The Canucks got their leader back, as John Tortorella returned from his fifteen day sabbatical. They made a deal as well, hoping to replenish a blue line beset by injuries. Raphael Diaz for Dale Weise was a good deal by all reports, but he wouldn't help the team tonight ( he'll be in Boston tomorrow ) as they looked for the first win of this tough five game road trip. ( And welcome back to the NHL Yann Sauve. It may have been with a lot of injuries, but you actually looked decent in your first game back up in The Show" )
All of that just got the hopes up. Pass the decanter...
The aspect of the game most driving Canuck fans to the bottle still remains, of course, the "power play". I would submit that it is more accurate to just say "man advantage", as there is no real "power" in it at the moment.
Case in point. The visitors were given a power play less than a minute in, and, while it looked OK, it was not able to do anything. Throughout the night, there were set ups and opportunities that ( and credit the Wings somewhat as well, they blocked some shots tonight as well ) were just not executed on that well.
They had another one in the first period, and it ended up the same way. There was a penalty shot for David Booth in the second, with predictable results ( he shot it into the pads ...you know you can deke on those, right David ). David Booth may have been the best Canuck on this night, however, with 2 shots ( 3 misses ), 5 hits, and 16:36 TOI that included most of the third period with the Sedin Twins.
That might have been the problem, when you think of it ( and another thing that is making me think of the benefits of Rye over Bourbon ). Ryan Kesler was full of effort, worked hard, and had a couple chances. The Twins ( including Henrik Sedin, who was less than 100 % by the looks of it, not taking a lot of draws in the second half of the game ) were working hard as well.
But the Wings know the Canuck game well ( it is a little different than theirs, but not that much, and the Wings know the personnel very well ), and were very good defensively on this night.
It deserves it's very own title, as it was the only real goal ( a late empty netter sealed the deal, and had the bonus of being a power play goal for the Wings. More on that in a sec ), and one that the Canucks may have been hanging their heads about. Ryan Stanton was on Henrik Zetterberg in the corner ( so far so good ), and while the Swede held the puck well, he was contained pretty well. He made a pass to the high sot. and Abdelkader was also checked well, but able to get a weak wrister off.
Burrows tried to block it, but he was far enough out that it should not have troubled the goalie. The puck ended up "having eyes" and beat Eddie Lack high over the blocker on a goal that has tp be called "weak". Pass the single malt ! Neat !
Now, all of that is negated because of the wonderful other saves that Eddie Lack made. He was simply fantastic on the other 28 shots he faced. He robbed guys on breakaways, guys with multiple shots on breakaways, 2 on 1's, pucks that were turned over quick that he just had to react to, turnovers in the slot, and a few other hard shots as well.
So, the visitors would not have even been in this game at the end if it was not for their goalie. He had a bad goal, one that he maybe should have had, but he was the only reason it was close.
The Canucks did have some chances in this game, most notably a power play set up that Kesler did not get all of, and more than once where they were crashing the net and trying to get the rebound in. But Gustavsson ( 1st period only, left after complaining of dizziness ) and Jimmy Howard in the last two periods made the saves that they had to.
But when you are down 1-0 in the third period, have a power play 5:29 into said period, and down get your first shot credited until the last 6 minutes or so, something is wrong.
Mind you, the Wings got their usual "assistance" from the striped shirts tonight. Maybe they call that "respect" in Michigan, I don't know. But the refs not only gave the home team a full two minute man advantage ( and both may have been "calls" but they certainly were not blatant ) in the second period that was killed magnificently by the goalie, Kesler, Edler, and Hamhuis...but was one that should have been a one man advantage, in my estimation. ( I thought the Garrison call was a bit weak, considering )
Even if both of those calls were fine, they still let the home team defend by playing 70's / 80's style hockey. Clutching and grabbing were certainly allowed on this night. Interference? Who knows how that is called anymore? ( the one at the line on Booth the most obvious ).
Look, it probably would not have mattered, as the power play was powerless anyhow. But, without sounding like the refs were the reason the Wings won ( they weren't, the Wings played a strong defensive game at home overall ), they didn't help matters.
The end was a fine example. The Canucks were on the power play, and Kesler hit Kronwall, very legally, in the corner. As he was going up ice o the dump out, he was literally assaulted by Ericsson, with a head lock, to try and "stand up" for his defensive partner. The refs rightly called that. It should have been a two man advantage. But for some reason, Kesler was given a penalty for being assaulted. A hit by Burrows behind the net ( borderline boarding, but they are calling that closer nowadays )ended any hope on the power play, and gave the Wings the opportunity to get a special teams goal that helped the numbers, with the late empty netter.
So, it wasn't just the game, the players, and the result that had me reaching for the bottle tonight. The "other guys on the ice" didn't help matters either. But, like I said, that is only one small aspect of the "things that drive me to drink" on this night.
The defenders suddenly forgetting how to cover for each other, resulting in a myriad of chances of the "cheap" variety had me thinking about the Rye. The having the puck in a shooting area and not shooting, or the way everyone seems to be squeezing the stick as soon as they get over the blue line sure makes me wonder on how smooth Glenlivet really is. The pucks bouncing over sticks on passes, the three on ones that go offsides, the total and utter lack of "chemistry" between any linemates ( BeastModo was together a bit late in this game, and didn't take over a game for a change! ) of any combination makes one wonder if they will ever see some of them score.
But, to be very, very clear, the refs didn't cost the team two points tonight. Not even close to that. There were just things that could have, and probably would have, with other refs, been different. They could have made a decision here or there a bit different But that is all. It probably wouldn't have made a difference to a team this deep in the doldrums. They'll get better...it always happens after a long slump. Maybe a "name" will be gone by then, whoi knows? The doldrums sometimes are a bitch to beat down. But they will turn it around...right?
Yes, I still think so...I probably won't jump off the wagon ( when it comes to hard stuff, not a teatotaler here, but I do like the beer ), even though a game like this one makes one consider the sweet, sweet numbness as a help. I know that being down one in the third and only getting 3 shots is unacceptable, and troubling, even if the Wings were having their best defensive period of the YEAR !
Things will get better folks. They always do. Perhaps a team rollicking from one wall to the other goes into Boston tomorrow night and gets the emotional jolt an opponent "that hates" ( like Marchand said recently about the fellas in Blue and Green ) will be enough. You know they remember the 6-2 shellacking of the last meeting, and will be out to atone.
Perhaps. it will be enough. I sure hope so !