Breakdowning Daniel Sedin’s wizardous goal against the Washington Capitals

As soon as Daniel Sedin scored the gamewinning goal on Monday against the Capitals, we were inundated with requests on Twitter to breakdown the goal in our typical Breakdowning fashion. They weren’t the only ones: as soon as I saw the goal, I wanted to break it down, because it was just so perfectly representative of Wizardous Sedinery. The Canucks kept the puck in the offensive zone for a full 51 seconds, dizzying the Capitals with their cycle game before a couple short passes and a subtle move by Daniel created a wide open scoring chance.

We intended to have a Breakdowning post up on Tuesday, but circumstances kept pushing it back. Fortunately, three days since it was scored, the goal is still just as gorgeous and absurd. Let’s break it down to see exactly how it came about.

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Canucks finally re-sign Chris Tanev, so everyone can just calm down

Just who is Chris Tanev? Is he a third pairing defenceman who quietly plays good defence but has little else to give? Or is he a top-four defenceman who makes everyone he partners with better? It’s hard to say and it seems like the Canucks’ management is similarly unsure. Today they re-signed Tanev to a one-year, $1.5 million contract that will give them another season to evaluate the level-headed defender.

Laurence Gilman summed up the difficulty in assessing Tanev when he spoke to Brad Ziemer: “Chris is an evolving player and from our perspective he’s come a long way since we initially signed him. However, we were not sure what he is going to become. We think that there is a lot more for him to give. Particularly, we think his offensive production could or should increase.”

In other words, what is Tanev’s ceiling? Just how good is he going to get? Until it becomes more clear what Tanev’s upside is, the Canucks clearly didn’t want to invest in a long-term contract similar to those other RFA defencemen have been receiving this summer. A one-year bridge contract that takes Tanev to the point he has arbitration rights makes sense for both sides, giving the Canucks a little more time to evaluate and gives Tanev a little more leverage when he negotiates his next contract.

So what can we expect from Tanev in the coming season?

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev is known far more for his defensive play than his offensive production, which is the sort of thing that will happen when you pretty much never score. But in 2013, he finally got on the board, scoring his first two career NHL goals.

After watching them both, it seems pretty clear what Tanev has to do in order to produce more often for the Canucks, (should he and they ever finally agree to a new contract): get hilariously, uncommonly wide open right smack-dab in the middle of the offensive zone, with a clear lane to the goal and plenty of open net to shoot at. Easy, right? Now that he knows, Tanev should be able to do this several times a night.

Here’s every goal Tanev scored in 2013 — all two of them.

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18 things Chris Tanev’s dad will say while negotiating his son’s next contract

Chris Tanev had a solid season for the Canucks, showing that he’s ready to step into a larger role next season. He even spent some time in the top-four alongside Alex Edler. It seemed like he instantly developed chemistry with whoever he played with thanks to his calm, simple style of play.

Tanev is also a pending Restricted Free Agent this off-season, leading to an interesting question. How much is Tanev worth? He doesn’t do any one thing noticeably well. He doesn’t put up points and doesn’t hit. What he does do is make smart decisions with the puck and a good first pass out of the zone. He plays largely mistake-free defence, which is a nice switch for Canucks fans used to Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler, who are far more high-risk.

It was revealed today that Tanev would be representing himself in his contract negotiations, with help from his dad, Mike. That makes things a little more complicated, as Tanev’s dad will likely spend the entire meeting with Gillis saying awkward, embarrassing things, causing Tanev to roll his eyes and say “Daaaaaad” at least twice.

Here are 18 things you can expect Tanev’s dad to say during his son’s contract negotiations.

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Ask it to Bulis! on Canucks UFAs, Jordan Schroeder versus Andrew Ebbett, and what Tanev is worth

It’s time once more for Ask it to Bulis, where two incredibly intelligent, witty, handsome, and humble bloggers answer your questions about life, the universe, and everything, but mostly the Vancouver Canucks. Side effects include enlightenment, rationality, and botanophobia.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes, March 21, 2013

By all accounts, this game should have been a gong show. David Booth joined Ryan Kesler on the Injured Reserve list, Zack Kassian and Steve Pinizzotto didn’t even fly to Phoenix, and Chris Higgins tweaked his back at the morning skate, turning the Canucks’ lineup into the hockey equivalent of Aziz Ansari’s boombox mixtape.

