OK, they have another home game against the Wild on Tuesday before heading to The Empire State, but that is after going for a quick jaunt over the Rockies to meet the Flames tomorrow night. It must feel like one long grind. When you add them all up, it is like a ten game road trip. ( Sked at the mothership here )
Officially though, it is a five game road trip. hitting all the New York teams over four nights before finishing with tonight's opponent, and our bottom dwelling expansion cousins in Buffalo.
All of that is what lays ahead. Tonight, it is the Bruins. Yes, we all remember 2011. But that was a few seasons ago now. This particular incarnation of the Bruins features some of the same cast of characters, but they are fighting for pojnts at around the East playoff line. Just like what seems to be most of the NHL right now. The Canucks needed a game that could get them out of the win one, lose one pattern that will keep a team in the battle for 8th. ( Standings here ). Wouldn't be nice to get the two points and know it is two the Big Bad Bruins desperately need right now as well ? The Canucks certainly competed like that tonight.
They sure came out with a good start. After a Burrows shot was denied by shoulder and post, the Horvat line had a good shift, and then Kassian and Matthias who found themselves with space and only one defenseman back on the change for the Bruins.
He was unable to do much but watch as Zack Kassian made a pretty saucer pass to Matthias for the tap in past the sprawling Rask.
The Bruins has some token pressure, but then their goaltender and Dougie Hamilton got their signals crossed. The young defender made a prefect pass to Shawn Matthias, who outwaited the scrambling goaltender and the rugby scrum in front and deposited the gift into the empty net for a 2-0 lead that had Rogers Arena energized.
The Bruins got a golden chance to cut into the lead when Vey turned it over along the boards, but the point shot went off of him and then the crossbar, before Hamilton was denied at the side of the net on the bouncing puck. Soon after, on another Sedin Cycle shift, Bergeron got his stick in Henrik's skates to give the Canucks the first power play. It was the second unit ( no Bo, who was there in practice today ). They were not able to cash it in, and left 1:06 for the Sedin unit.
They got set up and had some good chances, but after the penalty ended, Edler made a bad read, and Bergeron was able to beat him at the line. Miller made the first save on him, but the Bergeron was able to get the rebound past him ( possibly off of Tanev as well ) to make it 2-1 and "game on". It has been a hallmark of this team. They poured on the pressure.
It was on more of that pressure that Campbell was careless with his stick. Henrik Sedin just avoided major injury when the Bruin got his stick under his visor. The double minor that followed saw Bo Horvat replace his captain, and they threw it around, before Daniel set up a beautiful Burrows tip that went underside of crossbar and out instead of in. The Bruin PK was stout, with the best chance coming for Kassian at the death of it. Chara then tried his "I'm bigger than you" routine with Kassian, who was having none of it. ( personally, I think that is just Big Z' pouting when he gets beat, like Kassian did at the line on this occasion )
A puck battle led to an awkward Hamhuis hit, and the suddenly less than stellar ( but still 5th ) PK had to get to work. The Boston team was able to get a couple of shots, but the PK solidified and killed the rest of the penalty off confidently, and we ended an entertaining first period with a 2-1 Canuck lead.
The second started out just as entertaining, as Pastrnak got a chance off a turnover, but shot it wide, and a hansen almost breakaway forced Rask to ramble out of the net. He got back in just enough to get a piece of the Horvat shot that could have easily made it 3-1.
After getting outshot 10-7 in the first, the home team came out much stronger. Three and a half minutes in, it was 8-0 on the second period shot clock.
The Bruins finally got a decent chance about 6:30 in, but Miller was strong on the in close shot, before the Canucks went back to the pressure and zone time advantage. All four lines were having zone time and taking shots. They just kept working. It was finally Radim Vrbata who was able to cash in on all the pressure with a candidate for goal of the year.
The shift after the goal, it was Bo and Co, and they were suddenly the ones hitting the always aggressive Bostonians. The game''s entertainment meter just kept going up. Consider just this one sequence ; Stanton lines up Lucic, breaking out after prolonged pressure for the home team. Milan dumps it past, and almost beheads Sbisa ( OK, just knocked his helmet off ). That led to the best chances of the period for the visitors, before Vrbata was set up so beautifully on a 3-2 it seems a shame that he was robbed of another pretty goal. All that was in about 90 seconds !
