The Vancouver Canucks learnt from their medical staff, coach, and GM that they would be without their captain, Henrik Sedin, for the next two games. He will not be participating in the Olympics as well, a blow to Team Sweden, and a bigger blow to the Vancouver hockey club.
As the facilitator, and leader, Hank naturally is the one that has made that symbiotic relationship with his brother that put him 3rd on the list of total points since the Vancouver Olympics, at 284 points, 8 behind Marty St Louis. ( use THAT stat when someone tells you he was too old to be picked, and Giroux should have went... ).
They would be without their own Olympic defenseman for one more game ( Dan Hamuis will practice and play in Toronto on Saturday ), and the lines were a mishmash of available bodies and relative talents.
There was Schroeder centring Burrows and Daniel Sedin ( the Snakebit Twins, though Burrows got himself an assist tonight, Daniel was shut out once again ). Kesler with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, on a line that played well. The line of the returning Richardson, Kassian, and the rampaging Booth had moments, as did the fourth.
There was scoring from the blue line, not one but TWO power play goals.
Excuse me, this rant somehow built up watching this game tonight, and I have always believed that you have to let these things out, especially in the midst of the extreme doldrums like now! ( There were quite a few difficult calls today, but that is the way it goes. It has to be tough for the referees ( not blaming them for missed calls at all in this game ). I follow this team closely, and as a long time fan, am a little sensitive to diving and embellishment. I look for it in my own team, and notice it as a consequence a lot more on the other teams. There are a lot of teams that do it, and it is no coincidence that some good teams have some good divers ) I have not seen a team in the NHL this season, in all the hockey that I have watched of this team, and other games, a team that does it as much as the Montreal Canadians of this year. One ref, two refs, put another in the video booth calling it, it wouldn't matter. Max Pacioretty got himself two penalty shots, the first of which he had to swerve into the corner to initiate contact with the sliding defender... Local boy Brendan Gallagher, who I'd still take on my team, dives as much and as constantly as Brad Marchand, and Max Plekanec is an artist at it. It HAS to be tough on the refs. Maybe that is why the Canucks got five straight power plays...end rant. Sorry, that was stuck in the craw tonight... )
More importantly, there was plenty of chances for Daniel Sedin, as he played well. Unfortunately, he remains without a goal for one more game. It is coming for the man. In addition to his 3 shots, there were a couple times he double clutched, battled a puck, and / or thought about it. But he seems closer, for what it is worth. Jordan Schroeder was a spark, and helped him ( he had an assist and 2 shots himself ).
I'll make you work for it a bit and check those highlights here though.
There are a few. Not since 2005 has anyone had two penalty shots in the same game, like Mad Max had tonight. ( the last guy, Eric Cole in Carolina in 2005, at least went 1 for 2 ! ). Roberto Luongo was not the problem tonight, even though the narrative you will hear from most the papers tomorrow will be about the "Olympic Goaltending Matchup", don't believe it.
His first goal was off a guy and would have been blocked, or he had it behind him. It was borderline goalie interference, and he had a guy on him as the goal was open to the shooter. The third a great little play misplayed in front by his defenders, and the fourth was kicked in by Edler after he was taken out in the wash of traffic to the net.
He made more than a few great saves, to say nothing of stoning Max on two penalty shots, as well as taking a sure goal from Prust with those freakishly long legs. Price played well, as evidenced by his 42 saves and only 2 goals given up. He is a great goalie too. But, apart from the simplistic reasoning of this one game meaning anything to who starts in Sochi, this was not about that. Although, at the end of the night, Lui did give up four goals and only had 24 saves... #lol
There are a few things to make you feel OK going into the Toronto game on Saturday, the last before the break. Like I said, when the levee breaks. You can see this team is still battling for confidence, and digging deep. They're also not getting the breaks ( Kesler had a puck in close, it goes off the post and hits Price in the back. Going good? rolls down and in. Going bad? You're Kesler on a late two on one, and set up Higgins for a great chance to score, and his stick breaks...it can't go on forever when they are working hard folks. The Puck Gods are not that cruel. Are they? )...but when a team works hard, they should be rewarded. Consider.
