Sean's Game Thread usage of Platoon for imagery got me thinking. With the Predators and the way they play, its not so much what they do, as what you do in response. Sure, they are a good team, or they would not have made it this far. But, if Game 1 is any indication, if the Canucks play their game, the Preds will be hard pressed to match it.
As Chris says in the closing scene , "we didn't fight the enemy, the enemy is us". It's the same with these mother truckers. The Predators had no business being in a position to tie this game late. Well, except the goalie is part of the team, so they did. Rinne was excellent. Completely as advertised. Our Vezina candidate was not exactly day old pastry either.
But he did not have to be as good as Rinne was. Its only Game 1, and they will move on, bringing new storylines to bear. In the mean time, i will be like Chris "to try, with what is left of our
lives, until Saturday night, to find a goodness and meaning to this life game.
OK boys, you got the top billing, show me what you can do... ;
All the talk pre-series was who would the Sedins be facing, would they be out against Weber and Suter all time, and how would they handle that. Well, if the first game is any indication ( and they play half a game, they were out there against the Twins too ), Trotz is more worried about the Kesler line, with Weber and Suter seeing a lot of #17 and Co.
So, we'll go with them first. Mr Kesler drew the Fisher line ( with Kostitsyn and Hornqvist ) most of the time. He played 22:55 TOI tonight ( 7:21 PP/ 4:41 PK ), but half his time was on special teams. The dominant taker of draws all night, going 19 of 30. 1 shot, 2 hits, 3 takeaways and 1 giveaway. He was the engine that made his line go all night. Had another strong night on the power play. A big part of the penalty kill doing so well ( face off wins equal clears, and that happened numerous times in the 5 penalties killed ). 8.9/10.
Mr Burrows spent his day between games at the hospital, witnessing his daughter Victoria being born. ( Congrats! ) You know his teammates would be understanding if he was at his less than best tonight. Let's see, shall we? He played 20:10 TOI, and was the high minute man (5:47 ) of the forwards who pitched a shutout killing penalties tonight. 1:48 of power play time. 3 shots on goal ( 1 missed ) a blocked shot ( a BIG one on Weber killing a penalty in the third ) Somehow was given no hits credited, but had 3 takeaways. 8.7/10.
Mason Raymond was all over the ice tonight. His puck control and speed forced Preds defenders to chase around their own end quite often tonight. His passes and creativity were a help in forcing Rinne to be as good as he was. He was only credited with 1 shot in his 16:27 TOI ( 2:07 PP/2:59 PK ) over 26 shifts.2 for 3 covering draws. Made several solid plays as part of that penalty kill that was so good. 8.7/10
Let's just take a deep breath here ... ;
Its been a little funny to me over the last 3 games in the Chicago series, and the post mortem that followed. Doug MacLean would intone how the "Sedins are not there yet ". The Bolland narrative would get written again and again. Through it all, the Twins both talked of a "team game", and that "we will get our chances". Boy did they. Some will say they did not score, and "we need to see that from them". They were pretty impressive tonight though.
Henrik Sedin had an inspired game. He was out late in the game taking big draws and came through.(7 of 15 tonight ) His blocked shot in the dying seconds help seal the deal. He was his usual power play maestro, setting up plays all over the ice. A break in from the blue line that forced one of the best of Rinne's 29 saves. Another rush through most of the Preds on another. Sedinery style passes to give Daniel and Kesler prime chances. 6 shots, 1 missed in his 20:28 TOI ( 7:08 PP. :15 PK ) a takeaway. 9.0/10.
Daniel Sedin was also guilty of having a strong game. A little less time overall (18:44 TOI, 7:38 PP/ :10 PK ) compared to his older brother. 6 shots, 1 missed, and 2 takeaways. Made the goaltender make some big saves on the power play. With his brother, pretty good in their own end in the closing minutes when called upon. They forced the play, even on the Weber/Suter duo. Well done. 8.9/10.
Mr Samuelsson, by comparison, was not as good. It was not like he dragged down his linemates, by any stretch. He had some good play. His play on the point on the #1 power play was as solid as ever. He had no shots though, and not even any that missed. He had a block, but also drew an early penalty in the first period, in his comparatively uneventful 16:41 ( 6:38 PP ) TOI. 8.4/10.
What do you say about this trio? Maxim Lapierre is as advertised as far as a playoff performer, Chris Higgins plays a true "give a shit" game, and Jannik Hansen is the epitome of what hard work can do. These three keep playing like they have been, they can definitely "say what they want, be what they want to be..." They were out against whatever line they were out against tonight, as AV knows these three will give him what he demands defensively as well as offensively. They were the only line that was a plus tonight as well! ;-)
Let's start, as usual, with the center. I am quickly warming to this guy. Lapierre was a perfect 6 of 6 on the draw tonight. He only had 1 hit in his 11:53 TOI (:44 SH ), 1 shot, 1 miss, 1 takeaway. But it was his nice little give and go with Bieksa at the line, and his slick pass to Higgins in the slot for the game's only goal that had the biggest impact on the game. 9/10.
