As much as the other folks try to paint the Canuck fanbase as arrogant and haughty and whatever the hell else, in the end, we are a collection of fans that love our team, the same as anyone else. Its a pretty great team to enjoy watching, thats for sure. Skill, will, and guys throughout the lineup that can put the biscuit in the basket.
But there a a bunch of nerds here as well, and with the level of Gingers in the lineup reaching "Fellowship" levels, I thought I would take the opportunity to share one of my favorite scenes from the Return of The King. There are no Lightning players returning with the Canucks that I can think of though. Perhaps a fan or executive of a certain tea hating city can take offense at the Mouth of Sauron reference. ( Does Kesler look like Aragorn, or is that just me? Just me then...OK, moving on! )
You never know.
1st period action
The opponent tonight has a bunch of the same elements that the Vancouver team has. Top goal scorer in the NHL, a passing wizard in Marty St Louis. The defense does not have the number of guys that jump up that we do, but they do just fine there. The big difference is the goaltending. More on that as we move along.
- Alain Vigneault likes Cody Hodgson, he really does! The armchair coaches must have loved seeing Ryan Kesler have the '08 #10 pick on his wing, with Raymond on the other. Yay, more minutes! That line got better as the night went on, but had no shots credited in the first. They were deployed against the St Louis and Stamkos show though, so that can be accepted.
- For my money though, one of the better lines for the visitors was the fourth line. Mike Duco and Dale Weise had less than two minutes in their four shifts each, but Dale had a shot, Manny was at 3:25 and 7 shifts, (but with 1:20 of that on the PK ) yet it has to be said. They were noticeable, and OK in their own end when caught out against some talented players after an icing.
- The Sedin line had an up and down night, but the 1st goal for the Canucks was quite efficient. Henrik Sedin wins the faceoff, Alex Sulzer sets up Alex Edler for the Bomb, and Burrows goes to the net. I don't think that Dwayne Roloson gets that one even with a better look, but that was very good execution.
- Honey Badger don't care if you only hold your stick with one hand Marty. Honey Badger don't give a shit about your whining. For all the talent that team has, the second goal in this game was all shorthanded hustle by Jannik Hansen, and some egregious play by almost everyone in the home sweaters. When your stick is knocked out of your grip that easily Marty, it will never be called. Perhaps you might want to stop the whine until after the play, and instead of slinking to your stick, get out on the one guy on the puck. Mind you, there were three other guys there. Hansen had an easy pass to Hamhuis, and an easy path to the rebound ( Roloson was giving up a ton of juicy rebounds all night ) as well. I still like you Marty, and you did fill up the scoresheet later ( 2 assists ), but that looked pretty bad on the 2-0 goal.
- Cory Schneider may be auditioning for Steve Yzerman. Or, he just did not want to let his fellow Gingers down. With some assistance from Ryan Kesler on the block (s?), check out this sequence form about the 40 second to the 1:05 mark of tonight's highlights. That is how you battle in the crease...the Lightning only had 7 shots in the first, and probably almost half of those in that one sequence. Well done Ginja Ninja.
2nd period drama
- Schneider kept it going early in the second with a beautiful save on Moore after Vinny Lecalvalier made a very slick set play to beat the Canuck best face off man Malhotra. It has to be said, I have no idea how come this team is struggling so much. perhaps it has to do with the iffy plays like the Marty one I detailed above, I don't know. I don't follow them enough. I do know that their big stars are very tough out there. It took a five man effort for the Canucks, and they did bend at times ( though, the OTHER team is talented too, right? ). Oh, and Ryan Malone. He had a very solid game. Maybe HE was auditioning for Mike Gillis up in the luxury box.
- Like I said, the Sedin line had an up and down game. They would have shifts where they had the territorial dominance, but not get a chance, or their blind passes would get stolen. It happened on the Bolts' 1st goal, when after a solid shift, they were caught out way too long, and unable to handle Ryan Malone going to the puck in the corner ( that was more the defenders, Ballard and Alberts both beaten to spots ) before Stamkos got to the net on Daniel and Ballard. I doubt that goal happens if they stay out a shorter shift and don't get caught against the best players for the other team. It was a long change, as a possibly weak excuse.
