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A "Building a Wall" Game Recap ( 2-1 W s/o )

The folks out in Long Island can still take a train to see their team, and Nassau was a dump anyhow, so this particular move of an NHL team was pretty seamless. Plus, the Isles are the "hipster" team now, right ?

Perhaps Tavares coming out for the first star while putting in his moustache wax on.  Or drinking his Powerade out of a mason jar.  Maybe Mr Snow beaming at the latest announcement of new food options like kale salads and free range chicken and brown rice in the Barclay Center concourses.

It is a young and exciting team in the borough of Brooklyn.  I am sure the hipsters love it, and those new black themed unis are sharp. They wore them for this afternoon tilt at the Barclay Center.  The hipster community was even treated to an entertaining game of hockey today.  Too bad they would be disappointed by a Vancouver goalie who seemingly built a brick wall over the opposing net !


The Canucks came out pretty strong in this one, as Horvat had a decent chance on the opening shift, and the lines ran through their first shifts pretty well.  The Islanders' first chance was a Tavares post, and then they came on after that.  Edler missed from the slot on a perfect drop pass from Vbata as well, but really, this game changed at the 18:16 mark of the first.  The home team was getting more of the shots and the play, but it was not a totally one sided game at the moment, when Michael Grabovski decided that perhaps he might give himself a little mini break in the season. ( I know we don't have the best record predicting the Dept of Player Safety actions out here, but that looked pretty cut and dried as far as suspendible hits go.

It was stupid.  It was a player looking at the numbers two feet from the boards, and deciding that checking Henrik Sedin into them right in front of his own bench was a good way to go.  It started the usual debate on Twitter about the "proper response" ( I don't litter the recap with other people's tweets, but here is a good example of the debate ), but I thought Bartkowski and Hansen going immediately to the offender and trying to pummel him satisfied the "code" here.

The major was partially offset by Bartkowski's penance, and a high stick from McCann that started a rest of the game rage amongst the home team ( it was on Tavares. { Edit: McCann  stick on JT was high and hard, in response to Tavares putting his stick into the kid's abdomen, according to post game reports }  They knew Grabowski did something stupid, and were sensitive to "what might happen" when they responded there ) made most of the PP moot anyhow.  Suddenly, a game against a Metropolitan opponent you really see was going to have some feeling.  Henrik Sedin left the game and did not return with an upper body injury, BTW.

1st period digits;

The Canucks were outshot 11-5 ( attempts it was 16 to 8 ), but did win 9 of 16 draws.  Henrik was 4 for 5 to power that in the first.  Luca Sbisa was rambunctious in his return, with 4 of his team's 9 hits after one.  Miller was awesome as well.  His 11 saves ( and he showed that he would be on his game right away with outstanding rebound control ) were ones where he looked strong, and barely needed to move. ( ESPN game stats )


The period began with some four on four, and a power play ( of sorts, the Canuck PP only had spurts of decent, going 0 for 4.  They can be excused though, as the maestro of the side boards was out, throwing all the lines and units into disarray.  { edit: it appeared the trainer was working on his ribs, and he may not play in the final three games of the trip, though he said after the game his absence would be "days not weeks". } that was nothing to write home about.  Derek Dorsett took a message sending penalty, skating right through Tavares off of the faceoff with a high hit that was called roughing, but the Canucks killed that with their best penalty killer, Ryan Miller, playing great.  He showed very little unneeded movement in the crease today, and his rebound control was superb.

The first goal of the game came off of some solid Canuck pressure, as a Daniel Sedin pass to the front off of some sustained pressure came to Iceman Jr, and Ben Hutton ripped it high and hard for his first NHL tally that had the entire team smiling as big as the always happy rookie.

The visitors had a chance to extend, but Baetschi was robbed by Halak on a quick shot that surprised the Isle goalie.  Jared McCann had a couple solid chances playing with the remnants of the first line that were denied.  The other way, Miller stood tall on a Tavares attempt to crash the crease, and then Strome took a silly call at the line on McCann ( more Isles "guilt "( #lol ) on Henrik injury play made the McCann high stick soon after get blown way out of proportion.  Strome was trying to run the rookie all game, and took this stupid call as a result as well ) .

