Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Reuters photo -- Eric Miller

Minnesota Wild fans still hate the Canucks, even if they've gotten rid of Jarkko Ruutu and Todd Bertuzzi. Still, the Canucks are the Canucks, and they still have Matt Cooke, so the Wild fans are still going to fork over the hate. After rumors he'd play on opening night followed by rumors he'd play some time on the road trip, it was finally this night where young Luc Bourdon would make his NHL debut on the Vancouver blue line. Also for Vancouver, it'd be another night of marveling at the performance of Roberto Luongo in net. The one disturbing thing is that the Sunday loss in Colorado left Luongo 0-5 lifetime against the Avalanche. He came into this game with a 1-4-1 lifetime record against the Wild. Considering those two teams are division foes the Canucks really need to beat, those numbers have to reverse themselves in a hurry. The Canucks' special teams units, namely the penalty kill, would have to pick it up quickly. Through three games, the Canucks had given up six goals, five of which were power-play goals.

1st period
The Wild outshot Vancouver 11-7 in the period. Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play and didn't get called for any penalties.

2nd period
Ryan Kesler worked the puck from behind the net to the left corner, then left it to Daniel Sedin, who was camped behind the net. Daniel bided his time to wait for something to materialize, and it did, as Daniel threaded the puck to Taylor Pyatt, who found space in the low slot between three (or four) Minnesota defenders and snapped his first goal as a Canuck through on Manny Fernandez.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Taylor Pyatt 1 (Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler) 9:15
Vancouver outshot Minnesota 18-12 in the period (25-23 overall). They again were 0-for-2 (0-for-4) on the power play and again didn't get whistled for any penalties.

3rd period
On the dying seconds of a Minnesota power play, Brian Rolston skated calmly down the left side, covered by Lukas Krajicek. Rolston centered the puck, but it went off of Krajicek's skate and banked into the net past Luongo. That's some icky luck for the Canucks.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Brian Rolston 2 (Petteri Nummelin, Pavol Demitra) 11:33
Vancouver was outshot 12-5 in the period (35-30 overall). Vancouver didn't get a power play chance in the period while Minnesota was 1-for-2 for the period on their first two chances of the game.

Each team had a very good shot apiece and shots were 36-31 for Minnesota for the game. Neither team had a power play in the overtime as Vancouver finished 0-for-4 and Minnesota was 1-for-2. Luongo stopped 35 shots for the game.

Naslund -- YES; right to left, shot, forehand snap through the legs, no deke
Demitra -- YES; goes near the right-wing boards, bullet wrist shot far corner
D Sedin -- NO; forehand wrister
Koivu -- YES; left, backhand score high glove under crossbar
Morrison -- YES; deke to backhand, score
Rolston -- NO; robbed, reached back with the glove on the goal line
Bulis -- NO; forehand, five-hole, stopped
Nummelin -- YES; deke and score, upstairs, freezing Luongo

Three stars -- (1) Minnesota's Brian Rolston, (2) Luongo, (3) Minnesota's Manny Fernandez

skater, goals-assists-points
Pyatt 1-0-1
Kesler 0-1-1
D Sedin 0-1-1

In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 22 of 58 draws (38%). Brendan Morrison won nine of 20, Trevor Linden won five of eight, Ryan Kesler won one of nine (ouch), Daniel Sedin lost both of his, Josh Green won two of six, and Henrik Sedin won five of 12. Taylor Pyatt led the team with four shots, and Kevin Bieksa and Markus Naslund had three apiece. Bieksa and Kesler dished out a pair of hits apiece. Luc Bourdon blocked three shots to lead the team while Mattias Ohlund and Pyatt blocked a pair each. Ohlund missed the net with four shots.

In plus-minus, the Canucks again had no minus skaters since apparently now they only give up goals on the power play. Bieksa, Pyatt, Kesler, Rory Fitzpatrick, and Daniel Sedin, i.e., the Canucks on the ice at the time of their only goal, were plus-1, the only plus skaters in the arena on this night. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The shootout loss picked up a single point for the Canucks, who are now 2-1-1 (1-0 overtime, 0-1 shootout). This puts them in second place, one point behind 3-0 Minnesota, who leads the Northwest Division. The Canucks hold a one-point lead over Colorado, who has a game in hand. Though early, the Canucks hold the fifth slot in the Western Conference behind San Jose (fourth) and the three division leaders, who are Minnesota, Anaheim, and Columbus (huh?). The good news is that after having a pretty ugly preseason and having the first four games of the season on the road, the Canucks escaped with five points out of a possible eight, which isn't too bad considering there was some stuff that still needed hashing out as the season started. Now the issues are clear as to what ails this team, and those are special teams and secondary scoring. Hopefully it's not defensive depth after this game with Sami Salo's injury, whatever that may be. Hopefully Ryan Kesler isn't out for too long, because he and Alexandre Burrows seem to stir things up when they're on the ice at the same time.

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