Canucks Army Post-Game: I Watched the Ducks Beat the Canucks So You Didn’t Have to!


Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports

That was hockey at its absolute worst. Whether you paid for a premium sports pack with access to Sportsnet 360 or suffered the pilgrimage to Rogers Arena, there’s no refund adequate to recompense your lost time and money. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Lifeless doesn’t serve this performance justice. I’ve watched Westworld — the hosts are lifeless, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t entertaining.

Tonight? Tonight was anything but entertaining. The Canucks undid any of the good will they garnered in their modest two-game ascendency up the standings by the first intermission. The Anaheim Ducks doubled them in shots ten-to-five, and frankly that seems generous. And somehow, the Canucks escaped the frame knotted at zero.

From there, things got ugly. The Ducks capitalized early on a missed Philip Larsen read at the blue line, as an eager Jakub Silfverberg one-timed a slap shot past Ryan Miller for the go-ahead tally. You’d like to think that goal would light a fire under the Canucks’ collective tuckus, but they amassed six shot attempts in the ten-plus minutes that followed. Then Ondrej Kase doubled the Ducks lead, capitalizing on a lost net-front battle between Erik Gudbranson and Erik Gudbranson by banking the puck off the defeated Gudbranson’s leg.

The Canucks limped onward into the third. They amassed something resembling a last stand. With a little help from the stanchion, they scored a goal even! It was Henrik Sedin’s sixth on the season, courtesy a net-side setup from Loui Eriksson. Then Andrew Cogliano sent a soft one past Miller for the 3-1 lead to cap the night off.


Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 10.29.54 PM

Quick Hits

  • Let’s start with the ice-time. Everyone’s talking about the ice-time tonight. More specifically, there’s a large segment of Canucks fans dissatisfied with the amount allotted Bo Horvat’s line. It’s not hard to see why. Markus Granlund played almost four full minutes more than Horvat tonight. At first glance, that’s insane. To Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins credit, Granlund was a significantly better player tonight. That’s a decision he wasn’t made to suffer in this instance, but one would expect that this type of deployment is a massive net negative over a larger sample. That bears watching.
  • Back to Horvat — his line was dragged tonight. Using Horvat as a proxy for the lines possession, they controlled roughly 15% of the on-ice shot attempts at even strength. That, if anything, perhaps lends credence to Desjardins preference towards Granlund tonight. You see glimpses in the right direction, but a night like tonight reaffirms very reasonable concerns about Horvat’s ability to keep his head above water in the Western Conference. Let’s hope efforts like tonight’s are more an aberration than a repeating trend. He was doing so well in this regard.
  • I’ve compared the Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson pairing to the Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler pairing of the John Tortorella year, and I’m ready to make it again now. I don’t know how, but they escape on a nightly basis with positive shot differentials. It confounds the mind. Their goal differentials, however, were hovering in the 25% range tonight (as Jason Botchford was apt to point out). At some point, the Canucks have to bring this to an end. How’s a week ago sound?
  • Interestingly enough, Troy Stecher had another night with a significantly higher share of on-ice shot attempts than Luca Sbisa. It’s interesting because they’re partners, naturally. I mean, how is Stecher doing this? What, do you think they spend like 30-45 seconds apart on a game-to-game basis right now? Whatever the case, it’s an especially good look for Stecher. Sbisa, on the other hand, maybe less so.
  • Friend of the Army and general goalie expert Nick Mercadante is toying with goalie analytics, and the results to date are always interesting. I’ve felt the Canucks were, generally, the beneficiary of good goaltending. According to his win and loss threshold statistic, that really hasn’t been the case. Tonight might give you a glimpse into why. Look at where the Ducks scored tonight. Only one really hit in a high danger area. Mercadante’s goalie statistics take shot quality into account. Given Miller’s propensity for letting in the odd softy this season and Jacob Markstrom’s well-known penchant for letting pucks through them, it makes sense that they show in the “Doesn’t Help/Often Hurts” section.
  • Remember when Loui Eriksson couldn’t score to save his life? He didn’t score tonight, but he has four goals in his last six games and points in five of them. I never really bought into the pandemonium early. These things happen. Even the best scorers go through terrible dry spells from time to time. It just happens. All the same, I’m all too happy to see Eriksson bounce back.
  • Though many were quick to point out the Granlund/Horvat ice-time share as a deployment bugaboo tonight, I was equally perplexed by Jayson Megna’s appearance on the first line. I don’t think Brandon Sutter works there, and I’m damn sure Megna doesn’t. If this team has designs on a playoff push, they need Jannik Hansen back, and they need him back on their first line. This is getting crazy.
  • Chaos theory: The Canucks mailed it in so they have their best foot forward when the Maple Leafs come to town on Saturday.
  • Bud Poile

    So much for the poll you conducted where Hutton is favoured to step up in Edler’s absence.The kid is not as defensively responsible as Sbisa,let alone Edler.

