For only the third time this season, the Canucks played an entire sixty-minute game without being given a powerplay but, incredibly, it was the second consecutive time this phenomenon has occurred versus the Chicago Blackhawks. What’s more, this game was called by Ian Walsh, who called the last powerplay-free affair. Is this evidence of some kind of conspiracy?
No. Uncanny though the circumstances may be, there’s no agenda here. The Blackhawks simply played a fabulously disciplined game. Furthermore, while the Canucks may have played an entire sixty-minute game without being given a powerplay, they hardly played a sixty-minute game. You draw penalties by outworking the other team, and frankly, only Cory Schneider seemed interested in doing that for much of this game. So why didn’t he draw any penalties? Well, he was a little busy. So was I. I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 2 Blackhawks (OT)
This game began and ended the same way — with the Sedins getting the best of Dave Bolland’s line. Bolland was excellent in the 63 minutes between these shifts, but the twins dominated these two clashes, and the second one resulted in the game-winning goal. Worse, it was Bolland’s error that caused it. As an example of the fine line you have to toe to successfully defend the Sedins, Bolland’s error was little more than a quick glance to Sami Salo at the 0:04 mark of the video above. In that half a second, he lost Daniel Sedin, who stepped into the slot and buried the winner like it was Ryan Reynolds.
In case it wasn’t clear that Dave Bolland is at his best versus the Sedins, let’s take a look at his faceoff numbers: against Henrik, he went 5-for-10, a veritable sawoff. Versus the rest of the Canuck pivots, he went 1-for-10, a sawoff only in the sense that, like James Franco in 127 hours, it was as though he literally sawed his arm off.
The American Express line combined for 13 shots Tuesday. They were on, especially in the first period where they opened the scoring after Alex Edler fed a wide-open Ryan Kesler in the slot. Pay special attention to Pat Kane on the goal. That’s him, just outside the blue line, waiting for a breakout pass that never comes. Every night he lights a candle for it.
I especially enjoyed Booth’s play this fine evening. #SentencesAbrahamLincolnNeverSpoke
At least I enjoyed it offensively. Booth had a number of great chances, he was the only Canuck to finish in the minuses, leaving the building a minus-2. While neither Chicago goal was explicitly his fault, he overplayed a man at the blueline on the the first, which opened up space for Mayers to score, and he lost a puck battle to Viktor Stalberg before fanning on Pat Kane’s centering pass back to him on the second. In short, he earned the minuses.
So I recently came across a message board thread complaining about PITB’s tendency to take contrarian opinions, apparently just for kicks, so I’ll apologize in advance for this, but… the officials got the Keith Ballard clipping call right. I didn’t think so at first, but I went back and took a second look and here’s what happened: Ballard attempted to throw his hip into Andrew Shaw’s waist, but he overshot the check, and wound up hitting Shaw in two spots at once: his shoulder went into Shaw’s waist, which is what everyone saw and reacted to — that’s not clipping. However, his hip also went hard into Shaw’s knee, which is why the Blackhawks’ rookie came up limping. That is clipping. Moreover, that’s Ballard’s second clipping call this season and third since last April. Dude has a knack for clipping, like the stars of Extreme Couponing.
Speaking of contrarianism, the Vancouver media has entered full-fledged “dump on Mason Raymond mode” (an annual tradition in the days leading up to the trade deadline, as though negative press coverage raises his value as an asset), so let’s give him some love. His scoring has indeed dried up somewhat, but his aptitude as a defensive forward remains. He made two absolutely beautiful backchecks on the same shift Tuesday, arguably saving a goal both times. Ludacris probably loves the way he gets back.
Speaking of getting back, the fourth line was fantastic in this game, with Maxim Lapierre and Manny Malhotra going 15-for-19 in the faceoff circle and the whole line putting up some very positive possession numbers, according to Canucks Army. Lapierre also registered a game-high 8 hits Tuesday night. According to the play-by-play sheet, four of those hits came on Steve Montador in the span of 34 seconds.
Kevin Bieksa played a fabulous game tonight, but jeers to him for his play on the Blackhawks’ first goal. It started out amusingly, as he hopped the puck double-dutch style to avoid touching it on the Blackhawks’ zone entry because the Canucks were in the midst of a sloppy change. However, it was far less amusing when he failed to recommit to playing the puck once he was allowed to. That’s him, spinning delicately at the edge of the crease like that twirling ballerina silhouette while Jamal Mayers scores.
Cory Schneider’s pretty good, huh? He made 37 saves, several of the category “gadzooks!“, including a massive stop on Jonathan Toews early in the first and an equally massive save on Patrick Kane in the second. But his best save and arguably the best save of 2012 thus far came on Brendan Morrison midway through the second, as he gave the puck away behind the goal then scrambled back to the front and sprawled to get a shoulder on the shot. Sure, you can fault him for the bungle, but considering how badly the Canucks hung him out to dry in that period, you can’t blame him wanting to be a part of the team, especially after he criticized Tim Thomas for opposite thinking.
Let’s talk about the Canucks in the second. How bad was that period? In the intermission, rather than dress them down, Alain Vigneault just gave them a Midol and told them to get some rest.
Clearly, the Canucks failed to learn their lesson when they escaped the second period without surrendering a goal, so kudos to the hockey gods for making sure they learned it the hard way early in the third. Unfortunately, one of those hockey gods plays for the Canucks, and Cody Hodgson went rogue on the pantheon shortly thereafter, scoring a beautiful breakaway goal. His shot is nuts — it goes right over Crawford’s shoulder, about six inches from his mask, basically an unstoppable location.
What do you think — did Dan Hamhuis intend to hit Hodgson with that pass or did he simply miss Jannik Hansen, who waved at it.
Just prior to scoring the overtime winner, the Sedins had an offensive zone shift where they made three beautiful cross-zone saucer passes in a row, even though everybody on the ice knew they were going to. Daniel Sedin shot the puck after the third, but unfortunately, Corey Crawford stopped it. It’s a shame, because if that had gone in, it would have been Wizardous Sedinery of the highest order. Instead, the highlight is listed as “Corey Crawford save”. Lame. That’s like calling “The Dark Knight” a Gary Oldman movie. No. He was just in it.
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