The last time the Leafs played the Canucks, Roberto Luongo was still their goaltender and Mason Raymond scored against his former team in a 3-1 Leafs victory.
And while the aforementioned players may have since found new destinations, the result was still the same as the Leafs landed a 5-2 victory against their cross-country opponents on Saturday night.
Goaltending (or the absence of it) was the deciding factor in the matchup.
Ryan Miller came into the game sporting an impressive 16-4 record in his first year with the Canucks, but just a .910 save percentage (hockey-reference.com has this year’s league average currently at .914.) Miller’s making $6 million per year as the sixth-highest paid goalie in the league, yet he was chased after giving up 4 goals on 14 shots, giving the Leafs a 4-0 lead just 5:39 into the second period. Miller’s save percentage dropped following the game to just .904- not exactly the best numbers, and he certainly didn’t look like the elite goaltender he was in many years with the Buffalo Sabres. Eddie Lack then stopped all 13 he faced, but ultimately his performance didn’t mean much as his team was unable to mount a proper comeback.
Richard Panik’s goal perhaps best highlighted Miller’s woes, as he pulled the “Hans Moleman getting hit by football” method of defence on the second goal of the game.
On the other end, Jonathan Bernier made every save he needed to, making 44 saves on the night. Had Bernier faltered early, the game could have been a different story, but Bernier managed one of his strongest performances of the season.
The all-situations Corsi battle looked quite in Vancouver’s favour, shellacking Toronto 91-44.
Ultimately, the Leafs came out a little lucky to earn the two points tonight, but earned them nonetheless. It’s hard to find too many negatives in a victory over a team tied for second in the Western Conference, but it isn’t tough to argue that without Bernier’s performance, this easily could’ve been a 6-5 game either way.
He’s already been mentioned, but with good reason. Jonathan Bernier- fresh off arguably the weirdest comments you’ll hear all year, was heavily supported by a strong offence, but still needed to be great to keep his team in it. (If you haven’t heard his comments, a good transcript is available here, as the YouTube link has been removed.
- Though not exactly quite the same players as they once were, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin looked very solid tonight: posting 62 and 59 Corsi percentages at even strength. Daniel was rewarded with his seventh goal of the year, where Henrik (naturally) added an assist.
- Joffery Lupul is hot, two points on the night and four goals now in his last four games. Plus minus isn’t a great stat by any means, but he was on the ice for all four Leafs goals at even strength.
- Peter Holland’s sixth goal of the year marks a “career high”, albeit in limited action. When not playing with human anchors on the fourth line, Holland has shown glimpses of being a very solid depth hockey player. He also set a career high in points, with 11 (in 13 fewer games than last year.
- David Booth managed an assist against his former team.
- Jannik Hansen was the only Canucks player to have a possession number below 50 percent for the Canucks, despite 75% zone starts. Unsurprisingly, he saw himself on the ice for two goals against.
(Possession stats via hockeystats.ca)