Tonight, I am angry as I write the recap. The anger takes several forms. Anger at how a team that looked so dominant offensively could actually lose this game. Angry at the now expected "straight trippin' " refereeing that lets Keith Yandle actually hold onto Jannik Hansen's arm with both hands on a scoring chance with about 10 minutes remaining, but decides its entirely acceptable ( in a game where they let tons go ) for Daymond Langkow to just drop his stick because Bieksa slashed it to get a call that led to the game winning goal. Angry at how this one will be disseminated.
The hell with it. I don't know what's a rule infraction, and you don't either, because the players don't on the ice. Its weird though, the things that I was used to recapping as obvious penalties in the first thirty games are just not called now. Thats about all I am going to say on that subject for a while though. There will be tons of opportunities, but like I said, to hell with it. Hamhuis got away with a trip late anyway.
But mainly I am angry at the fans that had the audacity to jeer the goalie a little bit after a goal that went in off someone. On yet another play where the guy on the backside, or anyone going to the net for that matter, was not dealt with correctly.
One of the five goals ( the 3rd one ), I would put on the goalie. Yet, if you dare to listen to the post game reports, there will be all this bullshit on why Cory Schneider did not start. Iain McIntyre was actually on the between period thing trying to stir up a goalie controversy. Ridiculous. As you have heard me say multiple times, its a team game. Roberto Luongo's team let him down a lot more in this game than he let them down. Just because some writer wants to get a few more views, and panders to that segment of the population that always thinks the goaltender on the bench is better than the one manning the pipes, does not mean you have to buy into it people. And, sometimes the ball does not bounce your way. Its as simple as that.
Stick tap to marcness52 for the clip tonight. It about sums up how overwrought folks will be on this one. The truth is, the Coyotes had no business winning a hockey game in which they iced the puck 15 times, and carried it over the red line maybe three - four times in the third. They were lucky. We've had games where we got the bounces and won a game we thought we should not have. Now we know how the other guy felt!
Look at it this way folks. Before and during that long road trip where the Canucks were actually doing well, they were about a point or two behind the pace of their record setting year this past season. Now, even while struggling, the Canucks are pretty well locked into 2nd in the West, and maybe about 8-9 points off of that pace. So, the sky is not falling. They are now 18-7-5 since the "Boston game", while the opponent is 12-15-2 in the same time. So there's that!
- The fact that the Coyotes actually had 13 shots and had made it 2-2 after one should have tweaked a few of you to the fact that the bounces might not be going the home team's way tonight. They had little real sustained pressure in the first 15 minutes.
The folks that want to get on the goaltender for the home team on the first goal might want to look at the Canuck's 4th tally. They were the same idea that worked. Goaltenders often have two ways to go on rebounds on low shots that are really more like a pass off the pads. Kick it up the middle, or glove it. If the shooter gets it on the pads, you have to expect those kind of rebounds. Rather, blame the pairing of Bieksa and Edler on that one. Bieksa especially was out of position the entire way, and if he was where he was supposed to be, he either ties up Klesla, or takes the rebound out of danger.
- The second one in the first period was another example of a couple things. One, the refs deciding that Zack Kassian getting a stick in the face on a chance down low was not worthy of a penalty. The play turned the other way off of that. Two, an ill advised pinch by Alexander Edler that led to it. I would add that a third, the referee not blowing the whistle when it looked to all in the arena that the puck was covered, but he is on the ice and closer, so I'll give him that one. How one guy gets to do that when there are multiple guys back is beyond me. Someone should have buried Shane Doan there for sure, instead of letting him fish away.
- For all that, the Canucks looked like they would just power through all that stuff early on. The new third line produced early on, with a wonderful forecheck and a deft pass from Hansen giving Alexandre Burrows one of those close in chances he has not had much like with this season. He buried this one. The power play on the second goal was pretty clinical. They looked very good on that part of the special teams tonight, when they had the chance. The pass from Henrik Sedin to Ryan Kesler was one of those seeing eye specials right on the tape. That was nice to see too.
- So, in a first period that looked all Canucks, the opposition somehow tallied 13 shots while killing two penalties to none, and having, for perspective, five icings in the first seven minutes. No offense to Desert Dog fans. Hell, your team won tonight. But they just had virtually no sustained pressure. The Canucks fell into a trap tonight. Not the "trap", as they sent two guys for most of the night. But the trap of trying to be too offensive, pinching too much, and giving up odd man rushes the other way. There has to be a balance. Hell, Chris Tanev got caught pinching a couple times tonight! Still, the Canucks directed 29 shots at the net in the first, to 15 the other way. The shots were 18-13, but in a period where the home team looked dominant, the directed shots is a more accurate way of looking at it.
