Maple Leafs 5, Canucks 2: Vancouver's vitality sags as bounces lastly go the mistaken method

“82 video games. You study from these. There’s some stinkers. Generally you study from a stinker.” — Head coach Rick Tocchet

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The wild run of excellent fortune the Vancouver Canucks have loved could also be coming to an finish.

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The Canucks have been a really enjoyable story to open the 2023-24 NHL season. They’ve scored tons of objectives — largely by talent, partly due to good luck — and so they’ve gotten goaltending that was akin to a literal brick wall constructed on the purpose line.

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Vancouver Canucks proper wing Conor Garland (8) jumps as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov (35) makes a save and defenceman Jake McCabe (22) defends throughout first interval NHL hockey motion, in Toronto on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. Photograph by Christopher Katsarov /The Canadian Press

However you knew, even with as many particulars as they is likely to be getting proper, that there was going to be some type of clap again. The Canucks have been merely scoring at a fee nicely above the norm, and giving up objectives nicely under what was probably.

That regression lastly got here dwelling to roost on Saturday in Toronto, because the Canucks misplaced 5-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Canucks arrived within the Massive Smoke because the unquestioned finest crew in Canada up to now this season. The Leafs had performed the night time earlier than and have been taking part in their third sport in 4 nights.

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However the Canucks struggled to create a lot at even power, and the Leafs bought a bunch of bounces their method close to the Canucks’ web.

You’re not going to win each sport, that’s the very best tackle this one ultimately.

“I assumed we have been sluggish in our breakouts,” head coach Rick Tocchet stated.

“We have been a bit of sloppy.”

The crew did do good issues, however Tocchet felt his crew simply bought outworked.

“Previous couple of video games, there’s pockets of the sport that groups are outworking us. We’ve bought to play determined hockey too. We now have to match the extent of the opponent,” he added.

“82 video games. You study from these. There’s some stinkers. Generally you study from a stinker.”

David Kampf #64 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (C) celebrates his third interval purpose in opposition to Thatcher Demko #35 of the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Enviornment on November 11, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Canucks 5-2. Photograph by Bruce Bennett /Getty Photographs


The Canucks’ sky-high taking pictures proportion — 14.1 per cent at 5 on 5 — was all the time going to fall 4 to 5 proportion factors. The most effective groups rating on about 10 per cent of their photographs. That’s simply actuality.

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And on the different finish of the, goalie Thatcher Demko has been really excellent this season. However no goalie goes to maintain stopping 95 per cent of the 5 on 5 photographs in opposition to, as Demko has been up to now.

The most effective goalies cease about 93 per cent of the even power photographs in opposition to them.

There’s an extended standing information level — PDO — that has confirmed to foretell future consequence. PDO is the sum of a crew’s even-strength taking pictures proportion and save proportion. Typically, a crew’s PDO will hover round 1000. If it will get too far above 1000, that’s an indication a crew is getting a bit of greater than they need to and no matter success the crew has been on goes to cease.

And vice versa: if a crew sinks under 1000, the dangerous luck isn’t going to final without end, they’re going to get a couple of extra objectives than they’ve been getting, or a couple of extra saves.

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The Canucks’ PDO earlier than Saturday’s sport was 1092. They have been actually going to see fewer objectives going within the opposition web, however in addition they have been going to see a couple of extra objectives go into their very own.

Luck is often the most important driver of this.

Look no additional than William Nylander’s second purpose of the night time: he made a strong lower to the web however ran out of house to get an efficient shot on the web, so he tried to tuck it round Demko.

He misplaced management of the puck however Tyler Myers was scrambling again into the Canucks crease and the puck banked off him into the web.

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That’s the form of dangerous luck we haven’t seen go in opposition to the Canucks a lot this season.

Tocchet acknowledged some nights the Canucks have had quite a lot of luck and so they have been on account of have a sport like this one the place the bounces went the opposite method.

“Some nights you’re not going to have bounces, however you continue to need to be sure you keep in your sport,” the coach stated.

