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Oilers At Canucks Recap ; Going Post-al (3-2Ws/o)

Here in Vancouver, we have a thriving film and television industry. There was what some might call a poor example of that with the appearance of Pamela Anderson at tonight's game ( and reportedly in the room post game! ), and the inspiration for tonight's title, a movie shot here a few years ago called Postal. If you, like me, have a dark sense of humour, I recommend it.

Now, before my American friends take offense to the clip, its a black comedy, and if you watch it, they are making fun of the right guys. Its also based on a video game, and a dark one at that. The other reason for such a punny title?

With Mason Raymond hitting one in the shootout, the Canucks had five posts hit tonight. Say what you like about that being no big deal, or that its just as good as a miss. Perhaps. But on five separate opportunities, the puck hit the post and went out, not in. That, at the least, is some shitty puck luck.

Oh well, another two points heading into the All Star break. Enjoy the festivities, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alex Edler, and rookie Cody Hodgson. If you are watching, I have a drinking game. Take one each time an announcer says Hodg-son instead of Hod-sin on Saturday! Enjoy...



Make no mistakes though, the Oilers were a solid opponent tonight. They outhit the Canucks, won the faceoffs by about a 2 to 1 margin, and, while playing desperate defense in their own end ( they collapsed to the net more than I remember in previous games against the Edmonton team tonight ), were full marks for getting this game to O/T and a shootout.

But I cannot compliment them without also pointing out that there were several times where the Sedin Supercycle made them look pretty bad, at least a dozen shots where the only skill that Devan Dubnyk showed was being big ( no offense Oiler fans, but he was looking the wrong place and had the puck just hit him more than a few times tonight ), and then of course, the four posts in regulation where he was beaten cleanly but for his little red friends. He was pretty great on some others, no doubt. He made 33 saves. But it has to be said, he was a little lucky as well.

- The Oilers also forced one helluva game from our #1 goaltender in Vancouver, and he definitely was up to the task. Right off the hop, he made a great save on Ales Hemsky. The Oil ended up with 32 shots, outshooting the Canucks 12-9 in the first and 9-7 in the second. Apart from the Hensky save, there were many others, including a pretty solid effort in the shootout to maybe quell the critics bleating ( about a tiddlywinks, dart throwing, Rochambaud, contrived way to end games that does not matter once the playoffs start ) about that stat. Maybe if the Canucks were fighting for the 8th spot, it might matter a wee bit more. But they aren't, so it does not. Roberto Luongo did not get noticed by the folks that picked the stars, but he gets first mention from me. Don't believe the hype from the TEAM guys on a possible injury in the shootout either. I am more apt to believe Garry Valk on that one, who said he might have faked it a bit there to get in the Oiler shooters' heads. It worked too, as the only goal of five attempts was to the other side, and except for Horcoff, everyone went deke to that side but for Hemsky's goal on the other side that he almost got as well. No one got as close as Eberle on that first one that supposedly cause a tweak. He has almost a week here anyhow. No worries. ( he did tell the media hordes that he had a "cramp" in his quad after ) Here's the complete shootout...

- Taylor Hall was picked as the second star, and that was deserved. He made a great play on the first goal, making the goalie and defender ( Ballard ) both think he was going to shoot before dishing a sweet pass to Horcoff. He scored the second on a well executed power play where he went to the front of the net at the perfect time, ( beating Aaron Rome there ) and tipped it home. He had 4 SOG and 2 blocks. But he was also the guy that had David Booth on the Canucks' second goal, but forgot the elementary rule of back checking your man by the net. Take the stick young man!

- I know we will have a good many days to dissect and disseminate the team and what they can do. But honestly, this "Ryan Kesler does not use his teammates thing is as overblown as the nonsensical "rift" with his coach. He had 4 shots, and his linemates had 3 ( Higgins ) and 2 ( Booth, with 1 missed ). He led his team ( on a night where they led the takeaway stat 12-9 tonight ) with 3 takeaways. That line was a beast to deal with all game for the game Oilers squad. They all had a +1 each, and Booth's goal happened because of Kesler's drive to the net and skills on the puck. The Sedins and their skill is transcendent to watch, but this line ( and they did have to play in their own end as well, mostly doing OK ) is all about power and drive. Throw that in with a third with both speed and skill, and a fourth that had more offensive zone time tonight than usual, and you have something!