- David Booth had, like many tonight, a minus night. A -2. He also had 7 hits, many of the thunderous variety. The poor guy may be the most unlucky shooter on the team ( twice tonight he was in front with bouncy rebounds, and just could not see the puck in there ) He had 5 shots tonight, and missed 1 more. His shots led the forwards, and his hits led the team. With 3rd line minutes of 14:16. He's due, right?
- They dominated the advanced stats all night. Of course the shots helped with that. Before the minute with the power play goal off Pacioretty's knee, and the second one with Lui getting buried in the bodies and such, the Fenwick was 66.3 % to 33.6%. It was 57.2% to 42.8% at the end of that first. It basically stayed that way the rest of the way.
- Those things tend to happen when you have as many players getting multiple shots like the Canucks were tonight. Only four players had less than 2 shots ( Corrado -1 , Sestito, Sauve, Pelletier - 0 ). Alexander Edler led the team with 8 shots ( 1 goal, -3, with one kicked in, and one empty netter adding to that "dash" night ) Dalpe, Kassian, Kesler, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Stanton all had 3 each. Coming into a game against the team that has given up the most shots, by far, at 2142 ( 411 more than the Canucks have ) , and you have to think that even guys as snakebit as Alexandre Burrows and Daniel Sedin ( 26-27 games and now 17 games w/o a goal , though Burrows had an assist tonight ) will actually see the red light go on.
- When you look at the ExtraSkater player stats, there are some guys playing hard, driving play to a great degree, and not getting rewarded right now. Alexandre Burrows CF % was 70.0, and his FF % was 100%. The relative column has him at +10 Corsi, and +40 on Fenwick. Kesler was CF% 80.0 and FF % of 83.3%. His relative was +22.9 and 20.8. Higgins the same. Some of the younger guys relative numbers were bad, like Frank Corrados -47.6 FF %. The whole point of those numbers is a lot of guys that are important to the team are still driving play and creating.
- While Daniel Sedin's lack of confidence is both startling, unprecedented, and puzzling, he seemed to be skating a bit more, and realizing that he needs to pickit up now that his brother is out again. He was trying to find a connection with someone unsuccessfully, Elder Sedin came back, and then was definitively sat down. The certainty may have forced the change, maybe I was just imagining things, but it did look like he and Jordan Schroeder were developing a little something something there. Maybe they can get Burrows a goal on Saturday, or one for themselves.
- Basically, your team outshot ( 44-29 ) outhit ( 29-21 ), won the faceoffs 36-33 ( powered by Kesler's 18 for 30, and Richardson's 9 for 14 ), and had 6 takeaways to 2 ( the giveaways 8-9 against ). They drove play most the night, had a few breakdowns, breaks, and "shit happens" events that seem to come like an avalanche on this so far dismal 0-4 trip. While they played OK at times in Winnipeg, deserved to lose in Detroit, deserved better in Boston, and played well enough to win tonight. Most nights when you have 44 shots, better results occur than tonight's.
Even if they were to lose the last game before the break, the Canucks would still be floating around the playoff bar. Think about that for a moment. Whether you believe they are the team from December, or the one in January to now, They are still about where a certain 2012 Cup winner was before they made a trade. Losing, can't score...etc...etc. The break is coming at a great time for most of this team to get healthier. Don't count them out yet.
They are definitely struggling, streaking downward, sucking, all those things that have TEAM callers trading everyone and pronouncing the done, over, bums..ad infinitum. There is no denying that. But there will be two weeks off that should see at least a few guys back from injuries. The blue line alone will benefit greatly. Of course getting Captain Hank back should help a great deal as well.
These travails, should they ( and yes, I do firmly declare and avow that, even in the middle of this shitstorm, that this is a playoff team, and a deal for a Top 6 makes them a decent one ) make the dance, the experience guys like Yann Sauve ( mostly thumbs up so far ) Frank Corrado ( same, but not as eye popping as his playoff debut last year yet ) and others are getting make them better players. It is when you have to deal with the travails that you learn. I forget, in the bliss of that 2011 season, but didn't they have some kinda losing streak in that year as well? And that is the team everyone is looking wistfully back at now... #lol
Oh what the hell, ( you hung in for 1900 words tonight ! ) we've all earned it. Crank that sucker up. Bonham's drumming's always good, but this intro was always one of my faves. Just thumping...