The Canucks came into this first of a home back to back, and their final home games before their “bye week” as a desperate team. Both games, in light of a tough 2-4 road trip, were leaning into the “must win” column. You would hope they were motivated going into the first of those against the familiar Flames. Win one for Pat guys. That is a nice statue for the Big Irishman and longtime Vancouver institution. He would have enjoyed the effort as well.
( Skip the next two paragraphs of non game recap opinion if you so desire... )
Before the game recap proper please indulge me a moment, as this part time writer has something to get off his chest. I occasionally listen to the TSN1040 guys in the work vehicle, and of course there is twitter, rife with couch coaches and self appointed GM’s. As we get to trade deadline time again, something to once again remind some of those people of, if you will. Just because you yell loud and often does not make your viewpoint the only one with merit.
No, Jim Benning is not a failure at his job ( before anything has happened...there seems to be an almost relentlessly myopic view of any good trades the man has made ) if someone with a clause decides not to waive it, then a trade does not happen. The bozos at TSN1040 are a lost cause, but let’s be better than them and the #CanucksTeaParty types on twitter. Simply put people. A clause in a contract is something that was negotiated ( usually in lieu of money ) in good faith between two parties. We may not like it if Dan Hamhuis decides to not go to a team, or if Vrbata does the same. Shit happens. The Canucks are still trying to longshot the playoffs, but are going to talk to those with NTC’s in the bye week, to see about their desires. Can we remember that these are people, with ( Hamhuis, for instance, cited family reasons for staying put last year ) reasons for their decisions this time around ? Not just pieces in your “fantasy trade deadline” scenario that will bring fame and fortune to the home team. Just a thought...
OK ? Now back to the present.
- Another great ceremony for Hockey Talks. The Canucks have spearheaded initiates like this in the NHL, and it is always good to see people get the help they need, and feel the freedom to talk about their challenges. Forget records. Thank you Canucks for all your efforts in the community, and especially this one.
- The Canucks were outplayed territorially in most of the first period, but I really liked their structure in their own end. The Flames had 8 shots ( missed 5, and had 5 blocked ) and seemed to have the edge in play, but the Canucks had the better scoring chances, and actually finished up outshooting the team with more zone time with 9 ( they had 2 misses, and had 3 more blocked.
- The first goal in this one ? Consider that Puck God payback for the Erikkson pass back that turned into a goal. Edler had a knuckling shot ( a rolling puck ) where it dropped about a foot and a half went in from centre ice. It was also the first shot of the period for the Canucks. Bazinga !
- It should have been 2-0 after one period. Simply put, the ref blew it. Horvat went hard to the net after the initial shot was saved, and swept it home. The puck was never frozen, and in fact was a foot away from the goalie when he put it away. But the ref was in bad position ( almost right behind the net, instead of moving out or around for a better view ), and he blew it. To err is human...but damn !
- And no Flames fans, there is no “Wideman Effect”. Screw off with that weak argument. You get more penalties than everyone else because you do the things that are against the rules. The Versteeg call was textbook interference by a guy without the puck. The extra penalty ? We don’t know what was said, but Versteeg was slamming doors and acting like a baby. Canuck fans have seen that shit our way too. Sometimes it does not feel fair ( and especially when you have an entire, supposedly unbiased panel whining and bitching for your team. That helps. We never get that here anymore either ). Deal with it. Hell, the Canucks got a too many men call in the Finals when the only part of the extra man on the ice was Bieksa’s one skate when the puck hit it. Stop doing the illegal things, and you won’t get called as much. Even with “bad calls.” Hell, even the Flames cheerleaders on the panel even told you guys to just STFU after the second period.
- That being said, you guys have gotten pretty good at killing them too. And having not one but two unsportsmanlike calls against ( I thought both were warranted, but the Brouwer one surprised me. I would assume Versteeg has a shitty rep with refs at this point...just saying’ ) ? Oh well. They evened it up, and you got the 4th PP in the final two minutes on a “hook” that looked all stick, and was being let go both ways all game anyhow. So... #meh , amirite ?
- Back to the game. The second period, there were chances both ways. The Flames had the shot edge 9-7, and the Canucks should have made it 2-0 on the four minute power play that started the middle frame. Elliott’s best save was his robbery of Hansen as he got across the crease and stretched out the pad. Miller had a pad drag on Brouwer that was a thing of beauty. It looked like the deke had him, and he went against the grain. Those usually result in groin injuries or something.
