As we get ready to say good bye to one of the weirdest, most painful ( and yet positive in ways ) seasons in a generation, there are many voices saying many things. That is normal in a city like Vancouver, where even a struggling Canuck team is still number one when it comes to interest.
You pick and choose them ( a la carte ) as is your wont, and the conversations are lively as you look forward to next year. I don’t know about you, but I am trying to keep an open mind to all. For instance, even though Botch’ has been consistently negative to certain aspects of, or all of, management almost all year, he writes some good stuff too, like this story on the coach and his ice time this year.
I have to say, he makes a very strong point. Any coach that looks at that blue line and decides Luca Sbisa should lead them in ice time has to be questioned. ( for me, in a league where a good power play and penalty kill can win you the Cup, not doing more to change it up in the face of repeated negative results is a big red flag ) These are all things that will play themselves out over the next while. Let’s just say that, even for someone who has stated he likes Willie Desjardins all season long, I won’t be surprised if someone new is behind the bench next year. Even if I think he deserves one more year.
That is all to come however. Let’s see how the next two games go first. There are more ping pong balls to be had!
- OK, enough. We get it Puck Gods. The playoffs were not in the cards for Vancouver this year. That is fine. I, for one, am OK with the losing short term, and see the value in all of these close games. Regardless of what happens for Willie Desjardins, he has built a young core of hard working and responsible players. We’ll get there next time, and this season and it’s downturns will reap rewards long term. But can you explain this weird thing you have for Edmonton ? I mean, # 99, and now # 97 ? #IMeanCaman
- Tonight was a perfect example of what happens with talented players. The Canucks did a very good job on Connor McDavid tonight ( from a rival fan, let’s just say I am going to watch with interest if his 150’ game translates in the playoffs. That would be my only critique of the supremely talented sophomore, honestly. He blows the zone a bit too often ), but he finished with his 98th point, and should have had his 99th if Patrick Maroon could hit an empty net from 6 inches out instead of the post. He finished with 4 shots. He was dangerous, at times, and of course that slap pass on the power play goal was sublime. ( almost as much as the attempt at dropping the stick on a normal check by Sutter was lame, and the late dive in the offensive zone to try and get a call again was hilarious ) But it could be said the Canucks handled him very well. Yet the narrative tomorrow will be how he “led” the Oilers to victory.
- At the end of the first, the Canucks had an 11-9 edge in shots, probably had a bit better of the play in spite of the CBC / Sportsnets guys ( last “bitch” for your weekend scribe. Settle the hell down you guys. A shift where McDavid gets an easily saved shot from the corner is not described in “WHAT A SHIFT” terms. They won a couple 50/50 pucks in the offensive zone and cycled a bit. Cool your jets... ). A Megna burst got Sutter a great chance from the slot he should have scored on, but he got the post instead. Goldobin and Daniel Sedin set up Ben Hutton for another great chance. It looked like the home team might actually give the home fans something to smile about at the end of the night.
- A breakdown at their own line by the Canucks would lead to them giving up the opening goal, early in the second period, however. Credit Jordan Eberle for the shot that beat Ryan Miller clean. His getting the room was probably helped by the scramble after the turnover, and I thought Troy Stecher could have gotten over on him in a better fashion. But sometimes you have to give it to the goal scorer and his talent.
- The talking point for a lot of Canuck fans will be the fight that happened a few minutes later. After Russell got away with a borderline ( he did the “push in the lower back thing” on Chaput, and sent him awkwardly into the boards. They usually call those “danger zone” plays, but they did not call this one ) “hit” on Chaput, Horvat hit Nurse with his usual heaviness. The bigger Nurse saw an opportunity to reply with a fight, and Bo was happy to oblige. Nurse got a few in there, but a strong argument could be made for a Horvat win on points. Or at least a draw. Which we all know goes to the smaller guy in these things.
