The Anaheim Ducks average the fewest shots per game in the NHL and allow the second most. Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Canucks, they were averaging just 26.6 shots per game. If you deal in fancy stats, they have the worst corsi percentage in the league: they get out-shot more than anyone else in the NHL.
They’re the type of team to whom you should not give up 37 shots on goal.
You might be able to guess why I brought this up: the Canucks gave up 37 shots to the Ducks, the most shots the Ducks have managed all season. The Canucks were a mess defensively, giving up scoring chances by the bushel, as they repeatedly struggled to break the puck out of the defensive zone cleanly.
So, against an Anaheim Ducks team that in their first game of the season had just 15 shots on goal, the Canucks allowed Jacob Markstrom to get pelted with pucks. Unsurprisingly, with the way Markstrom has performed lately, several of those pucks went in the net.
And yet, at the end of the game, the Canucks were still in it — still battling, still working, still just one goal down with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. These Canucks might not be a great team overall, but they’re a compelling team to root for because, like Marge’s butt, they won’t quit.
Alternatively, maybe they can’t quit. Perhaps this is some sort of Red Shoes situation, where the Canucks have been cursed with an inability to quit, no matter how hopeless the situation. Even though they might want to quit, they must constantly push for another goal with everything they have.
Hopefully the Canucks can break the curse without cutting their feet off like in the fairy tale. Hans Christian Andersen was kind of the worst.
I watched this game.
- I don’t want to pin the Canucks’ defensive struggles in this game on one player, as it was largely a team effort, but it’s hard to avoid talking about Derrick Pouliot. He was on the ice for all three even-strength goals for the Ducks and two of them could be directly attributed to a turnover he committed. It wasn’t just the goals, though: the Canucks were out-shot 13-5 when he was on the ice and he took a bad penalty that indirectly led to a goal against.
- On the opening goal, Pouliot ended up with the puck on his stick in front of the net after a broken play. Inexplicably, he sent the puck gently up the middle of the ice instead of clearing the puck to safety. It went straight to Ryan Getzlaf, who got fancier than gourmet cat food, putting the puck through his own legs before finishing on the backhand.
- Like Westley wasn’t all dead, Pouliot wasn’t all bad in this game — just mostly bad. Before his teammates could go through his clothes and look for loose change, Pouliot sprung to life, jumping up off the blue line to score the tying goal from a lovely pass by Sam Gagner.
- That was a set play off the faceoff that worked exactly the way the coaches drew it up, which seems to never happen. Everyone rotated to where they were supposed to go, opening up the passing lane through the slot and, when Pouliot jumped up, his check just stood there like an "X" or an "O" on the whiteboard that the coach forgot to move as he was drawing up the play.
- Elias Pettersson didn’t get any points in this game, but the assists will come eventually. Loui Eriksson rung the crossbar off a Pettersson pass in the first period, which won’t help him win over those who don’t think he belongs on Pettersson’s line, even if the shot was an inch away from bardown perfection. To paraphrase a hoary hockey cliche, they don’t ask how close, they ask how many.
- The Canucks’ penalty killing was dreadful in this game, with more missed reads than my kids’ book-a-day reading plan (look, they’re reading, we just forget to fill out the dang piece of paper). Off one Ducks rush, not a single penalty killer covered the front of the net, leaving Jakob Silfverberg all alone in front. Somehow, Markstrom robbed him; unfortunately, it was a moot point, as Ondrej Kase scored seconds later.
- Mercurial Markstrom was out in full force in this game. He made some outright outstanding saves, none better than his two saves on an Andrew Cogliano breakaway late in the second period. With Pouliot way out of position when he was supposed to be the last man back, the Ducks had a 2-on-0. Cogliano kept and shot, but Markstrom turned it aside, then stretched out his right pad to stop the rebound as well.
- Unfortunately, the other side of Markstrom was also evident. Anaheim’s third goal beat Markstrom from a horrible angle on the short side, as Adam Henrique whipped the puck up over his right shoulder. A 6’6” goaltender should not make himself that small in the net. I couldn’t possibly blame Markstrom for this loss given the defensive calamity in front of him, but there are some stops you’ve got to make.
- One of the reasons I’m not fully on board with Jake Virtanen on Pettersson’s wing is that Virtanen too often settles for low percentage shots. Sometimes that approach pays off, however. Off the rush, Virtanen threw a shot towards the net from the boards that hit Troy Stecher. So, when he got the puck back, he did the exact same thing, only this time it hit Goldobin’s skate and deflected into the net. The definition of insanity may be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but sometimes you actually get different results.
- Goldobin’s goal got the Canucks back within one, but another Pouliot turnover returned the two-goal a few minutes later. Under pressure from Nick Ritchie, Pouliot couldn’t get the puck through to Horvat. Two quick passes later and Kalle Kossila tapped in his first NHL goal, because it is the Canucks' lot in life to give opposing players their first goals.
- Somehow, despite two blatant giveaways that led directly to goals, Pouliot wasn’t credited with a single giveaway in this game. Just keep that in mind the next time someone tries to use the giveaways statistic to prove a point.
- The Canucks managed just one shot on goal on the power play, but it went in, so I guess the power play was a resounding success. It wasn’t even a shot, exactly: Horvat simply put his stick on the ice and Goldobin, who must have played a lot of mini-golf growing up to read the angle on the bank shot, sent a hard pass of Horvat’s stick and past Gibson. That pass couldn’t have been more on the money if it was Viola Desmond.
- It doesn’t feel quite fair: earlier in the season, Goldobin wasn’t putting up points, but the team was winning. Now the puck is bouncing Goldobin’s way, but the Canucks keep losing. Clearly the answer is for Goldobin to stop getting points. With his second-straight two-point night, Goldobin now has 11 points in his last 10 games, clearly showing that he has no interest in winning.
- The Canucks have now lost six straight in regulation and have just one win in their last nine games. It’s a losing skid that rivals any from last season, even if it somehow doesn’t feel as bad. Perhaps it’s because it’s still so early in the season, so those hoping the Canucks make the playoffs still have plenty of blank slate ahead to carve out their hopes and dreams. The Canucks still have plenty of time to snap out of their slump and start digging up.
- Even in a loss, the Canucks' broadcasting duo of Johns Shorthouse and Garrett are wonderfully entertaining. After a brief interstitial ad for the movie Bumblebee, Shorthouse revealed that Garrett punched him, saying, "Punch Buggy, no punchbacks!" Garrett innocently defended himself, "It is! It is a Punch Buggy: Bumblee is a Volkswagen."