There is a reason they call the Pacific Division the "Division of Death". There are a lot of good teams playing in our new playground. MOst of them play a close to the vest, get through a whole bunch of guys to score" style that simply was not what the Canucks had to deal with in years past.
I know what everyone said before the season started. But that was a bunch of prognostication and punditry. That stuff is not based in any reality, because it is all supposition.
So, coming in, we knew that it would be tougher in the Pacific, but I am not sure we knew HOW tough. Add to that a home stand that was less than expected the last time around, and you can understand the angst. But your team is still pretty good folks. Maybe not as good as all these teams that get either no respect, or little of it ( looking at you pundits. Not a ot of you were giving the Ducks and Coyotes much respect ). The Coyotes are a damn good team, and they play hard. Same as the Ducks.
Now, all that aside, John Tortorella was 100 % right in his less than positive feelings at the end of this one. After two periods where they were probably the better team, the Canucks sat back a bit too much in the third, and it cost them that valuable point. That is not what he wants, and not what his new style asks for. You cannot sit back and invite pressure against good teams. All it takes is a good play, or a mistake, and all the good work from before is gone in a puff of smoke.
The Canucks will need to tune that up against the Avalanche come Sunday. But let us at least take a peek at the positives. This is now the seventh straight game with a power play goal, and they have won four of the last five. I am sure the players know the expectations and the pressure in this city. Torts will get them in tune folks. Take a deep breath.
Who Did What
- How about Roberto Luongo? Once again, Lui stood up afterwards and took the bullet for the tying goal. He definitely got himself off balance and lost his position on it. But the other guys need to do more than puck watch. There were five guys around David Moss. A little help fellas? Vermette's tally was a bullet, but that tying goal was less than stellar for everyone. Luongo made 37 saves tonight, and probably deserved a better fate.
- Chris Higgins. He scored the O/T winner with a great shot and a hard working play along the boards to put it away, had 3 shots, 1 hit, 1 block, and 1` takeaway in his 20:08 TOI. He got to wear the Haida hat in the post game interviews. That was his 8th tally, and his 3rd game winner so far. ( he was the guy that should have had Moss's stick on the rebound goal that tied it up, however )
- Dan Hamhuis. The man played 29:30 TOI tonight, and was a +1. He also had 1 of 2 shots force a save, a hit, and a team high 3 takeaways.
- Ryan Stanton was the other defender that was a +1 tonight, and he also had an assist on a just after his penalty rush on the 2nd Canuck goal, and was his usual pretty good self. 3 shots, 2 blocks, 2 hits, and 1 takeaway in his 17:38 TOI.
- Ryan Kesler did not have a #BeastMode game, at least in comparison to the last two games, but he did have 4 shot attempts, ( 2 on net ), 3 blocks, 2 hits, and a giveaway in his 22:04. On a night where the advance stats said the Coyotes were all over the the home team, his %'s were not that bad, and I thought he helped his line push the play against good opponents.
- Kevin Bieksa ( and Jason Garrison, for that matter ) did not have the best nights according to the advance stats, but he did lead his team with 4 blocks, and had a couple hits in his 26:30 TOI. Those team leading 3 giveaways don't look that good though.
- Jason Garrison had a goal that is just what those of us that enjoy seeing him bomb away on the power play definitely enjoy. He was also a -1, even though he did lead his team with 5 shots. A hit and a block filled out his 22:36 TOI, and while he can be better, it is good to see an offensive defenseman be offensive.
Not a single centre iceman had a good night in the face off circle. The Coyotes owned it, winning 35 of 58 draws. Wait, that's not entirely true. Zac Dalpe won 4 of his 5 draws. The rest? Well, Kesler went 7 for 22, Henrik Sedin 6 for 16, and Brad Richardson only won 5 of 14 draws he took. Against a close to the vest, stuff up the neutral zone kind of team like the 'Yotes, losing the draw definitely is not the way to go.
- I would be remiss if I did not mention Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Both of them worked hard, and played mainly with David Booth tonight. While #7 looks like he hasn't quite figured out the Sedin Cycle as well as Burrows ( or even Kesler, Hansen, and even Kassian ), he is still working hard, and should probably get the chance to stay there a bit longer. Daniel and Henrik though? Well, Daniel had 2 assists, 2 shots, and a takeaway, while Henrik had the 2nd goal, 3 shots, and a block ( that led to the goal ! ), and was even credited with 1 hit. They don't always fill the net, but no one can say the Twins don't work hard.
- Speaking of Brad Richardson though, he had 2 of his 3 shot attempts force a save, and a giveaway in his 15:48. Sometimes the puck does not do what the guys want it too, and he and his third line had one of those nights.
- Jannik Hansen had a block, and a giveaway and a takeaway in his 11:56, and may be taking the "snakebitten" title while Burrows is injured. He had a great chance on an odd man rush, and simply could not bear down on the puck. The Coyotes had great sticks on the play, but after that chance, he had another on the rebound on the same play, and just couldn't do anything with it.
- Dale Weise had a bit more productive night on the same line, with 2 of his 3 shots on net, and 3 hits and 2 takeaways in his 12:30 TOI, most of which was hard on the puck, do my job on the boards, and skate for miles style that I am growing to appreciate more and more every game.
- Andrew Alberts only played 6:33 TOI, and had a shot ( and a miss, as well as a block in that short time. For a guy playing his 4th game of the season, he was OK. Hey, his Corsi For % was 53.3%, the best on the team tonight!
In the end, the Canucks gave away a point, but got the extra one. They probably were a bit too tentative in the third period ( the one the coach didn't like at ALL ), and still have to learn how to put teams away like they were doing early in the season. But let's remember, they were putting teams away with that aggressive style in the first 15 games of the year, and can do that again.
It's a process. Bring the road game to home ice boys. It's two points. Let's do it in regulation against the regressing Avs in a couple days...