Canucks 2 – 3 Ducks
A number of Canucks veterans played their first game of the preseason tonight: Luongo, Burrows, the Sedins, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Samuelsson, Edler, and Salo. That’s 9 out of 19 players playing their first game of the season. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t quite as crisp as they could have been. Also, they were not so fresh and so clean (clean).
That said, the top-six forwards looked remarkably like the top-six we can expect to see on opening night, and it was a sudden and shocking reminder of how the Canucks play: Oh yeah, that’s what good hockey looks like. How do I know what it looked like? I watched this game.
- A large number of Canucks fans were unable to watch the first two periods thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies/Atlanta Braves game going to extra innings. Thankfully, I have Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, which carried the game. The complaints on Twitter about Sportsnet continuing to show a game vital to the National League wild card race instead of cutting to a preseason hockey game were absurd. And I’m talking about the media.
- For those wondering, the Braves lost in the 13th inning and so will miss the playoffs. Kind of a big deal. Also, do yourself a favour and catch some highlights of the games involved in the American League wild card race. Absolutely insane. Also, a fan gets hit in the junk by the gametying home run in the Rays/Yankees game.
- The players battling for roles on the fourth line — Mark Mancari, Mike Duco, Victor Oreskovich, and Aaron Volpatti — were asked to prove their worth on the penalty kill, with all four seeing some significant time shorthanded. It’s clear that Vigneault will expect versatility from the wingers on the fourth line, which might be bad news for Todd Fedoruk.
- The rust was on display on the Ducks’ first goal, as everyone on the ice got their wires crossed. Cam Fowler spun off Duco at the blueline, who chased Fowler down the boards, peeling off as he approached the net thinking that Edler would take him. Instead, Edler inexplicably backed up into the slot, almost running into Bieksa. Schroeder, meanwhile, skated cross crease to take away the passing option. No one took Fowler. In desperation, Mancari skated down, stick outstretched, hoping to take away the front of the net. Instead, the puck deflected off his stick past Luongo. Like Fawlty Towers, it was a comedy of errors.
- While Luongo couldn’t be fawlted…er, faulted on the Fowler goal, Bobby Ryan’s 2-0 goal was another story. Just over a minute after the opener, Ryan stepped over the blue line and laced a shot top corner through Andrew Alberts’ legs. While Alberts certainly shouldn’t give a sniper like Ryan that much room, Luongo definitely wanted that one back.
- The Canucks came on in the second period, starting with a Henrik Sedin goal. While his linemates were changing, Henrik kept the play alive, sending it to the opposite corner, where Oreskovich alertly tracked it down and made a nice pass to Bieksa at the point. As he is wont to do, Bieksa sent a wristshot on net, where Henrik tipped the puck. After benefiting from a bounce off Mancari in the first, Fowler had Henrik’s tip go off his skate and over Jonas Hiller.
- Oreskovich was a revelation offensively, making a number of excellent passes and controlling the puck well down low. He also showed some latent dangling ability, creating space for himself with some excellent stick handling. Like Raffi Torres in a photograph, Oreskovich was noticeable. Was he motivated by my questioning of his Streakiscoringness? Is he angling for another Raffi head in his rating?
- Speaking of potential Raffi Replacements, Aaron Volpatti demonstrated some more bowlingballitude. Unfortunately, his prospective pin, Andrew Cogliano, was facing the boards at the time. While Cogliano did turn towards the boards just prior to the hit, Volpatti might still have had time to pull up. We’ll see if Sheriff Shanahan has another video to make.
- The Canucks first unit powerplay featured the expected substitutions: Burrows filled Kesler’s spot alongside the Sedins, while Samuelsson stepped into Ehrhoff’s role at the point. The powerplay didn’t strike, however, until the Canucks earned a 5-on-3 and Sami Salo stepped into a one-timer set up by Henrik with Burrows screening in front. Vigneault has to be given some credit, as he took a timeout, giving his first unit time to rest as well as giving Daniel the chance to shake off the slash that precipitated the 5-on-3.
- Some might think that Salo should be on the first unit instead of Samuelsson, considering Salo is, y’know, a defenceman. But that would be antithetical to how the Canucks run their powerplay. It should be noted that Salo took the place of Edler, not Samuelsson, when he came in on the 5-on-3. The Canucks like having a threat from the point and a roamer, which was the role that Ehrhoff played. Edler is the quarterback on the point of the first unit, Salo plays that role on the second unit, while stepping in at 5-on-3 when they want the big shot.
- Shorty’s play-by-play provided a line on Tanev that pretty much sums up how the youngster plays: Tanev gets bowled over by Sbisa but still comes up with the puck.
- At one point, Burrows clipped Fowler with his stick following through on a shot, then immediately skated over to make sure Fowler was okay. Who is this guy wearing a Burrows jersey?
- Andrew Alberts had a few moments where his skating let him down defensively, but he also had one superb moment offensively. Jumping into a 3-on-2 rush with Daniel and Burrows, he made like Henrik during a great give-and-go with Daniel, then a nice backhand-to-forehand move on Hiller. Unfortunately, like me trying to sing “O Holy Night,” he couldn’t get it high enough.
- I hate to rag on the refs during a meaningless preseason game, but there were a couple calls in the third period that showed the zebras are in preseason form as well. The first was a weak tripping call when Burrows hooked Sbisa’s stick. The second was a baffling interference call on Andrew Alberts nailed Cogliano with a solid check nearly simultaneous with Cogliano playing the puck. If that’s a penalty, they may as well cut the blades off their sticks and switch the puck for a rubber ring.
- Unfortunately, one of those penalties led to the game-winning goal. With Burrows in the box, Visnovsky slapped a one-timer through Luongo’s legs. The goal bore a distinct similarity to Salo’s tying goal, except Luongo didn’t have Alex Burrows jumping in his face. Luongo might receive a bit of criticism after this game. If so, he should pull a Carey Price and tell everyone to chill out. Please, Vancouver, we already riot like Canadiens fans. Let’s avoid criticizing our all-star goaltenders like them.
- Speaking of all-star goaltenders, Jonas Hiller was on fire tonight. Figuratively. He made 31 saves for the win, 18 of them coming in the third period. He was especially impressive when the Canucks got a late 5-on-3 and pulled Luongo to get the rare 6-on-3 advantage. His butterfly was unbeatable along the ice. Also unbeatable: his Butterfree. If he busts that out in a battle, you are hosed.
, I Watched This Game