The holidays. It is supposed to be a time when you think the best of one another. But you know that this game will do nothing for the Oiler fans dislike of the newly minted Northwest Division leaders. The hit on Mr Plante by Dale Weise looked like a guy turning at the last minute to me, and a shoulder on shoulder hit, for instance.
I bet that Oiler fans and media will beg to differ. I would also, as a counterpoint, like to politely remind them that those young guns were diving at every opportunity. Eberle on Henrik Sedin late was bad enough, but Hall should just be embarrassed for that late attempt on Alexandre Burrows off a faceoff. The referee looked to be giggling as he whined to him, honestly. It was one of about two or three for Hall, to go with his at least half dozen supplications to the officials for every time he was hit. Taylor, you are not going to get the calls until you stop that stuff on every damn play.
But, thats just my opinion, same as theirs on the Canucks. That is just the way it is with these two teams and fanbases. With all that, I still wish them all the best on their holidays in their frigid city. Have a safe and happy one everybody.
More after the break.
NHL ( clips galore! )
This game, the score was not really indicative of the dominance of one team over the other. The Oilers got a few chances here and there, but really, the territorial play ( honestly NHL, you keep stats on everything, why not zone times?) was very lopsided in the favour of the home team.
1st period things -
From the outset, you knew that this was an Oilers / Canucks tilt. It was chippy as hell. Smid set the tone with an interference penalty on Jannik Hansen where he also threw in a bit of a head shot along the boards. The early power play had the Canucks getting chances ( the best an Edler shot with traffic, and a Cody Hodgson post on a rebound ), but not being able to cash in. They did keep pushing it on the forecheck though, and some tremendous work by Kevin Bieksa got it to Chris Higgins ( best forechecker for either team tonight ), whose shot went off of Andrew Ebbett for the game's opening goal.
The Oilers got a power play early too, but for the life of me, I did not get that one. It looked like Ryan Kesler did put a lot of ooomph into the attempted hit on Gilbert, but the defenseman slipped the hit. He did cause a lengthy delay with his check on the boards, but it seemed weird as a penalty. It came at a time when it was 6-0 in shots for the home team, so at least the Oilers got some momentum. The referee attempt to use the time to give AV an explanation, but from the look of Bones and AV, he must have said it very funnily.
The PK was tremendous though, and the Canucks went right back to the attack. The Sedin Cycle would be the cause of another great goal, and another Oiler whine. I am sorry Edmonton fans, but really? Your defender went to Daniel and fell on minimal contact. Is that the first time you have seen the Sedin Cycle? It looked more like another highlight reel goal to me, but then I am a fan of the home team.
The final tally of the first period was definitely a highlight reel goal. On some rare Oiler pressure, Cody Hodgson made a great defensive play in his own end, sent Hansen flying down the wing, and then Beaker made a tremendous pass to Andrew Ebbett for a goal that Khabibulin had little chance on. It also gave Ben Eager a chance to be a douche ( he went to the box and destroyed the camera in the penalty box, something he will be paying for, methinks ), with a little extra into Ebbett after the goal that Andrew Alberts took offense to. It was the first time 4 on 4, something the Canucks should petition the NHL for. Andrew then took a silly tripping penalty late to give the Oilers something to look forward to to start the second period.
Add it up ; The Canucks outshot the visitors 13-5, outhit them 11-4, and won 14 of 23 faceoffs. Ben Eager was a -2 in 6 shifts and 3:26, while Cody Hodgson was +1, with a shot and an assist in 5 shifts and 2:47 TOI. Alexander Edler led the team with 4 hits in the first, and Daniel Sedin had a goal and 3 shots ( and hit the post on a great Sedinery play ).
2nd period drama ;
Where to start? Well, the power play to start the period was better than the first one, but still not near good enough for the visitors. How about the hooking call on Shawn Horcoff? They sure whined about that one, but again, the replay showed it was clearly a stick in the hands and deserving of a call, no matter how Hank went down to the ice. The Oilers did a good job killing that one off, and then, when Eager decided to go a little loony again and slashed Edler, Eagle decided enough of that, and elbowed him right back for another bout of 4 on 4. This one saw a great save on Kesler off a slick Burrows pass, as the Terror Twins had a great game.
