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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: Regicide

Canucks Rally Back From 2-0 Deficit to Defeat Kings 3-2

Canucks netminder Anders Nilsson hadn’t played in well over two weeks, and you could tell on the first of the Kings two goals. Markus Granlund fumbled an outlet pass and Kings winger Tanner Pearson collected the puck and sent it through Nilsson, who was crouched in the reverse VH position against his post.

On the faceoff that followed, Canucks pugilist Derek Dorsett, in an effort to spark his team, dropped the mitts with Kings winger Andy Andreoff. It didn’t have the desired effect — certainly not in the immediate aftermath. Brendan Gaunce put the Canucks on the penalty kill shortly after the heavyweight bout and the Kings Anze Kopitar made them pay in the dying seconds of the penalty.

The Canucks controlled the game from that point onward, tilting the ice heavily into the Kings zone. By the end of the first period, the Canucks had out-attempted the Kings 14-5, though the score remained 2-0 in the home team’s favour.

In the second frame, the Canucks turned the pressure dial up to 11. The Sedin line, with Loui Eriksson, took firm control of the hockey game and on one of their better shifts, Henrik converted on what looked like an attempted pass that deflected off a Kings defender and past Jonathan Quick for the Canucks first goal. That was just the start for those three.

And if an effective Sedin line wasn’t giving you flashbacks of a better era in Canucks hockey, the new-look power play that took the ice a few short minutes after Henrik’s goal should’ve had the effect.

After a pair of games, both lopsided losses, in which the Canucks power play went a combined 0-for-10, Canucks head coach Travis Green mixed things up a bit, combining the best elements of the two units he’d been playing the last week or so. The new first unit included both Sedins, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Alexander Edler. And they were dynamite.

With Boeser planted firmly in the “Alexander Ovechkin spot” on the left side of the Canucks 1-3-1 power play formation, he leaned into a heavy wrister that bounced off Quick’s shoulders and into the Kings crease. There was Horvat on the doorstep to even the game at two.

Not to be outdone, the second-unit contributed with a power play goal of their own to seal the comeback victory for the upstart Canucks. With play transitioning back into the Kings’ end, Thomas Vanek caught Sven Baertschi was a cross-ice pass, and with Derrick Pouliot clearing the middle of the ice to drive to the front of the Kings net, Baertschi used the space and leaned into a game-winning, wrist shot, power play goal.

After an iffy start, Nilsson shut the door and backstopped the Canucks victory, stopping 30 of 32 Kings shots. Quick, who had a solid night in his own right, stopped 24 of the Canucks 27 tries.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • Let’s talk about the Dorsett fight that many have alleged kickstarted the Canucks comeback. I’m still not convinced. In the immediate aftermath of the scrap, the Canucks took two lazy penalties and surrendered a goal. If that fight woke them up, it had a timed release type of effect. And I’m just not buying. Much of the research done in the public sphere suggests that fighting has no positive impact whatsoever. In fact, one article I found after the fight suggested that the team of the winning fighter surrenders the next goal more often than the other team. Nobody thinks Dorsett won that fight, too, so there’s also that.
  • The good news? I still think this was one of Dorsett’s better games of the season. He didn’t score, but I thought he made a lot of good plays, especially on the penalty kill. Dorsett had a vital role in Brandon Sutter’s rush that eventually led to a penalty shot, and he drew the penalty that led to the game-winning goal.
  • I’ve always felt that most underestimated how effective Eriksson and the Twins were last season. That line controlled north of 55% of the shot attempts at even strength, which is downright dominant. I’d always suspected a lot of their perceived lack of chemistry from last season was just bad luck. An effort like tonight’s suggests that just might be the case. They were dominant. The Sedins looked four years younger, and Eriksson looked every bit the player I’d become used to watching in his time with the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins. An Eriksson bounce back? It doesn’t seem like such a crazy notion after tonight. Using the results that Henrik and Eriksson combined for as a proxy of their lines productivity, they had a +6 shot attempt differential and generated seven on-ice scoring chances.
  • Derrick Pouliot just keeps getting better. At the expense of sounding like a broken record, each new game is Pouliot’s best in the NHL. He’s been a shot metrics stud, and tonight he chipped in with two points. That gives Pouliot five in his first 15 games as a Canuck. Not bad — not bad at all.
  • The first Kings goal was awful. It’s the kind of goal we’re accustomed to seeing Jacob Markstrom give up in the first minute of a hockey game. Like Markstrom, though, Nilsson was able to bounce back and shut the door. The Canucks didn’t need Nilsson to be a worldbeater for most of the night, but whenever the Kings pressed, he was up to the task.
  • Has the Canucks power play turned a corner? Tonight was a good night for both units. The new-look first unit especially. It looks like Green has loaded up on all his best power play weapons for one supergroup, and I have to say, I’m a believer after tonight. It’s the perfect blend of shooters and distributors and they all seem to be in the right spots, too. Let’s hope the Canucks stick with it.
  • Bud Poile

