Canucks 1 - 4 Oilers
Last night was a bewildering stinker, the likes of which we haven't seen in months, and it makes sense. While the Canucks didn't throw in the towel, there was literally no motivation for them to play hard last night, apart from the fact that it was the right thing to do. The game meant nothing to them. Meanwhile, the Oilers were motivated. For them, a Hockey Night in Canada tilt against the best team in hockey (and a team they thoroughly despise), is reason enough to go all out. They did, too: the Oilers played a fabulous game, and unfortunately for Vancouver, this admirable effort coincided with the Canucks laying down a complete turd. I watched this
- How can you tell the Canucks were woefully out of sync tonight? The Sedins went offside once. Think about the last time you saw that happen. It's nigh impossible for the twins to go offside. Watch their Superskills puck relay. They're the same person.
- It's probably safe to say that Yann Sauve won't see any playoff games. He was bad last night. Two of the Oilers' four goals were directly the fault of his poor positioning. On the Omark goal, Sauve (#47) drifts into no-man's land, turned completely the wrong way. When the puck is centered, he's so far out of position that he trips over Cory Schneider, taking them both out of the play. On the Paajarvi goal, that's Sauve in the corner, losing his religion.
- I wish I could counsel you to take this loss lightly, but I'm afraid I have some bad news: if you lose to the worst team in hockey, you become the worst team in hockey. It's like a zombie bite.
- Tanner Glass took a few hard punches for his efforts, but give him credit for trying--in his first game back from injury--to kickstart the team by dropping the gloves with JF Jacques. Considering he missed a handful of games with a rib problem that made it painful to shoot or pass the puck, I suspect that he also felt some pain trying to throw a fist with full force. No surprise, then, that he did not win this fight, and he probably lost another one when he went home and his fiancé Emily reminded him he promised he wouldn't fight tonight.
- With Andrew Alberts nearing full health, Aaron Rome is one Canuck who still has something to play for. He's played in 53 games this season, averaging 17:27, and you've got to imagine it would be hell to be scratched through the playoffs after getting used to that kind of playing time. Rome showcased his Alberts-like hittiness all night, throwing some big hits, including this hipcheck on JF Jacques, and this glorious hipcheck on Ladislav Smid at the end the first period. My favourite part of the latter clip is when he's skating to the bench, and he says something to an Edmonton player. I can't tell what it is; I've never been much for lipreading. My best guess is something about fondue.
- Jeff Tambellini had a team-low 11:20, which is mighty impressive, considering he started the game on the second line. Tambellini was not good. He had three shots, all right into the logo, and the play died on his stick more than a few times. I remember one particular instance where Kesler got him the puck behind the net, and he weakly centered it to nobody. It may as well have been an Edmonton outlet pass. Think his dad was impressed? If Tambellini signs with the Oilers next season as a defensemen, we'll know why.
- What's your take on Cory Schneider tonight? I thought he wasn't at his best. He made a bunch of really incredible saves, but a few of the goals seemed to be easier stops, and he let them by. Jordan Eberle's goal, for instance, was a classic case of losing the post, and on the Magnus Paajarvi goal, he wasn't square to the shooter. I know what's going on here, though: Schneider's pissed that he won't get enough games to have a share in the Jennings trophy, so he's trying to throw the trophy altogether. Cory Schneider is the mother in 1 Kings Chapter 3 who would rather cut the child in half.
- Nobody played particularly well last night, but I thought Jannik Hansen played particularly poorly. The third line lost possession a handful of times because Hansen was getting muscled off the puck and he wasn't winning puck battles. He finished with under twelve minutes of icetime, second lowest to Jeff Tambellini. Here's a helpful maxim: when Jannik Hansen is being punished for a poor effort, the team is probably having a bad night. Here it is in rhyme form: Bad game for Jannik? Good time to panic.
- I don't mind Mason Raymond at center. Raymond seems to be relishing the extra space, and the line is generating scoring chances. Most importantly, I haven't seen a MayRay-Go-Round since he was taken off the wing. It's hard to go around the net when you come through the middle. Raymond also won 4 of 7 faceoffs, including 3 of 4 in the offensive zone. This is especially noteworthy because CBC showed footage of Raymond and Glass working on their faceoff technique, and Raymond was getting absolutely smoked. At the time, I thought, if you can't beat Tanner Glass even once, you probably shouldn't be taking faceoffs at all.
- Henrik Sedin was actually the best faceoff man on the night, winning 11 of 16 draws.
- Speaking of Henrik, I couldn't help but chuckle on Alex Burrows' goal. After Henrik and Burrows break out 2-on-1, three Oilers scramble to catch up to the play. Two of them make it and, joining the last man back, all three simply surround Henrik Sedin. Burrows really has no choice but to shoot. If he had tried to pass it, Henrik would have been dogpiled. He probably would have disappeared into a cartoonish fight cloud.
- Christian Ehrhoff played over twenty-five minutes last night. Is that necessary? Granted, he's the Canucks best offensive defenseman and having him on the ice is the best way to mount a comeback, but Ehrhoff's logged a lot of time this season. In a mean-nothing game, three games before the playoffs, I'd rather his minutes are limited than see him play 10:03 of the third period trying to get Vancouver back into it. Ehrhoff needs rest, or he'll never beat JFK in a drag race.
- The Oilers played exceptionally physical last night, especially on the Sedins. Each time Daniel or Henrik had the puck behind the net, the Oiler defenders began a rigorous cross-checking regimen designed to turn their spines to pudding.