Game 7 huh? They are special. The refs let them play ( though both sides can rightfully complain of missed calls by the previous games' standards ) in Game 7.
Guys like Toews go into full beast mode on a penalty kill, with 90 seconds no less, and set a whole
city, province on edge for Game 7 O/T.
The best kind of O/T.
Burrows being the one that takes an O/T penalty, Luongo with "The Save" 2.0. Campoli getting his pocket picked by our talisman player. Blocker beaten, series over.
So now we bid a fond adieu to the Hawks and look forward to what things Shane O'Brien will undoubtably say before Thursday. I hear Preds fans think we are smug and preening anyhow!
I'll try to be fair on the marks, but I don't know. Might be at least one 10.
"Won't you hear me sing, this song of freedom..."
Glad thats done with huh? Those Hawk guys are good. I believe the term used is "not your average 8th seed, the Stanley Cup Champs."
Special end of series mentions for the GM and AV ;
GMMG - The man does have a sense of theatre I had not realized. There will be those that will be calling it whining, and pointing to Gillis working the refs to get a game where they let everything go. Well, what else do you want for a Game 7. The calls made were the calls made. Regardless, he took a ton of heat from some media guys. Way to stand in there Mike.
AV - One of the more annoying taunts from Hawk fans to me coming into this series was that Q' is a better coach. I've always thought that has more to do with personnel and last change then anything else. Q' having the ability to load up a line with Sharp, Toews, and Kane is because he has those players. Whatever though. It has to be mentioned that his changes last game, actually going back to late in Game 5, and culminating with the lines tonight showed a fine and deft use of his line up. It was Q' tonight that was putting the names in the line blender to try and handle the Canuck match ups.
(note ; the marks I try to give are subjective in that they are how I saw the game too. Of course some of differing views, and that breeds discussion, which is great. But know that, for me, winning is the thing. Its easy to overvalue the negative sometimes, and heaven knows my numbers are no better than how anyone else sees it. Tonight they might be a little high, but I am giddy...sue me! )
"So Barry, who's your checking line go against now?" ;
Tonight we saw another level still in the continuing unveiling of Ryan Kesler as "The Complete Hockey Player". The way that he took the challenge of the Toews matchup and ground it to almost a standstill. This evening, it was the perfect cut to the net, followed by the "he did what" pass to give Burrows his first goal of the night. From hunting defensemen like Keith on the forecheck like a wolf on his prey, to the same zeal and pure "give a shit" effort in the defensive end. 2 shots, 2 missed, +2. Forced the play all night long. 6 hits, many of the big variety. His 40 (!) shifts that took up 25:02 ( leading Canuck forwards ) TOI ( 2:38 PP/ 2:14 PK ) 10 of 23 versus the Hawk's Bolland and Toews his only even remotely negative stat. He came to play, and the Canucks were the better for it. 9.5/10.
Reunited with his Terror Twin compadre, Alex Burrows had to remind everyone that he was not just in the shadow of the Twins. Most of us know him as a very complete player anyhow. Some doubters and haters of the man saw it tonight. You cannot get any more all over the stat sheet in the biggest game of the year. Early goal. Winning goal. Penalty shot. Yes, I saw the centre ice giveaway on Toews superhuman goal. The penalty early in O/T was agonizing. I choose to look at his +1, team high 7 shots, 2 hits, 2 takeaways in 21:07 TOI over 40 shifts ( 1:14 PP/ 1:09 PK ) in a more forgiving mood. Score the game winner in Game 7, on a smart turnover play no less, you get a 10/10 from me.
It has to be said as well, Raymond has been a revelation since AV put those guys together. He had a less then excellent season by his own standards, but he has been his usual puck hunting, speed skating, making things happen self with Kesler and Burrows. 1 assist, a +1, 3 shots, 2 takeaways during his 37 shifts and 23:07 TOI (1:14 PP/ 1:20 PK ) 8.9/10.
That line was out against the Toews line a lot tonight. Even as Q upgraded to Kane and Sharp. Hossa and Frolik. Toews led the Hawks forwards with 23:39 TOI. He scored while on his belly, after setting up Hossa, and after being hip checked by Hamhuis. The Hawks went out on their swords. When your line plays them to a standstill in a game like this one, they should be lauded.