  • Rodeobill

    rough night, and yeah, tedious to watch. Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus watching them from start to finish.

    I thought our AHL call ups were the only ones showing up at times, unfortunately the whole team played like AHL players.
    Seemed like every pass and shot was right into a Duck jersey.

    I am no Defensive specialist, but does anyone else notice when they start the cycle in our zone, and one of our guys has had enough and sits someone down most times the puck movement gets disrupted enough to recover possesion and exit the zone? Why dont they do that more? Does it take them out of position?

  • chinook

    The difference in shot attempts by Stetcher vs Sbisa is that Stetcher is on the power play and Sbisa is on the penalty kill. Though ineffective the PP produced a few shot attempts that benefits Stetcher’s stats. Problem solved JB.

    • Big D, little d

      Well, not quite.

      At 5v5 Sbisa had 19:51 TOI while Stetcher had 17:33. I’d have to look at the shift charts but I’m guessing Sbisa had a couple of post-PP shifts without Stetcher.

      Both had 19 CF but Sbisa had 18 CA while Stetcher had only 14. So Sbisa had 51CF% while Stetcher had 58CF%.

      Again, you’d have to dig out some statistics but post-PP shifts are probably going to have worse corsi (your guys aren’t your best offensive ones while usually the opponent’s best offensive guys don’t kill penalties).

      So the difference in CF% probably reflects deployment rather than talent differences. But Sbisa is The Worst Defenseman In The League ™ so JD wouldn’t want to do any analysis that counters the narrative. Easier to just grab a superficial stat and jump to a conclusion that fits the pre-conceived notion.

  • wjohn33

    Thanks for the recap JB. I watched the first two periods while reading a book, which was not at all difficult to do. Pretty much sums up the game. Rarely had to raise my eyes from the pages. Third period was with the radio and I fell asleep. Not all was wasted.

  • Jabs

    In most of the recent losses for the Canucks, at least they showed up and made for an entertaining game….This one, not at all. I’m not sure what happened or or the team could all seem so unprepared. Maybe they are looking ahead and gearing up for the rematch with the Leafs?
    Who knows, anyway I think it is fair to say that most AHL teams would have given a better performance that the Canucks did.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    I actually switched the game off five minutes before the end of the first, it was that bad. Sadly, this is the worst Canucks team I’ve seen since the Pacific Coliseum days before Quinn came aboard and turned things around.

    What i found even more disturbing though was how empty the rink was. This is super scary what with the nucks being the only major league game in town, on a Thursday night against a high profile division rival no less, yet there’s no mention of this at all from JD or the commenters?

    It was mentioned in another thread that attendance has fallen to 15th from top five
    since the Cup final in 2011. I also notice that Forbes have recently listed
    the franchises worth at 700 million, ranking us 7th in the league. Considering the Aquas only paid 250 million and the current 700m value has dropped a whopping 50 million from last year, they must surely be desperate to sell on or even contemplating the unthinkable and moving the franchise elsewhere at the right price. Judging by last nights performance and attendance, would anyone even care?

    • Riley Miner

      Keep in mind, a lot of the time at the Rog it takes people until half-way through the 1st to get into their seats after they buy beer, arrive late bc of bad traffic, etc. I wouldn’t have a major panic attack over it.

      But Larsen was very, very, very, very, very, very, veryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy… Bad. Dunno if Biega would be much worse at this point. Take Tryamkin away from Larsen now, please and thank you.

  • JuiceBox

    Can the Philip Larsen experiment end now?? Please?

    If this team is a Jannik Hansen injury away from making/missing the playoffs then they are no where near ready to be a true “playoff team.”

