Thanks to sweet moves of Zack Kassian in the shootout last night, the Canucks won their first game of the season. One question though, why did head coach Alain Vigneault wait until the fifth round to use Zack Kassian?
This may sound like 20/20 hindsight, but there’s no way that Kassian should have been the fifth shooter while playing his second excellent game in a row. His confidence was sky high, he is skilled offensively and he has had some semblance of success in the shootout. I was actually calling for Kassian to shoot in the previous game against Edmonton as well (he was the 3rd shooter but never got an opportunity after Edmonton scored their second goal). I wanted Kassian to shoot because I remember watching Kassian score a beauty when the Wolves were in Abbotsford earlier this season, and it got me wondering if that was an isolated incident.
It wasn’t. The shootout goal against the Heat was a carbon copy of the shootout goal against the Flames. Kassian has a go-to move and he executes it well. Kassian was 2-for-3 in shootouts in the AHL this season. Jordan Schroeder would have also been a good candidate to shoot, seeing as though he was 2-for-4 in AHL shootouts this season.
This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about the Canucks’ approach to shootouts, and it likely won’t be the last. I have already said my piece about the team practicing the shootout and select a few specialists.
Alain Vigneault decided to go with Alex Burrows, which is a no brainer given he is 50% in career shootout percentage. Max Lapierre has the second best shootout percentage (4-for-8 lifetime), yet AV is still reluctant to use him for some reason. Lapierre was only used twice in the shootout last year and scored on one of those attempts.
For some reason, Vigneault continues to go back to the well with players like Mason Raymond (6-for-24 in his career) before he gives a shot to Kassian and Schroeder. Alex Edler isn’t much better (6-for-19), and Daniel Sedin is a brutal 4-for-23 in shootouts. Edler, Daniel Sedin, and Raymond all shot before Kassian against the Flames.
I’m a big believer that you must trust the players who have had success in shootouts, and to try young players with skill. I’m not completely opposed to using Daniel Sedin, but he needs to have some direction. If Daniel came in on an angle with speed and tried to pick a corner with his shot, I believe he would have some success. Remember his goal against Ottawa a number of years back?
If the Canucks are in another shootout, AV needs to rethink his shootout go-to guys. Burrows is a given and so should Kassian now (even if either player aren’t playing great games). Jordan Schroeder and Max Lapierre should be the next two players in line and then let the rest of the bunch have a shot. Alex Edler, Mason Raymond, Daniel Sedin (and never never never Henrik Sedin), Ryan Kesler and David Booth are in the next group of shooters.
The Canucks aren’t blessed with a plethora of excellent shooters in the shootout, and when Roberto Luongo is in net, they’re not blessed with a great shootout goalie either. Luckily, Cory Schneider is a lot better in the shootout and that should help going forward. Hopefully they can improve in the coaching department for shootouts as well.