Ha, I bet you thought I was going to go with Don Henley and the rest of his bandmates for the entertainment tonight.
But I had a minor revelation while waiting for our servers to reboot, our flim flam to get calibrated, or whatever the hell happened! While out picking up some victuals, I had the TEAM in my ears. I missed a little bit, but pretty sure I heard from the first three callers various listings, mentions of, or somehow knocking Roberto Luongo.
Which is of course, absurd. So this is for them. You all remind me of Mrs Swan ( she is also Lois Griffin for you Family Guy fans ) with the nattering nabobs of negativity.
Lets get to the observations and illuminations after the break, shall we?
As often happens with a win or a loss in "big games", this one will be pointed to in some quarters as proof of how the Canucks are somehow deficient. I would wager that words like "they owned you" and whatnot of that regard would be the tenor of the conversation. Perhaps, if it is the regular season, some dig about how "the Canucks better not get to shootouts" will be thrown in. I am more of the opinion that this was a big game to win because of the places in the standings. There is still time to make that up, and the next four on the road ( Avs, Preds, Wild, Flames ) are all winnable. The next three at home after that are the not much more threatening ( Yotes, Avs, and that 4 pm start for our friends at the CBC for some team with blue unis and a Cup or few sometimes ago... before colour TV )
So, there are some winnable games in there to catch up to the Wings, who now lead the Canucks by 4, with the Vancouver team holding a game in hand. But that won't be the talk. Nor will a now 7-3-3 in the last thirteen while supposedly "sucking". You know you know someone that has pointed to periods of games the last thirteen. Its a long season, and we unreasonably expect absolute domination all the time. But the truth is, a lot of teams go through losing periods and not being on top of it. The Wings lost seven in a row earlier this season.
- I get that people love Cory Schneider. I am one of those people myself. But holy moly, golly gee whillickers, Mr Luongo sure has to deal with some Mrs. Swans out there. He singlehandedly keeps his team in the first, with 15 shots ( and probably 12 of them good scoring opportunities, including that glove on Bertuzzi early that would have made it a lot different ) in the first. The only goal to beat him was a Daniel Cleary shot that was the result of still more pressure, with Helm making a perfect screen in front. Never saw it.
- That was answered by a goal from our very own Michigan ( Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, ) born players that was a perfect announcement of their intentions. David Booth was first to a puck ( as usual, we are getting to know ) and made a strong move on Kronwall to the net, taking two guys with him while Ryan Kesler held his ground and scored. That line, or any line Ryan Kesler was on tonight, was the best the Canucks had to offer. Of the 8 shots taken by the Canucks in a first period where it was those two and Mason Raymond ( Chris Higgins reportedly has the flu ) with 4, Kesler having 2.
- Yes, the game will be dissected and reflected on, but lets not forget that in addition to skill on skill, and there was an abundance of it, the home team came back three times while being outshot at a 2 to 1 margin for most the night. The first period that featured Luongo's numerous larcenies also featured some pushback late, even though the power plays were against the Canucks. The first penalty kill after a goal against was a bit unlucky for Edler, a bouncing puck handcuffing him and his swing at the puck taking down Datsyuk. That was a momentum swinger for sure. Then the one on Kesler ( for a crosscheck that broke his stick. I would posit that would not have been called if that does not happen ) late in the first, which also forced Luongo to be brilliant at times, was better, and the penalty kill deserves a lot of credit tonight for going 4 for 4 at the end of the night.
- This is all I am saying about the work of the officials ( and Klimmerly I remember for doing something in the early rounds of the playoffs that boggled the mind...vaguely though ) and Joanette ( who worked the last game and thought that Kronwall did not jump at all! ;-) have a very hard job. It is in their career advancement goals to be as unobtrusive and unbiased as possible. Its a tough game to officiate. But, while I understand the respect factor might be higher for the Wings than it is for our Canucks ( without getting at all into that steaming kettle of fish!), it sure seems like either the Wings are better at knowing where to just come to the line without going over it ( a very real possibility...the "old time hockey" folks just call that being tough to play against. ), or its worse than I thought, and we need to play it super fine because refs read toads like Damien Cox and the Teatown Media Mafia too.
