80 Games Of That Please…
Historically, games against the Sharks have been high-spirited affairs played mostly between the whistles.
The change from a Red Wings style rivalry to a Blackhawks style one has been gradual but last night was the night the Sharks finally turned full heel.
It was only a matter of time between the playoff history, the quotes from Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray agreeing with Dr Recchi’s assessment of the Vancouver Canucks in the Finals, the imminent re-structuring that will make these teams divisional rivals, and something else…..
Oh yeah. When you come over to someone’s house and bring a couple thousand uninvited guests who proceed to make themselves at home and cheer on the road team, don’t expect a warm reception.
All in all, a funny thing happened last night. I think I hate the Sharks now. Onto the Love’Em and Hate’Em for the Sharks matchup.
It was a playoff atmosphere at the Shark Tank last night which meant that Ryan Kesler was in his element.
In the first period, he undressed two Sharks defenders eerily reminiscent of his famous goal against Nashville last Spring, only this time Antti Niemi denied him.
Not to be denied, Kesler went back to work during a Canucks second period powerplay, backchecking hard to take the puck of Joe Pavelski on a shorthanded 2-on-1, allowing him to bang home an Alex Edler rebound on the same rebound and put the Canucks up two.
By the third, Kesler was so effective he had Jamie McGinn and Jason Demers taking runs at him, leading to a near line brawl while Kesler and McGinn held a debate at centre ice on the merits of the Kyoto Accord.
Just don’t ask me how he got a roughing minor out of all that.
Roberto Luongo meanwhile had yet another strong game, continuing his fantastic run since returning from injury.
His best save was the flashy glove one off Joe Pavelski, but he also had some crucial third period stops including two quick pad saves off Jamie McGinn.
There were also times in this game when rugby scrums seemed to be a common occurrence next to Luongo but Roberto held the line, making you wonder if rugby is an underrated sport in Italy.
This was also Kevin Bieksa‘s type of game.
He excels in these chippy atmospheres and last night was no exception as he was in the middle of seemingly everything.
It was hard to blame him for his late high sticking call since Jamie McGinn went down like he was a Canuck but Bieksa was in redemption mode in overtime, where he’s a viking against the Sharks.
As soon as Bieksa had the puck with time by the faceoff dot, did you really think it wouldn’t lead to some more Shark slaying?
Really curious exchange in this one between the captains Joe Thornton and Henrik Sedin after the third period scrum.
Thornton displayed the maturity enjoyed in a captain when he started sticking his fingers in Henrik’s face because…..uh……well just because.
He did have the powerplay marker to tie this one but he also looked horrible in the two late powerplays the Sharks manufactured that could have won the game.
Hey Joe, if you wanna stick your fingers in faces instead of sticking the puck in the net, well, more power to you buddy.
Also, remember this?
Antti Niemi was shaky on Henrik’s opening wrap around goal but made it up for it with a few key saves off the Sedins later on.
One was just absolutely fantastic and rivaled Lu’s glove stop when he went full octopus to shut down a pretty Sedin passing play.
He has this really annoying habit of phoning it in when it doesn’t matter and rising to the occasion when it does.
Still, Kevin Bieksa has him figured out.
The narrative around the league is the Canucks are divers. The Sharks have bought into that through the media a few times (again, see Clowe, Ryan and Murray, Douglas), but what the Sharks don’t seem to get is that old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Aside from the previously linked Thornton dive in the playoffs and the previously mentioned McGinn delayed reaction on Bieksa’s high-sticking, there was also Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s fantastic dive in a big tub of brine after Daniel Sedin made some contact and Vlasic saw an opportunity with a couple minutes left in the game.
Of course the Canucks killed them off because that’s what good hockey teams do.
The Canucks aren’t infallible angels, but let’s please see the Sharks get off their high horse (preferably without diving off of it).
At the end of the day, the Canucks got their two points and we have some added fuel to what is quickly becoming the second best American rivalry the Canucks have.