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An "Ortio-d" Game Recap ( 1-0 L )

The Canucks are going for their tenth straight against the "hardest working team in the NHL". As the flu runs it's course through the lineup, changes abound on Willie's Whiteboard. Not sure he has anything on there for six ( Was it six? I lost count... ) posts and a hot rookie goaltender however.

Rich Lam/Getty Images

Frank Corrado was in, for the first time in three callups.  He took Weber's place on the blue line.

Higgins was back from the flu, pushing Linden Vey to the pressbox.  But here is the thing about flu season when you are playing games all the time.  Everyone is probably fighting it to a lesser or greater degree, and even though they are feeling like ####, they make a lot of money to perform.  Such was reputed to be the case in net, as both goalies were reportedly fighting it.  Eddie Lack is the one that was feeling well enough to strap the pads on.  His game was fine, but for one weak moment.

But let's face it, this game was all about the Flame goaltender, and their incredible luck.  To hear Garry Galley tell it on HNIC, they were an incredibly resilient forechecking bunch of demons, but the truth was another matter.  That is Hockey Night in Canada for you.  There is the game on the ice, and the one in their minds.  That one has unicorns, fantasies, and anyone that plays the Canuck is a magical wizard with the puck or a doughty defender of the realm, repelling all invaders with extreme valour, however.

It does not seem to matter which team we get either.  To hear them tonight was to wonder what game they were watching at times.  They barely spoke about the dominance ( Blue Wave after Blue Wave crashing across the Flame blue line ) of one team to prattle on for minutes when the Flames would get a rare shift of zone time.  I mean, Galley called their forecheck "dominant all game" at one point about half way through the second period, at a point in the game they were getting outshot 31 - 14 after two period...just sayin' !!!

Don't get me wrong.  Their only goal was a nice play off the rush, beating the 4th line and  getting around Stanton on the ice, and beating Bieksa to boot.  They had a couple of moments. But let's just say those seemed to get a lot of play from the play by play crew, and leave it at that.

It was a nice enough play, though I would posit that Eddie Lack was there, and should have had that.  It was a flutterer that wobbled in off the glove instead, and the Flames, at the 5:38 mark of the first, had a one goal lead.  Now, I am not saying that they just lined up at the blue line after that. Not totally.  They had some zone time, and even outshot the Canucks 9 - 8 in the third.( they also had 11 blocked shots in at the end of the second, before showing that they are the league leaders in that stat for a reason, blocking 12 in the 3rd alone ).

But their zone time was mainly one and done, and their best chances were off of turnovers. ( the worst of those by Sbisa forcing a great save by Lack )  It was the Canucks that were dominant.  Check the numbers and that sexy Corsi chart and graph here from out friends at

Standard stats here. I use ESPN, because I like the layout and how they keep all the categories.

Some Interesting Numbers From Tonight :

- Chris Tanev was a team best + 21 as far as 5 on 5 Corsi Events went. His partner Edler was a +19. Both were about two - three times as effective as Sbisa ( + 9 at 5 on 5 ) and Bieksa ( + 7 ).  The guy that had a solid night in a losing effort was Frank Corrado at +11.  His showed that bomb of a shot on a couple of occasions too ( tied for the lead on the blue line with Tanev at 3 shots on and 2 misses each ).  Perhaps Weber can draw back in for Stanton instead of everyone's fave whipping boy Sbisa in the next one ? Stanton was a team worst +3 at five on five.

- For the blue line, anyhow.  I am not good enough at the math of advanced analytics to explain how Kassian and Matthias can be -1 in that stat on a night where their centre was a +7.  They were the only dashes on a dominant night.

- Hit stats are always fun to interpret.  The Flames fan ( who will crow mightily tonight, as they avoided losing their tenth straight to the Canucks tonight ) will say that they dominated the Canucks physically. Perhaps that is one way to look at a 30 to 10 hit count.  Three to one is impressive.  It also shows just how much of a dominant team the Canucks were on the night. Teams that have the puck the entire night don't need to hit much to get it back. That generalization can be fuzzy at times, and this game did get a bit chippy in spots.  But when you are at a 73% Corsi or % to 37 % on the night. It tells you one team had the puck a #### of a lot more than the other.  77 shot attempts to 46...

- Our one All Star Radim Vrbata had one of his two attempts hit the net tonight.  His best chance other than that was blocked.  He was reunited with the Sedins, and that line was pretty good, I suppose.  I thought the second line was better when Alexandre Burrows joined them.  He had a night.  Playing up with the Twins until halfway through the second, he led the team with 5 of his 6 attempts hit the net, many forcing great saves.  That led the team.  His +11 at five on five was OK too.  I think you keep that 2nd line together, and leave Dream with the Twins on the whiteboard Willie, even if the entire team came up snake eyes tonight.

