It’s a good thing this game started at 4:30 on the west coast, otherwise I would have fallen asleep. After the pulse-pounding action of Saturday’s victory in Boston, I had to keep my handy-dandy home defibrillator on hand throughout this game to make sure my heart didn’t stop out of sheer boredom.
Thanks to copious amounts of caffeine and and the early start, I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 2 Panthers
Things more exciting than this game: clipping toenails, drinking a glass of water, holding the button, and eating an unsalted soup cracker. Things less exciting than this game: writing about this game.
Full credit to the Panthers, however. They shut down the Canucks powerplay, prevented quality scoring chances, and Scott Clemmensen was good when he had to be. It may not have been thrilling, but I’m guessing the supposed 16,712 fans in attendance didn’t mind too much. Victory is a great spice for a boring meal.
In their limited ice time, the Canucks’ fourth line was very effective, particularly Dale Weise, who scored the first goal of the game on the Canucks’ first shot, but also Manny Malhotra, who assisted on the first goal with what seemed like the Canucks’ first completed pass. Malhotra was aggressive at the blueline, creating a turnover, and Weise did well to identify the situation and jump up, turning the situation into a 2-on-0, not counting Clemmensen. Poor goaltenders never get counted on rushes.
The goal also included a familiar sight for Canucks fans older than 12: Ed Jovanovski being overly aggressive in the offensive zone and forgetting his defensive responsibilities. All it needed was Jovo jumping up and down in the penalty box like a mad man, but that would have required something exciting to happen on the ice.
Weise had another opportunity near the end of the period as he burst past Dmitry Kulikov in the neutral zone to create a breakaway. Clemmensen made the save, but it was the breakaway speed of Weise that was truly unexpected and impressive. What Weise lacks in hand speed in fights he makes up for in foot speed.
The second period was disastrous: the Panthers scored as many goals as the Canucks had shots. The only way it could have been worse is if the Canucks had more than 2 shots on goal.
Kulikov tied up the game for the Panthers with a slapshot from the boards after a blocker save by Luongo. The shot wasn’t particularly hard, but it was perfectly placed over Luongo’s right shoulder with Kopecky and Hamhuis tangled up in front. Unfortunately, Cody Hodgson got his stick caught up with the two in front and wasn’t able to get to the puck, leaving Lapierre to try to check Kulikov. Unlike Inspector Spacetime, he couldn’t get back in time.
It was really nice seeing Mikael Samuelsson back on the ice, even if it wasn’t in a Canucks uniform. He played with plenty of confidence and finished with 3 shots and 3 hits.
The other Panther goal was scored on an odd sequence on the Florida powerplay. Luongo made a couple saves in a scramble in front of the net, but Marcel Goc was finally able to sweep it in. Biggest problem: all four penalty killers collapsed to the net, but not one of them tied up a Panther stick. Obviously, none of them were in Boy Scouts.
One player that did have a decent game was Cody “Silent G” Hodgson, and Alain Vigneault noticed, promoting him to the second line with Kesler and Raymond in the third period. Up until that point, Kesler didn’t have a single shot; he had 4 in the third period, with his best opportunity coming on a nifty pass from Silent G, but Kesler couldn’t get his shot off the ice. Hodgson finished with 3 shots and was 5-for-7 on faceoffs
If the NHL is looking to make a video instructing their referees on how to call interference, they should use Matt Bradley’s hit on Dan Hamhuis as an example. They should also get the director from Wendy’s 1989 training video “Grill Skills” to direct it.
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