I struggled with a theme for this one tonight. At first, I was going to play off the game thread, and find something that referred to our fourth best rival or something. Then, with the above title, I thought something from Caddyshack, with the line of "thats all I need" when Danny Noonan tries to do the right thing.
In the end, this one hits it right. With all the pre game kvetching and analysis from the always on it Canuck Nation, in regards to Ballard and Sulzer ( it was the right move, I'll tell you why after the break ), it seems tough for us jerks, but like the movie, everything turned out OK in the end.
Points to ponder perpetually after the break.
First off, I have no problem with viewing the Blues as a rival. I would put them on my "hate meter" ( I don't really "hate" them, but in hockey fandom terms of course..well, except for a couple players on a team or two ) right behind the Bruins and Hawks. San Jose and their hate for us is their problem, and it causes the games to be chippy. But these guys have always gotten up for our team, even before they perched The Cock behind the bench and took off.
- No, this is not an excuse, but consider this. Before this game, the Canucks had played 18 games in 37 days. Twelve of those were on the road. The record in those games was 12-4-2,before tonight's 13th win. That is pretty impressive. Yes, they probably looked tired against a talented and determined St Louis team. That is because they are a very good team this year, and have a 17-3-2 record at home so far. Almost, or the equal to ( and its the NHL best home record ) the NHL's best road team, before tonight at 15-9-1. So, of course, they get paid big money, and they are pros, blah blah blah. They are also human. Look at it this way. The Canucks won't go on the road again for maybe a month. Like Sean points out here, the rest is coming soon. They deserve it.
- Another thing you jerks should realize. Without Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver team loses this game, and maybe badly. Yes, the second goal was flukey as hell. How in the hell he is supposed to know where that one is? It got hung up in his equipment. Stuff happens. He robbed Arnott twice before the puck fell out of his pads. The first goal, he made the first save, and Arnott got one of those "picking up the loose change" goals. Meh. Luongo made so many great saves, as the home team outshot the visitors 10-7, 16-10, and 7-2. He flat out robbed Backes and Oshie on back to back shorthanded breakaways late in the second. Luongo haters that say he "never steals us a game anymore" should be directed to this game. The goals for the opposition came from hard work, sure. They also came from some pretty decent "puck luck". ( note, in his post game interview with Murph' he said he was "looking for the puck in the glass". I never thought of that before, but how smart is that? )
- The Blues are a big team. They like to pressure the defense and the front of the net. I thought the Vancouver team did a decent job under that pressure. Of course you are not going to win every puck, but they battled hard, and while the Blues crashed the net hard, they were pushed back just as often. Bobby Lou getting a handle on the rebounds and loose pucks is a lot easier when you do that. The Blues finished with a 25-16 edge in hits, led by David Backes with 5 hits. He was a beast tonight, and one of the best players on the opposition. But after getting away with a first degree assault that probably had Burrows phoning his lawyers for the civil case earlier in the game, he took a deserved ( that is the danger zone David, and you pushed Burr in the back ) penalty that cost his team the game.
- Der German. Apart from the left / right conundrum that limits Keith Ballard, the way the Canucks play, you need a guy moving up and down on both sides. He had an up and down game in this one, but I still think he was the right call. While he was off getting stitched for taking a puck in the face, and in various points of the game after that as well, there were several different pairings that were cobbled together as Bones and AV looked for the right mix to counter what The Cock was doing with his lines. He played both sides, and he finished with the 4th most ice time of the defenders, with 2 shots ( 1 great chance ), 3 blocks, 1 hit, and 1 giveaway ( that Lui baled him out on ) German efficiency was on display folks. This is not an indictment on Ballard ( though he was getting away from the simple game where he has the most success lately ), but rather a plaudit for Alex Sulzer. Like I have said a lot in regards to my fandom of AV, he is a player coach. The guys that are going get the minutes, and into the lineup. We have a very deep team, and someone is going to sit. By not making it at all about the contract ( like you can easily find in other markets ) he gains even more trust from a team that knows that the credo they get preached to them about play hard and get the chance is not bullshit. ( It does not hurt playing mostly with our best defender either, and Alex Edler had a great game, with 2 assists, 1 shot, 1 block, 2 hits, and a takeaway. ) Coach said "except for that pass" in relation to the turnover that he liked everything about his game. He did bleed for you people, blocking a shot with his face.