- Now, everyone knows that I am a fan of our #1 netminder. But, while I think that he probably will put more of this one on himself, I can only really blame him for the third goal, and that one had a wonderful screen from Raffi Torres. He made the first save way more often than not, had some bad bounces along the way. Hell, on the fourth goal, Ryan Kesler gets beaten on a play by Taylor Pyatt of all people, and the puck goes off of Brule as he is overpowering the defense yet again ( Gilbert fucking Brule people ) I know Shane Doan is a good player, but did you see how many guys on the penalty kill went to him on the eventual game winner? Again, the first save was made. Our goaltender did not have much luck tonight, but he was let down so often. Hell, when they were trying to come back, the Yotes actually had multiple odd man chances in the third, and Luongo stoned every one. Blame the entire team, not the goaltender like you always do, Mr "long time listener, first time caller".
- Those same folks will probably only begrudgingly give the Twins any credit for a decent game tonight. Yes, both were a -1, and while that is notable, it is something that happened twice on turnovers on pinches that turned bad. Thats not something you can usually hang on the forwards trying to create something. Hank had 2 assists, Daniel 1, and both were on skillful plays. Daniel had 4 of the 6 shots he took force saves, Henrik took two, and Raymond, while only having 1 shot hit net ( 1 miss ), looked like he was getting it together with his new linemates. They certainly looked dangerous enough to get another look.
- Besides, the added bonus was a third line that looks to have some immediate chemistry with Burrows and Hansen, a responsible centre that went 8 of 13 on draws while having 3 shots. Hell, Burrows had a goal and an assist, and 6 shots ( 2 misses ), and Beaker had an assist and 2 shots. ( Oh, and the Honey Badger led his team with 7 hits as well. ) They were each a +1, and 11 combined shots is pretty solid from your third line, even if the other team is collapsing back to the net like they were in this one.
- Mind you, plus minus is an imperfect stat anyway. While Kesler being a -1 is fair ( he was the guy that should have had Doan on his goal) Zack Kassian being a -2 while his linemates were an even is not. That 4th line, like most the forward lines for the Canucks, had a solid game. In addition to offensive pressure on multiple occasions, they combined for 11 hits ( Kass -2 , Lappy - 5 , Weezy - 4 ). Overall, I liked how that line did.
- The defensive deficiencies that occurred aside, the Kesler line is going to be a force for this team. David Booth was cutting to the net with great power, he scored on a solid set up from his linemate Chris Higgins while on the power play. Higgy was also a -1 ( a lot of these plus and minuses being all over the place has to do with them being on rushes the other way, or that occurred on changes ), while Booth was a +1. But that stuff aside, they combined for 13 shots , while directing 18 at the net. That does not even include which ones of the 20 Coyote blocks were on the defacto first line. Booth tied with Burrows for the team lead with 6 shots. Together with Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler hit a post while cleanly beating the goalie. In a game where they seemed to force their own luck, that line was pretty solid.
- What was not solid tonight was the blue liners. All of them. Kevin Bieksa was a -3, while getting an assist. He sucked. Zero hits for the normally rambunctious defenseman. Why you would change your best pairing is beyond me. Dan Hamhuis had a goal on a smart play, and was a +1 with 4 blocks, but he would have been better with his regular partner, you would think. He also had only :40 of PK time ( usually leads the team ), because that part of the team's game just sucked, period. Marc Andre Gragnani had a few moments, but had zero other contributions on the scoresheet. Alexander Edler was a -1, with 4 shots ( 2 misses ) and 2 blocks, but I thought he struggled all night. Somehow, Chris Tanev came out smelling like a rose stats wise, with an assist and a +2 and 1 block, but I thought he was caught pinching more than I have seen him be in a long while. Bones and AV know more than me, but I sure hope this was more experimentation than anything else. Did the regular pairings suck that much the last game?
- Lastly, I hope that the intro did not leave the impression that the Coyotes did not deserve to win. They won. Mike Smith was just good enough, but he did make 43 saves on 47 shots. Shane Doan and Ekman Larsson each had a goal, an assist, and 5 shots. Brule had a goal and 5 shots, and Vermette had a GWG, 2 assists, and 5 shots. Klesla had a goal and 5 blocks to lead his team. They had enough production, and were quite good at turning defense into offense. But I can't help but think that if the Canucks blue liners were smarter on their pinches, and ran around less in their own end, they would have won this one going away. They had the offensive game to do it. Unfortunately, they forgot that you usually need a defensive game to go with it. Perhaps they can get it done against the worst team in the NHL on Saturday.
I am sure we'll all deal with this circumstance in a circumspect and thoughtful way though right? I doubt Twitter will be awash with snark about starting Schneider and how Kevin Bieksa went from a player soon reaching career highs in scoring while being a stalwart on a top pair to the "old Bieksa" . Canuck fans are smarter than that right?