Can’t say I saw that coming — the melee or the Canucks comeback. What a wild ending to an otherwise sleepy night at Rogers Arena. It wasn’t quite like the night Trevor Linden passed Stan Smyl to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer (you remember that night. It was March 8, 2004. Google it if the date doesn’t ring a bell). But nobody was talking about Daniel Sedin matching Markus Naslund for the Canucks all-time goal scoring lead moments after last night’s 3-2 overtime victory over Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers.
No, all the talk was about the dust-up at centre ice in the moments after Daniel’s second goal of the night, 346th of his career and the one that snapped the visitors win streak at a dozen games. And understandably so. Things escalated in a hurry and threatened to explode which is remarkable given how little feel was in the hockey game combined with the fact these two teams have no rivalry, no playoff history and can’t get any further apart geographically in the National Hockey League. It was bizarre. But let’s be honest, it was also kind of refreshing to see a little passion and emotion on full display at Rogers Arena. It’s not an every day occurrence.
In the light of day, this gives me another chance to appreciate the season Daniel Sedin is having. I’ve written about it often and tried to come up with different statistical ways to put it in perspective. But with two more goals last night and 19 now on the season, you wonder where the Canucks would be in the standings without Daniel’s consistent contributions. How much has he meant to the the team’s sagging offense? Daniel Sedin has seven of the last 25 goals the Canucks have scored (28%) and 14 of the past 49 (28.6%). He’s just one guy, but he’s been responsible for more than a quarter of the Canucks goal-scoring over the past six weeks. And his latest goal was a big one giving the Canucks a victory in a game it looked like they were going to let slip away.
It was a strange end to a funky homestand for the Canucks. They scored just 13 goals over their seven games on home ice since Christmas and somehow managed to go 4-2-1 pocketing nine of a possible 14 points. They gave up the first goal in all seven games, never led in six of the contests and scored more than one goal in just one of the 21 periods (they managed a pair in the 3rd period vs Carolina). Let’s be honest, that’s hardly the blueprint for sustained success, but the Canucks scored a power play goal for the fourth straight game and they continued to get quality goaltending from Jacob Markstrom. And the Canucks are living proof that those two factors can help you grind out results in today’s NHL. Here are the goals by period and the results from the homestand:
There was a lot of renewed talk about the Medicine Hat Tiger connection on the Canucks after the team’s acquisition of Emerson Etem on Friday. But it was a Calgary Hitman who sparked the comeback last night. Jake Virtanen needed something good to go his way after his disappointment at the World Juniors and he responded with a roof job on Luongo with under three minutes to play. Virtanen has had some jump in his two games back in the line-up after representing Canada in Finland and that’s a great sign for the Canucks. With all due respect Chris Higgins, he’s not scoring that goal in that situation. The kids need their spots in the line-up and Virtanen certainly looks like he wants to be here on a full-time basis.
As for those Tigers, I asked the following question on Twitter prior to last night’s opening face-off:
More than 700 of you responded and Derek Dorsett ran away with the poll garnering 68% of the votes with Emerson Etem getting 23% and Linden Vey collecting just 9%. Oh my, how wrong you were! The final tally on ice time saw Vey lead the way with 16:05 followed by Dorsett at 13:35 and Etem getting 13:09 of playing time in his Vancouver debut.
I have to echo the sentiments of Willie Desjardins post-game when the coach said it was just one night, but he liked Etem’s hustle and pointed out the fact he drew three penalties including the hooking call on the ageless Jaromir Jagr that led to the overtime winner. In that sense, Etem’s night certainly finished better than it started. Just nine seconds after hopping over the boards for his first shift as a Canuck, Etem was on the ice for the Panthers opening goal. The final line for Etem in his Canucks debut: 2 shots on goal, 2 hits and 2 takeaways. It’s hard to imagine he did anything to hurt his chances of staying in the line-up.
The Canucks will take wins any way they can get them, but it is interesting to note that they have just four regulation victories in their past 20 games (vs Buffalo, NY Rangers, Tampa Bay and Carolina). The Canucks are 8-8-4 in those 20 games, but their opponents are 12-4-4 in those same games meaning teams the Canucks have faced have picked up at least a point in 16 of those 20. You don’t want to be a team that gives up standings points almost every night out.
*the Canucks are back out on the road for six in a row starting on Thursday in Washington. When they come off this trip, they’ll have 33 games to go and 20 of those will be on home ice
*it’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks depth chart shakes down with the pending return of Brandon Sutter. Assuming for the sake of this argument that all available Canucks forwards are healthy, it would appear Sutter will slide into the third line centre role. I don’t see the Canucks breaking up Baertschi-Horvat-Vrbata so perhaps Sutter will centre Etem and Virtanen? Then the fourth line will be some combination of Dorsett, Prust, Cracknell, McCann and Burrows. I’ve been enthused with the play of the youngsters over the past week and have liked McCann all season. I know the team has a plan for McCann, I hope it involves finding a way to get him a few more looks in offensive situations
*10:30am UPDATE with Andrey Pedan now re-assigned to Utica*
I’m not sure what the Canucks are doing with Andrey Pedan. Earlier in the year, the team said Frank Corrado had to play and that’s why they tried to slip him through waivers to get to the minors. Pedan is with the big club, but has played just twice in the past month. So he’s not playing here which means he’s not playing in Utica either right now. He’s a young defenseman who didn’t look out of place in his two games against Edmonton and LA out of the Christmas break, but then couldn’t find a way back into the line-up despite the struggles of others. With Luca Sbisa nearing a return, I imagine Pedan will be dispatched to the farm soon. The guy needs to see some game action. I just wish it he’d been given a little longer look at the NHL level
Thanks as always for stopping by this space. It’s my sincere hope that you leave here having found a few items you won’t find anywhere else. If you have any comments or questions about the Canucks or about this blog, by all means let me hear from you. And if you are able to share this blog via your social media networks and help me expand its reach, I would be grateful.