Phoenix. The Desert from which hockey may or may not be delivered. We aren't sure, though Gary promises us that the league won't own the team after this year. Honest. He means it. And be damned the hardcore hockey fans in the desert. At least a lot of tourist dollars from Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver come in 6 times a year!
For all that, the team just plays Dave Tippett's stifling system and looks for breaks. It is predicated on goaltending of course, and Mike Smith has been up to that task, doing yeoman's work in the crease for the Desert Dogs. Maybe not tonight...but... To fill the net at the other end with Cory Schneider was not greeted with shock, we hope, in Canuck Nation. He certainly deserved the start after his work against the Avs, and while it is likely that Roberto Luongo gets the Sharks on Saturday night, it sure is nice to see the Ginja Ninja get back into lockdown.
Welcoming back Raffi Torres. Let's hope the Canucks get out of this one with all limbs in their places, and no broken bits. We also "welcomed" back old friend Stephane Auger, but is that really still a "thing" any more?
More points to ponder and pontificate on after the break.
( What the hell. The Beatles worked last time. Come Together... They have a lot of songs. Lets hope we get a lot of shutouts!)
I always enjoy seeing all the Blue and Green in the Jobing.com Arena. It seems to get the team going when they get the cheers getting onto the ice, and they get off to good starts. This game certainly took that tack. The visitors definitely had their skating legs early tonight.
It was apparent from the outset that they were hungry for the puck. The support of one for the other on the forecheck was very good from the outset. Even still, the Ginja Ninja sure did his thing like Beatrix Kiddo. His saves on Hanzal and Boedker early on chances from the slot were textbook calm positioning and reading the play. It would be a precursor of his play all night long. The man saw 4 shots the whole period, but if the defensive minded 'Yotes would have gotten an early one, well, we all know how that goes.
Take your pick as to which defensive pairing was making breakouts and reading off of each other better. Alexander Edler was very noticeable in that regard, but all the pairings were solid. Juicy Hammer looked like they had never been apart, and the State of Hockey pairing of Ballard and Alberts seems to have figured out who should play the off side.
The power play was about the only aspect of this game that was not productive, but damn did it look pretty huh? The first one of those would be interrupted by a somewhat dicey "goaltender interference" call on Kevin Bieksa. Mr Smith sure looked to be playing the puck, and sure as hell embellished what contact there was.
No matter. While the Coyotes showed some life on the 4 on 4, the power play was not all that efficient. Perhaps the Canucks had something to do with that, as their penalty kill all night was simply overwhelming all night. Blocks, sticks in lanes, multiple people hunting the puck. It all seemed to be working on the penalty kill all night.
I could go over a ton of chances in the first, but lets just say that Mr Smith was probably about to file suit for non support. Especially against the 2nd line, whoset the tone in that first period, and were in #beastmode all night. America, F@#K Yeah! ( Edit ; they had 13 shots overall tonight, and held Doan's line to 3. Plus two of the goals. When Team America gets in FU mode, it looks and must feel like Shock and Awe to the opposition. All so big and quick, and fast. I was so impressed by the way that line hunted the puck all night long )
Gimme the digits man... Ryan Kesler after one period - 2 shots, 3 blocks, and 3/6 on the draw. The engine at the heart of a line that had 9 shots in the opening stanza. David Booth had 4 of those. He gets it. Maybe he hears the footsteps of Mason Raymond coming back? More than likely, he is just getting comfortable. Edler 4 hits in the 1st, and Dan Hamhuis had 3 shots while leading the team with 8:30 TOI. Manny Malhotra was 2/2 on draws, while Henrik Sedin only won 2 of 8 draws in the first period. Oh, and 16 to 4 in shots.
So, who said the second period sucks for this team? Not tonight at any rate. This game was a fine example for them to follow during the period with the long change. Perhaps the opposition had something to do with it, as this looked little like one of the best five on five teams in the NHL that played host tonight. The impact of rolling four lines was really felt by the Canucks tonight, in a positive way. No one was totally perfect, but it seemed that every line out had at least territorial control, and usually a scoring chance or two. They seemed to be dragged along by Team America, but also Sedinery. Alexandre Burrows is definitely the straw that stirs the drink on that line. It was not Burrows that got them a point tonight though. It was Sami Salo. Check out this SaloBomb...
