Saturday, December 09, 2006
One night earlier, the Canuck power play saw the addition of Yannick Tremblay, recently called up from Manitoba. The Canucks ended up beating the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime, scoring all four goals on the power play. The Canucks' hoped to carry the momentum into Cowtown, where the Calgary Flames were looking to extend their home win streak to nine games. A Calgary win would also extend their tear to 11 wins in 14 games. All in all, the Canucks and Flames were about to get really familiar with each other as the December schedule had them cross paths four times. One more matchup would occur on January 2 in Calgary. Vancouver was looking for its first win streak since a three-gamer, the third win of which was in Detroit. The streak was snapped the next night when Dany Sabourin got a rare start and was eviscerated in Nashville. As always, the level of concern goes up with a matchup against a Northwest Division team since every point is crucial. Every point is even more crucial since all the other teams in the division have games in hand on the Canucks.
Early in the period after two blown Vancouver clearing attempts, Kristian Huselius had the puck near the left hash and spotted Chuck Kobasew at the side of the net, who put a shot onto Roberto Luongo that was stopped. The rebound went to the slot, where Huselius skated to it, took it toward the goal line on Luongo's left, waited, then flipped a backhand through.
»» 1, CALGARY, powerplay, Kristian Huselius 10 (Chuck Kobasew, Robyn Regehr) 4:59
On a Vancouver power play, Henrik Sedin bided his time on the right-wing boards before slipping a cross-ice pass to Kevin Bieksa, who one-timed a sharp-angle shot that hit the post instead of the net or Miikka Kiprusoff. The rebound, however, was easy pickings for Daniel Sedin, who put it into the net.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 9 (Kevin Bieksa, Henrik Sedin) 15:00
Even later in the period, Roman Hamrlik faked a shot that Kevin Bieksa dove down to block, but then Hamrlik shot over it. The puck went off the shaft of Dion Phaneuf's stick and into the net behind Luongo.
»» 3, CALGARY, powerplay, Dion Phaneuf 6 (Roman Hamrlik, Jarome Iginla) 18:03
Calgary badly outshot the Canucks 17-6 in the period. They were 2-for-6 on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-2.
Jarome Iginla took the puck along the end boards on the left side and drove to the net untouched, getting more than enough chances to jam the puck through Luongo.
»» 4, CALGARY, Iginla 16 (Alex Tanguay, Daymond Langkow) 6:06
With about 13 minutes left, Bieksa managed a decent rush with Jan Bulis and Henrik Sedin, but his shot was stopped. Near the halfway point, Byron Ritchie took the puck from the right-wing boards to the end boards, skating toward the net. He then made the quick pass to Matthew Lombardi on the goal line, who skated the short distance to the net and put it through Luongo as the Canucks defensively were discombobulated. Luongo was pulled from the net and spared further carnage as backup Dany Sabourin replaced him in the net.
»» 5, CALGARY, Matthew Lombardi 9 (Byron Ritchie, Huselius) 9:43
On the ensuing faceoff after the Lombardi goal, Tyler Bouck tried to get the Canucks going by engaging in a fight with Brandon Prust. Unfortunately for Vancouver, Bouck was pounded pretty well by Prust, possibly magnifying how badly the Canucks were being outplayed at the time. With just short of nine minutes left, a Calgary clearing attempt was picked off, resulting in a decent high-slot chance for Alexandre Burrows. Burrows' shot was deflected over the glass by Kiprusoff. Not long after, Matt Cooke lined up Phaneuf for a hit along the end boards in the Calgary zone. On a late Calgary power play, Huselius centered across to Kobasew down low, but Sabourin made the very nice save.
Calgary outshot the Canucks 14-11 in the period (31-17 overall). They were 0-for-1 (2-for-7) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-2 (1-for-4).
