With Daniel Sedin out with a sore back (hopefully not from picking up a cracker), Mark Mancari was called up from the Chicago Wolves and Mason Raymond was promoted to the top line. That turned out to be a good move, as Raymond was the Canucks best forward, leading the team in shots and picking up two points. His best play of the game should have led to the game-tying goal, were it not for Cam Ward making one of the best saves of the year.
Ward being incredible turned out to be the theme of the game, rather than a more Canucks-friendly theme like “Heart of a Canuck” or “Win da Turd.” I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 4 Hurricanes
The other theme of this game was questionable officiating, as the Hurricanes received 6 powerplays to the Canucks’ 1 and scored one of their goals during a delayed penalty call. While a discrepancy in powerplays could mean that the Canucks were just less disciplined, many of the calls simply didn’t make any sense. A massive scrum in which both teams seemed equally culpable somehow turned into an extra penalty for the Canucks. Burrows was tagged for a slash on McBain, but couldn’t go to the penalty box because he needed repairs on his own slashed hand. Ballard took a weak holding call in the third; on the same play, Kesler was high-sticked with no call. While calls were certainly missed both ways (Bieksa got away with a high hit on Tuomo Ruutu with a minute remaining), the bad calls weighed heavily against the Canucks.
One of the reasons the refereeing was so frustrating is because the Canucks were clearly the better team at even-strength, out-shooting the Hurricanes 33 to 26, out-chancing them 16 to 12, and dominating them at possession based on the advanced statistics Corsi and Fenwick. The one area in which the Canucks did not beat the Hurricanes at even-strength was, unfortunately, goals. Whoops.
The second line was frequently fantastic in this game, particularly Chris Higgins. On the Canucks’ first goal, he and Kesler combined for some great work in the corner, creating enough space for Higgins to set up Bieksa for a wicked one-timer while Jannik Hansen set a great screen in front. In fact, every Canuck on the ice for that goal made a contribution, except for Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis. To be fair, he was a little busy at the time organizing a charity dinner to benefit education for women in Africa.
Bieksa’s choice of celebration for the game’s opening goal? Rage. Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins had to force him into a celebratory hug, as Bieksa tried to go after Chad LaRose for giving Hansen a whack with his stick after the goal. We shouldn’t be too surprised: Bieksa’s a pretty angry guy.
As good as Raymond was tonight, his style of play is about as far removed from Daniel Sedin as is humanly possible. Henrik must have been a little frustrated: No no no, just gain the zone, spin off your check, then make a backhand saucer-pass through the slot! Have you never played hockey before?
The only time that the top line actually bore a resemblance to their usual self was when Henrik took control of the puck in Wayne Gretzky’s office (he encased 99′s stapler in jello before he left), which led to the Canucks’ second goal. Raymond managed to squirm away from Eric Staal in front of the net and, with four Hurricanes within a five foot radius of Raymond, Henrik put the puck on his tape and Raymond put it in the net.
That was Henrik’s 700th career point, which is, incidentally, 572 points more than Dave Bolland has scored in his career.
Apparently the proper pronunciation of Andreas Nodl’s last name is “Noodle.” John Shorthouse went out of his way several times during the progress to clarify that Nodl himself had asked for his name to be pronounced that way. If everyone just paid more attention to runforthecube’s YouTube channel, they would have known the right way to pronounce his name months ago.
As much as Ward was fantastic and the referees were not, the Canucks absolutely cannot give up a 2-goal lead. While some people would append “particularly to the Hurricanes” to that sentence, I would add “to any team.” Unfortunately, some shoddy defending led to 4 unanswered goals for the ‘Canes, which is all they (or any team, really) would need.
While Schneider could have been better on a couple of the Hurricanes’ goals, throughout the rest of the game, particularly on the penalty kill, he was superb. He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first period, giving the Canucks a chance to build a lead. He made 14 saves on the penalty kill alone and the only one that beat him shorthanded was on a delayed call that created a temporary 6-on-4.
That delayed call? A nonexistent slash by Burrows. Absolutely baffling.
On the Canucks’ third goal, it seemed like Henrik really did not want to take a slapshot. He lifted his stick in the air then held it there like the guy controlling him held down the slapshot button for too long. The explanation given by Shorty and Garrett was that he was waiting for Burrows to screen Ward, but he continued to hold off on the shot even with Burrows in front of the net. I suspect he had temporarily forgotten that Daniel wasn’t playing and was desperately looking to make a slap-pass to his brother. By the time he remembered Daniel’s sore back and took the shot, Burrows was ready to tap in the rebound.
In an unexpected turn of events, the best play of the game for both teams was the same play. Mason Raymond evidently loves 4-on-4 hockey: with 6:20 remaining in the third period, Raymond pulled a spin-o-rama on fellow #21 Drayson Bowman, then dragged all four Hurricanes (five if you count Ward) to the left side of the ice. Meanwhile, Keith Ballard cleverly skated across the grain, setting up himself up perfectly for Raymond’s surprise backdoor pass. Unfortunately, Ballard wasn’t able to one-time the puck into the open net and Ward dove across, blocking Ballard’s shot with his glove. What should have been a tie game instead turned into the highlight of the night.
It’s not really fair to drop Drayson Bowman’s name in without mentioning what a spectacular game he had for the Hurricanes. He had a game-high 8 shots, doubled his career goals with a 2-goal night, and would have had a hattrick if Schneider hadn’t robbed him on a breakaway. He earned himself some grudging kudos, so…kudos, I guess.
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