Revenge for 82
The Islanders forced overtime with a late goal by Frans Nielsen but couldn’t hold on at 4-on-4, allowing Bieksa to jump in the rush to give the Canucks the victory.
Love ’em and hate ’em these are my takeaways from a crazy game on Long Island.
1. Kesler Cruising
Ryan Kesler was in fine form on Tuesday leading the Canucks with a pair of points in just over 28 minutes of ice time.
After Matt Moulson gave the Islanders an early two-goal lead Kesler immediately responded with a determined shift, setting up his own rebound goal less than a minute after the Moulson tally.
The rest was classic Kesler featuring the former Selke winner all over the ice, including a slight embellishment on an elbowing call assessed to Frans Nielsen.
While the play likely warranted a penalty in any case, Kesler’s reaction and subsequent return to take his place on the Canucks’ power play was classic Jerkpuck in action.
2. Sedins Solid
Henrik and Daniel Sedin were both exceptional Tuesday against the Islanders, combining for three points early to get the Canucks back into the game. While Henrik’s three (!) minor penalties are somewhat of a concern, the third infraction was hardly worthy of two minutes.
Discipline aside, the Sedins were superb in a game where their team really needed them on Tuesday.
3. Higgins Hot Right Now
Call it a hometown bounce, call it puck luck, call it whatever you like. Chris Higgins was in the right place at the right time again on Tuesday, putting home a crucial go-ahead goal for the Canucks late in the second period.
Higgins didn’t have much to do with the play, but buried the easy opportunity in front of his hometown fans as if he had completely forgotten about Sunday’s glorious scoring chance. Good on Higgins for bouncing back with a solid game after enduring one to forget over the weekend.
1. Another Slow Start
While John Tortorella may preach aggression as a team philosophy, the Canucks have seriously struggled to apply themselves immediately after the opening puck drop. The Canucks spotted the Islanders a pair of goals to start Tuesday’s game, giving the home team everything they could have asked for before Ryan Kesler finally responded.
The Canucks can’t afford to be playing from behind as often as they have been lately.
2. Booth Snubbed
John Tortorella obviously hasn’t been pleased with David Booth‘s play so far this season and on Tuesday he chose to deliver that message loud and clear by starting Andrew Alberts as a forward in place of Booth.
While the Canucks haven’t been using their fourth line much this season the coaching change quickly blew up in Tortorella’s face when Jannik Hansen left the game due to injury, leaving the Canucks with 10 proper forwards.
Alberts was on the ice for the Islanders’ first goal and never returned, benched after only 37 seconds of play.
If Tortorella wants to deliver a message to one of his players he has a variety of mediums through which to do so, an insult in the form of an out-of-position Andrew Alberts isn’t the way to do it.
3. Tortorella’s Time Management
The Canucks aren’t exactly at an all-time high in terms of organizational depth, but judging from John Tortorella’s time management one would think the fourth line is forever cursed to be occupied by hopeless hockey players. Sunday in Columbus the Canucks’ fourth line of Jeremy Welsh, Tom Sestito, and Dale Weise combined for only 12:17 of ice time.
Tuesday on Long Island Andrew Alberts (Vancouver’s 12th forward) and Tom Sestito combined for only 3:07 on the ice.
The Canucks simply can’t continue to play three-line hockey. The longer the team tries to survive this way, the harder they’ll fall when forced to roll all four lines.