Before I do get into the digits, a word on the officials today. At a time in the NHL where they are all getting the "biz" from every turn, the officials today turned in a strong performance.
That is not to say that I agreed with everything they called, because of course not. When Dustin Brown is allowed to get that call with what turned out to be 4.7 seconds left, it cannot be called perfect. But against a team where Brown, and Williams, were trying to draw a call on almost every shift, and other events ( case in point, the two run ins with the Sedins with about 7 minutes left. The defenseman ( I think it was Muzzin ) initiates the contact with Daniel and grabs his stick to himself to try and get the whistle. Full disclosure, the play by Henrik 10 seconds after did look like a hook though!), it was tough. Both teams have that rep, and both teams played hard most the game and did not try to draw calls. But when they did, they definitely did. Good on the officials for seeing through the noise for the signal. ( For the record also, the Kings, especially Richards, really let Drew down today. After his little speech after the Coyotes game, it was the home team that was chatting up and arguing with the guys with the orange armbands today )
The refs realized what kind of game this was and let them play it however. It was physical game, with 71 total hits, the Kings throwing 36 to 35 for the visitors. Mainly, except for the aforementioned events, the calls were the calls.
With a game where supposedly both teams dive ( and of course I can be called biased, but I thought the home team led in that category myself...but everyone dives, right ? ) a blatant hook from Henrik Sedin is not called, and although a penalty was assessed on the play, how the NHL Dept of Player Safety can live up to its name when the very same captain of the Vancouver Canucks, a superstar and a past Art Ross winner is given two cross checks to the head without a call in a scrum is beyond me!
But that is whining, I suppose, and I don't want to do that, right? Let's just say it was a difficult game for the officials and they came through it pretty good!
On to the fun. Let's see what the beancounters have in store for us today!
21 - The definition of a giveaway in the NHL is "when a players' own action results in a loss of possession to the opposing team. Usually, the stat of takeaways and giveaways is slightly nebulous, living in the same neighborhood as hits in some rinks. Its not perfect. It sometimes gets confused with "takeaways", which is " by definition a takeaway occurs when pressure from the defending team results in a defending player gaining possession of the puck". Both definitions are open to some homerism, and just plain old "I saw it different than you because I did ". But in a game where the whole raison de e'tre of the home team is winning pucks along the boards by outplaying the smaller opposition, the Kings had, by the stats guy's eye, 21 giveaways to 5 for the visitors. That they were credited with only 6 takeaways to 2 for the Canucks was interesting. Two. When the definition is about winning the puck with pressure, and it seemed to my eyes, at least, that the Canucks were doing exactly that, the stats guy saw it more as the Kings were obviously incompetent idiots bumbling away the puck like a bunch of beer league drunks. See? Interpretation!
33 - The Team fellows tell us that the Canucks tied a team record today with a low of 33 total shots in a game. They had 13 shots. Even with the generous "shots attempted", the Canucks only had 27 of those ( 6 LA blocks, 8 shots wide ) compared to 45 for the home team ( 15 that went wide, and 10 there were Vancouver blocks ). Without taking a tally of scoring chances like some other blogs do, I would say that L.A won that stat pretty handily by the "eye test". Because it looked like the Canucks only had about one or two of those a period! But that is the beauty of "low event" hockey. Its all about chipping pucks, being strong along the boards, making that tip at centre to get the puck deep, and rolling lines...
387 to 371 - When you add up all the shifts, that is the number of times a Canuck jumped the boards compared to when a King did. Remember in the last one, where I was showing how the ice time was distributed for the Canucks , and how it was fairly even? Well, they did that again, with the top defenseman being Dan Hamhuis at 23:11 on 24 shifts. His partner Jason Garrison had 2 more shifts and 3.5 minutes less. The top forward was Daniel Sedin at 19:39 on 23 shifts, while Jannik Hansen had 26 shifts and only 16:45 TOI. Of course, some of that is situational and special teams, but look at the top guys for the Kings. Drew Doughty led everyone with 32 shifts and 26:59 TOI, while uber rookie Slava Voynov had only 1 less shift and 1:51 less on the blue line. Brown and Kopitar had 24 and 22 shifts respectively, and both were over 20 minutes ( 21:11 and 20:46 ), the only guys on their team to do so. Basically, the Kings leaned heavily on some guys more than others, while the Canucks rolled four lines when they could. We know which way works better in "Low Event Hockey".
