Shift-by-shift: Jordan Schroeder’s debut

Over four years after being drafted by the Canucks, Jordan Schroeder finally made his NHL debut. It was unspectacular: he didn’t score the gamewinning goal or make a game-saving defensive play. He didn’t even get a shot on net. But he must have done something right: in a tight game that went to the shootout, Schroeder had almost 15 minutes in ice time, including a shift in overtime.

Considering that Alain Vigneault is notoriously stingy with ice time when it comes to young players, getting 14:49 in ice time in a debut is quite impressive. Since I was watching the game as a whole, I didn’t necessarily see everything that Schroeder did during the game and he didn’t have much in the way of a stat line. He finished with 2 PIM, 1 shot attempt blocked, 1 hit, 1 takeaway, and was 1-for-4 in the faceoff circle.

So I decided to go back and watch every single shift from Jordan Schroeder and break them down. After I did so, it became very clear why Vigneault trusted him on the ice: his defensive responsibility.

Schroeder had 19 shifts during the game, 15 at even-strength and 4 on the powerplay.

First Period

1. Schroeder’s first shift comes 1:34 into the first period at even-strength. He wins his first faceoff in the neutral zone. With the puck in the defensive zone, he makes a nice one-touch pass to Raymond on a set breakout.

2. 4:27 into the first period, Schroeder comes out for an offensive zone faceoff, but gets tossed from the circle. This is one of his worst shifts of the game, as he fails to clear the defensive zone when he has an opportunity and later gets knocked off his feet as he tries to shoot the puck and slides heavily into the boards. Still, he showed good positioning and awareness in the defensive zone.

3. This is easily his worst shift, as he loses a battle along the boards with Sven Baertschi while forechecking, then takes a bad holding penalty in the offensive zone while trying to chase him down. Baertschi sold the hold pretty hard, but it was a clear hold that could have led to him getting benched.

4. This was a 2-second long shift, as he came out of the penalty box after the Canucks killed off his penalty, with the whistle blowing right away.

5. 11:10 into the first period, Schroeder comes over the boards and skates hard in on the forecheck. He misses his bodycheck. As the Flames try to break out, Schroeder makes a great interception in the neutral zone, catching an outlet pass with his glove, then feeding Dale Weise for an outside shot as he drove the net.

6. Schroeder comes on at 15:17 into the first with the puck in the defensive zone. He makes a very nice, albeit risky, pass to Chris Tanev in the middle on the breakout. Raymond shoots off the rush and Schroeder is right there for the rebound, but it’s deflected away. Later, as Tanev pinches down the boards, Schroeder covers for him nicely and picks up the puck once it’s cleared and skates it out of the defensive zone, passing it to Keith Ballard for the tip-in and change.

7. With 1 second left and an offensive zone faceoff coming, the Canucks pull Cory Schneider and send Schroeder out. He sets up behind Henrik Sedin for a potential one-timer. Instead, the faceoff goes to Edler, who can’t get the shot off in time.

During the intermission, Schroeder is interviewed by Joey Kenward and says, “I played well that period.” I tend to agree. He had a couple rough shifts early on, particularly the one on which he took a penalty, but he also played some sound positional hockey, created a great turnover in the neutral zone, and facilitated a couple nice breakouts with some good passing.

Second Period

8. Schroeder comes out for his first powerplay shift at 1:25 on the second unit. He drives back the defence with his speed, then passes to Bieksa on a zone entry, but the puck is cleared after Schroeder loses the puck along the boards. On the next zone entry, he dumps the puck in well, getting it past Kiprusoff behind the net, but the puck is again cleared. Once the powerplay ends, he backchecks well and is in position, but is not needed as the defence clears the puck.

9. At even-strength, Schroeder comes on for an offensive zone faceoff at 4:45, which he loses. On the Flames’ breakout, Schroeder once again picks off a pass in the neutral zone, then fights off a check to feed Raymond to enter the zone. He goes to the net as Raymond sets up Ballard for a shot, then picks up the puck behind the net. He shows a little impatience, trying to find Weise in front instead of waiting for a better opportunity.

10. On the powerplay, Schroeder comes on for Zack Kassian and immediately has a 2-on-1 with Daniel Sedin. Schroeder drives the net with his stick on the ice, but Daniel’s pass is deflected away by Mark Giordano. When Daniel finds Raymond in the slot for his goal, Schroeder is at the net. He’s not screening Kiprusoff, but is instead looking for the tip.

11. Schroeder loses an offensive zone faceoff at 9:09. He just misses picking off another pass in the neutral zone, but the puck instead goes the distance for icing. Schroeder stays out for the subsequent faceoff, which he loses again. Shortly after, he takes the body on the forecheck and the puck stays in the zone. He goes to the net and sets up well in front of Kiprusoff, but the puck never finds its way there.

12. There is a long gap in-between shifts for Schroeder here, as the Canucks ran into penalty trouble. He next comes out on the powerplay at 17:29, carrying the puck in on a zone entry with speed, then dropping it nicely to Edler at the point. He passes the puck extremely well during the powerplay, exchanging the puck particularly well with Hamhuis while on the half-boards. His one shot attempt comes during this shift, but it is blocked.

Schroeder looks particularly comfortable carrying the puck into the offensive zone while on the powerplay. His speed gives the second unit a nice added dimension for getting the puck in, then his puck control and passing allows the unit time to set up. He almost had his first NHL goal just prior to Raymond’s goal. He did struggle in the faceoff circle, however, and doesn’t take another faceoff for the rest of the game.

