Friday, October 14, 2005
[extended nap, posted in full Sat ~8:59a]
Surely the Canucks needed to bounce back in a big way from the pile of excrement that was left on the ice from Wednesday night's game in Saint Paul. Luckily, they came out with the W in this one.
Starting with the very first shift, the Canucks showed more giddyup, more energy, more urgency, whatever you want to call it. Interestingly enough, it was triggered by the game-opening line of Ryan Kesler/Todd Bertuzzi/Matt Cooke as coach Marc Crawford had decided to mix up the lines a bit (Richard Park filled Bertuzzi's spot on the top line with Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund). Early on, Morrison lost a puck and it was shot off of Sami Salo's stick by Brent Burns and out of play, though Dan Cloutier couldn't find it. Jarkko Ruutu and Filip Kuba exchanged some pleasantries, further underscoring the Canucks' commitment to setting the early tone. Ruutu had a shot deflected off the base of the post, and Lee Goren was hooked at the side of the net. Scott Ferguson was whistled for the hook, putting the Canucks onto the power play, where they had been scoreless on their last 14 tries. Daniel Sedin pass to Anson Carter in front of the net, who whiffed on the first try. The puck went to Willie Mitchell, who sort of tried to clear the puck, but it hit his stick and went back to Carter, who stuck it through traffic and past Dwayne Roloson.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Anson Carter 2 (Daniel Sedin) 4:24
»» CANUCKS 1, WILD 0
Todd Bertuzzi took a 30-foot slapshot on a three-man rush, but that's somewhat passable since it's still a shot on the net, and the skaters were all parallel to each other. Dwayne Roloson gave up an Ed Jovanovski rebound and covered it up when Morrison crashed the net. Bertuzzi got to a Steve McCarthy rebound, though it didn't go through. Roloson later played the puck out of the goalie zone behind the net, putting the Canucks on the power play, which was killed, though it took a while for the Wild to clear the puck from their own zone. Pascal Dupuis pulled a spin-o-rama and was all alone in front of the net, and couldn't get a shot off, though Cloutier had already sprawled. Roloson made a great stop on Daniel Sedin on a rush, who was set up by Carter. Sami Salo got beaten by the new rules, taking down Derek Boogaard before the latter got a shot off (the radio crew thought it was debatable anyway). Salo went to the box for cross-checking, but the penalty was killed. The Canucks outshot the Wild 13-1 in the first period, easily their best of the year. They were 9-for-19 in the faceoff circle, which at least was better than Wednesday's game.
Early on, Trevor Linden heeled a rebound in front of a wide-open net, surely leading to speculation over whether Linden has anything left (he got better a better shot later). Filip Kuba put up a shot, Wes Walz avoided a check and backhanded the rebound past a sprawling Cloutier after Jovanovski didn't take out his man at the blueline. Vancouver had outshot Minnesota 20-4, yet the score was tied.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, Wes Walz 2 (Filip Kuba, Derek Boogaard) 3:06
»» WILD 1, CANUCKS 1
The Canucks got a favorable break when Pascal Dupuis couldn't get a good shot away on a 2-on-0 rush where the Canucks were caught up the ice. Ferguson and Goren dropped the gloves and traded blows shortly after Ruutu had gotten away with a headbutt. Shortly after, Bryan Allen knocked down Kyle Wanvig, who sold it a bit, and Minnesota went onto the power play. Randy Robitaille fed a nice pass to Perre-Marc Bouchard near the net, and Cloutier had no chance. Linden missed his man. Despite leading 25-5 in shots, Vancouver was now behind by a score of 2-1.
