Canucks At Blue Jackets Recap ; Take It Easy (2-1Ls/o)

OK Canuck fans. We were due a game like this one. The pundits will tell you this and that. How could you drop Cody Hodgson ( because he did not have a great game!). How could you not score on Mason? ( He had a pretty good game ). In the end, the Canucks played a game mostly below their lofty standards lately, against a game Columbus team, and still got a point.

The opposition got a little help from their special teams getting a goal, and especially their PK making the #1 power play in the NHL look ordinary. They got the win by mostly playing all five guys back in the third, when it looked like the Canucks might even win this one.

Take it easy.

ESPN

NHL ( all the clips here if you dare! )

Not a linear breakdown, but just a series of observations and numbers tonight.

- This is not a complaint about the referees so much as a mention of Tony Gallagher's conspiracy theory as it relates to officiating in the NHL. That the referee for parity. It would be hard to argue with Tony G after this one. The stats say that they Blue Jackets are #2 in PP time behind Carolina, the other 15th place team in the NHL. Look, they maybe brought a call or two on themselves, but in the first period, I don't think any one of the penalties was a good call. It got the home team some momentum, and a goal for Jeff Carter. This is one you cannot blame on Roberto Luongo. He made the save on a point shot that was tipped by Carter ( on a 4 on 3 PP, with the extra room ), and was not able to get to the puck before Roberto could. Dan Hamhuis left the front, and Alexandre Burrows did not rotate there in time as well, but that is one you cannot blame on the goalie that much.

- 10 to 5 in shots in the first period, and yes, the power plays helped, but the Canucks just did not look that strong on the puck early. It was all lines ( though the 4th looked better with Aaron Rome there instead of Andrew Alberts ) that just did not have the wherewithal to get through the checking of the home team. The Blue Jackets collapse everyone back, except for noted cherry picker Rick Nash. Lots of pucks went off sticks, passes were chipped, and kudos to the Columbus team, they were good along the boards early as well.

Who did what on the stats sheet ;

Andrew Alberts was OK in the first, with a block and a hit in 5:06. Four defenders had 10 shifts, but Keith Ballard played only 5:08 in the opening period, Edler 6:16, while Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis had 8:22 and 8:38 respectively. The Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins line generated a shot each. While Manny Malhotra was 5/6 on draws. Cody Hodgson was 0/2 at the other end of the spectrum.

- The second period, well, while the Canucks had an early chance on the power play. They just were not sharp on it though. Daniel Sedin had a chance in the slot that was gloved, and the second unit looked like they were going to do something, but did not. A third power play about seven and a half minutes in generated some solid chances, the best of them a Kesler tip on a nice play by Hanrik, but once again the goalie stood his ground. The normally potent power play of the Canucks was mitigated by a solid penalty kill, but lets face it. They have looked better.

- Keith Ballard had a great game. He went from Andrew Alberts to Aaron Rome as a partner towards the end of the second, and was out even less in the second period than he was in the first. The play where Umberger looked to be around him, only to be taken off a solid chance by a last second hip check was wonderful. His line was only one block and one hit through two. They don't keep a stat of pucks cleared quickly, or nice passes to forwards though.

- The Sedins and Burrows went from no shots in the first to 6 in the second period, with each guy getting 2. They were much better in a 13-11 shots advantage in the second, but it looked to me that even when they were dominant ( and there were shifts, especially in the third, where they were ) that passes between the two were not clicking. I think I counted about 4-5 that missed this game. THAT does not happen often.

Guys that did things and how the numbers said so ;

Jeff Carter was the best of the Blue Jackets on draws, going 7/11 through two periods. He had a goal, and two shots. Mark Letestu was 0/5 through two periods, and had an assist on the game's only goal for his team. Yet the three stars as reported on NHL.com was mason, Wisneiwski, and Letestu? Carter was better than that. He had two cherry picker passes for that goal suck Nash that almost resulted in more scoring! Maxim Lapierre led his team with 3 hits. It was 15-15 between the teams in that category though two, the Canucks led 19-17 on draws ( Money now 7/9 ), while the BJ's were ahead 21-19 in shots, and 8-7 in the blocks stat. After getting outshot 11-1 in the second, the Blue Jackets got the next 8 shots in the second.

- The Canucks deserved better for playing hard only half a game in the final period, but credit to Steve Mason. He cramped up and was out of the net for a couple minutes, but his work was the reason his team did not give away a game they were the better team in tonight. That has happened too much, from what I understand. He got a little of that back in this start.

- The line changes by Alain Vigneault all worked. The Sedins and Burrows he left together, but the second line had way more jump with Mason Raymond on it, and the same for a third line of Chris Higgins, Lapierre and Malhotra. The fourth line did not get much of any time ( it was a hodge podge of Hodgson, Weise, and whomever as Aaron Rome replaced Alberts on the third pairing in the final period ) Cody deserved the demotion folks. Sorry. Look who the coach through out first in the shootout though. He does not hate the kid folks. He just noticed that he was not having his best game.

- The same with Roberto Luongo at the other end of the spectrum. Yes, he got beat on all three in the skills competition, but he was the reason his team got a point at all tonight. Luongo was just fine tonight.

- I thought it was a special kind of hockey karma that the one guy that was jumping the zone early every play, that was far more focussed on that than defense ( I get it, he is their star ) was the guy that was the reason for the goal that tied it up. He tried to pull a dive on Higgins on the forecheck that the refs did not bite on, was too late to the puck after he got up, and was not able to check Chris Higgins on a nice pass to Lapierre in front.

- No, I am not picking on Rick Nash. I just think that his not playing a 200' game unless he feels like it is a big reason why this superstar does not have more success. We know he can do it, we saw it at the Olympics. The stats guy gave him three hits. I am willing to wager none of them were in his own end. Nice goal in the shootout there though Rick.

The final stats are not always the tale ;

The best faceoff guy was Manny Malhotra, going 10/13, and in the third, his prowess was a big reason most of the play was in the offensive zone in the third. Alexander Edler wins the #beasting award tonight, with 4 shots ( 3 misses though ) 4 blocks, and a team high 5 hits. Mason Raymond finished with 5 shots after only having 1 through two periods.. You think he gets Higgin's spot in Carolina?

At least the highlights below only showed one of the shootout goals! Oh well, on to Carolina. We know how this team usually is after a sub par effort. I expect a lot more in Raliegh...

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