Breaking news! Cory Schneider is pretty good. The redheaded wunderkind affectionately known as Gingerbricks won his fifth straight and has given up only 4 goals in that span. He has stopped 164 of 168 shots in those five games, for an unreal save percentage of .976. The Canucks haven’t seen this kind of goaltending since, well, last season when Luongo won 6 straight starts, stopping 151 of 160 shots. Huh, I guess he’s pretty good too. In this particular game, Cory Schneider set a career-high with 47 saves. I watched every save because I watched this game.
Surprisingly, this was the Canucks first ever regulation win against Curtis Sanford, who had a 5-0-2 record in his career against the Canucks. All of those games came with the St. Louis Blues in the two seasons prior to the Canucks signing him to “back up Roberto Luongo”, a.k.a. “not play against them any more.”
Sanford has been on a hot streak recently, giving up only one goal in 4 of his 7 starts this season and currently has a .941 save percentage and a 1.61 goals against average. When career backups post stellar numbers like that over a short span of time, it should give Canucks fans pause before anointing Cory Schneider the greatest goaltender of all time.
I’m just kidding around: Schneider is on an unreal run and, quite frankly, I hope it continues throughout the entire season. I would be entirely happy with Schneider becoming the Canucks’ number one goaltender if it meant that he was going to post a .976 save percentage through the rest of the season, but that’s just not going to happen. Let’s enjoy the ride because, like Disney’s Alien Encounter, it won’t be around forever.
The Blue Jackets out-shot the Canucks 48 to 34 in this game, but don’t be too alarmed by those totals. The Blue Jackets tend to direct a lot of pucks on net from all areas of the ice rather than working for better scoring chances; it’s one of the main complaints Jackets’ fans have about Scott Arniel’s coaching style. In addition, after the first period the Canucks enjoyed a two-goal lead for all but a minute and a half of the game and could afford to drop back and play a more defensive style.
Still, giving up 22 shots in the third period is, like Marxism, not ideal.
Daniel Sedin, sick of seeing his brother ahead of him in goals, opened the scoring with a dazzling bit of wizardry with the assistance of his apprentice, Alex Edler. If there’s any doubt that Edler’s point shot was actually a pass, take a look at the velocity. Edler can shoot the puck around 100 mph, while that “shot” was an 87-year-old grandma in the slow lane on the highway. Daniel spun off his defender while simultaneously cushioning the pass with his skate before roofing the puck into the open net. Daniel should be wary, however, of asking Edler to fetch pails of water.
Take a look at the faceoff that leads to Daniel’s goal: it’s clearly a set play. Henrik wins the draw to the side, where Daniel immediately tips the puck back behind Henrik to Alex Burrows, who went straight to that spot off the draw. Burrows’ defender is completely bamboozled, as he skates aimlessly towards the net, unsure what’s happening. Because of his confusion, Henrik is double-teamed, leaving Salo and Edler all sorts of room at the point, allowing Edler the time and space to get creative.
Cody Hodgson has all sorts of offensive talent, but he’s had a couple terrible giveaways in the defensive zone recently as he seems reticent to make the simple play. Schneider bailed him out of his worst giveaway yet, as he set up Mark Letestu directly in front of the crease just a few minutes into the game. He also went just 1-for-8 on faceoffs. Unsurprisingly, he had the second lowest ice time on the team, just above Aaron Volpatti. Hodgson has played fewer than 14 minutes in his last 6 games and has just 2 points in that stretch: is it possible that he’s the odd man out when Mason Raymond comes back into the lineup?
Speaking of players whose names get mispronounced by announcers, John Garrett still calls Schneider “Snyder.” It’s possible that Garrett is a really big fan of Luongo and wishes Schneider would get eaten by a giant snake demon, but that’s just speculation.
The Blue Jackets had a chance to tie the game with 6-and-a-half minutes remaining, as their top line got sprung on a 3-on-1 against the double-slide-prone Kevin Bieksa. Through the neutral zone and over the Canucks’ blue line, everything looked perfect for the Jackets: Jeff Carter had the puck, the sizable Vinny Prospal was driving the net and forcing Bieksa to go with him, and Rick Nash was trailing in behind, just waiting for the pass. Then everything went wrong: both Prospal and Nash stopped skating and drifted aimlessly towards the net, allowing Bieksa to take both of them away as passing options simultaneously. Carter’s only remaining option was to shoot and Schneider made a much easier save than expected.
The fourth line was superb in this game, spending several shifts entirely in the offensive zone and setting the tone physically. Lapierre had a game-high 6 hits, with Volpatti contributing 4 of his own. Weise was only credited with 1 hit, but it was as solid as the Bluth Company. Have you seen their business model?
David “Bluth” Booth put the Canucks up by two late in the first period. Dan Hamhuis picked up an assist on the goal, continuing his hot streak, by throwing the puck towards the net from the boards. Higgins got a piece of the puck, causing it to deflect wildly in front of Sanford while Booth out-battled Fedor Tyutin to get to the rebound and backhand it in.
The second period was refreshingly boring, given the way the Canucks have occasionally struggled in the middle frame. Sure, there were 26 shots in the period, but it all seemed mostly harmless, like the earth.
I’m a little worried about John Shorthouse. He referred to the Canucks’ opponents as “Nashville” several times and then in the third called them the “Black Jackets.” I’m afraid he might be going a little Bob Cole on us.
Hey Edler, you might want to look behind you once in a while, just in case Sammy Pahlsson is sneaking in. Sure, the Blue Jackets were killing a penalty at the time, but they’re going to take some chances when they’re down by two. That was the only goal of the game scored on a powerplay. The cynic would say that the Canucks’ powerplay was terrible while the optimist would say that the Canucks’ even-strength play has improved. The realist – me – would say both are true.
Okay, they only technically scored each of their goals at even-strength. Kesler’s one-timer goal came just 4 seconds after the Canucks’ powerplay expired. Kesler broke his stick in a collision with James Wisniewski just after the Canucks gained the zone and almost immediately (he paused to throw his hands up in the air at the refs) skated to the bench for a new twig. While this should have been great news for the Columbus penalty kill, the Sedins kept the play alive. The Blue Jackets, like the 5 foolish virgins, were unprepared for Kesler’s return, leaving him wide open for Burrows’ perfect setup.
Incidentally, the reason it was Alex Burrows setting up Ryan Kesler’s one-time is because Salo tweaked his groin in the second or third period. He had only 4 shifts in the third period, with 3 of them lasting less than 20 seconds, and went to the dressing room about halfway through the third. Salo played just 13 seconds of the powerplay leading to Kesler’s goal before coming off in favour of Burrows. I think I speak for all Canucks fans (particularly a certain segment of Canucks fans on Tumblr) when I say that I sincerely hope he is not seriously injured and that he doesn’t miss any time out of the lineup. The guy has more body breaks than CTV.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]