It’s the 34th time these two teams have met in the past three seasons and yet they’re always as exciting as the last (Game 7 of last years playoffs excluded). What’s great about this game in particular is that in the end, everyone played a pretty good game for the most part, and although there was a bit of reliance on Schneider, the Canucks acquitted themselves well against a Chicago team that had just lost two important games to Nashville. With that being said, here’s a couple looks at what went down tonight.
I just had to lead with this as I doubt many people heard/saw it. If for some reason you were watching Toronto at Pittsburgh on GameCenter Live, you likely would’ve been treated to this:
A broadcaster’s worst nightmare; not having your microphone turned off. Their loss. Our Gain.
Anyways, onto more important matters.
– Most will look at Cory Schneider as the most impressive Canuck on the night, and with good reason. However the game of Alex Edler cannot be understated. Tonight he played the definition of a complete game. Two assists, multiple hits, including big ones to Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane, and a couple of nice defensive plays, most notably a backcheck that prevented Marian Hossa a clear scoring chance. He has to be getting some major consideration as one of the top defensemen in the league which is unfortunate (?) as he’s only got one year on his contract left. Not saying we won’t re-sign him (top 5 worst moves of the franchise if we didn’t) but he’s definitely worth around 5-6.5 million on the free agent market.
– If I’m Mike Gillis, I’m giggling with unadulterated pleasure every time Schneider puts in a performance like this. His phone must be ringing off the hook. Seriously though, much better performance from Schneider after his last home game against Chicago where he gave up 5 goals. He was tracking the puck well, limiting rebounds, and bailed his defense out more than once. What speaks to me the most though is this quote via TSN, “I just remember reaching as far as I could and the puck hit me. I was more upset with myself than happy about the save.” It says a lot about a guy’s character when he makes a brilliant play and then admonitions himself about it later on. Hey interested teams, don’t you want a guy like Schneider playing for you?
– Man Viktor Stalberg was, in one word, impressive. Don’t know how Toronto decided to trade him for Versteeg, he’s such a tantalizing mix of size and speed. Once he learns to protect the puck better and improves his stickhandling skills he could easily become a 25-30 goalscoring powerforward.
– I mentioned it in passing during my mid-season rankings and tonight was a bit of a ‘typical’ game for Keith Ballard. Typical in that he’s the unfortunate recipient of a dubious clipping call, and typical in that we see some brilliance when he led an end-to-end rush the culminated with a Chris Higgins scoring chance. He wasn’t glaringly bad however so maybe things are turning around for him.
– Analyzing the Blackhawks first goal. Actually scratch that, both goals because there’s one culprit for two crimes. Name: Kevin Bieksa. Charges: Lack of defensive awareness. Does anyone know if he suffers from Tunnel Vision? Both times Bieksa is stuck watching the play behind the net, unaware that there is an opposing forward sneaking in behind him. There’s a bit of onus on his teammates (ie. wingers) to either communicate this to him or backcheck, but it’s a flaw that has affected Bieksa before.
– Can you believe at one point there was a good portion of the Canucks fan base that was questioning everything about Cody Hodgson? Guy is great along the boards, has an improving defensive game and is proving that the offensive game he had in junior is for real. It’s just a good thing he was shooting at Crawford and not a bunch of Canadian Tire foam targets.
– 120+ minutes of game play against the Hawks and ZERO powerplays. Rather than the typical conspiracy cards fans like to go to, I’ll only say this: The NHL must REALLY not want to give the Green Men any air time.
– Canucks get outshot, but also missed net a lot and had shots blocked. Most notable sequence was Raymond electing to shoot on a two on one with Hodgson and MISSING and then Hansen blasting the puck wide on a one-timer shortly after during the second period.
– Speaking of Raymond, he’s seemed to have hit a bit of an offensive wall after returning from injury (bad wording aside), but he still works hard defensively. Case in point, during the second period he had a pass intercepted by Duncan Keith that turn into a near odd man rush for the Toews. Raymond realized his mistake and skated hard on the back check, just getting enough of Toews stick to nullify any scoring chance. I believe he did the same not long after to Stalberg as well.
– Lastly, congrats to Daniel Sedin for scoring his 10th overtime goal, surpassing Brendan Morrison for the franchise lead. How often does a player in ANY sport break a record and do it playing against the player who he held it before him. Pretty cool stuff.