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A "Frustrating" Game Recap ( 5-0 L )

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Ahhhh yes, the Coyotes. Dave Tippett likes to take the joy in the game of hockey and just choke the life out of it. The style that his team can be characterized as "low event hockey". One thing they are good at is defending. They got some breaks tonight, but sure had to defend ! The Canucks probably deserved a better fate in this one, but will now have to stew until Wednesday in Edmonton.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest surprise to start this one was that Devan Dubnyk was given the start over Mike Smith.  With nine goals in the past two games for the #1 in Arizona, maybe that was not really a surprise !

There was no mystery surrounding who would get the start in the other net.  Ryan Miller is, in his career, 7-0 with a microscopic 1.27 GAA against the team from the desert.  That would change.

Unu

The thing with the Coyotes is, they are brutally effective at wringing the joy out of a game of hockey.  One has to wonder if their style has something to do with the attendance problems they continue to have.  Snowbirds know hockey, and while they may come out to see the "home" team play ( as in, their fave teams from back home ), I can see why someone would not really want to plunk down hard earned cash to see this team play.

Effective, yes. Entertaining ? Wellllll.....

They definitely make it tough to play against them though.  The first period might be a perfect example of how they go about their business.  The shots were 12-3 for the Canucks through one, and the home team was the one that was pushing the play.

Looking at the hockeystats.ca graph, you had to wonder if they had flatlined from the 2 minute to 11 minute mark.  But you can also see a few flatlines for the home team as well.  That is what this team does to you.  They are well coached, they check hard all over the ice, and they are good in their own end.

The Canucks may have had the edge in shots, play, and Corsi, but most of their shots were one and done early on, although a few shifts produced sustained pressure.  The Richardson line ( with Matthias and Jensen ) may have been the most noticeable, but so was the Sedin, Bonino, and Vey lines.  Chris Higgins had a couple of the best chances, in particular one from the slot after a shifty move to set him up by Bonino.

But it was the Coyotes that drew first blood, and it was against that line.  After a foray was broken up, the 'Yotes countered quickly, and with Burrows following Hanzal all the way, he was still unable to stop a perfect pass from Yandle, and Hanzal beat Miller with a strong shot high, for a 1-0 lead for the road team.

Du

The Coyotes are even more boring after they get a lead, and the Canucks were even more dominant in the second period, at least to start the period.  Apart from a few rushes off of turnovers in the defensive end, the Coyotes did not have any real zone time until the 12 minute mark of the period ! ( A sneaky shot from Gagner that Miller was tight to the post to save ).  They did make it more competitive from that point on, but it was the Canucks that were pushing the play.  The third line set the tone at the start of the period, and probably deserved better, on a shift where they ahd three shots on one sequence, and probably twice as many ( or more ! ) attempts at the net on that one shift alone.

And while it looked like Keith Yandle would be the guy that was off, after crashing into the boards during a battle with Dorsett late in the first, it was Ryan Stanton who had to miss some time, when he hit his eyebrow on the dasher, in a battle with Hanzal, and had to get stitches.

The best chance to score may have been off of a great defensive play by Burrows, blocking a sure goal on an empty net, before Higgins went the other way, and was eventially set up by a fabulous Jensen pass.  It was Dubnyk's best save to that point in the game.

So it was a letdown when Martin Hanzal tipped a puck high in the air. Miller argued immediately, and while the ref had pointed at the puck in the net, it was clearly too high to be a legal goal.  The NHL obviously did not care about logic, geometry, and the simple fact that Hanzal's stick was about a foot higher than the crossbar.  Incredulously, they gave it to the Dogs. His second goal should not have counted,  As simple as that.

Right off the face off though, Hanzal got the puck at the blue line, and beat Miller on a shot that he probably should have had back.  Suddenly, it was two goals in nine seconds for the visitors, a hat trick for Hanzal, and a 3-0 lead.  To make matters worse, the refs decided to give Bonino a penalty for saying something ( probably along the lines of, "hey #$@!ers, you don't own the team anymore, you don't have to give them shit goals like that..." ).

Good for Bones. It may be a stupid call to take,( and maybe it was partly frustration for losing the draw in the first place ) but that is pretty hard to stomach, in the heat of battle.  It may have been the worst review call I can remember in recent memory.  The Canucks got seriously hosed on that one.  They killed it off with ease, as is often the case with penalties that are what hockey players call "good penalties".

