The Canucks came into this one with folks talking about how they “stole” one versus the Kings. I suppose that is what happens when you give up 44 shots. Miller was spectacular, as a goalie will be in a game like that, even with three of those shots getting by the goaltender.
So, of course they open the game with Murph’ talking about “Canucks’ twitter” being upset with Goldobin’s lack of ice time. Never change Vancouver...never change.
I guess the use of the non story could serve as a distraction from the fact that they find it hard to talk about these two teams meeting. There is limited playoff history, and the Ducks are 13-2-4 in the last nineteen games versus the Vanity club. That includes a 2-1 record versus our boys this year. But throw the numbers out. There always seems to be some juice to games between these two teams. How about tonight ?
- Ryan Kesler had some jump for this one, that’s for sure. Maybe he knew this would be a national game in Canada, or perhaps he was just hungry tonight. Maybe he likes sticking it to his old team. Whatever the reason, in the first period, his line was, by far and away, the best one on the ice. He had 2 shots, missed 2 more, and had a hit and a block, while winning 5 of 9 draws in a team leading 7:19 first period TOI. He was all around the net, and looked the part of the guy we loved here, once upon a time.
- The guy they like comparing him to, Bo Horvat, was not chopped liver either. He had 2 shots, and missed one more, with winning 66.6% of his nine draws.
- The Ducks had a shot from Silverberg go off the post early, and some early pressure. Eaves made a tip from the slot that was a hard save, but then Bachman absolutely robbed Kesler on a back door play to keep it scoreless.
- Let’s give that opening period to the Canuck centre though. He did score. It was a play that is as basic as the off tackle run in football. Win the faceoff, and go to the net while your winger works it to the point. Said point man ( Hutton on this one, doing a really good job of walking the line to get a spot to shoot ) getting it on net, where there should be guys there for the rebound. Now, Bernier could have squeezed the puck and ended the chance, but it dropped down, and Bo was simply stronger than the defenseman trying to box him out to bang it home. 1-0 on execution.
- The Ducks had a goal right after, but it was not really a goal, because the refs said so. It was a non controversial call in all regards, as Kase ( say Cash-a) got the puck at the side of the net and tried to kick its to his stick. He missed the stick. The ref was emphatic in his wave off, and did not get convinced by Toronto to change his mind, as the replay clearly showed no non skate contact on the vulcanized rubber.
- It was a borderline dirty play that deprived the Canucks of another player, though I hesitate to call it that. Hockey is such a fast game. It looked like Wagner drove his knee into Eriksson’s leg, but it is probably more accurate to say Loui tried to slip the check to make the pass, and got his leg caught. He was helped off, with no weight on it, and did not play the rest of the night. Nikolay Goldobin took the lion’s share of his shifts with Bo and Sven the rest of the way.
- The visitors were not overrun in the first period tonight, as the Ducks under Randy Carlyle give up a ton of odd man chances. It was something. The Canucks may have had an edge in speed in this one, but even the Sedins had multiple odd man rushes in this game. I get the Ducks have their defenders jump up. So do the Canucks, so does everyone. And maybe some credit to the Canucks for the 200’ game, the back checking, and the play at the lines and in the neutral zone. But it was jarring how noticeable it was after watching them play against the disciplined Kings 24 hours earlier.
- The shots were 13-11 for the home team in the first, and they had an edge in hits, 9-7. The faceoffs were 10 each, and the Canucks had a 7-6 edge in blocks, with Chaput having two of those himself. Overall, it was a solid period for the visiting team, up one, while standing up to the physical Ducks.
- In the second, it was the Canucks that were the better team. You may look at the shots and go “well, it was 12-12, what do you mean?”. The Ducks had half that many until the final three minutes of the period though, and it was the visitors pushing the play for the other seventeen minutes.
- The second goal for the visitors was a fine play, and indicative of the work the Canucks did in their own end. Markus Granlund made a great tip around Fowler, and then headed for the races. With Perry the man back, he made the Duck veteran react to his looking for the pass, and then ripped it high short side for a sniper goal that was unassisted. See below in the highlight package.
