Damn, these two team sure write some hockey symphonies huh? This one crackled with a sort of weird energy, a howling at the moon as Hunter might say. Some mad Ibogaine inspired madness....
It certainly was a result that is going to make me recap, for you, an A-B-C recap just because this game was worthy. So worthy. So so worthy. Sure, a couple mistakes cost a couple goals. But they surely will start hitting the net soon. The third period hinted at that.
Without ( and I do watch some but not all Hawks games ) maybe Corey Crawford's best period of the season in that dominant stanza, a resounding ping for maybe the most unlucky player of the night not concussed by a cheap shot , one Mason Raymond, the result is probably different.
Except it was not. The last ten games thing probably looks bad in Sean's pre-game thread of the Dallas matchup to follow will undoubtably not look as impressive as the game tonight. I thought they " flipped the switch ", but the rest of the season and the playoffs will attest to that anyhow.
Honestly though, I don't see too many teams standing up to that type of "game", especially once they can start actually hitting the back of the net.
A - Alain Vigneault. His lines were the right ones, before the loss of a star, you cannot blame the coach for the calls on the ice, and he had his team ready to play tonight. Works for me. His presser was fun too. He saw the "hit" as a major as well...
B- is about bonding. Win or lose, and really, Oduya's shot was going wide and went off of Shaw. Good for you kid. Going to the net is the right play. But I am not going to just blame Salo's slight hesitation on the puck ( should he have jumped that? Its tough, 50/50 it would have been successful ) at the blue line as the reason they suck, stop losing you guys, and all of that. It was a basic hockey play, and the Hawks got a bounce. Tonight, you had a guy like Daniel Sedin making a hockey play that may have been a penalty, but is certainly going to be looked at for what it was, a hockey hit in which the head got a bit of contact as well. Obviously for Duncan Keith, the insult of being hit by Daniel was worthy of saying ( as Henrik said, he reported that Keith said "I'm going to get you" to Daniel after the first hit ) he would get him and then he did, with a cheap hit that he would not stand up for. Sorry Hawks fans. Bieksa, Burrows, Kassian, anyone near him on the ice afterwards was skated away from. Don't think that, and shit like Crawford's dive on Hank did not send a jolt of energy through the team. I expect to see a pissed off bunch versus the Stars. Call up Mark Mancari or Byron Bitz if Daniel can't go, and play the same way. Sometimes a loss is less important than others.
C - Consistency. The hit count was 11-7 after one, 24-13 after two, and a resounding 38-24 at the end. I know we could go back and forth with the highlights and whatnot, but most all of them looked like good hard bodychecks. For all the hatred and the lack of respect shown by Duncan Keith that will have him get a rest, there was more shown by the teams on both sides. I love watching these two teams play, and the hate factor is amped up now for sure, but when you have 62 total hits in a 62 :42 minutes of hockey, thats something fun to watch. The Canucks were led by the forwards, with Kesler, Hansen, and Lapierre all convincing the visiting scorekeeper's of their truculence 4 times, Alberts, Burrows, Booth, Kassian and Raymond all making 3 hits, and Pahlsson, Henrik Sedin, Tanev and Weise all getting his attention with their aggressive behaviour 2 times. Evidently, the hit that supposedly started the entire Keith, Daniel Sedin thing did not piques his interest, and Dank got 0 hits in his 4:57 TOI. Make of that what you will.
D - Defensive pairings. Now, sure, the Salo mistake I already documented, and Bieksa had some trouble with Brunette behind the net that started the Kane goal. But Alberts had to take Seabrook driving the net, and Hossa made a nice play. Give them credit, don't blame the goalie for something like that, and move on. Those two mistakes, and a few others ( the giveaways were mostly all on out defensemen reacting to pressure, with Salo having two, Bieksa two ( including a headscratcher drop pass that hooked off his stick like he was playing jai alai ) Edler and Hamhuis with1 each. I liked these pairings, and the idea of seeing how the Bieksa / Edler, and Hanhuis / Salo pairings are looking better than in previous games. Way better. Alberts and Tanev may have been the most eye opening pairing. Tanev looked confident with the puck, had 3 blocks, 2 hits, and only 12:50 of ice time ( skewed by the 10 minutes of PK time where he and Big Al had only 30 and 33 seconds respectively ), while Alberts had 3 hits, and while on for the Kane goal, was solid preventing more, cleared the net front, had 3 hits and only played 13:05. I like what the big Minnesotean brings more every game.