    Gudbranson leads all Canucks in TOI and Dorsett changes the momentum of the game in a 3 goal comeback win over the division leaders.
    It’s a great night to be a Canucks fan.

    • Bud Poile

      “Much of the research done in the public sphere suggests that fighting has no positive impact whatsoever.” JD
      Any game I’ve ever played in where a fight transpired,so did the momentum.
      It can’t be recorded so it has no use for staticians but for players it’s an adrenaline rush accentuated with enormous feelings of retribution,hope,triumph,equality,etc..All players are effected by it just as the absence of pushback negatively effects players when they’re being physically intimidated/beaten/injured on the ice.
      It’s basic human psychology that can’t be denied by those that play(ed) the game.
      Denying momentum change outright because you hate fighting is comical.
      It’s like you come from another planet,J.D..One without hockey games and men that fight.

      “That didn’t stop Dorsett when he attempted to shift momentum after the Kings needed just 23 seconds to open scoring on Anders Nilsson, who got better as the game progressed.
      Dorsett took on Andy Andreoff but made sure he didn’t start the bout or throw the first punch. After that, he landed several blows.”
      Ben Kuzma
      http://theprovince.com/sports/hockey/nhl/vancouver-canucks/canucks-3-kings-2-push-back-resilience-and-an-actual-first-power-play-unit

      • crofton

        If not the momentum, at least the energy, both for players and fans. And playing for excited fans works much better than in a mausoleum type atmosphere. Staged fights? Not so much, but to some effect yesterday yes.

      • jaybird43

        I’m Not sure of what research JD is pointing to, but if it has a positive effect on a team, it should be measurable with stats. There’s about 12000 NHL games every decade. So … the effect of a fight by the instigator should be measurable. One caution… the losing team is going to be the initiator, almost always, so that would have to be considered too.

    • Silverback

      Playing .500 hockey on the road against Calgary and the three Cali teams is, although not optimal, but better than many would’ve thought for a projected “30th place team”. The loss in Anaheim was horrible, but the ultimate stat is win/loss, so by that metric, not bad. Bring on Vegas…time for retribution.

  • Rodeobill

    Some weak reffing in the first. I don’t know if it was Dorsett’s fight (which I didn’t mind as both were willing and sportsmanlike), but it was almost like they all woke up at the end of the first period. It was like they finally got hungry. I don’t need them to win each game, but I hate watching them not try their best.

    Is it me, or is Pouliot in contention for our second best D man… and if so, why is he not on the penalty kill? Every time I see him on shift he gets things taken care of and makes smart decisions.
    I wonder sometimes if Guddy wants to be traded, I get the vibe that his heart isn’t into it with the Canucks, maybe not, I dont know.
    Wasn’t MDZs best game tonight.
    Glad Anders dug deep after the first, I’m Rooting for the guy to come out as a bonifide starter
    Boeser looks kinda like he is unsure of himself sometimes. I wonder if he is adapting to the new league and schedule, trying to fit roles and learn lessons from others on the team, or just missing a little confidence. Don’t get me wrong, he is awesome, I just think these last few games he hasn’t been playing as though he knows that, kinda like he’s trying to play according to other people’s game rather than playing his own. I think he needs to understand his own potential and am glad he got a point tonight as it should help him keep building that confidence.
    Vanek’s pass was awesome and he is a fun character to root for too. I’m going to miss him after the TDL.
    Also, Eriksson with the Sedins looks like a good thing… Finally.
    All in all, a fun game to watch. Our underdogs beat the odds from a 2 goal deficit, best kinda win there is. Hope they carry that momentum through next game.