Like that mixtape, the Canucks’ third line seemed to be thrown together at random, with Andrew Ebbett centring Dale Weise and Keith Ballard. Andrew Gordon drew into the lineup for his first game as a Canuck on a fourth line with Maxim Lapierre and Tom Sestito. The haphazardly arranged lineup looked like a disaster on paper, but the Canucks knuckled down and played a simple, hard-working road game.

That isn’t to say it didn’t have its bizarre moments, as it certainly did. At times, this game resembled the Coyotes’ original, seemingly peyote-inspired, jerseys. I reached a higher plane of existence when I watched this game.

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Chris Tanev thinks he’s a road hockey goalie

You may have noticed that Chris Tanev is getting beat up in front of the net recently — Not by opposing players, but by the puck. It seems to be a nightly occurrence for Tanev to block a heavy shot, drop to the ice in pain, and then make his way to the dressing room, get attended to by Mike Burnstein, and come back to the game. It’s happened so often that I’ve taken to calling him Chris “Walk it Off” Tanev.

For instance, he took a Shea Weber slapshot to the knee that cracked his knee pad during the Canucks’ game against the Nashville Predators on March 14th. He went directly to the dressing room and I thought his night was done. That’s the same Shea Weber that shot a puck through the net during the Olympics. Instead, he walked it off and came straight back to the bench. He ended up not missing a shift.

Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues, Tanev took a shot to the side of the head on Patrik Berglund’s goal and left the game. There was good reason to be concerned: a puck to the head can break a player’s jaw or orbital bone or even cause a concussion. But, after the game, reports came in that Tanev was fine.

Why does Tanev keep getting (temporarily) injured by shots? It’s because he seems to think that he’s a road hockey goalie. By all indications, he’s a pretty good one too.

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Chris Tanev’s promotion has come at the cost of Keith Ballard

When Kevin Bieksa went down with a groin injury, Andrew Alberts came in to play his first two games of the season. Surprisingly, when he returned, Alberts stayed in the lineup and Keith Ballard came out. Then, when Bieksa couldn’t go against Calgary, Cam Barker drew in to the lineup for his first game of the season, while Ballard remained in the press box.

It’s a decision that doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface. Ballard is a better player than Alberts and Barker and was playing with newfound consistency to start the season. His pairing with Chris Tanev was playing fairly sheltered minutes, but was getting good results, to the point that he and Tanev remained together when Vigneault and Bowness started juggling defence pairs 5 games in.

That pairing has been split up recently, however, as Tanev has begun to take on a larger role in the Canucks’ defence corps. While Tanev excels, however, Ballard has found his ice time steadily declining and it now appears that Ballard is back at the bottom of the Canucks’ defensive depth chart.

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Spitballin’ on Canucks ruining interviews, missing roommates, and scouting college players

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few topics that deserve mention.

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Breakdowning Chris Tanev’s glorious first NHL goal

We’ve been waiting for this one a long time. With his noticeable calm and poise on the ice and his great underlying possession numbers, Chris Tanev has become a favourite for both mainstream media and the fancy stats crowd in the Smylosphere. But, while he’s done a lot to impress in the first 62 games of his NHL career, he had yet to score a goal.

Fact is, for all his poise and solid defensive play, Tanev had a complete muffin of a shot. Actually, that’s incorrect: he had an incomplete muffin of a shot. It wasn’t even the muffin-top, which is the best part of a muffin, but the lousy part wrapped in paper that nobody likes: Tanev had a muffin stump of a shot.

It’s not like Tanev was unaware of this: he spent part of the off-season working on his release, and it does look much improved. He also looks a lot more confident about using it. He had 15 shots in each of his first two seasons, for a total of 30 in 54 games. He’s already up to 7 in just 9 games this season. And one of those shots beat Devan Dubnyk for his first NHL goal, the overtime winner on Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, February 4, 2013

There’s nothing worse than leading a hockey game by two goals (save perhaps trailing by seven, and even then, it’s a toss-up). As we know by now, opening up a two-goal lead is like reciting a passage from the Book of the Dead. It basically summons ill fortune. The Canucks have demonstrated this principle several times already this season, and they did so again on Monday night. The difference? This time, they were the team clawing their way back.

