That does not mean that I am OK with losing, of course. This is the 5th straight, and the Canucks have not lost that many in a row since 1999. But in a game where the experts, wags, pundits, and others were all calling this one a "horrible loss" and worse before the puck was even dropped, playing that hard after their coach talked about "something has to change" was proof enough to me that the team is still involved, still playing for their coach, and still battling.
They need to go into Montreal Thursday, and Toronto Saturday, and beat them both just to make the road trip respectable, and cling to that fast disappearing playoff spot, but it is still there in front of them.
Now, if those same experts haven't traded everyone out of town by then ( not that changes wouldn't help ! ), who knows? Raphael Diaz looked pretty good in his first game in Canuck colours.
EXTRASKATER.COM ( win the Corsi, lose the war... )
With the news that Dan Hamhuis was out tonight, the blue line was stretched even thinner. The starters were Jason Garrison ( who did not have a great game tonight ) and Alexander Edler. But after that? Rookies and callups were the rule. Well, Diaz is a second / third year guy, but Ryan Stanton, Yann Sauve and Frank Corrado are all rookies of varying degrees.
It was the long term, big money guy that struggled the most tonight though. Garrison's mistake at the blue line led to the first goal ( against the run of early play ) that gave the Bruin fans their first opportunity to show Roberto Luongo how much they love and respect him.
Garrison took a tripping penalty in the first to prevent another mistake at the line from costing his team, was behind the play or chasing for most the game, and ended up a -1, with one shot on goal.
The other guys were not that bad. I mean, mistakes did happen under pressure from all four of the young ones, but Edler ( actually the best blue liner tonight ) had a couple of those too. Diaz fit in well, and was solid in his own end, in addition to scoring the only goal for the losing team. He saw 25:26 TOI ( 2:33 each on the PP and PK ), and check this stat line : even, 4 shots ( 4 missed shots too ) 3 blocks, and 2 hits. Not bad young man, not bad at all.
After the initial goal, where a three on two, and a strong shot from Lucic left little chance for the goalie, the team settled down, and had the better of the opening period. The Bruins are a good team, and forecheck hard. They had their chances. But after twenty minutes, the Canucks had outshot ( 9-5 ) the Bruins, and in a notoriously tough place to do so, outhit them ( 11 - 9 ) as well. Diaz and Ryan Stanton each had two in the physical stat, but the only forward with two hits? Daniel Sedin. ( he liked having his brother back ! ) The Bruins won the draws 8-6, but remember with that stat, that Henrik Sedin ( still struggling with something painful, a rib most likely ) took ONE late third period draw. His line mates were taking all the faceoffs for that line tonight.
After an early too many men call was killed off, the Canuck penalty killers were unable to prevent a Jarome Iginla tally, off a nice Chara pass, from extending the lead. It came after Daniel Sedin had a clear breakaway from the blue line, and shot the puck right into the goalie. Yeah Daniel, there was a smidgen of five hole there. But that was, as Shorty noted, the shot of a guy whose confidence is lagging greatly right now. There was a great chance to have the game tied, but, instead, the power play comes down, and takes advantage of the late guy coming back to increase their lead. That's just how it's going right now.
Raphael Diaz was able to close the deficit a few minutes afterwards, but it would be another mistake that cost the Canucks, and put the lead back at two goals.
Don't get me wrong, I think David Booth played very hard, and had a strong game otherwise. He and Boychuk were trying to murder each other with hits ( he led his team, and the game, with 6 hits. Even with a -2, he had 3 shots, and was a force for most the night ), and he was put up on the first and second lines for most the night, so Torts agreed with the effort.
But with your team pressuring, when you are up at the line, and dumping it towards the net, especially when the team is changing behind you, is not a good move. Kesler might have been there, but it was a low percentage pass, and there were three Bruins there as well. Just put it in the corner David !
He didn't, and Daniel Paille, seeing the play develop, just lurked at the line and had his own blue line in breakaway. He beat Luongo on a backhand along the ice ( you could see Lui pissed at himself for that one, as it just got by his toe ), and instead of going in down one feeling pretty good, the Canucks were down two against a very good defensive team on home ice. They were still leading the shots ( 19-18 ), the hits were a wash now at 18 apiece, and the faceoffs only 16-21, which is pretty good down one centre, and your "ace" Kesler only having won 4 of 12 to that point.
The Bruins stiffened in the third, in that now familiar " collapse to the net and assault EVERYONE" style we are now familiar with. There is really no point in bitching, so I won't, but there were calls left unmade, in particular in the third period. There was one they HAD to call, when Ryan Kesler was driving the net and was literally tackled, but that was about it. The power play was unable to get the goal they so desperately needed, and that was about it. The Canucks should be lauded for the effort all the way to the end, as they pushed the play. The third period was one where they were taking chances, but while the Bruins ( like I said, good team ) had a few times with sustained pressure, most of their ( 14-9 in the third, after a 13-10 second, and a 32 - 28 edge overall ) shots in the final period came on counters.
That seems to be the way teams are playing the Canucks right now, or at least the last two. Pressure the blue liner, or pick a pass, and try and turn it up the ice as quick as possible. It's a good idea. and creates odd man rushes. Early on ( man, December's play seems so long ago ! ), the Canucks had the "when to pinch" thing down pat, and there were fewer odd man rushes against.
One last thing, and I freely admit this has to do with being a Canuck fan, and not a fan of the Bruins. But it is frustrating, and I'd prefer to get it off my chest instead of letting it fester.
The Bruins are a bunch of ******bags. I don't mind the tough play, the Canucks gave as good as they got. I am not talking about Brad Marchand, who we all know is an ass, and while he did try his little act, it was mostly ignored. No, it was a few things, but there were two in particular that pissed me off. At the end of the second period, well after the horn, David Krejci took a shot at the goal. Not only is that a douche move, but you could see him, clearly after he heard the horn, think about it and do it anyhow. It hit Lui, and no harm was done, but the goalie CAN be injured. That is why teams get pissed when it happens, He's not expecting it.
The second one though, may have injured Ryan Kesler, and while technically in the field of play, it was with less than a couple seconds left, and it is a ******bag move to me. The Canucks had pulled the goalie, but the game was over. The Bruins had a couple chances at it, but, really, it was a done deal. So, why in the hell is a blue liner ( Krug or Bartkowski, I think ) loading up and taking a slapshot at the bunch of players in front of the net? Because he plays on a team that encourages ******bag things like that is my guess. I hope Kesler wasn't hurt by it, as the injured list is already approaching double digits, but knowing this teams' luck, he probably is out for the season from it. There was just no need. Other than wanting to be a ...well, you know.
So, on to Montreal. The effort is there, let's hope the results get better ! And that there are 23 healthy bodies getting off the plane...