»» 3, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Pierre-Marc Bouchard 2 (Randy Robitaille, Alexandre Daigle) 8:11
»» WILD 2, CANUCKS 1
Naslund backhanded a puck off of Morrison and off the base of the post. Salo had a shot stopped, and Morrison was tackled. Filip Kuba went off for interference, but the ensuing power play was lackluster. However, the Canucks eventually mounted some pressure. Linden got off a better shot, a quick one that was stopped. Allen wristed a puck that Jovanovski deflected, and Roloson was lucky when he stopped it. He wasn't so lucky when Naslund changed directions behind him, spun around, then put the puck in the crease, where it went off Ferguson's skate and through the five-hole. A fluky goal, sure, but it was a big one that tied the game at 2-2 for Vancouver.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 5 (Richard Park) 14:24
»» WILD 2, CANUCKS 2
On a great backcheck, Park stole the puck and pass from his own blueline to Ryan Kesler, spawning a breakaway. Kesler finished it off with a deke to the backhand, roofing it over Roloson for the lead.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Ryan Kesler 1 (Park) 17:40
»» CANUCKS 3, WILD 2
The Mat Cooke took a bad penalty, putting his stick on the hip of the puck carrier and giving a little tug. Kuba took a long slapshot which Cloutier stopped and covered (no rebound). Linden failed to clear a puck, and Rolston unloaded a long slapshot that was deflected somewhere by a Canuck stick and past Cloutier.
»» 6, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Brian Rolston 2 (unassisted) 19:14
»» WILD 3, CANUCKS 3
More pleasantries occurred after the final horn of the period, when Mattias Ohlund bearhugged Andrei Zyuzin. Vancouver outshot the Wild 18-8 in the period and 31-9 after 40 minutes, yet the game was tied at 3-3. Go figure. That's what the Wild seem to do, though.
It didn't take long. Park and Naslund came on a rush and went to the left circle while Naslund went toward the net as the decoy. Park unleashed a wrister from the circle that beat Roloson.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, Park 2 (Naslund, Bryan Allen) 1:15
»» CANUCKS 4, WILD 3
After that goal, it didn't help Minnesota to take two third-period penalties. After a Jovanovski shot was stopped, Naslund was shoved after the play, and Bertuzzi and Mitchell had some words. Park nearly got a second goal on a rush with Naslund. Eventually, it got to the point where Roloson was pulled for an extra skater. A Matt Foy shot was blocked and cleared. Allen centered for Bertuzzi, who missed the empty net. A Burns shot was stopped shortly after, and Bertuzzi got another chance. He didn't miss.
»» 8, VANCOUVER, empty net, Todd Bertuzzi 1 (Matt Cooke) 19:52
»» CANUCKS 5, WILD 3
Vancouver outshot Minnesota 10-4 in the period and 41-13 overall.
Three stars -- (1) Park, (2) Allen, (3) Minnesota's Dwayne Roloson on Rogers SportsNet Pacific; (1) Park, (2) Minnesota's Wes Walz, (3) Minnesota's Brian Rolston in the building
D Sedin 0-1-1
A complete and total 180 from Wednesday was exactly what the doctor ordered here. The Canucks more than dominated on shots, though Minnesota crushed Dan Cloutier's save percentage, but scoring on very little shots is what Minnesota does.
With Bryan Allen's assist on the Richard Park goal, the Canucks are down to four scoreless players on the season: Lee Goren, Steve McCarthy, Wade Brookbank, and Jarkko Ruutu. Markus Naslund leads the team in points with 7, Sami Salo has 5, Richard Park has 4, Henrik Sedin has 3, then a bunch of guys have 2. Markus Naslund has 5 goals, and no other Canuck has more than 2.
For the game itself, Bryan Allen was a plus-3 skater in addition to his assist. Unsurprisingly, Naslund and Park were a plus-3 given the goals in which they were involved. Ed Jovanovski was a plus-2. Mattias Ohlund and Nolan Baumgartner were plus-1. All other skaters not named Steve McCarthy (who was minus-1) were even.
In the faceoff circle, the Canucks improved to 42% from the 36% night on Wednesday. Sadly, no Canuck was better than 50% in the circle, and Park and Daniel Sedin only took two faceoffs apiece. Brendan Morrison was 6-for-14, Trevor Linden was 5-for-12, Ryan Kesler was 6-for-13, and Henrik Sedin was 6-for-15. Not better than half, sure, but at least there was marginal improvement over Wednesday. Ed Jovanovski led in shots with six, and Todd Bertuzzi had five. Bryan Allen delivered five hits.
