Canucks 2 - 1 Oilers
Let's talk about Daniel and Henrik Sedin, currently sitting 4th and 7th in the NHL with 36 and 35 points, respectively. Henrik has 4 more assists than any other player; Daniel is 5th in the league in goals. They've been among the top ten scoring leaders since the season began, but sometimes it's easy to forget how good the Sedins really are.
It's easy because the Sedins aren't always flashy. Sometimes they're merely opportunistic when we'd prefer they were creating their own opportunities. The Sedins are so good they can have forgettable games and still get two points apiece. But who wants that? It's a truism, but you want your best players to be your best players, and the Sedins are among the best in hockey. We don't want to see that reflected on the stat sheet; we want to see it on the ice.
Tonight the Sedins put in a dominant performance from puck drop to buzzer. It might have been their best game of the season. For once, they got two points when they probably should have had more. It was kinda nice. More please.
- We here at PITB often talk about what we call wizardous sedinerie, defined as an instance when the Sedins do something positively magical and make it look conspicuously easy, like perhaps they're secretly hockey man-witches. (Not to be confused with hockey man-sandwiches). We saw two instances of this last night. Both goals tonight were wizardous.
- Henrik Sedin is the only player for whom I get depressed when he scores. I don't ever want him to score. I want him to get 100 assists. I want him to have more helpers than a secret slave colony.
- It seemed like Alain Vigneault wasn't planning to play the Sedins much in this game. They had only 4 minutes of icetime in the first, and only 5 minutes in the second. But by the third, it was apparent that A) they were playing dominant hockey, and B) they were the best bet for a much-needed insurance goal. As a result, they played nine minutes in the third--just under half of the period. He rode the Sedins like they were Marty McFly's hoverboard.
- It probably wouldn't have been necessary, but tonight was a spotty night for Ryan Kesler, the next scoring option, whose Raymondlessness is allowing defenders to focus on shutting him down. For the second night in a row, the Canucks' leading shooter was held to only one shot. He made things harder on himself by winning only 4 of 13 faceoffs, spending the whole evening chasing the puck. He was good on the defensive end, though, with a game-high 5 hits and solid checking that directly contributed to the Oilers pathetic shot totals.
- Oh my, were they pathetic. The Canucks held the Oilers to a wimpy 11 shots in the game, including 1 shot in the third period. Unfortunately, the Oilers scored on that shot, spoiling Roberto Luongo's shutout bid. But 1-for-1 is a dangerous way to live. Revenge merely propagates more violence.
- Last night, Alain Vigneault tried Dan Hamhuis in Christian Ehrhoff's place on the top powerplay unit. It was a short-lived experiment. This morning, I suggested Keith Ballard, but it was Mikael Samuelsson manning the other point the first time an Oiler landed in the box. With this configuration in place, the Canucks' NHL-best powerplay went 0-for-7 against the Oilers' NHL-worst penalty kill. Even on a lengthy 5-on-3 for which that top unit stayed out nearly the entire time, they couldn't put the puck past Devan Dubynk. I'm not sure Samuelsson is the answer.
- While we're all thinking of him, Keith Ballard finally cracked 20 minutes of icetime. He played 20:29 this evening and finished a plus-1. He continues rush the puck out from behind his own net with confidence.
- On the Oilers' side, Ryan Whitney played a game-high 29:58. In that time, he had a game-high six giveaways. Granted, Whitney's minutes were inflated by Edmonton losing Jim Vandermeer to injury, but six giveaways? Those are spam filter numbers.
- Kevin Bieksa had 6 blocked shots tonight. In fact, the Canucks had an impressive 20 blocks in total. That's more blocks than my first Duplo set. Duplo is a sweet idea--it's Lego you can't choke on and die. Mind you, that takes away all the suspense.
- And lastly: Quietly, the Canucks have improved their road record to 7-5-2. It's a good road record. I mean, it's not Captain Falcon good, but it's still good.
Here are some additional thoughts after a much-needed sleep and a break from IWTGs (I wrote two yesterday):
- What was the referee's argument for Magnus Pajaarvi's penalty shot early in the game? Not since Gob Bluth have I seen such liberal use of breakaways. I think both teams would have preferred a simple penalty call. The Oilers could have used the momentum swing, and the Canucks know how Roberto Luongo does in shootouts.
- That said, Roberto Luongo has only ever let one past him in a penalty shot situation. What exactly is the difference between a penalty shot and a shootout attempt? Because he's great at one and terrible at the other. That's like a motivational speaker who struggles with oration.
- I mentioned this in the comments as well: I neglected to talk about the way the Canucks hitty defense manhandled the Oilers little skill forwards. Tonight was an expertly played road game by Vancouver, especially in the implementation of their physical game plan. Next time somebody asks you if the Canucks are tough enough, show 'em tape of this game.
- Taking a page from the Keith Ballard school of goaltender motivation, the Canucks kept springing surprise attacks on their own goaltender. Both Andrew Alberts and Kevin Bieksa nearly scored on their own net, which would have been unfortunate, save the fact they would have gotten a verse in the next Bloge Salming/Down Goes Brown hip hop team-up.