Canucks 4 - 3 Blackhawks
Was that an exciting game or what? The correct answer is not "what." Chicago came out flying tonight and put the Canucks on their heels through most of this game. It can be argued that they deserved the win: a questionable no-goal call went against the 'Hawks and the Canucks' first goal was demonstrably offside. Having felt the burn of poor officiating in the past, I certainly sympathize with Blackhawks' fans. At the same time, the 'Hawks had ample opportunity to win this game and gave up two leads, so it's a little unfair to place the blame solely on the referees.
In any case, the Canucks were, arguably, outplayed in this game. But, their best players were their best players and they won. It was marvelous. I watched this game.
- We at PITB have frequently complained about Luongo's tendency to use his glove to punch pucks rather than catch them. Tonight Luongo proved that Rollie Melanson reads Pass it to Bulis. Clearly Melanson took our complaints to heart and taught Luongo the proper use of his trapper. One of his finest glove saves can be seen above, but there seemed to be dozens of slick glove stops from Lu in this game. He was very, very good. It took a wide-open all-star and two rather unfortunate bounces tonight to get the puck past him.
- Chris Tanev made up for Luongo's lack of punchiness by punching in the Blackhawks' third goal. It was an unfortunate moment for the rookie who has played remarkably well since being called up. Unfortunately, with Andrew Alberts set to return soon and Sami Salo remaining remarkably uninjured during his first game for the Manitoba Moose, Tanev won't be with the Canucks for much longer. Still, he has vaulted his way up the depth chart like an angry pole vaulter and I have a feeling we'll see a lot more of him in the future.
- The Canucks' top line combined for 12 shots on goal and had another 9 attempts blocked or miss the net. They seemed to be the only line that was able to create sustained offensive pressure. Henrik finished with a goal and two assists to earn first-star honors. His bloodthirsty brother not only became the NHL's leading scorer tonight, he also passed Markus Naslund to become the Canucks' all-time record holder for game-winning goals. Remember when people used to claim the Sedins weren't clutch?
- Cody Hodgson had a decent game despite barely playing. A big reason for Ehrhoff's goal was Hodgson's smart play in gaining the zone and throwing the puck on net, which Tanner Glass reciprocated, creating the massive rebound for Ehrhoff to blast past Turco. Discussions of the offside nature of the goal aside, that was a hell of a slapshot. It ripped a hole in time, love and space, and was behind Turco before Ehrhoff even shot it.
- On the other hand, Hodgson went 1-for-5 in the faceoff circle and only played 7:11. And he left the ice too quickly to get a +1 in his plus-minus column. Kesler, Malhotra, and Henrik made up for Hodgson's lack in the circle, going 14-for-21, 10-for-15, and 12-for-16 respectively. Unfortunately, the Canucks went 8-for-20 in the defensive zone, a big reason why the Blackhawks always seemed to be there.
- The TSN intermission crew did a great job analyzing the two controversial plays, one highlighting the fact that Ehrhoff's goal was indeed offside and one showing that Troy Brouwer did in fact make contact with Luongo's blocker on Bolland's controversial disallowed Chicago goal. Still, the fact that it was such a minuscule piece of contact means it's still a bit of a sketchy call.
- Rough night for the third line, as they all finished on the minus side of the ledger. Particularly rough for Hansen, who finished a game-low -3 as he was on the ice for all three Chicago goals. It's unfortunate for Torres, as he was very noticeable on the ice tonight, throwing a couple solid checks and blocking 3 shots. Malhotra was solid in the faceoff circle, but was thoroughly victimized by Jonathan Toews on the Blackhawks' first goal, as he was squeezed off the puck against the boards and wasn't able to recover to pressure Toews before the shot.
- Aaron Rome played a physical game: he was only credited with 2 hits, but they were big, noticeable hits. Unfortunately, he also was credited with 3 giveaways and almost cost the Canucks a goal when he tried to give Luongo a hug behind the net. To his credit, he recovered and slid behind Luongo to make a knee save on the subsequent goalscoring chance, but it was a clear sign that he has missed a few games and is a bit out of sync. That by itself is a reason to get him back into the game ahead of Lee Sweatt. An out-of-sync Rome in the playoffs would be potentially disastrous.
- Hips laid out Kopecky with a solid hipcheck, then followed it up with a picture perfect shotblock, also on Kopecky. You may have also noticed Luongo's enormous glove save on Kopecky at the top of the page. Basically, it wasn't a good night to be Kopecky. It was almost as bad as the Olympics, when the closed captioning spelled out his name as "Could Pets Ski." Unfortunate.
- Ehrhoff doesn't seem to get angry very often, but when he does, look out. He flipped out on Stalberg, flailing around like a Flail Snail. I admit, I only wanted to mention this so I could link to the Flail Snail. Seriously. Flail Snail.
- Samuelsson has been fantastic lately: he had 5 shots on goal, including this blast from the point on the powerplay that deflected past Turco. Even prettier, however, was his pass on Henrik's goal. Leading up to the goal were, of course, two Sedin backpasses, but those are so routine that pointing them out seems superfluous. Meanwhile, Kesler braved the crotch-hacking dangers of the front of the net, and set a perfect screen on Turco. So everyone was involved except Ehrhoff, who was too busy daydreaming about punching Stalberg.
- Daniel's gamewinning goal was a prime example of Wizardous Sedinerie: Daniel clearly used Mage Hand to levitate that puck over Turco. Now, since there were no somatic or verbal components, he must have both Silent Spell and Still Spell as feats. Applying both feats would increase the level of the spell by 2, meaning that Daniel Sedin must be, at minimum, a third-level Wizard.
- I'm a big fan of Ray Ferraro. He's one of the best colour commentators in the business. I don't have a joke here, I just felt like it needed to be said.
- An indication of how good a game Luongo had can be found by looking at the Blackhawks' four leading shooters: Patrick Sharp and Brian Campbell had 6 shots apiece and Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane had 7 each. Not one of them scored. Luongo answered the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything with 42 saves.