Canucks Army Post-Game: I’ve Got A Six Pack, And I Don’t Need You

There’s an old adage that says history is written by the winners. If we believe that to be true then the story of tonight’s game was about a plucky group of misfits that white-knuckled their way into their sixth straight win, buoyed by great goaltending and sheer will. 

Make no mistake, this was not the case. The Canucks got manhandled tonight by the Flames, getting outshot 46-13. This was a game that had all the hallmarks of a 2012-13 leafs performance: get a little lucky, score a few quick goals, collapse, and hope your goalie bails you out. Luckily for them, that’s exactly what Ryan Miller did tonight. 

GAME AT A GLANCE

STATS

chart (2)

chart (1)

HIGHLIGHTS

GAME NOTES 

  • Tonight’s game came down to one simple facet of the game: netminding. If Miller doesn’t play at the absolute top of his game tonight, the Canucks likely lose in embarrassing fashion. He was outstanding tonight, stopping 44 of 46 shots, and was named the first star of the game. Brian Elliott, on the other hand, had a game to forget. He stopped just nine of 13 shots and only escaped being pulled because the Canucks and Flames play each other again tomorrow night. 
  • Under different circumstances, the story of tonight’s game very well could have been Matthew Tkachuk. His point streak extended to eight tonight with an assist on Michael Frolik’s first goal, making him the only rookie this season to manage that feat other than Auston Matthews. That has to sting a little, especially considering Olli Juolevi’s native Finland had a collapse of epic proportions at this year’s WJHC, only narrowing escaping relegation. Alarmists, however, would be advised to remain patient on that matter. 
  • Instead, it was the Canucks that came out looking smart, with Markus Granlund scoring a pair of goals as well as getting the assist on Loui Eriksson’s game-winner. Hunter Shinkaruk, meanwhile, hasn’t played an NHL game since late November and has played mainly with the AHL Stockton Heat. 
  • Speaking of which, what exactly happened to Granlund? At the time he was acquired, Granlund looked like a marginal player at best. There was literally nothing about Granlund’s history that indicated he had a fruitful NHL career ahead of him. Yet here we stand. This season, he’s on pace for 18 goals, and has been one of the Canucks’ best two-way forwards by underlying shot metrics. 
  • Anton Rodin laced up for his third game of the season tonight, proving that he is, in fact, a real person and not a figment of our collective imagination. He didn’t acquit himself very well by underlying shot metrics, (though not many Canucks did), but I thought he looked promising. He displayed tremendous puck-carrying skill at times, as well as an ability to create separation between himself and his opponents using just a couple of strides. 
  • Rodin played the bulk of his ice-time with Baertschi and Horvat, which is something I’d like to see more of. He also played just 9:04 over the course of the entire game. That’s something I’d like to see less of, although it should be noted that Rodin was not on the bench for the start of the second period. Perhaps there’s something we don’t know.

    • The Sedins are still attached to the hip of Jayson Megna, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone other than Willie Desjardins. At this point, I’d say it’s seriously submarining their ability to create offense at even-strength. They haven’t had a decent linemate all season long, and that’s something the coaching staff best get sorted out if they want to continue to win hockey games. 
    • If the overall tone of tonight’s recap seems a little dour, it’s because the Canucks simply don’t deserve to have their tires pumped over tonight’s performance. There should be no bones about it: They were terrible. Out-shot 46-13. Out-chanced 32-12. Out-attempted 84-22. Tonight should have been a massacre and the Canucks got lucky, plain and simple. The Canucks are due for a steep regression. 
    • Chris Tanev appeared to injure himself blocking a shot and did not return to the game. No word yet on the severity of his ailment.
    • This was the Canucks sixth win in a row, making it the first time they’ve done so since September 2013. Surely that’s a sign of good things to come. After all, the 2013-14 season went great, right?

    ON THE BRIGHT SIDE 

    ON THE DOWN SIDE 

    • Big D, little d

      Lets state the obvious up front. You aren’t going to win many games where you are outshot 46-13. And the Canucks got totally mauled in corsi. So yeah, it was bad. BUT ….

      Look at that corsi chart. That should be proof enough that game state is a thing. The Flames start to pull away in corsi only after the Canucks are ahead 2-1. And it gets ridiculous only after the Canucks go ahead 4-1.

      Up three goals in the third, and down to five defensemen, it only makes sense for the Canucks to pull back into a defensive shell. After all, they don’t need another goal. And if you aren’t giving up rush chances or cross-seam passes, it typically takes 15 to 20 shots to create a goal. So even getting outshot 23-3 in the third period usually isn’t fatal. So kudos to the Canucks for playing to the situation.

