Canucks: 3 takeaways from 2-1 win over Montreal

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 29: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks and Ben Chiarot #8 of the Montreal Canadiens battle for position during the first period at Centre Bell on November 29, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 29: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks and Ben Chiarot #8 of the Montreal Canadiens battle for position during the first period at Centre Bell on November 29, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
3 of 3

Canucks overcome skewed statistics, survive special teams to come away with two points

Were the Canucks good on Monday night? Not overwhelmingly.

But were they the better team on the ice? Sure why not.

And you better believe that the Canucks will take those kind of victories any day of the week at this point.

Leading up to their first visit to the Bell Centre this year, Vancouver and Montreal were essentially neck-and-neck in the Basement Bowl. Neither team had yet to hit the seven-win milestone yet, despite already being more than a quarter of the way through the season, and were at the bottom of the standings for essentially every important statistical category, including points percentage, goals against and goals for.

However, despite the matching mediocrity, Vancouver knew that they had a tough match-up on their hands based solely on recent history.

In the last 18 contests between the two clubs, Montreal had a stranglehold on Vancouver, posting a record of 14-0-4. In particular, the Canucks have also had poor puck luck at the Bell Centre this past decade, having only accumulated three of a possible 30 points in their past 15 meetings in Montreal.

Three of these losses took place last year, when Montreal and Vancouver found themselves battling it out on numerous occasions in the COVID-induced all-Canadian Scotia North Division. The Canucks couldn’t manage to secure a regulation win against their French Canadian foes during that season, going 0-6-3 against the Canadiens to further add onto their Montreal misery.

Fortunately for Vancouver, they were finally able to break that historic regulation slump, an achievement that hadn’t been reached since Roberto Luongo’s 30-save shutout performance back on January 16th, 2007. To put that into perspective, current analyst Kevin Bieksa and current Montreal assistant head coach Alex Burrows were still playing.

The Canucks also came out on top in the battle of bottom-ten special teams, keeping Montreal off of the scoresheet for both of their opportunities while going 1/2 on their own man advantage missions.

With the Pettersson bullet, Vancouver jumped from 23rd to 22nd in powerplay percentage, while also dropping Montreal’s penalty kill down to 31st in the league at just 68.1%.

Of course, that’s 3.7% better than Vancouver’s current shorthanded success rate, which has been dead last in the league for much of the year.

There’s no need to sugarcoat it for either fanbase at this point in the season. Both teams stink, and it’s unlikely that either will channel their inner 2019 St. Louis Blues any time soon.

But at least Vancouver was the less mediocre club on Monday. Small victories, you know?

Other notes:

  • Assist aside, Horvat also had a very good game on Monday. The 26-year-old logged the second-highest ice time amongst forwards, only behind J.T. Miller, with 19:25. Of that TOI, 1:39 came on the powerplay, and 1:17 while shorthanded. Horvat doesn’t usually kill penalties, but has been recently relied up for his intelligent defensive awareness and consistent performance in the faceoff dot. Horvat finished with the evening with a 59% faceoff success rate, which included a handful of wins in his team’s defensive zone at even strength as well. Horvat sits atop the NHL faceoff department with 559.
  • The third defensive pairing struggled once again on Monday, showing Vancouver’s vulnerability and inexperience on the backend. In particular, Tucker Poolman didn’t play well at all, finishing the evening with a minus one rating, three giveaways and a 44.74 CF% in just over 17 minutes. One of those giveaways led to Montreal’s late first period tally, after Poolman threw a hard pass right up the middle and into the skates of Horvat. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to Poolman once Travis Hamonic returns to the lineup, but he hasn’t been doing himself any favours recently.
  • For the first time in a year, the Canucks were also able to quiet Tyler Toffoli. The 29-year-old scorched his former team last season, notching eight goals and five assists in eight contests, but was unable to produce anything on Monday.

The Canucks will wrap up their road trip with a visit to the nation’s capital on Wednesday night to take on the bottom-dwelling Ottawa Senators. Puck drop is set for 4:30pm PST.

What are your thoughts from Monday’s 2-1 victory in Montreal? Make sure to drop a comment below!