It's been an interesting season so far. The Canucks have been both good and bad. The home record of 5-5-3 to date may have caused a bit of angst so far, as has the struggle to score goals.
But the positives are there to see as well. The team took three of four road games on this trip. They have seen the power play experience a bit of a resurgence, and the ratio of "greasy goals" has went way up. Add to that the fact that Ryan Kesler has turned the #BeastMode switch on since he's been back at the second line centre spot ( Torts even agreed that "while I still think of him as a winger, I don't want to screw with that..." admittance in the post game presser that Kes' has excelled at centre), and even the most bi-polar of Canuck fans might be seeing the heart of rock and roll is beating...just a bit at least.
One thing that they will have to deal with is injuries. We all thought that Alexandre Burrows had dodged a bullet after coming back in the Canes win. Unfortunately, that was just another example of why hockey players arre the toughest athletes in sports, as it turns out he played the rest of that game, and went out with the team afterwards, with a broken jaw. Add to that the fact that Alexander Edler only played the first period in this one, with what is being called a "lower body injury" of indeterminate seriousness, and the hard nosed, all in it together, "next man up" ( Frankie Corrado ? ) style of less flash and more grind might just be what this team needs as they come back home for a five gamer against some solid competition.
Not the most entertaining first period...
- The Predators are also battling injuries, with Weber and Klein both out of the line up. Whether that made the first period sort of blase, or whether it was just too long of a night out at Tootsies last night for the visitors, the home team was probably the netter one over a first period with a lot of back and forth and not a lot of chances.
- Roberto Luongo was definitely one of the guys that came to play from the outset, as he made a few good saves in the opening stanza, including a couple late ones that kept the game at 0-0 after twenty minutes. The Preds outshot their visitors 8-5 in the first.
- It was a play along the boards in his own end, and like most injuries, did not look THAT bad at the time, but it was late in this period that Edler played his last shift of the night. Hopefully it is not too serious, as he had responded to his Torts Tonguelashing ( copyright ) well in the last game, and in the opening period of this one. Look for Andrew Alberts of it is a short time out, and perhaps a call up of Frankie Corrado if it is going to be a while.
Who turned the switch on in the second period?
- Those that were at Bridgestone Arena sure had little to complain about as far as entertainment went in the middle period, as the floodgates opened. Though no one put a puck in the net until the last five minutes, the offensive game for both teams was certainly on display. The Canucks outshot their opponent 18-14 in that middle period, and both Luongo and the NHL's third star for the month of November, rookie Marek Mazanec were the only reason the goal lights did not get a workout.
- The opening goal was typically greasy from Brad Richardson ( 1 goal, +1, 1 shot, and a great 10 of 14 faceoff wins that helped power his team to a 33-23 edge in that puck possession stat ), putting away a rebound by going to the net.
- Unfortunately, the shift after a goal was not the best. While it is hard to totally put it on Christopher Tanev, he came back to the front of the net and missed clearing the rebound that Lui left right in the slot, and Colin Wilson was able to put it home for the tying goal, just 30 seconds after Richardson's tally.
- Torts certainly did not put that much blame on the sophomore defenseman, as Tanev played the 2nd most ice time of anyone in Blue and Green tonight at 24:10. He only had 2 blocks and 1 hit according to the stats guy, but he was mostly the same solid, "you can't count on me coach" guy we all know and love.
Bring it on home boys!
- Another defender that picked up some of Edler's lost ice time and ran with it was Jason Garrison, who had another strong game. He is getting that cannon sighted in on target, and it is starting to bring results. His two assists tonight were both ( one even strength, one on the resurgent power play ) off of the threat of that shot, and check the rest of the stat line : 23:51 TOI, +1, 2 assists, and 6 of his 7 shots forcing a save. He played 5:42 on the power play. There is little doubt that he is part of that part of the game being better.
- No one filled the stat sheet like Dan Hamhuis tonight though. His 27:43 TOI was tops in the game for the Canucks, and featured : 3 shots on net, 3 misses, 3 blocks, 1 minor penalty, 1 hit, 2 takeaways and 2 giveaways. A solid contribution.
- Let's face it though. Ryan Kesler was once again THE MAN, and the reason the team won this game. Don't get me wrong, the Sedins ( with Santorelli to start, occasionally Hansen, and David Booth as well on the wing ) line was solid, and the third line contributed a goal and played a strong two way game. But the Beast was beasting. Consider : 21:01 TOI, 2 goals, +1, 5 shots, 3 hits, 2 takeaways and 1 giveaway. All that and a very good 13 of 19 draws won.
- Mike Santorelli gets an honorable mention, up and down the lineup and playing his Mr Everything Jr game, with an assist and 3 of 4 shots on net in 22:38 played mainly on the wing. Daniel Sedin had an assist on the power play goal, and had 3 of 5 shots hit the net. There were others Dale Weise and David Booth grinding and contributing. Chris Higgins has got his Beast Jr thing going with another nice night, with a +1 and 4 shots, while being a force. But this was Kesler's night.
- BTW Preds fans...I am a Canuck guy, but they were BOTH goaltender interference penalties, and well deserved. Let's not hear this blather about how "dramatic" Luongo is. He was run into twice. ( OK, the second one was slightly debatable, but that is still a penalty more often than not..."drama" notwithstanding ) I challenge anyone to put on the gear and not go over on that much contact. He certainly was not a Mike Smith" out there. Trotz himself called them "unnecessary"...and it didn't sound like he was talking about the goaltender, but more about his guys. Besides, after no contact at all costing the Canucks a goal and possibly points versus the Stars, these things all even out, right?
So, five games at home against some solid opponents. Now that the boys have gotten on a bit of a roll, can we expect different results? Let's hope so.
Just because you read this far, I have a treat for you. Tonight, I was a little late, because the fine folks at the Canucks and the NHL had a little soiree for various bloggers tonight. I assure you, pants were worn by all, and we all had our best social graces on.
This was all to promote the Tim Hortons' Heritage Classic, coming to BC Place on March 2nd. With about 55,000 seats on hand, the supply is not infinite, but here is what you can do. Now, this special code will be out there for everyone by about Thursday evening, but readers here? They and we think you are special. So, this is what you do.
Go to NHL.comHeritageClassicPresale/ and enter the code NHLSocial where it asks for "got a code".
Success! You've got first dibs on the best seats.