The Ducks spoiled the Canucks’ home opener and Schneider’s first start as the Canucks’ new number one goaltender, thumping them 7-3. It caused endless bellyaching in Vancouver and reignited the goalie controversy, so it was only fair that the Canucks return the favour, spoiling the Ducks’ home opener.
I pointed out earlier today that it would be foolish to panic this early in the season, particularly because the Canucks had the possibility of moving up to first in the Northwest Division with a win and a Minnesota Wild loss. 10 hours later, the Canucks are first in the Northwest Division and Cory Schneider has a shutout to his credit. Panic over. Goalie controversy over.
At least until Sunday, when the Canucks could conceivably drop to fourth in the division, Schneider could give up a soft goal or two, and we’ll be back where we started. Sigh. I watched this game.
Canucks 5 – 0 Ducks
The Ducks absolutely dominated the Canucks in the first period, forcing Cory Schneider to make a number of tough saves. In fact, the Ducks were the better team at even-strength all game, creating quality chances throughout. Fortunately, Schneider was unreal for the shutout, making like the Phantom of the Opera and pulling out all the stops.
The Canucks were out-shot and out-chanced at even-strength, so it’s good that only about 45 minutes of the game were played that way. The Ducks fans in the building were a tad upset with the officiating that gave 9 powerplays to the Canucks and just 2 to the Ducks. Unlike Taco Bell, they had legitimate beef, as there were a couple weak calls against the Ducks, but beyond those, the Ducks were just completely undisciplined.
The least-disciplined of them all was Corey Perry, who took a borderline, un-penalized hit from Alex Edler and turned it into a game-long temper tantrum. First he left his feet on a retributive hit on Edler, earning a charging minor. He then started shoving Edler around like he was trying to goad the sleepy Swede into a fight, earning a roughing minor. Later, he went after Jannik Hansen, then put Keith Ballard in a headlock before dropping the gloves and punching Ballard repeatedly before he even knew he was in a fight. With Perry’s complete lack of discipline, I worry that his kids will become spoiled brats.
The best part about the sequence is that the Ducks fans in attendance started booing Edler whenever he touched the puck. Of all the players I thought might get booed in an opponents arena, Edler was the least likely one. I find it almost impossible to believe that anyone could ever dislike the guy. He’s the most gentle-natured player in the league. I mean, he had a game-high 5 hits, but he was really polite and congenial when he was destroying people.
Aaron “Rat Burger” Volpatti played a pretty eventful 8 minutes in this game, starting with rudely interrupting John Shorthouse as he was congratulating the absent Manny Malhotra on the birth of his third child with a fight against Matt “Bela Lugosi” Beleskey. The two squared off in an old-school bout as neither made much effort to either avoid or block any punches. Volpatti appeared to get the better of Beleskey, dropping him to his knees, but both got in some good shots, mainly because neither avoided or blocked punches. The two were like British highwaymen, just standing and delivering.
Volpatti followed up his fight by scoring the Canucks’ third goal of the game after some great work by Jannik Hansen and Andrew Ebbett. Volpatti did his part by showing good patience and not shooting immediately; instead, he cut left into the slot, forcing Hiller to move side-to-side, and fired a wrist shot five-hole. It was only his third NHL goal, but for once he actually looked like an NHL player. He managed to convince Vigneault as well, as he got some powerplay time at the end to try to get him a Gordie Howe Hattrick.
Mason Raymond had a fantastic game from start to finish. During a first period powerplay, he went hard to the net and got involved in a scrum in the crease, drawing a penalty as Ryan Getzlaf cross-checked him in the face. After the Canucks scored on the ensuing 5-on-3, Raymond scored the Canucks’ second goal after a Bryan Allen interference penalty, batting in his own rebound from a great feed from Alex Burrows. The goal was a carbon copy of Nail Yakupov’s game-tying goal on Thursday, but Raymond regrettably didn’t emulate his knee-slide celebration.
Daniel Sedin opened the scoring on the 5-on-3, finishing off a beautiful pass from Henrik Sedin. Henrik slid the puck under Francois Beauchemin’s leg and through the crease to Daniel on the other side, who made no mistake. By their standards, however, this wasn’t really Wizardous Sedinerie. At best, you could call it Hedge Wizardous Sedinerie.
When Bryan Allen nailed Jannik Hansen with a blindside hit, Alex Burrows went to his defence, earning a roughing call. It was all a ploy, however, to get a breakaway out of the box, as Higgins set him up nicely, forcing Luca Sbisa to hook him and concede the penalty shot. Burrows went to his go-to move, but bobbled the puck on the way in, ending up too close to Hiller to pull it off. Perhaps his move should be re-named to the Crane Kick: “if do right, no can defense.” Burrows did not do right.
Zack “Frequently Asked Questions” Kassian had a solid game, finishing with 3 hits and 2 shots. He even got some time on the powerplay, though, to be fair, literally everyone except Roberto Luongo got some powerplay time in this game. During one of those powerplays, Kassian finished off some legitimate Wizardous Sedinerie for the Canucks’ fourth goal of the game. Henrik’s blind, backhand pass through his own legs was nice enough, but Daniel’s heel-to-toe pass around Toni Lydman might have been even better. It wasn’t just a tap-in for Kassian, however, as from a tough angle he tucked the puck right under the bar like it was a trusty shotgun.
Mason Raymond scored his second goal of the game late in the third period. More importantly, it was Jordan Schroeder’s first NHL point. Like in overtime against the Oilers, the two speedsters were put together 4-on-4 and it paid off. After Teemu Selanne hit the post at one end, Schroeder sped up the wing and sent a pretty cross-ice saucer pass to Raymond, who fired the puck under Hiller’s left arm, which John Garret called the 14-hole. Is that a thing? I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of golf, John.
Schroeder once again had a solid game and drastically improved on his poor faceoff numbers against the Oilers. He finished 11-for-19, taking the second most faceoffs behind Henrik Sedin. Vigneault showed the trust he had in the rookie, sending him out for 8 defensive zone faceoffs, highest on the team, and Schroeder managed to win 5 of them. This, more than the assist, is what will help Schroeder stick with the Canucks all season.
Andrew Ebbett had a solid night in the faceoff circle as well, which is appropriate, as he was drawing in for the newly-babied Malhotra. He went 6-for-9, including 3-for-5 in the defensive zone. Oddly enough, he had the most trouble against Teemu Selanne, who he used to skate on a line with back when he was with the Anaheim Ducks. I suspect it’s because he had an existential crisis every time he saw Selanne. Wait, he was on the verge of retirement when I was a rookie. Why does he look 20 years old and I look 50?
Once the game was out of reach, Vigneault sent out a rag-tag bunch of misfits on the powerplay. The only regular was Raymond, who was aiming for a hattrick. With him came Volpatti and Maxim Lapierre, with Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard on the points. Hilariously, the closest they got to scoring was off a Chris Tanev one-timer, a phrase that has never before been typed in the history of man.
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