The results almost do not matter. In fact, a sizable portion of the fans hereabouts would prefer losses to wins at this point.
But not the team. They have played hard, and that is a credit to the coaches and leaders on the team. Guys like the captain and his identical twin simply will not allow it, as was evidenced by Henrik's comments about how Jake Virtanen has to play as their new linemate tonight.
So, we have the hype and excitement of Nikita Tryamkin ( pronounced Tram-Kin, the Y is silent ), and the promise from the team to be active in the various free agent frenzies that are coming, starting, I think, with the NCAA "free agents" being able to sign with NHL teams. So, better times, or at least more things to talk about.
We have a team that is playing hard, and several young guys that have shown enough already to make Canuck fans, especially the older ones who have watched this team have an uneven history with the draft, smile and nod with satisfaction. Tell THAT to your cranky #CanucksTeaParty uncle the next time he starts up on the twitter machine with "Fire Benning and Willie NOW".
So, how did our Team of Tomorrow do tonight ?
Mr Everything - The Team of Tomorrow followed one of the "old warriors" tonight, that is for sure. Alexandre Burrows played like he had turned back the clock. In only 15:22, he had 2 assists, and while credited with 1 shot and 1 miss, seemed to be on the puck in the offensive zone all the time. When the penalty kill had to slog through some ( let's just call the interesting...) calls, he was there. He was on pucks all over the ice, and I will definitely forgive an innocent tripping call, even though it was in the third. Why ? Did you see the block on a 100+ mph clapper by Weber with the goalie pulled ? And then the play right after that to stop another shot? Mr Everything was doing everything tonight.
Keep on Rolling ( all four lines ) - Ice times can get skewed, but check the stats here ( thx ESPN ) , Guys like Markus Granlund ( 17:55 ) Bo Horvat ( 17:33 ) and Sven Baertschi ( 16:53 ) led the forwards, and Daniel and Henrik Sedin had about 14:25 each. The Big Country / Wonder Twins thing was a work in progress, but showed some spark as they moved along, though they were partly on the hook on one goal where both thought the other was going to take Roman Josi ( easily the Preds best player tonight ) . Dan Hamhuis was at 25:33, and was solid, but how about Ben Hutton ? The guy makes you forget he is a rookie, nevermind a freaking 5th round pick. He had 22:55 TOI, had an assist, 4 shots on net, 2 misses, and, together with his partner Luca Sbias ( 20:36, with 2 minutes on the PK, and none on the PP, where his partner had a blue line leading 3:50 on the PP. ) Keep it up Ben...
Do Fights Matter ? - I know some do not like it, but this play near the beginning did help define how this game unfolded. Jake Virtanen finished his check on Ribiero, who turned into the hit and presented his numbers a the last second. That did not draw a call ( until it did, when the refs somehow retroactively used it to give each guy 7 minutes even #gamemanagement ), but it did draw Flilip Forsberg, who decided to challenge Virtanen. He was only too happy to oblige, winning the altercation handily.
The Canucks were the better team by far in the first. In fact, the HNIC guys ( Elliotte ) alluded to the "Roxy Flu", as the Preds had three days straight in our fair city before this one. No matter. The Canucks were full marks for their 2-0 lead after the first period.
Just a "Meat and Tatters" goal. Use the speed to get over the line, and set up the shot from the point with traffic. Radim Vrbata ( had a good game too ) laid a nice flat pass for Hutton to lay into, and the play by Sven Baertschi to get position on Shea Weber and beat the big B.C native on the ricochet off the boards is pretty sweet.
The second goal was also pretty skillful too, by several people...
Check out the play at the line here by Weber at the line. A couple pokes at the puck kept it alive before his decisive ( and heady play, still in position to be able to skate with the forward out if there is a turnover at the blue line, but there to keep it in and get it to Burrows ). The shot goes just wide, and the back pass from Bo Horvat will rightly get it's share of glory, but that play by Weber made it happen.
Nashville was better in the second, and while the Canucks still were game, it was at the point of their first goal that I thought this one could be turning. Their first goal came after about three minutes of almost total play in the Canucks' end. There was a play by Sbisa at the line that might get mentioned as a "reason", but really, several guys had multiple chances on the puck. Mike Fisher finally beat Bartkowski to the spot in the slot and beat Ryan Miller ( who had just robbed Roman Josi a couple shifts before after a who bunch of fancy dangles in the offensive zone ). They were full measure for their goal to make it close again.
