The Canucks and Ducks does check a lot of boxes as far as burgeoning rivalries go. The NHL is all about the divisional matchup, and they have both taken to that with zeal., The teams even have ( sorta / kinda ) recent playoff history. Mainly though, I don't think these guys like each other that much. A few may be friends off the ice, but on the ice. no. That makes these games fun to watch, generally speaking.
Every game so far has been in doubt until the end. There has been plenty of hitting, and the games have had a certain bite, as both teams had wonderful starts to the season. The Canucks fell off a tad, while the Ducks kept the train rolling, but there has been little to choose between these teams in head to head competition in their two games so far.
They have Ryan Getzlaf leading the way ( 12 G, 28 A ) with 40 points coming in, and Ryan Kesler right behind him, having 12 and 15 , and providing that "one two punch". Oh yeah, their top defenseman, Sami Vatanen ( has 24 points, 9 G and 15 A ) is pretty good too. Good thing everyone's favorite pinhead Corey Perry ( has 14 goals and 8 assists in the 23 games ) will miss this one versus the Nucks.
Even without him though, the league leading Ducks are for realsies.
The Canucks definitely had the early jump, with three good chances generated by the second and third lines, but then the refs thought our rookie interfered with someone, and then, right off the faceoff, Rene Borque made it four on four for a couple minutes.
The Ducks finally got their first shot of the game on that four on four, just over five minutes in. They were making up for the lack of shots by outhitting the visitors 7 to 1 early, but the pace of the team playing their first off the break versus the team that had played the night before was slightly benefitting the former, with Richardson generating another solid save in close.
The Ducks Maroon must have felt the tide of the game was changing, and got pugnacious with Derek Dorsett, and found a willing dance partner. It did seem to get the home team going, with more shifts being spent, at least in part, in the Canuck end.
The Canucks were actually looking pretty competitive, before a turnover to Getzlaf forced a Bieksa penalty on Smith Pelley. That power play looked vaguely dangerous, but mainly one of the NHL's best PK's continued to read plays and clear pucks like a boss.
The second line than REALLY should have scored, with Bonino getting outright ribbed by Anderson on a one timer in close.
The refs really should go over and give Millers pads a tap for making the save, after that farce at the end of the period though. The only reason the Ducks generated puck pressure in the last 20 seconds was because they had six guys on the ice for at least 30 seconds !
- 8-7 was the shots in favour of the Canucks, but it was when you delved into the hockeystats.ca that you saw the edge the visitors were generating. Perhaps in part because he was in the box for five minutes after a good start, Derek Dorsett led the Canucks in Even Strength Corsi Events at +7 after 20 minutes.
- Alexander Edler led the back end at +5 in that stat, and the top Ducks were Nate Thompson and Cogliano, each at +1 in that 5 on 5 predictor of play. In fact, the entire team was a zero or a minus at even strength in the first period.
- The graph showed the Ducks having a pretty good middle part of the period. They won the hit stats handily though. Arena Bias ? It was 12 to 6 for the home team.
The Ducks got it going, just as the Canucks did early in the second, but it would be the fourth line, and Alex Burrows in front, providing a perfect screen for a Yannick Weber wrister from the point to open the scoring. Weber followed that up with a bit of a lazy hook on a face off in his own end 18 seconds later, however.
This time, the " PK PuckHounds " actually created the best chance of the penalty, with Matthias just missing a dribbling pass from Hansen on a two on one. They just seem to be so adept at reading and reacting before the offensive player on the PK right now.
The fourth line had a great shift, and at the end of it, as they were changing, the Ducks almost forced one in, all coming off a Kesler turnover on Bieksa in the corner. Miller stood firm though, and then Linden Vey wrote the huge check with a pretty, pretty dangle, but could not cash it, fanning on the shot. The pace had definitely picked up, as the Ducks came alive, being matched every shift by the Canucks.
The lesser lights of the Ducks got together on a nice passing play, ending with Borque getting a shot with the goaltender moving. But Miller had his read perfect, swallowing up the puck on the Ducks most dangerous chance in a while.
The Ducks started getting their chances, and pushing the play, and none was better than a Maroon shot where Miller robbed him with the pad in close, and then another on Etem on the same shift, as the defenders were flailing a bit on the shift.
The Canucks responded however, and after the other lines steadied the ship, the Sedin line responded to physical play with some pressure and a chance of their own. Miller bailed out Bieksa on one of those plays that breaks wrists, as his stick got stuck in the boards. He was flexing it as he went to the bench off the Miller whistle.