But there was another difference between this game and the recent two-goal collapses we’ve seen recently: this one ended in overtime, rather than the shootout. And speaking of things we’d never seen before, the game-winning goal was scored by none other than Chris Tanev, who will now haunt the Oilers like something out of Edgar Allan Poe. (Quoth the raven: Tanevermore.) I watched this game.

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Hungry like the Wolves: Ice the Hogs, then split with Checkers

Hungry like the Wolves is an ongoing feature on Pass it to Bulis during the lockout, wherein we keep an eye on the Canucks prospects and property currently playing for the Wolves as it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to Canucks hockey for quite some time.

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Spitballin’ on Chris Tanev’s glove, the creepiest Sedin video ever, and Luongo’s future

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, March 19, 2012

Let us take heart. Tonight was not the worst Vancouver Canucks/Minnesota Wild game ever played. Admittedly, that’s like saying, “This isn’t the most awful Land Before Time sequel ever” or “I’ve seen worse Star Wars prequels,” but still, it’s a little perspective.

So there’s your silver lining, Canuck fans: as low as the entertainment value at the Xcel Energy Center was this evening, as much as this game was to the soul as Coke is to a molar, it could have been far worse: this game could have featured both Ducky the Dinosaur and Jar Jar Binks. Thankfully, it had neither, a fact with which I consoled myself while I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Columbus Blue Jackets, March 17, 2012

The Columbus Blue Jackets are like Dan from Dan in Real Life (or any other advice columnist from the movies): they can help everyone but themselves. Are your superstars struggling to score? Has it been awhile since your best defenceman wowed everyone? Has your team looked listless for weeks? Well, then you’re in luck, because the Blue Jackets are in town to get your game back on track. They’ll encourage you, set you up to succeed, and even play alongside you, gosh darn it — they want you to do well.

Columbus was exactly what Vancouver needed Saturday night: a beatable opponent. Granted, the Canucks still weren’t perfect, but if there’s one thing you don’t have to be to beat the Blue Jackets, it’s perfect. In the end, the secret to beating Columbus is simply to “score one more goal than them,” as Kevin Bieksa so succinctly put it in the postgame scrum. And that’s what the Canucks did. I watched this game.

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Drance Numbers: Which Canucks’ defender suppresses shots most effectively?

Earlier this week, Alain Vigneault talked about Chris Higgins’ plus-5 scoring chance differential over the Canucks’ losses to the Sabres and Stars. The two-game sample Vigneault referred to isn’t much to go on, but it was enough to make plain that the Canucks use a different methodology in their in-house tracking of scoring chances than what we use to track scoring chance data over at Canucks Army. What Vigneault’s number did correlate exactly with, however, was Higgins’ personal Fenwick +/- number.

This isn’t the first time that the Canucks seemed to be paying close attention to a players’ Fenwick number. At about this time last season, when everyone was confused as to why Vigneault seemed to prefer the unremarkable Aaron Rome over the more visibly skilled Keith Ballard, Cam Charron pointed out that Rome’s Fenwick events against rate was significantly lower than Ballard’s. We theorized that, for a third pairing defenseman, Vigneault preferred Rome’s “safe minutes” to Ballard’s more adventurous (albeit exciting) style of play.

Because I’m increasingly convinced that the Canucks place importance on a players’ individual “fenwick number,” I figured it would be worthwhile to break down the Canucks’ blue-line in this manner. Let’s see if we can get a handle on which defencemen have been the “best” defensively from a shot suppression standpoint.

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Drance Numbers: Chris Tanev’s demonic possession

Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at Chris Tanev’s legion-like possession skills.

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Expectations are high for Chris Tanev, especially within Canucks’ management

Chris Tanev burst onto the scene during the Canucks injury plague of 2010-11. He showed himself capable of playing quiet, steady hockey in some high-pressure situations (including Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final) and looked poised to establish himself as staple of the Canucks’ blueline in seasons to come.

After he made the team out of training camp in September, Tanev appeared to be on track. Then, was sent down to the AHL after playing only three games. What gave?

Two things: the return of the injured Aaron Rome put the Canucks over the 23-man roster limit and necessitated a move of some sort. With the team unwilling to sacrifice depth on the waiver wire, Tanev’s waiver exemption made him the ideal candidate to go elsewhere for the time being. The second, which no doubt justified the first, was that, while Tanev had indeed proven himself capable of handling a bottom pairing role, he was clearly capable of more. The Canucks hoped that a little time with the Wolves would afford Tanev some powerplay, penalty-kill, and offensive zone experience.

