Bieksa ponders who long he'll let Neal be conscious before he makes him take a nap (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
And so it begins again. And if I have learned anything from last night, it's that the Luongo debate is going to be an ugly one all season long. Let's get right into it, since I have already had three co-workers ask me about it so we might as well talk shop.
Was last night Luongo's best game? No. No it was not. In fact, if you have your Luongo Fails check list ready, you will see he completed nearly all of the in last nights game.
1) Bad goal close to the side boards (Last night's was an inverted Marchand game 6 goal)? Check
2) A nut punching, what the hell was that goal from behind the goal line? Check
3) Bobbling the puck off of the glove and scrambling to recover? Check
The only thing missing from getting 'Bingo!' was that Luongo didn't give up the puck with his stick handling.
But that aside, it was one game. And it is October. Bash Luongo all you want for melting in pressure games, do your thing on being unsure of how good he is in the playoffs, but for the regular season? Luongo is consistently a great goalie for the regular season. He just came off of taking the team to game 7 of the finals. I am sure we can all find it in our hearts to give the guy a break. Sure, it looked like a homeless guy on one skate could have deked Luongo out in the shootout, and sure it looked like that guy who jumped on the ice against Theodore years ago would have had a solid chance of scoring on Luongo, but give Lu time, he'll find his groove, and he'll give us solid goaltending in the regular season as he always does. If you think you've somehow come up with a way to prove that last nights game from Luongo is proof that he needs to be traded, do us all a favor, put down the beer, and go get some sleep.
As for the rest of the game, here is what stood out to me.
Sedurrows Line: Amazing. Started off slow but once they found their groove, it looked like Daniel and Henrik picked up right where they left off. Burrows timing was off a bit, but that will come around. That pass from Henrik to Daniel was sublime, and the finish Daniel had on the goal was wicked. Plus he's in my pool. Double wicked.
Samgonurm Line: God awful for most of the night. It was like Samulesson and Sturm were having a contest to see who could look slower out there. Or as is my current theory, they wanted Hodgson to look super super fast out there so they skated really really slow. Let's just say I am really glad Kelser is coming back soon. Hodgson got stronger as the game wore on, but you can tell that he isn't that shifty like a Patrick Kane, so when a guy zeroes in on him he struggles to make quick moves to get away from him, which will make it hard for him to generate offence all on his own. He also lost 80% of the battles he was in, and many times refused to engage in battles for the puck. But when he gets that puck, you can see how good he is with it. Still, Hodgson was the best of the 3 last night, and I wouldn't mind seeing Higgins/Kesler/Hodgson at one point this year. Hodgson actually played like Wellwood last night, to be honest. Didn't win many battles, but showed flashes of offensive skill with the puck. If Kesler can one man show it up and create room for Hodgson, it might work.
Higgmalsen Line: Higgins was our best player through 40 minutes. Just a beast of a game. Forechecking hard, throwing hits, and taking the puck to the net. Loved his game tonight. Manny was Manny, solid defensively, god awful offensively. And Hansen showed signs of being that hard worker he always is. One shift it looked like Hansen stole the puck three times. I think Higgins will bounce around the lineup, but if the Canucks want a dedicated "shut down" line, it looks like Hansen and Malholtra will be riding together.
Lapirrere Line: The other two don't deserve their name with Maxim's. Max showed again what a potential mistake it was for the Ducks to let him go, as he had another great game. He just stays on that puck and is tenacious about it, and once he gets the puck, he tries to bring it to the net. Even with an ugly goal from the corner. He is the only forward legitimizing that fourth line right now, and his play really makes you want to see him get to play with other NHL caliber players. Volpatti looked like non-NHL ready Volpatti, and Weise looked terrible, but it's only one game, so they have to get more time. Weise especially, coming to a new team with a new system. I am sure nerves were high for Weise.
Schneider: Worked that bench door like a boss.
From the Penguins, the three that stood out to me were Malkin, Neal, and Letang. Malkin and Neal were downright impossible to get off the puck at times, which lead to the Canucks being penned in their own zone many times last night. After that first goal from behind the net, the Penguins began to threaten with that kind of goal many times. It would lead to Neal being behind the net and me screaming like a little school girl. "GET HIM! DON'T LET HIM SHOOT FROM BACK THERE! OH GOD! WHY WONT SOMEBODY HIT HIM??". Letang on the other hand was AMAZING at getting that puck out of trouble. Anytime the Canucks came in on him and tried to beat him physically, he would just calmly spin away from them and make the perfect outlet pass. All night long he made amazing outlet passes and made the right play. You simply could not use physical size to steal the puck from him last night, he would just evade and outlet.
