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Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Post-Game: A Hellish Night

Canucks Lose 3-2 to the Devils in Jersey

The thought of a young New Jersey Devils team built on speed and skill is as foreign a concept as a sunny November day in Vancouver. It just doesn’t add up.

You look at the Devils leading scorers though, and they’re almost entirely of the young variety. Taylor Hall is hardly a grizzled vet, and he leads the team in scoring. Not far behind Hall in offensive output is Will Butcher, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. Each, save for Bratt, had a hand in felling the Canucks.

It was Hall who started the party. The Devils recovered a loose puck behind the Canucks net, fed it to Hall who buried it from the side of the net. All Canucks defenceman Derrick Pouliot could do was watch, and reach for the puck in vain. Hall added another two assists by the end of the period and caught Brock Boeser with a thunderous, clean shoulder check to the chest; he was going tonight.

Daniel Sedin responded to knot the game at one, bouncing the puck off a Devils defender and past Cory Schneider. The game didn’t stay square at one for very long, though. Not even five minutes, actually.

Devils defenceman Will Butcher carried the puck through the neutral and then through the entire Canucks lineup before setting Brian Boyle up in front, who made no mistake, regaining the Devils lead. It was all the more special for Boyle, who’s battling a cancer diagnosis, to score this goal tonight, in the Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Prudential Centre.

Another five minutes later, Devils defenceman Damon Severson doubled the Devils lead burying the rebound of a Hall breakaway that beat Jacob Markstrom but bounced off the post.

The Canucks made a run at a comeback in the third period. They had their chances. According to NaturalStatTrick, the Canucks out-chanced the Devils in the third by a rate of 7-3. Based on the only stat that counts, though, they fell decidedly short. Only Bo Horvat found the back of the net for the Canucks, using a crafty deke to bring the puck into the crease before roofing it on Schneider.

Markstrom stopped 23 of the Devils 26 shots. Schneider stopped 23 of his former team’s 25 shots on the night.

The Numbers

Quick Hits

  • Brandon Sutter left tonight’s game halfway through the third period after a John Moore check sent him to the ice with a thud. Obviously, first and foremost, our concerns relate to Sutter’s health. That’s what matters the most here. Secondarily, I’m starting to have concerns about his quality of play… again. Tonight, the Devils out-attempted the Canucks by a margin of eight shot attempts with Sutter on the ice. The bigger picture of the entire season does Sutter no favours. I hope he’s healthy, and I bet every Canucks fan does too! Every Canucks fan should hope that when he returns to the lineup, whether it’s next game or next week, he starts to pick his game up. We’re getting to a point where it wouldn’t be unreasonable to healthy scratch him.

  • Bo Horvat had one of his best games of the season tonight. He was a force between the blues, dominated the run of play at even strength and even chipped in with a goal in the third period. I still have a hard time getting a grasp on what Horvat is, and this season hasn’t granted any more clarity in that regard. If he can stack up a couple of performances like tonight’s, though, that would bode well for his future. At some point, he has to, at the very least, stop being a drag defensively at even strength. Tonight, he was dominant. It’s a good sign.
  • Ben Hutton’s had a very up-and-down season. Jeremy Davis’ article on Hutton made a fairly convincing case for Hutton as value added to the Canucks lineup, and for the most part, I’m a believer. Tonight was a mixed bag for the #HuttonTruthers. Brian Boyle’s goal in the second wasn’t a good look for any Canuck, but Hutton looked especially poor on that play. By that same token, Hutton shows very well in Darryl Keeping’s transition data, and the Canucks out-attempted the Devils with him on the ice. A bit of the good and some of the bad tonight.
  • Brock Boeser had an assist on Horvat’s goal, bringing his point streak to six games. That Calder case of Boeser’s is starting to look fairly sound.

  • How much longer can the Canucks afford to keep tinkering with their lineup to find a fit for Sam Gagner? There are a lot of underlying signs to suggest that the goals are going to come, but the fact of the matter is, they’re not. Gagner doesn’t seem comfortable in any of the roles the Canucks have played him in, and frankly, I don’t think that’s his fault. Right now, for example, he’s playing left wing on a shutdown line. None of that makes an iota of sense. If that’s the only spot the Canucks can find for Gagner, perhaps it’s time they stopped trying to force it and let Alexander Burmistrov get back into the lineup for a game or two? He can play in a shutdown role, on both phases of special teams and on the left wing. It just makes sense that he would perform better than Gagner would on that role on the “shutdown” line
  • Henrik Sedin’s assist on Daniel’s goal tonight gives him a three-game point streak. Good to see the Twins contribute offensively tonight. It just doesn’t seem right, watching them languish in ten minutes or so a night.
  • Beefus

    I have to agree with your assessment of Sam Gagner. He has been the biggest non-factor on the team and he doesn’t seem to fit on any line in any role. Why not bring up Goldobin in his place?

