This game had everything that you could want in a play-off game, except it was a regular season one in January. Right from the drop of the puck the Bruins displayed their intimidating physical style of play like a pack of wolves, attacking in groups. It’s pretty obvious that the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins do not like each other and it didn’t take long before the fights began.
At the 3:54 click of the clock a scrum took place by the benches, as Alex Burrows was changing, and from there it was gang warfare. Nathan Horton took on Dale Weise and I have to admit I was wrong about what I previously said about Weise. He more than accounted for himself in that fight, and throughout the game played a real physical style. In fact, he was the most physical Canuck on the ice.
All the players on the ice got involved in the melee, including some that weren’t, like Milan Lucic who appeared to come off the bench. That’s what the referees thought also, as Lucic received a game misconduct for leaving the players bench.
Lucic, this supposed tough guy, had his chance to prove it during this brawl, but I didn’t see him take on Kevin Bieksa after he had torn the helmet off of Beiksa’s head and Kevin went back at him. Seems to me Lucic was looking for someone he could actually beat, as he went after Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis and then tried to get at Max Lapierre.
I don’t remember Nathan Horton being a real tough guy either when he played with Florida, but it seems everyone on the Bruins is a whole lot tougher with the pack backing them, including some guy named Benoit Pouliot. Anyway, over 100 penalty minutes were dished out and this time the Canucks got their fair share of power plays, and this time after 23 previous attempts – it came alive.
It was a costly game as the Canucks lost two players to injuries, which I believe will show up as concussions. The first was Andrew Ebbet who was knocked out of the game from a shoulder to head collision by Dennis Seidenberg and second was Sami Salo from a low check by Brad Marchand, who I will address later.
Here’s what I saw during the game that I liked and disliked, and there was plenty to choose from.
First of all, my LIKES.
Special teams – after going 2 for their last 23 power play attempts, the Canucks went 4 for 11 and shut out the Bruins on theirs (0/7), which was a key point in winning the game. This included a couple of power play goals on the Brad Marchand major and game misconduct, when he low dived Sami Salo who appeared to come down on his back, and his head bounced off the ice.
Salo was not happy as he struggled to his feet and tossed his stick into the boards and skated directly to the dressing room, which ended his night. That folks, looked like a concussion type blow to the head resulting from a cheap dirty check. But at least this time, the Canucks made the Bruins pay as they went ahead 4-2 early in the third period.
Physical play – A number of Canucks showed up to play the physical game and did not back down from the Bruins. Dale Weise, Max Lapierre, Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen and yes – even the Sedins were finishing checks. Over 100 minutes in penalties with 60 of those coming in the first period, showed me that the Bruins’ intention was to run the Canucks out of the arena. It didn’t work as the Canucks scored the first goal on the power play.
Sure, the Canucks can still use some more toughness, but at least they didn’t succumb to the Bruins’ intimidation.
Cody Hodgson – I could have sworn that Hodgson got two goals but it looks like they gave the first one to Burrows, with Hodgson receiving the assist. Coach Vigneault only played Hodgson 5:53 minutes at even strength but was rewarded with 5:26 on the power play. That is where Hodgson excelled, as I thought he was the most dangerous and best Canuck player, and not just because he scored the winning goal.
This guy is going to be a very important player for the Canucks because if Coach had allowed him, he would have shown that he can play in the physical games better than the Sedins. He’s starting to remind me of Bryan Trottier who played on all those New York Islander Stanley Cup teams. Cody is built low to the ice, stocky and strong on his skates, not afraid to go to the tough areas, and his intelligence on the ice reminds me of the Sedins.
It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Hodgson has an even better second half and is a key in the play-offs.
Goal-tending – Here I recently wrote an article about the keys to a Canucks win over Boston, thinking that Roberto Luongo would be playing, and instead Cory Schneider starts in net. I suppose it was a wise move as the Canucks did win, and Schneider played extremely well, for the first time in his career in front of family and friends.
Schneider was particularly sharp in the third period when the Bruins poured it on trying to tie the game, after closing to within a goal and out-shot the Canucks 19-10. When Cory plays, it never seems like he is out of position and nothing seems to faze him. He battles hard in front of the net for his space and that’s not easy against the Bruins who overload that area, bringing the defense at times.
What a tremendous win that was for Schneider and well deserved.
Five-on-five play – The Bruins dominated the Canucks in this game just as they did during the play-offs, outscoring them 3-0. So without the power-play, the Canucks would have lost and lost big. It didn’t seem to matter in what area of the ice it was, the Bruins took the puck away at will and counter-attacked like the mad dogs they are.
In that part of the game their physical play really dictates the tempo, and their resulting scoring chances – of which there were plenty. Not many of the Canucks D-men were willing to go into the corners for the puck in their own end and the turnovers were numerous.
If these two teams were to ever meet again in the play-offs, the Canucks would have very little chance again without their power-play. Because five-on-five the Bruins are the better, stronger team.
Alex Edler – in what was the most important game to this point in the season, Edler played his worst. I lost track of the amount of turnovers that he had all over the ice. These included giving the puck away on a power-play in front of his net, resulting in a penalty-shot, to a pass in his zone up the middle of the ice, picked off, with Schneider having to rescue him.
He was like a lottery machine gone wild spitting balls up all over the place but instead of balls it was pucks. The sooner the Canucks can get rid of this guy the better this team will be, and I don’t give a rats behind if he’s the top point getter amongst NHL D-men this season.
Sorry folks, but this guy isn’t a money player, never will be, and is a soft player that does not like it when the going gets tough. If the Canucks ever get a shot at a Shea Weber type, then Edler should be at the top of their list to trade.
Cheap Dirty Hits – by the Bruins, which is just their way. No wonder they are either first or second in the NHL in penalty minutes. If it isn’t sticks held high or elbows to the head, it’s checks like Seidenberg’s hit to the head on Ebbet, the low dive hit by Marchand on Salo, or Horton’s take out of Manny Malhotra’s knee with his stick.
It’s one thing to play physical, but another to be downright dirty. At least this time the referees called the flagrant penalties and it cost Boston the game – so justice prevailed and the bully lost.
Insertion of Andrew Ebbet – Why, in a game against the most physical team in the league, would Coach Vigneault play Ebbet, all of 5’9” and 175 lbs, instead of Mark Mancari? As it was, Ebbet lasted 1:32 before he was knocked out of the game by a check and the Canucks played a man short for basically the whole game.
The Sedins – I still do not think the Canucks will win a Stanley Cup with the Sedins. Why? Because they have yet to prove that they are money players in the play-offs, especially in five-on-five play. Take a look at today’s game as the Bruins did exactly the same thing they did in the play-offs.
Granted, Henrik Sedin did score a power-play goal and Daniel received a second assist on Ryan Kesler’s power-play goal, but the Twins were neutralized five-on-five by Boston just as they were by other teams in the play-offs.
In closing, I have to say that this was the most emotional game of the year for me, and I suspect for the ‘Nucks Nation. Now if only the play-offs were starting tomorrow, because that game got me primed for more.
Ice Bits: If Sami Salo is out with what I suspect may be either a shoulder injury (history of) or concussion, and if Aaron Rome is not able to play on this road trip, it will be interesting to see if either Kevin Connaught or Yann Sauve get the call. The last I heard about Chris Tanev is that he was out again with an injury.
Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Google Images and Yahoo Sports!
Video Credits – YouTube
Quote Credits – The Vancouver Sun and Province
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Filed under: Vancouver Canucks