There is talk in the Goalie Guild of circulating a petition to make the Finnish MacInnis go back to wood sticks.
Or, how about this one? I don't know about you, but that was a definite KesLORD rush. All power, and that shot. Wow. All around the Lower Mainland guys and gals pointed and smiled serenely ( OK, smugly, we are hated, after all ) and nodded with goofy grins on their faces. The very definition of #beastmode. You almost felt sorry for Raffi the way he got his pocket picked...
The home team did not have the best night, and it got worse on another dominant second line shift. Watch on this one the wat Kesler makes the pass for David Booth to put home. The shot is nice. The pass is sublime.
I think the Coyotes had a few chances. They finished the second with 6 shots instead of 4 in the first, and the Canucks only had 11 instead of 16. But with Cory Schneider holding down the fort, I just cannot remember a great one. Maybe a Mikael Boedker shot. The only down was the 2 man advantage not putting one in, but damn, its not like they did not have a chance or five, and the Coyotes deserve some credit for a desperate and effective 2 man down penalty kill.
Bibbity, boppety BOO - Take away the score, and the overwhelming 26 to 10 shots advantage after two, the Yotes only trailed the Canucks 23-21 on draws after two, and barely outhit the home team 26-24 after fourty. The more telling team stat was the Canucks having 6 takeaways to 2 at that point. It was indicative of how the Canucks were skating, and all over the puck in this game. Henrik Sedin recovered to now be 5 of 12 on draws, KesLORD 7/13. while Cody Hodgson was only 3/8. The young man is developing his "book" on the other centres though. A smart kid like him, he'll get better and better at that skill, methinks. Money 5/7...yawn. Why'd you lose two? Canucks led 11-6 in blocks after two, with Kesler having 4, and Keith Ballard 3.
OK, it was not on total lockdown in the third, but the Canucks did put on the defender hard hats and make it their focus to prevent chances in the third period. The home team had some chances, but they were handled by the current goalie on a hot streak. Perhaps the play that summed it up best for them was when a scrambled chance left Schneids a bit out of position, and some open net there for Rostislav Klesla. He hit Boedker instead.
The Canucks still managed to score though, and they were both nice goals. Check this one, while the American announcers are blathering away, Maxim Lapierre is scoring the all heart goal of the year for the Vancouver team. It was credited as unassisted, but the guy should have had both the assists on his own goal. Simply brilliant, and I would hate to be those guys in Tippett's film session tomorrow...
Nice one right? Well then, how about this nice piece of communication. The Canucks did what resulted in this goal very well all night. Going to the places the puck is going to be, rather than where it was. Its what the young man Cody Hodgson knew from birth, obviously. The pass is money, and the goal on the rebound of the first shot is typical Burrows.
So, there they are. All five goals. All that was left was the shutout, and damned if the team did go into lockdown late to deny even a sniff to the Coyotes, as the loud cheers at the end were not for the home team, but our boys.
Numericals - The Coyotes won the hit stat. It is the most home team stat there is. 35-30, with Shane Doan leading the way with 6 ( though I would bet that that hard ass did actually get six hits ) The Canucks had 8 takeaways to 4, an overwhelming 37-21 shot total ( 11-11 in the third ). Kesler 10/17. Silent G 4/9, Captain Ginger faltered a bit to go 7/17, while Mad Max was 6/8, and Money won 7/12. Faceoffs were almost redundant in this game though. Most of the time the wingers would hunt down the lost draws anyhow! Aaron Volpatti had 4 hits in almost 12 minutes, and except for a bad shift or maybe two, had a solid night. But that penalty in a closer game is the kind that gets guys benched. Sure, Derek Morris may have felt it and went down a bit easy. His team was down 3-0 at that point. Use that Brown education dude!
There it is. A dominant performance, and the TEAM guys are not working overtime to create a goaltending controversy. Blake Price as much as said we have one now. Or, if Roberto Luongo does not start tomorrow. But really, back to back shutouts? You ride the hot guy, and there is no controversy. Its a long season.
Lastly lastly, as some of you may know, I am currently pounding the pavement to get employed. As such, I have decided to cut myself back from hanging with you guys on the threads to give it the entire attention it deserves. I will not miss doing the recaps for the games, I just won't have the time for discussing the finer points in the comments with you wonderful people as much for a while. At least until I can get employed and do it on company time ( I kid, I kid, any potential employers! )