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A "Numbers" Game Recap ( 4-1 W )

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The Canucks had lost the last three games they had played against the Wings. The two teams play a similar puck possession style that can lead to entertaining games like we saw tonight, and the HNIC crew had almost only nice tings to say about the local heroes for a change. Probably because Healy was in The Peg.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Canucks welcomed back Zack Kassian tonight, as he took the pace of Linden Vey with Richardson and Matthias.  That line has some size, speed, and definitely could be interesting once they develop some chemistry. Yet the "numbers" say they had a tough game, and they were under pressure at times, depending on the match up.

Kassian was a -3 as far as 5 on 5 Corsi Events go, and Ritchie and Mattthias were even a bit worse, at -6 and -4 respectively. ( The hockeystats.ca page has it all here, as usual ).  But there were times in this game where they were simply too much for the Red Wings, especially when it was the younger defensemen out there.  The same goes for the Horvat line.

They had about four shifts where they were out against the Datsyuk line.  While there were times when the Magic Man ( Datsyuk was the game leader with 7 shots ) made the magic he does, the 4th line had more than their fair share of time in the other end against those very same best players for the visitors.   Bo Horvat was a -7 at 5 on 5 in the Corsi Event column, worst on his team, and far worse than his linemates. Burrows was a +1, and Dorsett a -2.  But Bo had a decent game.  He had a great chance just denied by a defender check, had some decent play against a player like Datsyuk, and was 3 for 6 ( had a block too ) in his 8:41 TOI.  Numbers are fun ( and the basis for this game recap ) but they only tell a part of the story.

Numbers To Remember

30 - As in Ryan Miller.  Whether it was early, denying his brother early, or throughout the game, robbing Datsyuk numerous times.  He was just as good against everyone else.  There were some bonafide ten bell saves all over the ice.  The Canucks had some great play at times throughout, and it was only a 30-24 edge in shots.  But that third period, the Wings had a 12-8 edge in shots, and pressed the play hard.  Miller was excellent throughout, with only a Tatar shot with the empty net advantage getting by him.   Miller was the difference in net tonight, getting his first win in a while against these guys, and his 20th of this season. The .967 save % tonight will help goose the numbers back up.  Carry on Mr. Miller.  He is locked in and reacting so well lately.

23 - Speaking of players who are playing well, and looking confident out there, may I present to you, one Alexander Edler.  It is like he responded to the Torts year by reading The Secret, and everything he puts out there is going right.  He was a -6 as far as the Corsi Events go, but that might have to do with playing against the very best players all the time.  His 25:53 TOI led his team.  He had a block.  His 1 hit belies the biggest one of the night, one he just missed on Datsyuk.  His goal on his team leading 5 shots ( all on net, take that haters ! No broken sticks either ! ) was an absolute #EdlerBomb.  It seems weird that he was a -1 on a night where the team scored 4 goals ( 2 PP, 2 empty netters ), and his 3 giveaways credited to him was a team worst ( 1 worse than Juice ) on the night, but from the notes I took, most were recovered on.  He had a good game.  The man is a credit to the power of positive thinking.  You go Eddie...

14 - Speaking of players who often get talked about, a moment for the man who made the most of his 12:44 TOI ( of which 3:15 was on the PP, and 1:18 was on the PK ).  He only had 1 shot on net ( 2 misses ).  But there were moments where he had that 4th line outplaying the Detroit Big Boys, and Willie Desjardins put him out ( again, this time with Richardson and Dorsett ) as part of defensive zone faceoffs.  But where he was a surgeon was on the power play.  He is a big part of it going 2 for 4 on the night.  His screens just get better and better at screenign the goalie, and he used position perfectly to pin Howard deep in the net on the Edler goal.  We know he is good on the PK, and was once again.  But listen to the coach talk about him here. Burrows has helped turn a moribund power play around recently, and he makes the fourth line more dangerous, while still contributing on special teams.  He really is "Mr. Everything". ( and probably was robbed of a point. I think he got a touch on the puck before Vrbata rifled it on the second power play goal, but it was called as unassisted. )

Quick Hitters

#3 and #9 - The Canuck penalty kill has been amazing lately ( 3 for 3 tonight ) , so it is no surprise that they are third overall as far as penalty kill percentage.  But did you know that your Vancouver Canucks are now the purveyors of the ninth best power play good on 2 of 4 tries tonight )  in the NHL ? Just imagine when the 2nd unit starts burying them !

