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A "Just Win Baby" Game Recap ( 5-4W o/t )

Like the late Al Davis used to say, back when the Raiders were actually good, "just win baby".

Bruce Bennett

The third game in four nights, in a rollicking old barn against a very good young team that is much more than just the irrepressible John Tavares, the Canucks were looking at a dangerous "trap" game tonight. The Islanders are better than their early record, and the Canucks were coming off a game against the Blue Jackets where they played too much around the perimeter, and lost a winnable game.

John Tortorella responded as is the coach's wont, and decided that tonight, he would sit David Booth.  The "healthy scratch" way of motivating a player is as old as the game itself, and Booth was in need of a jolt after having the energy early on in his entry into the lineup, before fading.  He was replaced in the lineup by Andrew Alberts ( more on him in a bit ), but will surely draw back in on Thursday, given the game events.

Chris Higgins told Murph' afterwards that the ice was bad ( it looked it at times ), and that it was a "sloppy" game that the coaches of both teams will probably just throw away.  He might have had the most succinct recap of this one. It was a bit ugly at times, entertaining always, and in the end, the road team ground out the two points that will see them no worse than .500 for the longest road trip of the season.  Enjoy the day off in Gotham boys....

It would take an "epic" to write this one up, so , instead, recaps of the players instead.  It's a long trip. I'm going to change it up like Torts had to do with his lines tonight. Probably end up epic anyhow. A lot happened in this one!

ESPN ( Canucks once again doing pretty well, considering, in the Fenwick and Corsi )


A to Z

41 - You have to feel for Andrew Alberts on this night. He'll probably get the pressbox seat again in New Jersey, and got a grand total of :37 TOI where he was a -1. He did make a mistake in front of the net, no doubt, on the opening goal for the home team, but so did Jason Garrison and Zack Kassian on the play. It was not a night for stellar defensive play. Hell, he had a shot on that shift too!

3 - At the other end of the spectrum was Kevin Bieksa, and he had one of those classic "risk / reward" games that have made him a lightning rod at times.  In a game where the opposition had 4 goals and seemingly broke the penalty kill singlehandedly ( they also got the tying goal on an extra man situation at the end of the 3rd ), "Juice" was a +3, and while it is not on the scoresheet ( they made mistakes all night, I hope they used a pencil! ), he drove the net for the winning goal in O/T to go with his assist on what looked like, for a while the winning goal by Higgins.  He also had 4 shots, 2 blocks, 4 hits, and only 1 giveaway on a night with 24 shifts and 23:10 TOI.

23 - Why does Torts love "Eddy"? Well, Edler can play the tough minutes.  His 27:13 was a bit over his average, but he was a +1 on a not very "defensive" night, had an assist, ( only 1 of 5 shots at net forced a save though...get those shots down Eddy! ), 4 blocks, 2 hits, and 1 each of the good and bad puck possession stats, takeaways and giveaways.

BTW - You might want to consider the "Puck +/-" for a clue to how the Canucks got back ina  game they were down 2 zip in early.  The "good" puck possession stats for your team( think of the giveaways made by opposition, and the takeaways given by same ) were 12 giveaways by the Isles, and 12 takeaways from them forced by the Canucks. The Isles forced just 3 giveaways tonight, while the Canucks turned the ol' biscuit over 9 times.  While that is a subjective stat, the Canucks were a +12 on a night where the Islanders carried the play for at least the first 40 minutes. On the road, without last change and shorthanded, playing three lines versus four for most the game. It wasn't pretty, but they still count for the same amount of points and "W's".

5 - Jason Garrison had 15:40 of 5 on 5 ice time, and the rest of his 17:58 on a power play that looked good again, but never really got a chance to get it going. ( The Canucks lead the league with least power play chances, at 2.7 per game. They were given the referee's largesse twice tonight, and one of those looked poised to score before Henrik took his 3rd penalty of the night. The "most animated I have seen from a Sedin" response from teh caotain told you all he, and I, thought of that call ) 4 of his 6 shot attempts missed the net, and it was mostly on the power play. 1 Block, hit, takeaway.

2 - Some of his minutes from games past ( Sullivan and Torts managed the defense well tonight. ) went to Dan Hamhuis tonight, and he was earning them well, making passes like a lothario, breaking up plays on an under siege penalty kill that went 2 for 4 to knock some stuffing out of it.  But it definitely was not for lack of great play by the quietly efficient heart of the Canuck blue line. He and Tanev led the PK with 3:00 in his 31 shifts and 22:00 TOI. He had an assist, was a +1, and took a couple shots, as well as getting one each of the puck possession stats.