- Special teams was a pretty important part of the win. In addition to the power play producing a brutally efficient game wining goal, the penalty kill was excellent under heavy pressure. After the first one looked pretty good, and was rebuffed by the goalie and the 4 guys in front, the penalty killers seemed to get a bit miffed by the non call on the mugging of Burrows and the subsequent very weak call on Henrik for being skated into by the same guy 30 seconds later, and took it out on the 4th ranked power play. Jannik Hansen was a beast on the PK. He had chances while a man down. His less than 3 minutes on the PK was almost as much as Ryan Kelser's 3:16 PK time ( Dan Hamhuis had 4:21 to lead the team ), but it was almost like the recently excellent penalty kill just said, "fine refs, do what you have to do, they are NOT scoring on the power play "( it went 0 for 4 )
- The officiating was, shall we say, uneven, but I am not going to complain about that, with one proviso. I get that Maxim Lapierre has to get the extra two minutes ( I think the refs gave him pity for getting beatdown by Polak in not getting the additional misconduct ), but they totally blew it on the initial hit. I know things happen fast, but Malhotra was in a vulnerable position, and was pushed in the small of the back. It was right in front of the bench, and I would wager that the firing up of the PK, if it was not later on with the above mentioned events, it was right here. Money is pretty well liked in that room.
- It is a battle, the game of hockey, and even though they seemed to be playing harder than the Canucks at times, the Blues can not say they out battled the winner of the game. The first goal was the result of the Sedins ganging the guy with the puck and forcing it out front, where Alex Burrows was waiting. His shot was excellent. Up high on the goalie looking the wrong way, and yet again, the first goal of the game for the Canucks. That line was in tough against a game and physical Blues team from top to bottom, but they were better as the game wore on ( in the second period late ), turning this game when it looked like Roberto Luongo was the only one all in. Their line, and then the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th one after the other had strong shifts in the other end, turning the momentum before Burrows came off the bench and got the perfect tip on a goal that was all started by Edler, who had an excellent hold at the line, moved to find the shot, and timed it perfectly for the forward coming off the bench to the front of the net. The Sedin line also drew the call late in the second ( before Hamhuis, Edler and Bieksa all conspired to give the Blues the best chances on it ), and made the game winning goal look almost cruel. Check this out. As soon as they heard TJ Oshie being called to the bench to get another stick, the Sedins and the power play worked it to Daniel Sedin ( move that goalie and the shot has a better chance ) for the superb shot to end it all, and keep first place. Battle level was apparent by both teams, but even the least likely to be the most physical in that sort of game can impact things very positively if they just keep on going. The Twins did that. The line was in on all three goals, Burrows with two, and Henrik had two assists to his brother's one. You can't stop the Twins, you can only hope to contain them. Even when you contain them most of the game!
- David Backes is a beast. He played this game with a ton of angst. Sorry if we covet your player Blues fans, but the team knew what it was doing with that offer sheet. Too bad we did not let you have Steve Bernier!
- Mike Duco was a -1, but he was very noticeable in his 6:35 TOI. 1 shot, 2 blocks, 2 hits and a takeaway. I hope they find a way to keep him in the lineup when Booth gets back ( though he probably is the odd man out )Depth is cool.
- Cody Hodgson had a turnover that ended up in the back of the net, but he was NOT punished for it, even though he only had 12: 39 TOI ( 1:43 PP ). Av saw that they were ( and the Blues are one of the bigger teams in the NHL. Of their three centres, Backes is the smallest at 6'3" and 225. The wingers are bigger too. AV saw Hansen was going and put him on the Kes' line. The third of Lapierre, Higgins and Hodgson still rolled over the boards regularly.
- Kevin Bieksa had 4 shots ( missed 2) took a penalty, had 3 hits, and played the 3rd highest defense time with 24:02 TOI. But most will remember the 3 giveaways ( led team ). They were bad. He was uneven, but maybe Juice just needs more...well, juice.
We are so damn spoiled with this team that we look for the reason for this goal, or how this guy sucked in comparison to that one. But you know what? They went into a tough building for them historically, playing maybe the best team in the NHL over the last half a season ( no offense tea haters ), played hard and took the two points home at the end of 4 games in 6 nights to go 3-1 on the trip.
All We Need indeed. ( well, maybe one more win in the playoffs would be nice. Hope the Hawks get these guys though first this year. Because the Blues are for real )