4 - Andrew Alberts played tough hockey all game, and led his team blueline with 4 hits in only 16:25 of ice time. What is interesting is how he had over 5 minutes less than his partner for the vast majority of the game, Kevin Bieksa, who had 4 more shifts than the 22 Big Albert had. ( Its also 3 more shifts and 4 more seconds than Keith Ballard, but that is another story! ) To me though, I am amazed that he drew nary a giveaway tonight. Even by the most lax usage of the definition above, he seemed to struggle all night with the puck in his own end. A block and a missed shot completed his night, but it has to be said. He struggled with the puck. Good thing he had Juice for a wingman.
#32 - It would be easy to single out the entire "2nd line of Speed" here, and the rest of the team all played their roles. The #1 line had some tough shifts at both ends of the ice, eating up the minutes and cycling like the champs they are at that particular style of play. Everyone, like I said, played some hard minutes and contributed to the victory. But my jersey # tonight is the Dutch Gretzky, Dale Weise. ( honorable mention to the entire 2nd line though. They had the goal, and 5 of the 13 shots on net ! ) Digger Dale has a team leading 5 hits, and ended up with more shifts and minutes than situational centre Maxim Lapierre, with 20 shifts and 13:02 TOI. ( and only 40 seconds of that was special teams time ) Its time for folks to stop underrating this guy. He skates hard, he plays hard, and he plays the smart "low event" hockey his coach is stressing right now. Hell, he even managed a shot on goal!
#8 - It has to be acknowledged. Christopher Tanev is a "stone cold groove man", as Homer Simpson would say. He deserves the limelight too. With 23 shifts and 18:31 of ice time today, there were others with more time and all on the blue line. But it was telling that, when AV and Bones shook up the blue line pairings a bit, it was the man I have taken to calling "Gumby" that pulled extra duty. Seriously though, the guy gets run along the boards all the time, including a heavy hit that deserved the call from Penner...and he just gets up. He looks like Gumby with those arms and legs akimbo as he takes the hit, but man, does he know how to take a hit. No one gets him square. And they are trying. Every opponent knows how cool #8 is. Today, he actually had 2 blocks and was a +1, with a hit and a giveaway to his credit ( he gets a giveaway and Albie doesn't? OK then )...but its more what your eyes tell you with Tanev. They are telling you the same thing the coaches' eyes are...that the man doesn't have a pulse out there under pressure.
19/43 - The visiting team only won 19 of the 43 faceoffs tonight. I think I remember the broadcast saying they had lost 8 of 10 defensive zone faceoffs before going about .500 on those after the Shorty Shoutout in the mid third period. That may have something to do with the kinda horrible 1 for 6 that Jordan Schroeder went in the circle, but I think most of those were against Kopitar, and the one he cleanly won was a very important one after an icing in the last few minutes or so. So, a bit of redemption. Once again Andrew Ebbett was OK, going 50% on 12 draws, which gave him more coach confidence than Lapierre late, as he went 3 of 12 today. The champ for the Canucks was Sir Henrik of O'Town, who won 9 of the 16 draws he was out on. ( "Oh Captain My Captain!" )When is Ryan Kesler back again?
So, after a hard fought game against a big time rival, what are we to expect tomorrow? I for one will be guessing a higher score on Sean's thread myself, as the Avs don't play the low event game the Canucks did, that the Kings default to, and that the usual defensive suspects revel in. This should be more to the liking of the guys that like to wheel up front for the Canucks, as the Avs will also be playing a back to back, and are 27th in the NHL at 3.14 GA a game.
But that is just me. I am hoping for more goals, even if the coach is hoping for another game like this one tomorrow night. We'll see if low event hockey wins out over the up and down that these two teams can play when they get together.