You could see the Canuck defensive box shrinking in response to the greater pressure, but it was working most of the time.
They had luck to thank on the last shift of this one. After Edler ( who was pretty wesome once again ) fell down, the Ducks had all kinds of pressure, and not one but two posts, the second off the crossbar, on a Cogliano shot that I am sure had him muttering Italian obscenities under his breath as the horn sounded.
- The E.S Corsi Events sure turned in the second, at least for some. Radim Vrbata was at -11 after 40 minutes, while his linemates were -4 and -5 each ( Daniel and Henrik. I put Daniel first because he must get sick of everyone with this "older brother" stuff. Eight minutes ! ;-) , while Kevin Bieksa's -6 was not fooling anyone. It was twice as bad as his old partner's -3 ( Sbisa ) nevermind his new one ( Stanton ), who was at -2 after two periods. Kevin had a few "troubles" in that period, shall we say. Edler was down to an even in Corsi Events now.
- It was the lesser Ducks leading the way, with Andrew Cogliano at a +12 at 5 on 5, while Thompson ( +11 ) and Silfverberg ( + 9 ) were the other standouts.
- The hits were still two to one ( 18 to 9, they ended 24 to 14 ), but it was in the face off circle where the Ducks were edging the Canucks, with Kesler 8 for 11, powering the team to a 21-18 edge. No Canuck was better than Henrik Sedin 's 50% on 12 draws ( well, Richardson was 2 for 4 ) , and Bo Horvat was 2 for 7.
- With no PP time, and Willie matching the Getzlaf line with the Richardson one ( occasionally the second ), the Sedins were in the 9:30 area of the TOI table with a period to go.
There are many ways to start a third period up by one, but taking a hooking penalty like Bonino did is not high on the list of positive ways to go about it. The Duck power play looked energized, and pounced on the opportunity, but the penalty killers of the Canucks were again too much for them, although this was their best power play of the night.
It was coming though, the way the Ducks were playing, and a clean face off win by Getzlaf on Horvat led to a Beauchemin point shot with a screen, and a "meat and potatoes" goal tied the game.
So, with about thirteen minutes left, and a crowd suddenly energized after they had been settled into their seats, the Canucks were up against it. There was no doubt that the team with the extended break was the tired looking one in the third period, as the Ducks got more and more dominant in the final stanza. But for the underside of the crossbar ( inspiring more Italian obscenities, as Cogliano was denied by geometry once again ), the Canucks would not have gotten the loser point.
- After being outshot in a second period that they looked "in" 10 to 4, the Canucks were outshot and dominated even worse in the third, as the Ducks had an 11 to 2 edge, to lead the Canucks 28 14 after regulation.
- Zero. That five second power play does not count. The Ducks did not play this game THAT clean, and the refs ignored one too many men, and looked to miss another in the third as well. Hansen was tackled into the net just before the O/T goal. And in that game, the Canucks had zero power plays. That seemed a bit much. Hell, Edler was bloodied late ( no replay ). Had to get that way somehow !
- Edler played against Getzlaf all game, and was pretty good, but was on for both goals. Worse, his check got two assists, and he ended a -2 on a "good" night. Stats, they are a cruel and harsh mistress.
- Henrik Sedin had 1 shot, Daniel 2 misses, and Radim " never met a shot he didn't like" Vrbata had 1 miss. The line that played against them a lot had 13 shot attempts. ( Cogliano 2 on, 5 missed, Silfverberg 2 and 3, and Thompson missed 1 as well. That can't be good to their advanced stats !
Lindholm had the first great chance off of a bad change, but was denied, and then Daniel Sedin had a chance at a breakaway on a long dump, but the puck bounced on him. Both teams were "going for it", which does not always happen in divisional overtime games.
It was a shame that the game had to end as it did, although the Ducks did deserve it by their edge in play. A pinball puck after a save off of an inadvertent Tanev deflection left the goalie with no chance on the Fowler rebound chance, and the defenseman had an open net.
Some will talk of the benefit of all that rest later on, and that is true. I do know that there is no grinding of teeth from this Canuck fan after this one, all things considered. That is a very good team there, and the Canucks probably could have stolen this one. They play again in a couple of days against the Sharks, and that will be the one I might base some worry on.
The sked is still relatively light for a bit. The Canucks will have games in hand on others for a little while, making comparisons difficult, as well as making "where they are in the playoff race" prognostications almost moot.
This game was a little less intense than the first two, but just as close on the scoreboard. I do not imagine Bruce Boudreau would enjoy this matchup, if it were to come to pass in April...