With a bang or a whimper ? Well, third or fourth depended on the Blue Jackets, and they managed to come back from 3-0 to win 5-4 in O/T against the Hawks of all people. So, the result of this last game at home did not really matter one way or the other. There are two teams that have dominated the losing table this year. The Oilers and Leafs. With any point in this game, the Oilers would hand the the most ping pong balls to the Leafs. Come to think of it, with a loss, the Leafs got there anyhow already, as the McDavids have more ROW's.
Like I said, they know how to do it these guys. #TeamTank #TankNation never had a chance against such long term "losing" teams. Take the Bronze ( unless we get lucky and win the lotto ) and one of the Big Time Finns, and look for that stud defenseman another way. No way our man SuperScout trades down, right ? ( oops, sorry, last rosterbation in the game recap tonight, I promise ) The other thing ? The Canucks went down kicking and screaming this year, especially their leaders, who HATED losing, and who mocked #TeamTank last week. Culture means something folks. The Leafs at least seem to be changing theirs with Babcock and Shanny. The Canucks at least tried to keep theirs this year in the face of losing. Not sure about the Oilers and their culture anymore though, no matter how long that seemingly endless Northlands thing was. Those days can't just magically return because The Great One poses for a picture with The Next One, you know ?
It is funny. I have a co worker who I enjoy doing the "sports banter" with. He is a Hawks fan ( I did ask him once, and he did say he was there for the lean times, but I often wonder how many of them predate Kane and Toews...anywhooo...), and he hit me with "Benning said this was a 100 point team?". I, of course answered in the positive, because a roster that resembles NHLers instead of most of the farm team, can and should do better. ( And no way they can be that bad at the 3 on 3 again, right ? Besides, it is a standard response to friendly sports trolling at work. ). It does remind you of the difference in an NHL roster vs a team playing "the kids:", out of need and necessity. Even a team like the Flames iced a lineup of "NHLers" over ours in that final road game spanking.
None of that is to disparage the youth playing in Blue and Green this season, nor, of course, the veterans. The line between winning and losing is pretty fine, and effort ( which, more often than not this season, they have not lacked in effort ) can only get you part of the way. The plan was to have a few guys playing at a young age, not half the team...tell me you had Andrey Pedan penciled in as a fourth line winger, or Alex Biega for that matter !
Sometimes, you really do need to "learn how to win". The Canuck youth got a lifetime of learning this year. And FWIW, the line for the last playoff spot in the West was 87 points, where the Wild finished. The Canucks were competitive at that pace for a fair while before the wheels came off. Food for thought ( we do have all summer , starting with the Draft Lottery at the end of the month ) .
Enough navel gazing, we have a plenty of time for that. Let's get to the puck...
- Last games of the year, when teams are playing it out, can go several ways. The home ice team destroys a visitor with the Roxy Flu, or the home team phones it in. The last night of this horror show season was "Fan Appreciation Night", so the Canucks were enthused. The Oilers were too. So, it turned into a fairly entertaining game. Well, as entertaining as a Mike Leggo reffed game called by Craig Simpson et al can be !
- My last bitch about HNIC this year. I am sure some of you noticed it too. No, it was not the almost naked cheering for the team he played and coached for, begging for calls and such. That is just what you get with Craig Simpson ( just a thought ivory tower guys, do you really need "naked bias" in the booth ? ). No, it was a simply hilarious episode on the second goal for the Canucks. Mike Leggo fell down in the Oiler end, and they did not blow the whistle. The Sedin line continued the pressure, and then changed. The puck went down to the other end, and then the Canucks broke it out ( you can see it below )
...so, after the goal, what is Craig Simpson bitching about? "I still don't know why they did not blow the play down after Leggo fell...". On a play where the puck left the offensive zone for his team, went to the other end, and BACK. Hilarious. Well, sadly hilarious. You expect that from a guy from Fort Mac with 55 followers on Twitter, not a nationally employed colour analyst. Pardon me, that word needs quotation marks. "Analyst". #yeesh
- Back to the game. In what is probably his final game in Blue and Green ( at least for a year. He strikes me as someone that signs a one year deal with someone, then, when it legal for a buy out team to employ you again, signs his last one year deal where the family is. Unless he signs in Montreal, of course ! ), Burr' was together with the Twins, and they were trying to get him a goal all night. He finished with ( stats here, thanks ESPN ) a team high 20:38 TOI, ( most for forwards ) 3 of 4 shots on net, 2 hits, a takeaway, and a big ass cheer for his announcement as a skills competition shooter. The goal in the shootout was very nice, going back against the grain on a moving goalie. Whatever happens with Mr Everything, thanks man. Always gave it, every shift in Blue and Green. Not every player can say that. In the entire NHL. The epitome of effort.
