Coming into the 2013 season, Cory Schneider looked forward to his first action as an NHL starter. Halfway through his first game as the #1 guy in Vancouver — a game that was essentially a pre-season game, just with points that count in the standings — he had let in five goals on 14 shots, and the guy wearing #1 on his back was taking over the crease.
Immediately, people all over Twitter, on radio call-in shows and even in the booth on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada started talking about goaltending controversy in Vancouver. What they didn’t talk about was the invisibility of Alex Burrows, the ineffectiveness of the second and fourth lines, or the shakiness of the “deepest defensive corps in the NHL”.
But yeah, goalie controversy, right? We thought we’d look at each goal one at a time to determine just who the goat and/or goats were. Here it is, right after the jump.
1-0 Ducks: Jason Garrison misfires a pass at the Ducks blueline, and Alex Edler trips on his new contract, allowing Anaheim to skate unmolested into the Canucks zone. Saku Koivu pulls up and fires a wrister that’s tipped past Schneider by… Daniel Winnik? The puck gets past Schneider, low blocker side. Verdict: Can’t blame the goalie for a shot tipped from five feet in front of him.
1-1 tie: Good hustle from the third line, as Hansen, Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre cycle the puck around the net and out the other side. Dan Hamhuis wires a one-timer on a gift of a pass from Jannik Hansen, putting it high to Hiller’s blocker, just inside the far post. Verdict: Hiller probably could have covered a little more of the net, but Hamhuis picked the far side perfectly.
2-1 Canucks: Hansen is prominent again, this time on the first power play unit with the Sedins. He forces a puck free on the boards, then wreaks havoc in front of Jonas Hiller. He provides a screen, then pokes a loose puck to Daniel Sedin. Sedin makes a cagey play, lobbing the puck across a sprawling Hiller to go high glove side. Verdict: Power play scrambles are always dangerous, especially when two past Art Ross trophy winners are on the ice.
2-2 tie: Sheldon Souray rips a bullet from 60 feet on the Ducks power play. Schneider has a clean look at it, but the one-timer right off the Canucks-zone face-off beats him blocker-side just off the ice. Who won the face-off? The ageless Teemu Selanne. Verdict: Souray shoots the puck as well as any guy in the league, but Schneids probably should have had this one.
Aside: What the hell is Ryan Getzlaf doing on the point on the power play in Anaheim? The man is a monster! Get that underperforming bastard in front of the net, already!
3-2 Ducks: Winnik starts the play by blocking Keith Ballard’s point shot, trapping the fourth line deep in the Ducks zone. Cogliano puts it cross-ice to Koivu, who makes a lovely one-touch pass to the top of the crease. Winnik then finishes the play with his second of the night – despite putting the puck dead into the middle of the net, it tips up and over Schneider’s glove. Keep in mind that he scored eight goals all season last year. Verdict: A gorgeous passing play, sure, but that finish from Winnik was into the middle of the net. Totally stoppable.
4-2 Ducks: Alex Burrows takes a penalty in the offensive zone. (It was a ticky tack call, but hey, it’s the first game back for the stripes, too.) Three seconds later, the puck is in the Canuck net. Lapierre actually wins the draw, but Hamhuis can’t handle it and Cory Perry slaps a five-footer under Schneider’s right pad. Verdict: This is a tough one. I’ve heard some people say that any goal that goes through the legs is the goalie’s fault. I call this one unlucky.
5-2 Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf outlasts Lapierre on the left boards, draws two defenders and backhands a pass to the point. Kyle Palmieri rips a wrist shot high glove side from 30 feet. Schneider gets pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots. Verdict: Again, a tough but stoppable puck. This is one the team needed, just seconds after the 4-2 goal.
6-2 Ducks: Oh, so that’s why Getzlaf is on the point during the power play. He makes a looooong cross-ice pass to Teemu Selanne down at Luongo’s left on the power play. The Finnish Flash finesses the pass between Luongo’s pads with just seconds remaining in the period. Verdict: Selanne has victimized so many goalies over the years, it’s hard to blame the guy, but see above regarding goals through the five hole. Three-for-three on the power play, though, suggests poor PK all around.
Hey, remember when the Canucks were up 2-1 in this one? No, neither do I.
Luongo makes several outstanding saves early in the third period. Loads of odd-man rushes for the Ducks.
6-3 Ducks: On the power play, Alex Edler wrists one through traffic from the point, ping, off the crossbar and in. It beats Hiller on the blocker side. Verdict: Nothing Jonas could do here, as there were four guys standing between him and Edler.
7-3 Ducks: Teemu Selanne gets his second of the night just seconds after the face-off at centre ice. He takes a pass at the Canucks blueline, and his wrist shot goes low to Luongo’s blocker to restore the four-goal lead. Verdict: The shot came from long range but it deflected off the stick of Dan Hamhuis. I’ll give Lou this one.
Overall: Cory Schneider looked nervous in his first game as the official number one goalie for the Canucks. I don’t expect that to continue. Roberto Luongo was solid — better than solid, actually — but fallible in his relief. I expect that to continue for sure.