Bulis was near the end boards in the Calgary zone when he was hit from behind by Andrew Ference with no resulting whistle. The puck found its way to Henrik Sedin in the corner, who dished to brother Daniel Sedin on the left wing. Daniel passed back to Henrik as Bulis in the meantime had moved in front of Kiprusoff. Henrik centered to Bulis, who snapped it past Kiprusoff, then had words with the officials for the no-call on the hit from behind.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, Jan Bulis 5 (H Sedin, D Sedin) 5:45
On a Vancouver power play, Kiprusoff had just made a shaky save, and the puck stayed in the Vancouver zone. Brendan Morrison at the left point passed to Bieksa at the right point. Bieksa flung the puck to the net with a screen about to materialize, and it went in off of Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Bieksa 5 (Brendan Morrison) 10:41
The Canucks had run out of life, however. With Sabourin pulled, they got the puck into the Calgary zone but lost control of it as Iginla cleared it to center, then Tanguay shot from just beyond the Vancouver blue line on the left side and found the empty net.
»» 8, CALGARY, emptynet, Tanguay 6 (Iginla) 19:24
Vancouver outshot the Flames 12-7 in the period but were outshot 38-29 for the game. They were 1-for-1 (2-for-5) on the power play while the Flames didn't get a power play in the period and finished 2-for-7 on the man advantage. Luongo stopped 20 of 24 before being pulled in the second period, and Sabourin stopped all 13 shots he faced thereafter.
Three stars -- (1) Calgary's Jarome Iginla, (2) Bieksa, (3) Calgary's Matthew Lombardi
D Sedin 1-1-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 38 of 72 draws (53%). Brendan Morrison won eight of 17, Trevor Linden won two of four, Ryan Kesler won seven of 14, Marc Chouinard won 13 of 19, and Henrik Sedin won seven of 16. Kevin Bieksa led the team with five shots while Yannick Tremblay and Henrik Sedin had three each. Bieksa delivered three hits and Alexander Edler dished out two. Markus Naslund coughed up the puck twice. Willie Mitchell blocked three shots. Lukas Krajicek and Edler missed the net with three shots apiece.
In plus-minus, there wasn't a lot of plus for Vancouver. Edler was the only plus-skating Canuck, getting a plus-1 rating for the night. At minus-1 were Mattias Ohlund, Morrison, Linden, Daniel Sedin, Matt Cooke, and Lee Goren. At minus-2 were Krajicek, Naslund, and Tremblay. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The loss dropped the Canucks' division record to 2-8-1 and their overall to 14-15-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 29 points. In the Northwest Division, they are in fourth place, trailing first-place Edmonton and second-place Minnesota by five points (Edmonton has the edge on games remaining) and third-place Calgary by two points. They lead last-place Colorado by a single point. In the Western Conference, the only teams to have played the same number of games or more games than Vancouver are the four teams in the Pacific Division not named Phoenix. All other teams in the West have games in hand on Vancouver. Anaheim is still running away with the conference with 52 points. Nashville is second with 39 and Edmonton is third with their 34. Trailing their divisions but having more points than Nashville and/or Edmonton are fourth-place San Jose with 42, fifth-place Dallas with 40, and sixth-place Detroit with 38. Minnesota is seventh, Calgary is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Colorado is tenth.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Four nights after being embarrassed at home by the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks would take their chances against the defending Stanley Cup champions as the Carolina Hurricanes rolled into town. The Hurricanes hadn't won a game in Vancouver since October 15, 1999. Of course, in the age of the new NHL schedule, the two teams haven't played one another since December 14, 2003. The Hurricanes had a badly ailing power play coming into the game, but the Canucks had some new injury concerns after they were down to 11 skaters during the game against Edmonton. Taylor Pyatt was lost for two to four weeks with a shoulder injury and Sami Salo sustained a nerve injury in a shoulder, shelving him for seven to ten days. In the 16 games beforehand, the Canucks had surpassed the two-goal plateau only twice. Adding a new wrinkle into the Canucks' power play was a callup from Manitoba by the name of Yannick Tremblay.
Nearly halfway through the period and halfway through a Vancouver power play, Brendan Morrison at the blue line dished to Markus Naslund near the right hash, who put a shot onto the net. Last season's Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward stopped the shot, but Jan Bulis put in the rebound for his first point in 14 games. The goal doubled as Bulis' first power play goal in a Canuck uniform.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Jan Bulis 4 (Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison) 10:50
With about eight minutes left in the period, Mattias Ohlund threw a hard check on Andrew Ladd in the Vancouver zone. With four and a half minutes remaining, Matt Cooke did some nice forechecking, plowing Anton Babchuk into the boards in the left-wing corner. Carolina outshot the Canucks 13-7 in the period. They were 0-for-2 on the power play while the Canucks were 1-for-2.