An interesting thing mentioned on the postgame blip afterward was how in many doubleheaders (they played in Minnesota Wednesday as well) that occur in college or junior, most people will tell you that a lot of the doubleheaders end in a split. This was no exception. Of course, a split means that you're playing at .500, so to me that might be a bit worrisome, but oh well. Other things talked about by the radio crew include how weird it is that the Canucks' next road game is at Minnesota after the four-game homestand, how good of a game Bryan Allen had (that's encouraging), and how the Vancouver power play doesn't really seem to take off until the Sedins hit the ice.
Where do they go from here? The Canucks have a four-game homestand which will see them face Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, and Colorado before going right back to Minnesota on the 25th. Then two in Denver. Yikes.
The Canucks are 3-1-1 (shootout loss in the third column), good for seven points in the standings.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
[posted in full Thu ~4:47p]
My goodness, this was bad. Last Saturday night, Raffi Torres lit up the Canucks on his birthday. In this game, Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson and his teammate Randy Robitaille were celebrating birthdays. The trend of birthday-having players doing well against the Canucks held up, but it wasn't the reason the Canucks lost. There was no one player to blame in this game, and those six goals aren't wholly Dan Cloutier's fault or anything. The entire team completely and unequivocally sucked. Bottom line is, the Canucks have a day off before facing the same team in the same building on Friday night.
Let the badness begin...
Richard Park lifted Andrei Zyuzin's stick early to nullify a scoring chance, but from there it only got worse. Todd Bertuzzi got the obligatory boo-fest and shortly was called for hooking after tying up Willie Mitchell. Dan Cloutier stopped a couple of shots on the start of the power play, but as he does, he did leave some rebounds, making it a bit precarious. Zyuzin took a rink-wide pass from Pascal Dupuis and unloaded a point shot which went off of Jarkko Ruutu's stick (he was in the middle of the right circle) and floated past Cloutier, who had already went to his knees in front of the net.
»» 1, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Andrei Zyuzin 1 (Pascal Dupuis, Randy Robitaille) 3:05
»» WILD 1, CANUCKS 0
Ruutu was whistled for holding right after the Zyuzin goal, but this one was killed. The Canucks had a power play not long after on a Randy Robitaille hooking penalty, but as was usual with nearly all of the Canucks' shots in this game, they were either weak or from the outside, nowhere down low by the net. Cloutier flashed some brilliance, making a toe save later on Robitaille. Alex Henry took an interference penalty for the Wild, but once again, the power play was crap. To cap off the crappy period for the Canucks, Bertuzzi was called for hooking with about three seconds left. Minnesota outshot the Canucks 11-3 in the first period, and it definitely seemed like that was the case.
Ironically, the Canucks played better but the score got worse. A weird bounce of the puck led to a loose puck out front for Wes Walz, who shot it high and wide. Mattias Ohlund and Nolan Baumgartner had a shift of nearly two minutes (look here) early on in the period. Brendan Morrison chimed in with the best chance of the game, but he was robbed by Dwayne Roloson in the Minnesota net. One of the Canucks shot the puck into the net after the whistle, with Minnesota players taking umbrage. Since Bertuzzi couldn't do anything in terms of putting the puck into the net and getting scoring chances, he let his fists do some talking as he sparred with Alex Henry. It's the first fight for the Canucks this year, I'm pretty sure, unless one happened in Edmonton (I was out that night). Trevor Linden was interfered with, and he let the officials know as much. Despite the Canucks playing with a little more spirit after the Bertuzzi scrap, they had nothing to show for it. As a result, it got worse. Baumgartner lost his position on Marc Chouinard, cheating too much to the puck. Chouinard had no trouble, putting it past Cloutier's left leg.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, Marc Chouinard 4 (Brian Rolston, Kyle Wanvig) 11:17
»» WILD 2, CANUCKS 0
Matt Cooke tipped a rebound just wide of the net, and later Sami Salo had a deflected shot stopped by Roloson. Cloutier robbed Brian Rolston, going post-to-post and making a pad stop. On the same play, Ed Jovanovski went off to the box for a slash. With a good centering pass from Alexandre Daigle, and with Cooke leaving Matt Foy in the slot and Salo being late to compensate, Foy had his first NHL goal.
