Chris Higgins can’t help but smile tonight. (Image via Jeff Vinnick)
As the Vancouver Canucks went into Philadelphia to take on the Flyers on Tuesday evening, all the talk around here was about percentages, unsustainably bad luck, and being long overdue. All of that held particularly true for Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, and Dan Hamhuis, who have been having their play called into question because of things that tend to happen over the course of an 82-game season. Unfortunately for them, it came at the start of the season with the team struggling against good competition.
Some of that will surely die down after Thursday night’s win, as the Canucks kicked off their 7-game road trip with a much needed two points thanks to a late flurry, line juggling, and some fortunate bounces.
Read on past the jump for a quick recap of the game.
The first period of this one was an U-G-L-Y one all the way around, but particularly for the Canucks; the Flyers held an 18-11 advantage in unblocked shot attempts directed towards the net (Fenwick) after 20. The home team took a lead roughly halfway through the opening frame when a horribly ill advised change left the Canucks defense scrambling, allowing Tye McGinn to bury an easy one.
The period was salvaged by a lucky bounce that took place just 10 seconds after McGinn’s goal. The puck took an unexpected hop off of the boards and bounced out right in front of the net waiting for Ryan Kesler to put it home. All of that sure did make Steve Mason look silly (real hard to do, I know). After 1 goal on 19 registered shots on goal this season, I’m sure Kesler will gladly take it though.
If you know a friend that didn’t get to watch the game tell him/her that it was basically Version 2.0 of this one:
The 2nd was a much better period from a possession and scoring chance perspective (4-to-1 in their favour after being outchanced 5-to-1 in the opening 20), but all the Canucks had to show for their troubles was Tye McGinn’s 2nd goal of the game. There was a lot of talk about the goal being waved off due to a hand pass by Claude Giroux, but they counted it.
Speaking of Giroux.. where on earth was he in this one? That was just his 2nd point of the season, and quite frankly, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I even noticed him tonight. The $66 million man will get his fair share of criticism for what’s going on in Philly, and while it’s not all on him, he needs to be significantly better than he was in this game.
One silver lining from that McGinn’s 2nd goal was this fantastic tweet which made me chuckle (man oh man, do I love some good wordplay):
The Flyers have scored time and Tye McGinn
— Rhys J (@Thats_Offside) October 16, 2013
The last time the Canucks were trailing in the 3rd period on the road and failing to generate any sort of meaningful offense – which was in Calgary on October 6th – John Tortorella broke up the Sedins, and juggled the lines. It worked that time, and it worked tonight as well. The new look top line of Higgins-Henrik-Kesler tied the game up following a wicked pass from behind the net by the Captain to Higgins, who must feel a million times lighter with that gigantic monkey off of his back.
I’d also like to personally thank Higgins for making me look like I know what I’m talking about:
I have a hunch that Chris Higgins scores a goal (finally!!) tonight. Combo of Flyers D, Steve Mason being in net, and him being way overdue.
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) October 15, 2013
Then, with just a couple of minutes left in the game a sequence where some brilliant plays by both Henrik and Dan Hamhuis helped sustain pressure in the offensive zone led to Kesler’s 2nd goal of the night. I’m sure we’ll see the Sedins reunited on the top line in Buffalo on Thursday, but on this night, the move worked perfectly for the Canucks and made Tortorella look like a genius.
Things are about to get progressively tougher in the coming weeks (both during this road trip, and when they return home), so it was nice to see them salvage the game and pick up two much needed points on a night where the team as a whole was nowhere near its A-game.
There will be more to come on this one sometime tomorrow morning/afternoon, so stay tuned.