    • defenceman factory

      We are witnessing what Gagner’s previous teams all learned about him. He is a decent offensive player if used in a limited role.

      Gagner’s positioning on the first Devils goal is a recurring pattern. He was slow to get into the play and ended 3 feet short of the shooter who scored.

  • Rodeobill

    I agree with this on Gagner, I have nothing against him, but he hasn’t seemed to find his role yet. I woudn’t say the twins languish on lesser minutes, it looks to me like they are thriving. I guess JV got benched for the night after he fanned on a pass, even after Sutter was out. Is it me, or do the devil’s defense look better without Larsson? Maybe it’s the addition of Butcher. I was kinda hoping to get another look at Holm, but I guess that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Edler and MDZ got away with some big penalties tonight, which is strange, usually it’s other teams getting away with them on us.

  • TD

    The Horvat line had a lot of very dominant shifts during the game, it was fun to watch them put on that kind of pressure.

    Read two interesting articles on Sportsnet.ca today. The first looked at the top goalies so far this season and had Markstrom as one of the three in the running for the Vezna based on the first quarter (they recognized it was early and a lot could change).

    The second article was a warning about tanking and trying to shed the losing culture that comes with tanking. They pointed out the success of Chicago, Toronto and LA while focusing on the failures in Arizona, Edmonton and mainly Buffalo.

    • Kanucked

      I think the concept of tanking is very interesting subject. I look forward to reading the article.

      However, I think Toronto might be a case for a successful tanking. They did intentionally have a bad team in 2015/2016 finishing last in the league giving them the best chance of drafting Mathews.

      • TD

        I agree, it can be. Although Toronto got lucky and won the lottery the year they ranked. The article didn’t say it was bad, it just pointed out the problems and interviewed players that spoke about the culture problems.

          • Drancer the Prancer

            Toronto had a 20% chance of winning the lottery and Vancouver 12.5% the year the Leafs got Matthews.

            Last year, Colorado had a 20% chance at #1 and ended at #4.

            If the Leafs had the same luck in 2016, they likely get Puljujaarvi instead of Matthews and their tanking “strategy” suddenly doesn’t look so brilliant.

          • Drancer the Prancer

            It also should be pointed out that the Leafs didn’t pursue “tanking” when the had Sundin just as the Canucks have not pursued “tanking” while they have had the Sedins.

            It’s an apples to oranges comparison that the so called “analysts” at CA continually push.

  • Elliot Rodger

    Considering all of the white males working at Canucks Army, it is safe to assume sexual deviancy is the norm.

    Just as it was in Greece and Rome.

    So who is harassing Vanessa Jang in the hopes of creating a Master Eurasian race?

    My money is on Jackson.

    Maybe JD.

    They seem the most sexually frustrated.

    Or, at the very least, have the most logical reason to be sexually frustrated.

    • KCasey

      UUUMM….this is a little strange and uncalled for no?! I am of the thinking that generally when people bring up things like sexual deviancy without any previous lead up to it….its usually cause thats what they are thinking of all by themselves. Is that your shtick Rodger….that of a sexually repressed individual running around shouting and pointing fingers at people talking about hockey. Little off for me but different strokes for different folks as the saying goes. Hope your find peace in life.

  • Killer Marmot

    The bigger picture of the entire season does Sutter no favours.

    The bigger picture is extremely favourable to Sutter.

    He takes an enormous number of defensive-zone faceoffs, with an offensive-to-defensive zone faceoff ratio of a staggering 70%. Further, his line is consistently matched up against the best lines of the opposition — Crosby, McDavid, you name it. He’s the opposite of a “protected player” — he’s put on the ice when situation is the most difficult.

    And yet his plus/minus is zero. That is one hell of an accomplishment.

    Until Corsi is made more situational, it’s not of much use in evaluating Sutter.

