The Vancouver Canucks found themselves going up against a struggling Philadelphia Flyers defense. On the back end of a road trip, the Canucks played a strong game at even strength. However, their struggles on special teams likely cost them a win as they fell 5-4 to the Flyers in a shootout.

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Game Recap

After the Flyers took back-to-back four minute high sticking penalties, the Canucks found themselves on a 50 second 5-on-3. The abysmal Canucks power play that is firing at just 13.7% on the year managed to take advantage after Daniel Sedin ripped a shot past a screened Steve Mason.

That would be the only goal the Canucks would score in just over 7 straight minutes of power play time.

After Nikita Tryamkin took a slashing penalty, the Flyers went to work on the power play. Dale Weise, a.k.a. Dutch Gretzky turned into Messi, kicking the puck up in the air before knocking it down to Travis Konecny who made no mistake to knot the game at 1-1, which is where it would stay heading into the second period.

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The Canucks started the period on their sixth power play attempt after Michael Del Zotto earned his sixth penalty minute for high sticking Daniel Sedin. While the Canucks failed to convert during the power play, a Chris Tanev slap shot led to a rebound that Markus Granlund shovelled home the rebound to give the Canucks the lead.

From that point on, the offensive flood gates opened for both teams. Matt Read picked Chris Tanev’s pocket before sending a pass cross ice to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fired a laser past Ryan Miller to tie it up at 2.

Eighteen seconds later, the Canucks struggled to clear the puck out of their end and the Flyers took advantage. Jakub Voracek feathered a beautiful pass back door to a wide open Sean Couturier to give them a 3-2 lead.

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Not to be outdone, the Canucks answered back just 22 seconds later. Markus Granlund grabbed the puck off a scrambled draw and made a nifty move to slide the puck under Steve Mason before bowling over the netminder.

With just over seven minutes left in the second frame, Jason Megna drove wide into the zone before making a nifty pass to Sutter who scored his 12th of the year.

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The game stayed 4-3 until the third period. Michal Neuvirth replaced Steve Mason to start the third which seemed to spark the Flyers. Just 57 seconds into the third period, Brayden Schenn took a feed from Claude Giroux on the power play and sniped it while falling down to tie the game 4-4. 

After 60 minutes, the teams found themselves tied up at 4. Overtime solved nothing, so they headed to a shootout where Claude Giroux was the only shooter to beat a goaltender giving the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-4 victory.

The Statistics

Canucks@Flyers 5v5

The Canucks managed to control a 54.7% share of 5v5 shot attempts, out-attempting the Flyers 46-38 in regulation. Considering the Flyers rank 11th in Corsi For percentage and the Canucks coming off an overtime loss two nights prior, this is a fairly good result.

Canucks Players Corsi

Sven Baertischi and Jayson Megna led the way for the Canucks in shot attempts. Most of the Canucks finished with a positive shot share at even strength. 

Final Thoughts

Considering the Canucks had eight power play attempts, the loss tonight is disappointing. The Canucks power play has struggled immensely throughout this year and entered the game converting on only 13.7% of their power play opportunities. Tonight the Canucks converted on just 13% of their opportunities, going one for eight with the man advantage. 

The Canucks need to desperately need to change and improve their power play. A team that is going to be fighting tooth and nail to make the playoffs simply cannot afford to go lose a game in which they had eight power play attempts.

Other notes:

  • With the play of both Granlund and Baertschi, the Canucks have a tough decision on their hands heading towards the trade deadline and the expansion draft. The Canucks will have to expose one of Sutter, Granlund, Baertschi, Jannick Hansen, and Bo Horvat when Las Vegas drafts their team, and if they do not move anyone then they risk losing a key contributor to this year’s team for nothing.
  • The Canucks’ current goal leaders are Horvat with 13, Sutter with 12, and Granlund with 11. While it is great to see scoring by committee, if your top goal scorers at the end of the year are Sutter and Granlund there are likely larger issues with the Canucks offensive talent that will be tough to address.
Overall, it was a solid performance on the back end of a road trip. Given all of their opportunities this is a game where the Canucks needed to and should have walked away with two points if they want to make the playoffs. 

