It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, so here we go! Three Up, Three Down: Sniper Spotted in St. Paul.
Canucks came home from a seven game road trip for only two home games, back to back last weekend. Only to hit the road again for a four game Western Conference trip. First stop, St. Paul, MN to visit the Minnesota Wild. The Wild ] just happen to be the best team at home in the NHL currently. Prior to this Canucks visit, only the Nashville Predators, have won at the Xcel Energy Center so far this season. The Canucks have had much difficulty winning on Wild home ice for as long as I could remember. The Canucks had a hard time winning there even during this famous stare down…
However, the Canucks managed to win 3-2 in St. Paul, MN, with a few veteran players making a big difference.
- Radim Vrbata: For the Canucks leading goal scorer last season, Vrbata has been battling get to his production going this year. Radim had only four goals prior to this game. A far cry from how they were all going on this time last year. However he scored a couple of beauties, included the first one from a sweet pass by Jared McCann. He then added a PPG from Henrik to give the Canucks the lead. Perhaps we can bring back the famous “Mean Mug” picture from an old press conference.
- Ryan Miller: A well rested Ryan Miller looked like All- Star goalie, Ryan Miller. Mid-way through the 1st period, the Canucks’ netminder made six very good saves, until he was beaten by a puck that deflected off Alex Edler’s leg during a Wild PP. Miller was still right there and squared to the puck. Unfortunately, Edler’s attempted block inadvertently put the puck into the net. Miller’s sharp play inspired the team to come back the rest of the game and for the most part, control it. (Minus about a minute and half to go in the 3rd period) .
- Daniel Sedin: Daniel has been a different player, or should I say he is back to being a familiar player this season. This is the first time in a few years, Daniel is once again, Daniel. He’s shooting 4 or more shots on goal and has scored 10 goals in 22 games. He is also No.4 in the NHL in points. He’s only behind Seguin, Benn and Patrick Kane but Daniel is doing at 35 years of age. Henrik is 12th in points but only two less tallied behind his brother.
- Penalty Kill: What has usually been a great part of the Canucks’ specials teams in recent years and even the beginning of this season, the PK has looked less than stellar and at times down right ugly. The Canucks penalty killing has allowed 10 goals in 11 games when they are a man down. Its effectiveness has dropped below 70% and needs to vastly improve if they wish to have more success in the near future.
- Late 3rd Period Goals Against: Far too many times this year, we’ve seen the Canucks allow goals in with the dying minutes of a game, whether it is tied or the Canucks are up by a goal or two. The Buffalo game, the Canucks fought back to tie the game and lost in regulation with 17 seconds left due a late goal. The Wild came back with one goal and almost scored the tying goal if Miller and his team did not receive a lucky bounce off the crossbar.
- 200 Foot Game: The Canucks have looked like scrambling clowns in their own zone defending. When they are without the puck, their game drops a level. This game wasn’t a bad example of defensive breakdowns in their own zone with the exception of the first period and the last minute and half of the game. It’s time to help the goalies and out clear the zone and play smart hockey when defending.
- Jannik Hansen: When Jannik just plays simple hockey, it’s when his game is most effective. Today he scored a breakaway goal and made it look effortless. As a friend was saying, when Hansen just shoots on a breakaway instead of deke’ing, it usually goes in. Well, he shot, he scored.
- Jared McCann: McCann has looked very good this season. He has matured and developed a lot faster than many anticipated. McCann versus the Wild has shown some cohesiveness and chemistry with Radim Vrbata. McCann helped with this first goal and later in the game almost helped on another, if the puck didn’t fly past Vrbata.
- Bo Horvat: With all the struggles in his sophomore year so far, Bo Horvat skated hard, played a good 2-way game and tried to create some offense with his linemates. I’m not going to be too hard on Bo. He has been asked to be a 2nd line centre on this team and taking more minutes as Brandon Sutter is still out with injury.
Goal of the Game:
So the Canucks went into Wild Country looking shaky in the 1st period. There was a sniper sighting for the Canucks in the slot and tied the game before going into the 1st intermission. The sniper also showed up on the power play, notching his second. A Honey Badger put the Canucks up by two. Untimely penalties and a barrage of pressure from the Wild got the game to within one. However, the Hockey Gods decided to grace Ryan Miller and the Canucks with a couple of lucky bounces, they knew they owed them some from the last road trip and just like that, road trip starts off with a win.
Nice effort boys, now go enjoy some Thanksgiving football in Dallas!
Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbours!