We are all about looking forward out here on the Left Coast. We like our brand of hockey to be entertaining, and are used to winning more often than losing, at least in the regular season. A lot of that has to do with the Sedin Era for this generation of fans. When you have players that can make the game look so beautiful, so often, it is inevitable that you would want to continue to marvel at their magic.
Tonight, there can be only one group that get the top billing here. While both coaches seemed to be OK with the RNH / Sedin lines matching up, only one line was dominant on the night. As a result of that matchup, however, the hockey fans that stayed up late to watch the late game out East got far more of the very essence of why the game of hockey is so damn fan to watch than their own early game on the night. What entertainment. On a night where all thirty teams played, for only the sixth time ever, this might have been the game of the night.
. Back and forth, great goaltending ( in a 5-4 game no less ! ) at both ends, goals aplenty that mostly could not be stopped. Three times the Canucks recovered from two goal deficits on this night. And the power play looked, at times, like the Sedinery fueled magic of days of recent yore. They could have put this one away on the PP, even with it going 2 for 7 on the night.
I like how Eakins calls them "The Sedin Boys", ( before complaining about the possible Burrows hand pass ) while grudgingly marveling at their play tonight.. His back peddle #RefPoliticalSpeak here is funny too. Willie Desjardin's more happy presser snippet here.
It was breathtaking stuff, and very worthy of a season opener. Wow and thanks fellas.
Numbers Are Coolio
5 - Henrik and Daniel Sedin combined that many points. They made the Oilers look like their playtoys again and again. On a night where the Oiler big line combined for exactly zero points ( while looking dangerous, they did have 14 Fenwick Events ( I like it a touch better than Corsi, because you exclude the blocked shots. Blocks are failures, or wins for the defenders. So it seems Fenwick would be a bit better predictor of offensive prowess. You do have to get the shot through. Even the ones that miss... ) Excuse the rejoinder. Now, how about that Canuck first line ?
- Krasa Sedinery had 18 Fenwick events, best of any line on the night. ( Hank ; a goal, assist, 3 shots, 1 miss, Dank ; 3 assists, 6 shots, 1 miss, and Vank ; game highs ( tied with Hall for shots with... ) in shots at 5, and a eye popping 8 attempts, to go with a goal and an assist to make that first line's production SEVEN points tonight. I know it was the Oiler defense, and steeper hills are coming, but DAMN. The Oiler kids had their moments, but their was little doubt which bunch were pushing the play.
* non sequitor - local music man Kypreos mentioned on TSN1410 GreenManRadio tonight that his dad called Radim Vrbata "The Vibrator"....and that he managed to "shake one one in...". Not sure on the political correctness of that nickname, but I sure have dug Vank's Vibe so far. Just putting it out there.
4 - Bonus number. Rolling four lines. I like it. They sure wore down the Oilers on this night.
41 for 75 - Bonus Bonus number. ON a night where Boyd Gordon and Henrik Sedin were the go to guys all over the ice when it came to faceoffs, Henrik Sedin outpointed Gordon 17 - 10 over 14 - 13 at the dot, while every main Canuck faceoff man was over 50 % . ( Richardson - 6 for 11, Matthias 5 for 9, with Vey 4 for 7, Bonino 9 for 18) The teams were 13- 13 after the 1st. The Canucks were stellar at puck retrieval on wins and losses, in all zones, but that is great to see after the worry beads being wring by the Flames winning a few draws on home ice.
38 is better tan 19 by exactly double as much - OK last one. The Oiler best period was the first, and they led the shot tally 10- 5 after twenty minutes. The final count was 43- 29. Do the math. Oh, that includes a 5- 0 edge in the O/T ( I like that they change ends now, the tired team is going to lose most of these O/T games, I predict ). The Canuck ability to roll four lines was a big part of coming back tonight.
Players That Made a Difference
Yes, the back and forth of this wide open at times game was probably something both coaches will use as "teaching moments", but a game like this sure had plenty of moments that would qualify as "difference makers".
- It could have been "Joe and Sue" ( FinnBonics for Joensuu ) taking a blue line turnover on a four minute power play and beating Miller for a shorthanded goal that looked like it could be the difference,
- ...or maybe Linden Vey's clinical finish ( aptly explained by Mike Johnson on the broadcast. Right above the stick and five hole is there if you can beat the goalie to the punch ) on a tying goal that seemed inevitable ( and was another glorious example of Sedinery Magic to set Vey up for his first NHL tally ). a tying goal, 3 shots, 4 for 7 on draws in your first home game ? Nice. First impressions. He sure conVeys a confidence on the puck.
- Alex #$%^&^!*(%# Burrows, ladies and gentlemen. An assist that the Oiler bench thought was illegal ( I guess you can put your hand up to prevent a clear out after all. ( Not sure on the strict interpretation of the hand pass rule there, but neener neener, $#@! happens. ). A jam play that got a kerfuffle going, and yet another in the endless number of gloves in the face AMFB gets without the benefit of a call. A personal Fenwick Event number of 4. He was flying tonight.
