VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 31: Goalie Cory Schneider #35 of the Vancouver Canucksgivith and taketh away. Yeah, verily, what a save! on January 31, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Hello Chicago. Its great to see you guys. Oh, you hate the Canucks? Well, same to you then!
Honestly though, we don't hate the Hawks. The "rivalry" that TSN and others call the "best in the NHL" ( it just might be ) was originally built on hatred and animus. But after three straight years of playoffs, a season series where it seems it always go back and forth as far as the wins go, this is just great hockey.
Both teams are fantastic, and have guys that you can't help but respect, even if they wear the Four Feathers. Its not like the Finals rivalry where there is a real, honest hatred that you would imagine might extend into the offseason. I get the feeling if a Bruin and a Canuck met at a resort, there might be a rumble.
These guys might hate each other, because they are told they are supposed to. But whatever it takes to give us this kind of hockey is fine with me!
Here's the A to Z of tonight's game after the break.
NHL ( otherwise known as the "Cory" package of highlights )
A - Alexander Edler. His pairing with Salo was put to the test against the Kane / Toews / Stalberg line, who were flying after the first period, and a tough line to handle all night. He was hitting tonight. Early, often, and all game. The stats guy only gave him credit for 3, but I can remember more than that. He blasted Shaw ( yes, that was legal, the puck was close enough for these refs, who did not seem to want to make a call all night!), crunched Toews, stepped up on Kane in the first. A goal went in off his ass, and he finished a -1 ( just getting on the ice on the Mayers goal ), with a nice assist on Kesler's opening tally as well.( and another on the winner for 2 more points for our top scoring defenseman ) 2 SOG, 3 blocks, and 2 giveaways completed his stats line. He was beaten in O/T by Toews on a gorgeous move, but "thats why you have two great goalies" as AV likes to say.
B - Dave Bolland. He did well against the Sedins tonight, and sure sounded like he wanted to just forget the comments that got all the press about the Twins in his 2nd period interview. His work did not help with that classic piece of Sedinery on the winning goal, but, just like how you have to give credit to the other teams' stars like Toews above, you have to give credit to the Twins for their skills on that goal. Bolland did not have a good night in the circle though, winning only 6 of 19 draws.
C - Many "C"s tonight. Cory Schneider, of course, but we'll get to him later. Cody Hodgson had a big goal. But tonight, "C" is for clipping. As in, that has to be the worst clipping call I have ever seen on Keith Ballard ( who had a very solid game tonight ) The contact was with the shoulder, as Shaw tried to get out of the way. Hell, he was not even that low. I get that they are trying to focus on that after the Marchand hit on Salo, but comparing that to even the one that was called on Ballard in the playoffs versus Tootoo is like comparing my slapshot to Salo's!
D - Daniel Sedin. He now has the Canuck record for regular season O/T winners, beating new Hawk Brendan Morrison's team record with his 10th such goal. Henrik said afterwards that "I like to set up there, and Daniel knows where to go there, so it was not even that difficult of a pass...". Sure Henrik. A saucer pass that goes between Keith hugging the post and that post right onto your brother's stick is pretty elementary. The Twins were each a -1, and did not have the best game defensively, but I will forgive a bit of that tonight. The line had 7 shots tonight ( Daniel 3, Burr and Hank 2 each ), but THE stat has to be that Henrik had 2 hits tonight.
E - Every damn time I watch a Canucks / Hawks game, I am on the edge of my seat. Tonight was no different.
F - Faceoffs. The Canucks dominated against one of the better face off teams in the league. Toews is #1 in the league, but, mostly against Kesler, he won 6 and lost 10, although he did better after only winning 1 of 4 in the first. Ryan Kesler was the man in the circle, winning 12 of 17 draws. But everyone but Henrik ( 7 of 16) was way over .500. Cody Hodgson won 6 of 8 draws. But the money line for draws had to be the fourth line. Against all comers, in mainly defensive situations as usual, Maxim Lapierre won 9 of 12, and Manny Malhotra won 6 of 7. That is big. Even in a second period where the Hawks dominated, it sure helps when you start with the puck, and the two solid penalty kills were keyed by winning draws and clearing the puck.
G - Goals. They came from ; hard work on the first one, a sublime pass from Dan Hamhuis to spring Cody Hodgson for his breakaway goal that was very slick, and what a 3rd goal by the Wizardous Sedinerie for the winner. The Hawk goals were very good too, and the result of dominant shifts in the Canuck end. But I would also posit that in both cases, it could be argued that breakdowns helped. Both on Mayer's opener, and the Stalberg one, where while Kane made a wonderful pass to him, the Canucks were chasing in their own end. That is a good thing, as it means against a very good team, there are things that can be improved.
H - Hansen and Higgins. Both had to battle all night. Of the two, Chris Higgins was more noticeable, while Beaker had an assist on Hodgson's marker. Higgy had 5 shots, and missed 3 more. He was a big part of that second line having a strong game, and was his usual bullish self along the boards, although he somehow was not credited with a hit.
