It is funny, the way it goes on these Saturday Night games. The big stage, and the way they broadcast the games in the new Mr Rogers Neighbourhood, ensures that there will always be narratives flying all over the place.
And yes, the Flames are a hard working team, and good for them to get the point. They are definitely the more dangerous of the Alberta teams ( and three of the four wins for the Canucks on Saturday nights were against the worst team in the West, the sad sack Oilers), but the way these CBC / Sposrtnet folks try to build things up ( in any game, not just ours ) is a little bizarre. I guess they have to talk about SOMETHING, when they have that much time to kill, and that many personalities are looking to say something "important".
- Case in point. At the time that Johnny Gaudreau got his seventh of the season, he was coming into the period at -7 on 5 on 5 Corsi Events. He ended -3, which was actually not as bad as some ( check the numbers at hockeystats.ca here, a lot of dashes in that column for the visiting team tonight ), but not fantastic. A seeing eye shot, 1 attempt on net, one wide, and maybe a couple passes or so that looked like something does not drive a need to say "Johnny Hockey" ad infinitum. I think they are trying to piggy back on Manziel. Hey, it was his 7th of the season, and tied a game they should have been farther behind in. He is doing better than the Football Johnny ! But he did not have a superstar game, and got more pub' from the talking heads than he deserved, in my estimation.
- His goal was one that Miller might have wanted back, not some mad "snipe". The little man has given the Flames and their fans something to talk about. But it was the first goal of this game was one of "those" goals, and was a break for the Canucks for once. It even included the most bizarre video review I can remember. Maybe the NHL War Room ( or Mr. Lee, he was the one that requested the look, as Elliotte Friedmann told us between periods. That guy is always on it... ) just likes trolling the Canucks. Check it here...
- Elliotte was great, as usual, but what the hell was Mike Johnson babbling on about ? He might as well have said that I don't know what I am talking about, looking for video evidence of the Canuck stick touching the puck. That stick ( Yannick Weber's ) touching the puck or not was not germane to anything. Like Friedmann told us in between periods, Rule 76.4 only states that a defender cannot direct an offensive player's stick to direct a puck into the empty net. That was not at all what happened here. Wideman tried a pass to Raymond, and the billiards angle was perfect for the middle of the net. Weber got the goal because he was closest to Wideman. Nothing worth a video review, but a bizarre one, eh ?
- What was not bizarre ( OK, maybe a bit, or more accurately, rare ), but scary as hell was Jannik Hansen collapsing on the bench. ( Briefly, it did not look like he ever lost consciousness ) It must have panicked the team a bit. After he went to the room ( and he needed medical attention..see Willie's interview here ), Bieksa was seen, at the beginning of a power play that came shortly afterwards, to be going to the room, instead of being on the bench for something he would be "next man up" on. Such was the worry. The players were definitely shaken. In a game they dominated, the second period was the only one where the Flames looked competitive for any length of time. They had chances ( the Monahan save on the shorthanded chance in the third was one of Miller's best,), and outshot the Canucks 15 to 10 in the second. It was their best period. But that might have had as much to do with the Flames playing their best hockey of the game, as it had to do with the Hansen injury ( on a clean hit ) scaring the shit out of his teammates for a bit. The 13-7 ( first period shots ) team was probably the real one for the home team, or maybe in the somewhat more even third period, the 9-6 team was the one. Not a bunch of guys worried if a good friend is still breathing at the moment.
- Do not take that wrong, Flames fans. I am not dissing your team. Your first goal was a decent enough one, catching some guys on a change out, and grinding it into the net very well, but most of your teams offense tonight was one and done on the rush. The fact the shots were only 32-28 was surprising.
- The TV fellows told you about Kris Russell being the NHL shot blocking leader, and the Calgary team does lead the NHL in that category. But Russell only blocked 2 tonight. Giordano had 5, to tie him with the Canuck leader in that column, Alexander Edler. The teams were actually surprisingly close in that stat too. The Flames blocked 20 shots, and the home team stopped 19 from reaching the net. The Canucks did miss twice as many as the Flames ( 14 misses to 7 ).
- That is an indication of how the team on home ice was playing in their opponent's end far more than the other team. The Corsi at 5 on 5 ? Only five Canucks were minus in 5 on 5 Corsi Events ( Vrbata a team worst -7 ) The Flames only had five guys on the positive side of that ledger. Both Raymond and Monahan were their teams' best, at +6 even strength Corsi Events. But the worst was Wideman at -11, and Colbourne and Bouma were -9 in that stat. The Flames had their moments. They were a little bit lucky to get a point in this one.
