Last season, the Blues finished 11th in the Western Conference, well outside the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Brian Elliott was arguably the worst single player in the NHL.
Somehow, combining the two has led to tremendous success, as the Blues came into this game second in the West, just behind the Canucks, while Elliott is second in the league in save percentage, goals against average, and shutouts. He went from the worst goaltender in the league to being named to the All-Star Game.
Who would have thought the all-star goaltender in this game wouldn’t be Luongo? On the plus side, the Canucks had four all-stars of their own, three of whom pitched in to put 3 goals past the Blues’ all-star. I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 2 Blues
For the first time this season, Dale Weise won a fight. Sort of. He managed to get in a couple early punches on BJ Crombeen and slipped and fell to the ice before Crombeen could return the favour. Mostly, however, the two just spun around, which doesn’t count as fighting unless the spinning simultaneously sends you flying through the air like Dragon Flyz.
One of the reasons Alex Burrows scores a lot of goals is that teams sometimes seem to forget he’s on the ice. On the Canucks’ first goal, three Blues defenders go below the goal line to check Daniel and Henrik behind the net. Elliott makes the understandable assumption that his teammates on his right will be able to contain Daniel and looks over his left shoulder just as the puck banks out in front of the net, where Burrows is more open than 7-11.
The Blues evened the score just one minute later on a play that demonstrates exactly why Cody Hodgson doesn’t get more icetime. First he couldn’t get the puck to the neutral zone on a clearing attempt, which isn’t ideal; the bigger problem is that he failed to pick up his check in front of the net, leaving Dan Hamhuis with two Blues and only one clue.
Alex Sulzer may have read about Keith Ballard’s shot-blocking prowess before the game, as he attempted to boost his credentials for staying in the lineup by throwing his face in front of a shot early in the first period. Bad move. The only guy who should be throwing his chin in front of projectiles is The Tick.
Alex Edler lived up to his all-star billing, getting 2 assists in a team-high 26:03 in icetime. 9:45 of that time came in the first period as he double-shifted when Sulzer went to the dressing room with his cleft chin. With his performance in this game, he passed Dennis Wideman and Shea Weber in points and is now third in the NHL in defenceman scoring. He is currently on pace for 58 points; the team record for points in a single season from a defenceman is 63 from Doug Lidster in the 1986-87 season. Could Edler best that?
With his fight against Roman Polak in the second period, Maxim Lapierre has set a career high in fights this season with 5. He’s still not very good at it. He received an extra 2-minute minor, presumably because the referee looked at him turtling and said Yeesh, that’s rough.
Jason Arnott put the Blues ahead 2-1 with a contender for weirdest goal of the year. Luongo stopped his initial shot off the rush, then made a fantastic save on his rebound chance. Unfortunately, he had no idea where the puck was and, while spinning to locate it, dislodged the puck into the his own goal. But it could have been worse.
The Canucks redeemed a pretty awful second period by tying the game late. Edler made a smart pinch down the boards to keep the play alive, took the return pass from Manny Malhotra, then unleashed a slap shot from the point. Once again, the Blues forgot about Burrows, who tipped the puck past Elliott while sliding through the slot. It’s entirely possible that Burrows is Lemnos, in which case someone needs to contact the Legion of Superheroes right sprocking now.
Despite providing the gamewinning goal in overtime (spoilers!), the Canucks’ powerplay was not particularly good in this game. Either that or the Blues’ penalty killing was superb. The two best chances came late in the second period. For the Blues. David Backes and TJ Oshie both got breakaways while killing off a Matt D’Agostini interference penalty. Fortunately, Luongo transformed into a blue jay and made two stellarsaves. I should be shot for that pun.
The penalty gave the Canucks a 4-on-3 powerplay for 1:40 in overtime. Then TJ Oshie inexplicably decided to turn it into a 4-on-2, racing to the bench to pick a replacement stick just as Henrik collected the puck from the boards. The result was as predictable as Ghost Ship. Henrik passed the puck to Daniel directly through the spot vacated by Oshie. Daniel shot the puck. The puck went in the net. It was, serendipitously, Daniel’s 700th career point and 100th career powerplay goal.
The real highlight came after the game, as Dale Weise awesomely gave his stick to an adorable little girl who looked like all she wanted was a high five. You know what they say: give someone a high five and they’ll feel awesome for a minute. Give someone a game-used hockey stick and they’ll feel awesome for a lifetime.
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