After the early games against Alberta, the hype meter was upped on this one, and with good reason.
Steven Stamkos. The man reaches the 60 goal plateau like it is no big deal when healthy, and with the year turning on the broken leg from last season, he definitely is healthy again. Which is trouble for the NHL.
The Canucks decided to put the Sedin / Dream line head to head against Stamko's line, and the results were staggering. The Canuck trio would push the play and generate zone time, and then the deadly turnover and up play to the man breaking the zone.
When that is Stamkos, and he has actual seconds to think of which head fake to break out on you, that is a pretty s#**** 1st shot for your goalie to have to face.
When it is in the first 00:53 of the game, and you continue to carry the play, and manage to tie the game, that is great.
When you can only watch one of Canada's best manage to get to the one place amongst three people just a microsecond before the hapless Henrik Sedin could manage less than a minute later, resulting in a 2nd goal on 3 shots, well...damn...
When you look at the war-on-ice.com page here, you can see that Willie Desjardins tried to get away from the matchup, in favour of the Killorn, Johnson, Filppula one, but the damage was already done. Even with the quick strike capabilities of the opponent, Captain Hank had a turnover that led to a goal, and was a -2 after twenty minutes. Flawed stat or not, that did not look good. Which is a shame. Hank had a couple chances to score in this game, and he and his line made the power play dangeorus, if not even more productive. But there was only one # 91 on the ice tonight.
Sorry Hank and your team. You just got Stammered. Don't feel too bad. There will be plenty of others who will be joining you on that list this season.
Some Numbers Are Better Than Others
- The line of Bonino, Burrows and Higgins were the ones that were all over the scoresheet for the Canucks on this night. The Sedins / Dream line had their moments, and deserved some better luck against Bishop, but this line was tough to handle for the Tampa Bay representatives. They combined for 11 ( Burrows and Bonino had 4 each, Higgins 1 and 2 misses ) shot attempts. Without looking a the advanced stats, they seemed to be in the offensive zone and oressing, and every one of them had their moments on the PK. Crash, Dash, and did you see that Flash from Bonino on that pass !
- If there was a Beast Award in the losing effort, it would go to Alexander Edler. He had a great game. After the 1st period where the Bolts seemed to be a little quicker then their lest rested competition, Edler was one of the leaders that brought the game back to even with a well timed jump into the play ( with a Daniel Sedin pass through 3 guy's sticks at the precise second it had to be there...wonderful ), and finished the night where he was the best defenseman for either team ( Stralman a close second ). Oh, and in a game where Juicy Hammer was a combined dash 6, he was even in that silly plus minus stat. 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots, and 23:10 of pretty solid defender play.
- 1 for 5. While the Canucks actually had one more power play ( one of those offsetting type deals, it was one of those short ones ), both teams had a power play goal. The difference being the timing. Sure, the Edler goal was nice to see, and tied the game. But it was Burrows taking an ill timed roughing call, and then Bieksa following him, giving the Bolts their, seemingly, only real sustained offensive zone dominance. And on a play that is going to be wrongly called all season. They reworded the rule to allow some more calling of penalties, even when the sliding defender gets all puck. But, like on this play, guys are just going to fall into the goalie. It was here where this game changed. Juice picked that thing clean !
The K-Tel Turning Point
- Sure, # 91 for the other guys was the game's first star, and had three points. Sure, he is worth the price of admission, even if you just realized your team aint going 82 - 0 . But it was how he got that 3rd point that was so much fun to watch. He set up in the "magic shooty spot". and was set up for it, but watched his stick turn to pieces in his hands. As he raced for a new one, Callahan rolled to that off wing spot, and Stammer, now armed with a "fresh twig", proceeded to gather in the puck, draw the defenders, and with Burrows just coming back on, feed a perfect pass to Callahan for the eventual game winner. Yeah...he is pretty good at the game of hockey.
- I am sure that the "first time caller, long time listener" folks will kvetch about how Miller should have started this one, and it is early. But a coach going with the original plan as far as starts go is hardly controversial either. Eddie Lack was not the only reason the Canucks lost their first of the season. He made some great saves along the way, and was beaten on some pretty good saves. Maybe he could have had one back, but so what ? The way we make every start a soap opera in this town is bizarre when it comes to the goaltending. Easy...it is a long season, and we don't need no kerfuffles distracting us. Eyes on the prize.
- The Canucks dominated the advanced stats on this night. See here at hockeystats.ca .Nick Bonino and Edled had strong games, but look at that Tanev fellow. His Even Strength Corsi For and Against was 12 / 3. While Tricky Nicky was best for the forwards at +7 ( 15 / 8 ), that +9 for the TanMan was the best in the game by any player. Then again, Callahan was the best for his team at +4 ( with a GWG ) as far as that goes, and Steven Stamkos had 2 goals, 3 points, and a Corsi number of -1. For what that is worth.
"You Have Gotta Want To Win"
- In the aftermath of this one, with the penalties ( mostly all deserved, but for the Juice one ) all being of the undisciplined nature, check how Big Willie answers a question about that...
Damn, right ? That is laying down some law. But he is so nice about it. And he is totally right about The Man In The Iron Mask tonight. Dan Hamhuis had a great chance to score catch some iron, was able to make some nice plays, but even in the age of advanced analytics ( and they agree with the -3 for the wags, , Dan Hamhuis had a Relative Corse number at Es of -12. His partner through most situations had a relative number of -3. In a game where he had a bad one by the numbers, that answer at the end was very human. And of course he is right. I imagine Hammer did not sleep that much last night, before having to face one of the East's better teams.
Epilog Or Epilogue ? Personally, I'm Leaning Afterword...
You cannot say this one was not for lack of effort. There were mistakes, and the numbers are there to pore over to find who was making a bunch of them. There were bright moments from guys like Zack Kassian, and Daniel Sedin continues to Ralph Macchio his older brother's My Miyagi Mojo as far as the passing of the puck goes. He now has 6 assists, most of them of the breathtaking primary assist variety.
The argument can always be made about starting the hot goalie again, and coming off a shutout, it makes it even more so. But that game is just not one you can make, The "what if" game is just not a good thing in a game of mistakes like hockey. The Lightning managed to take advantage of some mistakes, and use their talents to cash those mistakes in. But hell, the Canucks had two posts ( one a pinger, one a pinball that helped Bishop recover it ).
As far as goaltending goes, Miller himself might have had a problem matching pads with the Bolt tender tonight. Ben Bishop made many saves because he has great positioning, and a few ( like he always does in a game ) because genetics made him a very tall goaltender and the puck hit him. He was more the reason the Bolts won, rather than Lack being the reason the Canucks lost.
OK. That is it for me until next Friday. I turn the keys over to the very capable Sean Larson for the Stars and Blues on the road, before recapping the third game in that road trip, against the Avalanche, See you then.