Well, in the Disney area code, anyhow. The first game for a bunch of the regulars was tonight, to quiet the kerfuffle from some of our puck media complaining about the way that AV and Gillis set it up. Me? I was OK with it. You know that if they get off to a slow October start though, it won't be because that has happened before, but because of the preseason schedule!
Anyhow, the big guns were out tonight, in a game that had NHL ready lineups on both sides. We'll see after the break whether it was a more regular season or preseason...
Lets try something different tonight. A couple reasons. Change is good, and since this is my last recap for a couple weeks ( I will be working for the Vancouver International Film Festival most evenings for the next couple weeks. Say hi or see a movie. See one anyhow actually, they are ones you won't see any other time of the year! I'll be at Pacific Cinematheque most every evening for the duration ), and you get Sean and Mike, they will probably be less verbose than me.
- The Canucks did come out strong, as I thought they would. They were all over the Ducks the first couple shifts, and AV was rotating the Sedin line and the Hodgson line to keep it going. The preseason hands were apparent, just at the end of a play, the last pass, or a shot going wide. They seemed to be pushing hard, until Burrows took a slashing call to give the Ducks a power play.
- After that, the play seemed a bit more back and forth. The top three lines for the Canucks were pushing well ( in addition to Sedin/Sedin/Burrows, and Hodgson/Sturm/Samuelsson, the 3rd line of Ebbett/Volpatti/Oreskovich was noticeable quite often ). It seemed that AV was purposely letting Carlyle get the Getzlaf line out against his 4th of Schroeder/Mancari/Duco to see how they would do.
- Cam Fowler is a helluva defenseman for 19 years old. He was strong in his own end, and his good work led to the first goal, when he made a spinarama move on Duco, went down low, and made a nice pass. Unfortunately for Luongo and his paisan Mancari, it went right off the MANchild's stick and into the net for the first goal.
- All of the sudden, the game started to look like line rushes for a second. Perry got off a nice shot on the rush, Luongo save. The Sedins the other way, Hiller save. The Bobby Ryan came back the other way, used Alberts as a screen perfectly, and beat Luongo on a shot he was a little too far the other way on. Two quick goals, one pretty lucky, and it was 2-0. The Ducks got on the PP late, but there would be no more from them in the first.
- With 90 seconds of power play time to start, the Ducks PP ( 2nd only to the Canucks last year ). The Canuck penalty kill was very good though, not even allowing them to setup, and then went back to the attack. The Canucks were rushing and pressing the play far more than their opponents too. This is the Ducks though, and their stars can be dangerous at any time.
- The Canucks first goal was started on the play of one of the best Canucks this night, Victor Oreskovich. He made a wonderful play to Kevin Bieksa at the point, who beat the onrushing checker with an accurate shot. Henrik Sedin, late off a change, made the tip, and the puck went off Fowler for good measure to beat Hiller and make it 2-1.
- A perfect example of how not to take a hit, and a fine example of why Aaron Volpatti will not be suspended occurred next when Andrew Cogliano turned his back to the hit he had to know was coming from Volpatti. Of course, Brookbank jumped him, and the refs ( rightly ) called even up penalties.
- Mike Mancari ( sorry Stanchion!) might have sealed his fate in this game, as he was just not doing the things a 4th liner should, turning up hits and not using his size as effectively as early in the preseason. His line had a solid shift, followed up by a Sedin line shift, and Hodgson line shift as well, as the ice tilted a bit towards Hiller. Oreskovich saw that and came back out with another excellent shift. The pressure on the puck, hitting, and using his puck skills was nice to see.
- Cody Hodgson and his likely opening night linemates didn't have the most dominant game, but they were solid at both ends, and Cody showed his playmaking, setting up Sturm for a chance that forced another big Hiller save ( he was very good tonight ). Duco, on his next shift, forced Vishnovski to take a holding call, and the #1 PP last year was out on the ice again.
- The Ducks made it worse when Andrew Gordon slashed Daniel Sedin ( he looked like that hurt, but got some "treatment" at the bench during an AV timeout and did not miss a shift ) to give the Canucks a two man advantage. It looked like Hiller was going to stone them some more, but Henrik set one up for Ehrhoff's replacement as the trigger on the power play, Sami Salo, and his blast made it through the 5 hole on a puck he probably never saw ( Burrows screening very well in front ) to make it 2-2. The Ducks had a few late chances to end the period. Luongo made some five bell saves off of Ryan and Getzlaf off the faceoff to keep it tied going into the final frame.