36 - Taking a break from the blueliners, it is a shame that Jannik Hansen went down. He was playing against one of the few other Danes in the NHL in Peter Regin. He made a beautiful pass off the rush to Daniel Sedin on his goal, and had a shot, 2 misses, and a hit in his only 7 shifts and 4:41 TOI.  Valk was astute in pointing out the toe pick as the defenseman hit him about low circle. He had no chance to even think about bracing as a result. Looked like a shoulder by the way he went off. Yikes! )

20 - Chris Higgins had a game in front of 50 family and friends tonight, as he is from just 40 minutes away from the Nassau building where the Islanders are playing their next to last season before becoming "cool" and overrunning the Rangers in one of the more well known and hip boroughs of New York in Brooklyn. He was engaged all night, made a smart play going to the net for a smarter shot by Bieksa "pass" off Nabby's pad for a big goal that looked like it would hold for the rest of the night.  A +2, a team high in shots ( 6 ), attempts ( 8 ) in a thumping, all situations usage 23:01 TOI that saw him lead the team with 3 takeaways, and lead the forwards with 4 hits.  Give that scoresheet to Pops Higgy. Great game.

9 - I wasn't entirely sure on the level of my love for Zack Kassian's game tonight. He had periods of the flash and fury, and to be fair, it was only Santorelli going to the net with him that probably denied him a goal tonight.  Maybe it was just others, like the guy above, were just having better games by comparison. He had 1 shot, 1 miss, and 2 hits in his 16:33. He even had 1:05 on the 2nd power play ( though that is probably because #36 was off the ice )

17 - The Beast in #BeastModo .  The winger, centre who is basically ignoring all the noise and just doing what his coach wants him to do.  There were times when that line was dominant tonight, and it certainly bodes well for them that I thought he looked as good with the Twins as Burrows on the cycle on a couple occasions.  But the Keslord is more than just an increasingly scary for the opposition linemate for Beast inspired Sedinery.  When he goes like he did tonight, the Canucks are a much scarier team.  1 goal, 1 assist, 4 of 6 shots on net, taking a beating in front on the power play, skating his *** off on the penalty kill ( 2:31 PP, 2:36 PK ) while taking big draws ( only 6 for 13 ), and 2 takeaways to round out a "get on my back tonight boys" game.

15 - I think when the boss was looking down at Brad Richardson putting up big goals and being a pain in the *** to play against in the playoffs last year, and then saw that he was not being used much last year in L.A, he thought he would be an effective player for the Vancouver team.  It is still, as of this writing, his goal on the overtime winner, putting it to the net for Bieksa to drive onto. That is his 4th, and goes nicely with his other GWG, and 2 shorties.  He plays such a hard and honest game, so he fits on most any line ( was with Santorelli on the game winning drive, plays up and down the lineup )...he had a couple hits tonight, and played 2:40 of his 15:37 on the PK, one of the more effective forwards against that pretty good power play for the Islanders ( #3 at 28.3 %..."gazes whistfully at screen and remembers better days... :-)

25 - Mr Everything Jr. He takes draws way better than Burrows does ( he doesn't do it as much though.) There were 7 players with a "C" beside them for the Islanders tonight, compared to the 5 for the road team. None of them did better than Mike Santorelli at 12 out of 17 draws won.  He had an assist on the winning goal.  +1, 1 block, 1 miss, and a takeaway. You rock Mike. Welcome home.

22 and 33 - Look, they do everything together ( right? Not so much anymore! ) so I'll recap them together.  They played #BeastModo and non tonight, mostly along the Sedin the Elder and Younger lines. It seemed once he was faced with the Hansen injury, Torts tried to get the 17-33-22 line out as much as he could.  Daniel's goal tied it at 1-2 and ripped back momentum, and Henrik's was his own response ( to a night where it seemed either Hasenfratz or Hebert, or both, had decided the Canuck captain had looked at them funny, or maybe twins just freak em out. ) to a power play goal when he was in the box for a possibly ( I'm not sure, there was never a replay ) decent call on a night Hank was not getting any credit for being the NHL Iron man, 2nd leading scorer, and all around decent guy. A +2, 3 of 4 shots on, and 10 of 16 draws on a 31 shift night ( 2nd to Mr Everything Jr's 33! ) was almost as good as the younger of the Twins. Daniel put that extra eight minutes of youth to use by having a goal, an assist, a +1, 4 shots, as well as a block, something his 2nd in scoring bro ( Daniel is tied with a bunch of guys with 10 points, just behind a bunch of other guys with 11, including both Tavares and Neilsen from tonight's opponent ) didn't even do.

