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.
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) December 2, 2016
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) December 2, 2016
- 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.
2016-17 WT% v LT% thru 11/29. This and xGSAA/23 to be explained in an article soon. Use the labels to get a feel for what it’s telling you. pic.twitter.com/uhdNlcby9W
— Nick Mercadante (@NMercad) December 1, 2016
- 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.