Canucks Army Post-Game: Hey, Hey, Hey Good Bye

Postgame

If the Canucks could win tonight’s game, they’d sit just two points removed from the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. Instead, the visiting Philadelphia Flyers left tonight’s contest one win removed from a playoff spot in the East.

One can hardly blame the Canucks. We don’t call the second half of a back-to-back a scheduled loss for nothing. I tend to think that adage is doubly true when the unrested team plays the same goalie twice, as the Canucks opted to tonight with 36-year-old Ryan Miller. That’s tempting fate.

It looked like that decision would sink Vancouver right off the hop, too. Five minutes in Wayne Simmonds sent home a Shayne Gostisbehere point shot that squeaked through Miller and into the yawning cage. By the second period, the Flyers had a three-goal lead on fifteen shots with fifteen-plus minutes left in the second.

As they have all season, the Canucks refused to go gentle into that good night, though. They fought back. Markus Granlund started the attempted comeback with his fifteenth goal of the season. A Ben Hutton breakout pass keyed a Bo Horvat rush, and Jannik Hansen was there to pot the rebound and claw the Canucks to within one. This, with room to spare in the second frame.

That’s as close as the Canucks came to accomplishing the improbable and hitting the bye week on the highest of high notes. Miller stopped 25 of 28 shots for the Canucks. Michal Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 Canucks’ shots. The Flyers take today’s match 3-2.

Highlights

Stats

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Quick Hits

  • Per www.SportClubStats.com, the Canucks playoff chances sunk to 2.3% today. I don’t know what to add at this point. The Canucks aren’t a good hockey team, that should have been evident months ago, and no matter how successful the Canucks could be on their last road trip or the ‘five games’ Benning referenced as an evaluation period for their deadline plans, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re a not very good hockey team and shouldn’t kid themselves with the notion of playoffs. This team has a week off, and they should be using it to parade their assets around the league with a conviction. Time will tell if they do.
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  • Was Miller the reason the Canucks lost tonight? Hardly. In fact, he played a sound game from about the start of the second onwards. I take umbrage with the first goal and tend to think he has the third on most nights, but his body of work on the evening was, by large, positive. I prefer to judge decisions based on the merit which they’re made, though. I’m very much a process-oriented analyst. In general, playing a goalie both games in back-to-backs is a losing proposition. This isn’t a general scenario, though. This is a 36-year-old goaltender who’s complained in each of his prior two seasons about how much he’s played. In a word, I’d describe playing Miller in this situation as sheer madness. Considering how much Miller’s played since the turn of the calendar, it’s a miracle the Canucks can even get league average goaltending out of him. How much longer though?

  • Well, at least Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins acknowledges the power play has problems. That’s a step in the right direction. As an aside, I find it interesting that he’s had this change of heart on a night where Brandon Sutter spent 0:11 on the ice with the man advantage — probably coincidence. I wonder what Desjardins will do to fix this mess, though. The Canucks had four power plays and mustered three shots and zero goals. Desjardins seems averse to changing the personnel in the worst way. The Canucks haven’t shifted for more than one power play at a time from that awful 1-3-1 formation they seem destined to use until season’s end. So, what gives?
  • Brendan Gaunce played the least of any Canuck tonight, at just a hair over five minutes of ice-time. Gaunce had a +3 on the night by 5v5 Corsi For, which is great, but he’s not exactly an offensive dynamo, so I understand the decision to a certain degree, especially considering the Canucks were chasing this game right from the start. The difference between Gaunce and his linemates appears to be, mostly, special teams. What that tells me is that as the Canucks paint themselves further into a corner and their playoff lives falter further, Desjardins will shorten the bench. Seems like a banal kind of observation, but that’s new. I wonder what extremes he’ll take this to on the other side of the bye.
  • Hutton played a hell of a game, I thought. This pairing the Canucks have going with him and Nikita Tryamkin seem to be developing instant chemistry. Each left tonight’s game in the black by Corsi for. Hutton had a beautiful breakout pass that led to the Hansen goal. The sophomore duo might be worth looking at long-term.
  • I wouldn’t discount the Flames having some level of interest in one of Jannik Hansen or Alexandre Burrows. They have a massive hole down the right side of their forward group, and look poised for a push to the playoffs. The Flames also have fewer quality forwards than expansion requires protection for ahead of the draft. Not only can they take on Hansen — they can protect him too! Then again, I’m just speculating here.
  • Horvat’s assist on Hansen’s goal tonight set a new career high for the Canucks lone All-Star at 40 points. The kid is getting paid — this much, we know. How much longer until Horvat’s line is the first? Should it be already? These questions will arise sooner than later, and that’s definitely to the benefit of the Canucks long-term plans. Can’t say I ever expected even this much from the kid. I thought third line centre was his ceiling when the Canucks drafted him. By the end of this year, he’ll probably have points that would align with a first line centre, playing third line minutes. That’s neat as hell.