The definitive play of the game though, is one that the is going to be viewed with the biased glasses of fandom. For what it is worth, I thought it was a clean hit that the hittee turned away from at the last second. It was shoulder on shoulder, but it was called a major charge and a game misconduct, for a play that looked like a clean hit. ( maybe a charge. MAYBE ) If Shanny looks at that at all, he is going to let it go, in my opinion. The referee called that because of the blood. I hope Mr Plante is OK. But Dale Weise did the RIGHT thing by the videos they sent out, making sure he went shoulder to shoulder. It is not his fault that the guy turns at the last second for the puck. Last thing. He has to know Weise is coming ( of he should not be playing, FFS ). Does the man not bear any responsibility for blithely turning away from a hit he knows is coming? Tom Renney embarrasses himself with his take on it though. He says that Weise had only blood on his mind, and Alex Plante has no responsibility ( in his words? "He's an AHL player just called up, and he was just collecting himself along the boards..." ) It is sad when an NHL coach refuses to see the visual evidence and be biased. I have not heard such shit in all my years of fandom. He tried using the excuse that he is "just an AHL player...". Pul-eaze!
Whatever. The Canucks looked like they were actually doing OK on the major kill. But a shot from Potter was blocked by Keith Ballard, and Eberle got two whacks at it to just get one over Luongo's glove for a goal that made it 3-1.
Check out the response from the Terror Twins. This was the goal that made the game a lock for the Canucks, regardless of what came later. It also turned out to be the GWG.
Nice huh? You would think those two have played together before! I love how Burrows delayed with multiple guys around him until Kesler caught up with the play.
It made Ryan Smyth's goal a bit later easier to take, as the visitors pulled back to within two with another power play goal. But honestly, even though they were better in the second, 5 on 5, they were clearly second best, and without that contentious call, probably not even in the game at that point.
numeros ; After two periods, in a second where they had a major to get the numbers up, the Oilers were still behind 18-14 in shots, 21-15 on faceoffs, and 14-8 on hits. Edler was up to 6 hits, Ballard led the team with 3 blocks, and for the couch coaches, Silent G was up to 9 shifts and 6:50 TOI ( remember though couch coaches, that he was in the box for the Weise call for 5 minutes. ) Just having fun with you guys. He was good tonight. I was OK with his ice time, as the team was rolling the lines as much as possible, and short shifts were the order of the day. Kesler led the team with 18 shifts through two, and was only at 12:10. ( he was double shifting as the 4th line centre as well ). The Sedins only had 12 shifts through two, with Kesler's line at 14 shifts at that point. Those guys ( not the Twins ) all kill penalties too.
3rd period stuff ;
The third was pretty good for the home team. An early goal where Burrows made a wonderful little play to pay Ryan Kesler for the SH set up before gave the home team a 5-2 lead, and it looked like it was over, for all intensive purposes. It occurred on another 4 on 4 ( Ballard and Belanger off for shenanigans ) period. Cory Potter was given credit for a goal shortly afterwards that looked to go off Ryan Jones on its way to the net. There was no way Roberto Luongo saw that one, and it was another goal for the Oilers that he could not really be blamed for. That it came on five on five was noteworthy.
The Oilers had some power play time to try and get back to a closer score, mainly because Jordan Eberle is a filthy diver. When you hear other teams' fans throwing that lame retort at you Canuck fans, just remember plays like that. Henrik Sedin would have to be the strongest guy on the team to make the guy go down there. His stick was there, and like Shorty said, you know the coaches tell the players to "not put the referee in the position to make that call" ( i.e, don't have your stick on the thigh of a cheap diver like Jordan Eberle ), and of course they are right.
The Canucks killed it anyhow, and even got one of their own when Smyth tried to set a pick at the line late in the PP. He is not as skilled at that as the Sedins though, and the Canucks had 1:50 of PP time. The best part of the Oiler game, the penalty kill, was up to it, and killed it off.
The home team was guilty of laying back a bit too much at that point, but that is just coming from a guy that likes seeing the Oilers get beaten badly. What can I say, I was a fan in the 80's, and Gretz' and the boys made us their bitch back then. Payback is fun right?
numbers ; While the Oilers were slightly outshot 8-7 in the final frame, they did not look horribly dangerous tonight, except maybe on their power plays. When they did, Roberto Luongo made the saves. He stopped Smyth in close early, and shut the door late. 3 goals on 21 shots is not great for the save % (.857) tonight, but getting the job done and getting the win is just fine with me. The home team won the shots total 26-21, were way better at the end on draws at 32-22, and while the Oilers came back to tie the hit count at 15-15, I don't remember any huge hits myself for them. The Cody Hodgson ice time watch will have the folks that like that stuff going though, as he finished with 14 shifts, and 10:26 TOI (3:34 on the PP ). The Canucks play their top two lines as often as the rest of the NHL, I guess!