So Shorty and Cheech got the rare afternoon start. GM Mike Gillis tried to sell it as "something we like for families". ( when he was not "getting into it" with the Province. Tune in for "As The Orca Turns" tomorrow for more!!!) He was right too, as there was a noticeably younger audience today.
Let's take a look at it all after the break.
1st Period - The "New NHL".
Here's the deal. Ref baiting is not going to work. Not for the team, the players on the ice at the time, and certainly not for the fans. You could see that today in what Ryan Kesler and Marc Joannette had going. For me though, as far as I want to go, except in egregious ( or Ballard Hip Checks ) circumstances is just going to be referred to by me as "New NHL". Some is the new rules, some is the fun of keeping a bit of mystery in the game huh?
The game opened pretty much as expected, a little sloppy and tepid by both sides. The sparkplug 4th line showed they were going to be a concern for the Wild early, and Kesler and Malhotra's lines were pushing the play as well. The Sedins and Burrows were as expected, though the Wild were getting their sticks in the way of the last pass a lot ( something they excel at, and would do all night in their defensive shell ). So, during some 4th line dominance, when Andrew Alberts got the stick up high near the head of Brett Bulmer, it was no big deal right?
Well, yes and no.
So, when Keith Ballard ( in the first of their many "connections" today ) interfered with Kyle Brdziak on the next shift, you could hear the natives getting restless. The penalty kill let the Wild powerless play get a shot this time I think, but the best chance was Maxim Lapierre on a breakaway off an excellent Sami Salo play in his own end. Backstrom would make the save on his low hard shot.
It was the next one a minute later that had the fans booing the refs when Dale Weise was judged to have pushed (crosschecked ) Gillies. The very definition of "New NHL".
This one forced a huge glove save from Schneider on Scandella, but that was about it on that one, as the PK once again remembered who was the mouse and who was the cat.
The Canucks forced the play more after that and somehow avoided the penalty box. Just two occasions where Kesler went down on a trip or a hook by helping gravity a bit too much or something. They were jawing at the end as well, as the chippiness picked up. The Canucks had some solid play as far as pressure went, but the Wild are so good at protecting in their own end.
Synopsis - The Canucks pushed back adequately after the early penalty trouble.
Numbers of interest - Dominated the circle 10 of 14. Ballard 4 hits in 1st period alone.
2nd Period - "You Hate Us, You Really Hate Us!"
There was a shift in the first where Ballard went all Hippy on Johnson, flattened Powe, and then cleared the puck out in one sequence. It seemed to upset the Wild to no end. Clean checks both, but what can you do? So it was no real surprise when Clayton Stoner wanted to discuss the situation with Dale Weise. Weise ate a few and probably lost the fight, but he also rocked Stoner with a big left.
The Sedins remembered they are superstars shortly after that, and had one of those shifts where you wonder where the goal went. They did everything but score, and with the Lapierre line following it up with a solid shift of their own ( Hansen subbing for Weise in the box ), the momentum looked to be swaying more in the home team's favour.
Subsequent shifts of territorial play in the Wild end, and some shots but few in the "clear" were to follow. The Wild seemed to rush when they had the numbers on a turnover, but not too much otherwise. The "Let's Get Ballard" thing that was irking the Wild came back to bite them then, as Brad Staubitz took a run at Hips that would have resulted in a 10 game suspension if he connected. It was charging, roughing, whatever. Oddly enough, because Ballard slipped most of it, and he connected with Bieksa a bit too much in the ensuing meeting of the minds, that was the call. It was not that bright of a play, to say the least.
The power play was highlighted by another possible "could have called that" when Kesler looked to be tripped coming out of the corner with the puck, as well as some desperate penalty killing against the second unit that looked very good, although part of that was Koivu defending most of it with no stick.
Volpatti got tied up with Stoner going into the corner soon after, and it was the Wild's turn to go on the man advantage. This one was much better, with Cory Schneider having to be at his best with three big saves, two on Heatley in close. Lapierre and Higgins then turned that around and had a 2 on 1 of their own in a dominant shift that did, as someone said in the game thread, remind you of the "Terror Twins" Burrows and Kesler. A solid shift by the Sedins with Weise and a follow up by the speedy 4th line would draw a call on Staubitz for his work on Volpatti, and it was back to the power play.
The link is not there at NHL.com for some reason, but you saw it. Typical, win the faceoff, go to your spots, and execute power play magic. That is a set play that usually results in a Kesler goal. It was eventually given to Daniel Sedin, and the score was tied 1-1.
Without it looking like I am just picking the Wild goals, when you watch this one that they DO have, it is proably the worst defensive lapse of an otherwise pretty solid defensive game for the home team. I love Ballard, but his turning away from Johnson here does not help
Synopsis - A more entertaining period both ways, with a breakdown resulting in the lead lost.
Numbers with meaning - Faceoffs at this point were 24 - 11 for the Canucks. Twice as many takeaways (8) as giveaways (4). Weise, Volpatti and Hansen all have 3 hits. Ballard still stuck on 4 while "keeping his head on a swivel that period ".
Third Period - Dominant
At the risk of sounding like a fan, the Canucks were the dominant team in the final stanza. The shots at the end of it were somehow only 7 to 5 for the home team, but the 1st shot for the Wild did not occur until the nine minute mark, the second with less than three minutes left, and the other three in a late flurry. They were dumping it out and keeping everyone back all period. Damn effectively too.
Check out how this goal plays out. Does it remind you of a previous goal Manny Malhotra was in on? It should. Damn these Canucks and their penchant for executing their set plays so well!
The Wild should be commended at how well they play that style they keep telling everyone they don't play any more. But it neuters Heatley, Setoguchi and Koivu ( well, not him. The only face off guy for them worth a shit, and played his usual strong two way game! ) and their offensive game, as the other two are still learning that they don't have Boyle and Co throwing those stretch passes any more. The third was exciting in its own way, as the canucks pushed the play far more than their opponent.
Synopsis - Damn the Wild for being so solid in their own end! You mean we have to play MORE hockey?
O/T - You HAVE to Call That!
The overtime was predictable then, if only for the fact that the home team was pushing so much. It was on a play where Bieksa was just resetting the rush, and Ryan Kesler was building up a ton of speed, where Heatley made his big gaffe. You cannot not call it when the pass receiver has his stick shattered as the puck gets there. The arm took a long time going up, but it did, and Ryan Kesler had finally drawn a call.
The rest was just easy peasey, lemon squeezey. Come on, a 4 on 3 PP and you have time to get Salo to walk into a SaloBomb? Done. Watch and be amazed. You can almost feel the wind as it rips into the top corner through your laptop or data device...
Synopsis - The right team won today, but the Wild may be a tougher out than last year. Kudos to them for getting the point.
Numberinos - Chris Higgins ended this game with 4 shots and 4 takeaways. Ballard finished up with 5 hits, but Maxim Lapierre, in addition to making the 4th line "go", had 6 to lead the team. Kesler won 12 of 18 draws, Hank 10 of 16 and THEN Malhotra at 9 of 15. Lapierre going 3 of 6 almost is an afterthought,
Now that Steven Reinprecht and David Booth are joining Team Canuck ( details here ) We get David Booth as well, AND a 3rd round pick for savvy vets Samuelsson and Sturm...sad to see you lads. Hope you enjoy Florida. Am I the only one to think we just picked Dale Tallon's pocket? That a boy GMMG!