Viking Power ;
Yes, the Sedins did not score. Hank turned up a prime shot for a pass to Burrows. Some will tell you that Bolland is their kryptonite and showed Fisher or whomever how to play the Twins. I might tell you that they had tough match ups all series long, even when Bolland and Co was not in. ( and not to denigrate the Rat too badly. He does play hard, and has underrated skill and hands. Dirty fucker! ) Daniel also led the Canucks in scoring in the series with 5 goals and 2 assists, and Hank added 5 helpers over those 7 games as well.
Tonight, the Sedins were out mainly against Bolland's line ( though they were shifted to Kesler's line a couple times in the third ) as well as Sharp centering Hossa and usually, but not always Ben Smith. Henrik had 5 more ( 35 to 30 ) shifts then his brother, mainly taking defensive draws or being the second center on the ice. He was 14 of 25 ( 8 of 14 in def. zone ) in the circle. 23:05 TOI ( 2:46 PP/ :12 PK ) 5 shots, 2 more missed a hit and a takeaway. 8.5/10.
Daniel has a few less shifts and ice time then his big brother. He looked pretty dangerous though. He had shots tipped out all night, and was credited with 4 ( 1 missed ) in his 20:19 TOI ( 2:46 PP / :02 PK). No hits like his brother though. Wimp. 8.3/10.
The third Twin tonight was compatriot Samuelsson most of the time, though I did see Hansen out there a couple times. His 19:58 TOI included 2:28 PP time, though he was not out on the late PP. He had a shot, 2 blocks, and 2 hits to go with a takeway. Those numbers belie the fact that he gave the Sedin line better defensive presence tonight. 8.2/10.
A Quebecer, a New Yorker and a Dane walk into a bar... ;
It was not a line at the start of the series. But it seems that AV might just have that third line everyone said we lost when Manny was injured. They had a very good game tonight. That one shift where the Canucks dominated and even changed from Lapierre's line to the Sedins was only the best indicator. Not sure Higgins knew he would be hanging with a couple burners like Lapierre and Hansen though. Those guys used their speed to check guys all night long.
I mean, Lapierre led the entire team with 33 hits in this series. He had 5 tonight in his 15:28 TOI and 23 shifts. ( :27 PK ) 2 shots, another missed. A blocked shot, a takeaway, and 3 for 4 in the circle. His line was being thrown out against the Toews line(s) in the third and O/T. They played well. 8.6/10.
Chris Higgins looked like a big game player all night as well. He was out for 24 shifts taking up 16:29 TOI (1:32 PP/ 1:13 PK ). 3 shots ( the best on that play where Crawford made 3 amazing saves, where Chris cut hard to the net ) 3 hits, and he won both faceoffs he was made to take. Somehow the only minus ( -1) on the team, but that's only because he was out when Burrows got checked by Toews. 8.5/10.
Ohhhh Beaker. Jannik Hansen has to be one of my favorite players on this team, for the way he just works hard and takes nothing for granted. He made that "checking" line go, even with the least impressive stat line. In 26 shifts and 16:59 TOI ( :59 PK ), he had a shot, missed one, and was credited with 2 hits. Silly penalty on Sharp though. 8/10.
The Island of Lost Children ;
Folks were turning to one another and giving the shrug when they heard that Cody Franchise was going to sit tonight. AV knew he needed a bit more beef on his fourth line. Glass centering Oreskovich and Torres was a pretty good choice. With fourth lines, its maybe 4 or 5 shifts, and who's line outplays the other. RJ's line had a few moments, but the 4th line match up tonight fell firmly in the home teams' favour. Tanner Glass, for instance. Only 2 hits and a 3 for 5 night in the circle. But he was only on the ice for 9 shifts and 4:20 TOI ( :24 PK ). They did OK when caught out against more skilled opposition by just playing hard and getting the saw off. 8/10.
His big linemates tonight were Torres and Oreskovich. Both only have this year to judge the rivalry, but we all know that Torres was a quick study in that regard! Raffi tonight kept it buttoned down and did not give the refs a chance to even look at him. In 11 shifts of all even 5:13 TOI, he tallied a shot and 3 hits. Every one of the hard and clean variety. 8/10
Victor Oreskovich had 7 shifts and 3:39 TOI all night. He made himself noticeable with a couple strong rushes, a shot, a hit, and a blocked shot. Definitely looks right in that spot. 8.1/10.
