How many times have we seen the line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alexandre Burrows do what they did tonight against the team from Calgary? Even when they were just coming up and figuring out their game, the Flames were the team they seemed to enjoy preforming against.
The rivalry has something to do with it. Even though they have played the game of hockey like Beethoven plays the piano, or how Stevie Ray Vaughn would just own the fretboard and strings, like both those maestros, The Sedins have honed their craft by pushing the limits. Quite often, those wonderfully artistic expressions of the game have created masterpieces against the team from just across the Rockies. Whether it is that between the legs tip pass to Daniel for a between the legs finish that still gets shown on TSN Top 10 shows, or the night that Henrik clinched the Art Ross by just plain showing off at home, the hapless opponent was, gleefully for most Canuck fans, the Flambes`.
Like any good rival though, the game is going to feature some emotion, and the very best the other team has to offer, regardless of the standings. ( most the time, I STILL choose to blank out that 7-1 loss to the Flames at the end of the '08 season. Not only did that mark the last time the Canucks missed the playoffs, but it was also Trevor Linden's last game. It was also the game Jarome Iginla forever ingratiated himself in the good graces of Vancouver hockey fans, no matter the colour of his jersey. Leading his team out to respect #16's career was classy Iggy ) Tonight was just such a night. Consider ;
3 - Its funny. I could be wrong, but I don't think any of the stats mavens, or the number slingers at NHL.com, keep track of the number of posts hit. Which is kind of weird. I mean, we track scoring chances, add this to that to get our Corsis and Fenwicks, our QoC matchups, TOI, Line charts down to the second and matchup, and basically break the game down as much as we can. But the shots off the post don't even get to fall into the shots column. Sorry son. you missed the goalie, no shot for you. I would imagine ( please feel free to correct me here number slingers ... ) it is at least a scoring chance. I just think it is something even more than a scoring chance. You beat the goalie, after all. Hell, considering the number of times a shot goes off the post and in, sometimes its even less than an inch that makes the difference. Anyhow, the Flames hit the post 3 times tonight, 2 of them in the first period that they handily owned, outshooting the Canucks 14 - 8. They probably deserved better than being down 2-1 after 20 minutes. "No Soup For You" tonight Flames fans!
7 - Most of the time, I would rather a root canal than to listen to Glenn Healy blather on about hockey. But occasionally he hits upon a nugget. In the post game, he informed us that Sedin line had 7 shifts of over a minute tonight. Of course, by this time Canuck fans are used to those Sedinery shifts, but it was kind of neat to hear him gush about the signature shift tonight ( that didn't end in a goal, I think even they were tired! ) of 1:43 that featured 25 passes. Yes, they are good, aren't they!?
+3 - OK. I will freely admit to not going through the entire game and counting all the hits. And sometimes the camera pans away and you just get the sound of the boards rattling. But, damn. That +3 is from the Canucks outhitting the Flames 18-15. That is right. The stats guy only saw 33 hits in total tonight. Here I thought that everyone was finishing their checks tonight. It was definitely a spirited game, with two fights in the first period alone. The biggest one of the night may have been a Dale Weise cruncher on McGratten on the forecheck that sent him to the dressing room. ( FYI - McGratten may have won his fight versus Tom Sestito, but his bad hockey karma from punching the man when he was on the ice, maybe came back to bite him there. Or perhaps it was because he was crushed by a hard and legal hit. Hope he's not seriously hurt. But Wowsers Weezy) I am sure they are professionals and all. I just thought there was more than that many hits in this game. ( Bonus stats line, because I like the grinders. Dale Weise had 7:50 TOI, and 1:41 of that was on a PK that went 5 for 5 with an empty net shorty. 1 goal, +1, 1 shot, 1 block, 2 hits and 1 takeaway. )
8 - Points for the first line guys tonight. With Alexandre Burrows feeding Dan Hamhuis just 34 seconds in, for his first point of the night, and then poking a puck through Kiprusoff for a goal assisted by both Twins, and Daniel Sedin making a nice play off the boards to spring that first shift goal, and then he and his brother both getting assists on Alexander Edler's power play blast, it was a good night even before Henrik Sedin calmly potted the empty netter from his own blue line ( of course, in true Wizardous Sedinerie fashion, he put it through the defenseman's legs, just to up the difficulty ). Oh yeah, because of a late penalty on Kevin Bieksa, the empty netter was also Vancouver's first shorthanded goal of the season. Special mention to Henrik Sedin for being the only guy on his team over 50% on draws, going 10 for 16 on a night the Flames won the faceoff battle 35-24. ( Andrew Ebbett came close by going 6 for 13 ). There was a nugget dropped on the broadcast that was good news in that respect then, when the CBC fellows told us that if he had not gotten the flu this week, Ryan Kesler may have been in this game, and that the educated speculation is that he will be back for the first game of the next road trip, in Calgary on Wednesday. Good times...