»» 3, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Matt Foy 1 (Robitaille, Alexandre Daigle) 17:30
»» WILD 3, CANUCKS 0
Shots amazingly were 12 apiece in the period, though Minnesota was unquestionably in catbird seat after the Chouinard goal. Minnesota outshot the Canucks 23-15 after forty minutes.
Mitchell hooked Markus Naslund just 16 seconds into the period, putting the Canucks onto the man-advantage. Not that it mattered. There was more urgency, it seemed, but results were the same. Bertuzzi made a bad pass and lost the puck shortly after, killing important powerplay time. Bryan Allen sent Todd White to the dressing room after a knee-on-knee hit. With Jovanovski in the boc for intefering with Stephane Veilleux, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was hauled down by Allen on a drive to the net. Though somewhat debatable, Bouchard was awarded a penalty shot, and when it rains, it pours. Stick side, no deke.
»» 4, MINNESOTA, powerplay/penalty shot, Pierre-Marc Bouchard 1 (unassisted) 9:54
»» WILD 4, CANUCKS 0
Park whiffed on a puck in front of the net. Morrison was boarded from behind by Chouinard, and the resulting power play got decent chances from Jovanovski and Salo, but by this point they were only efforts to spoil the shutout because the game was long lost. Cloutier was caught out of his net, and as he scrambled back to cover, Foy pounced on the puck and backhanded it off the back of Cloutier's left leg. Again, the thing about raining and pouring comes to mind.
»» 5, MINNESOTA, Foy 2 (unassisted) 13:38
»» WILD 5, CANUCKS 0
Foy went to the box shortly after for interfering, but obviously nothing came of it for Vancouver. Cloutier and Steve McCarthy were tangled up at one point, it got so bad. How about a 2-on-1 break to finish it off? The puck went right through Cloutier.
»» 6, MINNESOTA, Brian Rolston 1 (Wes Walz) 18:35
»» WILD 6, CANUCKS 0
Okay, a Naslund shot off the post finished it off. They wouldn't be scoring tonight. The Canucks outshot the Wild 18-5 in the final period and 33-28 overall, but none of that mattered.
Three stars -- (1) Minnesota's Dwayne Roloson, (2) Minnesota's Matt Foy, (3) Minnesota's Randy Robitaille
none for Vancouver
Ouch. Dwayne Roloson stopped all 36 shots on his birthday for his 17th career shutout. He is unbeaten against the Canucks in his NHL career.
For the third straight game, the Canucks allowed the first goal, and it can be said that they haven't put together 60 minutes of good play this season. After Richard Park fanned on the puck in the third period, Tom Larscheid on the radio broadcast simply remarked that the Canucks looked "tight as a drum." I didn't need a TV screen to know that they weren't doing anything. I for one can't really believe that the Canucks actually got 28 shots off in this game. If you tried to count legitimate scoring chances, it's way way less. It's safe to say that Roloson probably saw nearly all of the pucks that got to the net in this one.
The Canuck radio postgame trio of John Shorthouse, Tom Larscheid, and Dan Russell dug up an interesting number. In his last 92 games (including playoffs), Todd Bertuzzi has scored a grand total of 19 goals. In his last 19 games (again, including playoffs), he has scored one goal. Larscheid noted that Bertuzzi isn't playing with much confidence, and that he may have underestimated the difficulty of getting back into the NHL.
While Bertuzzi is struggling, it doesn't help the big line isn't getting the puck, and it doesn't have the puck as long as it should when Brendan Morrison is only 7-for-21 in the faceoff circle. Though the big line can't do much without the puck, on this night it was a team-wide effort in futility as they won 36% of their faceoffs. Trevor Linden was 3-for-9, Ryan Kesler was a brutal 5-for-18, and Bertuzzi was 1-for-4. Henrik Sedin still had a shred of magic left over from his game against Detroit, winning seven of eleven faceoffs.