- Part of that was execution, and the Canucks could have been better once again on special teams, particularly on the power play. They did score their first power play goal in nine games though ! Speaking of special teams, the penalty kill was freaking awesome. Only one of the power plays for the Flames looked remotely threatening, and most the great scoring chances on them were matched by equally good shorthanded chances by guys like Matthias and Burrows. The penalty kill for the Canucks was 4th overall going into this one, and that percentage will only rise.
- Speaking of Burrows ( and with the codicil that it is an incomplete on the report card, due to the injury to Beaker making the bottom nine a blender for two thirds of this one ), he looked like that could be an awesome 4th line with him there, as far as the eye test goes, anyhow. Hansen was a +9 in even strength Corsi Events in his short time with the second line before leaving the ice, so that looked to be clicking too. Burrows was making that line much more dangerous on the puck in the first, and he was decent on the power play as well on the goal, getting an assist for banging away at the puck before Vbata Vrsniped it into the empty net in timely fashion. Burr was a -2 ( on for both goals, one on a change ) and had 3 shots. His +4 in 5 on 5 C.E was middle of the road. But I liked his game a lot tonight, and not just because I like betting on this guy succeeding. Sue me, I like longshot stores made good...
- Derek Dorsett had 5 shots, and 7 attempted in 12:34 of mainly ( 69 seconds of special teams time, 55 of that on the PK ) 5 on f TOI. Others that made the best of the blender that the final two periods was for the bottom nine were Chris Higgins ( -1, 3 SOG, 3 misses ) Matthias ( 3 of 4 shot attempts forcing a save, and he was a +1 ) and Nick Bonino ( 3 of 4 shots forcing a save, though he was a -1 as well ).
- The Birthday Boy. Chris Tanev turned 25 today, and in addition to his usual solid game on that stat sheets ( an even, with 2 shots on net, 2 misses, and 2 blocks in 22:33 of TOI that included a team high ( with his partner, and paired with Tanev, "Steady" Eddy ) 3:31 on that perfect PK. Dude is going to get paid at the end of this year. His goal was a confident one, as the Sedins set him up for the game winner by doing what they do. Making a great play.
- Well, a couple of them. But first, let's have some perspective on the leaders and all around great guys that are the identical twin superstars on our first line. There is the narratives that are made about them. Check Mr Ebner's twitter feed for his look at it. He IS the Globe and Mail guy, and the argument is not without merit
- And then there is what your eyes tell you. The Flames did defend them well ( and the even strength Corsi for the Twins was -1 and -2 respectively. Vrbata was -7, for perspective. ) I get that a narrative builder professional would use words like collapse" and other provocative language to get his point across. But here is the deal. They were dangerous all night as far as zone time went, more or less. The first was obviously their best period, as the eye test goes. But they were the architects of a set play that led directly to the power play goal, and they made their usual magic happen on the o/t winner.
- THANK YOU Glenn Healy. You might be my fave at the new panel gig they have you doing. I think the estimate was a bit high. Fifteen guys ? I have the number at ten that could have made that skate save of the not the best pass from Edler, and done so effortlessly, passing it along and driving the net . The way Daniel did it was only a a part of the winning goal. His older brother made his usual sublime pass to Tanev. But nothing happens without an incredibly hard thing to do at high speed, and Daniel Sedin did it with ease. All they did was have a hand in two goals in a three goal game... #justsayin
So, there you are then. Before this one, the Canucks had 38 points in 31 games played. They now have 40 points in 32 games, just behind the Sharks ( 42 in 34 games ) and the Ducks ( 49 in 35 GP ), while just aghead on percentage of the Kings, who have 4o points in 34 games. The team has a bunch of divisional games against Pheonix ( next at home, on Monday ) and the Ducks and Sharks ( a two game roadie, after the Christmas break, which is awesome for ourt guys for once. They play on Monday, and then not again until the 28th and 30th against those two teams. That short two gamer is followed by five at home, against the Kings, Wings, Islanders, Luongo's New Team, and these self same Flames, on the second Saturday of the new year.
So when the games get even more pronounced in their gap ( for now ), let us not trouble ourselves with the standings and the team's place in it. The games in hand will need to even out. Your Canucks are in the thick of it, and are a playoff team.
Sean is up for the Coyotes, and that is it until after Santa comes. Merry Christmas, Happy Hoiidays. Have a good Kwannzaa, and may your minorah always burn bright.