One couldn't blame you for thinking "Oh, god... here we go again" when Jeff Petry scored a weak one on Roberto Luongo a mere 2 minutes into the game last night. A weak tripping call on Kevin Bieksa, and all of a sudden, it's a flashback to that stomping the Oilers laid on the Canucks late last season. So when they coughed up the puck to Brad Richardson, who calmly went in all alone and 5-holed Devan Dubnyk to tie it up, that was to me at least, the first sign this may be a different Canucks team we are seeing.
Now this was not a perfect effort by any stretch. There were still defensive miscues, but little things started to emerge that we just aren't used to seeing. The first was the near immediate response to the goal by Petry. The next? Shots. Lots of them. The Canucks just took over the game, firing pucks at Dubnyk every chance they got. Another great thing, was the tenacious forechecking, which the Oilers really didn't seem to handle well, coughing up the puck numerous times. Dubnyk held the fort as long as he could, but gave up 2 more late in the first, to Dan Hamhuis and Jannik Hansen.
The 2nd period wasn't much better for the Oilers, as we got some Wizardous Sedinery on the power play, and an unassisted Ryan Kesler goal that sealed Dubnyk's fate for the night. Jason LaBarbera came on in relief, and while they got a goal from Boyd Gordon shortly thereafter, the Oilers never had a sniff in this one. Jason Garrison added a hilarious long distance empty netter (short handed no less, and when was the last time the Canucks scored 2 shortys in a game?) for the 6-2 final.
At first it seemed like Tortorella's screaming match with Oilers assistant Keith Acton was about Edmonton sending out their 4th line to stir up a fight, which we saw when Ryan Kesler dropped the gloves with Acton's son Will. Turns out Dad was yapping at the Canucks players, and Torts had heard enough. This led to Hockey Night In Canada's Glen Healy telling Tortorella to 'shut up' during the first intermission. Cue the post game press conference, carried live on CBC, and the incident brought up by the Province's Jason Botchford:
While it would be easy to dismiss last night's win by saying the Oilers were without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, you didn't really get the impression that they would have made any difference. The Canucks pressured the Oilers defence into mistakes time and time again, and what we saw from Edmonton last night was not a team that had improved into a playoff threat, but more the same team we've grown accustomed to seeing over the last few years. They have some offensively talented forwards, but defence seems at times to be such a foreign concept to them. Add in some shoddy goaltending, and Oilers coach Dallas Eakins really has his work cut out for him.
No rest for the wicked though, as the Canucks are on the road for a game against a Flames team that seems to have people at odds. Many have picked them to be bottom feeders yet again, while some point to getting 3 of 4 points to start the season on the road as a sign the other god-awful team from Alberta is indeed turning the corner. It's a bit of a stretch to say that, especially considering they blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads in the shootout loss to Washington Capitals, and their win came at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That being said, the Flames are looking to also be tougher to play against this year. How they can do this without the heart and soul that was Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff is anyone's guess.
Kickass Metal Tune Of The Day
Bay Area Thrashers Death Angel are back, and if the album is anything like the title track, they've certainly swung back into a heavier, more aggressive vibe.