With that said, let's hit up some News and Notes!
Vancouver Canucks News and Notes:
- @Puckpuckgoose saw an interesting thing behind Marco Sturm during his interview last night and and weighs in on the mental attitude the Canucks brass are trying to instill in the team to avoid that dreaded Stanley Cup Finals hangover. [Puck Puck Goose]
- Want to see something more horrifying than Luongo in a shootout? I am sorry for this. This sounds like a terrible Tim Horton's breakfast sandwich. [OH GOD IT BURNS]
- Canucks Army files their season predictions just under the wire, and I will post it here because they are like brothers to us. Brothers who we want to fail at life, but are still family, so we kind of support them, but deep down, we want nothing but fire and flames for their hopes, their dreams their future......wait, where am I? Sorry. [Canucks Army]
- "Can the Canucks be like the Penguins??" Now times this by a thousand. And now you know what the running commentary will be ALL YEAR LONG. Cam Cole dives headfirst into this with his article, but there are some good quotes from Gillis about last year's run, including how badly injured the Canucks were, and how blind luck can often be the reason behind a successful cup run. My pass to Bieksa was not luck, though. That was skillz.
- Roberto Luongo goes over the lowest point of his career. No, not game 7 last year, but Matt Cooke scoring two goals on him. "It felt like someone stabbed me in the heart, then pushed me down the stairs, then made me pizza with tofu on it. It can't get much worse than this." explains Luongo. Roberto, for his part, actually owned up to the bad goals, which is surprising. How long this will last is anyone's guess. [Toronto Sun]
- Riot fallout! Police want more power to search for booze. I read this as "Police want a cheap date". "Officer, I don't think I would hide my booze in there...." [Winnipeg Free Press]
- Tony Gallagher puts the moves on the Canucks as he insults them, but then wins them back by saying their the best. Oh Tony, you card you. [The Province]
- The Canucks apparently don't want to practice near dirty students as they have put in a proposal to build a new hockey rink in the False Creek area so they never have to go to UBC ever again. [Vancouver Sun]
- The Leafs won last night, setting up what I hope is a terrible downfall for them. Reimer posted a shutout while Jim Hughson lost his mind over nominal saves. A good time was had. At least Kessel got me an assist in my pool? Which makes up for the awkward passes and giveaways he had most of the night? Read more about the win at [Globe and Mail]
- The Bruins lost. This pleases me. Bryzgalov got a win. This pleases me more. Marchand scored the lone Bruins goal. I hear he celebrated by getting a tattoo. "Number one pack scorrer in the HNL" Read more about the awesome Bruins loss at [Broad Street Hockey]
- Hey, you know what's awesome about the Bruins? Re-creating the Stanley Cup win on home ice! Yup, you read that correctly! Apparently it's awesome to take the Stanley Cup and parade it around on home ice for about 5 hours. Next up for the Bruins? Parading the Stanley Cup WHILE playing the Rangers. Excellent! [Puck Daddy]
- Colin Campbell warns Shanahan that the love fest will end. It's actually pretty awesome because it totally looks like a jealous ex-girlfriend. "At first it's all flowers and I love you's, but then soon enough, he's out all night, you haven't seen him for days, and he comes home with stripper glitter on his face. Then we'll see how much you love him. YOU'LL SEE." [Toronto Sun]
- Don Cherry....fighting.....pinkos......commie bastards......european name.......rawr........Nucks Misconduct's very own Mark takes on the latest Cherry rant which I just summed up for you so succinctly. It's a great ead and I highly recommend you read it over at [Hockey in Society]
- Ta-Da, my boy Thomas Drance, got a sweet sweet interview with Elliot Friedman. Sadly, they talked stats. BUT it's awesome that Ta-Da is moving up in the world. One of our own is going to make it! We shall soon rule the world! My plan of surrounding myself with successful people so I can ride their coat tails is working! Give it a read at [Canucks Army]
No Tweet of the Day. None of you made me laugh. For shame. That's actually a lie, I just forgot to favorite the tweet.