    • Freud

      Then make it more situational. How do his numbers compare to other players used in similar roles? Why do these top lines continually have more possession against Sutter than their yearly average? Why were Sutter’s numbers just as bad last year when he wasn’t matched up as much. What about all the years as a Penguin when he had better teammates and his numbers still stunk?

      This stuff is all taken into consideration when opinions are expressed around here. The writers just aren’t going to dumb it down for the reader and for that I’m appreciative.

      You come back with opinions and no research or facts to back it up, except plus/minus. Enuff said.

      Finally, Benning called him a foundational player in the Bergeron and Toews mold. Either we should have high expectations for Sutter or Benning can’t evaluate players. If you continue to defend Sutter, then you’re indicting Benning.

      • Killer Marmot

        Oh my. You claim I haven’t done my research, and then you make false claims.

        Why were Sutter’s numbers just as bad last year when he wasn’t matched up as much.

        They weren’t. His Corsi was 46.2 last year, perhaps due to the fact that his defensive zone start % was 56.2 rather than the 73.6 it is this year.

        “What about all the years as a Penguin when he had better teammates and his numbers still stunk?”

        In his last year as a Penguin, Sutter had a Corsi of 50.0 and a plus/minus of +6.

        “You come back with opinions and no research or facts to back it up, except plus/minus.”

        I presented two numbers, actually. And you presented exactly none.

        • It’s pretty depressing that on a site that’s been at the vanguard of promoting advanced stats and critical hockey analysis for the past seven or eight years, a comment that cites +/- gets seven up-votes.

          • Killer Marmot

            Let me quote Burke above:

            Based on the only stat that counts, though, they fell decidedly short.

            It turns out that goals are important after all. Shots and shot attempts are great, but they don’t win games. And plus/minus measures goals while you’re on the ice.

            There is a tremendous amount of snobbery around plus/minus. The “cool kids” look down on it. And the cool kids are wrong. It tells an important story. In particular, Corsi doesn’t tell you much about the quality of shots attempted.

            So let me rephrase it: And yet despite the lines that Sutter has been asked to play against and the defensive zone starts he makes, there have been as many even-strength goals for as against when he’s been on the ice. That’s a hell of an accomplishment.

            Happier now?

  • jaybird43

    I can’t quibble at all with He’s assessment if the Gagner situation. It’s getting hard to figure out where or who to play him with. And when he plays the point on the PP he looks dangerous (for the other team); it looks like he’s half a step from coughing up the puck. Very different from watching “The Flow” back there, who played like a shot producing defenceman (that said, he’s far better used on the half wall). Anyway, Gagner … perhaps as one poster says, it’s time to sit him out?

  • Class of 2011

    Excellent result guys as every loss is a win because it means a better shot in the draft and Benning will not be extended.

    The Devils along with the Knights are this seasons proof that with the right management and drafting, a team can be turned around in a hurry…

  • Lousy Schneider always playing well against us. Against Edmonton he can’t stop a beach ball, against us he puts on a clinic. Did I mention I never liked him.

    When Marksrom plays the puck behind the net and shots it around the boards to clear,this always turns into an adventure. Last night Taylor Hall intercepts while Markstrom scrambles to get into position, Hall takes advantage, pops one in, thus we give up the first goal.

  • Locust

    “Based on the only stat that counts, though, they fell decidedly short.”

    Glad you have left the dark side.

    Now, maybe, you can actually start watching the games …..

  • Drancer the Prancer

    “We’re getting to a point where it wouldn’t be unreasonable to healthy scratch (Sutter).”

    JD off his meds again.

    He doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he cherry picks stats anymore.

    This is why he is putting all of his eggs in the “don’t extend Benning!” basket.

    Burke knows that his 15 minutes are up if the Canucks are back on the upswing.

    At this point, the honorable thing to do would be to pass the Managing Editor torch to Ryan Biech and for JD to undergo 6 months of observation in a confined space.

    He doesn’t need a psychiatrist.

    He needs an exorcist.

    • Locust

      Notice all the new trolls who also are on the “don’t extend Benning” tirade then disappear forever soon after…… coincidence …… Hmmmmm

      JD’s hate for Sutter reminds me of a pre-teen girl tantrum.