- They had chances throughout the period to extend the lead, as it looked like the Ducks were playing at a slower speed or something. Jayson Megna made a nice rush on a great Hutton pass, and it looked like he was impeded to the point that would get him a penalty shot, but it was just a power play instead. That part of the special teams was actually pretty good on the night, although this one won’t go in any time capsule. It was a wild, “rushes both ways, a couple chances for the defenders as well as the offensive team” power play. Nikolay Goldobin replaced Loui Erikkson on it with the first unit, and had a great chance on a two on one, and another in the slot where the defender tipped it high and wide. Maybe a better chance was there for Wagner on a 3 on 1 for the shorthanded team later, but with the goaltender down and out, his stick was impeded by a backchecking Sutter with an empty net there for the taking.
- The Ducks pressed those last three minutes hard, and Bachman made some great saves, but even when they were pressing and evening up the shot clock, the Canucks had chances. Bieksa broke up a late rush by Henrik Sedin and Granlund, and Bachman made a very nice kick save on Rakell.
- The numbers were pretty tight after forty minutes, with the 12-12 shots making it 25-23 Ducks, and the home team chasing probably accounted for their hit tally edge, 22-14. The Canucks went ahead on the draw, 20-17. It would not be the same after the final whistle ( stat sheet here, thanks ESPN )
- Nineteen shots in the final period is better than twenty five, right ? The Ducks are another desperate team ( they have 76 points, and because LA is only at 68, they have a pretty good hold on the third spot in the Pacific ), mainly because they have been playing “win one, lose one” for the last 8-9 games now. They also had the same advantage the Canucks did at the start of the period, with an early power play less than a minute in, when Kase deed Sbisa in the corner and he tripped him. Like the Canucks in the second, they got momentum off that power play.
- The Ducks had their chance on it, but after they built momentum, they finally broke the shutout of Richard Bachman 6:12 in. It was on a nice passing play in the Canuck zone, although Henrik had a chance to break it up. Patrick Eaves beat the goalie high to make it a one goal game.
- The rest of the way, the Ducks had plenty of chances, but they were not all “great chances”. The Canucks collapsed to the net, cleared rebounds, and kept lanes clear, just like they did yesterday. In fact, they had a chance to extend the lead late, as Megna was sprung on a nice pass from a Sedin, and hit the post.
- The last couple minutes were slightly comical from a reffing standpoint, as they let the Ducks do just about anything with the empty net, and a late power play ( nice dive Mr Perry ). Tanev was tripped in the corner, and Granlund was literally tackled at the centre ice line trying to get a shot to the empty net. The Canucks withstood the pressure well in the final minute, and came away with yet another hard earned victory.
- The final numbers favoured the Ducks. They went 19-4 min the third to make that a 44-27 final tally, and they went 9-3 in the final frame to edge out the Canucks on the face off count, 26-23. ( a comment on that. It is harder to win the faceoff segment of the game on the road, as you have to have the stick down first on the road ). They ended up going 27-18 as far as hits went as well. In fact, with missed shots and blocks ( Ducks missed 20 shots, to 10 for the Canucks, and the Canucks blocked 17 to the home team’s 10 ) added in, the Ducks had 81 shots or attempts to 47 for the Canucks.
So, are we going to find something to complain about here ? Bachman was “too good” to be an AHL call up, I suppose. They were supposed to lose these two, according to #TankNation . Here’s the thing with that way of thinking. Athletes will never, ever, never never ever think like that. They will react to coaches that they think are trying to “tank” by tuning them out, and probably mention that in the exit interviews. Athletes will always play to win.
So, why not cheer for that ? We know that there will be nights when they won’t win, the rest of the way. More experienced, deeper, and more enthusiastic for points teams going for the playoffs will be tough for the young Canucks. But it is heartening to see the players work their asses off, and be rewarded. Remember what I said about close games and learning how to win in the last recap ?
Ditto. See you next week...