I freely admit I am not a statistics wonk. I look at TOI charts ( Canucks here, Blackhawks there ) and my eyes blur. I did try something different tonight, counting my own, totally unofficial, what I saw scoring chances. Here is how the NHL tallied it up. ESPN includes hits and faceoffs.
To me, the game of hockey is so fast and furious, that numbers don't tell the whole story. They are there if you like, of course. Just confirms what we already know. The Canucks are rolling four lines and three sets of defense, and the Hawks are seemingly leaning heavily on their superstars.
Let's see if we can't give the players some bouquets and brickbats after the jump.The forward lines ;
Vancouver - The Canuck top line was simply the top line tonight. They made the most of their ice time ( Daniel-18:57, Henrik-17:59, and Burrows- 19:14, of which 1:30 was shorthanded. ) Daniel was obviously the better brother tonight. His shooting % was wonderful ( 4 shots, 2 goals ), he helped set up Hansen's opening goal when Beaker was with the Twins after a penalty kill instead of the ailing Samuelsson. (who did not play ). The deflection on his first goal was fantastic, making a perfect tip while jumping in the air. A fully deserved first star of the game.
This on a night where the Twins had two opportunities to perform acts of Sedinery and did not come close to converting. Still. Henrik also had 4 shots, and an assist as well, and Alexandre Burrows was his usual Mr Everything. An assist on the Edler goal, some superlative penalty killing. 8.5/10. Twins have to bury those breakaway chances.
Chicago - The personnel on the Hawks' top line does change from game to game. Game #1 it was Kane, Toews, and Sharp. Today it was Hossa that moved up, and Kane that moved down to the second line. They of course were tops in ice time for the visitors, but not as much as Game #1, as Toews led them with 22:04, which included PP and PK ice-time as well. His linemates were just under the 20 min. mark.
For all that time, they just did not produce. Hossa was credited with 2 shots ( and was checked beautifully by Hamhuis on a partial breakaway ), but they were on the same play, and Luongo handled them easily. Toews was credited with 0 shots ( I did not see any either ) and though he did have a breakaway in the opening minutes, he did not even get a shot on net from it, and, while Sharp was credited with 5 shots, he might have made the dumbest play of the night when he tripped Ehrhoff in the Canuck end of the ice for no particular reason. It led to Daniel's first goal. 6/10. Could even be lower, but they did keep Kesler's line busy.
Vancouver - Line two featured the man that, to me, was the unsung hero of the game. Ryan Kesler just plays hockey. 200' x 85' hockey. Beat them in the alley, and in the arena hockey. His 21:04 led the Canuck forwards in ice time, and includes 4:15 of special teams TOI. An assist. 5 shots, and a team leading 7 hits. A great shorthanded scoring chance, and two more in the third when his line ( which included Higgins and Burrows in the second half of the last period, as AV juggled a bit for an all out checking line versus the Toews line ).
Raymond and Higgins were flying as well, and though AV was not looking for matchups all night ( definitely in the 3rd period ), they did line up against the Hawks' top line more often than not. Raymond had a great chance in the first on a 2 on 1, but hit the post. Higgins was the quintessential veteran, making smart plays and being in the right spot at the right time. 8/10. A high rating without goals, but this line was essential to the win, shutting down the Toews line.
Chicago - The Q' line blender determined that the second line would consist of Frolik centering Kane and Brouwer, and the results were definitely not anything to write home about. Kane, for instance. 1 assist, 2 shots, ( a nice one that forced a big save from Luongo on a 3rd period chance ), and he was credited with one hit. But anyone that watched this game saw that Kane was obliterated a few times in the first period by Edler, and was bailing out along the boards most of the time afterwards. He showed flashes, but he led the forwards with 2:23 of power play ice time, and simply was not good enough for all that.
Frolik was not the maniac of game one, with only 1 hit, and was not that noticeable. Brouwer was tied with Hossa for the most hits for the visitors with 5, but the two of them combined for 3 shots playing with one of the better passers in the NHL. 5/10.
Vancouver - Hansen, Hodgson, and Glass. This line might have been thought of as a weak link for the President's Trophy winners. After all, Hodgson is no Manny Malhotra, and can Glass really replace Torres there? I mean, yes, early scoring leader Jannik Hansen, of course, but really? Yes, really. For a third line, they were OK. Yes, Glass is a -2 tonight, and Hodgson a -1 ( Hansen was even, because he scored with the Twins ), but the rookie has looked composed and smart. Hodgson also made a very intelligent play on the Edler goal, holding the puck for just the right amount of time in the corner before feeding the point. Glass was credited with 4 hits, and was solid most of the night.
Besides, what can you say about Hansen? The man now has 2 goals in 2 games, plays great on the penalty kill, and does it all with 15 minutes of ice time. Cody and Glass also just missed connecting in close on a couple of nice plays that would have brought their score up higher. The rookie definitely looks like he is earning his ice time. 6.5/10.
Chicago - The X-factor line tonight. For all the talk of the Hawks not having the depth of the Canucks, Bickell, Kruger and Smith were the toughest line of the visitors all night. While Bickell only was on the ice for 6:33 of EV TOI,( he was injured after being hit by Salo ) and 1:39 on the PP, his cut to the net on Smith's first goal was very good. Kruger had 11:47 of all EV TOI, and both shots he was credited with forced tough saves.
What can you say about Ben Smith? Both his shots on goal went in, his second, ( on a bad rebound from Luongo ) was a goal scorer's shot to the top shelf, and he was even out killing a little bit of shorthanded time. He is a rookie, and finished a -1 even with 2 goals, but for a rookie, he made the most of his 13:18 of ice time. 8/10.
