Canucks 6 - 2 Senators
Thank goodness. After the Canucks' win streak was halted at six the other night in Montreal, cracks in the sky began to form and it seemed a foregone conclusion that it would fall. I mean, seriously, you guys, they lost. They lost a game. The hockey media began to panic, trying to decide which press box banishment was the magical formula for stopping the Canucks' losing skid before it got any worse. Alberts out, Ballard in, they said. Rome out! Ballard in! Alberts out, then Rome out, then Ballard back in, then Alberts back in! One guy suggested the Canucks call up Lee Sweatt and Patrick Coulombe, put one on the other's shoulders, then have them wear a big trench coat and pretend they're one guy. The panic button was quite nearly pushed, I say.
And then the Canucks won tonight, and now they've won seven of eight. All is right with the world, and not just because victory is Vancouver's--also, because I watched this game.
- Tonight's game was a welcome change from the Montreal game, as wide open as a pervert's bathrobe. Still, I think we all would have liked to see the Canucks do the tighten up. Their turnover rate was nearly as high as the food service industry.
- Ryan Kesler's two-goal night is exactly what we need out of him. The 2nd line's numbers on the road have been bad. Really bad. But they were the best line on the ice tonight. After a game in which the percentage of shots from the point was too high, it was nice to see the second line lead the way, combining for 12 shots: Samuelsson had 5, Kesler 4, and Raymond 3. More importantly, though, they had the run of play, and did an excellent job keeping the pressure on when the Sedins weren't on the ice.
- That's the big thing. When you have a line like the Sedins, you want to make sure teams can't simply target them and breathe easy once they hit the bench. That didn't happen tonight. Even the fourth line created offense, with Mario Bliznak and Tanner Glass scoring. A two-goal night from the fourth line is a little decaffeinated coffee: it is the opposite of regular.
- Congratulations, by the way, to Mario Bliznak for recording his first NHL goal. What I would have given to see Peter Schaefer's reaction. He scored? Eff. I'm never getting back in. It must have been even more frustrating because Chris Kelly let it happen by standing off to the side like a men's room attendant. I assumed Bliznak was brought up for his faceoff ability, but he was just 5-10 on faceoffs. That said, he was 2-for-2 against Chris Kelly, so maybe Bliznak was brought up because he's got Kelly's number? Anyway, Bliznak was decent tonight, and I hope he sticks with the team, at least for a little while. Long enough for me to get my Bliznak is the Shiznit t-shirts made up.
- Speaking of faceoffs, the Canucks' top three drawmen were all over 50%, which seems to be the case in almost every one of their wins, but here's the big number. Ryan Kesler was 17-20, good for 82% in the faceoff circle. If there was any doubt about who was the best player on the ice tonight, well, it was Kes.
- With his two 2nd period scraps, Rick Rypien quite nearly broke a record for most fights in twenty minutes. However, he was two fights short of the the mark set by my wife and I last month. Sidenote: My wife would like to suggest I sweeten this joke up by changing fights to hugs, but come on, that's impossible. Hasn't she ever heard of the male refractory period? Second sidenote: my wife just explained what hugging is. Then showed me. It was nice.
- I really liked Luongo's response after letting in that softie in injury time. He was choked. When the game is firmly in hand, and your goalie is that upset about letting one past him, you know he's locked in. He was fantastic tonight, stopping 33 of 35, a surprisingly high number of those shots being quality chances.
- Congratulations to Alain Vigneault for recording his 300th coaching win tonight. With so many NHL victories, I think it's safe to say he might know better than fans when it comes to personnel moves. This excludes me, of course. Use Schneider in the shootout!... as a shooter.
- I liked the flashback of Bowness and Vigneault dressed as Don Johnson from back when they worked in Ottawa. Amusing. But you'd think, upon discovering they were wearing the same Halloween costume, one of them would have gone home and changed.
- Super congratulations to my favourite player, Alex Burrows, getting his first two points of the season: a goal and an assist. I know the goal just looks like a tap-in, but watch how quickly he stops and turns back to the front of the net when he sees Henrik ring the puck around for Daniel. That is a man that knows exactly where to go with those two guys.
- The first line was excellent tonight, especially in the timeliness of their goals. Their first goal was 22 seconds into the first period. Their second was 33 seconds into the third. If I were a coach, my coaching strategy would be to score in the first minute of periods to really sap the opponent's momentum. Failing this, I would tell my players to give up, as I have no other strategies.
- In case you think injuries are no excuse: did you notice Dan Hamhuis looks a little shaky yet? He was back on the top pairing tonight with over twenty-three minutes of icetime, but he didn't look even close to the guy who looked almost all-star calibre to start the season. It'll take him a little time to get back up to speed. Think about that the next time you start ripping Keith Ballard while ignoring his concussion and hip surgery.