At least we have this awesome gif of Tryamkin bullying the Broad Street Bullies to watch.

  • Bud Poile

    Granlund-Sutter-Megna lighting up CA’s little world.

    Canucks are in this game in spite of an anemic PP.

    Time to bring up Subban to make his NHL debut.

    • TD

      I will totally admit that Megna came through tonight. It was a nice pass to Sutter on the goal and he made another one to Sutter late in the game as well.

      I don’t understand why you wouldn’t give Boucher a chance saying the others have earned the coach’s trust but advocate for bringing Subban up. Why would Willie put Subban in over his “trusted D” when he wouldn’t put Boucher in over his “trusted forwards”?

      I’m not trying to be sarcastic, just wondering as it seems inconsistent with your other posts. I agree with you and would like to see Subban because the PP needs something.

      • Bud Poile

        I don’t know his game shape or the ultimate reason they picked Boucher up.

        Have they given up on Gaunce’s lack of offensive production?

        He is the only one that can be shipped out without being exposed to waivers.

        Do they have a trade in the works?

        No idea but we’ll find out soon enough.

  • Roy

    What’s with the PK? Anyone, any thoughts? I’d rather see that get better. Assuming it is all the new d-men and not necessarily Burrows and Sutter or our best 2-way forwards on it. I always find something else to do when they kill penalties.

    Also, I hate the expansion draft. What gives? What do we get in return? Why don’t they have to draft from our farm team? It’s not fair, as petulant six year olds are wont to say at bedtime.

    Or let the teams pick who to send. That would be hilarious.

  • Steamer

    Maybe, just maybe, Rodin or Boucher – or even Grenier or Valk from the farm – would put one in where Chaput, Gaunce, & Megna struggle to score? Imagine Boucher’s shot might be deployed advantageously in PP, OT/SO situations. A point here or there – eg: OT’s/SO’s – is the difference
    this team lacks. Rarely do they win in regulation ( old-school ‘ties’ ), so
    naturally gifted offensive players – Rodin/Boucher – being left to watch is confusing and disappointing. It is obvious the PP isn’t effective, yet the coach stubbornly persists in icing the same configurations. The team’s leading offensive player – Horvat – suffers from bewildering offensive deployments ( eg: same PP time as Megna ); 4th line players who belong
    in the AHL find themselves on the ice in game when down a goal with a minute or two left, etc. Regardless of personnel, there are some serious issues vis-a-vis W Desjardins’ coaching, especially with respect to player selection/deployment.

  • Copperfinch

    The powerplay didn’t fail. The Canucks were 2 for 8 with the man advantage – good for 25% which is pretty good. Granlund’s first goal came less than a second after the PP expired. Another example of where the eye test is more accurate than statistics.

    • TD

      The eye test is that the PP has been horrible all year. I agree that the Granlund goal was basically a PP goal, but that doesn’t excuse how stagnant and ineffective it’s been all year.

  • TheRealPB

    Unlucky not to come out with a win — at 4-3 they pressed pretty well with both Chaput and I think Granlund hit posts. That shot in OT ricocheting around also almost went in off of Edler.

    I really don’t understand why Megna has become such a whipping boy for CA. I don’t really love his play nor that of Chaput — but I do like Skille who’s shown to be a more capable NHLer, has speed, some hands and lots of hustle. But Megna has been an adequate player and while there’s so much handwringing about lineup decisions he’s little different than Boucher and Rodin (the first of whom is new and the second of whom seems injured). It really shows how much we’re grasping at straws if we think these fringe NHLers are going to make much of a difference. Chaput I’ve actually liked less (he takes a lot of dumb penalties) but they are all fourth liners (both scored at somewhat similar rates in lower leagues as Boucher at the same age). And Megna picked up two assists tonight but still comes in for all the hate.

    The problem isn’t our third and fourth liners. It’s our top line that yet again was mostly invisible. It was a visibly struggling top-4 on D in all situations. Plugging in some offensively-gifted bottom six players isn’t going to solve your aging vets problem.

    I’ll never cheer for the Canucks to lose. I like that they continue to show hustle and energy and be in games and that they’ve actually picked up some points on the road trip. But I’d be lying if I said I wanted the team to be in a position to be deluded into being a buyer at the deadline, so kind of hard fought losses are not the end of the world to me.

