In a game where the Canucks had every chance to run away with a victory against the worst team in the NHL next to the team the visitors lost to in their last outing, they came up short. There are several reasons for that. Cam Ward having himself a GAME was a primary one.
Sadly, a secondary one was that Tony Gallagher may have actually been proven right. He has been telling anyone that would listen on TEAM the past couple games that the NHL is obviously officiating for parity. When you look at the numbers ( The Canes led the league in penalties drawn going in with over 220 power play minutes ), it is hard to argue with the little hobbit of Vancouver sportswriters, on the surface anyhow. Tonight, a big part of this game was the Canes having six power plays to the one for the Canucks.
It was not the "reason" they won. Hell, its not even the Canes fault. They are just taking the opportunities and running with them.
But, enough about that nonsense. Let's try to make sense of this "disaster" after the break.
NHL ( the Ward save file is a big one in the clips here)
- It is tough to get too upset with the Vancouver Canucks in the first period. They had a great start, with the Mark Mancari, Cody Hodgson and Dale Weise line looking to have something going. Mancari had a solid chance from the slot saved by Cam Ward early on, and the line finished the period with 5 shifts ( Cody had one more with others ) and about 2:30. They made the most of it though, with MANcari getting 2 shots, and Cody just missing on a possible chance as well. Mr Hodgson won a draw on 3 tries, but apart from that, was noticeable with his made up line.
- The Canuck goal was like most of their time on 5 on 5 this period. Mainly in the Cane's zone. They had, at least early on, a solid forecheck and pressure on the boards. The work on the lead up to the Kevin Bieksa howitzer that beat Ward by both Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler was very good. The celebration afterwards was , to say the least, interesting. I think Chad Larose may have had something to do with it, as afterwards Juice mentioned that he had been the recipient of a hard slash to the back of the legs by the Cane player. ( Larose and Hansen were also involved in front on the goal ) The same guy also was tied up earlier with Edler behind the play when he went to the room for a bit. A hit later in the period on Hamhuis that bloodied him had it looking like there might be blood on more than the coal tonight. But both players returned fairly quickly though, and a game with a rare opponent had some feeling for sure.
- Shortly afterwards though, was the first indication that the breaks might not be going the visitors way. On a solid spell of pressure for the home team, Keith Ballard was buried in front of the net. That started some after the whistle shenanigans where Bryan Allen was trying in the worst way to get a fight going with Aaron Rome, who obliged. Somehow, after the melee that almost became a line brawl cleared, Ballard was given a roughing call on Jokinen, while a play where it looked to anyone that follows the Canucks that Manny Malhotra was just pinning Ruutu to avoid his getting into more ( he did it for the full time the melee occurred around him, quite the feat of strength!) was given even up calls. I did not get how Ballard did not get evened up with his guy as well, but maybe they said "hey, it's Jussi!" You would think they would think the same of Manny and his veteran service with the same understanding. Oh well. It was all so confusing with the yard sale on the ice.
How the numbers went ;
A first period where the Canes had 3 PP's in the first 15 minutes contributed to a 15 to 9 shots advantage. Cory Schneider was definitely up to the task in the first, making several saves of the superlative variety. The Canes won 13 of 22 draws in the opening period, and the Canucks made 9 hits to 6 for the home team. Kesler was the only Canuck over .500 on draws with 5/9, while Burrows led all forwards with 6:25 TOI ( 2:15 PK ). The PK also contributed to Dan Hamhuis leading the team with 9:19 TOI in the opening period.
- The second period opened with more goaltending prowess, with Eric Staal and Chris Higgins ( who really deserved a goal in this game ) exchanging good early chances. The line with Henrik looked to actually being on a cycle ( which suffered without Daniel Sedin ) when Jamie McBain slashed Burrows on the hand. That was missed, but the retaliation on the hip was not, and once again the special teams players were on the ice. They got an early clear, but then endured what looked like the whole PK in their own end. Chances to clear were missed, but they did not give up a shot until late, and looked good. Edler and Kesler almost got one on a good give and go as it ended as well.
- The Canucks would get their only power play of the night shortly afterwards, but this was another place where the loss of Henrik's younger brother was felt. It was not up to the #1 in the NHL standards, and while Cody and his big buddy MANcari generated a chance afterwards, and Chris Higgins had another rush soon after that forced yet another great Ward save.
- Henrik Sedin did start to find some kismet with his new line, and it was obvious on the second Canuck goal that Kirk Muller's young team has not seen him that much. He set up behind the net and four guys watched him intently. Meanwhile, Raymond sneaked in between three of them and presented his stick, and Hank found it, of course. Mason Raymond had another goal since his return, and the Canucks had what looked like a solid 2-0 lead.
