Even though the San Jose Sharks outshot the Vancouver Canucks 35-13 (and 74-31 if we look at shot attempts), the scoring chances were much closer, especially when you consider that the last half of the game was played with the Canucks in the lead. Vancouver did play a lot in their own zone early on, which led to several (sometimes questionable) penalties, but they were fantastic on the penalty kill, and when they received three consecutive five-on-three power plays in the second period, they were able to convert each time to put the game away. The phrase "thee consecutive five-on-three power plays" seems unfair, but in fact, I didn't think there were any questionable calls in the bunch. Terrible timing though, especially since Vancouver was only the better team when they had two extra players on the ice. Scoring chances and more after the jump.
For those who'd like a definition: a scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots, though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score. Finally, a big thanks to Vic Ferrari for making the whole damn thing possible with his awesome scripts.
|Period||Van / SJ||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Even though they scored three goals five-on-three, the Canucks actually weren't very good five-on-four with just one scoring chance in about six minutes. The Sharks were a bit more effective with five chances in ten minutes, but they weren't able to generate a lot of sustained pressure, which is why there's just the one instance of two chances occurring on the same sequence. At even strength, neither team was able to do much through the first two periods, and the dominant third period for San Jose had as much to do with the score as anything else. With Joe Thornton potentially unavailable for Game Five thanks to a hit from Raffi Torres late in the game, things aren't looking good for San Jose.
Accepted Like Abel
3. Patrick Marleau - The Canucks had a total of zero shots on goal with Patrick Marleau on the ice at even strength (although they did have a couple of chances that missed the net). I thought that he was San Jose's best player on the night, and did a great job grabbing the puck and making a pass after gaining the zone on the Sharks' second goal.
2. Kevin Bieksa - A great job at evens and on the PK playing mostly against the Sharks' big guns. I thought that the high-sticking penalty he took was a pretty marginal call, and that was one of very few blemishes in his game. With Bieksa headed for unrestricted free agency, I'll be very interested to see what the Canucks do. It always depends on price, of course, but I bet that they find a way to keep him.
1. Henrik Sedin - A fine game from Henrik who was much better at even strength, and did his job on those five-on-three chances, winning two consecutive faceoffs that were turned quickly into goals. His -3 Corsi number at evens was actually the best on the team, and the pass he made to Alex Burrows for the Canucks' fourth goal was a dandy. There are a lot of players on the Canucks that I just can't stand, but if they go on to win this thing, Henrik Sedin is one guy I'll be able to smile at holding the Cup
Cursed Like Cain
3. Ryan Kesler - Speaking of guys I just can't stand! After taking a ridiculous dive to end the game, this is what he had to say about Ryane Clowe's poke to his mug: "Head shot. Sucker punched me. Didn't expect it and hopefully the League looks at it." Just ridiculous. The most telling thing in the whole sequence was his teammates ignoring their fallen comrade as they celebrated the win. In terms of actual play, I thought he was pretty bad at even strength. It was his guy (Andrew Desjardins) tipping the puck past Luongo on the first goal, and his inability to win a loose puck (among other things) that led to San Jose's second.
2. Antti Niemi - None of the goals were really terrible, but there were a couple that he probably could have had, and if the Sharks were going to win, he needed to have them. Henrik Sedin's pass through the five-hole really stands out as one that would have been nice to stop, but even the five-on-three goals were all slappers that beat him pretty cleanly. The second goal had more of a screen, but the other two he just plain old missed. One goal every three chances just isn't going to be good enough to win.
1. Antti Niemi - Please stop sucking.