29 - It seemed after that bad start, a few of the guys out there early just weren't going to see much ice. Injuries play havoc with 4th lines anyways, but Tom Sestito was a -1 over 3 shifts and 2:30 of playing time. Mind you, he had a hit and a takeaway in there too, so there's that.

18 - The thing I love the most about Ryan Stanton ( don't get me going, I love the guy's game ) is how quickly and seamlessly he has gained his coach's trust. His proclivity for making the right plays, and the way that those right plays have of leading to stats made me start to call him "Stats". Tonight was another perfect example.  His blue line least of the 6 defensemen actually used tonight 12:22 TOI ( all 5 on 5 ) seemed to fit in here and there, what with the special teams play scattered throughout the night.  That just made it all the more efficient that he went +1, had a block, 2 hits and a takeaway.

8 - If Tort's trust has been gained by the guy above, Christopher Tanev has just plain blown him away. And that includes the non clear ( got a bit of a slash just as he went to dump it out ) off the late defensive xone faceoff win from Kesler.  **** happens on the ice in a rapid manner, and that goal had a couple other elements where things could have prevented the  Isles from getting a point.  Tanev still had ice in his veins tonight, and still made the right play a great majority of the time.  His not even surprising anymore 21: 12 included 3 minutes on the PK, and he still had 2 assists, was a +1, missed a shot, and led the entire game with 5 blocks. Torts likey!

32 and 13 - The last two guys are deserving of special praise for their contributions. Dale Weise was going to be the 4th line winger, but with injuries, stepped up with 14 shifts, 8:50 TOI, 2 hits, 1 takeaway, and a wonderful pass to spring the Sedins on Henrik's patient goal.  Jeremy Welsh was supposed to be the 3rd line centre, and was just fitting in there when it all went kerfluey. He still had 2 shot attempts, one good and one bad, and a block and a hit in his 18 shifts and 11:08 probably gained the coach's trust, even if the 3 of 10  on draws tonight did not.

1 - We went A-Z tonight, but for the one person I thought deserved to stand alone.  He would have dropped in between Kesler and Richardson on the list, and while that is a fine place between two such august personages, I felt that Roberto Luongo deserved his own distinction.  Roberto Luongo had an .875 SV % tonight and 4 goals against on 32 shots, just slightly better than the .848 ( with 28 saves as well ) that Nabokov posted tonight. The Russian veteran was as much a victim of "not a lot of defense" as Luongo was tonight, though the Canucks played a much more defensively fluid game in the third period, at least until the late power play for the Islanders ballooned their shot count a bit. The home team just narrowly was oushot, 32-33, but they were the shot leaders in the 1st and 3rd, before the Canucks had 4 shots on their way to just grabbing the 2 points.

But they would not have had the chance to make that push without a wide assortment of five alarm saves from the 1999 #4 overall pick of the Isles.  Yes, you can point to that Moulson snipe and say he should have had it.  He had the time.  Shooters are pretty good in the NHL as well!  But consider the 2-3 tip and screen shots on a couple shifts when it was 2-0 and there had to be a big save.  The other five alarm saves. The wild bounce in the air he got with the stick on Hank's PIM call. Of course, the shot on one side, then scramble across for the two pad K-Tel Paddystacker that will make all the highlights tomorrow.  This was a game that Lui probably imagined playing when watching his hero Grant Fuhr play on HNIC. Not a lot of defense and up and down action. The Islanders had the more difficult shots and scoring chances tonight.  Without the goalie's efforts, we might have a very different feel to this game recap. Lui kept his team in it until they got over a couple, three strong shifts that almost made it 3 zip. That didn't happen.

EDIT : Had to add this, because it's awesome. Both for Tortorella's obvious caring for that little girl and the health thing she's dealing with...and almost saying "cluster**** in front of her and her sister while describing the defense in this game! Love this guy!

Onto New Jersey and another possible Cory vs Roberto matchup. Maybe we get the shutout battle there to keep the goaltending junkies happy... Thanks for sticking in. I guess it turned out sorta "epic" after all. I tried to be  succinct!

Lot's happened in this one!  ;-)