Because I stopped counting after it got to tough to keep up with all the little tugs, hooks, interferences calls that impeded our greyhounds tonight. ( it is something to be admired, the way they step right up to the line ) Some might call that playoff officiating tonight. But it was pretty one sided. Or at least appeared that way. Case in point, in one five second span Burrows was tripped backwards by his check at the line. OK, its Burr, and he never gets the call anyhow...but at the end of that five seconds Manny Malhotra, who has to be one of the more respected players in the league, was making sure everything was OK while getting an errant stick in the face. Yet later on, a stick at least as lazy and careless rode up Zetterberg's stick and resulted in a penalty, Bieksa was sent off for the same damn thing. It gets frustrating for fans, of any team, when that happens. Though, its the Wings, so I guess we should call all that "gamesmanship", or "knows how to work the officials" and move on. You will never win that argument unless you wear a striped shirt, and as birthday boy Bertuzzi says " it is what it is". Moving on
- The faceoffs were in the Canucks end by about a three to one margin, if the SNET guys are to be trusted. The Wings even ended up with a 28-27 edge when all was said and done. Our best guys all sucked, Kesler going 4/14, Money a not quite money 6/13, and Lapierre just over .500 at 4/7. But that is easily explainable by the stat that Henrik Sedin was 12/17, and was often the first and/or second option with Manny Malhotra in the defensive zone all night. I don't remember more than one or two faceoffs in the Canucks end in the third that was lost, and about a similar number on the power plays, where the guys that relatively sucked like Kesler and Manny seemed to get most of their wins.
- Yes, the Sedins were split up in the third. Did it work? Well, the French Connection ( Lappy and Burr ) seemed to click, and a nice touch pass to Alex Burrows tied it up half way through the third. Mason Raymond ( who had an interesting night. He got danced around by Bert early, was double shifting after the Alberts as a fourth liner idea kerplunked, and was one of the guys making things happen all night, finishing with a goal and a shot, in 20:31 TOI ) got a bit of a lucky one, off of Stuart's leg to tie it up again with less than five minutes to go. The Kesler line might have been the best of that dominant 13-8 shot third. With Daniel Sedin subbing for Mase,they were dangerous and the first line, while Henrik with Cody Hodgson and Mason Raymond seemed to be finding a little something as well. Hansen was a better fit with Lapierre and Burrows on more of a crash line, and they pressed at times too. Hell, even the Manny, Weise and Raymond redux line had a few moments.
- Its a shame that the goal that got the Wings to O/T in a period where they sat on their lead a little too much was on a broken play. After an easy save, Aaron Rome thought Luongo could read his intentions as he tried to get him the puck to freeze. He had time to dump it to the corner, or even off the far glass on his forehand and out. But instead, the move seemed to momentarily flummox the Canucks best player tonight, and the puck sprang free to Drew Miller. He made a nice quick shot, but the whole play was a bit of a cluster you know what. It was one of maybe 3-4 half decent chances for the Wings, and not the best one. Not really Luongo's fault, and just like I am not blaming him for a gimmicky, made up way to arbitrarily end hockey games
frisbee toss, bris, Rouchamboud, shootout, I am not blaming him for this goal that much. The way I look at it, the Canucks are not going to miss the playoffs or even risk losing the division because of a few shootouts lost. They are not in the playoffs, they should play 3-3 for another 4 minutes of an 8 minute period like the Wings GM suggested, and hockey should decide hockey games, not airline schedules. ( I would bet the amount of shootouts would drop by over 50% ) Again, Roberto Luongo was the only reason his team was in it to dominate the third period.
- So, in a game the Canucks were badly outplayed in two of three periods ( I thought the second was better than the first ), they came back three times, withstood a loss of a player at the last moment that required juggling, and got a world class goaltending performance from the #1 'tender. What do you think will be the tenor of the discussion of this one as we voraciously chew through it like locusts before getting another nooner against the Avalanche? I am only guessing, but something tells me the Mrs. Swans will not be as kind.
- Last point tonight. Thank you, and fuck you Justin Abdelkader. Thank you for taking the fight with Maxim Lapierre ( and it was closer to a draw than the first one ), but fuck you for being a punk then, and probably still a punk now. Here's the clip. Check out who is down and covering up. Even though its Max, and you got "the drop", that is simply not cool.. How many shots is that? Punk move kid. ( homer announcer..."rope a dope my ass!") I bet Mike Babcock was happy that you answered the "code" tonight, being the olde timey hockey guy that he is at heart, but just because you answered the bell tonight does not mean you get a free, "get out of punk class" card. Oh, and damn you for being a solid fourth liner, who made the line go, having a couple hits in your 8:09, and contributing to the always underrated fourth line pressure that seems to roll over the lines when a team gets rolling. We have seen it often enough with our great team, we even saw it in the third tonight. We also saw the Wings play a same pinching style against us that we like to employ, at least in the first two periods before they decided to lay back...( "With my mind on my money and my money on my mind..." ) Its only three weeks before we get to watch the Annual Kesler Takes Over a Joe Louis Arena game in the final of the season series. Should be fun.
Who knows, by then, with the lineup of winnable games, it might be another game for first overall. Take it easy mon!