- Bo Horvat was another who's "give a shit" meter was pinned in the red during a "meaningless game". 3 shots ( 4 attempts ), a hit, and a stellar 17 of 26 draws won, all while skating miles and driving the net at every opportunity. His line mates ( funny how that happens, Bo's linemates doing well ) on the night, with Derek Dorsett, Emerson Etem, were very productive. ( Bo's linemates on most the night were those two. He finished with just under 19 minutes, and they both fell in the 11-12 minute range ). Etem had a goal, on 2 shots, and Dorsett had a goal and an assist on 1 shot. They were heavy on the puck all night.
- They'll be plenty of time to tell of how wonderful the Twins are, but even in a season like this, they shine. Daniel Sedin was the three star award winner, the highest scorer, and top fan award winner tonight. Yes, it was a frustrating season for the Twins, but do not doubt they will once again be top of the fitness charts at training camp. Their leadership in times of troubles was wonderful this year.
- Jacob Markstrom. It was his turn in net, and he excelled again. He faced 38 shots from the "talented Oilers". A fascinating stat the broadcast showed, how all these "young guns" offensively have finished bottom 5 in the past 4-5 years in the goal department. Not that a Canuck chronicler should be mocking anyone's offense, as I think they might have set a record for least home ice goals with 95 this year. That aint a whole lot over a goal a game. ( Sure you don't want to come out early Mr. Boeser ? ) Getting back to the goalie, he robbed Driasatl and Eberle in one 2nd sequence that was breathtaking. In addition, he was able to make the difference in the shootout, allowing 2 goals on 7 skills competition attempts. No offense to Eddie Lack fans that are still around, but methinks we kept the right amiable Swedish netminder.
- A quick word on Zack Kassian. He was "enthusiastic", and 2 shots and 4 hits in 11:23 TOI is OK production. But the stat guy was fooled on one of those, when he missed the hit on Tryamkin and made a loud noise, and if he would have connected, he would have probably been suspended at the start of next year anyhow, as he leapt at the Big Russian ( who slipped it pretty skillfully too ) . Later on, the refs took pity on him and let a high hit on Bartkowski, all elbows and hands to the head, go by. ( they called one when McDavid fell down under a check in the last five minutes to let the Oilers tie it oo, when the closer ref was fine with it. But, again, it is like being mad at Zack for making brain dead plays when it comes to Mike Leggo, the man 100 feet away that made the call. He is bad a t his job, and you just hope whomever gets him in the payoffs doesn't suffer for it too badly) I liked Kassian, once upon a time. The management team was right to cut him lose, however. Out of control is not a good long term job strategy Zack.
- Lastly, but certainly not in the least, Ben Hutton and Nikita Tryamkin. Ben Hutton was the team ice time leader at 23:42, and his partner for most of it clocked in at just under 20 ( 1(:55 ) minutes that he seems to get all the time here. We know Ben has taken a step ( the fans named him best D'man this year ), but I was so impressed by Tryamkin's game in his time here. The man has great hockey instincts, and he can get up the ice well enough. He hits hard ( 3 more tonight ) and the way he plays the front of the net is quite fun to watch for defenseman aficionados. Not just the stick, though he is very aware of how he can cover extra ice. He made several plays on pucks in close tonight that were skilled and confident. Wait until he gets a whole year training on an NHL program, and then comes back next year !
Yep. next year. With the 11.5% chance at Auston Mathews, and at least even odds ( I didn't do the math, maybe better !? ) at a third pick anyhow, the Canucks could get lucky and pull a jump up the standings at the Draft Lottery, or stay where they are and get a great player. Hell, if they fall, they can get one of the stud defensemen. That, and all that Cap room coming up.....
OOOPS. Rosterbating again. I thought I was going to stop that. Well, at least in this game recap. We will be doing plenty of that now. In fact, feel free in the comments. Here's some music, just because it was a win, and we deserve a cookie after a season like that. The Band...take a load off indeed. No more carrying "The Weight" this year guys.
Get em next year...