    • apr

      I agree. If the Sedin on 5 on 5 line cannot score, then it does not matter much who rotates among Megna, Rodin, and Bouchard.

      Clearly Benning is leading the PP and line deployment up to Willie’s discretion. The bigger issue for the team, and one that does not get mentioned enough, is what happens to Willie if he does somehow get the team to playoffs. Would be hard to not renew a guy who makes the playoffs in 2 out of 3 years.

      Otherwise, good game last night. Im glad to get the loser point. Miller had a rough game. Who cares about next year’s starting goalie. For this year, I am shocked that Miller and Markstrom do not do a time share as that’s when they were most effective last year.

    • TheRealPB

      The real definition of a rebuild isn’t taking a lottery approach despite what so many seem to (mistakenly) believe. Of course it helps to get a Toews and Kane or a Crosby and Malkin with super high picks or even to luck into a McDavid or Matthews. But so much of the rebuild is about all the other trades, player development and little moves that make things better.

      There are very few trades — even the ones I didn’t love at the time — that I think have really come back to bite us. McCann and Shinkaruk have shuttled between the NHL and minors. Forsling just went back down to the AHL. Prospects used with picks we gave up are still just that, prospects. Are there some who I think might make us stronger? Sure, just as I’m sure Kings fans might think that Roland McKeown is worth more than a 2 month rental of Andrej Sekera or that Blackhawks fans are thinking that a few games of Vermette may or may not have been worth Nick Merkley or that Buffalo is wondering if Robin Lehner was really worth Colin White. That stuff happens all the time but our fanbase and supposed experts on the sidelines seem to be the ones self-flagellating about it most often.

      Watching the Canucks this season is watching a team in transition. I don’t know if some of the fans and critics have just never seen this before. But it happens all the time. All the complaints that we’re not on the right track seem to me to be the same case of grass is greener that results in a billion posts about waiver wire availables not claimed, lineup decisions not made, or draft picks missed. It’s never the right move. And there is nary an apology on this site or amongst too many experts. Bo Horvat will never amount to anything more than a third line center and was certainly not worth Cory Schneider ran the narrative for three years. Markus Granlund will never be worth Hunter Shinkaruk, first line winger. Ryan Miller is an overpaid hack. Jayson Megna is single-handedly destroying the Sedins. But why let facts get in the way?

      • Dirty30

        Then by your logic, why do anything? Let the team flail away in middling territory, not good enough to compete, not bad enough to improve.

        Lets not have any discussion, just ask Bud for his Kool-aid recipe and blindly accept that the Presidents Trophy stats from 2011 smooth out the sinkhole numbers this team posts now.

        Why have a fan site? Contributers and commentators and lively — albeit futile — discussion?

        In one post you say that the problem is the top line and who cares about the 4th line plodders and in the next argue that it takes improvement in the bottom to help a team win consistently.

        We can’t fix the top line right now. Just spent the budget to get LE and he’s not even putting up Vrbata numbers averaged across both seasons! We can’t tank and get a decent pick, and we really can’t trade because the spit and glue holding this team together is worth more than the players.

        But yes, on that great ‘freebie’ table are some players who would have cost nothing, brought little risk and may have played better than our merry band of plodders who WD loves more than his own kids.

        Sure Megan may not be destroying the Sedins, but he’s not improving the play of any other line either.

        Benning’s narcolepsy and WD’s imitation of a coaching cadaver are simply tedious and uninspiring … just like this team these days.

        • TheRealPB

          I’m not saying do nothing. Nor am I saying that Benning’s moves (or WD’s strategies) should not be questioned — I’ve certainly been very critical of the deadline non-moves in the past. But the constant harping on these smaller issues is what drives me crazy. There’s a general consensus among (many) of the critics, echoed by many of the commenters here, that Benning has no idea what he’s doing. I don’t think that’s true. You can certainly disagree with what they’re actually trying to do. You can say that the core that they seem to have identified is not sufficient to be more than just adequately competitive five years from now. But to pretend that they have no idea is wrong, to nitpick every little minor decision makes little sense.

