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A " Grind It Out" Game Recap ( 3-2 W )

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The little team that the NHL forgot is now 8-3, and playing an entertaining and high velocity style that must be making Ryan Miller wonder if he died and went to West Coast Heaven.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Need proof ?  In a third period where the home team was behind after the four minute mark, desperate and pushing to even it up, the Oilers had 6 shots.  Six.

Nevermind that they had the game winning goal scored on them on the only power play in the final stanza.  More on that in a minute.

One has to wonder at what point folks will start talking about the record of the team from Lotusland. With sixteen points, the Canucks are second in the Pacific ( standings here. Freaking Pacific Division is still a beast. ) , and will perhaps get some chatter if they do OK on the trip that comes after their home game tomorrow against the Predators.

Regardless of what anyone thinks, this team is playing the kind of hockey I love to watch.  A style that all too often was that of the teams that were hanging losses on the Blue and Green.

They go for it all the time, don't get me wrong.  They make a lot offfensive things happen, and the first line is one of the most entertaining in hockey...but, especially with a lead....they "grind" it out.

If you want me to define that style of play, especially when a good team has a lead, then just hit rewind on the DVR and watch that third period again.  The Oilers barely got a sniff.  At home.

Don't get me wrong.  The Oilers had some great chances off the rush in this game. They had little when they needed it, after the lead was gotten.  And their goaltender was very good once again.  The save by Miller made on the Eberle backhand was wonderful.  But even on that play, it was chance under pressure.  The Canucks had the Oilers under pressure tonight.  They made sure that most of the chances against were off the rush, and not because of sustained pressure.  Because the home team was getting ground up tonight.

Unum

The play of the Oilers in the opening period was their best of the night.  The period saw the home team outshoot the visitors 14 - 12 , as well as earn themselves an early power play that helped with the momentum.  The teams shared the giveaways equally in the eyes of the stats guy, at 5 - 5, but it seemed the Oilers were turning the puck over at their own blue line and at centre ice far more than the Canucks, however.

That proclivity turned out to be a huge negative for the home team, as the Canucks used another loose puck at the Oiler team's expense to work a mice give and go between Nick Bomino and Chris Higgins, and while Ben Scrivens had a decent game ( um, yeah, more on that later too ! ), he is a bit like a pinball flipper when it comes to rebounds, and a nice juicy one fell to Lucas Sbisa, who wired it into the open net for a 1 - 1 score after twenty minutes.

-the face offs were 8 - 8, with Brad Richardson perfect on 3 draws. Hits were also in the visitor's favour at 12 - 11.

- Tom Sestito came back into the line up with a bang tonight. On a night he ended up with 6 : 25 TOI, and 6 total hits.  His initial 5 shifts and 3:53 TOI produced 4 hits and some solid play at both ends to show he was not just blowing smoke.  The + 1 and an assist looked nice too !

Duo

It was in the second period, where, as they say " everything was happening".  Two goals less than a minute apart, late in the period.  But wthat punctuated the proceedings, was the events that occurred at the 14 : 03 mark.   But before that, Taylor Hall left the proceedings early on in the middle stanza.  After which, the Oilers were less cohesive, and the Canucks seemed to be the better team on the ice, although having three of the four power plays in the period probably aided that appearance.  The Canucks were not the better team just because Hal was injured, but it sure helped turn the momentum.

The Hall play was also another example of how Christopher Tanever is just a stone cold awesome NHL defenseman.  There was no malice on the play whatsoever, but Hall's cut to the net was dealt with ruthlessly and efficiently.  After the slight and legal contact on Hall's hip, he nailed the post and did not return.

The play later in the period was far less legal, however.  Mr Ference, in his post game comments, went for the haughty arrogance of "what?  I am pretty short man, I don't think so...what?...oh yeah...all body man..." that does not fly too well with the DOPS. ( Check the Oiler's biggest fanboy David Staples here. He even thinks 3 games. I got 5.  But what is sad here is now this guy tries to blame Kassian for "lumbering in" and brings up Gagner yet again. Get over it Edmonton...the video is there. Looks more like a rush with the puck and a head shot Mr Staples....watch the video and decide for yourself... )

But what do I know, right ?  Obviously, with the Burrows decision, we are pretty tuned into what a head shot is, and still not sure on these things !

Put it this was though  Mr Oiler Captain.  What you did was far more blatant of a head shot than what Burrow's is 75 K lighter in the wallet for, and you have a far more brutal record, regardless of the "victim" being OK in this one too.

All of that overshadowed a couple goals that were pretty good. After a power play  ( both teams were 0 - 3 tonight ) , the next shift was the Canucks suddenly effective tonight fourth line. Tom Sestito made a nice dish to Derek Dorsett, whose shot was denied, but Linden Vey was not on the rebound.  David Perron matched it less than a minute later with a quick shot that Miller was not able to get set up on.  2 - 2 was a fair score for an entertaining game to this point.

