One night after accomplishing the nigh-impossible in Detroit, defeating the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, Vancouver set out to unlock an even more elusive achievement: winning a game with offence exclusively by Aaron Rome and Mason Raymond. It wasn’t easy, but after becoming the first road team in 24 tries to leave Michigan with two points, the Canucks were clearly feeling capable of anything.
Granted, it wasn’t exactly an exciting accomplishment to witness, especially after the high standard of entertainment set in the game prior. As sequels go, this was the Staying Alive to Thursday’s night’s Saturday Night Fever. Yes, I have seen both films. I have also seen this game, because I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 1 Devils
Aaron Rome opened the scoring for the Canucks, picking up a rebound on a Chris Tanev shot at the side of the net and beating an out-of-position Martin Brodeur. For the record, struggling to control a rebound on a Chris Tanev shot is evidence that your days as an NHL-caliber goaltender are numbered. I mean, I’m not saying that Tanev shots are soft, but sometimes they’re mistaken for Bon Iver songs.
Why was Rome so wide open? Because, rather than check anyone, Steve Bernier just stood there while Rome stepped around him and scored. Completely misplaying a loose puck at the side of the goal, you say? Why yes, Steve Bernier does remain the same player.
It was weird to hear Bernier’s name tonight. Early in the game, John Shorthouse said, “Steve Bernier controls the puck,” and my heart sank. Then I remembered it’s 2012 and he’s on the other team now and my heart immediately skipped a beat. Clearly, this was too much action for my heart, because I woke up in the hospital, surrounded by loved ones and balloons.
Early in the first, Bernier got into it with Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis. The two exchanged punches before the officials stepped in to break them up. What could Bernier have said to get Hamhuis so riled up? I heard he said, You know what’s dumb? Helping others. That’ll cause Hamhuis to snap faster than this guy.
Vancouver had a total of 16 shots in this game to New Jersey’s 31. The Devils’ line of Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Adam Henrique had 14 of those. That said, while the Canucks were drastically outshot, they were far from out-goaltended. Between Brodeur’s bad rebound on the Tanev shot and his whiff on the Mason Raymond wrister in the second, it’s clear that he’s no longer the goaltender he once was. Meanwhile, Cory Schneider maintained onto the Canucks lead, continuing to show why he’s as coveted a commodity as salt in the fourteenth century: like salt, he’s an invaluable preservative.
With Sami Salo scratched, Alex Edler was moved to the right side and paired with Andrew Alberts, a move we’ve seen before with disastrous results. Friday’s results were, unsurprisingly, disastrous. Edler spent the night scrambling to recover, even once chasing Adam Henrique for three full revolutions around the Vancouver net. Edler took a needless interference penalty, and he finished with a brutal Corsi rating of minus-12 (effectively, plus/minus for shots). Seriously, Alex Edler is an All-Star on the left side, but on the right side, he’s about on par with Andrew Alberts. Take it away, Remember the Titans.
Why did the Canucks make Edler shove over when they could have paired him with Chris Tanev in his natural position? My guess is they wanted one last look at him on his off-side before deciding what to do about their defensive situation at the deadline over the weekend. Since he was as bad as he’s ever been, I’d say Alex Edler just guaranteed Canuck fans some movement at the deadline. Since we’re running an eight-hour chat, that day, we can only thank him.
That said, Chris Tanev may very well have negated Edler’s yeomanly, trade-inducing awfulness with one of his best games as a Canuck. He finished plus-3 in Corsi. Consider: in a game where the Canucks were outshot 2-1, Tanev was on the ice for more shots on the New Jersey net than the Vancouver net. That’s shocking. He was as collected as Pogs, and as cool as the kid with the metal slammer.
He even picked up his second NHL point, the unfortunate side effect of which was that it earned him a date with Dan Murphy during the first intermission. He remains about as engaging an interview subject as a block of cheese, and I’m not talking about some interesting cheese, like roquefort or gorgonzola. I’m talking mild cheddar over here.
Let me again explain what I like about David Booth: he goes to the net with gusto, and it’s really all he does. Eventually, Canuck nation is going to turn on him, and he’ll begin to catch flack for his head down mentality, but the Canucks have more than enough guys who turn back and try to set up a halfcourt play. What they lack — or lacked, until Booth came along — is a winger that’s confident he can get to the crease with the puck, regardless of who or what’s in front of him. He goes harder into the blue than Jessica Alba.
Booth’s intense net-crashing paid dividends on the game-winning goal. After spending the first period going right at everyone, he entered the zone on a second period rush looking poised to do the same. Andy Greene backed way off of him, concerned about getting beat wide, and this time, Booth made a drop-pass to Mason Raymond, who suddenly had a lane so wide it could have been used for bowling. It hit something on the way through, so it clearly had bumpers, too.
While attempting to beat out an icing call in the second, Ryan Kesler caught an edge and hit the wall hard. He must have been upset, because he spent the rest of the night shooting at it.
Maxim Lapierre wanted to fight David Clarkson in the worst way. It makes sense. Lapierre is effectively trying to grow into a Clarkson-type player, one capable of reaching double digits in goals and fights each season. On one play in the second period, he looked poised to get the tilt, but the officials stood between them. Hilariously, Lapierre tried to gently move the official aside, like when someone is standing in the aisle at Save-On-Foods. He was like, Excuse me, sorry. I just need to get by. It didn’t work.
And finally, the Canucks won 42 of 61 faceoffs tonight, good for a .69 win rate. But, unlike that suggestive number, the action was hardly the same at both ends. There were only six faceoffs in the New Jersey zone through the entire game. Meanwhile, there were 32 faceoffs in the Vancouver end.
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