Well, that was fun, I guess. Roberto Luongo won his first game since April 15, stopping 22 of 23 shots in a pretty… uneventful game. The Canucks won 6-1 against Phoenix Monday night for their first preseason win, which was good to get after an 0-3 start, including two pretty weak losses to the Edmonton Oilers. While this doesn’t count for anything, a five-goal victory the first night that most of the A-roster is on the ice is fun to get.
Optimism abound? Well, also it was the Phoenix Coyotes, so no need getting super excited about anything.
I mentioned Luongo off the hop. In his other preseason start, he allowed four pretty quick goals to Edmonton in one of his worst performances, but he bounced back in a big way against the Coyotes. Making an excellent save off of Radim Vrbata midway through the first period, and a nice one late in the contest off of David Moss. Both guys were in close, but it was Vintage Luongo, tight up against the net, and not necessarily moving fast, but moving “big”, getting enough equipment in the way of the puck to stop it.
Of course, the downside of being a big goaltender that’s usually in position is that when pucks do sneak by, like Martin Hanzal’s midway through the second period, it doesn’t look especially pretty. That said, Luongo stopped 21 of 22, as mentioned (and stopped all 16 even strength shots) and earns a quality start. Of course, he could have had a .773 save percentage and made just 11 saves and his team still would have won, so goal-support is always nice.
Goals… are nice to see. The Canucks don’t often score six goals—they had just five in their first three games—and haven’t scored six since March 14 against Nashville. They had six different goal scorers as well, including Mike Santorelli and Tom Sestito, and weren’t reliant on the Sedin twins to carry the offence. They got shots from every skater in the lineup with the exception of Chris Tanev, and put in a goal with every Coyote on the ice save David Moss.
Bo Horvat looked his best as a Canuck, recording two assists. He made a great pass to Tom Sestito in the third period, if you overlook that he made the pass to Sestito, who finished a real awkward play:
Horvat, incidentally, had a Corsi number of +4 (we know why you come to Canucks Army. No, we can’t tell you what all the other Canucks were at, because it takes a few minutes to manually count, and it’s preseason, so not exactly worth it). He also went 8-for-10 in the faceoff circle which may impress some people, but it probably doesn’t have a huge effect on overall puck possession. Horvat looked good by the eye test, making some confident plays under pressure against a lot of good hockey players on Phoenix.
Vancouver turn around tomorrow night to play San Jose, who will no doubt be a tougher test. While the 6-1 scoreline looks good, and out-shooting a team 34-22 looks good, but it is the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that was 10th in the Conference last season because they had trouble scoring and preventing goals. They also played backup Thomas Greiss, who had his moments in the first period but wound up being overmatched. Good win, but, again, means nothing except that we’re a game closer to seeing the return of Dale Weise.