          There’s a lot of ink spilled about every single waiver available player out there — but there’s almost always been 29 other teams also passing on them. The core issue remains the fact that the Sedins don’t have the same skills and dominance they once had. Signing Eriksson, Miller, Sbisa, or Sutter didn’t cause that and it’s not holding us back from acquiring first-line talent. There’s very little that’s acquired via free agency. So much of it is luck, timing and good development. So pining for first overall picks to me doesn’t seem like good strategy. In the meantime obsessing over minor moves makes little sense to me.

          • Donald's Hat Trick

            “almost always been 29 other teams also passing on them”

            That’s quite the straw man. For a team to add a guy on waivers it needs to have contract space available, a roster that contains a lot of filler and fairly bare cupboards. That’s probably 5 teams.

          • TheRealPB

            By the arguments advanced at CA every single player going onto the waiver wire is better than someone we have at the bottom of the lineup. There’s general puzzlement because so many of these players couldn’t possibly be worse than Chaput/Skille/Megna/Gaunce/Dorsett/Labate. But there is a reason that very few teams — not just the bottom five in the league — tend to make very few waiver claims. It’s true that there are all kinds of other factors including cap space, contracts, familiarity, fit and other things that go into this. For the Canucks as much as any other team and yet some seem perpetually upset that we’re not grabbing every other team’s castoffs.

      • Dirk22

        Why are you comparing contending teams obtaining rentals (ie. Sekera, Vermette) with the Canucks situation? You’d have to go back to the Derek Roy trade to draw a comparable. It’s a completely different situation for a team ‘in transition’ (your words) when you’re giving up draft picks/young players.

        “I don’t know if some of the fans and critics have just never seen this before” – trust me, we have. We saw it for about 6-7 years in Toronto between Nonis and Burke. We also saw it with the Flames under Feaster. It has a fairly predictable ending.

        • TheRealPB

          I am simply saying that picks and prospects are what makes transactions happen in this hard cap era. All teams do it, both contenders and many who are not. The Leafs gave up Sam Steel and a first for a 27-year-old goalie who is only slightly better than they’ve had in years past. Buffalo gave up a fantastic player in White for Lehner. These are not contenders.

          And Nonis/Burke and Feaster are not comparable situations. The closest might be the Kessel trade in giving up picks for a young established player (though arguably that was a pretty good trade, just terribly mismanaged on both ends). But signing Eriksson or Miller (or even Sbisa and Sutter after their trades) is not the equivalent of throwing lots of good money after one hit wonders like Clarkson.

          Toronto, by the way, floundered for a lot more than 6-7 years. I have no idea if the Canucks will be much more than competitive at the end of this rebuild. It’s hard to know without really top-end talent.

          Of the top teams in the NHL right now, how many of them intentionally tanked? How many of them traded off all their veterans, accumulated draft picks, bottomed out, and then slowly rebuilt? Because that’s the road NOT taken according to so many of the critics of the Benning regime. But where have we seen that happen? There are teams that have had good draft picks because they’ve had bad seasons — some due to injury, some due to the cyclical nature of all sports seasons. The Rangers, Caps, Ducks, Columbus, Montreal, each have a mix of some draft picks, trade acquisitions and FA. The core that each has comes together in a variety of ways. It’s the belief that there’s one way back to contention that I have so much difficulty with.

          • Dirk22

            I guess the simplest way to view it is that the Canucks are going to need to acquire ‘difference maker’ type players in order to ever get to contender status. I think we can all agree with that.

            So the question becomes, where are these players going to come from? The ‘draftists’ argument is that the best chance of obtaining these players is through the draft – therefore, the higher the pick and the higher the number of picks the better chance a team has to get these types of players.

            You’re right that it doesn’t mean there is only one way to acquire ‘difference makers’. The Canucks obtained Naslund, Bertuzzi and Morrison all through trades. You still have to have the equity to make those trades though. That’s why the draft is important as far as obtaining desirable players. I also would argue that the chances of pulling off another Naslund type deal are pretty slim.