Third Period

13. Schroeder’s first shift in the third period is for a defensive zone faceoff at 1:24, but Manny Malhotra comes on to take it, then goes off immediately after winning the draw. Schroeder makes a nice lob pass to Raymond through the neutral zone, then throws a good check on Baertschi along the boards, winning the puck battle. Later, in the defensive zone, Schroeder is the first to a dangerous rebound, calmly playing it up the boards, where it is cleared.

14. At 6:51 in the third, Schroeder comes on and ends up picking up the trailer on a Calgary rush. He then picks up the puck along the boards and feeds Weise for the clear. The line has some good offensive zone pressure, with Schroeder frequently in the right place at the right time to keep the shift going. He throws a decent body check in the corner, but it’s not enough to keep the defenceman from playing the puck up and out.

15. Coming on at 9:52 with the puck in the defensive zone, Schroeder goes for a check on Jarome Iginla along the boards. He misses, but takes out Iginla’s stick. Iginla has to stop to go back for it, neutralizing his attempted give-and-go. Schroeder carries the puck up through the neutral zone and dumps it in, then loses a puck battle on the forecheck. As he tries to carry the puck in again shortly after, he’s checked by Cory Sarich.

16. At 13:10 in the third, Schroeder comes down low and supports his defenders, picking up a defensive zone rebound. Unfortunately, he then loses a battle along the boards that leads to a Calgary scoring chance. Later, he supports his defenders well on the backcheck.

17. Schroeder again comes on for Kassian during a powerplay at 15:07. He goes to the front of the net again, looking for a tip-in chance. While I appreciate his willingness to go to the net, he seemed more comfortable along the half-boards while on the powerplay.

18. With just over 2 minutes remaining, Schroeder comes out and immediately has to make a desperation play, as the puck deflects off the linesman, giving Calgary a good scoring chance. Schroeder dives out, but isn’t able to block the pass or shot. Heading the other way, Schroeder makes a nice pass to Kassian for a scoring chance, but his stick gets tied up. Later on the forecheck, Schroeder gets wiped out by Jay Bouwmeester, but ends up winning the subsequent puck battle, as both players go to their knees. He feeds Raymond, who sets up Weise in front. Shortly after, Schroeder wins a puck battle on a rebound, allowing the puck to slide through to Tanev.

Schroeder lost a number of puck battles this game, but wins a couple important ones late. He continues to make solid defensive plays, getting to rebounds and backchecking effectively. It’s interesting that Vigneault sent Malhotra out for a defensive zone faceoff, but left Schroeder in, likely because of how effective he was at getting the puck out of the defensive zone with either his skating or his passing.

Overtime

19. Schroeder comes out with Raymond 48 seconds into overtime and makes a very pretty saucer pass to Raymond on a zone entry. He then picks up the puck along the boards and passes it back to Hamhuis. Unfortunately, his pass is on Hamhuis’s backhand and it escapes the zone.

Sending out two speedsters together in overtime seems like a fantastic idea to me. It’s nice to see Vigneault trusting the rookie with an overtime shift, but it was likely Schroeder’s solid work in the defensive zone that earned him the shift.

Considered as a whole, Schroeder had a solid game. He made some rookie mistakes, such as his penalty, and his lack of size was evident in a number of puck battles, but he compensated with his speed and some smart plays in the defensive zone. I was most impressed, however, by his zone exits and zone entries. His combination of speed and passing allowed for varied strategies getting out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone. It was particularly noticeable on the powerplay.

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7 comments

  1. madwag
    January 24, 2013

    what a nice analysis. i too was impressed with mr. schroeder, in particular with the speed with which he carried the puck into the offensive zone. i wasn’t aware of his back checking which you’ve now brought to my attention and which i will watch for during the ducks game. certainly he was more visible than mr. ebbet when he played in the first two games. he looks like a very positive addition to the team. it’s great that you’ve devoted this time and effort to critiquing the performance of our newest canuck.

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  2. Andre
    January 24, 2013

    Thanks for your analysis. Your “Alain Vigneault” glasses allow us to see important things we did not necessarily notice in the game.

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    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  3. Brian
    January 24, 2013

    1 official body check but that number was wrong, I counted 3 in your shift summary and at least 2 more attempted. Was pleasantly surprised at this willingness to play the body.

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Daniel Wagner
      January 24, 2013

      Yeah, hit counting is an inexact science and depends on what building they’re in and who’s doing the counting. Some will only count a hit if it separates a player from the puck and causes a turnover. Others will count every bit of contact as a hit. For an example of how ridiculous the stat can be, recall the time that Hordichuk took a run at Ballard and Ballard hip-checked him, sending him flying and out of the game with an injury. Hordichuk was credited with a hit on the play.

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      • Zach Morris
        January 24, 2013

        I’d have to recall Darcy Hordichuk first :D

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        Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  4. akidd
    January 24, 2013

    wow! thorough stuff! thanks for that. at a glance, i too thought schroeder had a solid game. liked his speed a lot and he seems likes he’s got some smarts too. he makes raymond’s game look way better, that’s for sure. both those guys zooming around is fun to watch.

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  5. Tengeresz
    January 24, 2013

    There were reports that his D had caught up to his O.

    In fact, by this examination, his D is better than his O at the NHL level. All to the good really, as that will make him fit in well on the 3rd and 4th lines == that is: the places that he can be played.

    Watching the game, I thought that he managed pretty well in the 50/50 puck battles, and your recap seems to agree. That and good positional play is a great start to an NHL career.

    Is anyone else getting excited about the prospect of him and Kassian playing top line together in a few years?

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