200 and 201 - Henrik Sedin got the long awaited 200th goal on a shot from his own side of centre, and the second empty netter for 201, he skated into the net.  But he also had an assist on the Edler goal, and finished with 3 points, while Daniel had 3 helpers.  Congrats Hank. Shorty does not have to talk about it anymore now.

31 to 30 - The Canucks ended up one better on the draw than one of the best teams in that stat so far this year, but it was the 12-7 edge after one, and the 20-16 after two that helped the home team carry the play, while getting outshot two of three periods.  The Wings came on hard, but credit everyone that takes draws, but in particular Richardson. He went 4 for 6 in the third, and most of those were in the defensive zone.

+4 - Ryan Stanton was the best defender, as far as Even Strength Corsi Events go.  His partner Bieksa was +2, as they were the most effective tandem on the night as far as the numbers go.  Tanev and Edler ( -3 and - 6 ) may have had tougher competition, and neither pairing got as burned as Sbisa and Weber ( at even strength, they were -7 and -10 respectively ) on the night.  The defense had to play against some crafty players, and chances are going to happen.  But watching this game, every one of them, even the worst by the numbers Weber, made a smart play or a lot of them, under pressure.  Hell, Sbisa even looked dependable in the third !

17 - Three of his five shot attempts forced a save, and the goal on the power play was a sniper's one.  After walking out of the corner on the nice Sedin passing, he made no mistake on the puck that got back to him off of that.  He was noticeable at both ends of the ice as well.

9 - Zack Kassian had a decent return.  That line looked a load at times, and he was OK for his first game back.  Some PP time ( 2:30 ) butressed his 10:49 TOI, and he only had 1 missed shot.  But he also had 3 hits as well.

27- The Beast.  Whatever Shawn Matthias has been doing, the rest of the guys should copy.  There were about 3-4 times where they could not handle him. He drew 2 of the 4 power plays himself ( Kassian another, as that line proved too much physically for the Wings defenders ) with his overpowering of various Red Wings.

+2 - That is where Henrik Sedin sat at the end of this one on the 5 on 5 Corsi table, as the Wings pressed hard in the third.  They were pretty damn good in the second too. Even as the Canucks had three straight power plays ( 1 for 3 on them ), the Wings outshot the Canucks in the definitive "long change" period.  Of all the forwards, only Burrows and Higgins, at +1, and Vrbata and Daniel Sedin, at even, were above the 50 / 50 line as far as Corsi went.

11 to 5 - I enjoy a hit as much as the next guy. In fact, long ago, it was what I was known for in rep hockey.  I enjoy the physical play.  Even if it is a bit low ( I had to look a few times to make sure that I was not looking at the wrong window, and that was indeed the game total ), this was one of those games where the players had the puck, or lost it, quickly.  Sometimes, the guy just does not have it long enough to lose it by getting hit.  ( and sometimes, teams just play without the meatheadedness. Just a thought... )

The Canucks deserved this win.  Their goaltender was one of the best players on the ice, and each line had their moments.  In a game like this one, with plenty of back and forth, and such skill and creativity on the ice, both sides had chances to shine.  There were a great number of "moments" that could have changed the outcome.

The Canucks were blocked 10 times, and had 12 themselves ( Tanev had 4 to lead the team ), with the misses almost a wash at 11-10 Vancouver.  Add it all up, and the 52 to 45 Detroit edge in total Corsi Events gave us almost a hundred shot attempts.

That is fun to watch.  I miss the Wings in the West.  They should be in the East, because, you know, geography.  But there is always the threat of a game like this one breaking out, and when it happens, all the talent moving and thinking at a high rate of speed sure is fun to watch.

A Personal Number

4 - As in four points in the Score Predicting Wizards standings, in the past three games.  If we had a POTW award like the NHL, I am sure it would be mine...

See you next weekend ( or maybe sooner, I have a few ideas for non game recap posts bubbling away in the ol' cerebellum ), and enjoy the highlights here.

It is fun to watch two teams play the game like that.