OK everyone. Lets just take a breath and remember that there is another two points that was picked up today. That the Avs are now 0-2-1 in the season series, and had their first two goals of that series today, when they played their best of the games between these two teams this year.
I know that for Canuck fans, the way they win now, is seemingly more important than winning. I know the Sedins and their struggles will be the story tomorrow. I also know that sometimes I feel like Peter in the clip above when it comes to dealing with the amount of hyperbole that accompanies games like this. The Avs came hard. They are obviously embarrassed by being owned by the Canucks, and by having all of two divisional wins coming into this one.
Some respect for the other team is sometimes needed. Yes, the Canucks can be better. Do you want them to be like the Hawks instead, who in their last three are 0-2-1 and have let in 14 goals while scoring 7 ? Thats another very good team that looks not as good right now, and they don't have a goaltender like Luongo, or even Schneider.
So, deep breath, and peruse the points after the break.
- Isn't it great that Ryan Kesler seems to have the "Beastmode" switch turned on all the time? I loved his goal, and not just for the howitzer shot. The pass was fine, the forechecking pretty good, and getting a quick lead is always a good thing. How did the alternate captain do overall? Well, after starting out 4/6 on draws, he ended up going only 9/17. He did end up with 4 shots, missing one, but for me, it was the level of engagement. This game got a little nasty late, and that did not affect him. When AV did the Sedins breakup, line juggling because you all suck right now thing, he was the first line with Daniel and Burrows. Ryan Kesler can probably give even more. If you are looking for things to bitch about, I hope its not him.
- I fully expect Kevin Bieksa to have some solid quotes after this one. The guy seemed to be involved in everything. He scored the late tying goal after a bounce that sure looked like the one that put the Canucks in the Final last year ( great screen by Booth on that one ). He was to blame for the second goal for the Avs, when even Hamhuis, who can read him quite well by now, did not expect the pass behind the net. Its all started early, with him being bloodied by a double team that drew a penalty. He got another unpenalized stick in the face later too. Juice was all over this game, and while he had his downs, he had more ups. Like the diving save on the EN attempt by Landeskog with less than a minute to go. I'll take the bad with the good. Bieksa is engaged more when he is into the game like he was today.
- Did you see Roberto Luongo in the shootout? He got a pice of the first, and was never deked on the others. Perhaps it was because he was warmed up by the 46 shots that came previous. In addition to bringing the save percentage up, he kept his team in it when they were scrambling for long periods of this game. I would definitely point out that this was no where like the Wings and their 40+ shots. A lot more of these were from the outside, or more hopeful than the Wings, who will work it in for the better shot if they can. Nonetheless, there were some challenging saves, and the man was most definitely THE MAN today. Anytime you can let in two goals ( neither one that he had a chance on ) get a win, and have a save % of .957, you know the goalie was good. He was very good.
- Some balance on the inevitable "what's wrong with Twins" questions that will arise. I get, not perturbed, but resigned to the hyperbole that envelopes this team on questions like this, and maybe the TEAM callers will forget about Lui being traded to give Schneids the net and start trading the Twins instead. Daniel had a better game than Hank, Hank had his moments, and on a day when the Avs were able to win only 4 draws before having that stat even at 34 by the end, he was once again the best centre, going 13 of 18. He even picked up an assist on the Bieksa tying tally ( have to look at that one again! ) Daniel had two shots on net that were both good ones, and the two that missed were quality set ups and chances. Even on a power play that went 0 for 5, you saw that the Twins had the pressure and puck movement going, without the finish and last pass connecting. Can they be much, much better? Of course. But lets not take a down period and turn it into a huge "cause celebre". We all know they are the most honest and hardest working players on the team. I trust they will get out of their funk soon.
- I loved Byron Bitz and his game today. The man was involved, and it was apparent that he has some skills too. From a fight that came after he crushed an Avs guy ( the Ol' Code answered versus MacLoed ) on the previous shift that he probably won, sending the younger Avs' pugilist for stitches, to an offensive shift where a great chance developed out of his skill at holding off the defender for what seemed like an eternity, I was impressed. 1 SOG, a block, an "you aren't going to be the bully team tonight Avs" fight, and 2 hits in 8:32 on 16 shifts was just fine for a first game.
- The Canucks are a puck possession team, and the Avs like to use their speed and be a pressure team. Check this stat to see how relative the two teams were to their "game" today. Takeaways ; Avs 18 , Canucks 2. That was on everyone, but maybe more on the blueliners. Giveaways? Well, the Avs gave it away 10 times, to only 3 for the Canucks ( and Bieksa had 2!). So, perhaps the Canucks were not on top of their game, but they did force turnovers, while being sloppy. Unbelievably sloppy! That is actually a good thing. Because it all comes down to execution and focus for our heroes. The fact that those two qualities are not at the 100% effective level in an 82 game season where everyone in the league has some great players is not making me get all amped as others might be. Do I want more? Of course. But these are human beings, and sometimes you have to give the other team credit, even the Avs!
- David Booth was almost a scratch today ( and were we all kinda secretly hoping that we would get to see Ballard on the 3rd line?) with a pain in the neck after taking a heavy hit in the last game. He looked a little off, even though he started the play that got Kesler a goal, and had an assist. A +1 is OK, and he did have a shot on goal. He also missed the net three times, was unable to battle through a stick check with a puck laying there and an empty net, was victimized by a goaltender interference call that seemed to go only one way ( Luongo was bumped three times in this game, twice harder than that, and once where the stick was taken away as well ), that also resulted in the only power play goal of the day. He was also credited with 2 hits, but the strength along the boards that we have grown to love looked a little lacking today, and he was where cycles went to die.
- Alex Edler was not injured, and had a pretty good game. Together with his safety blanket, Sami Salo, they seemed to handle the speedy Avs pressure better than most. He was the best plus player on the team at +2. His set up for Kesler put it right in the wheelhouse ( and that is an underrated thing, putting the pass right where the one timer can get maximum quality ) got him a deserved assist. His two shots were both good ones, and even the penalty was one where its a judgement call. You have to tie up your man going to the net.
- That being said, and risking getting labeled whiny for two recaps in a row, are you kidding me Don Van Massenhoeven? I know we are lenient on scrums, but when a guy horse callers a player like SOB did to Burrows and slams him to the ice, I really think there should only be one call there, regardless of the response. That was so dangerous. I get the Cheech rationalization for not calling the obvious trip on Kesler in O/T ( game management, though a penalty in the first is supposed to be a penalty in the last minute, according to the NHL ), but if player safety is going to be taken seriously, perhaps body slams can be called more. He could of broke his coccyx there! ( though, even though it was better, the Canucks power play went 0 for 5. They better pick that up the next game. The Preds are the #2 PP team in the NHL!)
OK, so I know everyone will ignore me and just point out the negatives. I might even get accused of being too positive. I can live with that. Just like I can live with a game where the Canucks get outplayed for periods of time and win the game. Wins are the thing right? Even when you are under the expectations of our hockey mad province. Of course they were not as good as they can be. Do we think that we all need to tell them (loudly, no doubt) that? I would imagine the team, coaches and everyone else will see something more in Nashville. A practice on the road, a little sheepishness at getting the result without being good enough, and an opponent that you have to be on top of your game to beat will ensure that.