Ah, the Vancouver Canucks. The team that according to commentators for the New Your Islanders, is one everyone in Canada is excited about. That may not be the case for Oilers' fans, but the Canucksare having another remarkable year even with the off-season addition of Raffi Torres.
So the Oilers play their 40th game of the season in Vancouver where they are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Vancouver Canucks. No, I don't think that there is any connection. I just thought that it was neat that 40 came up a couple times. I did also figure that the Canucks would get 40 shots by the end of the game. It would also be a huge improvement if the Oilers could win 40% of their faceoffs, went more than 40% on the PK and utterly amazing if the Oilers could score on 40% of their PP opportunities.
Of course I was way off with a couple of those 40% wishes. The Oilers did hold the Canucks to 34 shots while getting 24 themselves. We can all be glad I was wrong about that one. The Oilers didn't quite make the 40% faceoff wins either, 31.5%. That one hurts. Help may be on it's way for this issue thankfully. Shawn Horcoff has been skating, and according to him without knee pain. Horcoff speculates that he is weeks ahead of schedule. Depending on how you feel about the goals for the rest of the season this could be a good or bad thing.
I do feel I should say this early, as it really stood out for me; I'm sorry for suggesting the Oilers need enforcers when they play games like they did against the Canucks. Skilled Oilers players were clearly targets. There were no repercussions from the Oilers. Clearly the Canucks were not afraid or intimidated by Smack or Zack either. In this situation I will admit that I was wrong and that those two positions might be more effectively filled by more skilled players.
The first period was scoreless, but much like most periods played by the Oilers. How is that? Well the Oilers were out shot, 14-6. Nikolai Khabibulin looked alert on the ice after watching from the bench on Thursday night. On the other lonely end of the rink, Cory Schneider had a fair bit of Oilers traffic in his crease, but the Vancouver defense was able to prevent most of the Oilers' shooting chances from developing very far. As Don Cherry might say, you see boys and girls that is something the Oilers need to get better at to make them more competitive. With a single power play in the period, the Oilers were able to get two shots in. This is progress folks because of course, two is more than none.
It certainly didn't take long for the Canucks to make it on the board in the second period. A quick moving 3 on 2 drive left Daniel Sedin open. Being that he is Daniel Sedin, he was able to fire a quick shot on Khabibulin finding the back of the net. What happened next? Another goal for the Canucks. From nearly the blue line, Ryan Keslerlets a shot go that Khabi nearly had but nearly wasn't enough. 2 0 for the Canucks and Hemsky wasn't about to take that lying down. Driving to the net Hemsky drew a penalty during 4 on 4 play due to a coincidental penalty that had just begun. The Oilerswere still unable to score with the man advantage. Instead shortly after the penalties expired our Theo Peckham was the lone Oiler against the Sedin twins. Despite Peckham's efforts, Daniel Sedin now had 2 goals on the night.
Oilers fans were treated to a goal scored by Ales Hemsky just before the buzzer. We're talking about 0.2 of a second remaining in the period at the time of the goal. Hemskyknew it was a goal and if only that was all it took. Mind you, when that worked against us, we wouldn't like it. Maybe we should stick with technology. The Oilers finished the period down by 2, but had out shot the Canucks 12-8.
The third period couldn't start immediately following intermission. Nope, they had to run out the final 0.2 of a second from the second period. They had the goalies in their second period nets and dropped the puck. Of course the buzzer immediately went and the teams switched ends of the rink. What an utter waste of time. Thank you for being so by the books NHL officials, but was that really necessary? I appreciate that you wanted to try to make this game memorable, but I think I would rather forget this one once it's over.
Quickly, the Canucks regained their 3 goal lead and the Oilers seemed helpless to do much about it. All the team could do was get frustrated. Sam Gagner felt that he was the victim of a late hit that wasn't called and broke his stick against the boards in rage. Then Theo Peckham took a tripping penalty and then a subsequent roughing call. This is not the direction the team needed to take. The new and improved PK can only stand up for so long it seems as Kesler buried his third for the evening and the hats began to fly onto the ice. Then again, it really doesn't look like a new PK does it?
Things really really went down hill from that point. Alexander Edler made it a half dozen for the Canucks. With a five goal deficit staring them down, the Oilers... well they really didn't change much. Steve MacIntyre and Zack Stortini were on the ice in the final minutes of the game. Renney clearly wasn't going for any mercy goals, but I don't think that intimidation was going to be a factor either. Really, I'm not sure what the angle was. Maybe it was a mercy for the skilled players, not risking them injuring themselves while frustrated and angry in any hits or fights they might want to get involved in.
OK, here we go. Positives for the night:
- The Oilers kept the Canucks to single digit scoring.
- All Oilers players who started the game were still alive at the end of the game (no additional injuries).
- Only 2 goals against came while the Oilers were on the PK (that's 5 successful kills!)
- Both Ben Massey and I saved money and tears by not going to this game in Vancouver. I would like to thank my cousin for catching a flu and thus cancelling my travel plans.
- Ales Hemsky scored his 9th goal of the season.
- Only Ryan Kesler scored a hat trick, Daniel Sedin did not.
- The Oilers allowed less than 10 goals.
Wait, I may have covered that last bullet a couple of times, but you get the point. The Oilers also have a list of things they can work on before their next game on Tuesday. Would you look at that, another positive! The team may not have known what to do with themselves during those days off. Now they know. Let's take this time to look forward to improved faceoff win percentages, more shots and an improved penalty kill.