This was not the prettiest game of the year.
Creativity was smothered with a pillow, and in its place, defensive hockey that bordered on coma inducing. It was like a Monday morning meeting at 9am. You just tried to get through it while your mind floated to thoughts of Pina Coladas and Tetris
But that’s what happens when two teams that struggle to score goals and win games, meet up with each other. Ripped straight out of the 2007 Canucks playbook (minus a bra or two), the Canucks managed to get a 2-1 lead halfway through the second and held on for dear life. Carolina tied the game up late, but the Canucks managed to sneak out with a 3-2 win in OT.
So what happened? Let me show you…
1. Jacob Markstrom
We could probably dedicate the entire six pack to Markstrom’s play, to be honest.
Markstrom was a monster tonight. They don’t get these two points without him.
Well, the eye test will tell you Markstrom has been playing great. He’s had some small puck tracking issues at times, but overall his play has been equal to, or better, than Ryan Miller.
He was essentially given a chance to shine when Miller went down with his zombie cramps, and he took that chance and ran with it all the way to Dunsmuir and Hornby. Or somewhere that sounds super far in your head, the location is up to you, really.
So that being said, let’s bring some advanced goalie stats into this one. Nick Mercadante has long been championing the cause of Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA from here on out).
Unlike regular GAA, which for all intents and purposes is poop, GSAA attempts to show how many goals a goalie saves for his team above or below the league average. There is a great primer here if you feel like diving head first into it.
But for our simple Six Pack purposes, GSAA tells you is how good a goalie is doing in that particular season compared to his peers in a much more accurate manner than regular GAA.
Now, advanced stats has made it even better by coming up with adjGSAA/60, which means the GSAA is taking into account:
- danger zones for shots (takes into account that it’s harder to make saves on shots from different areas of the ice)
- 5 vs 5 play only, because adding special teams is like having a clown show up and start throwing pies all over your stats
- Makes it a per 60 stat, which means goalies who play fewer games won’t get screwed over based purely on games played
Again, if you want a better, less clown based explanation of adjGSAA/60, read Nick’s blog. Goalie stats have long been a tire fire, so it’s nice to see people exploring better ways to rate goalies.
So what does this all mean?
— Nick Mercadante (@NMercad) January 15, 2016
It means Markstrom has been playing great. Or as Coach W would say “real good, real good.”
What’s all the more impressive is how far Markstrom has come during this stretch of time. It wasn’t that long ago that Coach Willie wouldn’t trust Markstrom to help him set up iTunes on his computer, much less play a National Hockey League game.
The moniker of “AHL Superstar” followed Markstrom around for years, and many wondered if he would ever make it at the NHL level.
Granted, sample size is an issue, but it’s not crazy to suggest Markstrom threw the gauntlet down while Miller was out, and now Miller has to win the net back from him. The succession plan for Ryan Miller to Jacob Markstrom might be closer than we think.
Or Coach Willie will ride and die with Ryan Miller for life.
Either or could happen, to be honest.
By the way, final stats for Markstrom, via old fashioned stats:
40 shots against
2. Bo Scorevat
Bo is a fan of foreplay.
Much like last year, he likes to start things off slow. He wants to make sure he knows what he’s doing before he dives into things and tries to score.
It’s been much publicized how Horvat has struggled in his own end this year. That’s probably not too surprising, considering Sutter has been out for most of the year, and Horvat was being asked to do a lot of work at both ends of the rink.
Suddenly plus/minus is being tossed around like an archaic weapon of the past as people admonish him for his -20 on the year (tied for dead last in the NHL).
What was surprising, though, was his lack of scoring early on. He had chances, but struggled to score.
Now, though? It’s like Horvat grabbed three mushrooms in Mario Kart and now he’s flying out there.
Tonight was another great game from Bo (shout out for being one of the few guys to get evens at Corsi for the Canucks), as he picked up two goals, including the game winner.
Yes, it helped that Cam Ward looked confused as to why Horvat would shovel a black object towards him, but the few chances the Canucks had during this game, Bo was usually involved with them.
Now crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy the OT winner:
Hey, don’t forget to eat your veggies. Have some celly to go with your meal:
For a team that needs to sell the future to its fan base, watching Horvat get back on track is certainly a relief.
3. Linden Vey
Everyone’s favorite Medicine Hat Tiger Linden Vey scored a goal!
Linden Vey had a terrible night in the Corsi Wars (-13 at evens) though to be fair to Vey, he was used extensively in his own zone, with a 12.5% zone start. Linden Vey, defensive shutdown center at your service?
I’ve liked Vey’s game more recently, just because his passing and puck distribution has gotten better. He seems like he’s taking more time to make a good pass, which compliments the fact he can in fact make a pretty decent pass.
Aside from that, the ever infamous “compete level” has shown itself in the form of him prepping himself for hits better, and trying to make sure he doesn’t just get obliterated off the puck. Several times tonight he braced himself for a hit and actually managed to keep possession of the puck instead of being sent into next week with a huge hit.
— WilliesStache (@WilliesStash604) January 16, 2016
See? Look at that bad boy. I could watch that all day.
TIGERS NEVER DIE.
4. Derek Dorsett
Coach Willie’s unofficial son was out of the lineup, and I don’t say this to be mean to him, but did anybody miss him?
At 2.5 million until 2019, and with the fact Coach Willie seemingly has separation anxiety whenever Double D isn’t on the ice, it just feels like a really really long time to have him around.
And again, I have been a fan of Dorsett. I enjoy watching him play. I just don’t know if his 2.5 million dollar hit is worth it over a variety of players the Canucks could plug into his spot to do his same role.
5. Jared McCann
I also want McCann to play with people other than the “Safety Committee” of Dorsett and Prust.
Look at that dangle? If that goes in the Six Pack would have just been that gif and a picture of a mic drop.
6. Kris Versteeg Potty Mouth
A shout out to Kris Versteeg for dropping f-bombs at the highest f-bombs/per60 rate I’ve seen in years.
The refs missed a high stick on Versteeg and he let the refs know about it. And know about it. And know about it some more.
“Have some ****ing respect!” he screamed, while not respecting anything.
To be fair, it was one of the most offensive moments of the game in dire need of them.