Canucks 7 - 2 Flames
Two days ago, I called out Mason Raymond. I wondered if he was still playing hurt, or if his diminished numbers were closer to what we should expect from him going forward. To close the article, I wrote the following:
The third option is that Raymond is just a streaky player, and he's poised for another strong December. Last season, he scored 8 times in the month, including a hat trick in Calgary. If Raymond closes out the calendar year with a handful of tallies, then this whole post is a waste of time. I wouldn't mind. Is MayRay on the verge of a criticism-silencing hot streak?
It would appear that he is. Raymond was tonight's first star, netting his 2nd annual December hat-trick against Calgary, and generally making me look like an idiot. That's fine. I know I am personally responsible for this, and there will be my solace. Raymond showcased his speed and his ability to break away from defenders, and he also got that little bit of puck luck that can really help to get a guy going. He'd better stay going, too, or I'll have plenty more to say. I can be very cruel. Just ask my self-esteem, which I have been systematically tearing down for years. Anyway, I watched this game:
- I am a fan of Jeff Tambellini. He's got 4 points in the 3 games since his call-up, 7 points in 9 games this season, and the Canucks are 8-0-1 with him in the lineup. His speed and ability to get to loose pucks and get into scoring areas is an excellent complement to Kesler and Raymond's similar abilities, but he adds a different dimension in that he can also get a shot off in limited space. Earlier in the season, I made a case for Samuelsson as the best fit for this line, but I might have to eat that now. Last season, Ray and Kes played with Samuelsson and Grabner, and both players had their strengths. Samuelsson had the quick trigger, Grabner had the raw speed, but Tambellini has both of these elements. Can we keep him?
- Yes, Vancouver's second line was consistently dangerous tonight. The three forwards combined for 4 goals and 8 points tonight. I move that we call them the Jessie Spano line, because they're addicted to speed.
- The Canucks were all freshly-shaven tonight, and it was strange. I'm not used to seeing Ryan Kesler without his trademark stubble. He looked naked. That seems to be a theme with Kes these days. He's worse than Malin Akerman.
- The Canucks went 3-for-8 on the powerplay, and killed all three penalties they faced, scoring a shorthanded goal during one of them. They also scored 3 even-strength goals. 12 skaters got points. Not a lot to complain about tonight . Although Tanner Glass was a minus-1. Don't make us criticize you, Tanner. We've got your family and friends breathing down our neck, watching our every move... it's very nerve-wracking.
- On the plus side, let's give Glass some credit for his scrap with Tim Jackman. Rick Rypien is the one who always gets noticed for fighting outside his weight class, but Jackman has a good four inches on Glass. The fight was a draw, but I'll give the decision to Glass, because I really want him to play Scrabble with me. Glass's fighting has definitely improved, by the way. He showcased some excellent jukes and parries.
- I normally like Curtis Glencross, but what was he thinking? He seemed hellbent on destroying Keith Ballard, as though perhaps Ballard had stolen the crown jewel from Glencross's mythical sarcophagus, thereby resurrecting his evil spirit and incurring his otherworldy wrath. First, he hooks him, then he boards him, then he cross-checks him in the face. More than likely, Glencross is looking at a suspension, and perhaps a vanquishing at the hands of a mummy hunter.
- Speaking of Ballard, he played a decent game tonight. He had just under 15 minutes, but in that time, he had four blocked shots, a team-high. The defenseman with the most minutes, if you're wondering, was Christian Ehrhoff, who played 24:07.
- To the folks claiming the blowout against San Jose was directly caused by the absence of Kevin Bieksa, you must be right, because he didn't play in this game, either. Oh no wait, yes he did.
- I always find those "keys to the game" things a little obvious, but Ferraro and the rest of the crew knocked it out tonight. They claimed Calgary plays a decent game but is prone to devastating five or six-minute lulls. Calgary vehemently supported this claim. Every good stretch was followed by a stretch where their play was so poor Dan Ellis mistook it for Mike Smith.
- Poor Miikka Kiprusoff. Not only does Raymond deke him out of his shorts, but Kipper takes Alex Tanguay's knee to the back of his head once he's beaten. Perhaps Tanguay was trying to send a Ballard-like message? Next time I won't be so gentle.
- Speaking of messages, I recognize that Brent Sutter was trying to send one to his forwards, for played a lackadaisical game, but putting four defenseman out on the power play is a little like giving up, no? It seemed like a conflicting message to punish forwards for not going full-tilt while personally throwing in the towel. That's like telling your kids to eat their vegetables while you feed yourself cake frosting.
- And why is Sutter being so hard on his team anyway? The Canucks sleep doctor predicted this, so it was written. That sleep doctor is the greatest predictor of sporting outcomes since Paul the Prognoctopus.
- I really do hate the second-unit powerplay, but did you know that the first-unit only got one of the three powerplay goals? Granted, the last two goals came after Calgary had quit playing, but the second unit still produced. They'll have to, because Kesler's not coming back; he's too excellent an addition to that first-unit (his pass on this goal is evidence).
- Did everyone see Double Moustache Man? He is legend.
- And finally, a word about Alex Burrows. His goal tonight was a fabulous bit of patience and intelligence. Burrows outwaits the defender, then looks for the pass to Daniel. But, in a split-second, he recognizes that Kiprusoff's cheating across and snaps the puck past him. Burrows has a goal in three straight games and points in four straight. He could be on the verge of a very good stretch, like the one a cat does right after it wakes up.