Hey, Canucks Army! Backup goalie (and exhausted new mom) Cat here with your recap.
How about Ryan Miller, eh?
Final Score: Canucks 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
As a lot of you probably remember, I’ve been one of Ryan Miller’s most vocal critics in the past. His refusal to adapt his style when he first came to Vancouver, coupled with a bit of an age-driven tendency towards injury, left me wondering if he could follow through and be an effective starter during his tenure with the Canucks.
I’m happy to say, though, that he’s taken that doubt and pretty much tossed it out the window. He was the best player on the ice for the Canucks Thursday night, and it wasn’t even close – even after he left the game in the final period.
An early goal for the Canucks got things going, then a lucky – for the Canucks, that is – bounce off of Ben Bishop put the team up 2-0.
The two teams each found the back of the net during the second period, with each Bishop and Miller allowing one – but then a last-second goal (no, literally) at the end of that second period put the Canucks up to a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes, and that all but sealed the game.
The third period saw Andrei Vasilevskiy hop into net in relief of a Ben Bishop who probably wants to take tonight back, but it was a bit too late. Goaltenders, as we aren’t reminded often enough, don’t score goals – and with a stone wall in Miller on the other end of the ice, there wasn’t much the change could do for Tampa Bay. Add in one extra goal (a second of the night for depth forward Jack Skille, if you can believe it) for good measure, and the game came to a close with a 5-1 decision.
NUMBERS FOR THE NERDS
There’s really not a lot to say here. The Canucks were outshot, the Canucks were outmaneuvered, and the Canucks… were not outscored.
So there you go.
Ryan Miller. The good in this game is really headlined by Ryan Miller.
Did the offense find a couple good opportunities against a not-great Ben Bishop? They sure did. Did they win the game? Probably not. If Ryan Miller plays anything less than perfectly during his time in net Thursday night, and the game could have easily been 6-5 when all was said and done.
I don’t want to overlook the contributions by Vancouver’s depth, though. Jack Skille really took advantage of some major opportunities, particularly the fifth goal in the game. Then, there was Jayson Megna – who I really only think of as ‘that guy Beau Bennett likes to chirp on Twitter’, but who really took a lot of opportunities and capitalized on them himself.
Four of the team’s five goals came from supplementary forwards. In a game that was relying on goaltending to fend off an elite offensive force in Tampa Bay, that was huge.
At no point during the 60 minutes of play did I look at the Vancouver Canucks on the ice and think that they were the superior team.
Does that matter in a 5-1 victory? Ultimately, no. A win is a win. Teams don’t get bonus points for winning the Corsi, or for dominating turnovers or scoring chances. Teams get points for putting the puck in the back of the net more than their opponents.
As cannot be stressed often enough, though, level of play is a good indicator of how a game will go when all else is equal. When bounces don’t bless a team with wins – when the outcome is the result purely of work and skill – possession and shot metrics do a pretty good job of predicting the outcome.
In this game, luck aside, the Tampa Bay Lightning dominated.
Tyler Johnson was unstoppable – even for the Sedins. No one on Vancouver’s defense had an answer for the triplet line, and that’s what stands between the Canucks and the league’s best clubs.
There couldn’t have been a better time for the Canucks to have Ryan Miller pull himself from a game, especially for a minor tweak that sounds like it won’t hold him out from future contests. .
The veteran netminder was absolutely lights out for Vancouver during the game. Jacob Markstrom did a great job of holding down the fort in the final minutes, but let’s not act like this was his win.
The Canucks ultimately looked like a team that’s redeveloping, retooling, whatever you want to call it. Was it a great game for them, though? I’d give it a solid ‘sure’.