Here's something to entertain you tonight, and it has Ducks playing hockey. Yes Ducks fans, that is a Disney cartoon. You brought it on yourselves by originally naming your team after a movie.
Besides, at least the Ducks were playing hockey tonight. Not sure what the road warriors were up to, but I have every expectation that we will not see such an effort against the Kings on Tuesday. Perhaps it was that "first game back from a trip" trap game. Perhaps not. Bruce Boudreau has his guys playing well though, and I always hate that rationale.
More rational thoughts after the break.
- The American Express line was reunited tonight, but their main job was against The Big Line tonight. Corey Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan had pretty good games, but the Amex line did OK against them 5 on 5. They had a total of 5 shots, and the goal and assist Bobby Ryan has were on the power play ( and while on pressure just after a power play ended ). I thought David Booth looked good for his first game back, forcing the play and using his speed. Ryan Kesler had his moments, as did Chris Higgins. But they were not a dominant line. Yet. I think they were more the foil for the Big Line tonight anyhow. Usually the Sedins take that lesser matchup and run with it when that happens. Not tonight.
- The Canucks team, as a whole, spent entirely too much time in their own end tonight. That left a lot of pressure on the defense and goaltender, both five on five and on the penalty kill. Daniel Sedin said it right in the post game, that they "played into their hands, as they had four back a lot. We made it easy for them...". That is true, but when they got the puck in the offensive end, their execution was not that strong. Credit the Ducks for getting sticks in lanes and playing well along the boards. It should be noted, however, that while it was 22-12 after two in shots, The Ducks had blocked 14 shots to 4 for the home team, as well as having a 7-4 edge in shots missed. AV was right saying that "I don't think we had a 5 on 5 scoring chance in the first period"...whether it was will or skill, sometimes the other team just gets after it harder.
- The defense. The Alex Sulzer must go chorus was louder after tonight. He did look less the efficient German and more the AHL veteran tonight, but consider this, after two periods, he was even while Aaron Rome was a -3 in only a minute more played. he finished a +1 in the game with the least amount of ice time on the night. Neither he nor Rome had a stellar game, don't get me wrong. They were under pressure, both pairings, and only the steady play of Keith Ballard ( when a mistake was made, he seemed to recover better than the other two all night ) kept Sulzer's numbers looking better. (The Rome / Edler pairing was not all unicorns and sparkles either ! ) He was more the reason why the 3rd pairing the only pairing with a plus tonight as compared to his partner.
- No, the winner of "this defenseman sucked" award belongs to Kevin Bieksa tonight. I know he was trying to play tough on the Big Line, his hook on Ryan was lazy, his hit on Ryan was borderline, and put the team down once more. The third penalty on his play on Perry, I am more inclined to be a little upset about that one, as is my right as a Canuck fan. he did get the stick in, and reefed hard. But Perry grabbed the damn thing and would not let go on his cut to the net, holding it to his body. He also used his own stick like a lance and treated Luongo as an errant knight on the field of battle as well on that play. Shorty was right to bring that up, and I will go one further than his "not saying, just saying". It was a douchebag move, it can hurt someone like that, and of course he meant to do it. He's Corey Effing Perry. You know what else he did? He blocked 5 shots. I hate that kind of cavalier attitude with his opponents' safety that seems to be an occurence every damn time he hits the ice, but there is no denying the talent. Oh yeah, Kevin Bieksa was a -1, had an assist, blocked 3 shots, and against mainly the big line, was credited with no hits. Not the worst stat line, but I think everyone that is used to seeing this team know we saw more Bad Juice than Good Juice tonight.
- The guys that really hurt the home team tonight were the 2nd and 3rd lines for the opponent tonight. Jason Blake had two goals, 1 assist, and 10 (?!) shots on goal, Bonino was a force in the offensive zone all night, and had a goal. Bobby Ryan's just after the power play shot was a snipe, much like Cody Hodgson's earlier, but I thought, in addition to their contributions, that the all Finn line had a solid game shutting down the Sedins and Burrows. The first period especially, as the Twins and AMFB got better as the game went on, but they just were not able to get through a well constructed game defense for the visitors. Rather, they made them look pretty good as well. There were several normal Sedinery attempts that were sussed out, and then turned the other way, forcing them into defense. It cost one goal against, but honestly, I did not get the "oh, this is gonna be something good" feeling from that line except for a few shifts here and there. Skill was not over will tonight, and the Canuck most skillful players did not play with enough will overall.