- I rather enjoyed the way Tryamkin stood up to Brouwer on that jam play in front. Yes, it was a call there Troy. ( And the panel was right about one thing. Don’t skate all the way across the ice to a ref ignoring you to bitch the call like that. Even if the little push on Miller wasn’t much. ) Getting thrown to the ice even as you have the big Russian’s jersey over his head must be frustrating. He is a big boy, eh ?
- Brouwer was the best Flame tonight. Elliott made a few saves on a few of the really good Canuck chances, but the one time Hawk was dangerous every shift. He finished with 3 shots on goal and 6 hits in 18:04.
- The second period had an insane stretch in most of the last ten minutes where it looked like someone had set the game on Turbo. ( it was like that in spots all night, but that one period was like anime capsule for how hockey can be breathtaking, even without goals ) The puck went back and forth, and it was amazing that guys were not scoring. Both goalies helped with that, of course, as did the defenders. It was just a good, intense game with lots of hitting, skating, and feeling tonight.
- The Flames were full marks for their play in the third. 18-2 is just a ridiculous shot count, and even if the structure was not as solid as earlier in the game, they did defend hard in their own end. It was a damn shame at the end there though. That late penalty kill was heroic. They deserved better in regulation. Nevermind that a playoff spot lost by one point to the Flames would really suck, that shot was one a goalie hates to give a goal up on.
- Ryan Miller was the only reason they were able to get to six seconds from a shutout. Like I said, 18-2 is a ridiculous shot total, and the 36-19 shot tally was probably indicative of the play and zone time. The total blocks and missed shots bumped it up to 57-35 ( Flames and Canucks each had 10 blocks, and the Flames were credited 11 missed shots to the home team’s 6 ). But, DAMN man. It was just one of those goals, I guess. It was a shame he lost the shutout.
- The other guy on that goal I am not going to blame is Alexander Edler. He went through Miller’s field of vision at the perfect time for Giordano’s lucky shot off the boards. But that just happens in a game this fast. Like I said, a shame. He also had a slashing call that did not help, though they killed that one off. I do not think they get the win without him. Not because of that lucky goal, though it was fun to watch the puck go that high and then drop like that. He was a beast in this game. Mostly on the right side of the play all night. His 25:30 TOI led the team, and of that, the 4:39 shorthanded also was a team high ( of the blue line, his 3:56 on the PP was only bettered by Hutton’s 4:18 ) And he was hitting like days of old, with a team high 5 hits.
- The winning goal in overtime was interesting, to say the least. Initially, it looked like the three Canucks ( Sutter, Tanev, and Daniel Sedin ) on the ice were misreading each other and turning the wrong way, and the Flames had the initial pressure. But after Tanev helped get the puck out of his own end, while Sutter played his check physically, he went up the ice with the younger Sedin. After giving it up, Tanev went to the net and was a recipient of a pass that was simply sublime. It must be so tough being an opponent of the Wonder Twins.
- It certainly must suck to be the Flames against them, as the Sedins love torching the Calgary team. As the Flame on the back check stretched as far as he could, laying out on the ice, a perfectly weighted pass stayed tantalizingly out of his reach, and so perfectly “there” that all Tanev had to do was one time it high for his first goal on the season. In a game so fast, and where the difference between success and failure is minute, it was an off speed pass that was the decisive play. Great stuff.
- Some of the numbers from tonight. The rest are here. Bo Horvat was 50% at the dot tonight, but the real number was the 28 total draws he took. The Flames edged the home team 32-30 on draws, and had a 20-19 edge on the hit tally as well. But it was another number that was interesting. I don’t usually quote giveaways and takeaways as stats, as they are so subjective, and the variance because of various “arena biases” makes it a silly number to use. But the Flames forced the Canucks into 12 “giveaways” tonight. That is a big number for that stat, and was pretty easy to see on the ice. The Flames really forechecked hard, especially in the third.
- Burr, Bo, and Hansen had 6 of the 19 shots tonight, ( and were, to this eye anyhow, the hardest line for the Flames to handle ). The Sedin had some great moments, especially on the power play, and probably deserved a goal for their efforts tonight. Brendan Gaunce only had 1 shot in his 7:38 TOI, but it forced a great save in close, and he will probably have more opportunities tomorrow night anyhow.
That is because the next team up is the Flyers. After a good team win tonight, they will need to keep it going to get another before they go on their bye week. I am guessing Reid Boucher will draw in again for Jack Skille, who was injured on a hit in the second period. This game was just like most games with this year’s team. This time it resulted in two points. Sometimes it has not. Like the road trip they just finished that was only 2-4, but where they were in every game in a lot of tough rinks to play in.
Your team is getting better Canuck fans. Whether they make the dance or not. Playing in “meaningful games” is an experience you cannot replicate, and those lessons go the deepest.
See you tomorrow.