I - Ice time. Brendan Morrison had 18:38, the same as Sharp, just a little more than Toews, and second to Andrew Shaw who led their forwards with 20:41 TOI. But the telling stat was the ice time of Seabrook and Keith. I know these two are their blue line studs. But Quennville used them too much tonight, and I would even say that it showed in the third and O/T. They were each on for 40 shifts ( 10 more than the next closest guy on both team, Edler with 30 shifts ) and an eye popping 28:33 for Keith, and 26:10 for Seabrook. You can bet they did not trust John Scott that much I guess ( 7 shifts and only 5:21 TOI ).
J - Jesus Cory, just stay in the damn net! OK, when you do things like this,
you totally redeem yourself, but were you trying to give B'Mo' a welcome home present? Save of the year so far though!
K - KesLORD. As in, Ryan Kesler was very engaged in this game. He seems to love matching up with Toews, and was on the ice with him most of the night. Toews did have an assist and 4 shots, but Ryan had a goal to open the scoring that was all hard work by that line. They might have been the best Canuck line in regards to the forecheck, and the man was 12 of 17 on draws, had 2 hits, and 27 shifts and a little over 18 minutes. He had a very solid game against very strong opposition.
L - as in, this was a Loss without the great game by Cory Schneider. In the first and that second period where the home team struggled, there were a lot of odd man rushes. Sure a few were stopped ( the play by Edler on Hossa on a breakaway was awesome. No shot, and caught a very fast and strong player ), but the play of the goaltender, and the way he got from side to side was amazing tonight. The NHL link above, I highly recommend just checking the saves by Ginger Jesus. He definitely saved his flock tonight.
M - Mason Raymond gets thrown into every rumour, and his play has dropped off since his emotional start after returning from that horrific injury. He was a +1, with only 1 shot on net. But he made several great defensive plays, including two startling backchecks on one shift that were all speed and heart, in his 12:35 TOI. Do we want more? Of course. But lets not totally discount the man's contributions.
N - No Doubt Tony Gallagher will say something on TEAM at some point about the fact that, since the first game against the Hawks, where the power play went 5 for 6, that this is now two straight games with no chances to flex that #1 power play muscle. 2nd No Doubt is that he will say something snarky about how Hodgson was the same amount of goals as Kesler now at 14, and only had 11:39 TOI tonight. Also, "N" is Next game is a good one against the Wings...we are so spoiled as hockey fans here. I wish these folks could get over their bi polar, sky is falling BS and just enjoy it!
O - Overall totals of stats that did not show how close this game actually was. The Canucks won 40 of 60 draws, and more than doubled up the Hawks with a 33-15 edge in hits. Everyone finished checks, but while Seabrook with 5, and Shaw with 4, had over half their teams' hits, Maxim Lapierre almost bested them himself, with 8 hits tallied. The defense totaled up 15 by themselves, with Aaron Rome leading the blue liners with 4.
P - Periods. The first was the Canucks, more or less ( the odd man rushes that forced Schneids to get his head in the game early aside ) the second period was all Hawks, and the third was just fun to watch, before that pretty goal to end it in O/T. Thank goodness we get to see these guys 4 more times next year.
Q - Quennville was livid on the Stalberg breakaway in O/T that was not called. He wanted a penalty shot in his post game presser. AV was specifically asked about the reffing, and only mentioned what was really boarding, when Seabrook hit Kesler. I know different coaches have different styles, but the way Q' was going nuts, he is going to give himself another ulcer! Be like AV Q', and smile a bit more!
R - Rome. He was under pressure a bit tonight, but had a solid game. "R" is also for Really good. Keith Ballard was really good in his 22 shifts and just under 15 minutes. That rush was wonderful, and he was in the right place for Aaron Rome all night. "R" is also for Right, as in Rome was solid on the right side, and Ballard should stay on the Left if we get this kind of play form him. There was one save in the second where the rebound would have resulted in a goal, but for his fearless block in the slot.
S - Stalberg is really fast. He was the guy that had the most odd man rushes and breakaways. He had a goal and a team leading 6 shots. Most of them were on really good opportunities. My guess is he was swearing in Swedish a few times tonight.
T - Total shots for the opposition was 36 to 29 for the Canucks. Of that tally, I would guess, without counting them up, that most of them were what we could call scoring chances. Thank You Cory Schneider, but "T" is also for TEAM, and if the callers there cannot handle having two great goalies, and keep calling with ridiculous comments about Luongo, or anyone else ( like Cody's time, or Raymond trades ) I swear to fucking God I am going to break my radio.
U -The Under. Bettors who thought that the over was the safe play based on the goals scored in the first two games between these teams ( 14 goals in two games ) should remember that there were two very good goalies playing tonight.
V - Venus is often called the Earth's "sister planet", and is very hot. Almost as hot as Q' must have been at the faceoffs numbers against such a puck hunting team as the Canucks.
W - This is the Youtube clip I was going to use to describe the rivalry tonight, but decided not to.
I love this movie, and the guy that plays the Rogues leader looks like Bolland.
X - Xtra effort is needed by both teams to win a game against each other. Thats what makes the games so great.
Y - Young players like Shaw and Kruger makes this a rivalry that will be good for a while still, as there is young talent on both teams, and in their systems.