January 07 2012 04:58PM
On Saturday afternoon, the Bruins had no answer for Hodgson and the Canucks.
The Bruins play dirty hockey. It's true and we all know it. Today was no exception, as Boston's club attempted to intimidate and push around the Canucks in their own barn. And why wouldn't they have taken that approach, hell it won them the finals and helped them earn this "Baltimore Ravens of the NHL" mystique that they've been riding high on all season.
The problem is, if the referees call the game correctly (which, for the most part they did today, with a couple of notable exceptions) then dirty play leads to penalty minutes, which, leads to power-play opportunities for the other team. In the finals, the Canucks were unable to execute and it cost them the series. This afternoon, however, while the Bruins were out to settle scores and endanger the playing careers of well-loved Finnish defenseman, the Canucks padded their lead on the man-advantage, scoring four power-play goals on their way to a convincing 4-3 road win over the Bruins. It was awesome.
A more extensive recap, the statistical three stars and scoring chance data after the jump.
- The Canucks opened the game strong, and really took it to the Bruins with five straight scoring chances, a Daniel Sedin shot that rung off the post and Kesler's game-opening goal in the games first five minutes. They killed a penalty in this time without allowing a shot or a scoring chance, and the Sedins looked especially good on an even-strength shift that had Zdeno Chara and the Bruins running around in their own end. By the time Johnny Boychuk hit the post on the Bruins first chance of the game, the Canucks had made it apparent: they meant business today.
- The Bruins got themselves into trouble early in the game with a line-brawl, instigated by Jerk Puck expert Alex Burrows, who got into some extracurricular garbage with Shawn Thornton on a line-change. Basically every Canuck skater rushed to jump Shawn Thornton, followed by basically every Bruins skater. In the confusion, Milan Lucic who had been headed off on a line-change was given a game misconduct for leaving the bench. It was a bad call and one the NHL later rescinded, and it certainly hurt the Bruins who had to proceed with only 11 forwards for the rest of the game.
- On the bright side, the line-brawl caused Nathan Horton, who fought Dale Weise in the melee, to do this with his face:
- The tough stuff was a net victory for the Canucks who scored a goal on the ensuring 5-on-3 power-play and didn't have to deal with a big tough dude like Milan Lucic, whoever that is, for the rest of the game. That said, the Bruins went on to control the rest of the first period pretty handily and tied it up on a lovely Brad Marchand back-hand goal that came off of a really nice set up by Tyler Seguin. Seguin was all over the ice this afternoon, in a good way, and was probably the Bruins best forward.
- In the second period, the linesman made an error and ridiculously negated a clear icing leading directly to the Bruins go-ahead marker scored by Rich "David Beverley" Peverley. On its face, when an officiating team has an erroneous misconduct and a goal that shouldn't have counted in a game, they obviously had a pretty rough evening. That said, in a game that could have gotten pretty ugly, especially after the Marchand cheap shot (more on this in a second), I thought they managed the flow pretty well. There were a couple of missed calls either way, but no soft penalties really. After the garbage we saw the Bruins get away with on a consistent basis in the finals, it was refreshing to see a game in Boston played with the NHL rulebook. Let's hope the games continue to be called like they were today this Spring, when they really start to matter.
- Alex Burrows got the game even on the power-play in the second period with some wonderful work in Tim Thomas' kitchen. He deflected home the Cody Hodgson shot after some nice puck movement from the Canucks second unit. For what it's worth, in the 7th game of last season's Stanley Cup Final, the second power-play unit included: Burrows, Higgins and Raffi Torres. Today it was made up of Burrows, Higgins and, of course, boy wonder himself: Mr. Cody Hodgson. Needless to say, the Canucks now have a legitimately dangerous second power-play unit this season, which is something they lacked last June. Tonight that mattered.
- Brad Marchand is a skilled hockey player, with quality instincts on both sides of the puck, a dangerous wrist shot and some wonderful puck-handling ability. But he's a loathsome, rotten hockey player. On the play that cost the Bruins the game, he submarined Sami Salo, a classy veteran who has battled injuries throughout his career, with an unnecessary, dangerous and disrespectful hit.