          • TheRealPB

            I don’t disagree — how do you find those difference makers? I absolutely believe you have to build at least in part through the draft, something that Benning has generally done well with (though more towards the middle to later rounds than the earlier with Virtanen being the obvious miss). I just think that both the quantity and quality advocates miss the fact that trying to get more picks and higher ones alone isn’t going to get it done. I think I’d be more upset if we were trading lots of picks and prospects for old players. We haven’t seen much of that (though I’d definitely turn back the Gudbranson trade based on what I’ve seen of him so far).

            I agree that it’s less likely to see the Naslund type deals though I think Forsberg for Erat was pretty close.

          • Dirk22

            Yes teams are not solely built through the draft – I agree. I would also say that for a rebuilding team with as few offensive prospects as the Canucks have the draft has to be the main priority. You mentioned the Leafs before – they paid a really steep price for Anderson – a 1st and a 2nd – they do, however have an incredibly deep pool of young forwards in their system so that’s something that wouldn’t hurt them as much. The combination of trading picks (Benning has already traded more picks than Gillis) and the lack of emphasis on obtaining picks is an issue for me. They only have 5 picks going into this draft – they should have 10.

            The Granlund – Shinkaruk trade is a similar one to the Naslund – Antoski trade as far as a straight up swap of players in their early 20s. Absolutely not saying there’s a comparison in types of players but it’s the same sort of deal – i don’t think this one will be as lopsided!

  • JuiceBox

    It looks like the Canucks had a 1a and 1b line last night with Horvat, Baertschi, Sutter, Sedin, Sedin, and Eriksson all getting roughly the same about of minutes at 5 on 5. Eriksson, Sutter, and Horvat got a majority of the PK time while everybody got a solid dose of powerplay time, Sedins saw very little PK time.

    The first thing that jumps off the page at me is the Sedins. Their overall corsi number listed above are misleading. They spent a majority of their minutes up against Cousins, Couturier, and Voracek and they handled those matchups well controlling about 65% of the corsi attempts, it was the 7 or so minutes they spent against Konecny, Giroux, and Raffl where the damage was done. They had their teeth kicked in to the tune of 90%. The Sedins seem to be performing ok against opponents 2nd tier skill but their performance against opponents top lines seems to falling off a bit. Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

    Horvat, Baertschi, and Burrows split ice time against Cousins/Couturier/Voracek and Simmonds/Schenn/Weise. They pretty much split the corsi attempts 50/50 against CCV and they owned SSW. The Simmonds/Schenn/Weise line got killed in every matchup last night and gave up 2 goals 5-on-5, not a good night for those boys at all.

    I have been watching the deployment of the Horvat line closely and as the season is progressing Horvat is seeing more and more of the opponents better lines and he is starting to actually hold his own. He is now at a level where he can come out at evens or slightly ahead of opponents second lines and he can handle 3rd at 4th lines with ease which is a sizable improvement from where he started this year. Now I’m not sure if he is seeing better competition because he is getting better or if he is getting better because he is seeing better competition. Its a promising sign to see Horvat coming into his own and taking on (or earning) more responsibility and handling it well. He still struggles in limited minutes against opponents top lines and isn’t quite ready for the heaviest lifting but one step at a time. He is progressing nicely as the season is rolling along.

    Sbisa/Tanev pairing was excellent last night, they did a lot of heavy lifting, all neutral zone and defensive zone starts, no powerplay time, equal ice time against all PHI lines and they more than held their own and came out in the plus in every match-up and finished with a very nice share of the shot attempts. It was a very good night for those guys.

    Another bright spot last night was Guance/Skille/Chaput. They spent a majority of their 9 minutes of 5-on-5 minutes against Giroux/Raffl/Konecny and came out above water. Solid performance from the 4th line. They seem to be coming around and playing better as of late.

