You have to be impressed by the effort and result, even if you are a die hard member of #TankNation . First, Chris Higgins left this game in the second, as did Linden Vey, and once again the opening lineup and lines that practiced were not the lines that finished. Nevermind that they were already playing with seven defenseman, with Andrey Pedan playing up front. Such is life as a Canuck fan this season, as a couple more regulars hit the injury list...
The great thing about all of that in this game ? The Canucks got stronger when they went down a couple of guys. Although almost ten minutes of the start of this one was missed by hockey fans because the Blue Jays were in Montreal ( seriously Sportsnet, you have a ton of channels, and you could not give us the start of a hockey game because of PRESEASON baseball ? I like the Blue Jays too, but this is the third year for that series. #IMeanCaman ). Supposedly, the Ducks were all over the Canucks. We joined the game at 1-0 for the home team, which was around the time the Canucks started to push back.
You can see it right here, along with the rest of the highlights. Turns out they had the cameras on the whole time !
- It got a little scrambley, and the Ducks cashed it in after hitting the post. It was a start that made you, in a season like this, sigh and go "Again? Damn, Auston Mathews better be good, losing sucks". The Ducks hit a post, and the goaltender had no chance at that point, but I will be the first to admit that I was not that enthusiastic once we got to watch hockey instead of baseball. It is a script we have seen play out before this year.
- A funny thing happened though. Perhaps it was the fact that the refs were already in post season form, and they were not calling things all over the ice all night. The Ducks tried They got one measley power play all night, and yes, they were diving to get more on a few occasions, but the Canucks were also lucky on a couple too. In particular, a Hamhuis high stick on Perry at while on that lone power play. The # 1 power play in the NHL was stymied, but a two man disadvantage might have been too much to kill off at that time.
- I am not going to embed a bunch of tweets of it all, as, honestly, I only read a few, and you all know where twitter is, but it seems #teamtank / #tanknation are a little disappointed with the results tonight. I get that. It is 11.5% versus the current 9.5% chance at Auston Mathews the Canucks currently hold. After a home ice tilt against the Kings on Monday, there is the last three against the Oilers, Flames, and then my last recap of the year against the Oilers at home to close it out. Those games will decide the draft order. I've stated it before, because it is just a truism, but players don't even think of this shit like fans do. No one goes into a game they are paid to play actively looking to lose. Only one those last three games is at home, and the Alberta teams have fans that paid to see a win too. So take heart Tank Nation. ( Besides, the Sabres did everything short of dressing their mascot, if they even have one, in net to get to the bottom, and they still missed out on McDavid. ) Don't the Puck Gods owe us after 1970 anyhow ?( No offense to Dale Tallon. ) The point is, just enjoy the win, or even the loss if that is your thing. Let the ping pong balls fall the way they will, and live with that. They are going to get a great player either way.
- A dive into the stats, ( thx ESPN ) because they show how this one went pretty clearly. The 'Nucks were actually the team that was outshooting the other, as they went 9-8 in the first, and a 13-8 second period, they were up 22-16. Of course, one team is going to the playoffs, and one is not, and the third was the Jacob Markstrom show, as he withstood a barrage of 20 shots. They got one by him, on another play where he had little chance after making the original save, with traffic all over the place. That 20-6 edge made the total 36-28 for the home team. But before that third period, I don't think anyone had the numbers looking like that, given the relative records of these two teams.
- Perhaps it had something to do with the loss of Higgins and Vey, and Pedan only seeing the ice for one shift in the third ( 7 shifts, 5:01 ), perhaps not. The Ducks have a few guys out too, and shortened their bench as they pushed in the third too. I choose to be not only heartened by the win, but the way they did it. Willie basically kept ( mostly ) the top two lines together, and shifted other guys through with McCann and Burrows, though I think Gaunce had a shift or two in there at centre as well. With a lineup in flux, against a team with something to play for, they didn't crumble when they gave up a third period lead, and scored two goals in 2:21 to take the points. Sure, some of us don't want the points, but that was a good win, right ?
These Guys Stood Out
- Nikita Tryamkin . He had a shot, and a miss, but it was so much more than that. He continues to show more confidence and talent with the puck. Whether it was stepping in with that long reach to keep a play alive, or making a deft play to clear danger, he was solid defensively, and gaining confidence offensively, most of the night. In his 14:30 TOI, he had 5 hits. Most were big ones, and there were a couple more where Ducks ( one time with Kesler ) tried to hit him, and bounced off, and yet another that was not credited as a hit, where he hit Brandon Pirri at the whistle on an offside. Pirri did not return, and the Ducks were pissed about it ( Tryamkin and Stewart took offsetting minors ) , but what are they going to do ? I like having a game changer of his size back there. So much room to grow, but he has shown a lot already. Imagine after a full training camp and an offseason of training NHL style !
- Another guy that kicked some ass, literally, was Alex Biega. He had an assist on the winning goal, was a +2 and had 6 hits. He had a very solid 19:29 TOI. That 6 hits was a game high, and he is one of the smaller guys on the ice.
- Jared McCann had 5 shots, and a very solid game. Emerson Etem scored the winning goal against a former team that drafted him, and Chris Higgins had 4 shots before he left in the 2nd. But the man, literally, was Bo Horvat. His goal to tie the game was all power and some style with a five hole goal. He had an assist on the winner, and 2 blocks to go with his 2 shots. Oh yeah, he won two thirds of his 15 draws. He was dangerous, strong on the puck, and a general pain to play against for his 16:32 TOI. Forget that "green jacket" talk, the plus minus number is what it is. He is playing some really good hockey right now.
- A stick tap to the guys getting torched in the circle, as their apprenticeship in the NHL continues. Everyone goes through it, but Brendan Gaunce only won 1 of his 6 draws, and Markus Granlund only came out on the good side 4 times on 15 attempts. Gaunce had 3 shots ( one so hard off the goalie's mask he was temporarily stunned, as the ref blew the whistle for him ) and Granlund had 2 hits and was a 200' player.
- Saving the best for last, Jacob Markstrom was the difference for his team. So many big saves, from the stylish glove saves on labelled Getzlaf bombs, to stretching and swimming in the crease, never giving up on a play to keep it out as the Ducks pressured. There were a couple times where the ref could have blown it down quicker, as he was trying to cover the puck in what looked like a rugby scrum, but he, shall we say, used his size effectively. He had a little help ( one sequence where Kesler hit the crossbar with plenty of net there, and Daniel Sedin made a great play to prevent the shot on the rebound in particular ) on a play or two, but really stood tall in the third. Did you see that stat where, at a point in the third, he and Ryan Miller had identical stats ? Miller had more games, but identical 2.63 GAA's and .917 save % 's, considering this season in front of them, has proven goalte4nding is not a problem going forward. Especially if Thatcher Demko signs as anticipated this offseason.
If you like your hockey hard working and your victories earned, this was a game for you. Everyone grabbing the rope and pulling together, everyone contributing in some way, and overcoming adversity together is always an enjoyable thing to watch. If you were hoping for a loss to give us a couple extra percentage points of a chance at a draft pick, well, just remember, the Puck Gods frown on these things. At least I hope they do. No way the Oilers deserve to pick first again.
See you next Saturday.