First off, congrats to Nathan Deobald who becomes part of random hockey trivia lore subbing for Dubnyk as backup. Random thought: how hilarious would it have been if Szabados would have been the goalie she could have seen even a shift against VAN and we win? They'd never live that down.
It seemed like I hadn't been to a game in forever, so I was really wondering what the vibe around the team would be like. I'd say in the first 2 periods they were a fair bit more confident than I recall. The third was a little hit-and-miss but the team was physical throughout the game. The minor lineup changes we've made, while not really improving the squad (save for Johnson for Staios) have certainly made us more physical and we are not at all afraid to show it. This really makes a difference against a team like Vancouver, who will try to run you out of the building with cheap play. For once, we took the physicality and pestering back to them pretty well and weren't victimized by reffing. I'd have loved to have seen what Peckham would have done in tonight's game because I think it would've been damn fun to watch him pound on Glass, Kesler, Burrows or whichever moron wanted to donate their noggin for that beating.
Random celeb sighting - Miss Duff was reported to be in the building this evening. Hope she likes Edmonton. Might be a nice change of pace?
Anyway, on to the PLAYER REPORTS
- It's really too bad that this guy has probably topped out because if he were a young developing defenceman we'd have a lot to work with. He gives it his all every shift and managed 15 pretty decent minutes tonight. Though he looked utterly twitchy on the only 2-on-1 he faced (seriously, this was nearly Raffi-head-bob-worthy) and took an odd penalty (I believe the Canuck player had just broken his stick with a slash and the fact that the visible break came on a Canuck's back got him called) he played a pretty solid game, dishing out some hits and making a key shot block in the second period. I'd try to keep this guy around next year as the sturdy AHL-but-emergency-callup-ready guy in a pinch. But, could someone alert the Oilers stats guys that he doesn't weigh 295 pounds and take that off the scoreboard?
- Not as good as I saw his first couple game in that he wasn't so good with the puck tonight, didn't get any effective shots through and got caught out of position a couple times. Not a bad game, far from it, just not as impressive as others.
- I've noticed some people really slagging this guy lately. I have to admit I was a little perplexed in that he wasn't doing too terribly in many games I'd seen. Tonight he did indeed look that bad. Gone was the puck poise, skating and confident passing I'd seen before. He hit a couple times but not as effectively as other games. I didn't really see anything positive from him. Worstly...watching Chorney and Strudwick try to defend the behind the net play is like watching the merry-go-round-from-hell. Somehow no one is ever covered, they never have the pass taken away and it is just a mattter of time before a quality shot gets through unless they're bailed out by a forward or the opposition screws up. As a fellow defenceman, that was painful to watch!
- What I remember most is what I noted in the Chorney description; certainly not one of Strudwick's better games.
- I group these two because unless our management acts like complete morons over the summer, I believe we're going to see them playing together as they did tonight next season. Then after next season, for several more. Watching these two as a unit on D is just excellent. Whitney hit someone when he needed to, got a glove in a face or two when he needed to, jumped into the play a couple times and was quite solid defensively, especially on a couple of key pick-offs in the slot. Gilbert's goal was ugly as sin, but good for him anyway. Aside from the one goal the pair was on for where Gilbert got twisted up, both were solid defensively and moved the puck well. I do believe these are our horses for the foreseeable future.
- Another deserved first star. He made several sublime saves, including robbing Kyle Wellwood after he'd made half the team look stupid, and several others in the first and second. Make no mistake, we gave up plenty of quality scoring chances tonight. This was not our best defensive effort, especially down low. Deslauriers really didn't have a chance on either Canucks goal, held his team in and then preserved the win. The only thing you could criticize about him was that he was a little awkward at times, but he got the job done. He certainly won the one-on-one matchup between himself and Luongo, which is always the biggest key.
- I must admit that I'm pretty perplexed by this line combination. If it is a ploy to get Gagner to work on his physical game it certainly worked in that I counted at least 5 hits for him tonight. That's impressive work. He wasn't too bad offensively either. Stortini stirred the pot a tad. I was mildly amazed that he didn't get in a couple fights until I remembered we were playing the Canucks. Stortini had a great moment where he nailed a Canucks player, the play continued, the puck came to him later and the Canucks player took a run only to miss and look like a goof. Lovely work Zack. I felt bad for Comrie in that his prime offensive chance game on a 3-on-1 rush with Stortini and Whitney. Comrie made a nice little move to save time and space in order to give the option to shoot or pass, passed to Whitney and had that shot blocked. He might've been able to score but Whitney had an open net as well. Quiet game from Mike otherwise.
- These guys did the job of keeping the offensive hounds at bay quite well I must say. They were positionally solid, kept the Canucks to the outside and managed to control the puck (more Horcoff and Pisani than Moreau) and worked hard on the PK. There were some warts...Horcoff left his man on Daniel Sedin's goal and got caught guarding no one and nothing. Big mistake that could have been prevented. Moreau could've taken a couple third period penalties but luckily got away with some more physical stuff (which to be fair the Canucks did as well) behind the opposition net. Fernando wasn't particularly dynamic, but got the job done.
- I don't really like this line. I don't see what the point is exactly. Penner remains unmotivated. He held off 2 or 3 Canucks to make solid offensive plays, but not with near gusto he had earlier this year. He also got a bang-bang chance in the second and a clear break in the third (possibly the first too) and had absolutely zero finish. Poor shot choice and poor execution. Cogliano had a decent game in that he skated quickly, made a great pass to set up Penner for a shoulda-been-goal and was positionally solid. He looked better than he has, but man was that goal ever bad. I started laughing immediately. Right place to be of course but that shot was crap! As for Mr. Brule, if we would have lost this one I would've hung the blame on him. You don't get a glorious chance in the third period to grab a 2 goal lead and the game very often, deke a top goalie out cold...then kindly deposit the puck onto his pad when you have the entire FREAKING net to shoot at. What was that?!?!?! I would have scored on that play. Unacceptable, unfocused and WEAK!
- I didn't notice Nilsson aside from his goal, which I'm still trying to figure out. Did Luongo simply think he was going to pass and cheat? I was stunned that went in. Potulny was a little invisible too. He whiffed on a chance in the second, and was ignored while wide-open for the home run ball pass in the third (by Pouliot), but he didn't make any particular mistakes. I think he's getting out of place on the PP though, in that he's not getting the shooting chances he usually would. Was he the one who got burned so badly by Wellwood too? Pouliot was really solid defensively and held onto the puck at important times. Lots of patience and execution. Other than ignoring Potulny, I liked his game.
I like to see Deslauriers win, because as I have noted here before, he's really working hard for it and deserves some positivity to end his season.
There are few better regular season feelings than sending Canuck fan home a Loooouuuu-SER! (guy had a great Vancouver colored shirt with a 1 on the back and Loooouuuu...sssseeerrrrsss!, awesome!)