    Something very concerning from last nights game was 60% of PHI shots came from inside “home plate”. This seems to be an area of inconsistency for the Canucks this year. Some games they do a very good job limiting those chances, some games they do not. Sedin, Sutter, Horvat, and Chaput are all below league average in that regard with the Canucks allowing far more shots against relative to the league average with them on the ice as opposed to without them. One bright spot has been Guance, he has been very good at limiting shots from in front of the net allowing far less than the league average which is likely the reason why he is still in the NHL and not in Utica despite the lack of production. When looking at the Canucks Defensemen only Tanev and Tryamkin allow fewer shots against while on the ice relative to league average from that area, everybody else… it isn’t pretty. Tryamkin is quickly becoming a force in front of his own net. Poor defensive coverage in that area will burn any team and it is the biggest reason why Vancouver lost last night, and likely why they lose on many nights. Its tough to say if it’s systems or player related but it’s definitely an area that the Canucks need to work on.

    • Big D, little d

      >> It looks like the Canucks had a 1a and 1b line last night ….

      How come we don’t get analysis like this from the writers at CA anymore?

      I’m going to get a Kickstarter campaign going to get JuiceBox a paid gig at CA so (s)he can do a write-up like this after every game.

      No offense intended, Tyler.

      • JuiceBox

        Thanks friend, I appreciate it. Unfortunately, I live in Calgary so without center ice I wouldn’t be able to watch every game and I have two young children (3 & 1) so even if I could watch every game, I wouldn’t have time too. A paid gig would be sweet but I’ll just keep doing what I am doing; watching when I can and digging into a game every now and then, posting the findings and being active in the comments section.

  • Bud Poile

    19 of the 29 present roster players have been brought in by Benning.

    Sbisa,Boucher,Granlund,Baertschi,Tryamkin,Stetcher,Pedan-most came from other clubs and were taken for a song.

    Gudbranson,Granlund, Sutter,etc. were acquired with picks and players in our system that were deemed expendable.

    The high end talent to go with Boeser/Eriksson will be free agents signings and the Sedins/Burrows transition/contracts that should provide that opportunity over the next two years.

    By the fifth year of Benning’s tenure we should see a fairly decent team.

    By the fifth year of Gillis’ tenure we saw all the Burke/Nonis years of work coming to an end with next to nothing in the pipeline to replace them.

    • Dirk22

      For one, I don’t think there’s any way Benning is making it to to year 5 but let’s hear your line-up, Bud. I assume by ‘a fairly decent team’ you’re implying they’ll be better than they are right now.

      Interesting to see who you have coming in to be replace the Sedins’ production. Or are they back?

      2018-19 Starting line-up for the Canucks: (with ages too please). 30 year old Sutter should be just peaking by then. Looking forward to it.

      • Bud Poile

        Yeah,and you pooh-poohed the idea that the Canucks were even a .500 club so who the hell are you to question me like some hockey god?

        Baertschi is producing just outside of first line PPG stats now.Boeser is a highly potential first liner. Bo has the ability to be a first liner.

        There’s three. If Bo doesn’t cut it then there is free agency or a trade with picks.

        Eriksson is a top line NHL’er..Granlund has the skill and abilities to make it to the top.There’s six.

        Your doom and gloom act is unhealthy and unwarranted.

        • Dirk22

          Don’t get mad at me, Bud – you stated they would be a ‘fairly decent team’ in 2018-19. I just asked for how you envisioned that.

          This is the top 6 you’ve provided (or something along these lines):

          Baertchi — Horvat — Boeser,
          Eriksson — Granlund — Free Agent/Trade

          In your mind that is going to be more productive than the current top 6 – so much so that they will be a better team than they are now. I would disagree. I don’t see that top 6 pushing the Canucks to a place where they are more competitive than they currently are – which is a poor to mediocre team. I see a second line there and a couple pieces that could fill in on the second line if needed. Just my opinion though.

          • Bud Poile

            Yeah,and I gave you six players. Where’s yours? Your consistent attacks on Benning and how you called the Canucks roster the worst in the NHL only THREE MONTHS AGO makes you a constant negative.

            I’m just tired of your persistent negativity and your expecting others to think for you,Dirk.

            Maybe get together with that brilliant hockey mind Freud and come up with something of merit instead of your dark cloud act.

        • Donald's Hat Trick

          ” you pooh-poohed the idea that the Canucks were even a .500 club so who the hell are you to question me like some hockey god?”

          Fun fact: in a league of 30 teams, currently only 5 are below .500, and 3 of those 5 could get over .500 in their next two games.