- I do agree with the commentators on one thing tonight. After Brock Boeser had a chance, before he actually tied this one up on the power play, one of them said “he will get known pretty fast around the league for that shot” ( paraphrasing slightly ). And he most definitely will. His snipe show wrister is excellent. But around here, we have been trained to enjoy the passes, and the one he got from Henrik Sedin to score tonight was ridiculous. In close, with guys on him, he made a between the legs backhand right to Boeser’s tape. The shot was great kid. I am very excited you are here. But, DAMN Captain Hank !
- Guy Boucher never saw Letestu, and certainly did not intend to hurt him. He was on his check along the boards, and just careless with his stick. But the tip of it got the Oiler centre, and he bled his own blood. So, four minutes it is...
- The Canucks killed the first three minutes of the 3:32 they started the third period down a man pretty well. They were aggressive, and smart, and Sutter was his usual “great on the kill” self. But a little room, a screen, and a slap pass later, they were down one in the third again.
- The goal that turned out to be the winning one was maybe a perfect allegory for this entire season. After a power play that had chances but was unsuccessful, a lofted pass to centre was skated onto by Lucic. The much bigger player was tied up physically all the way into the slot by Troy Stecher. As he finally succumbed to the basic physics of the play and fell aside, Lucic took a decent enough shot. The follow through of which promptly felled the young defender and sent him crumpling to the ice bleeding, while Pakarinen got an easy one on the rebound. Try hard, get hurt, and get scored on anyhow. Oy Vey.
- We are used to seeing Bo Horvat make bull rushes to the net, and he made an end to end one tonight that forced a huge save. But how about Nikita Tryamkin taking the puck in the neutral zone and turnstiling a defensemen on his way to the net ? Alex Biega had a bit of bad luck as it bounced over his stick on the rebound with a goalie down and out. The Twins were playing hard, and had a couple chances go awry. It was not like the Canucks were outplayed on home ice by a better team. They were going to the net, and it really looked like they would score. Credit Talbot. He played again for them tonight.
- They pulled the goalie with two minutes left. It looked like it would be futile, but once again, after an inexplicable miss on the empty net by Maroon, Alexander Elder beat Boucher to a rebound, and swept it home for the 3-2 goal. Hope ! ( or, conversely by a rightly smug #TankNation watching this one...problem ! )
- That was it though. The Canucks once again played hard, once again maybe deserved better, and once again got no feel good at the end. Tonight, even though the Canucks probably had the edge in play ( stats here ) they lost the shots tally 35-31, and were outshot in the second and third periods. Once again, goaltending was not a problem. Just those damn Puck Gods, I guess ( sorry PeeGee’s, I won’t take your name in vain again...can we haz a first overall pick now too ? ).
- The Canucks did have 16 shots blocked ( they blocked 12 ), and standouts include Brandon Sutter ( 3 shots, 3 blocks ), Alexander Elder ( 4 shots, 2 misses, 3 blocks, 1 hit ) and Bo had 4 shots while Brock Boeser had 3. Henrik Sedin had 2 assists to inch closer to Horvat for the team scoring lead. There isn’t a non Sedin name on there in the last forever. He could still nip you at the line tomorrow Bo !
Honestly though, it is tough for even a positive guy like me to remain positive in the face of not having a home ice win since February 18th. I take solace in the fact that they went all out for it tonight. I can take a loss if the team plays hard, and, to the very end this season, that is a hallmark of your team Vancouver. The talent level will increase, the injury list won’t always be ridiculously long, and better times might be closer than you think. I know the team is basically where the “experts” said they would be, but it took a season to rival the freaking adventures of Homer as far as strange occurrences, including a trifecta of mumps, food poisoning and some mystery virus that took out Goldobin, as well as more injuries to finally knock them out of a playoff race. They were in it far, far longer than anyone gave them credit for at the beginning of the year. They did that with more man games lost ( well over 400 and climbing, Sven Baertschi being the latest with a neck injury that kept him out tonight ) than anyone else this year, and where almost every prospect and call up got in the lineup ( sorry Jordan Subban ).
I’ll say it again. The trials and tribulations that this team has endured and worked through will make them stronger down the road. There is plenty to be positive about moving forward, and it looks like they could have the best chance at nabbing the first overall pick in team history. They have worked hard to the end, and that is something to be proud of, regardless of results.
Last time tomorrow...