    • crofton

      Seems like lately the refs feel necessary to almost invent penalties against anyone in an Orca jersey. The penalty shot the game before…and the slash(?) on Boeser being the best examples.

  • TheRealPB

    Thanks for this and the other recaps of late – nice to have the sense that you actually watched the game!

    These kinds of games are tough — it’s late enough for an east-coast watcher and then they go down by 1 in 23 seconds and two within 3 minutes. The fight was useless — I don’t like fighting to begin with and I like staged fighting even less. It had zero impact on momentum as they took the penalty and went down two shortly thereafter. If you really want Dorsett to have an effect through retribution and/or deterrence, then go after Andreoff when he takes the cheap run at Pouliot’s knee or after that other King slew-footed Eriksson.

    Lots of good play after that initial poor start though. Agree with everyone else about Pouliot — I was really impressed by how strong he has seemed on the puck the last few games. Makes great passes to clear the zone and won a lot of puck battles. I thought Hutton looked good too and Biega has played way better than a lot of 6/7 defensemen we’ve had in the past. Del Zotto had a few good moments but some mind-numbingly dumb plays — that pass up the middle trying to beat two Kings? And got blown by on the far side on three occasions. Loved the play of Baertschi all game. It also convinces me again that we don’t need size/grit/heaviness to play a team like the Kings, rather speed and quick passing which overcomes a lot that they have. Edler was lucky not to get more than 2 for that dumb hit into the boards. I also think Gaunce should be sat; yeah he’s a big body but he doesn’t seem to be able to accept a pass — he fumbled really good breakouts on at least four occasions. Virtanen in my view deserves the spot over him (and you can move Granlund back to the wing with Dorsett and Sutter if you have to and slide Gagner into the middle with Vanek and Virtanen). LV is crashing back to earth with a thud, looking forward to the next game.

    • Hack-smack-whack

      Agree with most of your post, and I generally find your contributions insightful and intuitive, however , I want to suggest there is a little more to it than you claim. Yes, I absolutely agree that speed is how to beat a big physical team. You can’t beat them playing their own game, if that’s not your strength.
      But even just the presence of a Gudbranson changes the dynamic of the game, and the liberties that kings players would otherwise be taking. Beichler wrote a few days ago that Gudbranson doesn’t clear the net. Ok , but I’ll suggest he doesn’t need to, because when he moves in at the whistle, the opposing forwards move out. It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance, opposing players know that crashing the net and intimidating the defence after the whistle will be more trouble than it’s worth.
      Also regarding the Dorsett fight, when you have a player that shows they’ll take it on the chin for the team, that will absolutely boost the competitive spirit of his teammates. Going into the corners with will to win puck battles, or to the front of the net and staying there, takes the same hardnosed mentality of dropping the gloves. Nothing says to your team that we’re going to do what it takes to win, than sticking your nose in harms way with the opposing pugalist.

      • jaybird43

        Did they exist? I thought the trade had great *potential* from the outset. Like Baertschi and Granlund, JB trades a guy “with potential” for a guy who has played 50-100 NHL games. Very good …

  • NeverWas

    No talk about Brandon Sutter??? They guys was all over the ice last night!!! How he didn’t score is beyond me…. So many chances. Plus it’s PK work and face off!! He was worth every bit of that contract last night!!

    • crofton

      Face off wins are an unimportant stat, don’t you know. Apparently it’s not important when you are on the PK…the chance to clear the puck is unimportant…or on the PP…it’s much more important to have to re-circle back into your own end so you can start on the rush after having wasted…oops I mean killed… 20-30 seconds

  • Steamer

    Author of this article is pretty funny: Dorsett’s fight ‘failed to spark the Canucks’??? Don’t know what game JD watched, but after the Dorsett fight Van outscored LA 3 to 1 – I’d say he made a statement, & I think most who have played the game – as opposed to inventing analytical categories – would agree.