The Canucks finally made good on their fourth power play of the period. Morrison at the right point got a loose puck and passed to Yannick Tremblay at the left point, who flung the puck toward the net. Ward made the save but left a giant rebound that Cooke missed, but Marc Chouinard put it into the back of the net. It took him 29 games, but Chouinard had his first goal as a Canuck.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Marc Chouinard 1 (Yannick Tremblay, Morrison) 17:41
Vancouver badly outshot the Hurricanes 17-6 in the period (24-19 overall). They were 1-for-4 (2-for-6) on the power play while Carolina didn't get any power play chances (0-for-2).
On an early power play, Naslund got hold of a loose puck on the right-wing boards and passed to Morrison at the right point. Morrison passed to Tremblay behind the left circle, who one-timed a shot past Ward and through somewhat of a screen by Cooke and Chouinard. It was Tremblay's first goal as a Canuck.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Tremblay 1 (Morrison, Naslund) 5:17
John Ashbridge wasn't quite done announcing the goal inside the arena when the Hurricanes rendered the Canucks' three-goal lead a bit too comfortable. With the puck in the Vancouver zone, Willie Mitchell lost a battle on the boards for the puck with Erik Cole. The puck went to the end boards, where Kevin Bieksa lost a battle with Eric Staal. Craig Adams skated untouched from the left hash to the low slot and took a centering feed from Adams, putting it past Luongo before he and Alexandre Burrows bowled into the Vancouver goalie.
»» 4, CAROLINA, Craig Adams 5 (Eric Staal, Erik Cole) 5:56
About halfway through the period, Babchuk from behind the right circle wristed a shot on which Luongo had to make a nice save, especially since he was interfered with by Cole.
With just under four minutes remaining, the Canucks were trying to kill off a long stretch of Carolina power play time (2:59 worth) which included 61 seconds of five-on-three play, and they were 18 seconds from doing just that. Bulis cleared the puck to center ice to get a much-needed line change, but Carolina was beating the fresh penalty killers into the Vancouver zone. Justin Williams got the puck in front of the benches. Ray Whitney skated the puck across the right point and centered to Cole, who deked to the forehand and put it off the post and off Luongo's back and into the net.
»» 5, CAROLINA, powerplay, Cole 12 (Ray Whitney, Justin Williams) 15:42
The game had a whole new twist just 92 seconds later. Cole got control of the puck on the end boards with Henrik Sedin on him and he dished off to Mike Commodore on the right-wing boards. He took a stride or two toward the right hash and snapped it toward the net, and lo and behold, the shot handcuffed Luongo, going off his glove, off his back, and trickling over the goal line, tying the game.
»» 6, CAROLINA, Mike Commodore 3 (Cole, Bret Hedican) 17:14
Carolina badly outshot the Canucks 19-6 in the period (38-30 overall). They were 1-for-5 (1-for-7) on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-2 (3-for-8).
Carolina defenseman Scott Walker made what is now a cardinal sin in today's NHL as he put the puck over the glass, a delay of game. On the ensuing power play, Morrison held the puck in at the right point and passed (the puck nearly trickled over the blue line) to Tremblay at the left point. Tremblay skated away from the boards and passed to Henrik Sedin along the right-wing boards, who found his wide-open twin brother Daniel in the low slot. Daniel simply redirected the pass past the stick side of Ward and into the net.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 8 (Henrik Sedin, Tremblay) 3:02
Shots were one apiece in the period (Carolina 39-31 total). Vancouver scored on the only power play of the overtime (Carolina finished 1-for-7, Vancouver 4-for-9). Luongo stopped 36 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Morrison, (2) Carolina's Erik Cole, (3) D Sedin
D Sedin 1-0-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 38 of 67 draws (57%). Brendan Morrison won 11 of 16, Trevor Linden won both of his, Ryan Kesler won 11 of 22, Marc Chouinard won three of seven, and Henrik Sedin won 11 of 18. Yannick Tremblay led the team with five shots and Daniel Sedin had four. Alexandre Burrows dished out four hits while Kevin Bieksa and Matt Cooke inflicted three. Burrows coughed up the puck twice. Willie Mitchell blocked four shots and Bieksa blocked two. Bieksa and Cooke missed the net three times each with shots.
