The Vancouver Canucks didn’t go into Christmas on a high note, turning in a performance against the Calgary Flames that should have come with a gift receipt, but they made damn sure that they weren’t going to lose to Albertan rivals in two straight games.
From the moment Andrew Ebbett made like a piece of a pinball machine and opened the scoring early, this game was never in doubt.
It spoiled the homecoming for Burnaby’s pride Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but the kid will have a ton of chances to light it up in his hometown in the future. It was more important to see the Canucks avoid losing two in a row and avoid the panic that two game losing streaks cause because that is how spoiled we are.
Can you imagine being an Oilers fan the past few years? Onto the Love’em and Hate’em for the Oilers matchup.
The previously mentioned Andrew Ebbett had his memorable game of his young Canucks career with his opening goal and the Canucks third marker of the night.
His first was mostly luck, but his second was a beautiful conversion from a pass by the streaking honey badger Jannik Hansen.
His return from injury should help shore up the Canucks forward depth that has taken some hits recently, especially in light of the news about Chris Higgin’s hand infection.
With those two goals, Ebbett has already matched his production in all of last year with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Before Burrows became the third twin, these two were staples on the Canucks third line doing exactly what they did last night: giving teams fits with their chemistry.
Their shorthanded marker capitalized on what Alex Burrows has mastered so well, going to the net with your stick on the ice. It sounds simple, and it is simple, and it works whether the puck is coming from the Sedins or Kesler.
Realizing that the spirit of the season is about giving AND receiving, Burrows returned the favour in the third by setting up Kesler.
On both goals, the duo displayed some sublime passing plays that makes you realize how much both have benefited from playing with the Sedins.
And finally the Canucks are back on top of the Northwest.
It’s not that the Canucks have been that bad over the past couple of months, it just that somehow the Wild were still doing it better.
Now that the wheels have fallen off in Minnesota, 3-5-2 in their last 10, the Canucks sit on the throne with a one point lead and a game in hand.
I would be very surprised if they don’t hold the title for the rest of the year.
The game started off in a weird note when Ryan Kesler was called for a phantom charging call on a check that missed.
The replays showed that Kesler took maybe two strides so by the rulebook that wasn’t charging.
What he did hit was the glass, delaying the game for a while and allowing the Johns Shorthouse & Garrett to muse on christmas Lego sets, Roberto Luongo‘s mask fetish, and the Canucks taking on Moscow in a 1977 exhibition match.
The glass, meanwhile, is experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
And then things got downright strange when Dale Weise was sent packing after nailing Alex Plante and making his head bleed (which probably pleased Vince Vaughn).
It was really no worse than the Kesler hit, was shoulder-to-shoulder, and was only a big deal because of the injury which is never supposed to influence a call but as Aaron Rome can attest sometimes it does.
Tom Renney is a mind-reader in the vein of Ron McLean and seemed to know for sure that Weise was out for blood, but it looks like Weise will not be suspended for the hit.
It almost influenced the game when the Oilers struck twice on the powerplay, but leave to Edmonton to score twice and still only come out of a major powerplay +1.
Everyone’s favourite picture of futility, Ben Eager, was back in town last night.
Last time he was here it was with San Jose in the second game of the Western Conference Finals.
He famously melted down and cost the Sharks the game, all but punching the Canucks ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. One Vancouver fan showed her appreciation for his fine work by giving him a peek at her own cups.
Last night, Eager started by tussling with Andrew Alberts after Ebbett’s second goal but his main event was smashing and breaking the penalty box camera after a slashing call.
It’s an immature action that’ll cost Eager something to the tune of $5,000 to replace the camera and that’s not counting the possible fine coming from the league.
Ben Eager’s contract with the Oilers runs for two more seasons after this one. Yay.