6 of 8 Road Points
Playing their fourth game in six nights, the Vancouver Canucks took on the St Louis Blues in a game that had all the makings of a loss.
The Blues have been superb under Ken Hitchcock, particularly at home, and are a blue-collar team that demands work ethic. The Canucks were coming in off two sub average efforts in Florida and looked every bit the tired team they were.
And yet, the Canucks pocketed the two points and are on their way home for a six game homestand.
1. No Steen
The deciding factor in this game could have been the absence of the Blues’ Alex Steen.
Recovering from a concussion, Steen has inherited the title of premier Canuck killer from Milan Hejduk. Hardly a Blues/Canucks game goes by without the Steen Dream scoring at least one.
2. Bobby Lu
Roberto Luongo has quietly had two fantastic starts on this road trip. While Cory Schneider may have been the conversation piece this trip, Luongo was the Canucks’ best player on a night where he had to be and kept the Canucks within striking distance of Florida despite the team playing horrific hockey in front of him.
It was weird to see Luongo face Brian Elliott and know that it was Elliott going to the All-Star Game and not Luongo, and weirder still to see Luongo not in the top 10 of the major goaltending stats but this has been an exceptional year for defense.
Three teams, Boston New York & St Louis, are on pace to allow the least goals since the lockout.
Luongo meanwhile is quietly on a month-long roll and if he brood too much, an ever eager Robin his waiting in the Batcave.
Of course the real deciding factor of this game was TJ Oshie‘s dash to the bench in overtime to get a new stick on the penalty kill. It’s apparently team policy on a 5-on-4 (because of course Hitchcock has a book of team policies) but not on a 4-on-3.
Oshie’s dash made it a de facto 4-on-2 and allowed the Canucks to casually pass i around before Daniel Sedin slammed it home.
They don’t get much easier than that.
Keith Ballard was a healthy scratch tonight as Aaron Romedrew back into the line-up.
Ballard’s exclusion over the seldom played Alex Sulzer was a headscratcher in that I hoped Ballard was past this. Ballard hasn’t had the bounceback year he was hoping for and this move makes it clear he’s still not out of the doghouse (then again this move could mean as much as starting Schneider in Boston supposedly did).
Either way, Ballard is getting a good chunk of money from a team right up the against the cap, and his contract is not one that can be watching from the press box too often if the Canucks want to have a realistic shot of winning.
He’s signed for three more years after this season, and I can’t see Vigneault and Ballard content to play revolving door until 2015. Something’s gotta give.
Roberto Luongo is the most interesting goalie in the world: He doesn’t always give up goals, but when he does they’re bizarre.
His latest was a Jason Arnott goal that tied the game at two. Luongo stopped Arnott’s initial shot and made a nice save off his rebound chance too.
Unfortunately, the puck got caught in his pad, leading Luongo to become completely confused and start spinning around in an effort to locate the puck. The spinning dislodged the puck, and the puck went in.
You really can’t make that up.
3. No Tyson
Maxim Lapierre is dropping the gloves this year. This a good thing. But he’s also looking like he has no idea what to do after that. This is a bad thing.
Last night, Lapierre managed to turtle in a fight he initiated against Roman Polak and picked up an extra two minutes for his “effort”.
See there’s defending yourself and then there’s making a fool of yourself, and one of those things work.