      • Cageyvet

        Let’s face it, with Edmonton sucking the trolls like LA Kid and SuzieQ who were all over the site in the offseason are predictably in hiding. That really leaves us with only a couple of trolls, but the one we all know uses a new name pretty much daily. My favorite is when he posts some garbage and then backs up his own comments with a couple of other usernames. It’s transparent to us all, but he seems to think he’s clever and is somehow fooling us all. Not so much….

  • DJ_44

    Ben Hutton’s had a very up-and-down season. Jeremy Davis’ article on Hutton made a fairly convincing case for Hutton as value added to the Canucks lineup, and for the most part, I’m a believer. Tonight was a mixed bag for the #HuttonTruthers. Brian Boyle’s goal in the second wasn’t a good look for any Canuck, but Hutton looked especially poor on that play.

    While JD sarcasm and snark is in full force referring to Jeremy Davis’ article as a “fairly convincing case”, Hutton is terrible in his own zone and shows no signs of improving, or any better at thinking the defensive game at an NHL level. None.

    Gudbranson, while paired with Hutton, was roasted (like it was his mis-read) when a defender split the middle. The reality is it is Hutton’s responsiblity, just like last night with Tanev, to close down the middle (in the cases I am thinking, this is because there is a man on the defensive right side that is the RD’s responsibility.

    Teams know they can easily exploit Hutton’s terrible foot speed and complete lack of lateral mobility. These are magnified as his brain goes completely numb and body shuts down when he is out on the ice too long.

    I believe Jeremy Davis keep comparing him to Edler (whether that is praising or insulting, you be the judge). What exactly does he bring offensively or in any other part of his game is worth the massive liability he is for the team as a whole? Is there any skill (or fancy stat for that matter) that Phillip Holm would not out-perform Hutton at?

    Get yer top 4 dman here!!!!!!!

    • Cageyvet

      I’m of the opinion that if Pouliot can continue to develop, he makes Hutton expendable. It’s not looking like his puck skills are enough to compensate for some truly bad defensive plays.

      I’ve said it before, if we traded him we’d get excellent return for a 5th round pick. I’m in no hurry, but as the season progresses and the trade deadline looms, the jury is out on his future as much as Gudbranson without some noticeable improvement.

      • InternetRookie

        Totally agree. I’ve really enjoyed what Pouliot has done in transition and in the offensive zone. He could benefit from taking a page out of Lidstrom’s book though… He’s gotten burned numerous times as attacking players just wait for him to start his backwards crossover before pulling the puck across and skating around him. Still hoping he can become a mainstay on our blue-line though!

  • TK Smith

    JD: “Secondarily, I’m starting to have concerns about his quality of play… again.”

    Secondarily?? Again?? You have never liked Sutter and take every opportunity you can to slag him in some manner whether it is his family name, his contract or your cherry picked stats. You clearly have an narrative that negatively links Sutter to Benning and you will never miss an chance to to further that personal agenda. Your guileful attempt to commiserate with his injury smacks of a disingenuous endeavor to be seen as something other than the cold blooded votary of numbers and spreadsheets that you truly are. Each time you express faux feelings your credibility takes another hit. You are what you are.

    Put your narrative up front and support it with your hand picked facts then engage in a debate based on that foundation. No one expects you to be ever swayed by evidence or contrary opinions, but at least the debate will produce some worthwhile comments from some readers of this site.

    • Bud Poile

      “You clearly have an narrative that negatively links Sutter to Benning and you will never miss an chance to to further that personal agenda.” TK Smith

      Bingo has been called!

  • Fred-65

    Wow a lot of excuses. NJ was the better team by far, quicker to the puck, faster down their wings, the scored flattered the Canucks IMO. Vcr. spent the night chasing and reacting to the NJ play. Remember this Butcher was an UFA in August, clearly NJ scouts saw a better picture of him than the Vcr. management team. If it mean’t casting off a Hutton or not sign MDZ then so be it. Give young Butcher another season or two and look out

  • Steamer

    Nice article JD, strengthened case with goal-by-goal video assessment to augment other stats; you make a strong case on Granlund’s good fortune in a number of instances. Perhaps last year was the anomaly & this season he is reverting back to his actual level – or he’s been a bit snakebit & put in a less than optimum deployments? As for Gagner, he seems lost, unsure of his role. Taylor Hall? Clean hit, but he’s a bit of a ‘cheap-shot’ artist, picking on the smaller, younger players. Certainly should benefit from an ‘attitude adjustment’ from a veteran player ( any team ) who could educate Hall on protocol.