Ailing Pettersson

Pettersson is coping with a couple of issues, Rick Tocchet stated Saturday morning, with out entering into element.

The suspicion has been there for some time that the Canucks’ celebrity centre is battling by some harm, at the same time as he’s raced out to the NHL scoring lead.

He’s as much as 25 factors on the season after choosing up an help on the Canucks’ first purpose of the sport, a power-play tally by J.T. Miller.

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However he additionally barely performed at even power on the night time. Certain the Canucks had a mountain of energy performs, however in a sport like this one, you’d count on Tocchet to lean closely on him.

Pettersson performed simply 18:05 on the night time — solely 9:55 at 5 on 5, second lowest on the crew after Andrei Kuzmenko — and generated little or no in that point.

Andrei Kuzmenko #96 of the Vancouver Canucks checks Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the course of the second interval at Scotiabank Enviornment on November 11, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photograph by Bruce Bennett /Getty Photographs

Ignominious file

By scoring simply two objectives on Saturday, the Canucks are the primary visiting crew to attain fewer than 4 objectives in opposition to the Leafs at Scotiabank Enviornment this season.

Need to know why the Leafs have struggled a lot this season? They haven’t been in a position to preserve the puck out of the web.

Going into the sport, the Leafs’ goalies had posted only a 89.8 save proportion at even power, which put them within the backside third of the league.

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Hronek dishes

Filip Hronek’s offensive abilities have been shining all season, and never simply because he’s taking part in with Quinn Hughes: the Czech has sensible offensive imaginative and prescient.

He sees issues faster than others.

And he has impeccable timing within the offensive zone.

He picked up an help on Pius Suter’s energy play purpose, late within the first, which gave his crew a 2-1 lead.

He has factors in 9 straight video games now, all assists (12). On the season he has 15 assists in 14 video games.

Defensive dynamos

Hughes and Hronek have been a exceptional defensive pair this season.

The Canucks have taken practically 60 per cent of the shot makes an attempt whereas they’re on the ice collectively.

And their prowess at holding the puck out of the web has been eve higher.

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Earlier than the sport, they’d given up the fewest objectives in opposition to amongst defensive pairings who’ve performed not less than 100 minutes of 5 on 5 collectively this season, simply three objectives.

However in opposition to the Leafs, the gave up two objectives at 5 on 5, each in opposition to the Leafs’ depth forwards.


Matthew Knies’ purpose 8:37 into the sport noticed the Canucks in mad-scramble mode defensively, one thing we’ve seen little of this season.

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The Canucks have accomplished so nicely holding the opposition away from the entrance of the web, however on this night time they struggled to take action.

The Leafs scored three objectives proper on high of the Canucks’ crease.

A shot chart from
The Toronto Maple Leafs scored 4 objectives at 5 on 5 on Saturday versus the Vancouver Canucks. Photograph by

The Royal Highway

Essentially the most tough photographs for goalies to take care of are those that come proper after a cross-ice go, or a go from down low to up excessive.

They make the goalie transfer their head and their eyes, and often their our bodies too.

The human mind can solely course of so many issues so rapidly.

Passes that go throughout the slot are often known as “Royal Highway” passes and are particularly robust on goalies as a result of they’ve to maneuver their head, their eyes and their physique.

The Canucks this yr have been excellent at limiting these passes in opposition to, as a result of they’ve been robust at defending zone entries and likewise as a result of they’ve had very lively sticks stopping the puck from getting throughout.

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However on the Leafs’ third purpose, by Noah Gregor, the Leafs discovered a seam in entrance of Mark Friedman and Ian Cole and in entrance of the Canucks’s backcheckers.

Noah fired the puck again to the far aspect of the web, the place Demko had been earlier than. The goalie wasn’t in a position to react to the shot in time.

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Cole hit + struggle

For the second straight Saturday, Ian Cole pinched down low and threw an enormous hit to negate an opposing breakout.

He completely levelled Nick Robertson this time.

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He’s displaying shades of Luke Schenn this season and stands probability of being as a lot of a cult hero as the previous Canuck was.

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