Monday, December 26, 2005


Flames 2, Canucks 1
CP photo -- Chuck Stoody

[posted in full Tue ~3:42p]

I'd like to thank the Seattle Seahawks for being so good. It helps take my emphasis away from the mediocrity of the Seattle SuperSonics and the unfortunately now-slumping Vancouver Canucks. They're winless in eight games against Edmonton and Calgary, two teams they might come across in the playoffs. This was the fourth game they lost to Calgary, and as the Canuck radio crew said, that's enough to win a playoff series. The same tendencies of the last few games showed up as well. If they score a big goal, the opposition scores right away to suck out the momentum, and in every third period they get absolutely outworked. Calgary retook the lead in the third period. The Canucks had three shots on goal in the third period, and one of them was the Anson Carter goal that tied it before the second Calgary goal.

That's pathetic.

1st period
About three and a half minutes into the game, Andrew Ference at his left point was smeared by Jarkko Ruutu. On a Calgary rush, Daymond Langkow from the right point dished nicely to Kristian Huselius skating near the slot. From beside the slot, Huselius scooted one past Alex Auld's stick side. It was Calgary's second shot of the game.
»» 1, CALGARY, powerplay, Kristian Huselius 7 (Daymond Langkow, Jordan Leopold) 4:15
Kevin Bieksa and Byron Ritchie got into a scrum, and Bieksa pummeled the latter. About midway through the period, Brendan Morrison crushed Ference along the boards. Bryan Allen challenged Tony Amonte at one point, and Jarome Iginla came in for Allen, but the linemen broke it up and requisite penalties were assessed. With about seven minutes to go, Todd Bertuzzi skated in alone on Miikka Kiprusoff but was held out by the left pad. Calgary outshot the Canucks 9-8 in the period. The Flames were 1-for-2 on the power play and Vancouver was 0-for-1.

2nd period
Ryan Kesler got a clean shorthanded breakaway about six minutes into the period, but like Bertuzzi before him, was stopped by the left pad of Kiprusoff. Auld made a great toe save off a hard shot in the last minute of the period from Jarome Iginla. Markus Naslund hit a crossbar at one point in the period. Vancouver outshot the Flames 6-5 in the period (14-14 apiece after two). Both teams were 0-for-3 in the period on the power play (Calgary 1-for-5 overall, Vancouver 0-for-4).

3rd period
On the first shift of the period, Allen beat Kiprusoff to the stick side, but rung a shot off the post. Bertuzzi was foiled once again, beating Ference with a move and getting the shot stopped by Kiprusoff. Daniel Sedin from along the goal line to Kiprusoff's glove side passed to Anson Carter camped out to Kiprusoff's stick side a few feet in front. Carter didn't have to do much with the pass, and the score was tied.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 13 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 5:58
Robyn Regehr, who only had two goals on the season up to this point, blasted one over Auld's right shoulder for what turned out to be the winner.
»» 3, CALGARY, powerplay, Robyn Regehr 3 (Huselius, Leopold) 8:34
Vancouver again was outshot in the third period, this time by a 9-3 margin (Calgary 23-17 overall). Calgary was 1-for-3 on the power play (2-for-8 total) and never had a penalty called on them (Vancouver finished 0-for-4).

Three stars -- (1) Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, (2) Jovanovski, (3) Calgary's Jordan Leopold

skater, goals-assists-points
Carter 1-0-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

The thing about the 6-5 loss to Calgary last Friday was that it was played at the Canucks' pace. Darryl Sutter doesn't like 6-5 games. This 2-1 game, however, was certainly much more to his liking. Seventeen shots for the Canucks is exactly what the Flames want to do. They want to get a lead, then hold on to it by using their physical play, limiting shots, and leaning on Kiprusoff to make all the necessary saves, however so little there may be.

I think I pretty much took care of everything that's irking me about the Canucks in the first paragraph, so I won't be the dead horse here again. Well, the Canucks did come out very aggressive on the physical end. Even Brendan Morrison dealt out a pretty good one. Speaking of which, Jarkko Ruutu led the team with four hits, Bryan Allen dished out three, and six others laid a pair of hits apiece.

The great thing about listening to the Canuck radio broadcasts is that you hear stats like how Ed Jovanovski had gone 16 games without a goal, Sami Salo had gone 14 games without a goal, and Mattias Ohlund had gone 21 games without a goal. The Canucks got the big start this season thanks to their scoring from the blue line, and that well appears to have run dry. Also in the goal futility realm, Richard Park had a 16-game goalless skid going into this game. Make that 17.

Vancouver was 27-for-61 (44%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 9-for-16, Trevor Linden was 1-for-4, Ryan Kesler was 7-for-13, Henrik Sedin 5-for-15, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-6. Mattias Ohlund led the team with six shots, and Bertuzzi followed with five. The rest of the team had six shots. Ouch. Of course, what didn't go Vancouver's way was that they had four shots hit the post.

Only plus skaters are on the list since Calgary's goals were on the power play. Plus-1s were Ohlund, Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Henrik Sedin, and Anson Carter.

The Canucks sit with a record of 20-11-5 (1-3 in shootouts, two overtime losses), good for 45 points and what is now third place in the Northwest Division. The troubling thing is that a Canuck win could have gotten them back into the division lead and into the number-two slot in the Western Conference. Instead, the worst-case scenario happened, and now Vancouver is seventh in the West. It's packed like sardines in the Northwest Division. The Canucks had their chances when they were hot to bury this division, and they haven't. They've pretty much done the complete opposite.

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