The Islanders play a high pressure PK, and they did it well today, but the power play without Henrik once again struggled a bit, but the Horvat, Vrbata and Baertschi line got a couple solid chances as they went to five on five, but Halak was strong in response, and then the Canucks withstood some late pressure to get to the second period end 1-0.

2nd period stats; The shots were 24-17 after two, and the Canucks were still ahead on draws 23-21, with Vey picking up the slack, going 7 of 12 to that point.  The hits were 21-13 by then, but I have reached the conclusion the Isle's hit guy is winging it a bit.  Sbisa was frisky, but his number looked about one high, and I only say half of the Clutterbuck 4 after forty minutes


The Ryan Miller Period.  A classic example of a goaltender stealing points.  The visitors were outshot 22 to 4 in the final period.  Consider that the Isles had tallied 3 missed shots after two periods, and ended the third with 28 missed shots.  The Canuck blocks went from 9 after two to 18 after three.  Without the goalie playing lights out, well the result is simply different.

Put it this way.  They took a lot of shots.  Some of them were good shots, although the Canucks did a good job of keeping them to the outside and clearing lanes to let their hot goalie see the puck.  A Jared McCann attempt to clear ( and he had more time than he thought he did ) at the 4:44 minute mark gave the Islanders a power play, and they withstood that barrage well.  McCann had the first of his ( unsuccessful ) three breakaways in the third period out of the box after the kill.  Miller was still smothering rebounds expertly as well.  He made an amazing leg save, and then an even better save on Kyle Okposo around the 5:30 mark.

The home team dominance was almost unabated, but a great shift from the Burrows, Vey and Etem line chewed up an entire minute and got a couple attempts at net late that forced Halak to work.  Miller robbed Okposo with the glove again, but after a time out, with just about a minute left, a hard wrister with traffic by Strome beat Miller high glove.  He did not see it, and it was a perfect example of the game of hockey being a game of inches ( Burrows was just late getting to Sbisa ring around boards on a face off win gave the Isles' the puck at the line), and they executed well to tie the game.

O/T and shootout

The Canucks carried the play and had the best chances in the three on three, outshooting their hosts 5 to 2 with the extra ice.  The best shot for the hipster team was a DeHahn shot on a 2 on 1 that went wide ( I think he shot wide on good chances 3 or 4 times today ), but neither team could cash in, so we went to the skills competition.

Neilson - In slow, stickhandled puck to death and was poke checked.

Burrows - Serpentine entry did not move Halak enough, and he stopped shot with glove as a result.

Okposo - Tried to surprise Miller five hole, but he "just" squeezed his legs together enough to prevent the puck trickling in.

Vrbata - I think Burrows should go back to his backhand move.  Consider the success Vrbata has with the same move on the other side.  He went deke and backhand for the only goal of the shootout.

Tavares - Because Johnny tried the "fast  / slow..." entry, and Miller matched his pace perfectly before forcing the wide shot.

Final numbers; The visitors came back on the hit count to only trail 29-26 at the end. Sbisa had 5, Burrows 4, and Bartkowski, Edler and Hansen all had 3.  Even if the guy is quick on the trigger finger for the Isles, they responded well to the physical play today.  The draws ended 36 to 33 for the home team, but even though Bo ( who took an incredible 29 draws ) only went 11 for 18, he was strong all over the ice tonight.  Linden Vey had a great game as well, winning 10 of 18 draws, while playing 15:47 with a variety of linemates.  The real star as far as the digits go today ? Jared McCann played 16:57 and had 4 of 5 shots on net.  He had an assist on the Hutton goal, and went 7 of 16 on draws.  I'll forgive the two penalties.  One was a mistake on my least fave rule ever, and the other one was just part of the run of play when all the BS broke out...

This was an entertaining game, and was not without cost, as losing the captain is a high price to pay.  But I thought the team responded well, and adapted as best as they could to losing their # 1 centre.  It looked like he was uncomfortable in the chest, collarbone area, and that could be serious.  Happy thoughts for the him to return soon.  McCann and Horvat both deserve praise for how they played with the extra ice, and if the team can get through the next couple ( Rangers and Bruins, both tough on the road ) until Brandon Sutter ( hopefully, that is the target ) can return at the end of the trip versus the Penguins, what was thought a trip of death might not look so bad.

Until then...