The Canucks got a bit lucky in the last one, and while I believe you make your own luck in the game of hockey, they probably could have done with some in this one, as they were outworked by a Flyers team that has not won on this Western trip in three years, and still could have gotten something out of this one with just a little luck.
They also could have played better in this one and gotten an important two points. This one game is not the death knell to their longshot at the playoffs, though it will be painful to watch the other teams creep away from them as they go into their “bye week”. A first game back against the Sharks might just be a “must win” by that time though.
- Ryan Miller got the back to back start, and while he was not his usual recently awesome self, it was probably not the goaltending that was at fault in this one. He made some great saves when he had to.
- Michael Neuvirth might have been the reason the Flyers won, however. He robbed Granlund early on a really good Sedin set up, and stood up pretty well in the first few shifts where the Canucks came out strong, as well as being good all night.
- The parade to the penalty box started soon after though, and that special teams advantage for the visitors gave them the momentum. The Canucks struggled to get ol’ “Mo’” back most of the period, and while that is not the refs fault as much as the players putting them in the position to make calls, it is notable that the same ref ( Steve Kozari ) that stole a good goal from Bo Horvat was in this one, and he was not much better tonight.
- Not on the first goal, it was a goal. Miller made the first save, and Simmonds did the “Bertuzzi Pushoff” on Edler and poked the rebound through his legs. The head scratcher was Kozari calling it a no goal on the ice and looking at it. I thought maybe he was going to give us a goal back after taking one yesterday, and say that he had “intent to blow...” as it went slowly through Miller’s legs. The Flyers had the early lead on the power play, and to their credit, kept up the push for moist the period that followed.
- Some will call the Flyers “physical”, others dirty. I won’t go that far. Manning is, however, a dirty player. He was trying to hurt guys at every opportunity. I guess the Oilers were right about this guy. His bump right after the whistle, right in front of Kozari, was not called because it was on Burrows, I suppose, but it was a drive into the numbers when a guy was on the boards right after the whistle, and not expecting it. His hacking at Henrik late was just bush league as well. Playing physical is one thing. There were plenty of Flyers doing that tonight. He needs only to look down the bench at Wayne Simmonds to see a guy that finishes checks and is an “honest player”. Please Manning. Look down that bench.
- The Canucks had two power plays of their own in the first period. The difference in tonight’s game is their special teams were not special at all, and, if anything, gave the penalty killing team momentum from killing them. The Flyers played a strong game tonight, and were aggressive at the lines five on five, and all over the ice on their penalty kill. And while the Canucks looked to be adapting and taking a hit to make a play as the game went on, it was that aggressive play, especially when down a man, that helped them get the two points tonight.
- The start of the second was when the Canucks lost this game. The long indirect pass to Couturier was a nice one, but he was kept to a good shooting position. Loui Eriksson simply misread his check going to the net and reacted late to Vorachek, who had an empty net on the rebound.
- The penalty I might bitch about ( just a little ) was the one on Tryamkin. He gets “big guy” penalties a lot, and while you could call it interference as he got back from having his shot blocked, Matt Read went down pretty easy. After giving up an early goal, giving up another penalty was not a good thing for the home team, regardless of the penalty called. The Flyers made short work of it, and it didn’t help that this penalty kill was probably the Canucks’ worst. Schenn was allowed to walk right into the slot and shoot. It went off the goalie ( maybe ? ) and in, and it was quickly 3-0. Simmonds was right in front screening, and maybe got a piece, though they gave it to Schenn.
- The Sedin line got one back, and while it was not a masterpiece, it was a good, hardworking goal. Hank got it down low, fed his brother for the shot, and Granlund made a nice tip while getting crosschecked. It looked like they were chasing the puck the entire shift, but all that matters is the result, right ?
- After Eriksson was robbed on one shift, and the Sedin line followed up with one of their own, the Horvat line cleared the boards. Bo started one of his now patented “Bull Rush”-es to the net, and while he was checked, it took two guys to do it, and one of them left Hansen free in front of the net. He slammed home the puck, and it was a one goal game again.
- Credit the visitors for the grind in the third. And, just an observation, after calling penalties pretty liberally, the refs only called one on the Flyers ( an obvious trip ) in the third, and let them amp up the clutch and grab as they protected their lead was not the least surprising. They simply do that, and are getting their “playoff whistles” ready. Again, credit the winning team. They outshot the home team 8-6 in the third, and their goalie made some solid saves when they needed them too.
- Just one example though. The shift after the goal to make it a one goal game, the Sedins had pressure, and then the fourth line came out and almost scored, as Boucher had a good chance. Bellemare was almost playing tackle football with Boucher, and the refs just ignored it. The Canuck power play was shitty tonight. It was 0-4, and had only two shots credited in those 4 power plays. Another might not have made a difference anyhow. Just something I noticed however.
- Like I said though, the Flyers were full marks for their win. Their grind game was very good in the third, clearing pucks and collapsing to their own net. They blocked shots, got sticks in lanes, and worked hard all over the ice. It was too bad the home team could not get this one even for the fans, but there it is. Full marks to the Philly guys.
- Some final numbers to ponder in a second . ( No, not the playoff picture now. I don’t have the time to try and figure that out. The Canucks will play teams they are fighting with after the break, mainly the California teams and the Oilers, as well as some Eastern teams ) The road is tougher now, but you never know, right ? Most the #CanucksTeaParty will point to this one as “tear it down, trade all vets and LOSE” proof, but it was really just another game the Canucks came up, as has been the case this season, just a bit short.
- The stats showed a close game, but one the visiting team was just a bit better in. ( see here ) The shots were only 9-8 after one, but ended up 28-20 for the Flyers. The hits were actually 8-7 for the home team after the first, but the Flyers won that stat 27-18 ( though hits can be deceiving. The Canucks had the puck more as they chased the game in the final two periods ). The Canucks were the better team on the draw all night, at least, leading after every period as they edged the Flyers 31-29 on draws.
So, is that it then ? I don’t know. certainly, the probability of making the dance is less than it would have been with a win. They certainly need to go on a run. There could be trades before the next game, or just “first time callers” bitching about there not being trades all week. Certainly the media will be at their “peak expert” after this one, trying to trade guys in the media. Botchford will certainly complain about Willie somehow ( he may be the worst “couch coach” in our local puck media this year. Seriously Botch’, try one article without a complaint about the coach. Willie’s boys still play hard for him, and it is getting a bit much to read of “what he should have done” every damn story. ) Hindsight is ALWAYS 20-20.
The team may or may not make it. Probably the latter. But in this year where they were picked last, and have had a home record, and a record in one goal games that rivals teams far higher in the standings, they have grown greatly this year, and deserve to get praise for that, instead of the relentless passive aggressiveness that will surely befall them on our local sports radio station for the next week.
They talk about Canuck fans being horrible. Those guys are like the lead torch carriers for the fans that get that label. Let’s try to be less “Troy from White Rock”, and more just a fan of the team the has worked hard and gotten better results than everyone predicted for them this year. That is what I am going to do, at least.