Sami Salo and Ed Jovanovski had five shots apiece. They're defensemen, so their shots are more likely from the point or the blueline, pretty far from the net. Morrison, Naslund, and Bertuzzi combined for four shots total. You can guess where those shots should be from, but even those probably weren't very close. Anson Carter was next on the shot chart with three. Somehow, the Canucks managed seven non-minus skaters. They also had seven minus-one skaters along with four minus-two skaters (Ohlund, Park, Kesler, Cooke). Jarkko Ruutu, Matt Cooke, and Mattias Ohlund delivered three hits apiece, so I guess it's not all bad. Wait, maybe it is all bad. This game was bad, after all.
Just a horrible game for Vancouver. I hope the Canucks got it out of their system. They've got to come out of the gate strong. Who knows, Marian Gaborik might actually be in the game Friday night, and surely that makes the Wild a better team.
The Canucks are 2-1-1, good for five points in the standings.
Monday, October 10, 2005
[posted in full Tue 3:47p]
[***NOTE -- There's no way in hell they'll always be this detailed. I went a little nuts with the notes and put everything on there instead of filtering through some of it and boiling it down. Oh well.]
They didn't play at the top of their game on Saturday night, but the Canucks let the win get away in Edmonton, getting beat late (tie in regulation, winner in shootout) by the birthday boy Raffi Torres. The Canucks scored all three of their goals on the power play in that game. Similarly, the Detroit Red Wings came off a game on Sunday night where they torched the Calgary Flames for six goals, five of them coming on the power play. How would this tilt at the Joe turn out? Well, I'll just tell you that the power play trend took a total 180.
Robert Lang of the Red Wings was whistled just 24 seconds into the game for a high stick. The Canucks failed to get any really good chances on the power play, the best being Daniel Sedin putting a rebound into the side of the net. Alex Auld made a pad save on Chris Chelios shortly after the power play expired. Unfortunately, Auld wasn't so sharp when Mikael Samuelsson put an easy one past him; Auld picked the wrong skater moving the puck from behind the net. He covered the skater to his right, and Samuelsson was on his left with a wide-open net on the short side. That's a bad goal.
»» 1, DETROIT, Mikael Samuelsson 4 (Mathieu Schneider) 3:50
»» RED WINGS 1, CANUCKS 0
Jason Williams of Detroit nearly put a puck into an open net not long after. Manny Legace got away with playing the puck outside the trapezoid area behind the net. Andreas Lilja and Kris Draper were called for hooking just 21 seconds after, giving the Canucks a 5-on-3 advantage for a span of 1:39. Unfortunately, they barely got any good chances. Markus Naslund couldn't get a hold of a centering pass, and later Lee Goren put a rebound wide as the penalties were to end. The Canucks got the benefit of three early Detroit penalties, but that evened out in a hurry as Vancouver was called for four penalties in the final 10:42 of the period, including a 5-on-3 span of 27 seconds for Detroit in the final minutes. Auld made nice stops on Jamie Rivers and Mike Mowers in the latter half of the period, and despite usually being a man down, Vancouver had a couple of chances as well. Anson Carter stole a puck and nearly put one through the short side after a Red Wing skater fell down. Richard Park stripped a puck on a Detroit power play and went the other way for a chance. Shots were 10 apiece after the first period.