- Cody Hodgson. The guy was the best forward for the home team all night. He definitely hunted the puck with "will" tonight. His goal came on a power play that looked more dangerous when the second unit was on all night. His two shots tally belied the fact that his line was dangerous more than the others. AV even tried to mix it up a couple shifts in the third to his benefit. Those that judge his TOI with a microscope will be happy to know that he probably was close to his season high with 15:37. His 3 of 8 draws won was about the only drawback, on a night when the team won at leas that stat 37 to 25, with Manny Malhotra leading the way with 7 of 8 draws won, Kesler winning 13 and losing 9, while Henrik Sedin went 10 of 17. They could not do anything with that puck possession a bunch of the time, but hey! Silent G, along with Booth, and a few others at times, were the best of a fair to middling lot tonight.
- Roberto Luongo. The first goal was more a result of three chances to move the puck out of their own end by Edler and Rome ( Burrows as well ). He made the first save but could not get it to stay in the glove. The second save as a result of that was even better, but with Ballard trying to help him out on the third one in the net, Bonino got it in the net. The second was a howitzer just after the end of the power play by Ryan that I don't think any goalie would have had ( and the penalty killers seemed to let down and leave him the time to set up in the slot, as well as leaving Saku all day to tee it up for him from the half boards. The third was about the only one that he might want back, but I will remind everyone that Jason Blake has always had a great shot, and has scored a lot of goals in his career from just that spot. I think the fake got him a bit on the shot, but hell, sometimes the other guy is good too! The last one, on the power play, was a gong show in front of him, and Blake showed his hands by putting the Sbisa pass through the legs. That was one of those tough ones as well. On a night where he let in four goals, I would not lay this loss at Luongo's doorstep. ( his best might have been a reaction save off a Sulzer turnover, and another off a pass up that the referee Mark Lee ( figures, probably the broadcaster's son. They hate the Canucks!) right to the front. I think that one was Bonino that was robbed point blank.
- There has to be some mention of Jonas Hiller as well. The Canucks had 8 shots by the midway point ( see above for the help he had!) but he made some huge saves on Burrows, Hamhuis, and a tip by Higgins that forced a great reaction save. There were a few others, but suffice to say that he was not just given the win. Maybe he was given the first half of the game off though!
- The Canucks had 4 giveaways after the first, and then 5 more in the second period that proved to be the turning point, while ending up 10-3 on that negative stat. Again, the folks on Sulzer will need a reminder that, while, yes, he gave away one under pressure that forced a huge save, it was Aaron Rome and his partner for the first two periods, Edler, with 3 and 2 giveaways respectively, that led the team there. Their play was directly responsible for the first goal, and while Edler was still given ice time in the third, and Rome and Sulzer were both out there in the final period as well, the pairings that started the game were ALL changed up. Even Juicy Hammer. Yes, I would imagine Sulzer comes out of the lineup. But he was not the only one on a night when the defender's were not as good as we have come to expect. It also shows just how much of an underrated all around defender Sami Salo is. Get back from soon Sami. You calm everything down so much more. ( he was sitting on the bench watching practice today, so at least he is not restricted to a dark room right now!)
OK, so the Canucks got beat. It happens. I won't put a whole ton of angst into this one though, as I honestly think that the team was upset and angry with themselves ( if the post game comments on Canucks,.com were any indication ).
They will need to be really good against a Kings team that beat them the last time Gene Simmons and his family showed up to a Canucks game ( in LA). They were there again tonight, and while Jannik Hansen got his stick signed by The Demon, perhaps a more stellar effort against a burgeoning team that has gotten points in every game since Darryl Sutter got the coaching job will be enough to erase the bad taste of this one.