In a game where the first half had all the requisite skill and glamour, and the second half crackled with an entirely different energy, the fans in house and on the national audience were treated to quite the spectacle.
There will be many story lines, and we'll get to them in a second, but this was fan appreciation night at the Rog'. Hank gave the fans some love, and the fans getting the jerseys, and the good sized contingent staying behind gave the team some right back. I know this is not original to just this market, they all do it, and maybe its just the fan in me, but damn they look to enjoy doing this stuff. It also kept Ryan Kesler away from a microphone until he had calmed down, though what happened engendered a couple no comments anyhow.
Scoring a shorty on the resulting power play must have felt exactly like the "sticking it to them" that both Hansen and Kesler mentioned. Those comments and the fire behind them reflected the passion and fire that this game got at about the same time Kronwall did his patented "jump into the guy with my ass" hit that he stole from Rob Blake. He has perfected it though. I think the Deputy Sheriff Blake used to get called more for that than Nik' does.
Enjoy this team folks. It is the best we have had. Some hopefully more incisive stuff after the break.
NHL ( some delay there. Here is their recap, they have video you can click on there, until the usual stuff is loaded )
Tonight, instead of a first period to third linear thing. let's look at it a different way. The lines, pairings, and the guy between the pipes. And a little something something at the end.
Sedinery - The Sedin line did not dominate the scoreboard tonight. They did dominate at times in this game though, especially in the earlier going, when the Canucks were faster, hitting more, and were in the Wing's end for most of the time. The Detroit team looked to be at least trying to check them, but the cycle was flying. For all that though, they were on the ice and running around on the second Red Wing goal as well. ( well, some were. Tonight Burrows was a -1, Hank an even, and Daniel a +1 ) The goal that Burrows got was called lucky by him between periods. Don't you believe it. Henrik Sedin waits until Daniel can get to him at the blue line, gets him the puck, and then Daniel does the same type of thing with waiting for Burrows to be in the perfect position before throwing the puck to the right place. For all their good play, Burrows had 1 shot, and missed two, while Daniel had 2 shots and missed one. Henrik was too busy perfecting his backhand saucer passes. The header by Daniel almost deserves extra credit as well.
Shock and Awe - The Team America moniker does not work without David Booth, but the attitude might be there as much or more with the Cochrane Cyclone performing well since the adamantium bonding took. I am LOVING the new Mason Raymond. He had an assist on the Higgins goal that was all dash and power. His stat line was solid (1A,+1, 3 SOG and 1 hit ), but what really impressed me was after the Kronwall it, who was the first guy to hit him along the boards? Mase 2.0. Chris Higgins? Helluva goal. He was not given any credit for any hits tonight though, and while he was in the middle things, he only had 2 shots. Still, Higgy plays hard. I don't blame him for the dumbass penalty.
The star of the Shock and Awe tonight was Ryan Kesler. While we all saw the good and the bad after the penalty ( which was absolutely ridiculous. Especially in light of the Jimmy Howard spectacle of going after Hansen in the same fashion soon after ), and I did not like the little leg to Zetterberg ( no, it was not knee on knee, it was a bit dirty though ) I sort of understood him a bit, as he felt he was steamrolled with his head down. But he does have to keep his composure a bit better. Let's give him some slack though. The guy was a blanket on Pavel Datsyuk ( a second assist on a goal that should probably have not counted, with Bertuzzi pushing Salo in. I guess they thought Sami fell in on his own? ), who only had 1 shot. He had 4 hits, and even though he was only 6/15 on draws, he won three straight on Datsyuk in his own end. Ryan Kesler was a warrior, and sorry Wings fans, but your Kronwall boy left his feet. He left his feet when he first learnt that hit, and he left his feet tonight. Its a good hit if he does not. Mike Babcock should stop getting indignant ( we CAN'T take that hit out of hockey ) and look at his heavy hitter. I love hitting. Kronwall leaves his feet. It is not clean or anything when you jump into the hit. Make the hit without leaving your feet Nik. Or stop trying to do that.
Godson, Honey Badger , Money - This line was the one for me tonight. They had a couple shifts where it was either Zetterberg's line or Datsyuk out, and it was like Honey Badger don't care. ( Honey Badger had 6 hits to lead the forwards ) He don't give a %$#@. All Beaker does these days is make an impact on hockey games. He was amazing tonight. An assist on Silent G's goal that was a perfect pass, and another that may be changed into a goal ( the puck went off Beaker as he was laying in the crease with Howard ) on the shorthanded tally that was all speed and going to the net. Listening to Zetterberg saying he did not push him there in the post game presser was hilarious. I actually guffawed. A goal on two shots, and a hit, in addition to winning 2/3 draws highlighted another game where Cody Hodgson improved. But I was also excited by Manny Malhotra's game. An assist, a shot, a +1, a block, a hit, and 13/20 draws. His penalty kill work helped the team go 4 for 4 on the kill. Well done Money.
