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Ducks At Canucks Recap ; Almost Bruce, Almost (5-4Ws/o)

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Now, of course I am not saying that Bruce Boudreau is Dr Evil. Though, perhaps he should have been behind the bench stroking Mr Bigglesworth. It seems that poor Bruce is at the stage he was with with the Capitals, when a lack of defense and fighting through things could be overcome with some nice offensive talent.

However, its not worked for Bruce in Anaheim. Not yet, anyhow. He almost came in and got a win with some firewagon hockey. The old back and forth sure is entertaining, and it was nice to see the Canucks prevail at it in the tiddlywinks, dart throw, Russian Roulette, cut of the cards, highly entertaining shootout with a clean sweep.

But after watching the Canucks, in particular one Marc Andre Gragnani, follow up one of his best in Blue and Green with some alarming play in his own end, ( he did redeem himself a bit in the third offensively, and chipped in an assist, but lets just say he was a part of a few guys having minuses and leave it at that.) it was not a perfect win by any measure.

After the goalie exchange worked the requisite magic that goalie changes do ( and had the added bonus of TSN talking about how Vancouverites would "talk about" a "goalie controversy", while still talking about it in all its story forms for an entire segment Nice trick that...), the Canucks locked it down. Maybe a couple of the 7 shots the Ducks had in the second were dangerous. After they killed off a crossover penalty with a skillful drawing thereof by Matt Belesky ( who had a noticeable game for a guy that only had 8:54. 4 hits, a shot,miss and a penalty he took himself early in the 3rd ), the Canucks simply made the Duckies not want to play. It was like poor Mustafa...they had 1 shot. The 12 the Canucks had were almost all scoring chances. They dominated in the O/T as well, 4-1, and the shootout was actually entertaining.

That won't be what some of the denizens of this team will talk about in regards to the goalies, but the team and most that watch hockey ( Farhan really worked for the "goalie controversy" angle here ...clips to side of story. Almost all his queries to Cory, AV and Lui were about that...) should talk about a team on a roll, winners of 7 straight, and a chance to take care of business and go into Game One looking to tie a team high 10 game winning streak. No matter who gets the next two starts, in whatever order.

I love Cory Schneider's game too. He is a great great option regardless. You have to get 16 wins in 28 possible games. He has earned it ( possible play in the postseason ) as well. But this pull had little to do with any goalie controversy and much to do with sending a message to his team. It was received loud and clear. On to the next.

Still tied for first and all, right?



- I'm not letting Roberto Luongo entirely off the hook. He made a poor read on how quick Getzlaf would snap that shot and got beat five hole. Those two from Pelly and Smith Pelly though, ( that line badly outplayed the Kesler line until AV started moving it around again ) were the result of nice plays. I get the hate on Luongo for not stopping those. Because he has stopped them before, and will again. I don't at all get the made scientist rationalizations that go into eviscerating Luongo however. The cold hard facts are that Cory Schneider had to stop 9 shots because the team was embarrassed by getting their starter pulled on the eve of his birthday. I like to make that kind of thing out to be more about the fans cheering for Schneids' than razzing Lui anyhow, and I doubt that it was anything more than the members of the #CanucksTeaParty, and a minority at that. Lui lost a win tonight, because his team got lulled into playing a chance for chance game instead of what they showed they could do in the 3rd. Its a good thing, fans of other teams reading about the Canucks. Most of us are very happy with having two excellent goaltenders going into the playoffs, an advantage almost no other team has. Some just want to make it a "Twilight" Team Cory / Team Roberto thing. It sells back East. Just ask Farhan. But please don't think its what everyone thinks about one or the other.

- You know, just reciting his brilliance in just the stats ; 2 assists,( including the jawdropper in the clip below,, wait for the replay at the 45 sec mark. He makes Saku Koivu turn artfully into a pretzel ) +4, 1 shot, miss, takeaway and giveaway, while going 7 of 13 on draws.

A confident and into it Henrik Sedin is a very dangerous player. I loved his second assist almost as much for its subtlety. He gained the zone with two guys while keeping them away from the puck, knowing someone was coming. It happened to be the hottest stick on a team of a couple hot sticks. The fact that Sheldon Brookbank had a brain fart and ( as Ray said, the guy behind him has $5,000 of gear on, let him do that ) gifted the deflection that Raymond was there for anyhow was nice. Thanks Shelly. Thanks Hank too. One of his best games, in a stretch where he has had a few great games lately. Playing like a captain.

- OK, a bit of an interlude. After this game, the team is on a 7 game winning streak. A season high. Yet the calls to the radio guys, the Neil MacRaes of the world, will be on Ryan Kesler. The power play will be forecast as the doom and gloom of prognosticators making their playoff picks. Going 0 for 5 on it does not help. Jonas Hiller made a bunch of ridiculous power play saves, they made some blocks ( 24 to 11 for the Ducks in those ) and the Ducks big guys played their big minutes in all situations and they did some great work as well. I do feel if the PP keeps moving it around ( AV said he liked the chances it created tonight...), that success will come. The second unit looked as dangerous as any. Andrew Ebbett was a great addition... A win is a good thing , right? They showed great heart and resolve to come back from 2 goals down, and that is not an easy or often successful proposition for any NHL team. Without even adding to the NHL high 1st goal scored number, which keeps moving north of 40. The team is now 50-21-9. Thats ( I think they said on the broadcast ) the 2nd time in team history with 50 wins. Even if you add the loser points, that is 20 games over .500. Just a thought for some perspective.

