Memo to Vancouver fan:
I hate your team. You should too. They are everything that's still wrong with the game. They clutch and grab and hook and hold and whack you in the teeth then cry about it. They make me physically ill. It gave me immense pleasure to see their pathetic and, in the end, stupid final attempt to tie the game (after getting away with yet another penalty).
The refereeing this year had been fairly consistent and quite good in fact. That changed quite starkly tonight. Kerry Fraser, I hope that you're already embarassed with yourself, and should simply add this game to your pathetic pile of a career. You sat there and made multiple non-calls, in addition to 3 weak calls against Edmonton. On one shift, 2 Oilers were high-sticked in the face and 1 was tripped quite obviously; how many penalties did you call? None. At the end of the game, despite a good defensive effort, a penalty was committed against Ales Hemsky when the Vancouver player purposely caught his skate and knocked him down. You called nothing. Alex Burrows spent the whole evening hanging off of Ladislav Smid and Denis Grebeshkov, constantly falling down intentionally to bring them down. We all know the move, so do you, you didn't call it once. You're a gigantic piece of crap. Then to review that last attempt by the Canucks was just sad. The cherry on your crap sundae of a game.
SO, despite clearly being under the assault of an illness, getting horrid refereeing, starting slowly and having difficulty finding their groove all night....WE WIN.
That's how a team that means business and gives a damn does it. Tonight was ugly; easily our ugliest of the year, but we got the job done and I think it was easily the biggest victory so far this year.
I hope our Oilers hate Vancouver as much as I do. There will be more wins against them like this during this season if that's the case. Well done gentlemen!
I have a feeling I'm going to moving him to the front of the report more often. The guy was amazing AGAIN. He made all the difficult stops look incredibly easy AGAIN. He directed pucks away from his net effectively AGAIN. I knew in my mind that after they gave him that penalty he'd be stone cold, and he was. Nik is great normally, when he's pissed off? Forget about it. This guy just flat-out bars the door. We have a guy who outplayed Luongo. Nuff freaking said.
I've already snooped in the post-game thread and you guys are reacting on instinct and emotion...if you think about what happened on the last play of a game that he probably shouldn't have even been in and in which he busted his butt (and especially in the defensive zone), he did the responsible thing and didn't just whip a puck at the net. He attempted to skate it in and make sure, getting space so he could take a wrist shot. From any closer he could have been stick lifted. I've also seen that the play was legal; not in the new NHL. Whether he hit the puck first is irrelevant because he made sure to take his man down. If you've ever been a d-man or know anything about it, you know that Edler intentionally Hemsky down and made 100% sure he did. Aside from this play, he attempted a ton of shots, hustled like crazy, was in defensive position at nearly all times, and dragged Jacques around the ice all night and came out even. That was an excellent effort after being ill (and showing it quite noticably in the warmup, which you initial reactors wouldn't have seen. He didn't show it in the game). If you see the reverse replay, Luongo just barely robbed him on that breakaway btw.
He didn't have his best night and kind of got owned on the dot, but aside from the total goof-up on the break-away, I thought his play was respectable. I'm still not seeing anything in the offensive zone that makes me think he's going to get 20 goals, but he worked hard down low in the defensive zone. Up top he had some distinct problems moving the puck. Part of this is because he's essentially without one winger. Jacques doesn't provide correct support. It's really that simple.
Covered above; I see the effort and it paid off in the one shift down low, but he cannot fill the role of LW with Horcoff and Hemsky. It does not work to create offence for this team. Jacques is also having some problems landing as many effective hits as he did at the beginning of the season. If Quinn is really dedicated to having one of the clubbers on that line, I'd put Stone there at this point. He's playing at a high enough level to contribute to the third or fourth line, but not the first.
Once again he was excellent and especially on the PK. There were several shifts where he dominated the play down low in the offensive zone with a variety of weapons. He dangled around a couple defencemen, overpowered some others, and skated past the others. He's consistently bringing it on each shift and is playing like his job is to lead his line. This is what we've always needed from him. Tonight when he got in close he consistently tried to make the scoring play, shifting the puck or going upstairs. This is exactly what he needs to do.
