Canucks 3 - 2 Flames (OT)
For the third time in the last four years, the Canucks and Flames found themselves paired up for game 82 with little on the line. Considering the lopsided outcome of the previous two season-enders, with the Flames walloping the Canucks 7-1 in 2008 and the Canucks matching that goal total in a 7-3 rout last year, one might have assumed that this contest wouldn't be lively or close. But it was. Like extramarital sex with a ghost, this one was a spirited affair. After falling behind by two, Vancouver needed a third-period comeback and an overtime marker from Christian Ehrhoff to head into the postseason on a winning note. I watched this game:
- Also a winning note: C.
- Just like last year, Daniel and Henrik combined for an absolute beauty in the final game of the season, setting up Ryan Kesler for the game-tying goal (above). This one adhered to the Third Law of Sedinery, which says that the Sedins will always make one more pass than is necessary. Consider: Daniel is in behind the defense. Most other players cut to the net in this instance for what is routinely called a breakaway. Instead, Daniel goes wide, drawing both defenders to him, then makes a backpass through four guys to Henrik, who finds Kesler trailing the play. Seriously. The Sedins are the only guys that find trailers on breakaways. These guys love trailers. They have to be a half hour early for every movie, that's how much they love trailers.
- The assist was Daniel Sedin's second of the night, after a centring pass that allowed Alex Burrows to cut the lead in half. With that, Daniel finishes the season with 104 points, good for the Art Ross trophy. He truly was out for blood. Now, it may be eight less than his brother scored last season, but it's also ten more than his brother scored this season. Suck on that, Henrik.
- I love Kevin Weekes' liberal use of the word literally. He's like Rob Lowe in Parks & Recreation. Consider this Weekes-ism, following an early third-period assault from the Canucks: Alain Vigneault obviously did some fine work in this intermission because the Canucks have come out on fire literally. Hmm. I can tell you that, if the Canucks came out from their locker room and they were literally on fire, the broadcast would have taken a markedly different turn.
- There were seven slashing penalties in this game. Seven. Seven! This one had more slashes than a complicated URL. The worst of these was a Henrik Sedin two-hander that seemed relatively out of character Captain Hook, typically known for more passive stick infractions. Slashing is more of Mikael Samuelsson's thing. Now, one might argue that, if Sammy's so slashy, how come he wasn't called for a slash in this slashiest of games? Remember that his third period roughing penalty came when he was pulled out of a scrum he started with a slash. Yes, Mikael Samuelsson slashes like Wal-Mart. Know what else has a lot of slashes? This paragraph. Slash slash slash.
- Alex Burrows isn't known for his skating, but it's hard to miss his improvement in this area. It really stood out during a first period penalty kill, where he won a puck battle, then took the puck around his net and blew the zone with possession. Then, after putting a shot on goal, Burrows managed to be the first forward back, in perfect position to intercept a weak pass from Olli Jokinen. Some beautiful strides during this sequence. For a guy who used to look like he was the only player on the ice wearing roller blades, Burrows has come a long way.
- That said, he's still Alex Burrows. Consider a third period altercation with Jarome Iginla where he goaded Iginla into dropping the gloves, only to forget to reciprocate. Whoops. I suspect Burrows' passion for winning turds stems from the fact that he sort of is one.
- It was fabulous to see all six members of the Canucks' defense finally combine to form Mega Dragonzord. They were a little too reliant on stretch passes last night, but the promise of this group is hard to ignore. Any one of them can spring a guy at any time. Another good way to spring a guy? Have a girl walk in with an itty-bitty waist and a round thing in your face.
- Congratulations to Christian Ehrhoff on collecting his 50th point of the campaign on the overtime winner. Ehrhoff has had a fabulous season, and now becomes the first Canucks' defenseman in 15 years to reach the 50-point plateau. Henrik Karlsson was upset about the goal, feeling he'd been interfered with. Unfortunately, the refs didn't buy it, maybe because claiming Mason Raymond interfered with you is a little like claiming Jesus drank all the wine.
- Aaron Rome actually didn't look too bad playing wing on the 4th line. He had 3 shots, 4 hits and a takeaway, as well as a few decent scoring chances. In truth, Rome acquitted himself nicely enough that this could potentially be an option in the playoffs. It might be a nice way to ensure that the Canucks don't find themselves, after an injury, playing with five d-men in the late stages of an important game. Sidenote: at one point, I was concerned Rome's strong play might earn him a few extra shifts, somehow managing to give him more minutes than Keith Ballard, even as a fourth-line winger.
- There was a brief scare during the first period, when Ryan Kesler headed to the dressing room with an apparent knee injury. Mind you, you had to know he was coming back. When I was a child, I had a posable MC Hammer doll, and my brother popped off its legs, then reattached them backwards, so Hammer's knee bent up towards his stomach. If that had happened to Kesler's knee, he would still have returned. Rule of thumb: if Kesler doesn't leave the game via medicopter, he'll be back soon.
- This was Cory Schneider's 25th appearance of the season, and by allowing fewer than eight goals, he has officially won a share of the Jennings trophy with Roberto Luongo. Schneider's play this season has been fabulous, but I hope this was his last game as a Canuck. A playoff appearance means something has gone horribly wrong, and a return as Lou's backup next season would be beneath him. One could easily argue Schneider is the best rookie goalie in the NHL. He finishes fifth in the league with a 2.23 goals against average, and his .929 save percentage is good for third. In fact, his performance last night bumped his save percentage one point better than Luongo's, dropping the Canucks' starter to fourth in the category. This parting blow may affect Luongo's outside shot at a Vezina nomination, as the "top three in wins, GAA, and SV%" argument is now dead. Think Luongo regrets lobbying for Schneider to get 25 appearances now?
- And finally, someone threw a salmon onto the ice again. Clearly, no one is listening to me.