Willie Desjardins said he wanted to return to Dallas and bring the hurt along with him. He didn't get that. If there's a silver lining after tonight's loss, it's that WD got a much better idea of what Western Conference hockey is like once you get out of Alberta.
The first goal of the night started innocently enough; the Canucks were deep in the Dallas zone when Chris Higgins was stripped of the puck by Trevor Daley and Dallas darted up the ice, Ryan Garbutt (yes, that's a real name, stop snickering) knuckled a puck towards Ryan Miller and off Alex Burrows for an own goal. That was a pretty good indication of how the rest of the night would unfold.
With Dorsett in the box for interference, the Dallas power play went to work and Erik Cole had all the room in the world to make it 2-0 with a few minutes left in the first frame. With the period almost over, Richardson lost a face off (more on that in a second) and Dallas broke in, Tanev got whipped around and crashed into Ryan Miller, leaving a empty net for Tyler Seguin to make it 3-0.
20 minutes in and you couldn't have been shamed for turning the TV off and going outside. Hell I did. Luckily my phone was with me to continue the horror show in the form of ESPN alert messages. Technology!
The clownshoes theme from the first period continued early in the second when, in the opening minute, Jamie Benn slapped a wobbly puck at Miller which hit his blocker, then the knob of his goalie stick and finally in. Les sigh.
Less than a minute after that, Dan Hamhuis and his cagey cage couldn't keep the puck in the Dallas zone against Garbutt who zipped down the ice, was stopped by Miller but found Cody Eakin trailing who made it 5-0. Thus ended Miller's long evening with Eddie Lack entering the game, who eventually surrendered another tally to Erik Cole.
I suppose another silver lining is, unlike last year, the Canucks didn't completely roll over and play dead when the game was thoroughly out of control. Vrbata would put the good guys on the board shortly after the Eakin goal and Kassian added his second of the year just after the midway point of the game. After the refs huddled up, Jannik Hansen would score his first of the year in the third to bring the Canucks to a somewhat respectable 6-3 final. Just before the Hansen goal, Vancouver has a Henrik Sedin PPG disallowed with Dank in the crease.
As you can see above, the Canucks weren't lacking offensive chances. Lehtonen's 43 saves were both a season high and six shots off his career high.
One on the one hand, you could point to Tanev taking out Miller, Burrows own goal and the Benn goal as flukes in their own right, and #fancystats certainly paint Vancouver's efforts in a better light than the scoreboard, but a few things haunted their effort, beginning with faceoffs. They finished at a gaudy 27% after the first period with Eakin almost single-handedly schooling every Canuck he lined up against. Only Richardson finished above 50% (10/19) while Vey and Matthias both ended with 33%. Even if these trends continue, I don't know how long Benning can go before he's forced to address this blatant weakness.
Secondly, even with the game out of reach, the Canucks continued a slow march to the penalty box. You could argue it was partly due to dealing with the size and speed of their opponent, but if you're down by a few goals already, can't win from the dot and you're shorthanded every few minutes, it's a recipe for disaster. They could do themselves a favor in the long run learning how to play the body with getting tagged with an obstruction call, just a thought.
The road doesn't get much better as they head into St. Louis on Thursday, though after tonight it'll be telling what kind of push back WD can muster out of his roster after tonight's effort. Fingers crossed.