Credit the home team for not packing it in. Bo Horvat was robbed earlier in the game by Rinne, but it was just a greasy goal that got the two goal lead back. Burrows sprang Weber, whose hard shot forced a blocker save that went directly off the shin of the net driving Horvat. Here, see for yourself
After that, it was the ( perhaps ) controversial portion of the festivities. The Twins don't complain about divers that much, as they get accused of it themselves, and realize it happens. But the one by Ryan Ellis that drew the first call on Daniel sure had him pissed, and the second, by Ribiero on Henrik, drew back to back hooking calls, and more talking as he went to the box to feel some shame. The penalty kill was very good tonight, and killed them both off, but it was a subsequent rush by Josi that drew the confusion mentioned above to make the game a one goal affair going into the third ( again ).
The broadcast gave us all sorts of numbers tonight. Like;
- Teams are 12-4-3 the game after Justin Bieber uses their rink. 13-4-3 now. Jake Virtanen happily admitted he was " in the pit" front row for it too !
- More seriously though, Mike Johnson made sure to remind us of the 15 points lost after leading going into the third. The Canucks are last in the NHL in that regard. This was only their 13th home win of the season as well.
- My favorite number, however, is that the Predators were playing some of their best hockey going into this one. They were 9-0-5, and had not went into a game without getting some points in a month or so. Credit the home team tonight folks. This was a good win.
- Speaking of numbers, Bo Horvat, Burrows and Dorsett were a force tonight. The Canucks were outshot 37-28 ( Thank you Ryan Miller! ) but these guys had 6 shots and even more opportunities thwarted. Oh, and Bo was 13 of 22 on draws too.
- No, my favorite is the 8 scoring chances in the first period. Yowza !
The third period started out pretty good for the visitors, as Jarnkrok was stopped on a great save by Ryan Miller, and Burrows took an early ( 3:58 in ) penalty that put a dangerous power play on the ice. They pressed, before ( I am sure if you were to watch the post game from Nashville, there was some whining from Mikey on this one afterwards ), while in the corner, being checked by Hamhuis and Sbisa, he was careless with his stick. It rode up into Sbisa's face and made him taste his own blood. That is worth twice as much "shame time" in the sin bin, of course.
The Canuck power play was pretty freaking good tonight, even if they did not score on it. Going 0 for 4 is going to do nothing for it as far as the numbers go. but they were dangerous on most of the chances, and forced Rinne to be at his best.
Of course, his best was not quite good enough tonight, while Ryan Miller was integral to the win for the Canucks. He made many big saves, but it was on the four on four between power plays, after the Ribiero call, where Miller saved the game. He stopped Jahansen on a very good save before simply ROBBING James Neal on what I am sure he thought was a goal. Miller got the pad to the post just before the puck for a "highlight of the night" stop.
After that, it was all she wrote, really. Sure, there was more than 14 minutes left and Nashville had their a couple chances, but the Canucks were playing very well on their breakouts, and were defending and forechecking just like Willie wanted them to. Maybe there were some guys with Roxy Flu, maybe not, but the Canucks out skated and out hustled their opponents most of the third period before Daniels empty netter put it away in the last minutes.
Also, "shhhhhhhhhhhhh" around the players, OK guys ? Bo Horvat was talking about needing to "win out", and the guys are still mathematically in it. We know that is unlikely, but let them think it going into this busy week ( Winnipeg and Colarado midweek, before an away home back to back against the Oilers there, and the Blues here. Maybe St Louis will avail themselves of Vancouver's charms as well to even things out ? ) Either way, it is fun to watch right now. Let them dream twitter, let them dream...
Until then, here is the titular song for this night. REO Speedwagon was kind of the Nickleback of their time. Very popelar and successful, but some folks loved them and some hated them. Come to think of it, I can think of a team that has that problem too ! Anyhow, this is one of their best.... ( check out that hair, this is live, from 1985...)
You can tune a tank , but you can't tune a tank job, to paraphrase the album title...until next weekend, enjoy.