The day after blitzkrieging the Maple Leafs, it was time for another Canadian "rival" on Sunday night. But really, this is a rivalry in name only right now. Perhaps when the Oilers reach this amazing level that all the "young talent" is supposed to garner, it will become something more. Right now though, the Oilers definitely are second best.
Did they have some chances tonight? Sure they did. Do Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have talent? Only a fool would say no. But, even though the officials and the T.O war room tried late in the first to help out, and even though they did have a few parts of this game that were threatening, I never got the feeling that this game was anything but in hand for the more talented and experienced Canucks. The Oilers had 16 shots in the third, and I don't think more than one or two were something to be worried about. The way the Canucks rolled through the four lines in the third, and wore that game down to the nubs was almost machine like. Keep it to the outside, and out. Repeat ad nauseum.
Meanwhile, enjoy one of the most favoured of the bands of my youth. These guys are from the same town as R.E.M, and I challenge you to not be bobbing at least one body part by the end. Keep it bobbing after the break.
First off though, a big shout out to the fans in Edmonton that showed up in the Blue and Green. They made that fun to watch on TV, and the "Go Canucks Go" chants got the Oiler fans booing back a few times at least. Canadian cities are an easy one for Canuck Nation. But no one would bet against seeing the Canuck colours in Nashville, and every other stop on this 6 gamer that started out with a resounding win.
- That was a first period that deserved a three goal lead. You know it, and I know it. The War Room decided to make sure that it was competitive for a bit longer, but can anyone really tell me what is and isn't a kicked in goal? We all know the rule, and "directing but not kicking the puck in" is actually written in there as allowed. I am not going to rant on and on about it, but its a shame that Manny Malhotra did not get credit for a goal, just because he has been playing so well, and working so hard lately. Manny had an assist given him upon reflection by the scorer on the Bieksa goal, he was a +1, had a shot and a hit, and was 3 of 5 on draws. His entire line was playing as well as you can expect from a fourth line. Dale Weise had the other assist on that goal and 2 hits, Lapierre was flying all night, had 3 hits and a 3/6 faceoff night. No matter who is in, the fourth line has been definitely finding their identity.
- But, you certainly don't need a fourth line scoring when you have the Sedins and Burrows flying like they were tonight. They had the Oilers scrambling all night, the passes were crisp, the game looked like they were playing chess while the Oilers were playing checkers in their own end, and they even had some solid defensive zone shifts ( a Daniel Sedin back check that resulted in Eberle not getting the shot off was one of the noticeable ones ). The result? Well, they were only at about half the production of the Leafs game! Daniel had a goal and an assist, Henrik the same, and Alex Burrows had 2 assists. You could pick either one, but I picked the 5-2 goal, as it highlights just how quick that puck was in the back of the net after the turnover...
- Mason Raymond had a -1, and a takeaway and a giveaway in his 13:01TOI. But that seems like an almost cruel stat line for his effort tonight. He was flying, his level of puck hunting was awesome, and it was obvious that he was working very hard, and is defensively responsible. Unfortunately, he makes 2.5 mil, and is skating on a line with two game breakers where, even though he is all of the above, he seems like the square peg in a round hole. Chris Higgins will probably be back there soon, you would think.
- Not so fast! That Triple H line was flying tonight. The chemistry that Higgins has with Cody Hodgson is apparent to everyone, and the way that Hansen is playing with them is a return to his rambunctious self. They created nothing but problems for the Oilers in their own end, and were unlucky to come out without a goal tonight. Cody Hodgson - +1, 1 takeaway, and a 5/11 faceoff night. That just does not tell the tale. He was good tonight. Chris Higgins - 1 goal, +1, 4 shots, 1 block, and a team high 4 takeaways. Jannik Hansen - 1 assist, +1, 2 shots and a giveaway. They were just the harder workers against whichever line they found themselves out on the ice against.
- Easy folks. Don't look at the stat line and worry about the KesLORD. Ryan Kesler had an assist on the Salo goal ( Sami's 300th point of his career ), was a -1,had a block, a hit, a takeaway and 2 giveaways. He also had a game high 7 shots ( 6 of those in a dominant 1st period ), was a force on the power play all night, and went a team best 8 of 12 on draws. It has become apparent that he and David Booth might be better served with a more straight ahead Board Beast like Higgins instead of the shucking and jiving of Raymond. But let us not worry about that when the team is playing super, and has not lost in regulation in over a month.
- Cory Schneider was not at the superb, eye popping level he has been at lately. He looked a little shaky on a couple shots, and the two goals were both ones that he has stopped before. He was across on the Paarvaji goal in time, but it trickled through. He had a couple of malfunctions with the puck when he left the net. But he still got the win, he still stopped everything that came at him when the Oilers felt some brief hope at 2-1 and 4-2. This was not one of his best. But it was a win that he earned as much as his team.
- A big assist to Schneids was the blue liners and the way they were clearing pucks. There were a few times the Oilers had some sustained pressure 5 on 5. But the majority of their chances were one and done, or when the original shot was saved, the defenders had the puck before the guys looking for it. The blue liners all had the offense and defense going at the same time. The pinches were well timed, the sticks were in the passing lanes, and the guys that skate backwards fast were a big part of the win. They were led by Kevin Bieksa, with a goal,+3, 2 shots, a block, and 3 giveaways ( 1 of those just an unlucky bank around the net that hit the back of the net instead of caroming to Hamhuis ) Alex Edler had a shot, missed one, 3 blocks, 1 giveaway, and was strong positionally against the Young Guns. Dan Hamhuis was also a +3, 1 shot, 1 block, 1 hit, and 2 giveaways. Aaron Rome had a brain fart to take a dumb penalty on a hit on Hall way after the puck was gone, had a -1, 2 hits, 2 shots, a block and a giveaway, and was the beneficiary of playing with Mr Cool. Chris Tanev had a -1, and 2 blocks, and a giveaway. But that belies a game that was all about the the positioning. I watched him closely, especially in the third, and he is so good with that stick in the defensive end. But did you see that pass to spring the Sedins for a great scoring chance? Pretty. Even prettier when you notice that he did it with Ben Eager about to put him through the boards.
- Lastly, I noticed in on Twitter, some world class whining from the "City of Champions" folks tonight. The Canucks had 5 power plays. But there was no diving, the Canucks do not have the refs in their pockets ( that part always makes me laugh...do they not know us here? Everything's a penalty !), and when a guy gets a stick in the head, as occurred on 3 of the 5 calls, what do you expect? The other two were a cross check by Eager, and a two hander by Sutton that both had to be called ( OK, maybe Eager could have skated, but, come on, its Eager!). There was a play where the Canucks did get a break, when a Bieksa slash on Gagner went uncalled. But just like you tell us not to blame the refs when its us, I have to stress the same the other way. The power play for the Canucks should have "Sweet Georgia Brown" playing sometimes, and I know that some think that just because its so good, that it somehow means nothing should be called. We certainly notice that kind of treatment at times here. Game management is a hot subject when complaining about the refs. ( It speaks to me of being wrong, just keeping more teams close, and manufacturing parity. But I get it ) But come on folks. It was five penalties because it was five penalties. Get upset at the Bieksa call being missed. But know when you get all upset and mutter about conspiracies, you sound like some ( a shrinking number, thank God ) Canucks fans!