Canucks 3 - 4 Sabres (OT)
It's hard to be too bummed out about the Canucks' overtime loss to the Sabres last night, especially after they clawed their way back from 3-1 down going into the third period just to send it to overtime. Granted, it would have been nice to skate away with two points, but at least they got one. They've picked up 5 of a possible 8 points on this road trip, and they're in a good position to make this a successful journey east. A win in Pittsburgh tomorrow night would make it 7 of 10 points. But enough about the future; I Watched This Game, like the U.S. Republican Party, is rooted entirely in the past.
- The Canucks were 2-for-5 last night on the powerplay, pushing their percentage to 29.2%. It's still second to Minnesota overall, but they are mopping up the road numbers. The Canucks road powerplay is now operating at a 33% clip. Thirty-three per cent! For you high school dropouts, that means they convert on 1 of every 3 man advantages. Organized religion is jealous of that conversion rate.
- Henrik and Daniel had moments of pure artistry tonight, and perhaps even this season's first instance of wizardous sedinerie on the above powerplay, but I want to use this moment to point something out: I say moments of pure artistry, because the Sedins haven't really been dominating games yet. That's what they're capable of. They came close tonight, with 6 points and a barrage of shots, but on the whole, Thomas Vanek was more dangerous than they were. Yes, the Sedins have not yet hit their stride, and nobody knows how to say it. The problem is that it's hard to criticize guys who are tied for 4th in NHL scoring behind Ovechkin, Stamkos, and Crosby. But here's the thing: last season, these guys were playing with Alex Burrows, who was at the top of his game. When it wasn't him, it was Mikael Samuelsson, playing better than he ever has. This season, Samuelsson is still struggling to find his legs, and Burrows is still working his way back to game shape. Couple that with the fact that Henrik's passing accuracy isn't where it normally is and you have a recipe for scary success if they actually start clicking. That's how good these guys are.
- I'm not sure what everyone else's take on Cory Schneider is, but I thought he was only all right tonight. He stopped 35 shots, so you can't fault him too much. But, the Cody McCormick goal was an egregious mistake, as McCormick slid it under him and Schneider, in a panic, knocked it into his own net. I felt like his down-low coverage and rebound control were a bit sloppy tonight, and a lot of the pressure he felt could have been avoided by being a bit more controlled. He was diving around like Miikka Kiprusoff tonight, and that's not the way Schneider plays when he's playing well.
- Dan Hamhuis is to blame on the overtime goal, and that's a play he doesn't make if he's on top of his game. He certainly wouldn't have made it earlier in the season. Hammy on the goal, from the Vancouver Sun: "I blocked a shot, it was bouncing in front of me, I had a guy on my back and just tried to clear it to the side," Dan Hamhuis said. "I don’t know what happened. It was a tough spot. Puck bouncing off my chest, and I really had no time. I just tried to clear it out of there but the puck ended up going to their guy." That sucks.
- Hamuis' mistake is symptomatic of the entire defense corps. The Canucks have had trouble on this road trip with small, speedy, skilled teams. We should be able to crush these teams. However, the Canucks' defenders are still so out of sync that we're getting crossed up far too often. The way they chased Tyler Ennis around at times last night looked like a Scooby-Doo door chase. The defense is in disarray. Why? Injuries have really thrown off their rhythm. We've got important guys out; guys playing the wrong side; guys playing too many minutes; guys playing with the wrong defense partner; guys trying to find their legs after injuries derailed a good start to the season; guys in the press box who should be playing and vice versa... it's a veritable madhouse. Let's hope the Canucks can sort this out, because right now, it's a mess.
- I found myself liking Tanner Glass's game a lot last night, which I guess qualifies me to be the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks. I'm wondering if my opinion of him was coloured by his admission that he plays Scrabble with Aaron Rome on team flights. Swoon. Glass is a college boy, so it's possible that he's not half-bad at America' s favourite crossword-building game. Is he careful not to open up the triple word and the double letter at the same time? Does he know his list of two-letter and three-letter words off by heart? I think I love you, Tanner.
- I wasn't a huge fan of Vigneault's decision to flip Burrows and Samuelsson on the line formations, but I recognize he's got to get everybody going, and it paid dividends right away. The last time I got immediate dividends was when I passed Go. My favourite thing about the Samuelsson goal? The brief, celebratory jig he does when he scores. He looks like a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot at the Gay Pride Parade.
- In the faceoff circle, All three of Kesler, Sedin, and Malhotra were over 60%, with Kesler winning the day at 72%. Incredibly, he was 8-for-9 on draws in the offensive zone, which makes him 17-of-18 in enemy territory over the last three games. Safe to say Kesler's been our best faceoff man on the road trip.
- Mario Bliznak was 1-3, by the way. He's typically a good faceoff man, but he's really not getting it done on his NHL tour. Take away the goal in Ottawa, and he hasn't been impressive at all.
- All this talk of Vancouver and Buffalo being expansion cousins has me wondering if they could get married, if they wanted, or if it would be frowned upon.
- Has Andrew Alberts played his way into the press box? He had just over 11 minutes of ice time tonight, while Aaron Rome had just over 20. Worse, Alberts was a team-low minus-3. That's never a good sign. In my mind, Alberts brings more to the table than Rome with his hittiness, but it looks as though Rome has played his way into AV's top-six. I know people keep saying you don't win Stanley Cups with Aaron Rome, but I'd assume you don't win Stanley Cups with Kent Huskins, either, and he's got a ring. Not every guy on the roster has to be an All-Star. Some guys, like your sixth defenseman, just have to not [lovemake] up.
- Now that it's the third week of Movember, Canuck moustaches are starting to show, and it's surprising how many of the guys are actually doing it. Skeeter caught a few of them in his Movember post, but as it turns out, not nearly all of them. I haven't seen this many moustaches since the last time I turned the left and right bathroom mirrors out, so as to create the illusion that there were hundreds of me.
- Unrelated to hockey, I'm getting really sick of those Rogers commercials with the good-looking guy and the schlub. Rogers is painting all of their non-customers as fat losers and it's insulting. They make it seem like the only way for the schlub to regain all the respect he's lost to the model is to buy a Rogers phone, but I think there's another option: kill the model.