- I have praised the Oilers effort tonight, but honestly, they were no match for the Sedin line, in particular, all night. They had a great many shifts that were entirely spent in the offensive zone. The Sedin Supercycle was on full display, and made the defenders dizzy. On the Daniel goal, watch the highlight and you'll see Henrik steadfast in his position down low. Then notice how that affected the defender trying to cover too many things at once. Dan Hamhuis made a great play in there as well, and smartly left the return feed from Burrows for daniel filling the slot. The same type of play got Henrik ( I think it was ) a shot where he drew iron, and a great chance for Daniel where only the puck rolling made the chance go astray. Daniel Sedin had 5 shots on net to go with 1 each for his linemates. That line deserved the O/T winner on a flurry where Dubnyk made his best saves of the night. Don't get hung up on the "OH NOES, HENRIK HAS NO POINTZ IN FOUR GAMES NOW!!!" They are fine. We know that the Twins have a drive and desire. Sometimes it just does not go in is all. They had a very solid game tonight.

- Two of the guys that have ( probably wrongly, you know how things get overblown in this town ) supposedly been "in the doghouse" had strong games tonight. Keith Ballard is playing well, even after he was left alone on the first Oiler goal, and his play with Rome has been the settling force on that pair, not the other way around ( Romer struggled a bit tonight ), even though he had 20 shifts and less than 14 minutes compared to his partner's 21 shifts and almost 17 minutes. Ballard was strong on the boards all night, he had a team high 4 blocks, and tied with Edler with 3 shots for the most from the blue line as well. The other is Cody Hodgson. He had what is about his average now at 14 minutes, scored the GWG in the shootout with a smart goal scorer's goal ( big goalie's usually have a five hole you can exploit ), and while he only had 2 shots and was a 3 of 10 on faceoffs, his puck sense and ability to get back in his own end made the third line a solid option in a close game.

- Kevin Bieksa. In addition to his wonderful work in memory of his friend Rick Rypien ( RIP warrior ) here...

The "Juice" had a pretty great game. He was named the first star, and together with the third star Dan Hamhuis ( who also showed his "Community Man" chops by making sure to mention Burns Lake and their troubles in a first intermission interview ) was a +2. That pairing made some solid plays in their own end, as well as in the offensive end ( both Hamhuis and Bieksa made some nice plays at the other end ) here's their numbers. 1st star - 1 SOG (1 missed), 1 block, 3 hits, 2 takeaways, 2 giveaways and a team high 26:32 TOI. 3rd star - 1 assist, 2 blocks, 2 hits, 1 takeaway, an unlucky penalty that was his only real down of the night, and 25:15 TOI. The first pairing was definitely the "first" pairing. A very Juicy Hammer. Maybe they gave Bieksa the first star because of the night, and the PSA work above. Maybe not. Either way, apart from a chance where he fell and had to be bailed out by Luongo, he was pretty solid in tonight's game.

- Finally, I would be remiss without praising Sami Salo. I watched him closely tonight, to see how it is he calms things down. Did he have a perfect game? Not quite, but damn, that guy sure knows the game. His angles on the boards snuffed out plays before they got going, his shot on that mad scramble at the end of the 4 on 4 O/T somehow was denied by a goalie doing snow angels, and he was definitely not eased back in with 22:39 TOI. Yet, his shots total was only 1 on net ( and two misses, but both those on the PP looked to be intentional to be a pass off the boards to Henrik to reset the play ), and his hit total and takeaway totals were both only at one. From following his every shift pretty closely, that seemed a little light. But there is no denying that what everyone says about him "slowing things down" is indeed true. He just makes the right play so often.

OK, so we have all this time before even the ASG to distract us. What to do, what to do! I know what I wont be doing. Talking about a certain American goaltender's political leanings and wondering how many assault rifles are in his home! OK, I got that last one in there, but thats more...knowing what we know now, do we think he might "Go Postal" at the All Star Game?