Defenders of the Crease ;
Alexander Edler had a pretty good game. So did the rest of the guys. Edler set the tone though. His 28:49 TOI on 36 shifts ( :59 PP/1:39 PK ) led the blue liners in ice time. 4 shots, 2 misses, and 2 blocked shots, added to his 4 hits to lead the blue liners there as well. An even, and stood up at the line all night. 9/10.
Ehrhoff was out with his usual partner for most of the 36 shifts he took in his 26 TOI ( 2:38 PP/ 1:23 PK ). He helped make that power play look dangerous, though he missed two shots and was credited with none on net. He blocked 3 the other way, had 1 giveaway, and was pretty solid under pressure. 8.8/10.
Dan Hamhuis was probably the best defender on this night, even with getting beat on the tying goal. In his 33 shifts and 27 min, ( :23 PP/ team leading 2:32 PK ) he had a shot, was a +1, and blocked a team high 5 shots. 3 hits, 2 takeaways sawing off with 2 giveaways completed his very full night. 9/10.
Bieksa was not all that bad either. His 34 shifts 28:03 TOI (1:22 PP/1:33 PK ) were mostly with Hamhuis, and they were out against top guys most of the night. He was on for the Toews goal too, but they mainly were solid in their own end. 1 shot, missed 2, and was credited with 3 hits. I don't know where to find the "kept them to the outside under pressure" stat though. Their pairing did that all night. 8.9/10.
Ahhh yes, the Minnesota men of the blue line. Ballard drew back in. His 20 shifts and 11:05 TOI was active. An early giveaway was the only one he was credited with. He had 2 hits, one a big hip check on Kruger. 2 shots during a dominant 3rd line shift where he kept the puck in a couple times. He even blocked a shot. 8.7/10
His big buddy Alberts? Well, he only had 13 shifts and 7:08 TOI. He was credited with 2 hits. He blocked a shot. He only looked a bit scary a couple times. 7.8/10.
Even with all that, it has to be said. The Canucks defense did a great job this game on gap control and standing up at the line. Did the Hawks connect on any stretch passes tonight? A couple rushes down the wing, but, unless I missed it, the split the defenders long pass to break in was non existent.
Redeem THIS ;
In the live post game highlights live on Canucks.com, there was a question from a Chicago media guy to Luongo that elicited a "are you serious? I can't believe you would ask that, I am not going to answer that..." But I did not catch the question. ( and have not found it in a highlight package yet ) It was probably some variation on "L7UONGOZ SUCKZ" anyhow, but you got the feeling he wanted to grab the junk at give the "I got your sucks right here buddy."
He was intense from the start. Playing with feeling. He made saves in the first when the Hawks might have had an edge. Great ones on Kane, Toews and Johnson.
In the second, on Frolik and Sharp, when the Hawks only had 6, and his best of the period on Keith with traffic.
In the third, he made more big saves. But some will point at the goal in the last 90 seconds. Not me. Credit where it is due. Toews took a hip check, a tackle and had Burrows there as well, and he still managed to set up Hossa for a sneaky shot that forced a big save. That goal was far more Toews "fault" than it was Luongo's.
In O/T. The Hawks only had 1 shot. It was a pretty great one. Toews had Bieksa down trying to block the pass, made a slick move, and fed Sharp ( who had 8 shots tonight, he will be dreaming nightmares about Luongo tonight ) for a fantastic chance. Luongo made a great read to stop him cold.
Crawford had the more spectacular night, what with a penalty shot, and that incredible save on Kes with 5 minutes left. Luongo gets his mark jacked up because of "The Save 2.0", and because he stared down his demons all night and won. 9.5/10.
Now THAT was a series. MacTavish called it the best he has seen in the first round. Bobby MacKenzie said in all the playoffs he has covered since 1981, this was the best as well. Most the prognosticators will say instant classic. I have to agree.
Its tough when you get the best playing their best. But also more satisfying, and maybe, just maybe, it gives the Canucks a jolt that carries them farther and farther in the playoffs. They may not face a challenge as tough as this Game 7 the rest of the way.
Nashville, you are next. Shane O'Brien should get enough mic time to make us sick of him pretty quickly.