- The fourth line had their top line's back though, as just over two minutes later, some great work by that line restored the two goal lead. Their forecheck overwhelmed the players on the ice, Keith Ballard made a nice hold and got it to Mike Duco, and he did what the coaches always say. Got it to the net. Manny Malhotra took the inevitable rebound and made the defender look weak against Manny for his second goal in four games ( OK, the last one was an empty netter. ) I like when Manny gets points instead of % points in the F/O stats and nerd love in the Corsi and Fenwicks.
- Yet another iffy change led to the next goal in this back and forth match, as Gilroy made a nice pass up to Stamkos, who bolted in and was flat out robbed on the breakaway by Schneider. Kevin Bieksa and company were slow getting back on the rebound, and Vinny roofed it over a helpless GingerBricks.
- That goal should have given the home team a huge jump. It did not, for a couple of reasons. One, Alex Edler is a beast. He made a totally clean hit on Stamkos that had the wunderkind crumple. The puck up created a last second rush where everyone on the Kesler line touched the puck. The shot was saved, but the loose change was left on the doorstep by Rolie the Old Goalie. Kesler popped it home, but even though this goaltender gives up the extra chances, his defensemen did nothing to clear out the three guys in front. Momentum stolen away, and two goal lead restored.
3rd period comeback
- I get it. You are in your third game in four nights, the legs are burning. No amount of coach cajoling is going to prevent a team trying to sit on a lead sometimes. The Canucks had 4 shots in the third period though. That is a little too much of a shell. Credit the Bolts for their hard work and not giving up.
- Alexander Sulzer had a great night. He looked very good with Edler, and showed his smarts and German efficiency by twice, under heavy pressure, breaking it by using his hand to make the pass when his stick was taken away. But on the third goal for the home team, he was plain outmuscled by Steve Downie. Pavel Kubina made a nice rush, and Schneider made a great save with his shoulder, but there was not much he could do to prevent that goal. 1 assist, +1, 1 shot, 1 miss, 1 block in 26 shifts and 18:05 for Der German.
- The other team came on, and it was Cory Schneider barring the way, but with the goalie pulled, Ryan Malone scored a greasy, plain old time hockey goal. It was a great feed by St Louis that ticked off a defender's skate to give Malone the room to direct it in with his skate. Long time Canuck fans will recall it looked almost exactly like the goal that Mr Murphy disallowed on Daniel Sedin. But it was a good goal here. As it should be, neither one was kicked in. Bravo to the Bolts for getting the goal and getting it all the way back to even for the single point, but try not to be too mad at our guys. yes, we all agree they sat back too much. Shit happens.
- Honestly, this one surprised me. Usually, in a non conference 4 on 4, the chances come fast and furious. They did not here. The best chance for either team was Ryan Malone hitting a post. Mr Brewer almost gave it up early with a dumb reactionary penalty after Ryan Kesler flat out owned him in the offensive zone, taking the puck away with ease. The grab was selfish, and it almost cost his team, as there was 39 seconds left for the 4 on 3 power play.
- Daniel Sedin was set up twice, but missed the net once, and was blocked the second time to bring the actual hockey playing to an end.
- Ginja Ninja was awesome, robbing Malone with the glove, and giving Stamkos the five hole and then taking it away to seal the deal. Vancouver? AV threw everyone a curve by sending out Kevin Bieksa first, who was saved, before Mason Raymond ended it with the spinneroonie. No word if Booker T was in the house, or if he has now used it 5 times, 5 times, 5 times!
Some numbers for fun
- After leading the f/o stat 12-9 after one, the Bolts made it 21 each after two, before the Lightning came back to edge that category at 36-34. The hits were much the same, as after leading that one 11-8, the game ended with the tally at 27 each. It was a close enough game, but here are a few of my stat lines of the night ;
- Alex Edler had a goal, 2 shots ( 1 miss ), with 3 blocks and 5 hits ( including that cruncher on Stamkos that I would bet money made him look for #23 for the rest of the night. )
- Maxim Lapierre had only 1 shot and 2 hits in his 15:24 TOI. But he was huge in the circle, winning 10 of 14 draws on a line with Hansen and Higgins.
So, on to the Blues on Thursday. I am waiting to find out about the Thornton / Tony Gallagher dustup that is all over Twitter. I wish we could talk about the great story of the Blues instead, but these folks in Boston just won't let it go. I don't know the details, but how tough is that guy huh? Tony is almost 65 years old!