- The Canes deserved to get something because they worked hard on the opening goal for them. Bowman beat Sami Salo in front and deserved a nice goal, on a good pass from Anthony Stewart that found him in close on Schneider. But in my humble opinion, Eric Staal deserved an interference call on the play. I have never seen that before. Edler tried to get around him to the puck carrier and was blocked like a receiver on a broken play for his quarterback, getting in front of his man. It did not result in the goal on its own, and I am not a referee, nor do I play one on TV. But I have watched a lot of the game of hockey over the years, and that blatant of a play is usually called. C'est le Vie.
- The Ruutu goal late in the second was a killer though. It came on a shift where the "1st" line was running around there own end, and was the result of clears not being hard enough when the puck was there, and great pressure on the forecheck by the home team. Bryan Allen threw a hard enough shot at the net, and Ruutu took some punishment to make the tip, but that was a goal that was eminently preventable
stats, stats, stats, stats ;
After being outshot in the first, the Canucks had a 13-9 edge in that category, and maybe deserved a bit better in the period. Chances were good more than just shots, but blocks in some cases, and Ward on others, combined with some letdowns in their own end contributed very much to the score being tied after two. The Canucks had a 14-10 edge on hits, but it was the Canes 25-17 edge on draws after two that helped a lot. Eric Staal did not look THAT incredible on draws at the time, but the stats guy says he had 13/19 draws won after 40 minutes. The first line that struggled in the first to find the net ( one Burrows shot, had 5 shots and a goal in the second. Mason Raymond was flying. Cody Hodgson had another 6 shifts and was up to just under 6 minutes, including :52 seconds on the PP. He was credited with 1 shot, but again, apart from the PP, his coach tried to get him out with some other guys besides MANcari and Weise, who had 8 and 9 shifts respectively.
- The killer goal in this game was the one less than a minute into the third period. It was set up by a solid play on the boards, with Larose beating Hamhuis after some solid opening pressure from Kesler's line. His pass gave Draydon Bowman a great chance for his second goal, and his quick shot cashed it in, but I think of all the goals, that one bothered Schneider the most. It may have slightly ticked off Bieksa on the attempted block, however.
- It was the next sequence that will undoubtably be referred to by Tony Gallagher in his "I tolda So" article I predict is coming. ( maybe just a rant on TEAM instead, who knows? ) Keith Ballard looked like he did have his arm out and maybe that helped him ride out Ponicarovsky. But on the very same play, Kesler took a stick to the face and had to be repaired. If the officials saw the one, how come they did not see the other? it was in the same place! You just know Tony wont miss that chance. It led to a penalty kill that looked to be running around a bit. While Schneids got to a great chance for Staal, he could not make the save on a Spacek slapper in the high slot. That there was another call coming on Burrows for what seemed like not much of a slash was just the icing on the cake. Have fun Tony. I get where you are coming from, and I see your evidence. I have nothing but a perhaps naive belief in the NHL not being populated by people nefarious enough to think of officiating to parity. I will say, that is a helluva robust style that other team plays do be getting so many calls going there way.
- The next power play, even with 4 getting by him, Cory Schneider battled and made some huge saves on two separate tipped pucks. He may want one or two back as all goalies do, and maybe he did not have a lockdown game like in the past. He played plenty well enough to win, but for the guy at the other end. Cam Ward was the difference the rest of the way, with amazing saves all over the ice, but especially on a beautiful Raymond set up that resulted in Keith Ballard being alone with an open net, only to have Wardo get the glove across to make him stare at the sky.
final tally ;
The Canucks could have won this one, and only gave up one PP goal. But it was the amount of special teams time that was the killer for the team trying to come back. Check out these times on the PK - Hamhuis 6:11, Hansen 5:44, Bieksa 5:30. Hell, Kesler may have wanted to be beastly, but may have been sapped by his 3:24 PK time. It all adds up right? The Canucks came back from a 25-17 deficit on faceoffs to win 21 of 31 in the third while pressuring Ward a lot. Carolina paid the price though, with a 19-10 edge in blocks. Ballard led his team with 5, and Gleason had 6 blocks for the winner. Mason Raymond ended the night with a goal, an assist, and 5 shots, but was overshadowed by some kid named Drayson Bowman, with 2 goals and 8 damn shots! Cody Hodgson played well, and had 10:37 TOI, with 18 shifts to 10-11 for the guys he started with. While 1 SOG ( 1 miss ) and 2/5 does not look good on the stats sheet, AV had him out with Higgins and Kesler late trying for a goal. MANcari with 3 shots in 7:29 was good too. he had a couple hits, but the stats guy missed them I guess! Non believer...
I was just kidding about calling this one a disaster ( it fit with the clip ), and having a bit of fun with the tinfioil references to Tony G. The Canes won because they took the breaks they had and did something with them in a game they looked to be outplayed in. That and Ward in the third on 14 shots that were mostly great chances.
On to Toronto! HNIC. Get ready to #embracethehate HNIC style folks!