by desert dawg
So Alexander Semin utters the blasphemous words and no one reacts? No pile of dry brush and pints of lighter fluid applied as he’s strapped to the burning post.. No fingernails pulled for his heresy? They didn’t even use Dick Cheney’s modern method for exposing witches by waterboarding them? Yep, Semin skated away free.
Well…he said Sid the Kid wasn’t the best player in the game. He said Sidney wasn’t even the best player on his team!!! Ouch. It was a shot right between the legs of the NHL marketing department.
And so we have a morning play date with the Pittsburgh Penguins…who do have arguably two of the top five offensive players in the league in Crosby and Malkin. Barely enough time to rub the sleep from our eyes…and we’re facing these guys! The hottest team in hockey…but we are Canucks.
To the game: Interesting start as Matt Cooke, pulls the submariner check against Edler. Cookie, perhaps against his better instincts, forgets to turtle and ends up having to take on noted Danish Goon, Janik Hansen. To call it a fight is a bit of an overstatement, but the subsequent penalties has Cooke and Hansen tossed with game misconducts. Hansen and Cooke transgress the rarely called rule that see participants tossed as secondary fighters after a main bout has started. What was the main bout? Not too clear on that…
But a pall is cast over the game when Captain Roberto goes down with what appears to be a groin or muscle pull injury… a harmless looking play but one with doom-like repercussions. We are so used to counting on this guy that even though we defend ourselves against charges that we are a one man team, who among us doesn’t really believe that without Roberto we are lost. The early report is that Big Lou is being “evaluated.”
Well, we are not lost yet, folks. Curtis Sandford is perfectly capable. He has been a first stringer in the past, he just beat Minnesota, he…ah bugger it. We are in tough here.
But don’t abandon all hope ye who read this…we have a secret weapon.
I won’t comment on that, however, until the end of this game.
Right now we are up one zip on the Penguins. Typical goal scorer’s goal from Demitra. Guy like that shoots it at the net and in it goes. Goals scorers have an extra bit of magic that produces these kind of seeing eye goals.
The kind of things that I notice in the second period is that we seem to have tightened up on an already tight system. We swarm, Red Wing style, every Penguin that brings a puck over our blueline. Consequently the Penguins do not muster a shot at Sandford until there is a little more than eight minutes left in the period.
Another factor is the Pavol Sedin line. These guys are still producing some magic. Coach V. says they are not shooting enough but these guys play keep away on a level that no one else in this league can even come close to. Off a Henrik Sedin face-off win, Daniel skates behind the net…no wait, he takes the puck to the front of the net! And then he crashes through the clusterbuck and pops in his own rebound.
That’s right, Daniel Sedin crashes the net.
Who expected that? Certainly not the Penguins. You can see some brows furrowing on the Penguin bench. This wasn’t in the script. Aren’t those Canooks supposed to be playing their third game in three and a half days?
But it is adversity…and this kind of road trip that shapes a team. They either fold their tents and play twinkle toes. Or they develop a pack mentality. They are not victims. They are predators.
Talbot tries to crash his own rebound a la Daniel Sedin and Taylor Pyatt plays big, giving Talbot the hard glove to the chin. The Penguin power play has difficulty setting up because our PK always has their PP out-manned on every puck battle.
We kill the penalty to start the third period, but a brief letdown allows the Penguins to score early. And every Canuck fan is thinking that Roberto would lock the door here, put this one in the vault for us.
But Roberto isn’t here.
I’ve been saying from the beginning of the year that, because of all the new faces, it was initially going to be a period of team building. And the number one way to build a team is to fight through adversity.
And fight we did. Every puck was up for grabs. Every play was fought hard. We owned the boards. Matty Ohlund was a beast, shoving Penguins around like kids in a schoolyard. Shane O’Brien continues to prove that he was an absolute steal from those clowns in Tampa Bay. And Willie Mitchell? Well, Willie is our captain for the next little while. Willie was huge.
You look at the home team on their bench. There is an assumption on the Penguins team that they will come back. They are six wins three losses when trailing going into the third. To a man, they believe they will tie this up and then go on to win.
But they don’t know this team. Our team.
Yeah, they outshoot us, but they don’t out chance us. Their shots are muddled affairs, with everyone from Ryan Johnson to Kyle Wellwood blocking shots. When a shot squeaks though Sandford is large and square to the shot. A great effort by our backup. He’d be a star in this game if it wasn’t for the effort of the Pavol Sedin line.
Their effort is punctuated in the last seconds as Ohlund shoves poor wee Talbot into the fence, leading to a Daniel Sedin heading down the ice for an empty net opportunity. And once again, team comes through. Daniel passes up a good chance for the perfect chance with a feed to Demitra. And Pavol isn’t casual.
He smashes it home for the win.
Everyone will talk about what a character builder this was. But I submit that the character was built a few games ago. It started with the California sweep, was added to on a great home stand and then was solidified on this road trip.
So how bad is it with Big Lou? We won’t know for another day or two. But I said earlier we have a secret weapon. So don’t worry folks, adversity always breeds opportunity. Check out Corey Schneider’s stats in the AHL. He is lights out this year.
A perfect secret weapon.
The Dawg’s Three Stars:
Daniel: you could pick anyone of these guys, but Daniel’s last play boosts him to number one.
Pavol: Two goals to open and close the scoring.
Henrik: A quiet couple of points in our biggest win of the year.
Unsung Hero: Shane O’Brien won the lottery when he was traded to the Canucks. And we feel the same.