Remember the "good ol' days"? It was the end of the last decade, our heroes in Blue and Green were competing for the sacred chalice that gives each winner immortal credibility. Immortal ( Don't believe me ? Leafs fans are still living off of 1967, and the playoffs were two rounds. Hell, the footage is in black and white FFS ! ).
The Canucks paid the price for coming close and not making it all the way when they proceeded to lose in the first round three straight times, and then miss the playoffs in the worst way possible, with a rampaging egomaniac at the tiller to provide article hits and spectacle.
Mr Linden, Mr Benning, and Mr Desjardins were hired in short order, and the "rebuild", retool". "roster turnover", or whatever other phrase for a team on the other side of the curve pleases you began. Their performance is always going to be up for debate, and they knew that in this market, it is basically a job requirement to deal with regardless. There is a price to be paid for "going for it" and falling just short sometimes. That depth came at a cost, and even if the team has not drafted well, you cannot trade away picks and players forever.
Don't kid yourselves, the current empty seats were probably "baked in" to the projections of this long term plan. Just as long as they are not empty for too long. Be competitive, and hockey addiction and a desire to see "the kids" play would at least help put a few bums back in those seats anyhow.
Up until this recent spate of games, you could say the team had at least been competitive while dealing with a changing lineup that seemed to morph weekly as the injury list reached, at times it seemed, double digits. That competitiveness had to be rekindled just by the Indianhead on the other uniforms, right ? This was once, without any doubt, the best rivalry, that produced the best games to watch. Even as the Canucks have faltered, and the Hawks have soared, the games in the past couple have seasons have always been worth the price of a ticket. That is now gone, for a while anyways. We can have a beer with Hawks fans now, and laugh about it, the "good old days". At least for now. it is "let's earn their respect". Hopefully sometime soon, it "#$%@ those guys" again.
It does not look like the team that Toews, Kane, Keith et al are used to seeing. They probably had to read the nameplates more often. Or, maybe not. They are 1-1 against each other this year, and, like I said, the Canucks ALWAYS play the Hawks hard.
- Well, Yes. The Canucks were full marks for their effort in tonight's game. After the embarrassment of the Blues game, and the result, you could not say that this evening. The team played hard. They skated with, and played the Hawks pretty much even in the first fifteen minutes of the opening period. They hit everything that moved ( 10-2 in the first, 19-5 on the night ) that they could catch up to, and they were full marks for their "give a #$@!" on the night...
- And, No. Good teams play hard all the time, but the great ones do that AND find that other gear in the last five minutes of periods and games. Consider.that the Canucks were at a 7-5 deficit on the shot clock with 5:53 left. After that final TV timeout of the period, they just put it into another gear. The shots ended up 13-7 in the period. The first goal was a perfect example. They throw it around so well, and Thomas Fleischmann finds the soft spot in the slot so well. Entirely too many people covering ice and not people there as well, but, again, the Hawks know how to execute the plays when they need them. That is what confident teams used to winning just do.
- The Canucks may have deserved a bit more out of that period, but you do have to marvel at how a really good team and players can always play well, and then kick it up that extra notch.
- Credit the Canucks in the second as well. They were outshot 9-6 in this period as well, and had to kill an early Henrik Sedin hooking call. ( That play was a great example of embellishment that is not diving, at least depending on your POV. It was a hook, the stick was on the hands, briefly, going around the net. But Jonathan Toews is a big strong guy, and he crumbled like paper mache in a rain storm. Hank was right to be miffed, but JT will rarely get called for that Henrik. Sorry man )
- A bit of a quandary here. I know a few folks here are not Burrows fans anymore, if they ever were, but how can you not love the man's game again tonight ? He scored a great goal a little over halfway through the game to knot it up, on a skilled play in the slot.
He made a line of himself,, Higgins and Jared McCann dangerous. He finished with a team high 4 shots, and a goal. It seemed all four were great chances, ( he had a great chance just before the winning goal in the 3rd as well ) and he was all over the ice. Take heart anyways guys. The season is almost over, and then you may not have him around anymore anyhow. Apologies for the gushing, but even #CanuckTeaParty folks that watched this game would have to agree he was the team's best player tonight. ( Ron MacLean repeated the "1000 NHL games" line tonight again, even though his stats say no. Wish they would "show their work... " ;-)
- How'd the "future" guys do in a game against the Cup Champs ? Well, Virtanen had a great chance right after Burr's goal to make it a lead, right after Burrows had sent Gaunce free for a chance, and finished with 3 shots, 1 miss, 2 blocks, and a team leading 4 hits in 11:19 TOI. Nikita Tryamkin got some time on the PP in front, had a decent game, and had 3 of his 5 shot attempts hit net. In addition, he had 2 blocks and 3 hits, and once again went 20 min + ( 21:01 ) Ben Hutton had 2 shots, 2 blocks, and a team leading 22:51 TOI, and was rishing the puck out of trouble all night. McCann had some moments, and will only be better as he matures physically. I watched Brendan Gaunce closelty, and in addition to his 2 shots, he was making smart plays all over the ice. There was one shift where he kept the puck away from Keith, and then big Svedberg twice on one sequence of pressure, both with skilled little plays off the net and boards to himself. All of them acquitted themselves pretty well tonight. (see the stats all here, thx ESPN )
- The Canucks did handle the late period push better in the second, although that bugaboo came back again in the third. Initially, it was just that damned skill of this particular opponent. Patrick Kane "poaches", and as a leading scorer in the league, he is damned good at it. But this time, it was a case of him missing that long pass, and still being so freaking dangerous, making a particularly nice cross seam pass to van Reimsdyk jumping up skillfully. He, in turn, made a perfect touch pass that left Teravainen a tap in to make it a 2-1 lead 5+ minutes in.
- Once again, the locals did not slump or give in, the pushed back. First they got a chance on the power play, as Toews high sticked Biega, and it was a double minor to boot. It had it's moments, and a couple shots, but even though I liked Tryamkin in front on the second unit, I have to say I did not like the execution of a power play that has now gone 1 for the last 30 games.
- I did like the tying goal when it comes to effort.
Emerson Etem is another guy that has gotten some stick around here, and he does have to produce better. But he busted up the ice like a champ on this one, and fed the front on the backhand. It went right by Horvat, and Sven Baertschi was free to slam it home. The hard work on this one was indicative of the team and it's effort tonight.
- Unfortunately, they were playing the Hawks. With the game tied, and the Canucks coming on, the Hawks broke up a rush in their own zone when Andrew Ladd kicked it up to Toews. As JT held up the puck ( and with plenty of guys back, this was not an odd manned play ), Toews made a strong play holding the puck inside the line, and then fed Ladd coming up late. None of the Canucks found him in time to check him, and he was able to walk right into the shot and beat Miler.
- After that, it was just a matter of the Hawks shutting down the late period push, and they did that pretty well. Bartkowski made a couple head scratching plays, one on a pass, another on a rush up ice where he simply ignored he had teammates and gave the puck up. Both those plays helped the visitors kill off time to neuter any late rush chances. It ended with a whimper...
So, good for #TankNation, right ? Well, yes, I guess. The Oilers know how to do this so well, and the Leafs are making that late rush out of the cellar again. so who knows ? I do know the Oilers have 4 less games to play than our boys, even though they are tied, just above Leafs. But, like the Oilers have shown us, you can win the lottery sometimes too. Either way, a Top 3 pick awaits folks. Does that help ?
No ? Yeah, me neither, losing sucks. How does Edmonton manage ?