Saturday, April 18, 2009
The officials enabled this game to get tons more flow than Game 1. They called three less minor penalties before the skirmish at the final horn. Only one penalty was called in the first period, at which one of the CBC guys (Jim Hughson/Craig Simpson) joked that the Blues/Canucks game that had just started might end before Flyers/Penguins Game 2 ended (it was running concurrently and in overtime at that point). The game went 9:20 without a penalty call, and there weren't a lot of play stoppages in that first half of the first period. It was just rolling lines and rhythm and all that jazz. The Canucks went until 3:39 had elapsed in the second period without getting whistled for a penalty, and even then it was Shane O'Brien getting the call, which is sort of obligatory for him. He also got hit for slashing four minutes after he got out of the box from his first penalty. By the same token, after Crombeen's penalty late in the second period, the Blues played the whole third period without being penalized (again, until the final-horn skirmish).
As for the goals themselves, it's a shame that will all the opportunities the Canucks had (and with all the stops that Chris Mason came up with) that the first puck that went through was the one that did. Mats Sundin's deflection of a Pavol Demitra shot was partially stopped by Mason, but it got through and crawled across the goal line. It sort of reminded me of Trevor Linden's deflection goal in Game 7 against Dallas (that one was much bigger, obviously) or the Jeff Cowan overtime winner in Anaheim (again, an overtime winner is more important) just by how the puck snuck through. Needless to say, most Canuck fans hope this is what gets Sundin energized and helps him elevate his game since his speed probably can't be elevated. The second Canuck goal was pure stick-to-itiveness by Alex Burrows, who wound around the back of the net and punched it from the far side. I haven't heard the Shorthouse/Larscheid call of the goal yet, but I could imagine Larscheid mentioning something about how Burrows isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas to get goals, and based on the massive shot he took from a couple of Blues right after he let the shot go, that was a dirty area. He paid the price for that shot and that goal, but it was well worth it as Vancouver doubled their lead with half a period to go in the game. Saint Louis needed two goals toward the end and pulled Mason from the net for an extra attacker pretty early, and Henrik Sedin potted the empty-netter with 1:24 left to put the game on ice.
I had a hunch going into this game that Saint Louis was going to score the first goal of the game. Little did I know they wouldn't score the second or third goals as well. I have no idea how much longer Luongo can keep playing out of his mind, but we might as well enjoy it while he does. Frankly, I hope in Saint Louis that the offense can pick up more of the slack (off to say after a three-goal output in a shutout) and maybe that the defense can tighten up a bit and limit some of the chances on Luongo so that he doesn't have to stand on his head, as much fan as it is watching him do just that.
Yeah, Game 3 of Canucks and Blues from Saint Louis will be on Sunday, it will air on the CBC (for the lucky ones) and Versus at 4pm. Please note that in western Washington, Sports Radio 950 KJR-AM is airing the game as well. Presumably it will be the Canucks Radio Network broadcast based on the promos they were running on Friday.