As the period was winding down, however, Gagner made matters even worse on a great play.  They played "beat the clock" to set up Shane Doan in the slot, who ripped it post and in for a 4-0 lead in a period where the home team surely deserved better.  What a disastrous period.  The Canucks were clearly bothered by the illegal goal ( Shannon said between periods that 3 of the 4 officials had it as "at the crossbar", and there was not enough evidence to overturn it.  That is bullshit as well... and no NHL, unless you want to actually SHOW us these mysterious "other angles" that made you call a clearly illegal goal good, I will continue to say you hosed the Canucks, and gave an illegal goal as good. )

In a period where they increased the shot total to 23-13 now ( but only outshot the 'Yotes 11-10 in the 2nd, give the visitors some credit ), the home team may have deserved better, but lost their composure, and were in a deep, deep hole going into the third.

Credit where it is due as well. Hanzal beat Burrows on the first one, got a gift on the second, and Stanton got danced on the third.  The entire line that was on the ice for the fourth one deserved the dash they got on the stat sheet.  The Coyotes made a great play, but that simply cannot happen.  Someone should have just stapled the puck and Gagner to the boards.  It was good play by the opponent, but that goal simply cannot happen.

Tri

You would think the NHL and these refs owed the home team a hole passel of favours after the hose job of the second goal that turned the game, and when Ekman - Larsson got his stick into Henrik's skates, they got an early power play 18 seconds in.

A power play that was 6th in October, and had slid to 17th in November, looked amazing, as the first unit, with Vrbata attempting about 5 shots, and getting saved on 3 of them ( they were credited with 4 shots on it ) looked lethal.  They did not get the puck in the net though, and on maybe the best chance, Henrik Sedin heeled a puck in close that probably should have been a goal.

As the minutes ticked down, there was ONE chance in the first 7 minutes for the team leading the score.  The Canucks were all over the Coyotes in their own end, but the defenders were solid in recovery and scrambling in their own end, and when they weren't Dubnyk was there to make the saves.

The period flew by, which was to the benefit of the leading team, of course.  The shots continued to be two to one in favour of the home team,   With 4:55 remaining in the game, as Burrows drew a holding call, I had counted THREE times the Coyotes were in the Canuck end for more than 5 seconds.  Most of the period ( hell the game ) was spent in the defensive end of the visitors.

Which seemed to be just how they like it.  The Tippett System clogs up the middle, and collapses to the net, while trying to keep you along the boards.  It was working.  Even though the shots were 33 -17 to this point, most of them were handled well.

Reider managed to get a puck off of the power play set up, and while I thought Vey played him perfectly, the refs decided it was a penalty, and the power play was no more.  In fact, After Burrows was checked at the blue line, a stick that was what you might call "slight" was deemed slashing on the refs least fave player in the NHL, and the team they once owned was given yet another break, a 5 on 3 to close it out.

Klankhammer had the puck go off him right at the death of the 1st call, and the Yotes were 1 for 4 on the PP, and had a 5-0 goal on a penalty that probably wasn't.  The goal was credited to Yandle, but at that point, who cares ?

Final tally ? Shots 35-23 for the Canucks.  The shot attempts ( including those blocked and missed ) was 70 to 42.  The Coyotes blocked 23 shots tonight.

Bottom line ? The Arizona team did not deserve all the good fortune they got in this one, but the Canucks did not do themselves any favours.  They were frustrated by the opposition, who played a solid road game, but if the breaks fell a different way tonight, the result could have been much different.

Miller was not at his sharpest though, and Hanzal, credit to him, made two great shots, and got one gift.  The only goal the visiting team probably deserved was the one at the death of the second by Doan.  Sorry Desert Dog fans, but you got given a gift by the NHL on the goal that changed this one.  But good teams take advantage of their breaks as well.

Credit Arizona for the hard work, and taking advantage of the breaks they were handed.  The Canucks did not help themselves, with breakdowns in their zone at crucial times.  But look at the graph here. If there was ever a game that said "Screw you Corsi, and the Fenwick you rode in on", it was this one.  Sometimes it does not matter.

Them's the breaks.  The Canucks will have to stew on this one until Wednesday.  They will have to hear about it in this hockey mad city for a while, and the media will now have a narrative of "see, I told you they weren't THAT good" ready to go.

Hopefully, they come out in Edmonton like ravening wolves, and put the stink of this one in the dustbin.  You would have to hope they will !

( the language for the 1-2-3 was Esperanto, in case you were wondering... ;-)  See you next week...