  • TD

    Man does the PP suck. It’s hard to imagine paid professional coaches can’t come up with some changes. Megna is on the first PP but Hansen and Burrows never sniff a thing. I’m not a Fan of Sutter on the first PP but at least he can shoot and be a net front presence.

    I love the effort Willie gets out of the, every game. Considering the lack of talent, it’s impressive how well they have played. But at some point I can only conclude he lacks any skills other than being a motivator or he is on the stealth tank team.

    • DJ_44

      The powerplay was terrible last night. Putting Hansen will not fix the central problem: zone entry. Neither unit can get clean entry.

      For all the crap Megna takes here: he is in no wayt he problem, and is actually a solid player. He has no reliable finish, but he is on the PP for speed and puck recovery, which he does. Philly was excellent on the PK, and all they did was constant puck pressure, especially on Hendrik, which force them to ring it back and forth around the boards.

      The second unit, of which I like the makeup (although I would have Larsen instead of Hutton), did not fair much better, with Bo getting herded to the boards again resulting in a puck battle.

      On the positive, the 4th line with Gaunce on Boucher either side of Chaput looked really good and dangerous. Gaunce is better than Skille. No question. He has playmaker in him and can set up Boucher. Keep that group together.

      • TD

        I’m not sure Hansen is the solution, but Megna went onto the PP in time for their huge recent slump. I am smart enough to say that he isn’t working and that when things obviously don’t work you need to change things up. The first PP had no pressure. The second PP didn’t generate many changes and had a hard time setting up, but they did cause Philly problems and create some havoc because they weren’t static with the puck.

  • I am Ted

    Willie won’t be back next year. I really don’t think there’s much point to a tank this year either – the draft is rather weak. So, I am hoping we can deal vets for solid prospects at the 19/20 range.

    I really don’t see Hansen or Burr going to the Flamers. That would be a tough one to see. If the return is over the top then I am all for it.

    This deadline is another big test for Benning. He failed last year and was even worse when they refused to tank, tried and missed Auston Matthews by 6 points (Laffs finished 6 points lower…).

  • wojohowitz

    Next year? How about next week. I think Willie is their number one problem. Like fixing the power play – Willie doesn`t have a clue how to fix it.

  • Roy

    The Oilers, Buffalo and Arizona have all proven that intentional or not, tanking is stupid.

    If you don’t cultivate a try-to-win attitude no matter what, your team will devolve into garbage for years.

    Tonight’s game was an excellent attempt at a comeback despite back to back games and a huge morale boost last night. Back to back games are tough for any group of athletes in an athletes league.

    • crofton

      Thank you. And you can add…to the pro tankers, like a poster who suggested above that they should have tanked cuz they missed Matthews by 6 points….finishing dead last does NOT guarantee a first overall pick, thanks to the Edmonton rule. That rule cost Vancouver 2 draft positions last year. Plus I’m mot 100% sure of when the expansion rules kick in, by which Vegas is supposed to draft no worse than 3rd(?) or 5th(?) for 3 years, so go ahead and tank, finish 3rd worst just to see that pick go to Vegas, and with Vancouver’s luck, their pick would once again slide a few more positions.

