The afterglow from Wednesday was still glistening off our fresh little patch of smugness. #1 in the league for at least a day. Top of the Pacific for another day after that. Parade planners were calling us. Sportynet commentators saying nice things about us. Well...not us, us. But the team and the way they played on opening night. The way they play when EP is in the lineup.
Already the paid-to-pu pundits were gushing about how Elias has the wrist shot of Sakic, the shifty unpredictability of Forsberg, the nimbleness of Kariya and...well... you get the idea.
In many ways we’ve already won the season. Especially if it had ended on Thursday as Westy suggested. He mentioned in the gamethread intro that he wasn’t a fan of B-2-B games against the same team. And noted how things don’t go to plan and blah blah blah. The Nucks would have won, but Westy sowed little rum doubts (or burps) in us and they floated over the Rockies landing right in the Saddledome.
Remember just a few days ago, EP scored his first NHL goal? That was an amazing play. And more amazing was the fact we had the lead in the first.
Tonight, the rum doubt fluffies made us recall a more familiar 1st period start. Down a goal early in a hostile red barn.
On the their first shot and tip, Cowtown got their first goal. 12 seconds in. Ugh. The gamethread tossed their stillborn smugness in the toilet and waited for the Canucks first road loss to unfold. And it did. But not quite like in recent seasons.
Because the EP/Goldy/Loui line amped up the pressure. Goldy had a couple goes and made a sleek pass to Elias in the slot - he snapped a shot so full of snappiness past Smith that Mike had a moment of involuntary rubberneck lash.
Tied 1-1. That’s not so bad on the road.
Next up, Goldy took a penalty and put fear into the Flames who are forced by league rules to play a full 2 minutes with the man advantage. The nhl can be cruel.
Coming into this battle of snowcones, the Premature Oxygenaters had lost momentum and the will to cross bluelines for 14 minutes in the previous game. Our perfect PK of Impervious Perfection had made the ROG rock its socks off.
But it didn’t do the one thing that really puts loathing in a slumping PP. Score a shortie. So, with perfection already perfected, the Nucks set out to make a more perfect statement. Sutter gets a shorthanded goal. Wooo! We’re winning! In the 1st!
And that’s how the period ended.
Except, on the road, the timekeepers work for the home team. They could have stopped at the gracious 16:38 mark of the 1st. Sixteen Thirty-Eight. It even sounds gracious.
Nope. Instead the time-expanders kept the period going. And just after the Flames powerplay expired, which had already expired last Wednesday, but anyhow, with time not on our side and Giordano on theirs, Calgary ties it up.
And sure enough within 3 minutes the timekeepers ended the period. WTH? They could have graciously saved us all a few minutes and some typing for me. But no, they clung to their 20 minute interval and the 1st is over with a 2-2 tie.
Still a tie on the road is as good as a win. Pretty much.
So, the 2nd starts with us winning on the road. On the powerplay. Less than 3 minutes in, the Nucks powerplay that didn’t get much chance to play last game - played real good.
And guess who got his first NHL Powerplay goal. Correct. It was EP. With a blast past Smith.
14 19 year old kid is really good at hockey. 3rd nhl goal. 2nd of the night. Leads the team in points. In just two games. Wow!
Canucks lead 3-2. And have pretty much won the special teams battle.
Since the Nucks can play one-down with impunity, Virt was curious how the sinbin in Cowtown smells and quickest way to find out is to visit it personally.
Here’s where our smug record of PK perfection takes a small dent. From a small player. In the dying seconds of the latest futile Flames powerplay, With 9 stupid seconds left Johnny Hockey knocks a rebound past Marky.
Game is tied up. Again. 3 all.
And that’s the end of an era. Won’t be able to say we had the league’s most perfect PK on the night. Oh well. It was great while it lasted. 89 and a half minutes of PK perfection stretching all the way back to last Wednesday.
Moving on. To our other special team. And special player.
What a seeing eye pass from Elias to Bo.
With that perfect play, the Canucks have the lead 4-3 going into the 3rd. They’ve pretty much won the game. The most important two thirds of it at least.
Let’s not dwell on this aberrant, possibly deviant period. The Flames lit up the lamp for 2 more goals against Marky and two more empty netters. Two EN goals?! Yeah, pretty deviant behaviour for the home team when they’ve already been beaten in the most most important period of the game, the middle one. Sore losers.
Unlike Nucks fans. This loss bounced right off without inflicting much pain. Sure, we grumbled a bit in the gamethread. But as Thursday put it in the thread:
Still, nice to have an exciting game when you let in six…
And it was an exciting game. Easily as exciting as when we won. Exciting losses are one of the highest forms of losing. And that spells: W-I-N-N-I-N-G in NM-speek.
Here’s the video highlights of the excitement:
Just two games in and EP is tied for the league scoring lead. Wow!
How did the players feel about the game?
Sutter said the numerous PKs were just a little too exciting for his tastes.
So how about our rookie? Does he feel good about leading the league in points already or ?
He already sounds like our former Swedish superstars - doesn’t like to lose - exciting game or not.
We may not win all the games this season. We may not win even half the games, but sometimes it’s just fun to watch how EP plays the game.
His fancy stats are off the chart - scores on 50% of shots. But, we won’t get all numbered up just yet. Let’s wait at least another game and then go off the charts.
As per the Nucks tradition, they were out shot almost 2:1, 37-20. Some traditions are tough to lose. Like the losing tradition. But maybe the Nucks have lost that boring losing tradition and are on the cusp of a new exciting losing one. Dare to dream.
On Tuesday, in game 2 of the endless road trip, the Nucks are in to Carolina to take the wind out of the Hurricanes. Where some or at least me, predict Brock will record his first hattie of the season just to keep the slumping sophomores off his pointless production performance art.
So... keep the home rain guards clean and leave the empties where Westy can see them. And enjoy another great week of exciting NM hockey spotting.