It's been a while since I got back in the saddle. My responsibilities being the away games this year, the past six game home stand meant that I was away from the keyboard. I missed you guys!
But with so many excellent folks here, you really can't go wrong. So, tonight, we'll have two recaps. Zanstorm's, and this one. And so you don't have to strain your eyes and read a lot, I'll even keep this one under 1500 words!
So, let's break it down the same way that the team does, Forwards, Defense, and Goaltending...
It was so interesting watching Torts move his pieces around tonight. The first line did not change all night, with the Sedin Twins and Alexandre Burrows together for all but a shift or two ( where David Booth, who had a great game, spent a few minutes ).
The interesting line was Ryan Kesler's. He had Chris Higgins on the wing throughout, but while Jannik Hansen started out there, he was quickly into the doghouse after the Senator's opening goal. Check the gif on Sean's review. The coach obviously thought ( and was right ) that Hansen could have gotten back better on MaCarther. Zack Kassian went up there, until he screwed up on the Sen's second tally, whereupon his assignment changed somewhat. David Booth ( did I mention he had a great game ? ) was on that line too, with Honey Badger and Kes' to start, but also saw a great deal of time with Mike Santorelli and Dale Weise.
The third line was the one tonight though. It was mainly the above mentioned guys. But whomever it was from shift to shift, this line was consistently good all night. Perhaps it is a feature of the Eastern teams, that they are not as good in their own end as the teams in the West,. But while the third line was the most consistent, that was the most noticeable fact about this game. The Canucks forecheck was wonderful.
David Booth - I like a good redemption story. And Booth is certainly penning his own the past couple games. Tonight was his best. A goal, an assist, and 2 shots and 2 hits in only 13:13 of mainly all ( only :21 on the PP ) 5 on 5 ice time. His confident play with the puck was the main reason Dale Weise had a cookie in front to sweep home. Amazing how a little confidence can get a guy going.
Daniel Sedin - He scored his 300th goal tonight, sparking the 4 goal second period that won the game, with a snipe that must have felt good. ( a great forecheck from Burrows started the play, and a great pass from Hank gave him the chance ) 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 of his 5 shot attempts on net, and 1 takeaway in 17:02 TOI.
Henrik Sedin - You can't mention one without the other. Henrik was solid all night, and had 2 assists ( one on his brother's goal, the other on a nice power play snipe by Jason Garrison that was all Sedinery on the set up ), as well as going 11 for 24 on faceoffs.
Mike Santorelli - Everyone's favorite local boy had a strong game. A game high +3 in 13:00 TOI, an unassisted goal ( Booth and Richardson did some wonderful work on the forecheck, buzzing around the net before Santorelli scored on his own rebound on what was only "technically" a turnover by the Sens' guys in their own end., an assist on Booth's goal off a strong faceoff win, 2 of 3 shots on net, a hit, a block, and a team best ( again ) 8 of 12 on draws.
Ryan Kesler - There were others ( like Alexandre Burrows, who continues to be snake bit, but led the team with 7 hits, and Zack Kassian, who was uneven, but had some solid shifts and 5 hits...and special mention to Tom Sestito for going toe to toe with Chris Neil after the latter pulled a douchebag run at Ryan Stanton with the puck not even close to being in the neighborhood ) but I really enjoyed Kesler's snarl tonight. Torts must have too, as he had Ryan Kesler out for a game high 23:17 of all situations ice time. That was more than anyone on both teams not on the blue line. His stat line was not sparkling, as he was a -1, had 2 of 4 shots on net, and 1 block, 1 minor PIM, and 2 hits and 1 takeaway. But it was the snarl and engagement in the game that I enjoyed. 9 of 18 draws one as well.
Dale Weise - Like the coach, I think he is earning his ice time. A greasy goal from the front of the net, a +2, 3 shots, a fight that might have seemed superfulous, but showed there would be no cheap stuff tonight, as well as 2 hits in 10:54 of all 5 on 5 TOI.
Jason Garrison - The Bomber did just that on the power play, with a nice goal, as well as an assist on Weise's goal, 2 of 3 shot attempts on net, and all in only 18:06 TOI.
Chris Tanev - Just call him Gumby. It seemed there were multiple times that Sen forwards tried to get a big hit on him, and he just bounced off, wriggled away, and made the outlet pass. He has one play where he fell in his own end that gave some pause, but he was the same old solid Tanev. Assisted on Daniel Sedin's 300th tally, had a +3, seemed to be more confident at jumping up all night in his 20:12 TOI ( 1:52 on the once again perfect PK, that went 3 for 3, and continues to lead the NHL )
The rest... Dan Hamhuis could have had a goal when he jumped up a couple times, and was a +3, with 4 blocks in a blue line high 23:07 TOI. Alexandre Edler was a -2 ( team worst, and indicative of his uneven night ), but tied Hammer with 4 blocks. Kevin Bieksa led the team with 5 shots on net, led the team with 5 blocks, and had 3 hits as well in his 22:59 TOI. Swagger Juice. And, of course, Ryan "Stats" Stanton, who was a +1, had 2 missed shots, 2 blocks, and 2 hits in only 13:03 TOI.
Roberto Luongo - Yes, he gave up 2 goals, but you can really only give him a bit of static on the opening goal. Clarke MacArther made a smart play ( would have loved if we would have gotten him this past off season. He is a definitely well rounded and underrated player ) by twice looking the goaltender off on the pass, before wiring it top corner when Lui pulled off the post just a touch. But that was about it. The late second period goal that gave the Sens a bit of hope was more the result of a couple guys ( Kassian one of them, and it was this play that saw him sit a bit as a result ) not clearing the puck when they had the chance, before it went off someone in front on a bit of a scrambled one.
Luongo was the man in the first ( when, as Torts put it, he thought the team "sucked" ), apart from that opener, and had to make a bunch of save all night, as the Sens outshot the Canucks 39-28, going 11-7 in the first, 14-10 in the second, and 14-11 in the third. Not all of them were grade "A" chances, but there definitely were a bunch that were. He made a save in the third period that was vintage Luongo, throwing out that long leg on a rush to make a deflected shot harmless. Somehow, it did not make the NHL highlight pack, and I aint going to dig it out to get the shooter, but it was definitely one of the best on the night.
Luongo took one high off the collarbone early in this game, and had to visit the trainer as a result ( collarbone? Bet that there's a welt there tomorrow ). It seemed to egg him on. Way to battle Lui...
So, in a game where the coach thought they have had "better games", the Canucks win one going away. Let's hope that the same happens in Madison Square Gardens on Saturday morning.