Dan Hamhuis’s overtime winner was pure wizardous sedinerie.
Rejoice, Canucks fans! Last game wasn’t just a triumph, it was a return to form, or at least, something close to it. While the Canucks can say their Nashville game was one of their best, I respectfully disagree — the Canucks aren’t at their best playing tight-checking hockey. They’re at their best generating chances, and last night they were given none and created all. They shook their defenders, played a good cycle game, and used their defense well. Adjusting to injuries seemed no problem. The team that played last night could easily be called a contender, despite having more than $10 million worth of salary missing the game. Where did my elite team go? I don’t care, anymore, it’s just good that they came back, at least for a game, and that I watched it.
The Canucks’ transition game and their power play, keys to their success, looked dangerous again last night. They aren’t quite there yet, but for the first time in over a month, I felt like I was watching an elite team again. A lot of fans are satisifed with wins, but there’s a difference between winning games and …winning.
The Canucks showed last night something they hadn’t shown all: resilience. Last season, the Canucks had the best comeback rate in the league. This season, they usually strike first, but bad things can happen when they don’t. This is the first game the Canucks have ever won when trailing after the first period. After getting down 2-0, they remained patient, stayed with their game, and were rewarded. Until last night, their bounceback seemed a thing of the past. Something else that was resilient a long time ago: flubber.
Two of the Canucks goals (this one and this one) came on lucky bounces, but that doesn’t mean their victory was just luck. Phoenix got their lucky bounces on the goals that didn’t go in. Burrows and Kesler both had their chances, and either Bryzgalov was amazing or the puck was more amazing in its refusal to go in. Bryzgalov was the better goaltender last night, but he admittedly had way more chance to shine. It’d be easy for the ‘Yotes to blame the loss on bad puck luck, but really, they made their bed.
Ballard was quietly very impressive in his limited ice time. He registered only one shot on goal, but his trip back to Phoenix apparently reminded him of how he used to be a puck mover, cause he did a great job of pushing it forward. Is he ready for more ice time? Nope. He only logged one hit, and that tells me he’s still feeling the injuries he’s playing through. Alain Vigneault seems content to give him more time before he does something drastic like giving him more time.
Tambellini slotted well into the second line, recording five shots and four hits. One would normally say he’s versatile, fitting into both the top and bottom six, but he isn’t, really. He never looks comfortable in the bottom six. Sure, he can hit, but he doesn’t respond well to a limited role and winds up doing too much. He has two real jobs on this team: scoring, and pushing Mason Raymond. He belongs on the second line or in the press box.
I love Tanner Glass. As the staple of the fourth line, he kept his shifts simple, and Lapierre and Oreskovich began to follow. Glass didn’t even look for a pass when he had a shot at the goaltender — straight at the chest. For a fourth line, getting an offensive zone faceoff is a victory in itself. With Lapierre and Oreskovich both only recently joining (or re-joining) the Canucks, it’s good to see Glass reminding them what their line is for.
I said an offensive zone faceoff is a victory for the fourth line, and one of the reasons is that they didn’t start with the puck. Glass took one faceoff and lost it, Lapierre took four and only won one. Since his trade, Lapierre has won only 33% of faceoffs. Small sample size, I know, but the Canucks were in need of a center, not a winger, because centers can take faceoffs. As a great man once observed, once we find our center, we are sure to win.
The “Woo!” by Canucks fans after a goal was barely audible, but it made me smile. I know it annoys some people but I love it because, like the towel-waving, it’s truly a Canucks thing. Lots of Canucks fans complain about it, but they must hate joy.
Dan Hamhuis has been playing well of late, and it’s good to see him get rewarded. He had two goals, including the game-winner (above) and this one, and jumped up into the rush pretty well. Most impressive, though, was the stirring speech he gave to those worried about the Coyotes’ possible relocation. “How can you worry if your team will have a home, when so many in this country are already homeless?”
Who’s been missing Edler the most? The second power play unit. Last season, the second unit had Raymond, Kesler and Samuelsson. Last night, it had none of those three, and it showed. Samuelsson did a fine job on the point for the first unit, but without consistently dangerous forwards, the second unit, like Peter Petrelli in the third season of Heroes, is just too easy to contain.
I wasn’t pleased with the way the third period went, but it went that way because of the Coyotes, not because of the Canucks. The ‘Yotes would do anything, it seems, to push the game to overtime. They blocked everything up and scoring seemed like their fourth priority, defense, defensive play, and defending. The last faceoff was a great example of this — they had 2.5 seconds in the offensive zone after an icing call. They could have pulled the goaltender safely, or at least lobbied for more time to score, but Tippett made no effort whatsoever. They played for the OT loss.
This was the first game the Canucks won after being behind to start the second, but it was also the second game in a row the Canucks’ power play looked dangerous, and both Sedins had three point nights. With all the devils that have been exorcised of late, you’d think the Canucks hired someone or something.
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