      And let’s give some love to the home team.

      Elliot doesn’t make a great play on Chaput’s goal, but Skille sells the fake shot. That freezes Elliot for a split second causing him to be chasing his positioning once Skille passes instead. And hey, a guy’s first goal of the year, that’s gotta make everyone happy.

      Eriksson’s goal is a fluke deflection but Granlund makes a nice play at his own blue line to get the puck up to Eriksson going up the wing.

      Granlund’s powerplay goal (the winner) was just a nice goal. Horvat bulls through the middle and takes the puck to the boards where he controls the play. The Flames are all drawn to that side but Horvat passes across the ice to Granlund, who has all day to pick his spot. Maybe Elliot wants a do-over on that one too but that’s got to be a 50-50 chance for an NHL shooter from there.

      Granlund’s second goal is a deflection so that’s got a significant amount of luck as well. The forecheck pressures an ill-advised clearance attempt that Tryamkin handles nicely at the blue line, then gets away a decent wrister while falling. A good play by Tryamkin, rewarded with a bit of luck at the finish.

      Miller’s gotten a lot of praise for stealing the game, and rightly so. But on the Flames broadcast they commented that the Flames weren’t getting bodies in front of him, so he was seeing all the shots. He also had excellent rebound control so there were few second chances.

      So, lucky to win tonight but as Willie said in his post game presser, “Sometimes, when you can win without your best stuff it’s good too.”

    • Fred-65

      Come on enough of the stats already. One stat counts above all others ….the score. Vcr may not have had more shots than the Flames but the game was not that one sided, unless the stats over ride the actual game. I attended the game and Vcr did have some self generated excitement to their game. The Flames D were caught running around a bit and their goalie …Elliot was very poor, but that’s Calgary’s choice of where and how to spend their money. As of this moment Calgary has out spent Vcr…. just in the wrong area’s Had not Johnson ( the back up ) not come through they’d be competing with Arizona

    • sloth

      Didn’t manage to watch any of this one aside from the last 2 mins, but the recap is definitely better than the last one. Thanks for listening to the criticism from the peanut gallery down here.

      Games like this make me appreciate Benning and the philosophy of building from the net out. The Canucks have a legitimate NHL goaltender who has years of experience playing on some pretty terrible teams, facing a lot of shots and standing on his head. Benning knows this and knows the value of this to a borderline team that is trying to make the playoffs. That’s the value of signing an established veteran over the 1B from an elite team (I wonder what the outcome would have been if CGY had Hiller between the pipes…), who has no idea how to play behind an inexperienced blue-line and a pedestrian offence.

      Hockey is a very interesting sport. I’m starting to think analytics struggle to capture some of the nuances of the tactical, psychological, and emotional swings that can heavily influence on-ice outcomes, especially because individual games are such isolated samples. It would be excessive to attribute the statistical outcomes of this game solely to score-effects, but trailing teams tend to push play, and when the trailing team has a decent buzzing offence and the winning team has a blue-collar defensive identity, those effects are going to be especially pronounced.

      When you see your goalie give up a weak one to the Canucks’ two worst forwards on a give-n-go and then another weak/flukey floater immediately after, turning an early lead into a 1st period deficit, it can be tough to find the right mindset to fight your way back into that game. You’re a bit nervous in the d-zone because the guy behind you is obviously shakey, and you squeeze your stick too tight or whatever and the puck just seems to go in a couple more times. At the other end, you’re getting A-grade scoring chances every 3-minutes so you’re a bit complacent, expecting one to go in because you’re dominating possession, but the clock keeps ticking away and all of a sudden there’s 3 minutes left and you need 3 goals to get back into it, despite controlling the flow of play all game long.

      I’ve seen enough games like this one over the years to know that they happen fairly regularly across the league, and can be counted on happening again for and against every team occasionally. I’m starting to think certain aspects of team composition, tactics, and psychology make this a somewhat repeatable trait for a team as a whole over the course of a season or a stretch of games. We’ve seen different teams ride semi-consistent performances like this into the playoffs almost every year, and maybe the Canucks will be the ones to do it this year. Or maybe not, whatever, ether way it doesn’t seem like this is a repeatable trait year-over-year (see CGY, COL, etc.)

      Hopefully tonight is a better showing throughout the lineup.

      • andyg

        The Devils built teams around boring defensive hockey and great goal tending. You could win with a lot less talent. On occasion you can make a cup run.
        Analytics is a tally of what has taken place and you can see averages over time. It does not take any human effect into consideration. It does not foresee anything, it is just a guess based on what has happened. When players are coached differently or are played with new team mates then stats can change.