E - Everyone Loves Raymond right? Just me then? I only saw him fall about twice, but considering how he led his team with 5 shots, had a perfect tip ping the post, had 3 hits and 1:57 of PK time that saw a couple rushes short handed in addition to pairing with Maxim Lapierre (1:54) and sometimes Pahlsson (team leading PK'er with 4:07 ), I loved his game tonight. He should have been in the pressbox sooner if this is the reaction. Play that way Mase. Just like you did today, and the points will come.
F - Talking point. Fights. If Duncan Keith follows the code and follows up with his choice of willing combatants and does what they dearly wanted, is that what you want in hockey? I ask because we all talk about how great it would be if they "handled the justice on the ice ", and yet, what happens if the other team won't indulge the request? The Canucks had 5 straight PK's to kill off in the second, including BS calls on both Kassian and Burrows, a dive by their goalie, and a couple stick fouls. ( the Bieksa one an attempt to get at Keith after a whistle ) That period was more about standing up for your guys, and as I mentioned, by the last one, they were the aggressors. In that context, being outshot 11-3 was hunky dory by me. Of course I wanted more offense. They also had 4 blocked, and 4 wide in that period, while playing half of it down a man. Thats the price you pay sometimes if you want to "stand up". But while it benefited the Hawks with power play time tonight, the players were inspired enough that they blanked the Hawks power play and gained momentum by the end.
G - Goaltending. Both were excellent. Crawford got surprised by a Hansen rocket, Luongo the same on a Kane shot, and the winning goal, the shot was going wide before going off the guy going to the net. Both played playoff style goaltending, with Luongo the busier with a .946 save % on 35 shots, while Crawford had a .958 racked up on 24 shots.
H - Honey Badger, Jannik Hansen. That is more like it. He has been doing that for a while, since he got to start playing with Samuel Pahlsson. That line with Higgins on most shifts ( the line juggling obviously affecting matchups after Daniel was gone ) was dangerous offensively while being responsible defensively. Both of them played well, but the key may have been the Honey Badger just not giving a you know what. 1 goal, 3 shots, 4 hits, a faceoff win, and a general need to be involved that bodes well for the way this team plays.
I - Intelligence. You see it in Pahlsson's game more and more as you get to know his play. He takes the guy out along the boards efficiently. He watches and learns the other faceoff guys and what the linesman is doing ( several times tonight, both he and Kesler on the other side, the lines man would shift forward to set the guys in front, and drop quick as he came back. Samme had that read early and used it all night, going 13 of 16 on draws, with a lot of that being on shorthanded and defensive draws. His pass up to Hansen on the opening goal was perfect. 2 hits and a game high 3 takeaways, in a game where almost a quarter of his 17:22 was shorthanded was impressive.
J - Johnny Depp reads Hunter's correspondence.
I loved Where The Buffalo Roam, but Fear and Loathing was a work of love by Mr Gilliam and Mr Depp. Both of them might be cases of where the reality was even stranger than the cinema. The letters and the life that crazy, brilliant gonzo bastard led, He did "stomp the terra". R.I.P Hunter.
K - Kassian. Zack Kassian had to step into his role as the size and toughness. He got a penalty, and a misconduct for doing so, in that glorious scrum that would have been a line brawl in another time. The Hawks did not want to do that this time, but he also looked solid creating room for his makeshift line with Burr and Captain Hank. 2 shots, 1 miss, and 3 hits in only 10:17 was OK for his first exposure to the blast furnace of emotion that a Hawks / Canucks matchup always seems to bring. He tried to get a big hit on Keith late in the third, but only half succeeded. But the young man was also strong on a couple back checks to take away chances, and was more responsible and involved than in his previous couple outings.
L - Roberto Luongo. I have grown to expect hat the #CanucksNationTeaParty will never be happy with our #1 goalie, and thats fine. Thats their problem. But he was so solid in his reads, in his reactions to the cross ice pass, and in his rebound control that it is hard to get too on him for a loss. 2 goals against the talent the Hawks can throw out, when in my notes on the game I wrote "robbed" beside quite a few shots, was enough for this humble recapper to be impressed.
