Canucks 3 - 1 Avalanche
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say last night's game was the Canucks' most complete effort of the season. The first period alone was perhaps the best road period the Canucks have played in quite some time, as they dictated the play, kept the pressure on while they rolled their lines, opened the scoring (above), won a fight, generated numerous chances, and limited the pressure in their own zone. Concerns about letdowns in the second and third period prove to be unfounded as well, as the Canucks kept up their high level of play--with only the occasional gaffe--all game long. It was highly entertaining, and I am proud to say that I watched this game.
- It was quite nice to see Ryan Kesler find his sweet spot on the power play and net the opening goal. He was the best player on the ice tonight, and it's not often you can say about about the Kesler who travels. His woes on the road are as storied as Wile E. Coyote's. Has he turned a corner? Hopefully. I hypothesize that, if he has, it's because he has a blanket he takes with him everywhere, and it makes every bed feel like his bed. That's always worked for me. That and having my Mom there to tuck me in, no matter where I am. Tousle my hair, Mom. Ha ha, delightful.
- Considering the proficiency of the Canucks' special teams this season, I'm working on keeping my mouth shut about the removal of Kesler from the second unit. It's a lot easier to do when he scores on the first unit, and the second unit scores later without him. Apart from small lulls, Canucks' special teams have been excellent this season. The Henrik Sedin goal was a prime example. That was some grade-A puck movement. Also grade-A? The paper I'm currently writing on the similarities between the Marxist and Thomist dismissals of justice as a primary virtue and their Aristotelian influence. I am so smart.
- It's funny, because I thought Henrik and Daniel had a pretty quiet game. When the 60 minutes was over, however, Henrik had the game-winner and Daniel had two assists. His pass to Kesler for the first goal was spectacular.
- Raffi Torres continues to be a masterful tipper. He's tippier than a game of Jenga played in a canoe. He had four shots tonight, and looks to be brimming with confidence. Seven goals in 12 games will do that to you.
- I know all three Canucks goals were scored on the powerplay, but, again, we got one goal from each of our top three lines. That is excellent, balanced production.
- Mason Raymond was incredible tonight. 5 shots, and a ton of quality chances. He didn't score, but he looked fantastic, like going clubbing in an argyle sweater vest.
- Somebody needs to tell Andrew Alberts that, while the Canucks might have confidence in him carrying the puck up ice, other teams don't. Tonight, just like in the last game, he was the perpetrator of a brutal turnover in the defensive zone that could have been avoided if he'd moved the puck up-ice quickly. Instead, he flaunted his newly spawned self-confidence and held onto it. The Avs got a prime scoring chance. Yes, you're big, so you're quite difficult to knock off the puck, but you're also pretty easy to hit, because you're big. Andrew: move the puck faster.
- That said, my favorite part of that broken play was when Garrett tried to blame it on Kevin Bieksa. Don't try to ingratiate yourself to me, John Garrett. Anyway, Kevin Bieksa was good tonight. At times I found myself liking his game. I am suddenly aware that this is happening with an alarming frequency. I'm concerned he might be good. What is happening to me?
- Alex Edler continues to be a rock on defense, but I expect his game to really flourish when Dan Hamhuis comes back. Edler should be able to join the rush a little more and show a little more creativity when he knows Hamhuis is behind him. Christian Ehrhoff is not Dan Hamhuis. Sometimes, watching his and Edler's confusion over who will jump into the rush is akin to watching two guys try to go through a door at the same time.
- Guillaume Desbiens broke his hand in a fight, and I have two thoughts. My first thought: this happens a lot. Don't you think guys would realize that punching a helmet as hard as you can is a good way to break your hand? I feel like it's obvious. Anyway, my second thought regarding Desbiens' broken hand: meh.
- Mikael Samuelsson is still drifting through games like some kind of zombie. (Okay, that's an overstatement, but I wanted to link to my favourite Christian rock song ever.) Anyway, he's having trouble finding a rhythm. My advice: relax, Sammy. Eventually, the rhythm is gonna get you.
- And finally, Cory Schneider is going to be so easy to trade. He was fantastic tonight. 33 saves, one goal allowed. He made it look easy, but this game was anything but. The Avalanche can create offense, and while they may not have had a ton of quality scoring chances, they had some excellent shots from good scoring areas. Schneider was one step ahead of them all night, getting square, taking away the net, and swallowing up the puck. There is still no goaltending controversy. The Canucks simply have two delicious options, like going to a Tim Horton's that is also a Wendy's.