I don't like to ascribe intent to players on hits in a fast moving game like hockey, but the way Marchand got low on this play looked intentionally injurious to me. Boston fans, of course, thought it was an average hip-check. It wasn't, Marchand struck Salo below the knees (hence the clipping penalty), hit Salo when he didn't have the puck, and disrespectfully timed the play to surprise Salo and increase the chance of the veteran being seriously hurt.
When playing a physical, contact sport, maintaining a baseline of respect for the health and well-being of your opponents is essential. Often emotions can get the best of you, but the thing is, this wasn't an emotional play. For Brad Marchand, cheap crap like this is part of what he does on a game-to-game basis, and he hasn't had to pay the price most players like him do, because he's lucky enough to share a dressing room with Chara and Lucic. Marchand's team paid the price today, and hopefully Shanahan has the stones to hold Marchand accountable as well, but that was an indefensible assault by one of the most indefensibly cheap players in the entire league.
- Here's what the always quotable Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa had to say about the Marchand hit:
The Marchand hit was a pretty stupid thing and I’m sure he’ll be getting a phone call for that one. There is no reason for that. But we made them pay for that. We got to score two goals on that power play and that’s the game. He’s got to live with that.
Bieksa is the man, but seriously, Marchand has had to live with being Brad Marchand for over twenty years. So i'm sure living with the regret of single-handedly costing his team two points in January is nothing in comparison.
- The Canucks third goal came off of a Henrik Sedin tip-in on an Edler slap-pass that beat Thomas blocker-side high. Back in the day, this goal was a Sedin staple until the rest of the league got wise to it. Then the twins came up with new tricks to frustrate opposition defenses and we now only see it once or twice a season when an opponent forgets to cover either Henrik or Daniel in the high-slot.
- The game-winner was scored off of a Cody Hodgson snipe that hand-cuffed Thomas and went in off of the post. Hodgson has had a marvelous rookie season, and it's hard not to be impressed by his improved strength and skating, his awareness at both ends of the rink, and by his crisp puck movement. With that said, what's most impressive about Hodgson to me is possibly that heavy slapper. He got all of that shot and sent it top-cheddar with some serious Ben Kenobi force. It was the second "slapper on the rush" goal he's scored in the past two weeks, and hopefully it's something we'll get to see a lot more of because it ruled. Let's watch it again, if only to enjoy the impossibly satisfying "tink" sound the shot made when it ricocheted in off of the post.
- Though the Canucks won, they were totally smoked at even-strength. As the possession numbers and the chance data indicates, the Canucks were out-chanced 2-to-1 at five-on-five, with Ryan Kesler's line being the main culprits. Kesler, Raymond and Higgins were absolutely man-handled by Seguin's line, and Raymond had an especially weak game posting a really ugly -8 even-strength chance differential. Despite this, I'd say the team gave a solid defensive effort with Lapierre and Malhotra having especially strong games in tough-minutes. Most importantly, the Canucks held the Bruins to only three chances in the final ten minutes of the game.
- Despite the Bruins even-strength superiority, the Canucks dominated the special teams matchup on their way to victory. The team only allowed five power-play chances against in twelve minutes of short-handed play, and conversely put up 10 chances in about 14 minutes of ice-time with the man-advantage. The only critical thing I can point out about the Canucks special teams performance is the three short-handed chances against, but, as none of them were capitalized on I suppose it doesn't really matter. By playing an undisciplined game, the Bruins played right into the hands of the Canucks, and paid for it with the loss.
- While this was clearly not another game, it still was. Sure the emotional intensity of the game was way higher than a run of the mill regular season game, but it's still just two points in January. Still, it's nice to see the team win a road game in Boston after they struggled so mightily there in the Stanley Cup Finals last June.
The Statistical Three Stars
- Manny Malhotra: even 5-on-5 chance differential despite 11 D-zone starts. Stellar PK work, with only 2 chances against in 7 short-handed minutes.
- Maxim Lapierre: 2 chances created, +2 5-on-5 differential in tough minutes, even PK differential, 2 SOG.
- Daniel Sedin: 5 SOG, +7.4 adjusted fenwick, even chance differential, no chances against in 1:16 of short-handed TOI.
Here are you advanced stat tables courtesy Vic Ferrari and Timeonice.com.
Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20598
|VAN||2||0:12||H Sedin GOAL||3||17||22||23||33||35||23||30||33||44||49||5v4|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|