- OK, Taylor Hall even attempting the through the legs thing on a rebound was pretty good, but leading your team with 6 FE's ( five shots, one miss , tied with Petry, who had 3 on and 2 off the net, the same production as the first line centre ) , the same as your linemate...
- RNH, "facepuncher". The hit was fine, for what that is worth, but watching Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Nugent - Hopkins start throwing punches at each other''s visors was certainly down the list of things I was expecting. Hammer won on points, for what that is worth.
- Amazing that he is this far down the mention list, but how about that Nick Bonino. He almost matched Vrbata with 7 FE's himself ( 5 shots, 2 misses. A couple of blocks and a hit while going the aforementioned 9 for 18 on the draw ). Check the icetime columns here ( yes, I know about TOI, but all the advanced stat site I clicked on had Out of Order signs hanging on the door swinging behind the eager to work for the NHL teams in a dream job proprietors. All the lines look about perfect. I like a fourth line that can play 9 10 minutes. ( Although, credit Dallas Eakins. he seemed to shuffle his deck . Yakupov and Draisaitl each had just under ten minutes each...and Yak in particular was effective, with a goal, 2 shots, and some serious bobbing and weaving with the puck. I thought he had an assist on the Brad Hunt ( congrats Maple Ridge boy on your first NHL goal. What a bomb... )
... Oh yeah, Bonino. Sorry Nick. It was just that kind of game. He was a very capable 2nd line centre tonight, for all the doubters. That Bonino, Higgins, Burrows line is all about Dash, Bash and a bit of Flash, with a lot of pressure in all the right places. They were so effective on the forecheck tonight. Talk about your numbers. They combined for 17 Fenwickies themselves tonight, showing another way of doing it that may be more straight ahead than the Krasa Sedinery swirl, ( all angles and perfectly weighted passes...a right hand shot with those guys DOES work pretty well ! ) With Bonino's 5 shots, 2 misses. leading the way, the overall production of the "second line" tonight ( Burrows Burrows 2 shots and 4 total attempts, with Higgins having 3 of each on a night he was ( extra mention to Shawn Matthias ) the best penalty killer by far.
The Stopper - Ryan Miller. He did not like his second period ( the home team was outshooting their guests almost three to one ) and owned up to his positioning on the two second period goals. But he was stellar on the late PK ( the save on Hall was very nice ) and spotless in the shootout for the win. I liked his analysis as well. Smart guy our new goalie...
Crack That Whip
- We have a not so proud of it tradition here ( and I have often said that we are just like every other market. The entire NHL fanbase has their own personal whipping boys. But Alexander Edler has to feel good. An assist on the "important because it was in the last 30 seconds of the period, and the between period guys say so" goal by Henrik, and an "in all situations" 5 FE's himself ( 2 on, 3 off ) game that featured 3 hits, and an overtime that reminded me of the Swedish Beast of yore. He was dominant at times at both ends. Oh yeah, a plus one as well. Suck it haters...
Remember When ? ( and tonight only, Bonus "Whipping Boy " )
- As I was out on the simply perfect ( and it seemed stolen, the weather man was so sure on Friday that it would be a crappy, rainy day on Saturday here in Lotusland, instead of the postcard perfect, sun shining on my face at a perfect temp that today was, I thought about omens and portents of the season to come. I have to say, the fact that the NHL Network sent me out the door with the replay of the Flames losing Game Seven in 1994 ( thanks Pavel ) was a positive one. The goal I remembered almost as much as the Bure dazzler was the Adams mucker. All drive to the net and puck luck. He was smart with the puck, that guy. Just like almost every new guy on the team not named Lucas Sbisa. He was with Hammer on most of the night's shifts and good at times as well, with 3 mostly big hits and some decent positional play at times, but Hammer had 23:32 TOI, compared to his "partner's" 17:22 TOI. He had some moments but.... Baby steps my man.
There you go. Whether you were an Oiler fan at Rogers Arena ( and I don't know if the one free beer helped, but the Rog' was rocking tonight. ), agonizing over the so close" of how this one must have felt, or everyone in B.C wearing their Blue and Green while jumping up and down at the result (hopefully not engendering this reaction. ) .
What is it with folks taking the Whitecap adverts and making them something to complain about. ?Great results from the "Caps. Winning the Cascadia Cup for the second time, while putting yourself in the driver seat for the playoffs gets a mention in this pantless blogger''s work, even on a hockey blog. You rock Kakuta Manneh, and Matthias Laba and Kendal Waston are defensive beasts. The big man something else.
That is now 2 - 0. This starting against the Alberta teams could be just the thing !
Sorry for the length. The non home openers probably won't be as long as we go along. Though, with this team, who knows !? I like Willie Desjardin's 4 Line Style so far. Players seemed to be in the right spots a lot more often than not tonight. So far so good.
*** In the Burrow's Tally tonight, we are up to a goal and an assist now. My bet ( for Canuck Pllace ) is for 50 bucks if Burr gets 50 points ( I forget, that IS it, right ? ;-) Anyhow, a goal last game, and a possibly illegal assist tonight is "so far so good". Earnedhis 4.5 tonight...