- Jannik Hansen led the team with a + 20 at five on five, and while Corsi is not as good for one game samples instead of over a more significant length of time, but a + 20 was better than all forwards by at least seven, and only one less than Tanev's +21. Defensemen usually are higher than forwards as far as shot attempts for and against go.  A forward that much higher than the rest of the guys is eye brow raising.

Player of the Game, with an Assist From the Puck Gods ;

The goaltender for the Flames deserves his story told this night too.  After a callup and across country trip rivaling Steve Martin's famous one. Joni Ortio faced 36 shots and stopped them all.  He was square to the shooter, and solid on rebounds all night.  The one goal that got by him was an obvious high stick by Henrik Sedin ( and a thought on that. Galley was an idiot most of the night, but he was right on that one.  If Hank just lets that puck drop, there is a very significant chance if falls off the goalie and into the net ).

Six posts though. Six that got by him but not the thin red defender.  That sound that is music to a goaltender's ears.  "PING"!.  Give the young man total credit for a job well done.  He played very well, and broke an ugly run for his team against our boys.   It is sure a game of inches.  One of those could have went off the post and in, no ? The Puck Gods must be angry with us or something

A Few More Digits and Thoughts to Ponder ;

- The Flames gave the puck away three times less than the Canucks ( 12-4 for the Canucks in that one ), and the Canucks were almost two to one ( 9-5 for the Canucks on that more positive stat ) on takeaways.  The Flames did get more chances off of our turnovers than visa versa. At least that is what my eyes saw. Eddie Lack had to make some great saves after long periods of inaction tonight.

- Someone else will have to explain how a team as dominant, and in possession of the puck as the Canucks does not draw ONE call tonight.  The Flames had two power plays to zero tonight.  The first was a joke ( Ortio backed into Richardson, and then embellished the shit out of it, arms flailing.  It was embarrassing, and I hope they get a call from the Diving Committee. Yeesh ! ), and the second one, Sbisa did less than the Flames were while pinned in their own end all night.  It was a bad call, on a night of questionable calls.  The one on Bieksa, for instance, Granlund held his stick the entire play, and yet they made it four on four.  How is that possible ?  It was not just the refs. The linesmen stopped a possible two on zero ( maybe one...still. ;-) by Higgins and Burrows after Wideman tripped over the puck at centre, and replays looked to show that they blew that one.  I guess sometimes the breaks do not include just the ones that hit the thin red defenders and bounce out instead of in.

- 38 to 25 on draws, led by Nick Bonino going 11 for 17. No Canuck was under 50 %. The 24th best team in F/O% totally torched the 28th best team in the NHL. Yeah Us !

Interlude of Fun and a Possible Allegory for Tonight ?

This starts a lean period for me on the game recaps.  Sean will be flying the plane for all but one game on the upcoming two week spanning road trip ( I get the Canes ! ), and then the lucky bugger gets the Ducks on the 27th, and I get the Sabres to end the month.  I'll be posting here and there over those weeks though.

Like maybe a look at how the Canucks still have a bit of work to do. The five gamer coming up should be fun.  It starts with one of the best teams in the NHL in the Preds, and then there are a few possible points there in games against some weaker teams like the Flyers and Canes, and maybe hey can steal something against the Bolts, and pay back Lui's team in a Florida Two Step.

But even with tonight's loss, the 10-4-2 in the division so far ( compare that to 12-13-3 in the entire year in the Pacific last year ! Standings here... )

Check those numbers again.  There is still a lot of hockey to be played, but we can see that the Canucks have some room to move up, if they can execute.  If you add the loser points as losses, the Canucks are now 23 - 17 ( 3 OTL's ), which is pretty good compared to the division leader, at 26-16 ( 6 loser points ). Look at the rest of the division though. LA ?  19- 23 ( with 10 loser points the most by far ). The Sharks lead the division play off contenders with 16 regulation losses, and are 22 - 21, with 16 of their losses in regulation.  That is the same as the Flames.

The Flames got within two points of the Canucks with the win tonight ( with three more games played ), but that 18 losses in regulation is only bested in futility by the Coyotes ( 16- 25, with 21 reg losses ) or the laughable Oilers at 10 - 32, with only 9 of those 32 generating loser points.  That leaves some time, room, and there is opportunities at points on the upcoming road trip to be had.  It could be worse !

I will ponder those and other things in the coming weeks, but I leave you in Sean's capable hands for next week.  The team is pretty good ( 12-6-2 on the road compared to 11-8-1 on home ice ) out on the road.  See you next Friday.