The Canucks were looking to extend their hot start post-Christmas with a win over the Phoenix Coyotes. The Yotes were looking to earn a franchise best 10 straight victories at home. Whatever happened tonight, someone was going to be going home disappointed. Unfortunately, it was some bad decision making in the second period that resulted in the Canucks going to overtime and eventually losing in the shootout to the Desert Dogs.
The Canucks continued their impressive play, matching up well against yet another hot team, led by former Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett. The game was somewhat reminiscent of the playoff matchup against the Stars: a conservative game with both teams clogging up the neutral zone, along with some fantastic goaltending from both goalies. Jason Labarbera looked great, the former Canucks backup having gotten the start over Ilya Bryzgalov, who played the night before. Roberto Luongo continued to look good tonight, coming up with some huge saves and for once not having his one soft goal come up.
Defensively, this game was played pretty well by the Canucks. Offensively, though? The Sedins had a quiet game and weren’t really doing anything until OT, where the open ice gave them some space to work their magic. Shane Doan and Scottie Upshall were looking a lot more dangerous in the offensive zone than the Sedins did tonight. While Henrik did manage to notch a point on Samuelsson’s goal, the top line had 4 powerplay opportunities, including one that bled into OT, and could generate absolutely nothing. That simply won’t do and the Sedins need to bounce back Thursday against the Blues.
Alex Burrows is someone else who is going to have to redeem himself for me on Thursday, as he took a rather undisciplined penalty in the second, slashing at Radim Vrbata, who sold it like it was Mattias Ohlund taking the lumber to him. This was an especially questionable decision on Burrows’ part, as he was mixing it up with Ed Jovanovski immediately prior to his actions, so it’s not like he could’ve expected much sympathy from the referees out there.
Sidenote: Radim Vrbata was just fine, thank you, and was the first shooter in the shootout.
Burrows journey to the penalty box opened up the scoring for the Coyotes, after call-up Alexander Bolduc’s stick ended up getting broken and the Canucks ended up looking like chickens with their heads cut off in their own end. That play also resulted in Luongo losing his stick and was generally a very messy effort. Thankfully, the Canucks were better the other times they were penalized, otherwise things could’ve gotten ugly in a hurry.
The second Coyotes goal, scored by Petr Prucha, came as a result of Kevin Bieksa apparently getting injured. I at least hope that’s what happened, as he was way up at his own blueline, leaving no one out in front of the net to cover Prucha who had a great chance on Luongo. Bieksa did not return, so I hope that whatever it is that was bothering him is relatively minor. Remember: Mathieu Schneider was put on waivers today so the next guy in line to suit up on the Canucks blueline is Aaron Rome. After that? Nathan McIver.
Sidenote: be honest. Who amongst you had Sami Salo pegged as the dman who was going to go down with an injury?
Mikael Samuelsson decided to channel his rage against Team Sweden’s top brass into some on-ice productivity, tying the game a scant 49 seconds after Ed Jovanovski had opened things up. Some people like to rag on the guy because he had gone 15 games without a goal. One of the reasons I think Gillis targeted Samuelsson was because he has a knack for scoring timely or ‘clutch’ goals: take a look at his playoff performance in Detroit for more of what I’m talking about. The problem is that Samuelsson has always been a streaky guy when it comes to scoring, so you have to take the bad with the good. Hopefully this snub by the Swedish officials will motivate him and have him go on a tear.
Kyle Wellwood is also starting to come on after what was probably the coldest and slowest start to a season for a player, as he redirected the puck and tied things up for the Canucks. He’s been skating a lot better and gaining some confidence out there. I like the fact that AV named him in the shootout, although I don’t know if having him go first would’ve been the greatest decision: poor guy will probably be sitting on his hotel bed, watching PPV and crying into a box of rocky road tonight.
Sami Salo hasn’t been getting a lot of press around here, but I thought he had a really good game tonight and has been playing well overall in this last stretch of games. He was all over the ice and was looking good for the most part. Nothing especially standout, but I like to mention players who may otherwise be going unnoticed from time to time.
Darcy Hordichuk also had another good game, including a great shift with Rypien and Bolduc where they had some nice sustained pressure. It looks like he finally understands that his spot on the team isn’t a gimme and has motivated himself appropriately. Hansen, who hasn’t been looking great recently, sat tonight. If he draws in on Thursday, I hope he takes a cue from Hordichuk and motivates himself into having a great game. Yeah, I never thought I’d be saying that Hansen could learn from Hordichuk, but there you go.
Outside of that, I would like to suggest that Alain Vigenault fashion a chain around Luongo’s ankles, or perhaps his neck, and ties it to the goalpost. Despite showing SOME improvement this season, puckhandling is still not his forte and there were two moments in the game where I just about had a heart attack due to Luongo stumbling out of the crease, enchanted with the small, magical rubber disc that was floating towards him. Both times they very nearly led to goals against. There was much profanity on my end and much confusion from the folks following the Canucks.com Live Blog. So please, cut it out, Luongo!
Finally, Shane O’Brien.
What the hell. No, seriously. What in the hell was going on there in OT? I understand you’ve been very good at staying out of the sin bin as of late, but there is no quota that you have to fill, no obligation for you to get X number of penalty minutes for Y amount of time. Your beaking and challenging Adrian Aucoin there was completely bizarre. It’s like whatever evil spirit that was inhabiting Kevin Bieksa was exorcised by the laceration he suffered and decided to re-possess you. Please let…whatever that was be a one-off incident and that you’re not going back to having a severe case of the stupids…I’m doing a fine job of that on my own as is.
The Canucks square off against the St. Louis Blues Thursday in a game that is NOT on PPV. Shocking, I know!
PS, For those wondering about the title, the ‘10′ came from the Coyotes 10 game winning streak. The ‘100′ came from the opportunity the Canucks had to lay out 100 games without a victory against the Coyotes. I tried to throw in a 1v100 joke there, but couldn’t think of any, so, there you go.