    I’m sticking to what I said a couple days ago. This team is winning games by shear luck. Their offence is no where near deep enough, the defence is borderline OK but needs a lot of tightening up, and the goaltending is brutal, this team has no identity, and some very real hockey IQ (or lack there of) issues. I’m the first person to say we have to remain patient but it’s games like this that expose this team for what it really is and it pisses me off that we have to sit here and listen to Linden and Benning say they want to make the playoffs with this roster.

    • DJ_44

      It was a brutal game because there is no effort. Everyone appeared to be struggling. The games that immediately comes to mind with a similar poor effort are Ottawa at home and perhaps Anahiem away.

      To say that the Canucks are winning games by luck is not at all accurate and the statistics do not back you up; if anything, it is the exact opposite. There have one of the lowest PDOs in the league.

      Regarding goaltending; the obvious 3rd period goal aside, Miller was good last night. Markstrom has been good as well, although he had those back to back terrible starts when Miller had the flu.

      My measure for success is competitive every night (which they were not last night) and they will be in contention for a playoff spot. They are a young team that has to learn. Welcome to a re-build.

      • JuiceBox

        My comment about winning games by pure luck I don’t mean PDO type luck. They don’t pass the test. They are running around all willy-nilly, there is no structure. Most nights they appear disorganized with many missed reads, blown coverage, bad passes, poor zone entries and exits. There is simply no structure to their game and the low PDO is a direct result. They are winning games in spite of themselves and that’s what I mean by shear luck. For the longest time the mantra around here was “Stick to the process and the results will follow” well right now their process is fundamentally flawed, and the results (including their low PDO) are a direct reflection of that. When I said earlier this week they are missing something, this is what I meant.

        I know the team is in flux, player turnover and player experimentation is heavy and this is par-for-the-course for a team in transition or rebuild or whatever you want to call it, I’m just finding it frustrating that we have to hear this management group say they think they can make the playoffs with this team, when it’s clear to everybody that this team in no where near ready to compete on a nightly basis.

  • Spiel

    That goalie graph is pretty and all, but what analysis leads to Kari Lehtonen in the “often helps/rarely hurts” quadrant of the graph. That data point makes it difficult for me to take that seriously.

    • Andy

      Not to mention the graph also lists Schneider as doesn’t help/often hurts – I’m really hoping the article sheds more light on exactly what Nick is trying to measure.

  • Locust

    “That was hockey at its absolute worst. Whether you paid for a premium sports pack with access to Sportsnet 360 or suffered the pilgrimage to Rogers Arena, there’s no refund adequate to recompense your lost time and money. And for that, I am truly sorry.”

    I don’t think you are sorry at all. I think it was perfect for you because you get to write a hater piece.

  • TheRealPB

    It’s nice to see that we continue to have the most fickle fanbase in the league. Two wins and we’re back on the right track, a meh loss and it’s all hands overboard…I mean it’s not like we lost 10-1, we had a seriously mediocre performance and still just lost by 2 to what’s supposed to be one of the class teams in the Pacific.

    This continues not to be a very good team, but on a decent night can at least be competitive. It wasn’t a decent night. Rodin and Hansen can’t come into the lineup soon enough. Even Dorsett is missed (sort of).

    I think the most disappointing player to me this season has been Gudbranson. I was more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and put some of his poor underlying performance in FLA down to deployment. And I still think he’s got some decent skill and size but he makes at least three bad reads and some mind-bogglingly strange plays with the puck every shift. It just makes players who are able to think the game faster and at a higher level (like Tanev, Edler and even Hutton and Stetcher) look so much better.

    And it’s hard to tell whether Sbisa has actually improved or he’s playing with better players. That play where he made a bee-line for the player with the puck behind the net and Stetcher intercepted the centering pass was all about Stetcher’s awareness, not Sbisa’s. All I know is the Larsen Experience needs to move onto another city. What is the point at which the pick turns into a fourth rounder? We need him not to hit the games played mark in that…

  • LTFan

    It was a bad game. The truth is that without players like Hansen, Tanev and Edler (yes Edler) we are not as competitive. Last night was a case in point. Anaheim is faster and more skillful. If the Canucks are at the top of their game and the Ducks are off a little – then we have a chance. Otherwise – No.

    The Leafs are in tomorrow night and I expect a much better game from our team.