He wasn't a particularly effective shooter tonight but he positioned himself very well in the offensive zone and made the most of the best chance he got. I like the pesky element he's added to his game this season, and that's especially important against teams like Vancouver.
He continues to step up with his complete play and leadership in all zones. His goal was very nice as it required him to hold off a defender while transitioning the puck and putting it past one of the best goalies in the game. He was also in an excellent offensive position. What I enjoyed though were the saucer passes he makes so easily. There were several tonight threaded perfectly to the stick blade of his teammates through difficult areas. Watch his saucer passing next game; it is truly sublime.
He appears to have been hurt. That's no good. He could be really important in games like this.
He certainly wasn't anything special tonight. I would rather have had MacIntyre play tonight quite frankly.
I didn't see any particular offensive flair in his game tonight. He went to the net, but was usually too late to make a difference and merely stopped in front of Luongo. He also didn't fare too well in that scrap.
I thought Ethan looked really bad myself. He skated very slowly with the puck and wasn't able to get the puck when it would pop loose near him. One thing I noticed was particularly alarming however, and that was that he seemed to not be finishing his checks. Everyone on this team, from the shrimps like Comrie and Gagner, to Penner and Jacques are finishing their checks at a high percentage. They're making good positional contact and making the game hard for their opponents. Moreau was not doing this tonight. Being that his offensive game appears to be down the tubes, he needs to make this contribution and certainly didn't tonight.
At least two of his penalties were really weak. He got hosed on a night when Quinn seemed to want to play him more than on past nights. He made a lot of responsible decisions with the puck and unfortunately couldn't score on the two nice chances he had in front of the net. A workmanlike effort I'd say.
Unspectacular. He wasn't in position enough to use his skating to his advantage. Also got owned on the dot. We seem to have lost a place for Andrew, as while it is a great luxury to have him as a "fourth line center", that's nowhere near his development curve or ceiling. His story during this year will be one to watch.
Continues to step up in a big way. He was tough and a plain rock in his offensive zone. If you didn't watch the game, he may also have made the save of the night when he robbed Vancouver in the third period with a sliding save. He is the shutdown guy that many people say we lack. Had the officiating been even reasonable, he also would have drawn at least 2 penalties with his sturdy effort.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but he sure made Strudwick look like the rookie out there. Chorney won battle after battle behind his own net at key times using positioning and puck skills while his partner hobbled all over the ice leaving the offensive guy to do all the defensive work. Routinely, Chorney bailed out Strudwick on the PK and in other situations. He's come a long way already this year and is a better hockey player than his veteran partner. I recall one mistake when he attempted to pass off of his back foot and that was about it.
See above. He got his butt dragged around by a rook. He's not a positive aside from filling minutes. We have better in Peckham.
Took a couple excellent shots that unfortunately didn't go in. He's also been playing with a bit of an edge lately and that's always a plus. I'm hoping he gets more time on the ice with Hemsky but I'm still pretty sure that's not happening. I'd love to know why.
The pass to O'Sullivan was simply beautiful. He timed it excellently and executed perfectly in traffic. That's how an offensively gifted guy can make a difference in the zone. Defensively I honestly didn't notice him that much aside from when he was being leg-humped by Burrows.
To me, it looked like he was sick as well. He was sluggish and awkward with the puck, not showing any offensive initiative, skating or strength out there. That's very unusual for Tom, even in his really bad games he usually shows something. Hopefully it's fleeting.
By the way, the Sportsnet Connected crew can stick it. That highlight pack and all their pro-Canuck commentary was disgusting.
We really missed Brule tonight. He brings something truly unique to this lineup in terms of talented depth.
MY THREE STARS
Looking forward to prolonging your misery all year long Vancouver. Take your parade planning and shove it.