- The defense of the Canucks will be jumping into the play all year. Bieksa was picking his spots very well, pinching and holding it in, and when he did it early in the third, Burrows had a fine chance ( his follow through getting Fowler in the face, sorry kid!) that Hiller robbed him on. It was, of all people, Andrew Alberts, who filled the lane excellently, joined Hank and Burrows, and was sent in cold for a wonderful chance that he just could not get high enough to beat Hiller. Burrows was then dumped by Sbisa with no call, so, of course, he tripped him to put the Ducks on the power play once again.
- The penalty kill did a good job of keeping it to the outside, but last years leading defenseman scorer was able to beat Luongo from the point on a shot he probably could have had ( his stick was not flat on the ice, and it went five hole ). RANT here...just ignore if you so desire...but ; Go eff yourself Don Taylor. Yes, we all saw two of the goals tonight go in that Lui usually stops. And I know since you also do TEAM, that you need something to talk about. But its really pissing me off when you start with the passive aggressive bullshit for the guy in the first game, and not even a regular season one. "The hate for Luongo is in midseason form..." on SNET afterwards? What? Maybe because assholes like you want something to talk about. Bottom line, its guys like you that propagate that shit, and in the very first game, you can give the guy a break. end RANT. Thank you ;-)
- The Sedins almost got it back on the next shift, but were denied in close, before a call that was just wrong put the Ducks back on the power play. The puck was there, and Alberts hit his guy at the blue line. Again, whatever though. Its preseason, and life is too short right? The guy on the ice called it a penalty, so its a penalty! Apart from a Selanne shot, the penalty kill was strong, and the visitors went right back on the attack again afterwards.
- The third period was all Canucks. The Ducks took to just chipping it out. Maybe they are conserving energy before their European adventure or something. First the Sedins with Samuelsson almost got one on a nice setup. Burrows drew a call on Ryan, and it was all Hiller, all the time now. The Sedins and the rest of the first unit put great pressure on, and then the Hodgson unit did the same. The Ducks were doing a great job collapsing to the front of their net, and blocks and passes that just missed or were tipped were the norm.
- It looked like the Canucks might not get another special teams chance, when Bieksa was tripped with no call on a pinch, but Andrew Gordon pulled a dummy move by hauling down Henrik 200' from his own net. The Cody Hodgson unit started it, and Ebbett had a good chance, before the #1 unit got out there again. They put the pressure on, and the Ducks decided that Hiller was not getting enough work yet, with Guenin crosschecking Burrows into the boards on a dangerous play to give the visitors a 2 man advantage. AV pulled Luongo to make it a three man advantage. Strangely enough, they seemed to be not as fluid on the PP then, though maybe it was just Hiller robbing them all over the ice. Burrows had the best chance in close, before Gordon redeemed himself a bit by making a good play to clear and give the Ducks the victory.
Henrik Sedin, a goal and an assist. 3 shots at net, 2 that forced saves. A not very good 8 of 23 in the circle though. He was good though, as was Daniel Sedin, who had an assist, and a team high 8 shots at net ( 6 forcing saves ). They looked to be pretty close to in sync with Alexandre Burrows, who had 6 shots ( 4 on net ), and was his normal irritating self. Only credited with one hit though.
Andrew Ebbett and Victor Oreskovich. Ebbett only had one shot, the chance on the power play late. But he was responsible in his own end, blocked a team high 3 shots, and was the driving force on his line most of the night. He and Oreskovich ( 1 assist, 1 shot on, 1 off, 1 hit, 1 block ) both had good games, but it was Wrecker's puck skills I found heartening to see. They did well with Aaron Volpatti, who had a shot, and led the team with 3 hits tonight.
Cody Hodgson and Marco Sturm had a good night as well, and they were both looking for Mikael Samuelsson all night. Cody won 8 of 17 draws, had a couple chances that did not get though. He did show his puck sense, and while this was probably his weakest game in the preseason, he was not "bad" by any stretch. Marco had 2 shots and a hit, while Sammy had 6 shots ( 4 on net, a couple excellent chances ) All three were each a -1.
The blue line was not perfect. They got scored on 3 times, twice on the penalty kill. But of them all, it looked like the pairing of Juice and Hammer was the best. They worked so well off each other. Dan Hamhuis even jumped up into the play a couple times. He was no Kevin Bieksa in that regard, but thats OK. Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts ( 3 shots) had a solid game in their lesser minutes, and Sami Salo and Alex Edler ( 4 shots to lead the blueliners) both showed themselves well.
Roberto Luongo. OK, yes, he could have had two of those. But he made some awesome saves on his 19 shots against, and his rebound control was very good. It is my sincere hope that the folks that backseat goaltend don't eviscerate the big Italian over a game that means nothing anyhow. We all know the guy works very hard, and we all know that he knows which ones he should have had. Lets just leave it at that.