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Terrible Call Derails Canucks Comeback Attempt…

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The San Jose Sharks, the league-leading and highest-scoring team in the NHL, visited the Vancouver Canucks Sunday, November 29, 2009.

The game was something of a lackluster affair, with the Canucks looking tired, having played the Edmonton Oilers Saturday, and the Sharks doing everything they could to slow down play. Vancouver scored early on a goal by Kyle Wellwood (just his second of the season) at the 1:52 mark of the first period. Wellwood broke in on a two-on-one with Tanner Glass, after a great feed by Steve Bernier, and put the puck in off the far post with a perfectly placed wrist shot.

The Sharks, however, replied some ten minutes later, with Frazer McLaren scoring his first NHL goal on a cleverly redirected centering feed from the boards to Roberto Luongo’s right. McLaren scored from just outside goalie Roberto Luongo’s blue paint.

San Jose added another goal in the second period, this one coming on the power play when Dan Boyle put in a rebound surrendered by Luongo on a shot by Joe Thornton. The Sharks dominated the period, out-shooting the Canucks 15-4, and the second frame ended with the Sharks leading two to one.

Cue the Canucks’ comeback – they’ve outscored opponents heavily in third period play this season.

Alas, that was not to be. Despite out-shooting San Jose 13-8 in the third period, it was the Sharks who scored twice. Manny Malhotra scored his fifth of the season after finding himself wide open in front of the net and putting a nice backhand move on Roberto Luongo, sliding the puck between the Canucks’ goaltender’s pads. That goal came with just two minutes and thirty-five seconds left in the third period.

Thirteen seconds later, the San Jose Sharks struck again. This time Jamie McGinn raced into an opening directly in front of Luongo in time to put a weak backhand behind the star goalie.

With the score four to one, and with just over two minutes left in the third period, Vancouver tried to mount a comeback – no easy feat against this San Jose team. The Canucks finally put another puck past Sharks’ goalie Evgeni Nabokov when Jannick Hansen redirected a Kyle Wellwood pass from the face-off circle into the net while diving for the puck in the slot.

Unfortunately for Canucks fans, Hansen’s goal came with only seven seconds left.

The game ended in a four to two victory for the visiting San Jose Sharks.

The turning point in the Canucks’ comeback attempt seemed to come on a particularly poor non-call by the linesmen, as the Sharks brought the puck into the Canucks’ zone with 6:44 left in the third. The play was clearly offside, and not by a little – a Sharks player (Joe Thornton) was trying to get out of the Canucks’ zone and was at least eight feet inside that zone when the Sharks Patrick Marleau brought the puck over the blue line.

To top it off, Canuck winger Alex Burrows was called for a hooking penalty on the play – a play which should have been dead as soon as the puck crossed the blue line.

At the very least, it took two crucial minutes away from a possible Canucks comeback while they killed off (successfully) the penalty. It seemed to do more than that, however, shifting momentum squarely to the Sharks.

See the photos below. In the first frame, the puck is approaching the blue line on the stick of Patrick Marleau. In the second frame, the puck is being brought across the blue line, and the stick of the San Jose player (Joe Thornton) is visible on the far right, nearly out of camera range (that’s how far offside this play was). In the third frame, the puck has been brought across the blue line and the Sharks’ player is clearly visible well inside the Vancouver zone. Burrows has yet to be called for the holding penalty at this point.

Sharks' Patrick Marleau carries puck toward Canucks' blue line.


As Marleau brings the puck across the Canucks' blue line, the Sharks' Joe Thornton's stick is visible, to far right of frame. Yes, the play was that far offside.



Puck has now crossed line, and offside Sharks' player (Joe Thornton) is clearly visible at least eight feet inside Canucks' zone.

Written by westcoastsuccess

November 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Vancouver Canucks Peaking at the Right Time?

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In the extremely tight Western Conference (where a mere fourteen points separate twelth place from third place), it might seem difficult to pick a team to emerge from the fray victorious and represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Detroit Red Wings, of course, are perennial favourites (although their defense (and particularly goaltending) looks rather suspect, with five of the other eight seeded teams showing fewer goals against). But what about the teams immediately below Detroit in the standings, notably the San Jose Sharks, the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks?

Points don’t tell the whole story: the Sharks, for example, piled up a ton of points early in the season, but have been struggling of late. Let’s instead take a look at these respective teams’ trending.

Here’s a look at how these teams got to where they are today, 70 games into an 82 game season:


Let’s look a bit more closely at the trending: if we plot each of these teams’ point accumulation over time, one game at a time, and add some regression lines, what does that tell us about where these teams are heading?


Interesting: as we can see, the Sharks are on a downward trend, as are the Blackhaws. The Flames, meanwhile, are trending upward, but not as much as the Canucks.

Next, let’s take ten-game chunks and see what that tells us:


This shows an even starker constrast between the four teams: the Canucks have clearly been firing on all cylinders over the past 20 games, while the other three teams are showing the wear and tear of a long season of high-calibre hockey.

Our conclusion? Look for Vancouver to go deep into the playoffs this year. Detroit has managed to outscore opponents and win games despite a leaky defense; that style of hockey historically doesn’t work in the tighter, lower-scoring and more defense-oriented post-season. Calgary remains a force, however San Jose and Chicago appear to be running out of steam at exactly the wrong time of the season.