After being frustrated about playing in a game with such an obvious talent disparity, Cory Schneider commented that, despite suffering a minor hip strain during the game, he “didn’t want to put Eddie in that situation“. Unfortunately, Despite Schneider’s best efforts, Eddie Lack ended up in exactly that situation. The Canucks once again iced a lineup devoid of NHL talent, this time against a Sharks lineup that included Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Dan Boyle, and Douglas Murray, along with an assortment of other NHL talent.
Surprisingly, then, Eddie Lack managed to keep things close despite some early struggles and this version of the Canucks competed hard and came just short against the star-studded Sharks. I watched this game.
The big story in this game was the battle to be the Canucks’ Raffi Replacement, with a number of promising candidates running into trouble. Owen Nolan struggled to keep up with the pace of play and was released from his tryout agreement after the game. Steve Pinizzotto tried to treat Douglas Murray like a bowling pin and separated his shoulder. That’s six and a half Raffi heads out of contention.
Further proof that Douglas Murray is not a bowling pin: when Aaron Volpatti attempted to line him up with a huge hit on the forecheck in the second period, Murray moved, causing Volpatti to spin awkwardly and collide back-first with the boards. Bowling pins don’t dodge. Still, Volpatti made an argument for Raffi-ness, logging 3 hits, many of them of the Whammy variety.
Volpatti’s Raffi Rating:
Speaking of potential Raffi Replacements, Mike Duco once again showed his abilities as an agitator, combining at one point with Maxim Lapierre to goad Joe Thornton and Douglas Murray into coincidental minors. That’s like trading a Magikarp and a Kabuto for a Lugia EX and a Shining Charizard.
Alexander Sulzer opened the scoring for the Canucks with a wristshot from the point that snuck its way through traffic like Frogger. I could have sworn that Niko Dimitrakos tipped it on its way through after winning the faceoff, but it’s probably for the best: Dimitrakos was released from his tryout agreement and the goal may as well go to the player sticking around.
Sulzer, on the other hand, made a good argument tonight for the anticlimactic role as the Canucks’ ninth defenceman, scoring a goal on 8 attempted shots and improving his play in his own end. Meanwhile, Ryan Parent continued his baffling inconsistency. It was an adventure every time he was near the puck, and not the good kind with awesome hats and magic dogs.
Brad Winchester must have given a certain segment of Canucks fans fits in this game. With rumours flying all off-season that the Canucks were going to sign the hulking winger, Winchester instead ended up on a tryout with the Sharks and he scored the tying goal just 20 seconds after Sulzer opened the scoring. With Lack unable to control Dan Boyle’s point shot, Winchester hammered away at the puck until it squeaked under Lack’s left pad. Somehow, I was reminded of this.
For anyone who was bemoaning the Winchester-lessness of the Canucks, he then proceeded to take 3 minor penalties for elbowing, boarding, and roughing respectively, giving the Canucks the chance to get themselves back into the game. And if their top powerplay unit wasn’t Cody Hodgson, Nicklas Jensen, Marco Sturm, Nolan Baumgartner, and Keith Ballard, they probably would have.
Thanks to having no members of their best-in-the-NHL powerplay in the lineup, the Canucks were a putrid 1-for-9 with the man advantage. They didn’t even have any shots on their first three powerplays. They were less effective with the extra man than movie ninjas.
As mentioned, Lack struggled at first, particularly when it came to controlling rebounds. San Jose’s second goal is a great example, as Lack blockered away a long shot to the boards, rather than into the corner, allowing Joe Pavelski to be first to the puck and find Tommy Wingels streaking into the slot, where he shot a bullet into the top corner of the net. Also, the puck.
Antoine Roussel made one last argument for staying on the roster, tackling Douglas Murray for a lopsided tilt after the massive Swede tagged Maxim Lapierre with a late hit. He even added 3 shots on net and brought a ton of energy every time he hit the ice. It wasn’t enough, as the Frenchman was released to the Chicago Wolves after the game.
Aaron Rome had a solid game; unfortunately, it ended in the second period, as he broke a finger blocking a shot. That’s not what fingers are for Rome. They’re for cooking.
Before that happened, he had a great assist on Cody Hodgson’s first goal of the preseason. Rome made a great pinch along the boards, sending the puck to Hodgson behind the net. Instead of heading back to the point, Rome slipped into a soft area of the offensive zone, getting a feed from Hodgson and getting a quick shot on net. Sturm batted at the rebound, sending it up and over Greiss, where Hodgson dove and knocked the puck over the line. Clearly he’s been taking diving lessons from the Sedins.
The Stork didn’t have a chance on Wingels’ second goal of the game: the puck flipped over the net and bounced directly in front of Wingels in the slot, where he whacked it past Lack. He had even less of a chance on Desjardins’ goal as Baumgartner tried to block the shot from just a couple feet in front of the goaltender, but only succeeding in deflecting it into the net. It makes me think that hockey needs to borrow a statistic from baseball: Earned Goal Average.
Just in case Alex Edler, Mikael Samuelsson, Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis all get injured, Keith Ballard and Nolan Baumgartner make a not entirely terrible duo on the point on the powerplay. The pair passed the puck back and forth until the perfect opportunity for a one-timer presented itself. Once it did, Baumgartner sent a perfect shot into the top corner. If we see that pairing at any point this season, of course, the Canucks are screwed.
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