. More than the Twins and more than Lack (who’s been better — and lucky — these past few games but a little inconsistent before). Ridiculous to say that Hamhuis has been less than stellar. He’s gone from creaky in the first months to out to amazing given his injury the last bit.

      Great rope-a-dope by the Canucks. I have no idea what happened after the Ducks goal other than a totally different team showed up. Multiple chances and we seemed to be able to move the puck around at will.

      Kenins must injured. There’s honestly no other explanation for playing MacMillan. Actually I have no idea why he’s playing over Jensen or Archibald or some other callup. I am praying that when Higgins and Richardson are better they draw in for MacMillan and Dorsett. Dorsett has looked progressively worse the past two months.

      • Ruprecht

        Kenins hurt his leg against the Sabres. I don’t know if I was the only one watching the game, but he certainly wasn’t the same after. Although he stayed in the lineup and tried to tough his way through it. I’d imagine it was serious enough for a rest.

        We sure let the Ducks corsi themselves out. We did a good job blocking and keeping them out of the critical scoring areas though.

        Ice looked terrible last night. Looked like ball hockey at times. That effected the style of game for both teams.

    • J.D. Burke

      Yeah, in retrospect, I could have been a little more generous to Hammer. A fair generalization on his season, sure… Then again, he also just played an amazing game. Oopsy daisy.

  • acg5151

    There doesn’t have to be a goalie controversy. Miller’s contract was a ? from day one and that will only get worse. If Lack can prove himself, we could progress to a more even 1A/1B tandem next season and then have Lack take over in year 3 with Miller as a veteran back up.

  • acg5151

    Good to see Kassian standing up for the Sedins after the slew foot. Better to see him working the cycle well with them on a few dominant shifts. Best to see him work the give and go with Hamhuis (who made a heckuva play) on the game winner. The lad is a keeper. Cody who?

    Great pushback from the team as a whole once the game was tied. We’re they just playing the defensive shell intentionally for 5/6ths of the game?

    Willie should be commended for his patience with the young players. But Vey’s extensive audition needs to come to a close once Richardson heals up. Linden simply doesn’t have the skills or speed to compensate for his lack of NHL size. More meat and potatoes, less midgets please.

  • bigdaddykane

    hamhuis mired in a less than stellar season????? c’mon man. this sort of sweeping, simplistic generalization (nevermind that it is incorrect) takes away tons of your credibility. To my mind, hamhuis, in these last weeks, has played GREAT. Especially considering the patchwork defense we have had (his AHL also-ran partners, weber and biega?!?!?!). I don’t usually comment on this stuff, but I was astonished to read that. he did struggle after coming back from injury, but honestly, that it is par for the course. !!!

    • J.D. Burke

      Actually, it’s a fairly accurate statement. Had a pretty poor start to the season, was injured, then struggled early in his return to injury (which, like, really is a totally fair observation… By that same token, not an indictment of Hamhuis’ abilities considering the severity of his injury) Yes, of late, he’s been playing very well. In general though, it’s been a bit of a “meh” season for Hammer. He played great last night and had a beauty set up for Kass on the winning goal. Not sure my “less than stellar” season warranted any sort of outrage, really.

  • peterl

    Nik Kronwall hits Kesler on a clean hit in 2011. Kronwalled. Kesler challenges Kronwall to a fight. Kronwall declines. Kesler then intermission interviews and says Kronwall has to “answer the bell” and fight him.

    Kassian hits Kesler. I am pretty sure Kassian will fight Kesler if challenged. Kesler then tries to hit Tanev and misses. Nobody “answer(s) the bell” for the Ducks. Kassian tries to fight Maroon, but Maroon turtles.

    There is an impact that Kassian can make in a game like this that is hard to quantify by advanced stats. He brings some significant intimidation. Kassian obviously had a huge impact on the scoresheet, but even if he didn’t score the GWG he does make a huge impact on the game. In games when he is struggling to find offensive consistency, there are ways he can enter the game without being offensive. I am interested to see where he goes from here. He has a unique and diverse skillset. Desjardins even commented about a bit of protection/intimidation he offers being on the Sedin line.

  • Beefus

    The same can be said for Dorsett. The Canucks play a more confident game with him in the lineup because other teams will not take liberties with their skilled players like they used to. Its not like when they only had Sestito to do that job because he could only play 5 minutes a game or he would become a liability. Dorsett is skilled enough to take a regular shift and the other team has to be aware of when he’s on the ice.