#35 - Was magnificent tonight, especially in a first period where there were 9 solid scoring chances. The Flames ended up with 38 shots, and I would wager about 2/3rds of them were good scoring chances too. Sure, they had the 3 posts, but that is the funny thing about post "saves". Ask any goalie and he or she will tell you " that is because that is all I left them ". The great thing about watching him play is how calm he is in the net. Several times tonight his pad would flick out while there was traffic on a point shot, or in close on a rebound, and it looked effortless. Now, you guys all know me. I am a Roberto Luongo fan. But I am also a big Cory Schneider fan ( and becoming a bigger fan every game ) , and even though he got beaten for a couple goals on actual shots ( both nice plays. Wideman's little hesitation move was slick, as was Tanguay's shift and then slipping it five hole just past the stick...nice ) , you can see why the team is high on him. There is no doubt for me that he is the real deal.
#1 - Nonetheless, a few words for Roberto Luongo. I'm not going to get into the drama and such from trade deadline. The way that whole media circus was orchestrated and pushed on Canada's biggest sports network by the cousin of one of the main GM's involved ( and others of course. Without getting into a rant here, they do seem to all have Eastern addresses...just sayin'! ) in the discussions to move the man that is, for me, the best goaltender to strap on the pads in the team history kind of made me a little ill. Trust them all to go for the "My contract sucks" line for their headlines, ignoring the smirk and sarcasm that sure looked apparent to me through the TV in that interview. From watching the bit of video that CBC showed today of Roberto and Kipper enjoying a smile together during warmups, it looked like both were in good humour despite the experience. Regardless of the amount of speculation and kvetching that will come in the off season around that question, there is no way Roberto Luongo is only worth Ben Scrivens and two 2nd round picks. That is for another day anyhow. He is being a great and supportive teammate while watching his protege perform. Looks like the student has "snatched the pebble from your hand" Luongo-san. It is great to see you handle the entire thing with class and style. Emotions run high in national press conferences when entirely manufactured narratives get thrown at you. No worries buddy. My guess is that you won't have to go to the Big Smoke in the off season anyhow. If the scuttlebutt is to be believed, Nonis's 11th hour demand for the Canucks to take some salary AND take a deal did not go over well, and that whole soap opera may have left some scars.
Tonight's game was all about execution. Against a game and loose opponent playing with nothing to lose but a job down the road, there were several times when a Flame player bearing down may have made a difference. Schneider was pretty awesome, and maybe it would not have made a difference. But when you look at the Canuck tallies, it was all about the execution. From the perfectly weighted pass from Burrows that allowed Dan Hamhuis to put it in the empty net, to the smooth Sedin play in the offensive zone that gave Burr' an opportunity to poke one home, the Canucks made the most of their chances. It was not all on the #1 line, though they had a wonderful game. The way they got that puck back to Edler for that bomb on a power play that took all of 4 seconds to connect is proof of that. But it was also the fourth line that moved the puck around smartly, getting it to Jason Garrison for one of his bombs on net that went off of Weise's foot. Even though they just had 22 shots, and were outshot 13-4 in the third, the team tried to take a cue from their leaders in the offensive zone.
Oh, and Christopher Tanev is wonderful. I know I am not alone in holding my breath when Douchey McGratten hit his leg and he limped off for a bit. For a guy that was only on the ice for 16:01 ( 1:57 on the PK, as AV had him out there on the second pairing with Kevin Bieksa ), and only had a block and 2 hits to show for it on the stat sheet, it just seems that any time the team is under pressure in their own end, Mr Cool just steps in and fixes things. Even on the shift where he was hurt. After coming out of the corner with the limp, he made a play in front of the net to prevent a scoring opportunity. Then, hobbling, got in the right position to retrieve the puck and hold it, and while in pain and not at a 100%, made the right play under pressure. He just continues to amaze me by how his game just seems to be getting better. Keep avoiding those big hits with that Gumby style and stay in the line up my man.