      • Pat Quinn Way

        One of the biggest misconceptions I read on here is the definition of what ‘tanking’ is.

        It actually means purposely gutting a team of every decent asset, stripping it down to the bone with the clear intention of engineering a bottom place finish and garnering the top possible draft pick in doing so.

        The only team i believe who blatantly did this in recent times is Buffalo, They got rid of both starting goalies all their core players and iced an AHL calibre team during the season to try and get McDavid. However, the GM was kinda shrewd because he knew if the Sabres missed McJesus in the lottery they were guaranteed to get Jack Eichel anyway, which was a rare ‘almost as good’ 2nd pick consolation prize.

        Edmonton and AZ were genuinely bad enough to finish where they did year upon year, neither actually ‘tanked’ by stripping the club down. Toronto ‘almost’ tanked but actually kept some core players like Kadri, Bozak, JVR and Reilly so it was imo a semi-tank to get Matthews.

        One thing I truly believe is that no NHL player intentionally plays to lose, it’s just not in their DNA having played competitive hockey their whole lives… tanking is a management and ownership decision.

        This leads me to believe that the Vancouver Canucks are not tanking, what you are seeing is a genuinely bad team who will finish where they belong… near the bottom of the league and hopefully in position for a damn good top three pick!

  • Rodeobill

    Didn’t seem like they were into this one, found myself saying “what was he thinking on that one?” numerous times over this one.

    Oh well see what shakes out with bye week.

  • EddyC

    Maybe we can trade Horvat for a first rounder. Stats’
    62nd in points
    93rd P/PG
    58th in goals
    170th in shots
    and he has 1 GWG

    I don’t know if I want to be anointing him as the King yet. To me he is a puck hog who doesn’t see the ice very good once he has the puck. I would say that 95% of his assists are failed shot attempts. He needs to watch some Bertuzzi tape. He is definitely not worth anything over 5.

    Another thing they aren’t going to win until they play Hansen with the twins.

  • Bud Poile

    •I wouldn’t discount the Flames having some level of interest in one of Jannik Hansen or Alexandre Burrows.” JD

    There’s no way either of them are going to Calgary but it sure would be nice to fleece Burkie yet again.

  • LTFan

    This season is done and the Canucks will not make the playoffs.

    There are very many problems with the team and it will take a few years at minimum to fix.

    In a nutshell, the players they have, for the most part, are not good enough to move the team to a top 10 position in the League. This season, at the moment, the power play is 28th and the penalty kill is 24th in the League. Last night it was all out there, gave up 2 PP goals in 3 chances and could not score on 4 man power advantages.

    The fall off in the Sedins play has been dramatic. Since they have been in the League their plus/ minus has never been a minus. Currently Daniel is -10 and Henrik is at -19, the worst on the team. Sad.

    Anyone who is a fan of the Canucks wants to see them succeed. No one like to lose. However it seems as if they are destined to finish near the bottom this year. Hopefully some trades before the deadline and a good draft position (and pick) will be the beginning of a better future.

  • Steamer

    PP is one area where coaching can make a difference – problem is, it isn’t. Willie Desjardins’ legacy will be failure to adjust and stubborn persistence in what doesn’t work, say ‘Megna’? Hansen to Flames? Wasn’t gifting them Tkachuk enough? No deals, unless absolute no-brainers, to Div/Conf rivals – elementary.
    Good news – beside Nolan Patrick – is now only 432 more games with Erikson – REJOICE!

  • apr

    McIntyre reiterated again last night that Vrbata submitted a list of non playoff teams. We all know that Hamhuis gave the Nucks a list of two teams. The only player who seems willing to leave is Burrows. Hansen doesn’t want to leave, and I do not think there is much of a market for Miller. I suppose Benning could play hardball with Hansen and say that he will get exposed to LV.

    There just seems to be a lot of angst out there for what could amount to be a 3rd pick for one of our greatest foot soldier.