Bryan Allen started a good Vancouver period by thumping Tomas Holmstrom. Markus Naslund tried a wraparound, but couldn't finish. Auld stopped a one-timer off the stick of Johan Franzen on a 2-on-1. After icing a puck, Matt Cooke pokechecked the puck away at the Vancouver blueline and broke loose, deking to the backhand and beating Legace to tie it up.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Matt Cooke 1 (unassisted) 7:04
»» RED WINGS 1, CANUCKS 1
Ed Jovanovski plowed Dan Cleary shortly after. Lilja couldn't get a shot off on a centering pass. Henrik Zetterberg had a great chance for the Wings, but Brendan Morrison lifted his stick from behind. Henrik Sedin was called for a trip, but Cooke's antics were about to make the Canucks walk the tightrope; Cooke went knee-on-knee with Williams just 26 seconds after Henrik went to the box. Amazingly, Vancouver was able to kill off the 94 seconds of Detroit's two-man advantage, though they had to withstand Brendan Shanahan putting the puck over the net on a decent shot. Park displayed some speed but couldn't quite get the puck past Legace. Auld left a rebound for Franzen, who missed high. Todd Bertuzzi drew a penalty (delayed call), and Auld was pulled for an extra skater. Mattias Ohlund took a cross-ice pass from Sami Salo, then put the puck down low to Henrik, and Legace didn't have a chance.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Henrik Sedin 1 (Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo) 18:04
»» CANUCKS 2, RED WINGS 1
The period ended with the Canucks on the power play after Mathieu Schneider hauled down Daniel Sedin. Detroit outshot Vancouver 7-5 in the period and led 17-15 in that department through two periods.
Vancouver looked to get off to a flying start, but Sami Salo put a pass behind Trevor Linden on a 3-on-2. Naslund had a good chance off a turnover, but couldn't convert. On the same play, Cooke had his pocket picked and Morrison couldn't handle his man, enabling Cleary to shoot and Holmstrom to bang home the uncontrolled rebound.
»» 4, DETROIT, Tomas Holmstrom 1 (Dan Cleary, Mark Mowers) 3:25
»» CANUCKS 2, RED WINGS 2
The Wings were out to get Cooke by this point, as he was clotheslined by Jiri Fischer, crosschecked in front of the net, and Schneider hung a leg on him as well. Lee Goren charged onto the net, but Legace challenged and stopped him. Auld stopped Kris Draper on the stick side on a 2-on-1. Goren just missed on a rebound. Auld hot his left shoulder on a Shanahan slap shot. Carter fought to get his stick free, and when he did, Henrik fed him with a nice pass in traffic, and Carter snapped it in for his first point as a Canuck. Vancouver had the lead with just over eight minutes to play.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 1 (H Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 11:46
»» CANUCKS 3, RED WINGS 2
Auld made a couple of timely saves, one off of the draw by Kirk Maltby, then another quick one by Pavel Datsyuk, who made moves and had designs on the net. Detroit didn't help themselves when Schneider was called for a crosscheck. Inside the final minute, Holmstrom nearly tied the game as the puck slid past the post and Auld had trouble seeing it. It leaked through to the other side and was iced after a sequence in which the Canucks had much trouble clearing the puck. Lang won the faceoff with 9.8 seconds to go, but Vancouver got a hold of the puck, and Park finished it off into the empty net for his first point as a Canuck.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, empty net, Richard Park 1 (H Sedin) 19:58
»» CANUCKS 4, RED WINGS 2
Shots were thirteen apiece in the final period. Detroit outshot Vancouver 30-28.
Three stars -- (1) H Sedin, (2) Carter, (3) Detroit's Mikael Samuelsson in the arena; (1) Salo, (2) H Sedin, (3) Ohlund on Rogers SportsNet Pacific
H Sedin 1-2-3
D Sedin 0-1-1
Detroit was held to 0-for-6 on the power play, a stark contrast to their travails the day before against the Flames. Similarly, the Canucks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage after scoring three goals on the power play on Saturday.
The Canucks bounced back in the faceoff circle from Saturday night, though they were so bad on Saturday that they would have had to just suck less. Henrik Sedin won seven of ten, Brendan Morrison won eight of fourteen, and Ryan Kesler won six of ten.
Henrik Sedin was the man of the night, scoring three points and going plus-3. Plus-2 skaters included Mattias Ohlund, Daniel Sedin, and Anson Carter. Great night for the Sedins/Carter line.
I can't forget Alex Auld, who was mostly sharp despite the first goal and the puck that nearly got through toward the end of the third period. He should be a very solid option to spell Dan Cloutier here and there. Maybe not enough to keep Cloutier from another 30-win season, but enough so that Cloutier's not gassed for the playoffs.
