No offense to the game,the opponent ( well, they can take offense all they want on the golf course ), or the result of tonight's game that we will get to in a minute.
I would be extremely remiss if I did not laud the generosity of Mr Zandberg to the cause here... ( 4273 comments and climbing...) to extend the human hand of kindness and charity. Thank you sir. Thanks to all the fans of the game that stopped by and made the game threads amazingly crowded ( there's a few things left behind, call if you lost anything! ) and fun.
Now, on to the loss. While its hard to ratchet up any angst for you, this one lays solely at the feet of a power play that is running startlingly cold. There were a more than a couple times where the guy with the shooting lane and traffic decided to make the pass to nowhere. Hell, one of the guys that had an excellent game, involved and productive, one Alexandre Burrows, did that twice on the same PP, both with the wrong results.
Give El Flamo a bit of credit. After playing like an absolute dog in the first half of the game, they showed some life in the last part of the second, and had a solid third period. On home ice. Where the Saddledome was only rocking after they scored the first one, because they were totally infiltrated by Canuck Nation, and the home fans probably thought this was another Canuck beatdown with what they were seeing on the ice. It helped that on the first, Bieksa forgot to go to the net with his check for a moment, and that the other two were on a combo of bounces and brain farts.
It is fun listening to the panic of #CanucksTeaParty on the airwaves as I write this though. So far, the team that still has a shot at top place overall ( though they lost control of their own destiny tonight ) is out in the first round if they are lucky! The Team folks will talk ominously about the power play, and you will hear that they are currently 2 of 36 on it repeatedly. All I know is that on the last road trip of the regular season, it looked good for a while there. Perhaps if the power play guys try passing to the stick instead of the skate, like they did on that last one?
I have no solution for you. Other than to say shoot the damn puck. The Canucks really should have won the game on the power play. But when the penalty killers ( who also have 2 goals ) are as productive lately as a power play that was first by a large margin the first half of the season, and the team loses in a rink they usually own, while carrying a lead into the third on any ice surface, for the first time since October of 2009, well, thats straight trippin'...
- There was only one player really on his game for the Flambe' in a opening stanza where they had 3 shots. Mikka Kiprusoff . The guy was the only reason they were around later to win. Cory Schneider touched the puck behind the net two minutes in for the first time, and did so way more than shots in front of the net in the first. So, you have to give it to Kipper, in a game where it could possibly have been his last with this team, if they ever decide to "rebuild". His stop on Chris Higgins shorthanded was top notch, and he made many more of the top notch variety in his work facing 34 shots. There should have been more than 2 of those that beat him on a night where his team forgot the start was not on Pacific time.
- No, Mr Iginla, that was not a dive. Ryan Kesler stepped on a stick. It happens. Your reaction was wrong, but understandable when you got the penalty on a night where the reffing was flat out mystifying. But stop that. It was flat out embarrassing when Comeau did it ( again, a plain old trip, why are you doing that in the last minute ), and marginally more understandable when Stajan did it, but really, you guys look for the refs more than the trailing man on the rush. Again, understandable on a night where no one knew what a call was. I know I may get stick for this, but follow the example of your opponent tonight. For all the supposed "reputation", the Canucks don't talk much. Alexandre Burrows had an great game and was buried multiple times after, during, and possibly before the play tonight. Most the times, it was turn around and skate to the bench. Perhaps Iggy can talk occasionally. He's earned it.
- I do love that AMFB can make "The Move" when every goalie in the NHL knows of it and score. Kipper has been beaten by that move multiple times, and was on his belly like all the rest. Yes, he was a -1, on the goal where Henrik Sedin got a puck in his own slot and tried to make a play instead of just sweeping it away. 3 shots is only half the total of the team best ( Ryan Kesler - 6 shots ), and he did not really help the 0 for 6 power play. But what he does do is bring it each and every shift. He should have had a bit more, as should have maybe the rest of the team on a night where they were the better team for the first two periods. He did not. The Flames put in more work and got it done in the third. But let us not just kvetch about it when it has only happened as often as it has. Which aint often when this team has the lead.
