There was a time when this was the best rivalry in the NHL. The Canucks still get enthused to play the Hawks, and they are usually always entertaining games, but a rivalry is when both teams are good. These teams are on different points on their paths since that rivalry of years gone by. Maybe it can be a rivalry again soon ?
The same characters are still around. Duncan Kieth still gets booed for touching the puck. Patrick Kane is still really good, and Toews is, well, Toews. But the real star of this team is Stan Bowman, who seems to get rid of players after winning with them ( at a profit, almost always ), and replenishing the ranks with new entry level performers that can perform. Mind you, that is an easier task playing on a really good team. But it is still impressive.
The Canucks are not that team from 2011. They have some vestiges of it, and are looking to build back that way. But they always give the Hawks a game. This time, they played the game they had to for the first two periods. Unfortunately, they play three periods. After maybe their best second period of the season, the Canucks turned in one of their worst in the final frame. Blame them a little less though folks. That was a pretty awesome display of hockey by the Hawks in the final frame by the team from Chicago. Hopefully the youngsters learned from that experience.
The game actually got off to a cautious start, as both teams were probing and trying to get pressure, but were being rebuffed by good structure at both ends. Panarin got the first good chance, but was denied by Markstrom, and after all four lines were doing noticeable things against one of the league's top teams. they drew the first power play of the game, as Roszival hooked Jayson Megna ( in for Derek Dorsett, who picked up a "knock" in the last game ).
The second unit got on with about 1:20 left, and looked pretty good, holding the puck along the boards, and getting it to Sven Baertschi at the point. His shot was saved, but Loui Eriksson was on the doorstep, doing what he does best, and spun a backhand into the net for the opening goal. It was just the third time this year the Canucks had a player get his name on the scoresheet before their opponent. And it was on the power play. By the second unit. Bonus !
The Hawks had a couple chances, and the Canucks had a couple, but the period ended with the Canucks in the lead. For the first time this year. The shots were 10-7 for the home team, and they split the faceoffs 10-10, with the Canucks holding an edge in blocks at 6-5. The Hawks had a 5-3 edge in hits, but you had to be pleased if you were in the house ( well, unless you were one of a healthy contingent of Black Hawk fans in The Fog' tonight ).
The Hawks started the second quickly, and forced the Twins into a shift of about 80 seconds with the long change in the middle period, but they stood up well, and got it going the other way. Ben Hutton caught a bit of a break, pinching and in way too deep. He drove the net, but the puck went off the goalie and right to a Hawk going the other way. It looked like a 4 on 2 or worse was forming, but the net got knocked off to get him off the hook.
The Canucks started coming on themselves after that. A Megna rush was denied by a possible hook by Seabrook, but after all four lines had shifts in the offensive zone for most of their time on the ice, Kruger finally took an interference call off of a face off win by Chaput to draw another power play for the home team. Once again, after the first unit got denied initially, Willie put out the second unit with plenty of time. They got a shot, and had a couple more attempts blocked or denied by good sticks. Still, that is another promising development. The first unit got set up, and were decent at times tonight. But the second unit chipping in is called "secondary scoring".
The Canucks got another, at the time, "break" soon after, when Toews got on a loose puck and had a breakaway from the blue line in. He had Markstrom sprawling, but hit the post instead of the open net. Not too long after that, the Canucks were simply robbed of a power play by shoddy riffing when Hutton was tripped at his own line. The refs then compounded their shoddiness when Michael Chaput was given a penalty for "hooking" Panarin when all he did was a perfect stick lift at the line.
That seemed to piss off the penalty kill, however. They were all over the power play for most the time, and battled the puck everywhere. Burrows made a check at the line, sprung Bo Horvat, and he made no mistake on the power rush, with a nice goal replete with head fakes and stick jukes that the goalie had little chance on. A very nice goal.
Darling did have a chance on the next shot against, but he misread a Sutter shot off of a Henrik Sedin backhand saucer pass, and it knuckled over his shoulder for the third goal at 18:27, just 1:24 after the second one. Rogers Arena was loud, and it looked like the Canucks were going to have a "statement win". They were outplaying the Hawks after two periods, with the shots 9-4 ( and I think a couple of those came late ! They really held a good team in check in this period ), the blocks were 10-9, and while the faceoffs were 21-17 for the visitors at this point ( Henrik Sedin was 0-5 after two, but Chaput was 6-5, and was winning draws in his own end after icings and late. ), and the hits 12-9, competitively, the Canucks were right there.
