There is a lot to cover in this game…
While Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Wild was special for the dirty display put on by the Sedins and their best friend Alex Burrows, there wasn’t a whole lot of pushback or spark from the Wild.
Unless you were an invested Canucks fan it wasn’t much to the outside observer.
Wednesday however was an early Christmas treat for anyone across the nation who tuned in on TSN regardless of affiliation.
The Canucks and Wings put together a stone cold classic display of skilled up tempo in your face hockey packed with so many twists, turns, and little displays that one of the running themes for Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro near the end of the game was figuring out who would make their cut as the three stars in a field of probably a dozen deserving candidates.
Similarly, I had a tough time pruning my love for this one so let’s start by talking about all the great parts in this game that didn’t make the cut but can’t go unnoticed.
Like Mason Raymond once again flying all over the ice and setting up Chris Higgin’s opening goal, or the awesome cut on Raymond’s face that looked he had started a fight club in the basement of Rogers Arena, or the simply sublime Daniel Sedin intentional header that he admitted post-game was an attempt to pass it up the boards to his brother.
But on to the main course….
As great as Chris Higgin’s goal was, it was quickly forgetten when Cody Hodgson stunned everyone in the building with his booming slapshot goal just 21 seconds later.
The kid is adding new elements to his game seemingly daily and is quietly on pace for a very productive 40 point season getting third line minutes and a lot of late game benchings.
The slapshot was new to his NHL bag of tricks but also a call back to his juniors day when he was voted by his OHL peers to have the best slapper in the league. Guys like the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, even Jannik Hansen now have looked unassuming in their rookie seasons with the Canucks only to break out under whatever progression magic AV possesses so it’s scary to think what Vigneault can mold this kid into in a couple of years.
There’s been a lot of setbacks for CoHo but he’s arrived in the big stage and could be the Canucks’ secret weapon come playoff time. As good a third line as Torres-Lapierre-Hansen was last spring, how amazing would Higgins-Hodgson-Hansen be? That’s the HHH line, a line with pedigree.
Not content with a mere single assist in this one, Jannik Hansen outdid himself on the penalty kill with Ryan Kesler in the box for attempting to challenge Niklas Krownwall to a duel (presumbly some kind of Zoolander-esque naked pose-off).
After Alex Edler (who thankfully is not a Red Wing thanks to Thomas Gradin’s chance phone call prior to his draft year) poked the puck off Henrik Zetterberg’s stick, The Great Dane picked it up and bursted up ice like Usain Bolt on skates. Zetterberg knocked him down just as he was getting towards the net in the slot, but as a Honey Badger Hansen doesn’t give a f- and bowled into Jimmy Howard with no fear allowing Edler to tap home the rebound.
Howard gave a bit more of an f- when he tried to rip Hansen’s head off but hey if no one likes the Honey Badger then the Honey Badger is doing his job. He’s still got two more seasons on his contract after this one for the bargain price of $1.35 mill.
3. Bobby Lu
Two stops stand out. The first was a brilliant pad stop off a Darren Helm rebound attempt, notable mainly because rebound control hasn’t been Luongo’s forte since, well, his first groin injury in that infamous afternoon Pittsburgh game.
The second was an absolutely insane glove stop on Pavel Datysuk late in the game that had the both the crowd and the TSN crew gushing.
The only pucks that got by him last night were thanks to a dubious non-call on Todd Bertuzzi and a nice deflection by Drew Miller. To beat Luongo these days you need have some combination of luck, weirdness, and dirtiness because it’s not happen traditionally.
Admittedly, the regular season has never really been his problem but everyone still ragging Luongo should take a step back and ask yourself if Dan Cloutier ever looked like this.
The big water cooler play of the night was of course Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Ryan Kesler. Did he leave his feet? Is there a Shanaban coming?
Well, you could definitely make the case for a case but here’s the thing. Kronwall has been delivering these exact hits for years. He’s the master at toeing the line, or in this case the ice, and stretching the boundaries of what he can get away with. This isn’t the first time someone on the receiving end of one of his hits has accused it of being dirty and it probably won’t be the last.
The precedent here is that he’ll probably get away with it. Say what you want about the hit, but I’d rather have those checks in the game over the rash of blindside head-shots we’ve been forced to discuss for years now.
Of course the fact that the refs will let a little charging slide for Krownwall and yet consistently nail Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis for clipping calls on their hipchecks is another matter altogether..
There’s probably a relative this weekend that you haven’t seen in a while and you don’t really like but you’ll smile and put up with his antics and remind yourself that he’ll be out of your life again by the next day.
For the Canucks last night that was Todd Bertuzzi.
He started off his night by pushing Sami Salo into Luongo and collecting the Wings first goal of the night and ended it by taking out his anger on Dan Hamhuis.
The Raging Bull was in fine form last night.
3. Pure Skill
Last night’s game was so addictive I wouldn’t be surprised to see if many fans left Rogers Arena last night and immediately headed to East Hastings to see if they could score another hit.
This was good pure skilled hockey just like almost every other time these two teams have met in the regular season over the past few years.
Mike Gillis has made no secret that he hopes to emulate the Red Wings model and really the only thing separating these two franchises right now is the minor detail of Cup wins.
It lends each game a master and apprentice dynamic that makes you forget about concussions and blindside hits and fighting deaths and all the other black clouds circling the game right now.
So it’s absolutely criminal that these two teams have never crossed paths in the playoffs since Todd Bertuzzi was still on our side and Nik Lidstrom was defining Dan Cloutier’s career. It’s a playoff series that absolutely needs to happen.
I would probably do more things to make that matchup happen then I would do for a Klondike bar.
It’s also criminal that beginning next year these teams will go from meeting four times a year during the season to just two.
Would love to see the ratings in Sweden for this game.