With the Oilers playing at home, and still ( The Ducks won in O/T, so it’ll be the Oil vs Sharks in opening round ) having a little something to play for at the start of this one, the prospect of completing the “tanking” was good. With the Coyotes and Devils both finishing with 70 points, the Canucks, sitting at 69 points, they actually had something riding on this one, in reverse. MOAR PING PONG BALLS!!!
- Regardless of this result, and what happens in this offseason, thank you Willie Desjardins. With a lineup that was more malleable than Silly Putty, with constantly shifting lines and players in and out in various stages of healthy, he had his team playing hard, in close games, all season long. Because of that lineup, a dearth of talent, and a variety of other reasons all season long, they could have packed it in often. They lost a lot since they decided to “play the kids” once the playoffs were a dream, and there are plenty of places to improve. But in a hockey mad market, Willie took the slings and arrows like a man, and kept his eye on the prize of teaching his young charges.
- There is nothing to say about that first goal. Well, the call that led to it on Tryamkin was just stupid, the classic “big guy on smaller guy” penalty. ( He pushed Caggiula and got a roughing call from centre ice, when the guy looking at it from 5 ‘ away was “meh”. It was not even a hard push, just a 6’7” guy on a 5’9” one. Not a good call ), and then Elder slashed Slepyshev’s stick and broke it, and that is almost automatic. The penalty kill was actually awesome. They held the Oilers to no shots with a two man disadvantage for over a minute, before a pass from Eberle went off of Sbisa’s skate and in. Giving two assists on that one just feels dirty.
- The Oilers were simply the better team tonight. Hardly surprising, considering the teams and their relative positions. The Canucks were still competitive in this one, at least at the start, and even tied it up, own a goal early in the second that netted Henrik Sedin a point to tie Bo Harvard for the team scoring lead. Bo struggled down the stretch to score, and Henrik caught him at the end. I am guessing neither man cares. Nonetheless, the tying goal was early in the second, and after a Twins play along the boards to get some room, Daniel made a saucer pass that Nikolay Goldobin promptly took out of the air and into the net. A goal scorer’s goal for sure.
- That did not last long. 2:10 later, one of those “growing pains” that come from playing the kids happened, as Boeser was pressured along the boards and made a blind pass into the slot. He found Jordan Eberle instead of a teammate, and his quick shot beat Backman for the 2-1 goal.
- It was 3-1 not too long afterwards, but that goal was rightly overturned when Eberle was one skate off, one skate on the bench as the play went in. It was a hard working goal where they had the Canucks running around, and the respite from the successful challenge was only temporary, however.
- With a little over five minutes remaining in the second. It was an example of McDavid’s talents that got the disputed goal back. He went off a face-off win outside the line, made Sbisa look silly when he got caught puck watching, and then got a pass through Tanev’s skates to give Caggiula an easy goal to make it 3-1. Just the shift before, Tanev had handled a rush at speed from Mcdavid, just by doing the basics and ignoring all the shucking and jiving with the stick and puck, and just taking the body. Luca did not even try to do the same, unfortunately.
- After two periods, it was 3-1, and the shots were 25-10 ( stats here ), and while the Canucks were trying to compete, it was apparent who was the better team on the night. With the hits 14-10 Oilers, and the face-offs 29-20 for the Canucks, it was at least competitive, with #TankNation at least wondering if something might happen to risk the 2nd worst record in the NHL.
- Yeah, not so much. The Oilers outshot the trailing team 18-7 in the final frame. They scored :31 into the period, with Eberle finishing off a nice passing play and getting his second career hat trick, against Horvat’s line running around. 1:19 later, McDavid made a nice rush and pass to Draisatl to make it 5-1. This one came at the expense of a Goldobin mistake at the other end. The Sedins were buzzing, and he tried to make a blind pass to daniel that was picked off, and resulted in the rush the other way. Mistsake happen, and there were chances to stop that rush up the ice as well, but that pass was not a good play.
- The Canucks got the final goal of the game, when Bo Horvat won a draw cleanly, and Nikita Tryamkin capped off a very good season in spite of the record with his second of the year. He blasted a rolling puck top corner to make the final score 5-2.
- One thing to be proud of for the team tonight was a superb penalty kill. With a two man advantage off a bad break call that resulted in a super flukey goal, they were killing off man advantages all night agains t team loaded with guys that like to move it around. They had a few shots, but also a couple kills where they had zero shots, and the Canucks went 1 for 5, and paid the price in blocks and hustle right up to the end.
That is something to be proud of Canuck fans. We’ll get into the autopsy on this season, the stayers and goers, the risers and fallers, later. As is always the case in a season where the results are this bleak, there will be changes. Even though they hit the 69 points that was predicted perfectly, I don’t think I am some pollyanna by saying that this team was better than that record.
Hell, they have not had the entire planned upon roster all year long. Excuses are not enough, and like I said above, some of the travails the team went through exceed the imagination. They found new and interesting ways to lose games they were in all year long, and perhaps giving up the first goal 53 times helped that. They were not good enough to overcome the math that comes with playing from behind all the time.
But they played above their talent level. Remember that as the curtain falls on this season. Media types will tell you how they would “solve” this and that. Botch’ will be passive aggressive in the Provies, Paterson will pause.....and then tell us some narrative he came up with to support some question he had, instead of just, you know, reporting, and McIntyre will inevitably try to play both sides of the fence again ( say what you will about Botch’, he has an opinion and sticks with it ).
We will have time to digest and / or ( as is your desire ) ignore all those narratives and solutions in the weeks and months to come. But, for now, I just want to end by saying I am proud as hell of this team. They did not get the results a fan desires, but they sure as hell did not give in, at any time.
That is a very good thing. You can get more talent. You can get a new coach to instill a new attitude. But that work ethic, whether it is the coach who cultivated it, or the next one who prunes and waters that ethic to make it grow and bloom next year, that work ethic is a damn important thing to take away from this season.
OK...clean out the lockers boys. Meet the fitness guys for your offseason plans, and you guys that live nearby one another, I am sure you’ll be ( wink wink ) practising and playing together this summer.