M - The Michigan connection. Ryan Kesler and David Booth needed to finish something tonight, but lets give credit to the Hawks. Sure, Hjalmarsson gave up 5 pucks, but overall their team game in their own end was strong in the first two periods. They hung on in the third, but the way those two play, I wonder if there is indeed some childhood despising of the Illini neighbors. Anyhow, Ryan Kesler had 2 shots, 2 misses, 2 blocks ( and some fabulous play to not get scored on when he broke his stick shorthanded, plus a huge face off win on the 18 seconds of 5 on 3 ), 4 hits, and 13 of 20 draws won. ( he and Raymond were the only two over 20 min, and Kesler led the forwards with 20:23 that included 6:47 of special teams. ) Booth was not quite as noticeable, what with no shots and 3 hits , and a giveaway filling his 14:19, but I do think he was engaged as well.
N - Narrative. Who is the team that never backs it up, plays dirty, and dives all over the ice? I'm sorry, I got confused on the old narratives and which team was which tonight.
O - Offense. We need more. The Canucks are 6th in shots for at 31.4( tied with the hosts tonight ), and the Hawks 10th in shots against at 28.1. So, the visitors were a little farther off their average, but it could be argued tonight that the quality of shots for both teams was superlative. The goalies just were too. But I would still like more goals please!
P - That said, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa got a big goal like big time players do, and ours did not. Losing Daniel did not help, and the goalie was great, along with a couple posts and all. I still think they flipped a switch tonight. The effort is there. The goals will surely follow for the #5 team in offense. Hey, they held # 4 to just two goals! Baby steps...
Q - Quite the difference from a game against the Minnesota Wild at any rate right? Its fun when both teams actually want to play offense. Take note NHL, and trap teams struggling at the gate. Hockey is entertainment, and this was highly entertaining with only 3 goals scored.
R - Rankings. The Canucks are still going to probably finish 2nd, the Hawks just might move up to 4th or 5th ( but would love 6th, one would think ), and are only 3 points behind the Canucks with 2 more games played. Want to bet those sly Wings slide down to 6th and get the Pacific winner instead? The falloff is more pronounced with the last two teams, but even though your team is not steamrolling Canuck fans, the wins in the entire season have them in a great position. It would be fun to see these guys again, but maybe after they are tenderized by the Preds first!
S - Henrik Sedin brought it tonight. Pissed off for the assault on his kin, he played inspired, was strong on the puck, and a handful down low. But he was a little uneven, only 7 of 28 on draws, a -1, and while he had 2 shots and 2 hits, he also had 2 penalties ( OK, one. That second one was laughable ). Let the anger seethe in you Henrik. A dark, cold ball of anger in your belly. He battled tonight though, thats for sure.
T - Tanev. All kinds of cool. That one rush where he filled the rush seemlessly, fell back to the line perfectly. The man had some heavy forecheck pressure at times tonight, and responded well. No matter which pairing, he seems cool. What a steal, I say it every game.
U - Underhanded. Unbelievably vicious. For all the hyperbole we will attach to Keith's hit, he did mention in his remarks afterwards that he was not set off by Daniel's hit, he did not mean to hurt him, and he hopes its OK. One wonders how much of that is politicking for the inevitable call with Mr Shanabanner that is coming, but thanks for the gesture anyhow.
V - We will still have our vengeance if our paths cross again, you bastards.
W - Wins. Two each, one blowout each, one close one where the loser feels they outplayed the winner. As with everything, these two teams are closely matched. I suppose the #1 PP not connecting on 3 tries is more troubling than the #22 PP looking like clownshoes, but then we do have the #6 PK as well ( what, you are saying we made that teams' #26 PK look that good?) Something to work on...
X - There has never been a player in the NHL whose name started with X. Maybe Xerxes was a nickname for some famous captain along the way, or someone so named played in the Persian League. "Ruler over heroes" is the translation. Perfect for a captain.
Z - There were 47 that started with a "zed", including Zarley Zalapski. Chicago once had a guy named Valeri Zelepukin. I hope Daniel is not "zelepukining" tonight and can play tomorrow, but if not, this same game against those assholes in Dallas, if you please Canucks. Lets get the hate going there, we might get them in the first round if they lose a couple. Keep the switch flipped!