Chris Higgins has been just as advertised since the trade at the deadline, and is quickly growing into a valuable player for this team. His goal is obviously huge in a 1-0 win. It was a sniper's shot that beat Rinne cleanly. 4 hits led all the forwards, and was one off Bieksa's team lead in that stat tonight. A takeaway as well, in a well rounded 15:44 TOI ( 1:38 PP/ 1:19 PK ) 9.1/10 ( you score the only goal, you get the highest score for the forwards! )
And then there is Jannik Hansen. Everyone's favorite Dane always brings it. While he did not hit the scoresheet with the aplomb of his linemates, he always impacts the game with his hard work. 1 missed shot and 2 takeaways ( and a 1 for 2 on draws ) are the only columns on the scoresheet tonight for Beaker. 14:57 TOI ( 2:37 PK ) was filled with being in on the forecheck, and strong in his own end as well. Trotz probably thinks of him as the prototypical Pred. 8.6/10.
I hear Raffi Torres is really smart too ;
The 4th line is an interesting story. It goes through various configurations. Right now, we have the Dartmouth grad that just refused to quit working and won a spot. The guy that left hockey to go to Notre Dame and get his Finance degree, and the man who overcame hardships and worked hard to get to the NHL in Raffi Torres.
Dartmouth grad Tanner Glass has done whatever has been asked of him since becoming a Canuck. Hw has played in many spots, and learned how to take draws so he could be a center, because the team asked him to. In his 5:37 of all 5 on 5 TOI, he was 5 of 8 on draws. He had a block and 3 hits in his 12 shifts. 8.4/10.
Notre Dame's Victor Oreskovich may have taken a unique path to the NHL, but he brings a more straight ahead game on the ice. 9 shifts and 4:55 TOI. No marks in any columns, though I thought I saw him get a couple hits. Regardless, the 4th line played their opponents to a standstill, and had shifts that changed momentum as well. Good enough for an 8/10 in a win.
Good old Raffi Torres. Chicago's favorite Canuck was strong on the forecheck when his line was given the chance. He had 2 hits, a shot, and missed one in his 6:49 over 13 shifts. 8.4/10.
So, who's your #1 defenseman Canucks? You NEED a #1!!!! ;
Tonight we will give the #1 distinction to the Bieksa / Hamhuis pairing. Of course the shuffling occurs at times, but these two's minutes add up to just slightly more than Edler / Ehrhoff. So there you go.
Kevin Bieksa is a bad bad man. He has returned this year to his position of leadership in the room. He has no problem speaking his mind, admitting after Game 7 that there are a "couple arrogant guys over there it feels good to beat". The media flock to him like moths to a flame, with good reason. Tonight, he set the tone early, with a huge hit on Mike Fisher on his first shift. He made a wonderfully deft play at the blue line to set up the game's only goal. 1 shot and 2 blocked shots. He led his team with 5 hits ( and giveaways with 4 ) in his 24:59 TOI divided over a team high 31 shifts. ( 1:48 PP/ 6:16 PK ). That team leading ( with his partner ) penalty kill time on ice was a big part of the win, as both were instrumental in clearing traffic for their goaltender. 8.9/10.
Dan Hamhuis, on the other hand, is the less brash, more cerebral part of the pairing. As a former Pred, he is the go to quote on that team from the opposing stand point. That experience meant he had a long chat with AV yesterday to pick his brain on their tendencies. Must have worked! In 27 shifts that took up 22:44 TOI ( :26 PP/6:16 PK ) 1 shot, 1 block, 1 hit, 1 takeaway and 3 giveaways filled his stat sheet. His stalwart play in his own end has almost become the expected. 8.7/10.
Alexander Edler is the one that most mention as the perfunctory #1, when someone demands that one be named. Tonight he played 26 shifts that took up 22:27 (2 min PP/ 3 min PK ). His shot from the point forced Rinne to make one huge save, one of 2 shots tallied. Blocked a shot and had 3 giveaways. 8.7/10.
Christian Ehrhoff was going really well this night. As a result, his 28 shifts gave him the second highest TOI for the blue line tonight at 24:28 ( 7:40 PP/2:14 PK ). That power play time led the team tonight. He had 3 shots, 1 block, 1 hit, 1 takeaway and 2 giveaways. 8.8/10.
So, that's the Keith Ballard you told us about? He packed a lot of hockey into his 20 shifts and 11:22 TOI (:06 PP/:46 PK ) He had 2 penalties, but lets face it, only the late one ( a bit unlucky, getting his stick tied up in the skates of Kostitsyn's skates ) was deserved. That was a perfect hip check that he was penalized for. His rush through the # 1 pairing for the Preds forced a huge save, and the way he bowled over Suter to get the rebound and force another was eye opening. 1 hit and 1 takeaway complete a rather full night for him. Get mad at me if you like. I am giving him my top mark for defenders tonight. 9/10.
Aaron Rome slotted in instead of Andrew Alberts tonight, and had the classic, " I did not notice him that much, so he had a good night" rating for a defender. 1 shot, 2 blocks, and 1 hit in 17 shifts taking up 8:52 all 5 on 5 TOI. ( less than Ballard, you'll notice! ) 8.5/10.
My Vezina guy just beat your Vezina guy ;
I am definitely not saying that Luongo was the best goaltender tonight. That would be Rinne, who was the reason his team still had a chance to steal this game late. For Luongo, this game was tough in a different way. With only 5 shots in the 1st, and 6 in the 2nd, he talked afterwards of having to talk more to his teammates to keep him in, and about keeping focus. Obviously, his best save was the one on Fisher shorthanded, but there were others that tested his mettle as well. I might be wrong, but he might have got just the smallest of pieces of the Weber chance on the power play late in the third. Regardless, 20 shots or no, a shutout is a shutout. 9/10.
So, there you go. Where the last series was all flash and bang, like a summer popcorn movie, this series, if this game is an indication, might be the well crafted thriller that makes you think all night after you leave the theatre.