That’s it, the regular season’s over. Now the real hockey begins.
With the Flames loss earlier Saturday, the Canucks clinched home ice for the first round of the playoffs, rendering Saturday’s game against Edmonton nearly meaningless – a feeling the Oilers are used to playing with. The Canucks – not so much.
Facing a 5-3 deficit going into the third period, the Canucks could have and maybe should have taken it easy, coasted, made sure they got into the playoffs completely healthy… but they weren’t about to let Edmonton embarrass them. Instead, they came back, tied up the game, and won it in overtime.
They looked good doing it too.
1. Exhibit A – The Sedins
The Sedins ended a hell of a season with a hell of a game. They ended the night with two points each, putting Daniel in a tie for eighth and Henrik in a tie for tenth in points scored in the NHL.
Daniel scored Vancouver’s first goal from Alex Edler – it was his 20th goal of the season:
Oh and here’s a stat that shows Danny’s better than Alex Ovechkin (or something).
— Mike S.™ (@Mike_Stefanuk) April 12, 2015
Quick shout out to our most loyal reader Mike Stefanuk, who managed to get a tweet into a record setting 80 SixPacks this year. Seriously, it’s a world record.
Daniel returned the favour to Edler on the overtime winner:
Those were nice goals, but what impressed anyone who watches any hockey was the Sedins’ minute-and-a-half shift near the end of the third when they dominated the offensive end, worked 3 or 4 unreal give and goes, and had 3 or 4 glorious scoring chances.
It was one of those shifts that forced fans to stand up as they skated to the bench, just to show appreciation for how incredible the Sedins are.
2. Exhibit B – Baertschi
The other Canuck who went all-star against the Oilers was their newest trade acquisition – Sven Baertschi.
He scored his first goal as a Canuck in the second period. Sure Ben Scrivens’ five hole coverage was horrible, but Baertschi held off Brandon Davidson like a goalscoring vet here.
If you thought Baertschi might be happy with just one, you were very wrong. Not only did he score another, he made it the game-tying goal that forced overtime.
Yes, it was another embarrassing five-holer for Scrivens, but as Sportsnet’s Craig Simpson points out, Baertschi initiated contact with David Musil holding him off just like he did Davidson on his first goal.
Pretty good move from a guy who Brian Burke didn’t want.
3. Is Miller ready?
Ryan Miller started his first game since being injured Feb. 22, and anyone who expected or was hoping him to return and post a shutout is delusional.
He injured his knee. Considering the pounding a goalie’s knee takes, Saturday’s game was more about seeing if he could take the demands of playing at all, forget being ready to start a playoff game.
Here’s Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman talking about Miller’s performance after the second period:
“He’s rusty. He’s having trouble getting up and down. He certainly doesn’t look like himself. The biggest question I would have watching this, and the guy who could answer it best is the goalie coach Rollie Melanson, is does this performance make you worry that if you need him in a playoff series, because Eddie Lack is your guy, is he ready?”
Unfortunately we rarely hear from Melanson. We did hear from Miller, though. Watching his post-game scrum, he didn’t appear overly happy with the results (5 goals allowed on 28 shots), but it wasn’t all negative.
“As the game went on, I felt a little bit better about where I was on the ice and how I was moving with the plays.”
“It was my first game in a while, and my goal was to get back, get some kind of playing time, get myself in a position where I could be an option and I could be effective if I’m called upon… I didn’t set anything too high for myself, I wanted to move well with the puck. Early on it wasn’t great, but later on it sort of came back.”
Canucks fans will hope they don’t have to see the backup take over a game for a long time, but clearly the more time Miller has to get his timing and strength back, the better.
4. Where are Richardson, Matthias, Kassian?
Going into the playoffs, the Canucks could use the size and strength of Zack Kassian and Shawn Matthias, and they need the faceoff and penalty killing abilities of Brad Richardson.
During Willie Desjardins’ post-gamer, Jason Botchford asked if the three injured players – Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias and Zack Kassian – will be ready to go.
“I’m not sure. You always hope that, but I really won’t know until we get into Monday and Tuesday.”
He added all three have been skating, so that’s something.
5. Gino Odjick night
At the top of this post, I wrote the game was “nearly” meaningless. I added the nearly because the tributes to Gino Odjick were completely the opposite (they were very meaningful).
Just prior to the third period, the Canucks displayed the letter Gino wrote to the fans last year on arena’s screen, prompting everyone in attendance to stand up cheering and chanting his name.
Pretty amazing stuff for a guy who didn’t put up many points over his career.
Here’s Pavel Bure talking about his good friend:
6. Playoffs means serious hockey watching
OK, enough on the regular season.
Our own Dear Leader (Rob the Editor Guy) put up this post with the Canucks first round playoff schedule after the game.
Write this down: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Monday.
Those are the days you will not schedule that nightly workout or meet up with a guy or girl for drinks (unless you know for a fact he/she is a Canucks fan and won’t be all “OMG, THEY’RE TWINS! DO THEY HAVE, LIKE, ESP OR SOMETHING?”)
If you do end up watching a playoff game with someone like that, you have our approval to leave them with no explanation come intermission.
Hey, if you’re going to ditch the person, might as well leave him/her with the bill. Might as well go out with a bang.
Just tell people you’re busy, put your phone on silent, and watch the Canucks (hopefully) beat the Flames in style.