With all the Canuck goals being scored on the power play and with some Carolina goals being five-on-five, it's all minus for the Canucks. At minus-1 were Bieksa, Burrows, Linden, Kesler, Daniel Sedin, Tremblay, Henrik Sedin, and Jan Bulis. The lone minus-2 was Mitchell. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The win lifted the Canucks to a record of 14-14-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 29 points. They are fourth in the Northwest Division, five points behind division-leading Edmonton, three back of second-place Minnesota, and they've played three less games than Calgary with the same amount of points. They have a one-point lead on last-place Colorado. The only teams in the Western Conference having played as many or more games than Vancouver are the Pacific Division teams that aren't Phoenix. All other teams in the West have games in hand on Vancouver. Anaheim is running away with the West with 50 points. Nashville is second with 39 points. Edmonton is third. Trailing in the non-Northwest divisions but having more points than Edmonton are fourth-place San Jose with 40 points, fifth-place Dallas with 38, and sixth-place Detroit with 36. Minnesota is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, Calgary is ninth, and Colorado is eighth.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Fresh off a tough November, the Canucks hoped to right the ship and get things going in December. Two nights earlier, they started off the month with a badly-needed win against Colorado, a division win at that. Roberto Luongo was very good and had to be since he stopped 40 pucks. Matt Cooke would return for this game after sitting one out with an upper body injury (revealed to be a rib injury). Though not on the ice, Canuck radio analyst Tom Larscheid returned to the booth after a bout of laryngitis. The Canucks would face the Oilers, who had lost three straight, all at home. They had also just lost leading scorer Ryan Smyth to a broken thumb. Oiler goalie Dwayne Roloson came into the game with a 10-7-6 career record against the Canucks, whereas Luongo was 2-3-1 coming in against Edmonton. In other news, this was Jan Bulis' 500th career NHL game. In a possibly bad note, one of the guys in stripes on the ice for this one was Mick McGeough.
With the Oilers on the power play, Petr Sykora took the puck across the blue line and passed to Shawn Horcoff on his left, who unleashed a drive from behind the left circle toward the net that deflected off both Kevin Bieksa's stick and Willie Mitchell's arm and into the net to Roberto Luongo's left side. In a trend that had almost disappeared from earlier in the season, the Canucks' opposition scored on their first shot of the game.
»» 1, EDMONTON, powerplay, Shawn Horcoff 3 (Petr Sykora, Steve Staios) 8:13
With just under two minutes remaining, the Canucks had a golden chance to score. Henrik Sedin on the left wing centered to Matt Cooke in front, who was stopped, and both Bieksa and Henrik Sedin couldn't put the rebound past a prone Dwayne Roloson. With a few ticks left, the Oilers exhibited some checking prowess with Bieksa getting nailed behind his own net and Taylor Pyatt getting nailed along the side boards and never returning to the game (Jarret Stoll hit him). As a matter of fact, the Canucks were down to 11 skaters with Rick Rypien, Pyatt, and Sami Salo getting injured in the period. The Canucks outshot the Oilers 11-7 in the period. They were 0-for-2 on the power play while the Oilers cashed in on their only man advantage.
Early on, the Canucks lost a battle in the corner in their own zone. Raffi Torres came out of the left-wing corner with the puck and passed to Fernando Pisani, who dished off to Daniel Tjarnqvist at the left point. He flung the puck toward the net and through some legs and it was deflected in past Luongo.
»» 2, EDMONTON, Daniel Tjarnqvist 2 (Fernando Pisani, Raffi Torres) 0:58
The Oilers buried the Canucks a mere 34 seconds later. Once again, the Canucks lost a battle on the boards, this time behind their own net as a loose puck leaked toward the left-wing boards. Sykora got to it first and left it for Joffrey Lupul, who skated along the back side of the left circle and unleashed a hard wrister from midslot that beat Luongo, who had to deal with Horcoff pestering him in front of the net. Lukas Krajicek was defending Lupul on the play but had fallen down as Lupul was skating to set up his shot. This was the Oilers' third goal in their last five shots.