Wednesday afternoon, Tanev was recalled, much to the delight of Canuck fans.

In a sense, you have to feel for the kid. He doesn’t join the team as a raw prospect looking to prove he can play. That he already did. This time around, Tanev joins the team as a proven prospect expected to be better than he was last time, maybe even capable of a top-four role.

And I’m not talking about the expectations of Canuck fans here — I’m talking about the coaching and management staff. For Tanev, this is a massive tryout.

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It’s very easy to look at the Canucks’ 2-3-1 start and place a large portion of blame on their goaltender, Roberto Luongo. After all, his 3.70 GAA and .856 SV% places him near the bottom of the league. This is one of those cases, however, where the stats don’t tell the whole story. The defensive breakdowns in front of the Canucks’ goaltenders have been a major contributor to the Canucks’ struggles so far and it’s clear that the coaching staff is thinking the same thing.

The juggling of defence pairings has begun in earnest, as even last season’s stalwart duo of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, or HamJuice as they’re affectionately known, have been split up. The reasoning is simple: the Canucks just don’t have enough right side defencemen.

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The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Chris Tanev has been assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. This may initially come as a bit of a surprise: while Tanev hasn’t been outstanding, finding himself a healthy scratch twice, he also hasn’t been terrible. It appeared that Vigneault was rotating Tanev and Alberts in and out of the lineup depending on the opponent, with Tanev in against speedier, more skilled teams and Alberts in against larger, more physical teams.

This move wasn’t about how well Tanev was playing, however. Instead, it’s about his contract status. Since Tanev is on his entry-level contract and hasn’t played in enough NHL games, he’s exempt from going through waivers to get down to the AHL. The only other player on the Canucks’ active roster who is exempt from waivers is Cody Hodgson.

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Considering that Sami Salo was paired with Kevin Connauton yesterday, it probably isn’t wise to read too much into the duos the Canucks are icing during the early stages of training camp. Still, it’s difficult not to notice that Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev have already been matched up.

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After an offseason that saw bigger names going out from Vancouver than coming in, it’s clear that the Canucks are counting on their most substantial improvements coming from the young players already within the organization. With that in mind, PITB looks at the three top candidates for Canucks’ breakout player of the year — Chris Tanev, Jannik Hansen, and Cody Hodgson — and what it would take for them to earn the mantle.

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If ever there was an offseason where the decision to stand pat could be considered a “bold move” (in the Gillisian sense of the word), this is it. After coming within one win of the Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks’ GM finds himself surrounded by hungry, angry, confused people — zombies, basically — that want him to make the splash that will put this team over the top. And, with the losses of Raffi Torres and Christian Ehrhoff, fans have returned to their usual offseason call for a power forward right winger and an offensive defenseman. They want a big-time acquisition.

The fans aren’t the only ones. Francesco Aquilini’s now-famous, profanity-laced tantrum following game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final showed us a man that, despite owning the team, is also a highly emotional fan. You have to imagine that he wants Gillis to make a big move as much as we do. Hell, Gillis probably does too, and he may still make one. He’s a fan of this team also, after all. You know he’d trade the future to Skynet if it meant his Canucks would see a better outcome next year. But, all things considered, it’s entirely possible — and don’t go flipping the pool when I suggest this — that the Canucks are done.

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So we’re five games into the Stanley Cup Final, and Boston has outscored Vancouver 14 to 6. Tim Thomas is the Conn Smythe favourite. The Sedins have two points between them. Ryan Kesler has one assist. The Canucks’ powerplay is 1-for-25. That said, the only number that matters right now is the 3-2 series lead they take back to Boston. Many thought there was no way they could recover after the most unsuccessful trip to Massachusetts since the East India Company’s 1773 delivery of three shiploads of tea, but the Canucks regrouped, refocused, then forced the Bruins into a complete reenactment of game 1. In that game, Vancouver eked out a one-goal victory with a third-period marker from the third line. Sound familiar? I recognized the similarities because I watched that game nine days ago. And then, yesterday, I watched this game.

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In light of the Canucks’ disastrous trip to Boston, we expect some significant line-up tweaks from the occasionally esteemed Coach Vigneault. During the last Canucks’ meltdown (the first round near suicide swoon against Chicago), we threw out some ideas for roster changes (see our April 23rd posting where we recommended reuniting Ryan Kesler and Alex [...]

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