And then the third period happened. Perhaps it does not become an avalanche if the Canucks did not take an early penalty against, to get that offensive juggernaut warmed up. They had it going early, but the penalty was killed off. However, it was just delaying the inevitable.
Honestly, I think that first goal of the four the Hawks scored from this point forward was the nicest. The Canucks were laying off too much, and Kane and Panarin decided to do a standing give and go from opposite faceoff circles. Panarin to Kane, back to Panarin to get Markstrom moving in the net, and then the laser one timer on the second pass. It was well executed, and a harbinger of what was to come.
Credit the Canucks for one thing in the third. They worked hard in their own end. The problem was, they spent far, far too much time there, and the Hawks are simply too talented to give them that much zone time. That was apparent when another of those entry level darlings, Vincent Hinostroza came off the wing, made an audacious toe drag into the scoring area in front, and then shot it off off Markstrom. The goalie briefly lost sight of where the rebound went, and that was all Cousin Vinny needed, pouncing on his own rebound for the second goal. Two goals in 1:13 was giving almost everyone watching the "uh ohs" I am sure.
It was all Hawks after that. From those two goals, they just kept coming in waves over the blue line. The structure that was working so well earlier was getting shredded under continual overuse. It is not so much structure as reacting at that point anyhow. Shots are blocked, pass tipped, and through it all the talented team is just pushing and pushing. It is hard to have any structure at that point. It was not ALL in that one end of the ice, but man, there was a lot of time spent in front of Markstrom.
So, perhaps it was inevitable when a rookie got a rookie call 12:56 in, as Megna was given penalty for hooking. The power play that followed was intense and almost all in the offensive zone, but it was killed off. Unfortunately, Alexander Edler chose the worst time to have a shitty defensive play at the line. Panik may or may not have submarined him, just a little, ( more like he stood in well and Edler fell over him ) but it was a horrible play on the body instead of the puck at the line. Edler fell, the Hawks burst in from the line, and Hartmann was the recipient of the pass to the guy coming late ( a play the team from the Madhouse on Madison have perfected ) that the Hawks love, scoring the tying goal with about four minutes to go.
Both teams paused a bit the rest of the way, and while the Canucks had to feel like this was a letdown, as they were overwhelmed and lost a point they should not have. Even worse, it reinforced the narratives the HNIC guys love to build. Your Canucks are still a couple wins or so out of a playoff spot, and one or so more out of the top of the division ( or they were before this one, there was a lot of games tonight ). But the folks at the national broadcaster are sticking to their predictions instead. You can't really blame them. The Canucks had not led after one until tonight, and are last in the NHL in time leading any games at all. But the team in Blue and Green is playing better of late.
It did not last long. ( well, it did, 4:04, and the Canucks actually had 5 shots to 4 for the winners. They just did not look really dangerous ) Hossa got a chance on a rush into the zone. Hinostroza made a Kane like button hook, and the Canucks simply did not play it well. It is at the end of the highlights right below A lousy way to lose a game, but a learning experience as well. You have to play hard against the best teams for all sixty minutes, not just a portion of that time.
The final stats are right here, but maybe just scroll by that 17-3 edge in shots for the Indianhead sweater wearers in the final frame. It skews the numbers a bit. Actually the shots at 32-27 flattered the Canucks. Or it felt that way after such a period. The Canucks actually finished on top hits wise, as the Hawks were too busy with the puck to hit, and the final tally there became 13-12 for the home team. The faceoffs ended up 32-27 for the Chicageans, ( -ites ? -ers ? ), with Hank finally winning one to go 1 for 6, while Chaput was the only one over .500 at 7 of 13. The Canucks blocked a ton of shots in the last period and O/T, as they led that stat 20-11 at the end ( Hutton and Sbisa each led with 4 ).
All in all, the Canucks would have taken a point out of this one if they were asked, and 2-1-1 on this homestand is still OK. But they really had a chance to make a statement. Almost eh ?
We'll get 'em next time boys.