With half the blue line out with the mumps, this was not the perfect time to play the Sharks and Brent Burns. He is having a helluva season, and the young Canucks were getting much younger for this one ( hello Evan McEneny. Good to see you, Hi Alexandre Grenier. How you been, Joe Labate ? And is that a Jordan Subban sighting ? ) all of which probably made The Bearded One look at this one as a points parade.
No matter. You have to play them all, and unlike us in the peanut gallery, or on our couch coaching, or being the fantasy GM-ing trading wunderkind who just needs someone on twitter to notice, the players do not care for this kind of talk.
Bo Horvat wants to win. The Sedin Twins think win every night. Even the guys that handed in their lists to Jim Benning would be out there trying their damnedest to beat the Pacific heavyweights from San Jose. But was it enough tonight ?
- The Sharks are, by most metrics, and by their record, the better team. They were not that tonight. Hard to say in a game where the final score was 4-1, but they weren’t. They were better at times, and had a great third period relative to their first two periods, but the Canucks were the better team on the night, and deserved a better fate. Two posts, and Martin Jones being the best Shark on the night sealed their fate.
- That was against a team playing every one of the guys I listed above, save for Jordan Subban, who was in the press box. Both teams were coming off the bye week, and Evan McEneny was playing in his first NHL game. The relative talent levels, never mind the records of the teams involved, had the “experts” making football references like “take the Sharks and the points” and giggling. Mind you, when you have a panel that calls itself “expert” and includes Kypreos, that is a relative term at best. His babbling BS of “Labate should have taken Burns off instead of Haley” was appropriately mocked on twitter, sand defied what happened. More on the fight in a bit.
- The goals in this game came in a variety of ways, but did not come in a way that made you think the Sharks dominated this game. They were the better team in the third, when it mattered, definitely. But the scoring and play were not in a way that you would go, “Oh, yeah, of course it was 4-1”.
- The first Sharks goal was on a play the poor rookie will get blamed on by the call in show later( Ward got free on a bad change where the rookie was coming off, and Edler was coming on but could not engage yet. Question...do you take the call there and check him anyway ? ) , but it was really a great poke check by Burns on a 4 on 2 that was the reason the visitors got the first goal. Ward went the other way, and while he was denied, Hertl was right there to put a puck laying in the crease in. Their second goal came late in the second, against the run of play, where a pass from Tierney was intended for Boedker that went right to Marleau, who made a nice play to tuck it home. It was probably the biggest goal, as regardless of any fighting narrative, a 1-1 game going into the third would have been a whole lot more palatable than 2-1 when you know you played better than the other team. Especially when they come in with the better record, healthy, and have beaten you nine times on home ice already.
- The third and fourth were in the third period, and maybe it was because the relative talent levels of the rosters was coming through, after both teams got their legs after a prolonged break. But the play was intense in the first two periods from the Canucks, and at times the Sharks. So I doubt that assessment. There was more running around, and more mistakes for the home team, certainly. A Hutton pass was easily picked off, and Boedker got his first in 19 games to make it 3-1 , 11:31 in. The fourth was on a power play given in the last six minutes or so, where Daniel Sedin was judged to have hooked in his own end. Logan Couture was given all day by Bo Horvat and Alex Biega, and he went snipe show on Miller high and short side.
- Credit has to go to the Canucks for how they played, even in a losing effort. In the first, they outshot their opponent 14-8, and bettered that to 16-8 in the second. The breakouts were pretty good, considering all the new guys. They were faster, and harder on the forecheck at times ( though when the Sharks turned it on in that regard, they caused trouble in the Canuck end all night ), and deserving of a better fate. There were a LOT of plays where they would have an odd man advantage, or an opening for a great chance, and the pass would be behind, or in the skates. These things happen when guys play together for the first time.
- Three guys that played hundreds of games together ( and one in particular ) were the focus for this Canuck fan. I even stopped writing here to watch his After Hours interview, such is my affection for one Alex Burrows. There is another game on Tuesday ( home against the Wings ) before the trade deadline the next day, so maybe he will once again rejoin the Sedin Twins. It was a reminder of the past in this one. The Twins had the only goal for the Canucks, where Hank took a Burns turnover and fed his brother, who went all snipe show short side of his own. But check these numbers. The team had 36 shots, and Burrows had 6, while Daniel had 8. Daniel hit a post as well. But it was the no look passes, the feeds to areas the other guy would be, and the many nuances that made that line so good that made it almost bittersweet to watch, thinking it could be the last time. Burrows has had “the conversation” with JB, and will “weigh the pros and cons”. He wants to be on a team with a chance to win if he does go. ( Hello AV in New York, or hometown Montreal? ) If that happens before the next game, and this was the last, thanks Burr. See you when you resign July 1st. And thanks for the reuniting of Poutine and Meatballs tonight Willie. That was fun.
- Apart from Martin Jones being really good in his hometown again, Mikael Boedker had a great game too, with a goal and 5 shots. Burns was jumping up, and a danger ( to his team at times too. That 2 giveaway numbers on the stats here is generous. The Canucks forced him cough it up more than that ), and that whole team was their better on paper selves at times. ( A word about tonight’s stats. ESPN is usually pretty good, but for instance, the Sharks blocked 20 shots to 13 for the Canucks. But how do I know that is accurate when one of the six defensemen for the home team is not even listed in the roster? I guess the Canucks “Stumped the Schwab” on that one. And the kid played significant minutes and was OK ! )
- I don’t want to downplay it. I guess it is just a frustrating result, to see the Sharks come in here and win their 10th straight on Rogers Arena ice, when they were ripe for the picking. This game was close. Better execution, and some puck luck ( the Canucks were down to five defensemen in this one, and Sbisa apparently has a stomach flu. Sorry for asking for Puck Luck oh mighty Hockey Gods. I guess we have still angered you here somehow, huh? ), could have seen that ridiculous home ice losing streak broken. Against a team full of rookies and backups. Damnnit !
- The Fight. The narrative guys will go with “the fight changed the momentum”, because the Sharks scored two goals after the early third period tilt. It was initially over a hit in the second where Labate nailed Carlsson cleanly in the second period. It was shoulder to shoulder, but the Shark player hit the dasher pretty hard at the bench, and left the ice. This was the play silly Kipper babbled about, but Burns wanted no part of Labate before Haley jumped in. NO matter. When Dillon and Labate fought, it was a spirited affair that both teams could claim momentum from. The kid acquitted himself just fine ( 2 shots missed, 2 hits, and a good performance in a little over nine minutes on the ice was solid fourth line work ), as did the others called into work at short notice.
- Did anyone else notice that Alex Beiga was rushing a lot more than usual tonight ? Methinks he noticed a certain other undersized defeenseman in the locker room today that plays offensively. His noted play on the fourth goal aside, he did OK, as did Evan McEneny and even Alexandre Grenier. They might not be able to sustain that level of play a long time, but they were OK. Let’s still hope whatever plagues and germ warfare are afflicting the Vancouver dressing room is taken care of swiftly.
So, yeah, the playoffs are probably toast. They need to win three quarters of their remaining games, and that looks doubtful, or might not even be enough. But I still disagree with Tank Nation. Sure, you get a chance at a better pick ( you guys are aware of our shitty history in these league mandated games of chance though, right ? How’d that third worst record work out last year ? ) , but the way this team has played in meaningful games, and in fact, all year, is very heartening. They must lead the league in one goal games going into the third period. Just like tonight. The Sharks did what they had to do, and we must remember, they are the Cup Finalists last year.
Oh well, we OWN them at the Shark Tank recently, right ? See you next weekend. With whomever is on the roster.