- Alexandre Burrows said that "I was just scared...a nerve pinch..." and an arena collectively breathed again after he came back without missing no more than a shift after an innocent collision with Smith Pelley. Tonight was one of those games that we should just point at when folks that "hate that guy" mention the team talisman. He just brings it all night. There was a shift where he came out of the corner falling with the other two tumbling like bowling pins, and it led to the puck being held, as he seemed to do all night. That Two Trolls, a Twin, and a Pizza Place line seems to just work. Tonight - 2 goals, and one where everyone everywhere that has seen "The Move" knew was coming when he serpentined down as the first shootout guy to set the pace there. A team high 6 shots, 3 more misses, a block, a hit, takeaway, and giveaway in 22:18 TOI. After he limped off the ice, did you honestly think he was coming back? Watch the clips from this game and its #14 that is everywhere. There is a reason why he is one of the favorite players around here, and its not just because he "slayed the dragon" last year. Its because he plays that way al the time.

- His Terror Twin, Ryan Kesler, had a less than stellar game defensively, as evidenced by the -3. He was not on for the power play goal by Perry ( a world class backhand. Lui had to move, and he went top shelf as soon as he did, a brilliant piece of skill on the backhand. No goalie is stopping that Lui "debaters". ) but he was on both the following goals in the second, and was as much a part of the follies as the others that watched Bobby Ryan do his thing. But Kesler also finished with 3 of 4 shots on net, an always battling at least 8 of 18 draws one, and a hit and a giveaway. For all of that, the coach kept throwing him out there ( team high for forwards 23:04 ) It seems they have pulled him away from the net to make use of his shot in the slot, but that he is still a little off on fading in and out of the area. It takes the guy out of the plan when you don't use him. Put him over in his magic shooty spot off the boards, or pull Ebbett up to the first and make that place off the boards where being the trigger and the guy the puck went through the emphasis of the second unit. You have two mean nothing games against meathead Alberta teams that will give lots of PIM. Make them pay AV and Newell Brown. There is too much talent, and puling Kesler to the 2nd unit with Higgy, say a Booth, and give the guys struggling a chance on the PP to connect there with Higgy. Its the last two games anyhow...

- Another thing that folks will debate is actually an interesting question. Chris Higgins got himself another goal on a nice tip, and played well on that "suddenly one of the best third lines in the NHL" as the playoffs approach like it aint no big thing. Dr Evil tried to get them away, the big guys ( Perry, Ryan, Getzlaf all played almost 23 minutes ) on his team produced against others ( Samme Pahlsson got a - on a change, undoubtably, as his linemates both got a +1), and they were dangerous as usual against big lines. Tonight it was Jannik Hansen with an assist that was all Honey Badger, diving out for a puck to get it to Hamhuis, who fed the shot for the Higgins tip. 5 shots, a hit, and a takeaway for the Great Dane, while Pahlsson made a bunch more of those defensive plays to break pressure by being in the perfect position, added a shot, a block, and undoubtably a well recovered on ( I would hope ) giveaway, while going 6 for 11 on draws. Chris Higgins had 2 shots, and 2 blocks while playing almost 4 minutes ( 19:44) more than his linemates. Most of that on the PP. If you move him to the second line, you better have someone interesting to drop in with this line.

- Me, I am more of the opinion of giving the second a dose of Vernon BC's own Andrew Ebbett. 2 shots, 2 blocks, a surprising for some 4 of 6 on draws ( including an important one after an icing in the defensive zone, and one on the 2nd unit PP. Both wins ) 3:36 of his time was PP ( 12:12 total. He can handle more ), and the man just seems to know where the puck is going to be. Put him with Kes' and Grizz'. It couldn't hurt ( sorry AV, I usually trust you, but trust me on this one! )

- Nothing to say about the blue line tonight. The bad ( Gragnani ) and the good (Hamhuis / Edler, yes, a -1, but a team high 28:15 TOI!) can be assigned by the coaches. I thought both Salo and Alberts played very well in that third period, when the entire blue line, including young MAG, played better. Kevin Bieksa should be back soon, Chris Tanev was solid, played over 21 minutes, was a +1, and had a team high 3 blocks. On a night where the opposition almost tricked our team into playing that firewagon hockey.

We are on to you Bruce. Enjoy the Rocky Road in the offseason...glad we don't have to play you bastards in the Cup tourney.

PS, bonus...Teemu Selanne went out like an entertainer, at least, with many entertaining arguments with the refs about an obvious in the numbers boarding call on Ryan Getzlaf. He had an assist, 2 blocks, and was a -3 with NO shots. But if its his last, thanks for the memories Finnish Flash. Too bad you'll only play for a the Douchey Ducks.