Canucks SixPack - Dropping passes and dropping points

Dec 20 2017, 2:23 am


The Canucks lost a wildly sloppy game filled with mistakes controversy tonight, which made for a decent night of entertainment.

It wasn’t what you’d call a “good” game from the Canucks, but they were still a bit unlucky to lose. They outshot New Jersey 31-28 and carried most of the play at even strength.

Despite that, Vancouver dropped their third game in a row tonight, this time in overtime, to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 4-3.



1. Power Play

Tonight’s game was won and lost on the power play. The Canucks played 25% of regulation time with the man advantage, with a remarkable 15 minutes of power play time.

Vancouver had the 20th ranked power play coming into tonight’s game, and it will drop after this one. We like to criticize the coach on who he puts on the ice when the power play is struggling, but on a night like tonight, the onus has to be on the strategy (still coaching!) and the execution (that’s the players).

I hate criticizing the Sedins, but when the power play is struggling and the right personnel are on the ice with them (Vrbata, Edler, Weber), they deserve the bulk of the criticism.

It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly went on tonight, other than the fact the execution was off. They seemed to lack urgency and were too stagnant/predictable. Personally, I’d like to see Vrbata, Edler and Weber with a little more shoot-first mentality. When you’re on the ice with two of the premiere passers in the game, someone needs to be doing the shooting.

The Canucks ended up going 0-6 on the power play (that includes a 5 minute major), while the Devils got the winner in overtime at 4-on-3. The only team to score when Vancouver had the power play was… The New Jersey Devils.



2. The dreaded drop pass

Edler turnover

The Alex Edler drop-pass-of-doom reared its ugly head again today, which led to the Devils’ first goal of the game, scored shorthanded.

The drop pass is usually an effective tool for the Canucks’ zone entry on the power play, so by no means am I criticizing the strategy itself. It’s usually used by Alex Edler after he has skates the puck to centre ice with speed, with the drop pass going to Henrik Sedin. Vancouver was the first team to bring this to the NHL in 2011-12 and it has been copied by most teams since to create time/space when entering the offensive zone on the power play.

But the execution by Edler was comical this time. Elder glides up the ice at a glacial pace, barely backing up the opposition. He tries a drop pass well inside of his own blue line, with Travis Zajac breathing down his neck. A turnover ensued, with Adam Henrique eventually scoring on a centring pass from Zajac.

It’s Christmas time at Starbucks already, and with Edler too, apparently. This one was a gift.


3. Burrows no goal

We saw our first successful coach’s challenge of the season tonight, and unfortunately it went against the Canucks. Some may see this as controversial, but for me, it was the right call.

Burrows actually clipped Keith Kinkaid’s heels on his way into the crease, and then prevents him from going side-to-side to have an attempt at stopping Jake Virtanen on the wrap-around.

Would Kinkaid have been fast enough to make it over anyway? Perhaps not, but I think it was certainly possible. This isn’t a case of the NHL screwing over Burrows for no reason like we are accustomed to. It’s too bad for the Canucks, but that’s the right call.


4. Fight Fight Fight

You may like fighting, you may hate fighting, but I think we can all agree the fights in tonight’s game were very stupid.

The first fight came before the puck drop between Derek Dorsett and Jordin Tootoo. Dorsett doesn’t want Tootoo to attempt to intimidate one of his teammates, and based on Tootoo’s reputation, let’s assume he was up to no good earlier in the game. Dorsett steps in, which is his job, but dropping the gloves before the puck drop comes with an automatic 10-minute misconduct and it wasn’t smart.

The second fight was far more potentially detrimental to the Canucks’ fortunes. Jake Virtanen gets sucked into a fight with Bobby Farnham. Farnham, who was recently acquired by the Devils from Pittsburgh, is a 26-year-old journeyman playing in his 18th career NHL game. He’s no stranger to the penalty box, so he’ll dance with anybody.

Virtanen wants to prove himself too, but it was unnecessary this time. To make matters worse, Virtanen hurt his hand in the fight. Thankfully, Virtanen returned to the game, so he dodged a bullet. He’ll learn from this, and might pick his spots better next time. Guys like Farnham simply aren’t worth the risk.


Farnham acted like a complete clown after the fight, which doesn’t sit well with enforcers in the league.

Donald Brashear would be proud.

Here’s what injured Canucks forward Brandon Prust had to say about it.

Prust’s Twitter game is the best on the team right now.


5. Sven Baertschi

It wasn’t all bad news for Vancouver tonight. Sven Baertschi got his first of the season, lifting a huge monkey off his back in the process. His goal couldn’t have come at a better time, and it earned the Canucks a point tonight.

Baertschi didn’t have a banner game tonight, but he wasn’t bad. Despite the criticism he’s faced this season, I don’t think he’s been bad. He hasn’t been amazing either, but he’s still just 23-years-old.

He now has 1 goal and 5 assists in 12 games, bouncing around on different lines and seeing limited time on the power play. Those are pretty decent numbers for a player trying to cut his teeth in the NHL. His advanced stats are good, too.

The Canucks should be patient with him and give him every opportunity to prove himself, like they did last year with Linden Vey (hopefully with better results).

Give Baertschi the opportunity to sink or swim, it’s the only way to know what you’ve got.


6. Missing Tanev

The Canucks were without Chris Tanev tonight, and not surprisingly, they missed him. Tanev is the most dependable defender that the Canucks have, someone that would have been nice to have on the ice during the overtime penalty kill, certainly. Instead, with Dan Hamhuis in the box, the Canucks trotted out Edler-Bartkowski followed by Biega-Weber.

Tanev helps defensively, that’s obvious, but he helps in every facet of the game, really. He’s listed as day-to-day, and hopefully it’s nothing serious. The Canucks have 5 games in 9 days left on this road trip, and losing the first two games to Buffalo and New Jersey is not a good start, to say the least.

The Canucks will limp into Columbus to play John Tortorella (!!!) and the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.


Thanks to the gif master, Ryan Biech, for helping with all the gifs tonight.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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