It was nice to see the Canucks bounce back after a loss, sure. But the other assuring thing about the game was that Naslund, Morrison, and Bertuzzi didn't show up on the scoresheet, but the Canucks won nonetheless. Both Sedins are on that list, the new guys Carter and Park, an obligatory Cooke appearance, and some defense assists. Good stuff.
Well, division rivalries were a big part of the schedule in the new NHL. Thus, the Canucks play the Wild twice in Saint Paul, Wednesday and Friday nights. Minnesota is the only place where Todd Bertuzzi could possibly be booed anywhere near as lustily as he will be in Colorado.
The Canucks are 2-0-1, good for five points in the standings.
It was an absolute must-win. It was a big game on the road against a division rival. Never mind that the division rival had beaten the Seahawks three times last year and four straight times overall. It was a long time coming, but the Seahawks' first win in Saint Louis since 1997 sure feels good, doesn't it?
With help where necessary from the Gamebook, I'll jump right into the nuts and bolts...
-- no turnovers, two takeaways
-- Hasselbeck with results
-- Alexander getting tough yards
-- receivers stepping up for injured
-- Manuel, Hill, Herndon, others stepping up for other injured
-- Tatupu interception
-- special teams forces the final turnover, seals the deal
other good times from my notes or the gamebook...
-- Rams defensive holding on first possession bails Seattle out of 3rd-and-5
-- Rams offense gets nowhere on first set of downs from scrimmage, Rouen pinned Rams with punt to STL 6
-- pass interference on Rams puts ball on 1-yd line, sets up Alexander touchdown pitch for 7-7 tie
-- Seahawks get stop on 3rd-and-8 thanks to Shawn McDonald catching out of bounds
-- Hasselbeck scrambling out of pocket to hit Jurevicius for 52-yard play
-- after Seahawks knocked out of FG range, Rouen pins Rams on own 6 again
-- Seahawk defense forces three-and-out on that possession
-- Seahawk offense takes three plays to hit end zone on ensuing possession late in first quarter (Stevens 29-yd TD catch)
-- Jurevicius for 27-yd TD midway through second quarter
-- defense protects seven-point lead; Leroy Hill sacks Bulger on 3rd-and-5, knocking Rams from FG range
-- defense buckles down, sacks Bulger early in third quarter on third down
-- Tatupu pick on 3rd-and-15, preceded by Bernard sack of Bulger
-- pick sets up short field for Alexander 18-yd TD run (34-21 score)
-- defense forces three-and-out early in fourth quarter
-- Darby sacks Bulger on final possession, Rams false start on 3rd-and-18
-- bailout from three-and-out late thanks to special teams; Babineaux forces, Darche falls on it
-- Alexander runs for two sets of downs, knees
-- starting game without starting wide receivers Bobby Engram, Darrell Jackson
-- losing Andre Dyson, Michael Boulware, Floyd Womack during game
-- penalties to offensive line?
-- Rams run back opening kickoff
-- third straight game where Rams scored quickly on Seattle
-- three-and-out late in the fourth quarter with only six-point lead
-- Trufant, Herndon possibly overaggressive stripping ball on deep passes, burned
-- almost anything involving Torry Holt
other bad stuff from my notes or the gamebook...
-- Rams give Seahawks fresh set of downs on first drive, then get nowhere (Hasselbeck bloody nose)
-- first play from scrimmage after Seahawks tie game at 7-7: Steven Jackson catch for 27 yards
-- possession starting with the 52-yard Jurevicius catch ends with Hasselbeck sack, out of field-goal range
-- on Ram possession ending first quarter/beginning second quarter, defense flagged for holding (Trufant), offside (Fisher); drive ended in touchdown
-- Torry Holt for 24 on possession after Jurevicius touchdown
-- offense goes three-and-out late in first half (incomplete pass on 3rd-and-2)
-- crappy Rouen punt gives Rams short field, in end zone on three plays; Trufant picked on, passes of 17 and 26 yards (touchdown)
-- on possession ending first half, offense gets to STL 12, follows up with Tobeck false start and Hasselbeck sack (settled for FG)
-- offense fails to take advantage of having ball to start half (Walter Jones holding on third down)
-- Lewis injured early in half
-- first STL offensive play: 18 yards to Holt
-- offensive possession starting on Rams' 35-yd line goes three-and-FG
-- Steven Jackson-mania late in third quarter; 80-yd TD drive by Rams (34-28)
-- starting 4th quarter, Hasselbeck dropped, Tobeck holds (declined), Jones false starts on third down
-- seven better than three (Brown hit the upright); Seattle possession started at 50-yd line (37-28)
-- first two plays on final STL drive: passes for 19 yards
-- defense allows 14-yd pass on 3rd-and-15 (Rams convert 4th-and-1 with 16-yd Jackson run)
-- offense; inexcusable three-and-out with lead of six and under four minutes left
...YOU KNOW I'VE HAD MY SHARE
The thing that hurt me the most about the Seahawks losing four straight to the Rams was that I could never convince myself that the better team won any of those games. This game was different, and different is good.