- The shots were 17-13 in the third. Seventeen against that team!? That was where it went bad. Bieksa on the first goal, Gragnani's clear on the second, and a puck that bounced three times before getting magically to Mike Cammalleri's stick at the side of the net on the eventual winner. This was the game that put MAG to RFA status, and with a -2, a missed shot, a block and a giveaway in 12:18 TOI, it may have, quite rightly, put him a bit further down the defenseman list. You can see his offensive smarts, and that he has skill. But those skills are just not meshing with the skills of those around him. Watch the game from the press box for a while kid, and let Keith Ballard show you how its done... jumping up in the play!
- Maxim Lapierre. If standing up for your captain when he is getting roughed up ( by big tough Matt Stajan of all guys...) at the bench was not enough, standing in to the mugging from Akim Aliu while still chirping Brent Sutter sure was. The Flamer coach said he did not understand him, but thats not that surprising. Its game 81, and, while its obvious that all that requisite chippiness entered this game late, and was to the benefit of the home team, it was good to see Mad Max not let that kind of shit escalate. Little Cammy had already wounded Henrik on a cheap slash earlier, and even if you cannot contribute the points all the time, the example set going into the playoffs is "that shit will not stand, man" was plain to see for the rest of the guys on the Canuck bench. Samme Pahlsson did the same on an unneeded dumping of Dan Hamhuis by Glencross as well. The result of this game is what it is. But this is the kind of hockey that we expect from whichever Pacific team does not win their division and falls to us. Nice to see the buy in from the quiet Swede.
- On a night where the blue liners had an up and down night, what with the ineptitude on the power play ( hello Sami Salo and Alexander Edler with your 2 shots, and 1 on and one miss respectively, in 6:06 and 6:40 PP TOI ), it was hard not to notice the quiet quality of Dan Hamhuis's game. His 24:57 had 2:58 PP and 3:37 PK, and while the power play did not click, the penalty kill sure did. He made a slick pass to Burrows on his shorthanded goal, and a perfect hard pass to Higgins on his breakaway that was stopped. 2 assists, a +1 with 2 shots, and a hit is solid. Two of the 10 team giveaways ( Come on Canucks, how trippy is it that on a night the Flames gave it away 16 to 10, and did it 6 times to 3 in that 3rd period, how can they score 3 goals? ) was the only bad mark on a solid game for the best overall defenseman on the team. Let's see if you can get him over that 38 pt career high versus the Oilers.
- 3rd line. Hansen, a goal, 4 shots, Higgins, 2 of 4 shot attempts on net, Pahlsson 3 shots. Maximum effort every shift. Does Higgins go back to the fabled "AMEX" line to get those other two Yanks going? Does Lapierre stay with the Twins, and Burr replaces Higgy on the "checking line" ? Well, whatever. I trust AV. I know he likes this line though. Coaches tend to get attached to lines that you can throw out needing a goal late that can check AND grind a goal right into the net, like Hansen's tally tonight.
- Finally, no, Ryan Kesler is not producing at last year levels. Yes, it does look like he is struggling, and he has not scored in I think 11-12 games. But you cannot deny that, regardless of all of that, he still plays hard. Where it is where I look at it with a sense of wonderment is when I see plays where he would not think and just react, he is thinking. Too much. He over thought a chance down low, another on the power play, and still finished with a team his 6 shots. Honestly, I do think that, if Burrows is on the one power play, than Kes' is on the other, or visa versa. Moving him around the zone did not work, moving him back to the point did not work, and even with him back in the office in front and looking OK there tonight, the production was not there. Still, I have confidence in a man that works that hard. Give the 2nd unit him on occasion as the trigger. Or Burrows there, and just let Kes work his magic in front on point shots from the two on top. Simplify. Both on the power play, and Kesler's game.
So, there will be things to kibbetz about. The power play does need to get on track against the Oilers ( you know those punks will give the Canucks several opportunities ), just to feel good about it going into the first round. It looked better than the Flames power play, and I have no worries about the Canuck penalty killers from watching this game. The goaltender non debate, non controversy will get some more ink no matter what the results tonight and on Saturday. Honestly though, tonight? If Kipper does not stand on his head in the first and second, they do not come back in the third, methinks. 2-0 and they would probably just would have melted away. Good for them making a good show of it for their home fans. But when all your goals come on mistakes and bounces, and the run of play is all against you, lets just say I think you are acting "trippy" if you want to trumpet this as some great win.
Well, maybe. The Flames do only have one more game to play before booking tee times.