Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Young Guns II" - Canucks vs. Oilers Recap

The first true sequel of the 2011/2012 Vancouver Canucks season is now in the books, and there aren't a bevy of highlights. (someone bet me $4 I couldn't work "bevy" into my opening statement. I got double toonies comin' my way!)

The Canucks got it on with the Oilers for the second time this season in Edmonton on Tuesday night, and there were some definite holes in the plot. The first time they met, rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got his first career hat trick and he scored all 3 Oiler goals that night. Luckily the Canucks netted 4 goals and spoiled the party with a 4-3 win. Let's all pretend then that the Canucks had only one thing on their agenda for Tuesday nights game:

Stop Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from scoring a goal.

(aka "Operation: Jeez, c'mon guys! Stop him!")

Well if that was the plan, the Canucks got a huge win the other night. The "AV-Team" loves it when a plan comes together and because of a solid group effort, RNH did not get a goal and the whole team should be proud of accomplishing their primary objective.

Unfortunately their secondary objective must have been "stop everyone else from scoring". Third...ary objective must have been win. And the fourth-ary (I'll stop trying to force those now) objective must have been to "keep the same goalie in net all game".

("Stay... there!")

Things didn't work out too well for the Canucks on the rest of those plans, but there were still plenty of things to feel moderately okay about during the game. Such as Alex Edler laying out Taylor Hall as the latter tried to escape the Oilers zone. Much to the surprise of the universe, Ben Eager is still employed by an NHL team. That team is the Edmonton Oilers and in true idiot fashion, he came onto the ice after the Hall hit and cause a stir, which got him his second penalty of the night (the first being a boarding call on a late hit in front of the Canuck bench). Vintage Eager!

(Sweet hockey hair alert is really the best kind of alert there is)

Tuesday's game also marked the official end of the David Booth "Countdown to Scrutiny". The most recent acquisition in the rich history of one-sided trades between the Canucks and the Florida Panthers made his debut against the Oilers. And I honestly have to say I was impressed. After hearing he elected NOT to take part in the optional game day skate, I was ready to write him off as an entitled, lazy prima donna who just doesn't have the heart or the will required to win a Stanley Cup. I'm obviously joking, but sadly there are those out there who honestly thought that and they probably exist by the hundreds.

All eyes were on Booth as he bumped "L'il Sabretooth" Cody Hodgson from the second line to play with fellow Americans (it doesn't matter) Ryan Kesler and "Magnum CH" Chris Higgins. I honestly really liked what I saw. He played with a lot of jump, wasn't afraid to go full tilt at the net or shoot, and he picked the pocket of the Oiler goalie early on, made a nice pass and it almost turned into a goal.

Sadly, Booth is going to find out his favourite thing about playing here is also goalie Roberto Luongo's least favourite thing about playing here:

Blame goalie first, then coach. Then if the goalie is still within earshot, blame him once more.

(Who... likes... metaphoooooors?!)

Roberto Luongo gave up several goals on few shots in the first period and was pulled from the game. I'm gonna keep that sentence as general as possible in case I need to write it in another post. I will just come back here and copy/paste it because sadly, this is not the only time this will happen. Everyone will be going round and round on this (like they did last week... and pretty much every day that starts brighter than it ends) so I will state now that I'm not a Lu hater, I'm not a Lu apologist, I am a hockey fan. But you know what else I love?

Defence. Solid, dependable defence. The Canucks aren't really bringing it in that department either. They have been just terrible and Luongo is the lightning rod for everything that goes wrong back there. It ain't fair, but it's life as a goalie.

Having said that, the Canucks hockey goalie is not playing good hockey right now either. Straight up. The team needs to step it up and play better in front of him but he is never going to silence his critics unless he can steal a game or two for us on a consistent basis. Scratch that, he is NEVER going to silence his critics. Makes me sad for him.

Depending on who you are, it gets better/worse. Cory Schneider went in and got an 8 save shut out (wooo! Silver linings!!) and a few of those saves were beauties. One save in particular, a late game sprawling goal line glove save, essentially dropped a pint glass full of kerosene on the "Luongo or Schneider" fire. The intensity of that debate, at this early stage in the season, is retardant (you know, cause of the fire analogy).

(Schneider also has red hair, so the fire analogy train keeps on rollin')

There were a few other bright spots during the game:

- Cody Hodgson got a goal to get the Canucks on the board. He's been working hard, nice to see that go down.

- Alex Burrows scored from a beauty feed to make it a 3-2 hockey game. You watch the stride of every Canuck on the ice that shift before that goal, you just knew they were going to punch one in.

- Also very glad to have a break from the rear board projection advertisements. "BCIT.CA" in bright letters right behind Luongo's head doesn't make me want to go there. It makes me want to forget it ever existed, which is a risky marketing strategy.

(Speaking of which... )

So there you have it. After a thrilling late push that made this a fun hockey game to watch (which is really what everyone wants) the Oilers knocked off the 'Nucks 3-2.

Vancouver returns to action tomorrow against the St. Louis Blues. Don't be surprised to see David Booth starting in goal. Let's see what this kid can do!

Thanks for Reading

- jB

Share this post on Twitter or Facebook to throw down your support for my campaign to be the Province's new Canucks fan blogger. Hashtag #voteBow4Blog. Need more proof?

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