Another game that the Canucks fell flat offensively, but were close enough that they could have won with enough bounces.
I started thinking about the above after the Leafs got crushed in Vegas earlier this season. Despite being wildly out-possessed and out-chanced, Vegas skaters kept missing the net, or fanning on great opportunities, and doing everything but finding the back of the net. Despite being outplayed handedly, Toronto could have won with a couple more bounces their way. They’d already gotten 15 or so, what’s another couple?
Sheldon Dries banked a puck in off Linus Ullmark’s stick early in the third period Sunday night to make it 4-2. The Canucks quickly got a powerplay opportunity after that. We also had a post from Ilya Mikheyev. Hockey’s a weird game that you can get consistently outplayed and still win a bunch.
The Canucks are at least nailing the first part of that formula.
They played twice over the weekend, and I have the scoring chances in both games at 36-17 for the opposition. The Canucks were also out-chanced 11-3 off the rush in the two games, and 4-0 in transition. (As I type these words, Jeff Skinner just scored off the rush for Buffalo to make it 3-2 in the Tuesday night game)
The Canucks either don’t have the horses, the speed, or the desire to create off the rush. The inability to move the puck is becoming a much more noticeable issue, and they’re shaky enough defensively that one mistake by a forward in the wrong spot on the ice can cause the team to give up a goal, or cause a 30-second shift in their own end.
The fixes aren’t easy. This is a section of the post that I usually like to preamble about something tangentially related to the game, about what big lessons we can learn from an individual hockey game. I think it would be good to discuss the culture the Boston Bruins built in their dressing room, how Tomas Nosek came across to challenge Kyle Burroughs after Burroughs hit David Pastrnak, but Vasili Podkolzin had to sacrifice his own face because none of his teammates went right after AJ Greer (and it doesn’t count that Luke Schenn and Greer were talking earlier in the game. That was before the hit). I didn’t lose sight of the fact (and neither did John Shorthouse) that the Canucks were uninterested in even talking to Greer after Podkolzin was knocked out of the game.
These aren’t problems that many statistical analysts like to highlight, but they are macro-level problems with the club. The team seems disinterested in the moment, eager to just get games over with. The blown leads are just as concerning as the fact that the Canucks can’t ever seem to come back in games they fall behind: they’re 3rd last in both shots rate and goals rate when trailing, per Natural Stat Trick.
Another bounce and they would have been in this game, but the Canucks didn’t play with the urgency level required to earn that bounce. They had six scoring chances at 5v5 in this game. Ullmark’s first save off a scoring chance was a fantastic stop off Ilya Mikheyev 3:41 in… to the second period.
Enough of that though, let’s get to the numbers. (And JT Miller has just made it 4-2 in Buffalo).
Subscribe to get read more
Subscribe for $5.99/month to get access to Canucks stats and analysis you can’t get anywhere else.