The Seahawks came in banged up in a very bad way, and they came out of it even more banged up thanks to the turf and a hit or two. Starting receivers Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson did not play, and this was partially offset since Isaac Bruce was out for the Rams as well. As the game went on, many Seahawks got banged up. Matt Hasselbeck got a bloody nose on a 3rd-and-4 on the Seahawks' very first possession. At least Hasselbeck was able to stay in the game. Andre Dyson pulled a hamstring late in the first quarter and was out for the remainder of the game. Floyd Womack tweaked a quadriceps early in the second quarter on the touchdown drive that put the Seahawks ahead 21-14. Womack was also lost for the game. Just minutes later, Michael Boulware was hit hard in the lower back and was down on the field, necessitating his being strapped to a gurney and wheeled off the field. DD Lewis was injured in the first few minutes of the second half.
Who would step in for the injured Seahawks? Marquand Manuel and others stepped in for Boulware, but the biggest step-up was turned in by the tall Joe Jurevicius, a great offseason pickup who holds on to the ball. DJ Hackett also caught a handful of balls, Jerramy Stevens caught a few, and even Mack Strong caught a trio as well. Stepping in for the incompetent Leo Araguz was Tom Rouen, who sandwiched some bad punts with a couple of really good ones.
The Seahawks turned the ball over zero times and got the benefit of two turnovers by the Rams. In the fourth quarter, Lofa Tatupu's pick of Marc Bulger gave the Seattle offense a short field, which helped set up the Shaun Alexander 18-yard touchdown run to put the Seahawks up 34-21 with just over six minutes left. Jeff Wilkins' 40-yard field goal got the Rams within six points at 37-31, but the Seahawk offense inexplicably responded with a three-and-out. The Seahawks were to punt the ball from their own 19 with less than four minutes to play and with a lead of only six. The pass defense hadn't exactly been a brick wall on the day. Rouen punted, Shaun McDonald (not the usual punt returner) caught the ball, but he was stripped by Jordan Babineaux. Long snapper JP Darche fell on the ball after running down the field from the line of scrimmage. Three Shaun Alexander runs for two first downs paved the way for three knees by Matt Hasselbeck since the Rams were out of timeouts.
I wouldn't say the offense was balanced, but I'd have to say they ran just enough. Shaun Alexander's yards were pretty tough yards, but they were necessary yards. Those ground yards look great compared to the Rams' running game. Alexander ran 25 times and caught three balls, which is good. Shaun needs to be fed.
I guess maybe a source of concern other than the injuries would be Matt Hasselbeck getting sacked four times. I'd need video to see how many of those sacks are on the offensive line or if Hasselbeck is holding the ball too long.
Since I have today off, I look to the Sunday night game against Houston next week and lament why it couldn't have been this week instead. I have today off, not next Monday. Thus, I'll be a zombie on Monday morning at work, and the game post will have to wait until Monday night. Sad. I can't put into words how much I hate east coast time. The only cool thing is that you can have yourself a Saturday night and sleep in Sunday without missing any football. If you want to watch the whole day of football, though, you're up until midnight, and that sucks.
Is it scary to think that this Seahawk team is an upright away from being 4-1?