    • Riley Miner

      I don’t know if any of you caught it, but I think it was near the end of the second and Rodin tried to stop after a really fast forecheck and he stopped and pivoted, and he immediately grimaced and yelled holding his knee. Next shift the closeup showed him grimacing on another forecheck. The knee’s definitely still a factor.

    • Larionov18

      Matthew Tkachuk is very slow. If he can increase his speed though he could be a real great player. I love winning games that the goalie stole because I no how painful it is when the opposite happens to the Canucks.

    • Locust

      I can’t quite figure out what is so drastically wrong with Canucks Army – is it the writers or just what they write?

      This site used to be really good… then it was trolled to uselessness (many say that it was CA trolling us to get page hits) and now it is so anti-Canuck that it is a joke.

      six wins cry babies – bite me!

    • TheRealRusty

      Don’t like the style of the blogger then don’t read it. Readership goes down and changes will be made. Why that the time to complain when it obviously not having the desired effect?

    • Dirty30

      This is exactly what good goalies are supposed to do — stand on their head and steal a game for the team! It happens and hasn’t happened enough with Miller or Markstrom.

      Given that performance I hope Benning is seriously fielding any call from teams interested in Miller. Picks, prospects and heck, someone who would be an upgrade on anyone of four or five guys currently skating in futility for this team.

      Tonight’s game will be unfortunately ugly as the Flames won’t let this happen twice.

      Ironically, the Canucks might just win it.

    • apr

      While the shot totals may be skewed heavily for the Flames, I think the Canucks had a lot of scoring chances and could have popped in a couple more. Its not the Canucks fault that Calgary cheaped out and got Elliott instead of Bishop. Reminded me of Burke refusing to get rid of Cloutier when we had the best offense in the league.

      I hope we can put to bed that Sbisa is not an important part of the team. His interview was very telling how much he cares, and his play on the ice has improved leaps and bounds.

      Rodin looks like he is not in game shape. He looked winded after his shifts. Megna may suck with the twins, but he made 3 or 4 crucial defensive plays.Rodin just needs to get on the Tryamkin conditioning plan. Speaking of Tryamkin, I believe we are seeing the evolution of a star. Did you see that back check after he got beat in the offensive zone – or how about the move and diving wrist shot! From a guy that big – wow!

    • Burnabybob

      First of all, awesome Black Flag reference in the headline. I bet most of the readers here are too young to recognize it.

      Here are my thoughts on the game:

      First the positives:
      – more fine play from Horvat. His set up of Granlund was beautiful. The kid can do it all. He can make plays, shoot the puck, and do the dirty work in the corners.

      – Nice play from Granlund and Tryamkin. Kudos to Benning for the trade and draft pick, respectively.

      Negatives:
      – Canucks were badly outplayed in this game. I would hate to see them move down in the draft on the basis of “wins” like this. At the end of the day, I would still rather see them get a high draft pick at the end of the season than get creamed in the first round of the playoffs.

    • LTFan

      My only comment on the game – what was that?? Completely outplayed and yet somehow won the game, incredible. I have never seen a team so completely dominated by their opponent and yet win the game. Miller was incredible.

      That’s it.

    • The_Blueline

      Brutal. Just brutal.

      And yes, if the Canucks are any serious about rebuilding (on the fly), they must protect Granlund and Baer in the expansion draft.

    • Bud Poile

      This is a prime example of how goaltenders can dominate games for their clubs-win or lose.

      Miller is a pedigree goaltender playing on top of his game as of late.

      That’s what he was hired for and why he makes those big bucks.

    • crofton

      Tanev got speared in the groin by Chiasson. A good GIF to see it is Vanessa’s column. Not to worry, DoPS will see it as marginal if they see it at all. It’s a Vancouver player, after all.

    • TD

      That’s two stinkers in a row against Calgary. Great to see Granlund have a great game against his old team.

      I like Hansen, but I think we need to trade him by the deadline. I don’t want to lose Granlund or Baertschi in the expansion draft. I love Hansen’s game and hustle, but he is on the wrong side of 30 for a rebuilding team (on the fly). I don’t want to lose him for nothing as he is too good and still signed for one more year with a very favourable contract.

    • Spiel

      Miller was the key performer.
      Canucks Army would have traded him for Brian Elliot or any warm body in net no doubt since goalies are a dime a dozen.

      Can’t believe the Canucks traded Shinkaruk for Granlund.