      • Bud Poile

        #44 injured his wrist in the last tilt.
        Losing your top TOI player and one of two RHD left on the roster is crazy.
        This team has a ton of forwards that should step up-Horvat,Virtanen,Gaunce,Gagner,Burmistrov,etc..
        When Stetcher steps it up a lot of these guys should be looking at themselves.

  • Naslund

    It’s pretty sick to get any sort of thrill by watching Dorsett fight. After going through the type of surgery that he did, one that is almost certain to lead to arthritis and all sorts of future pain, this man should never fight again. I don’t wish to support anything that will likely lead to years of suffering for that man.

  • speering major

    The Sedins actually looked effective in their playing style last night. Although they are still missing an uncharacteristic number of passes and skating even slower this year, at least they were able to control the play down low. I think having a player like Lou on the line has to be a factor there.

    I like the new PP look

    I think the benefit of those fights is that the team that needs to wake up can be sparked whereas the team that’s on their game doesn’t need the spark. Advantage canucks last night. That said, I am for fighting but against staged fights. That was 100% staged. I think those are the fights the league needs to crack down on and not the previous fight Dorsett got in trouble for. In the previous fight Dorsett was coming off the bench with an axe to grind for good reason. Both combatants were willing. Last night they had decided to drop the gloves for the sake of dropping the gloves. I love a good scrap but the staged fights aren’t really necessary and should be the first to go (if any)

  • apr

    Time and time again players say that a fight can really change momentum, that having someone stick up for them can really bring a team together. Is fighting necessary for the game? Probably not. Is staged fighting stupid? Of course it is. But to discount the emotions of a fight, a good hit, a scrum when your goalie (Miller) sticks up for your smurf (Stecher) who is being mocked by a goon (Martin) goes a long way in a locker room. Us fans, especially analytics bloggers, may not appreciate it – but clearly the guys in the room do. Great win; going .500 on the this road trip is a keeper, no matter the doom and gloom local media and bloggers were painting after the losses to the Ducks and Sharks.

  • Locust

    I know how much it pains JD when the Canucks do well …..
    Best Canucks – Dorsett, Sutter, Guddy. Worst – Gaunce, Biega.
    Anyone who continues to beat that flaccid drum about Sutter and Guddy not being integral and needed pieces is being purposefully dishonest – unless, your only real hockey experience comes from EA Sports … and if that’s the case, you are just an idiot.

  • Canuck4Life20

    When Sutter blocks a shot with his kidney and clears the puck out of the zone in the final minute of play he still ends up with a minus in the corsi column. If one were to use corsi as the only way to analyze that final shift (as is so often done on this site) then they would conclude that Sutter and Dorsett had a terrible shift without any context that it was the final minute of play, the oppositions goalie was pulled, and the Kings were pressing to try and tie the game.

  • There is nothing wrong with going 2 – 2 -0, in what I call a difficult road trip.

    It’s nice to finish on a positive note, although the look on Green’s face said it all, when Kings scored early. Giving up that early first goal is a killer.
    I never used to yell at my TV…

  • FireGillis

    The hero line (horvat boeser sed sed Edler) looked extremely good. However, the mix and mash second unit of Eriksson vanek Gagner looked terrible. Would love to see the hero line more though, maybe put Virtanen and Granlund with vanek instead of Eriksson and gagner

  • HockeyMinion

    Don’t forget, unlike baseball hockey has intangibles that can’t yet be quantified by numbers. It’s unfortunate for analytic lovers but emotion plays a part in the effort sometimes and there are no numbers for that.

    • Whackanuck

      Most team sports have their intimidation factor. Baseball has the high inside fastball. They just don’t (usually) have fights. Soccer and basketball have subtle tactics, elbows et al, football has the leg whip, or even the slightly late hit.

  • Cageyvet

    I’ve been on the Pouliot bandwagon since the beginning, as he wasn’t the defensive sieve I’d been led to believe and you could see constant improvement.

    I’m going to give credit to Edler, as much as he drives me crazy sometimes and would be better as a 2nd pairing anchor. Regardless, he’s still one of our best and the results when Stecher or Pouliot are paired with him speak for themselves. His game compliments a skilled puck mover very well and he seems to give them an extra boost of confidence. It’s a bit early to give Pouliot the nod ahead of MDZ and Hutton, but not much, all he lacks is a bigger body of work.