The Canucks went into this afternoon game still “hot”, but unable to use their power play to claim points in the previous two games. Nevermind the shorthanded one at the death of the Predators game. Sure, that was bad. The Flyers gave the Canucks 8 chances at the power play, and they were only able to get one goal from that largesse.
But that was on the road. The Canucks would do better on the home ice surface, right ? Wellllllll..........
- If a Canadian team does not play on Saturday night, chances are they are going to be the “Hometown Hockey” team the next day / night. Tonight, the HNIC boys gave two of the best guys to lace them up at least some of their due, as they focused on Henrik Sedin, and his younger by eight minutes brother Daniel Sedin. As they should. Two of the classiest and most productive players in the NHL. There was a big kerfuffle over Ovetchkin getting to 1000 points. Henrik is now two points away from that number after an assist tonight. That accomplishment will be met with far less fanfare, I am sure. I get it. Goals are sexy. But so are identical Twins who continue to give their all on the ice, even if their production has declined a bit.
- Those Sedins were once part of one of the most feared power plays in the NHL. But that seemed to die away in the playoffs in 2011, though it was still pretty good for a couple more years. The penalty kill was in the Top Five back then too, giving the team a real advantage when it was not 5 on 5 play. But it has to be said. Teams know them too well now. In that third, and most important, power play, the 3rd ranked penalty kill of the Devils read their cycle better than their line mates. The power play, with about eight minutes left in the game, had zero shots on net. It was indicative of the weakness of that aspect of the game for quite some time now, and it once again cost them points tonight. Just execute guys. Try something new.
- Like Anton Rodin. I am not going to couch coach, because the coaching staff are there and I am not, but he was the SEL MVP, in part because he has some offensive skill. The few times I have seen him, he seems to have poise with the puck. Both those things could only help a moribund power play, no ?
- The Canucks once again deserved something from this game tonight. Never mind the stats looking pretty close ( see here, thx ESPN ) watching that game, there was one team pushing the play more five on five. Not that this was Canucks / Hawks , circa 2011 either. It was two defensive teams playing it closer to the vest than that. But there were some pretty great chances that they maybe should have cashed in on with more confidence. Although, we do know that the goalie that they have is pretty good. Nikita Tryamkin joined the rush a few times, and had one where he was in too tight to get the Sedin pass that results in the empty netter. Loui Eriksson scored off a nice Sedin set up, but had another where he could have put it home. Sutter set up Granlund in the second on a play that could have made it 2-0 right after the first goal for the home team. So, execution five on five is just as important as it is on the power play.
- The Devils played a good road game. They collapsed hard, and they took advantage of their chances. Quincey got a lucky one when he had his point shot tipped out high by Granlund to beat Markstrom, and their winner was one of those “ you almost scored three on three, but didn’t, so now we will” chances that happen in O/T. They also had a goal discounted by an overtime challenge ( a good one by Willie ) that showed Hall was offside. There was another where Markstrom got his glove on a puck “this” close to the line.
- Bo Horavt was only 6 for 17 on draws, but Sutter was 10 of 13 to lead his team to a 27-25 edge on that stat, and the shots were 22 apiece. The Devils were leaders on the hit stat 29-21, and sure, a fair measure of that was on the forecheck. But sometimes the team leading in hits is leading that stat because they are chasing the team with the puck more. It was a lot of forwards on this occasion laying the body tonight for the visitors. Palmieri had 2, Cammalleri had 3, and Josefson led his team with 4. It was Sbisa with 4, and Skille ( 4 ) and Gaunce ( 3 ) on the fourth line leading the way for the hosts. Stats wise though, this game was pretty much a draw.
- I don’t know about you, but I do find it hard to assign blame three on three. There is so much open ice....still, a little bit falls on Markstrom on the O/T winner. He played a solid game as usual, and Taylor Hall does have a decent shot. But the pas was taken away pretty well. You could tell by his reaction that he thought he should have had that one as well.
- The penalty kill was pretty solid on it’s only chance to affect the game tonight. Brandon Sutter had a good short handed chance that was just stopped ( on the back hand, Schneider just got enough of his shoulder on it ). They prevented any real danger at the other end as well. I might be giving the power play some stick, but the penalty kill did their job tonight.
- Daniel Sedin had 4 shots, Sutter 3, as did Loui Eriksson. It was the Bo Horvat line, with Baertschi having 2 shots, and Bo and Burr’ having one each, that were held in check tonight. Perhaps because they had to play Hall’s line. That was the best line for the Devils tonight. Still, they were held in check.
- Nikita Tryamkin had 16:19 TOI, about the norm for a third pairing guy. His 2 hits and 2 blocks were pretty good for that ice time. But what I noticed tonight was his confidence in stepping up into the rush. He did it more than ince. Stayed in when the puck was there, and got out when it was time to. His passes to clear the zone are getting better and better. I have to say I am impressed. If he was more used to jumping up, and knew to stop and wait for the Sedin pass instead of not stopping there, he might have had the game winner. Keep it up Groot. ( Is that his nickname ? There are so many that could take advantage of his bigness and Russian-ness )
- There shots, three misses, 10 of 13 draws won in 16:54 TOI. Brandon Sutter had a pretty good game too.
The team, played hard, for the most part. They had some chances, and made a few mistakes along the way, but played hard again, against another hard working team. But once again we are here talking about points dropped. It is not just the power play, of course. That is a bit simplistic. But they are still playing hard for their coach. They are still playing hard, for the most part. But in a league where the line between winning and losing is sometimes very thin, special teams, and in particular, the power play, has to be more effective than it has been. Tonight, they had a couple OK ones, and one that really sucked when it was needed most. That is going to cost you points.
Let’s hope they can stop the slide of losing points in the next one.