Sometimes, you get a feeling of how a game is going to turn out. A "premonition",perhaps. Maybe it is the thousands of hockey games watched and agonized over. Perhaps it is a feeling, and nothing more. But this one felt like a loss in the first period, maybe one where the Canucks could pull it out in the second, and one where they definitely deserved a better fate in the third.
In the past, this is exactly the kind of game the Canucks would have won. They certainly would not have been running around in their own end like that in past games. But, instead, it was one where the loss feels just a bit more painful after the improved effort in the third period looked to have gotten them back into a position to win.
EXTRASKATER.COM ( sorry, they were down as of this writing. Will add the link later )
In the first period, it did look grim. The Jets came out with a far better start in their raucous home rink, and were fully deserving of their lead. The only good thing for the visitors was that it was not a huge lead. Credit Eddie Lack for that.
Initially, it did not look like it would be that good of a night for the rookie back up goaltender. After firmly having the run of play, the Jets got the opening goal when Bogosian's point shot went through the goalie's glove. It was a weak goal, no matter how good your prairie friend might tell you Zack's shot is. ( It might be a decent one. He still should have had it ).
But the one that came just 1:05 later was indicative of the struggles this team is facing right now. Sure, it was a nice play. But Schiefele simply should not be able to make that pass to Bufuglien. He should not have even had the puck, as Hamhuis had the step, and the position down low on the dump in. That mistake was compounded by letting him continue up the boards, and all three forwards forgot about the two guys loitering down by the net. Byfuglien got the pass, and made a nice little tip to Setoguchi to put it in the empty net. Eddie Lack had no chance on that one.
In fact, without Lack, it might have been far worse, as he was making saves on the open guy on the back door all night. I am not quite sure where to start with the foibles of the defense, to be honest. Maybe it was, in part, losing Yannick Weber early on, and being down to five blue liners. Maybe it had something to do with the guys just losing the system's finer points. I don't know. But it was painful to watch.
But, even after being thoroughly outplayed early, the Canucks were still only down one goal, as they got some production out of their powerplay to make it a game. After a won face off, Alexander Edler handed off the puck up top, and headed to the net. The shot made it there, Burrows popped it through the pile, and Edler swept it into the open net.
So, after a first where the Jets outshot the Canucks 15-7, they were only up one goal. Not too bad, right? It looked even better for the visitors about five minutes into the second, as Ryan Kesler got a "Beast Mode" type goal by being hard on the puck, not giving up, and ( with hard work from Sedin and Burrows as well along the boards ) pouncing on a puck in the slot and beating Pavelec.
In fact, that might be another "painful" aspect of this result. Pavelec mostly sucked. He was lucky to make some saves, the Canucks ( mostly the snakebitten contingent of Daniel Sedin and Alexandre Burrows, who are close to being joined by Chris Higgins, who had a forgettable game. The puck seemed to be bouncing particularly bad for him tonight ) helped out by not being able to sweep home pucks that laid in the crease more than once. He was beatable tonight, and the Canucks did not take full advantage of that.
The tie did not last for long, however, as the Canuck defenders once again seemed lost just a couple minutes later. They have two of the best "cyclers" in the NHL on their team. They have certainly defended it enough in practice. Yet they let the Jets look positively Sedin like, and were late on getting to the shooter Frolik, who put it past Lack to restore the one goal lead.
The Canucks were a bit better in this period than the last one, but still ended it by being down in the shots ( 13-10 in the second ), and alarmingly high in the giveaway stat ( 11 to 8, with that tally ending up 15-13 in the Canucks FAVOUR at the end of the game ), as well as being outhit 23-16 after two periods ( Jets outhit the Canucks 32-25 overall ). The Jets had the edge in play after two though.
It was a different team that came out in the final period. They simply dominated. That makes the final result almost more painful as well, in light of that. They came at the Jets very hard, but couldn't execute at the best of times. The Canucks power play had an opportunity about 6-7 minutes in, but simply did not execute, looking more like the power play that was 29th coming in than the one that had scored with a well executed play in the first. ( How bad? Daniel Sedin made a perfect backside pass to Hamhuis, and he had an open net, and time, to one time it. He, instead, waited, and then shot it high and wide after the goalie had gotten over...#sigh ) But they did manage to tie the game once again.
The tying goal came at the 11:50 mark, on a dominant shift where they set up Jason Garrison, whose bomb left no chance for the goalie, they had a couple chances at both a 3 on1 and a 2 on 1. Against a team that was sitting back, that was surprising enough, but the way they frittered them away was even worse, not getting even a shot on either rush.
Penalties against did not help matters either. Just a minute after the tying goal, David Booth was battling in front, got tangled up ( and Keaton Ellerby certainly helped matters with a strong cross check that caused Booth to spin. Not blaming him though, Booth has to control the stick better ), and took a high stick penalty that muted the momentum, even though it was killed off.
It would be Alex Burrows, with a bit more than three minutes left, that gave the self inflicted wound. In a play similar to the Booth call, Burrows got tied up with Mark Stuart, and ended up high sticking him in the face. As the delayed call was waiting, Trouba made a nice pass to Setoguchi off the bench, and he beat Lack through FOUR guys in front, on a goal where Lack simply did not see it.
To make matters worse, the Burrows penalty was a 4 minute one, as Stuart was bleeding, and that time was crucial. The Canucks pulled the goalie, but could not get a solid shot through, and the clock ticked down on a period where they were by far the better ( Lack barely saw the puck in the first half of the third period ! ) team, but were unable to cash in their opportunities.
Like I said, painful. They could have won this game with even a bit of puck luck. They came back and battled hard, but those two late penalties were killers ( more for the time off the clock than the threats to their net, though the Jets did have 6 shots in the third )...but that is the way it is going for this team.
In fact, Bob MacKenzie ( repeating a "report" from Pierre Lebrun ) even said between the first and second that "the Canucks realize this is not their year. reality has set in, and everyone not the Sedins is available".
Now, I don't think it is as bad as that. Even after this one, they are still holding onto 8th in the West, after losing 11-12 of the last 15-16 games! I certainly disagree with Bobby Mac that they talked to ANYONE in the Canucks organization that would say that, on or off the record. More than likely, it is another one of those reports where someone is trying to get out ahead and make the narrative become the story.
Bottom line? Even with all the injuries ( and Weber joins a long list, from Henrik Sedin, to Kevin Bieksa and Mike Santorelli, amongst others ), they are still in the playoff race. More than likely, the team is looking for that rare unicorn, the "hockey deal" where they can get someone that is not over the hill that can help the team. We'll see how it turns out, but if they bring the effort they brought in the third in Detroit, that and the return of Torts might be just the jolt needed. Perhaps a deal is in the offing...but I think it will be more of the "hockey deal" type than the "call us on EVERYONE, because Crazy Mike is selling selling , selling" that TSN was intimating tonight.
That would be a different kind of pain though, wouldn't it?