Inglorious Basterds - I have expected to see Maxim Lapierre giving the smiley face to someone to drive them nuts, and maybe the camera just missed it, but that line was another that I really liked. It does not seem to bother AV when they get out there against top lines, as happened on occasion. Lappy had an effective 9:46 TOI, with a shot, a block, and 5 hits. Dale Weise was also mainly noticeable for the right reasons, though he only had one hit ( and a shot ). Both were even tonight, and their linemate ( line changes not being completed on both goals against ) was the -1, but he ma have had the best night. He was strong on the puck, in the right place most the time, and had a great scoring chance on one of his 3 shots. Andrew Ebbett also made a couple smart plays in his own end on rebounds to end pressure situations. Not too bad for his first game in a while.
Juicy Hammer - You know what I liked? After a while, when the penalty was killed, and the score was back up by two, Kevin Bieksa hit one of the top six guys for the Wings ( Valtery Fillippilluuulllaaaa ( sp?) with a totally clean hit that he did not have to jump into to be effective at all. Juice is old school. That is what happens. You hit my skill guy, I hit yours. He got an assist and was an even ( on for a goal against too ), blocked a shot, had a penalty against, and a team high ( with Hansen ) in hits with 6. He even got 9 more seconds than his partner's 25:30 TOI. Dan Hamhuis was wonderful in his own end in that time as well. The guy had a team high 5 blocks, of the 8 minutes of penalty kill time, he was on for 4:30 of it. They were on against the top guys all night, and effectively neutered their offensive prowess.
Undead Eagle - My frigging word, did Alexander Edler have himself a game. A goal, 2 shots, a block, and a couple hits, to go along with being an even. There were a couple occasions where he and his partner were caught in their own end a bit, but they recovered at those times pretty well. Edler was jumping into the play pretty well ( as evidenced by his play on the penalty kill that led to the turnover that Hansen rushed, and eventually his goal ), and handled his tough assignments pretty well. Sami Salo had a similar night, just not as flashy. 2 SOG, a block and a hit, but it was his play in front that was solid after he was not strong enough on Big Bertuzzi on the first goal. You can say he was pushed in, and I did initially, ( and he did ), but I sort of saw why the refs did not call that, as he looked to lose his balance a little. It evened out with the Edler goal anyhow.
Mutt and Jeff - For the second game they have ever played together ever, I was very impressed with Andrew Alberts and Alexander Sulzer. Both of them stood up well to some pressure in their own end. Both were smart on the pass outs and jumping up. Both were a +2 , and while Alberts was only credited with a hit, he was very good at moving out Holmstrom in the third period, when he was out killing penalties. The German was a model of efficiency as well, with an effective 15+ minutes that garnered 2 shots, 3 blocks, and only one giveaway. They even had a shift with the Sedins where it looked like both were thinking the cycle right along with the wizards of it. They were a 5/6 pair tonight, but a good one. Those that were looking at this pair as a weakness to be exploited were disappointed.
Roberto Luongo - No cute nickname, he deserved more than that. The man is once again getting dialed in. The first goal was flat out not his fault with Salo falling ( read - pushed in by Bert ) on him, and he still almost got to the goal that was slipped in. The second one, he had it. It was going into the glove, but for the defender not getting Drew Miller's stick ( a nice tip, BTW ) BUt I lost track of how many saves he made in traffic, with either Bertuzzi or Holmstrom's butt in his face. Rebounds were not as plentiful as at the other end, and his glove was working just fine thanks. It is this kind of play for this goalie that made me jokingly enter the "1st Bishop of Luongod" into my signature oh so long ago. It is great to see him back. Of the 40 shots tonight, 16 were in the second, and an equal number in the third, when the Canucks only had 4. He outdueled the other goalie, and it can be definitely argued "won the game for his team". He did not steal it, because his team was too good in the first half. But he sure aided and abetted that win.
Last bit...Hey TSN, and SNET especially, give it a rest with the narrative painting bullshit. Yes, Ryan Kesler lost his temper with what he thought was a cheap hit. The replays show he has a point. He even said after that "the hit was fine", but you know that was after the adrenaline had cooled down. All I know is that Niklas Kronwall's skates are off the ice before contact. It was worthy of the response, if not the little shot on Zetterberg. But don't kid yourselves. This is the team that is used to getting all those breaks as the "Mighty Wings". Maybe the Canucks have to win a Cup(s) like this team to get the same nodding and agreeing bullshit from the TSN and other Eastern media outlets. The SNET loons actually tried to sell that Hansen went into the goalie, because "Zetterberg said he did not push him..." Visual evidence to the contrary ( as soon as those damn NHL clips are up! Sorry, you'll have to click through there later!) I guess the "new kid in town" does not get that kind of hypocrisy unless its the local guys!
And you call yourself reporters. Speaking of which, expect a far leaner "report" on the Flames game on Friday. ( you got extra tonight anyhow! )
Going to hang with the gang for beers that night. Join us here.