October 24 2013 08:32PM
It's still October? Who cares? Roberto Luongo stole his team two points on Thursday night.
It was announced that 13,203 were in attendance at the Prudential Center to watch the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils play hockey on Thursday night. That strikes me as a rather generous figure, but let's go with it anyways. The crowd was pretty much nonexistent all night, but it's not like the two teams they were watching gave them any reason to make noise anyways.
The thing is.. I doubt either the Devils or the Canucks care much about that. One team got to play exactly the type of game that they like to play, while the other team managed to somehow come away with 2 points that'll count all the same towards the standings at the end of the year.
Read on past the jump for some thoughts on what we just witnessed.
Officially the 3 Stars for the game were Patrik Elias, Ryan Kesler, and Eric Gelinas, but it's pretty clear to anyone that watched that Roberto Luongo was most deserving of being named the 1st star on this night. He gave up two goals in the first 9:41 of the game, but it's hard to fault him for either goal.
The opening tally by the Devils came after some nifty passing by their top line of Elias-Loktionov-Jagr, and some dreadful coverage by the Canucks in their own zone. When all was said and done Elias was looking at a yawning cage. The 2nd goal was a power play tally by
Chris Tanev Eric Gelinas after Tanev butchered a shot block attempt and essentially put the puck in his own net.
Luongo's finest work came in the 3rd period unquestionably, when he was forced to stop 17 shots with the team in front of him huffing and puffing and holding on for dear life. He then went on to "stop" all 3 shootout attempts, though to be honest he was probably quite lucky that one (if not two) of them didn't get by him. But whatever.. he got the job done.
His counterpart, Cory Schneider, would probably like to forget this one. While he technically only gave up 2 goals against, he was directly responsible for both of them. It turns out that he hasn't improved his puck handling one bit since moving to Jersey, as he mangled an easy play en route to Ryan Kesler's 5th goal of the season. Kesler has been playing well but what is that now, 3 goals that have fell directly into his lap? Must be nice to be Ryan Kesler right now. But that'll tend to happen when you a) have 49 shots on goal through 12 games, and b) play next to the wizard known as Henrik Sedin.
Here's a replay of the gimme:
Speaking of Henrik Sedin, check out the play he makes to set up Daniel Sedin's goal that nodded the game up at 2 (oh baby, that was nice. But Schneider has to make that save..):
Okay, I guess I can't put off the main topic coming out of this game which was referenced in the title above. David Booth - making his return to the lineup after being healthy scratched on Tuesday - lasted just 4 minutes, leaving the game following a somewhat innocent looking hit he took. Same goes for Dale Weise. That left the Canucks with just 9 forwards, but really that number is 8 when you consider that the 9th guy is Tom Sestito.
With the news that Jannik Hansen will be out for the forseeable future, Alex Burrows can't return soon enough.. but it might not come until the team returns home. I'd expect that we'll see some call-ups made in advance of tomorrow night's roadtrip finale. Heck, maybe we could see a Sauve-Alberts-Weber 4th line? A boy can dream.
EDIT: A boy CAN'T dream apparently, because shortly after the game the team made the following announcement:
Media Release: #Canucks have recalled centre Pascal Pelletier and left wing Darren Archibald from Utica.— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) October 25, 2013
Pelletier is a journeyman who has only played 13 career NHL games despite being 30 years old, but he leads the Comets with 7 points in 4 games, so it makes sense that the team would reward him with a call-up in a time of need. As for Archibald, he was our 14th ranked prospect this past summer and has considerably more upside. I actually like his game quite a bit. But it goes without saying that both guys will probably be back in Utica before too long.
Image via Extra Skater.
As you can see, things were fairly even until the end of the 2nd period. But after that, it was all Devils, and as I mentioned it took a strong Roberto Luongo performance to pry this one away from them. The Devils came into this game 26th in the league in goals/game despite being near the top of the league in terms of possession, so it's no surprise that they had trouble finishing throughout.
Hamhuis only played 18:18, and got hammered (9 shot attempts for, 18 against) in this one. I know that Dan Murphy put it out there that he believed that Hamhuis was trying to play through a hand injury, which would certainly explain some things. If that's really the case though, now that Edler is back from his suspension why doesn't he sit out a game or two? Bizarre.
Coming into this game I noted that the newly instated Higgins-Santorelli-Kassian line had been awesome against the Islanders in their debut performance. Unfortunately they weren't really able to replicate their performance in this one, though both Kassian and Higgins had a great scoring chance apiece (with Higgins ringing iron, what's new?), while Santorelli was the only player to score in the shootout.
And finally.. it seems that all anything people can talk about around these parts is the lack of power play opportunities the Canucks have had this season. That won't die down after this one, in which the Canucks were only on the PP on two occasions. If only the referees listened to the Sportsnet broadcast, so maybe John Garrett could peer pressure them into giving his team a few calls..
It was an ugly way to get 2 points, but all things considered I'm sure they'll take it. Next up is a well-rested St.Louis Blues squad who is 5-1-1 on the year and hasn't played since last Friday. If Gregg Popovich were coaching this team, he'd almost surely send his stars - the Sedins and Kesler each topped 25 minutes in this one - and conceed the schedule loss. But that's not how hockey works. The Canucks will play all of their best players again tomorrow night, but I'd temper my expectations for the outcome if I were you..