Canucks 3 – 2 Blue Jackets
In case you don’t understand why Alain Vigneault puts so much stock into winning faceoffs, consider what happened after Manny Malhotra lost the opening draw of tonight’s game: the Canucks didn’t touch the puck for the next thirty-two seconds, during which time the Blue Jackets applied early pressure and drew a high sticking penalty. Then, before that penalty expired, Marco Sturm took a tripping penalty, and the Canucks wound up spending the first quarter of the period on the penalty kill. As a result, the Sedins didn’t see their first shift until four minutes in, the Blue Jackets held all the momentum for the first half of the period, and the Canucks didn’t register their first shot on goal until twelve minutes into the contest. If Malhotra wins that faceoff, Vancouver gets off to a better start. Thankfully, the Canucks finished better than they began, winning da turd and thereby collecting their first win of the season. And I watched this game.
- Malhotra fared much better on his second neutral zone faceoff, winning the puck and starting the play that would result in the 1-1 goal, then picking up the first assist on it after Chris Higgins redirected his wrist shot from the point. While I’m sure he was pleased to tie the game, Higgins was of course more interested in the five-man group hug that followed. The man loves a good group hug. That’s why they call him Kiss Huggins.
- Vancouver’s special teams were much better in this game, scoring a goal on the powerplay and killing off all five minor penalties they took. Of course, their improved penalty kill may be the result of Columbus’s abysmal powerplay: the Blue Jackets are 0-for-16 to start the season. The signing of James Wisniewski, who was third among defencemen last season in powerplay points, was supposed to help in this regard, but he’s still got five games of a suspension to serve. When he walks into the room at the end of the ban, everyone will just start sobbing with joy.
- For the Blue Jackets’ 2-1 goal, Cory Schneider gave up a stinky wraparound to Vinny Prospal in the second period, failing to get his skate flush to the post. It would appear Schneider’s Roberto Luongo impression rivals his Jannik Hansen impression.
- Schneider redeemed himself in the third period, stopping Maksim Mayorov on a penalty shot after Chris Tanev (unsuccessfully tried to) put his hand on the puck in the crease. It was hilarious listening to Shorty and Garretty, those most lovable of homers, argue the entire play. First, they argued that Tanev hadn’t actually covered it up. Then, when it became apparent that the puck might have crossed the goal line prior to the net coming off, they changed course, arguing that the ref had already blown the whistle for a penalty shot and it was too late to overturn the call. Hilarious.
- Also hilarious: the Columbus fans on that play. No goal?! Boo! What’s that, penalty shot?! Yay! … No goal!? Boo!
- Henrik Sedin led the way in icetime among Canuck forwards tonight, logging only 19:26. That’s right — there wasn’t a single Canuck forward that played over twenty minutes. That’s some quality minute management, Alain Vigneault. Missy Elliott would be proud.
- Marco Sturm had no shots tonight and lost almost every puck battle he entered. Worse, for a guy that’s supposed to be fleet of foot, Marco Sturm looks painfully slow. Sprung on a partial breakaway early in the first, he was easily caught by both Columbus defenders. Then, when Kris Russell started the other way with the puck, Sturm reached out lazily and tripped him up. Granted, Russell went down a little easy (not sure why — the BJs are better at even-strength, he should have faked not getting tripped), but if Sturm were moving his feet, it wouldn’t have been an issue. The German forward has been a non-event through two games, and with Ryan Kesler slated to return as early as next week, if Sturm doesn’t pick up his play soon, he’ll be a non-starter.
- The two Columbus fans dressed as referees really cracked me up. Also, there were two more guys behind the Columbus goal dressed in the same outfits.
- Okay, the reffing wasn’t actually that one-sided. Sure, Chris Tanev never covered up the puck in the crease and Steve Mason initiated contact on the goaltender interference, but Vinny Prospal hardly touched Manny Malhotra on that first period hooking call. It was just bad officiating, like when the minister at a wedding makes puns.
- There’s going to be plenty of chatter tomorrow about the Canucks’ lack of a “reaction” to Marc Methot hitting Henrik Sedin from behind, especially after a Stanley Cup Final where many feel Vancouver’s failure to stand up for themselves cost them the series. It will be relatively meaningless chatter. Yes, the Canucks need to send a message to the rest of the league, but if they react by losing their composure, the they’re sending the wrong message. I like that they remained composed and stayed focused enough to win the game.
- Plus, sometimes reactions are just meaningless. Consider the way the Blue Jackets attacked Alex Burrows after he bumped Steve Mason in the first. It didn’t dissuade Burrows from going even harder to the net on the Canucks’ third goal, did it? And, when Burrows lay on top of Mason with the game-winning goal in the back of the net, Derek Dorsett’s reaction — a crosscheck to the back of Burr’s head for touching the goalie — didn’t erase the goal, it just made him look petty. Bad teams protect their players; good teams protect their lead.
- Did Mikael Samuelsson lose his spot on the Canucks’ last powerplay, or was he simply given a shift off because of the hit from behind he’d taken to draw it? The way I see it, even if it was the latter, Alain Vigneault should claim it was the former. Samuelsson plays better when he’s angry.
- If you’re wondering why Maxim Lapierre had fourteen minutes tonight, consider this: Jeff Carter, the Blue Jackets’ first line centre, went 1-for-7 in the faceoff circle against Lapierre, and all of these faceoffs took place in the Canucks’ defensive zone. That is some quality shutdownery.
- And finally, a night after taking him out shopping for a new wardrobe, at least according to Kevin Bieksa’s Twitter account, Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis continued to make Cody Hodgson look good, feeding him slick passes all night. The two looked especially in synch on the powerplay, where they were unable to connect, but showed some promising chemistry. They got it done at even-strength, as Hamhuis streaked down the wing and centred to Hodgson, who tipped the puck past Steve Mason for his first goal of the season. Hodgson’s looked like the best member of the second line through two games. He’s also looked like a cactus; his arms and neck are as thick as his head, amirite?
Tags: Blue Jackets
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