- The Canucks were still outhitting the home team, 21 - 18, and the face offs were now 18 - 16 for the visitors, with Ritchie now 6 for 9, and Henrik 8 for 14. Linden Vey was perfect on 3 draws as well !  Shots were 21 - 21.  The Canucks were also being led by Alexander Edler's 4 blocks through two periods to lead that stat 8 to 5 as well.

- I loved, no, LOVED, how the team made sure that Andrew Ference was going to have to pay for his head shot.  There were no real scraps in this game, and for all the feeling, not a lot of scrums either.  But the Canucks, in the last four minutes or so ( and how many shifts could that be for him ? ) must have hit the Oiler defenseman three or four times, and they were al with feeling.  Like Bee-es-ka and others jumping in when someone is taking liberties with a first liner, there is a feeling on this team that I am really enjoying.

Tres

Now that there was something to fire up the boys, an already entertaining game was even more so.  The visitors were, from the outset, pushing the play, and even a weak call on Zack Kassian barely slowed them down. As they were swatting away the pressure of the home team, Daniel Sedin took a big hit ( was was fine ) by Yakupov to make the play, but his brother was saved.

What followed was, I am sure, unintended by Ben Scrivens

.

I would like to point to someone he was trying to get the puck to, but, really, the only guy in the neighborhood was Derek Dorsett.  As Scrivens moved back into his net, Shawn Matthias slid into a screening position, and Dorsett made a wonderful shot to the short side before the crestfallen goaltender could recover for the eventual game winner.

Scrivens made saves on Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen that were wonderful.  He robbed Henrik in close, and had to make some great saves tonight.  No one will remember any of that.  This gaffe was too much to let his play outshine it.  Sorry Benny.

The Canucks, after the goal, were a machine.  I take notes as I watch the game, and give things little stars if they look like a big play to remember for later.  The only stars were for the Scrivens save on Daniel that kept it close for the Oilers.  The rest, was grind after grind, after grind. No notes of noteworthiness. No saves that got big stars around them...Whether it was the first line, or the third or fourth, it did not matter, they just went over the boards and ground out their 45 seconds, and passed the baton.

It was glorious to behold.  There was really nothing for Ryan Miller to do.  The breakouts were sublime, the forecheck implacable.  The only noteworthy thing was a Bieksa pass that went astray, and was cause for minor concern, before Dan Hamhuis recovered for his partner.  Count in me in as a convert to the Willie Desjardins Method.

- On a night where they fly home to a team waiting for them in Vancouver, again, the Canuck TOI is an interesting read. The forward leader was Henrik Sedin, who, buoyed by 3:25 of PP time, was the only forward over twenty minutes, at 20 : 43 TOI.  No other forward was over twenty, and while his brother was close at 19 :54, the only other forward over 15 minutes was Vrbata at 17 : 58,  When Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias, at 15 :09 and 15 :04 respectively, and then your "second" line centre Nick Bonino at 14 :54 TOI, are the next higher guys on the list, that is some damn fine bench management, if I do say so myself Mr  Desjardins.  It was the fourth line that dominated the Corsi tonight. Tomorrow, it will be another line. Effective, that.

- The Canuck defenseman were also the difference in this one.  The pundits can blather on about how improved the other team is on defense, as they like to do.  The Oilers may lead the league in plaudits from the peanut gallery that they have yet to really earn.  But it was the Canuck blue line tonight. While they were dominating the Corsi early ( and you can see the four and against here ), and still passable at the end, it was the way each and every one made the perfect play most of the time, or responded to a forecheck with the right play, that was so much fun to watch.  They did their jobs very, very well tonight.

Last Number Check

- Alexander Edler ; 5 shots on goal and 5 blocks, both game highs. In 23 : 10 TOI ( 3:13 PP / 3:07 PK ) of +1 gooodness.

- Derek Dorsett had a GWG, an assist, and was +2, while having 4 of 6 shot attempts hit the net. Two hits as well. A pretty effective 11 : 43 TOI .

- 25 - 22 was the final tally on face offs, with Ritchie leading the way at 9 for 14.

- After the teams were 5 - 5 on giveaways after one, the Oilers ended the game dominating that stat, 19 - 9 .

After this entertaining and enjoyable game to watch, we are now done with the Oilers for a bit.  That Ryan Miller is now 10- 0 against them lifetime, and given that a suspension is probably ( and rightly, if Burrows rule breaking was worth 3 games, a guy with this guy's record and a play that was obviously a headshot should be substantial...right ! ? ) ...coming, it is probably cool to let this rivalry cool a bit.  Though a rivalry is when both teams win !

What Willie Said...

I love this guy. Won't let them number his lines either. Take that media !

See ya tomorrow...