»» 3, EDMONTON, Joffrey Lupul 9 (Sykora) 1:32
Just short of three minutes in, Luongo made a nice stop with the right leg or stick as Stoll centered to Torres down low, who was stopped. About 11 minutes in, Bieksa ripped a straightaway slapshot from the blue line that went off the post, and Daniel Sedin scored on the rebound, but the goal was immediately waved off as Henrik Sedin was sent to the box for interfering with Roloson on the play. The Canucks badly outshot the Oilers in the period by a margin of 19-9 (30-16 overall). They were 0-for-2 (0-for-4) on the power play while Edmonton was 0-for-1 (1-for-2).
Another bad clearing attempt resulted in badness for the Canucks, though this time with an unlikely culprit. Daniel Sedin on the side boards in his own zone had a clearing attempt that was easily picked off by Stoll, who quickly dished off to Torres. Torres fired it from midslot past Luongo's left side.
»» 4, EDMONTON, Torres 5 (Jarret Stoll) 3:54
Vancouver outshot the Oilers 6-2 in the period (36-18 total). They were 0-for-1 (0-for-5) on the power play while Edmonton had no power plays (1-for-2). Luongo stopped 14 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson, (2) Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff, (3) Edmonton's Raffi Torres
none for Vancouver
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 28 of 59 (47%) draws. Brendan Morrison won five of 15, Rick Rypien lost both of his, Trevor Linden won all four of his, Ryan Kesler won three of 11, Henrik Sedin won 14 of 21, and Jan Bulis won two of six. Kevin Bieksa and Daniel Sedin led the team with five shots apiece. Matt Cooke dished out five hits while Alexandre Burrows dealt out four. Daniel Sedin and Alexander Edler missed the net three times each.
There would be no plusness for the Canucks in this game. At minus-1 were Mattias Ohlund, Morrison, Willie Mitchell, and Kesler. At minus-2 were Bieksa, Lukas Krajicek, Naslund, and Henrik Sedin. The lone minus-3 was Daniel Sedin. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The loss, also doubling as Roloson's fourth career shutout against Vancouver, put the Canucks at 13-14-1 (4-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 28 points. In the Northwest Division, they lie in third place, three points behind first-place Edmonton and one point behind second-place Minnesota. They are one point ahead of fourth-place Calgary and fifth-place Colorado. Anaheim is running away with the Western Conference with 46 points. Nashville is second with 37 points, and Edmonton is third. Trailing in their respective divisions but having more points than Edmonton are fourth-place San Jose with 40, fifth-place Dallas with 36, and sixth-place Detroit with 32. Minnesota is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, Calgary is ninth, and Colorado is tenth.
This game absolutely exhausted me. However, by the end of it, I was wondering if maybe the Seahawks still had a bit of the magic left over from last season. There were so many things during the game that were oh so wrong, yet the final outcome was oh so right.
The wrong? The Seahawks aren't necessarily allowing as many deep balls anymore, but they can sure allow crazy-big running plays. For most of the game, it looked like the entire Seahawk offense had missed the flight to Denver.
I think the most frustrating thing was that the offense was so bad for most of the game that they weren't able to really take advantage of the gaggle of turnovers piled up by the defense and the special teams. The Seahawk offense followed up too many defensive takeaways with three-and-outs.
I don't know if this reminds me of the Dallas game last year, maybe it does. This game turned completely around thanks to the three-play, 61-yard touchdown drive that put the Seahawks ahead 14-13. Granted, the turnaround in the Dallas game was a lot closer to the final buzzer, but this was at least fourth-quarter craziness.
Two field goals by Josh Brown were great to put Seattle up 20-13, but in the back of my mind, I knew the team needed seven points, and they had a 4th-and-1 play Mike Holmgren decided not to go for.
What happens next? The stupid catch-and-run touchdown by Brandon Marshall followed by the two-minute drill to set up Josh Brown's 50-yard game-winner. Though he missed two first-half field-goal attempts, Josh Brown is money and needs to be locked up long-term immediately.
The Seahawks needed to win even more because both New Orleans and Dallas won (those two teams play each other next week). Chicago clinched their division and is 10-2. The Saints, Seahawks, and Cowboys are all 8-4, triggering the conference record tiebreaker. The Saints easily take that tiebreaker with their crazy 7-1 conference record to Seattle's 6-3. Dallas has a 5-3 conference record.
But hey, I'm just enjoying this win right now. Whew.
[edit ~6:45p -- all corrections thanks to the comment catch of reader MR]