Bo & Co ( tonight, with Dorsett running with Matthias and Kassian, the Co was Kenins and Hansen ) had one shift with around 3-4 minutes left that was so damn awesome, it just has to be pointed out. I am not sure they were even credited with a shot, but both Kenins and Horvat got hits on Chara, and both also stole the puck from him on a shift that was a perfect example of how much one team was "going" than the other.
The only bad thing about this period was only scoring one goal on it. Check out the Corsi chart at hockeystats.ca. A 12-4 edge in shots powered them to a well deserved lead with twenty minutes to go.
A team like Boston is going to give it their all at some point, and the Bruins started the third like they probably wanted to start the game, with a lot of pressure. Burrows and Kenins both had good shots against that pressure, but it was the home team that had to respond on defense.
It almost didn't matter, as a Marchand hoist at the net from the blue line went off Tanev and the post. Soon after, luck didn't matter, as the hardworking Bruins kept a puck in, and a Kelly shot went off of Stanton's pad on the attempted block and in. Suddenly it was a one goal game.
For just a second. Willie Desjardins put the Matthias line out, and great pressure from Dorsett forced a bad turnover from Siedenberg, right to Kassian, who set up Matthias for his first hat trick in the NHL. A great response, after all that pressure. With the hats raining down, and the rink electric again, this was a big goal.
It was even more important after Dan Hamhuis was given a penalty for in his own end for a swing and a miss at a puck that hit a Bruin instead. The PK was excellent, and the power play really should have been on the ice soon after, as Burrows was hogtied at the blue line on a rush without a call. The home team just shrugged it off, and with the crowd chanting ( the arena was abuzz tonight. I like these "rivalry" games. Gets folks out of their seats ! ), got back to pushing the play again. Bo Horvat was denied on an especially nice looking move in the slot, but it was all the lines that were getting back to how they were playing earlier against the resurgent Bruins.
The Bruins were carrying the play more in the third, don't get me wrong. But the Canucks were defending very well After a mystifying call to give the Bruins another power play ( actually not that mystifying, The Chairman's team often gets calls like that in their favour ), one that was promptly shut down by a perfect three for three penalty kill. The Canucks basically ground the game down the rest of the way...
The goaltender was pulled with over 2:00 minutes left, and Jannik Hansen promptly closed the scoring out with a confident attempt from over 150" away. Right in the centre of the net.
Numbers and Stuff
#27 - Three goals, and he has singlehandedly found Zack Kassian a home. The Bruins had no answer for the line they formed with Derek Dorsett. Three goals on three shots. Kassian had two assists, Dorsett had one, and all three were a +3. ( all your regular stats here ) All three guys can skate, hit, and have some size. Screw the numbering of the lines. All I know is this line's size and strength was once again too much for an opponent.
2 - Well, I guess we could call them the "second" line. Ice time in Whitebaord Willie's world seems to be something that goes up and down a little bit, but where everyone stays close to the mean. They days of a first line getting five more minutes than anyone else are behind us in Vancouver. Whatever. Radim Vrbata, Linden Vey, and Chris Higgins were all over the ice tonight. Higgy had an assist and took 4 shots. VrSniper had a pretty goal, and took 7 shots, with 4 forcing the save. On a night where most the players were slightly under even as far as 5 on 5 Corsi went, they were the only line where everyone was even of better. With all the lines playing well, this is a team that should scare folks.
30 / 49 - Even when you are losing two of every three draws ( Patrice Bergeron won 12 of 16 draws ), and can still have a win where it looks like you are carrying the play for a lot of it, it is a dicey proposition to lose that many draws. How long is Brad Richardson out again ?
23 -19 - The Bruins outhit the Canucks by that much on the night, but this was a game where there was little physical intimidation that derived from it. I man, come on. Our first rounder was running the 6'9" captain.
8 - I love everyone on whatever 4th line Bo Horvat leads, but the more I see of Ronalds "Call Me Ronnie" Kenins, the more I like him. He had 8 hits in 11:10 TOI, while playing a strong 200' game. Keep him around Canucks !
Next up is the Flames tomorrow. They probably think they have a tired team coming in, and maybe, who knows ? A four line team can certainly override some of that. Another big game tomorrow.
Happy Hockey Day in Canada ;-)