Vancouver - The 4th line featured Lapierre and Oreskovich once again, with Aaron Rome dropping into the line up with Samuelsson's illness. He was fine in his 5:27 TOI, with a shot on goal and 5 hits. Oreskovich had a minute and a half more and had 3 hits.
Maxim Lapierre is quickly becoming AV's utility player. He was out for 11:10, with :53 of that SH, and the increase over his linemates TOI obviously as the second centre on defensive zone draws. Against a good faceoff team in Chicago, he is 7 for 14 after two games. No 8 hits tonight, but 2 is OK. He played solid defense, as did his line, which did find themselves out on occasion against the #1 line of the Hawks, and held their own. 7/10
Chicago - Hmmm. Ryan Johnson. 1 hit in 8:53 TOI, of which 1:27 was killing penalties. Fernando Pisani. 3 hits with the same TOI as RJ. That's it. No shots. Pisani was credited with a takeaway.
Viktor Stalberg was the best of the three. He earned some extra time from his coach ( 11:30 TOI ) and cashed in on a wicked shot after a takeaway on Edler in the Canucks' end. Even with using Ehrhoff as a partial screen, he beat the goalie cleanly. The line's score is brought down by the other two. 6/10
Vancouver - the top pairing tonight by ice time was the pairing of Bieksa and Hamhuis. Bieksa saw more time on the power play than Hamhuis, 1:14 to :22, and also on the PK, with 2:13 to 1:28, but Hammer was credited with 24:40 overall to Bieksa's 23:26. Both blocked 2 shots, and Hamhuis also took a penalty. But he made up for that with a superlative effort on Hossa when the big forward broke in from the line, getting right up on him and denying a sure scoring chance without drawing a call. Hamhuis was credited with 5 hits to Juice's 2, but these two were also an integral part of shutting down the Hawk superstars. 8/10.
Chicago - Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. They were a pairing most of the night, with Campbell seeing some time with last year's Norris winner at times. For all that time ( and Keith led his team with 27:38 TOI ) Keith did not have the best night. He was a -2, and definitely could have played Hodgson better on Edler's goal. He had 4 shots, and while a couple of those were good scoring chances, he was only credited with 1 hit, while being tagged for 2 giveaways. Brent Seabrook saw the ice almost 5 minutes less, and while he laid out 7 hits, he only had 1 blocked shot, had 0 shots himself, and took a penalty. An uneven night for the Hawks' superstar defensemen. 6.5/10.
Vancouver - Edler and Ehrhoff. Together most of the night, Edler had 6 more shifts than his counterpart, and was on the ice for almost 3 minutes more. Edler was only credited with 4 hits ( I thought he had more ), with most of them seemingly on Kane. Edler's goal, even though it went off of Smith's stick, was a rocket. Ehrhoff was his usual self. He had an assist, and though he had 3 giveaways, he also had 2 takeaways. The two of them seem to be getting used to one another again, which only bodes well for the future. 7.5/10.
Chicago - I hesitate to even call this a pairing. They did play together for most of the night, but Campbell played almost 7 minutes more than Hjalmarsson. Soupy made most of that up with 2:42 of PP TOI, while Hjammer had a minute more SH TOI than his partner. For all that time Campbell only had one shot to his credit, to go with 2 blocked shots. He was only thought to have hit one person, and gave away the puck as often as he took it away ( 2 each way ) Hjammer forced a huge glove save from Luongo in the 1st, and matched his mate with 2 blocked shots, as well as the 1 hit. 6/10.
Vancouver - Ballard and Salo. A lot of the worriers will point to Ballard's 12:47 TOI, compared to his partner's 17:55, and start the worrying about our erstwhile 4.2 million defender. Ballard was only credited with 1 hit this game, But the player I watched tonight was mostly solid, and his lack of ice time was certainly not due to his play. Salo had :37 of PP time, and 1:45 PK time to buttress his time. He was more efficient, with a shot that forced a strong save, two hits ( the aforementioned one on Bickell that knocked the big winger out of the game ). Salo was a +1, while Ballard was an even. 6.5/10.
Chicago - Campoli and Leddy. Campoli is obviously trusted more than the rookie Leddy. He had almost twice as much ice time ( 16:05 TOI to 8:48 for the rookie ) Campoli was obviously doing something right ( or maybe just jumping on the ice at the right time) as he finished a +3, while only having 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot. Leddy was a +1, without a shot, and had a hit and a blocked shot as well. The Hawk coaches were sheltering the rookie, but he looked OK out there. 7/10
Men of the Mask ;
Vancouver - He evokes more opinions than any other player in recent memory. After blanking the Hawks in Game 1, the demanding fanbase probably expected the same tonight. Well, I am sorry, Canuck fans. Not every game is going to be like that. Was he as good as last game? Well, of course not, he let in 3 goals. But the first was when Henrik forgot to keep his feet moving, letting Ben Smith go right by him to gather the puck from a strong cut to the net from Bickell. The second was one he would like another chance at, but was a helluva shot. The third? Well, that was a bad rebound on a simple shot. You could tell by his reaction that he thought so too. He made some very good saves, like the glove on Hjalmarsson's bullet, a couple on Keith, and several others late. A win is a win. 7.1/10.
Chicago - Corey Crawford does not seem a rookie. You could not really blame him for any of the goals scored, with two of them tipped ( one by his own guy! ) He made big saves on Kesler a couple times, twice on both Sedins in on him alone, and generally stopped most of the ones he had a chance to stop. Perhaps he would like the game winner back, but that was a sniper's shot by Daniel Sedin. He had no chance on the Hansen one timer. 7/10.
So, there you go. Be gentle, dear readers, with my rookie effort. I promise to get better as the games go on. Lets hope I have the chance to get a lot of practice.
2 down, 14 to go.