For one night, I thought I'd turn the game recap over to someone else... enjoy! - Dirk
If you had to choose, would want a Pope or an Emperor? Discuss amongst yourselves, report back and commiserate further. If hockey players were in charge of such things, it seems pretty clear which boss would have their vote.
This was the only Vancouver visit for the Preds during this truncated season. This game was supposed to be epic. It lived up to the hype: Fights, steals, grit, chipping, penalty shots. But things got way too weird at the get-go for the Preds and unfortunately they couldn't sweet-talk the hockey gods into letting them have this one on the eve of the Ides of March. They fell 7-4 to the Canucks, but there were definitely marked back-and-forth moments when it seemed that a win or OT might be in the cards by hook or by crook. It was not to be, and the Canucks busted out the Bloody Caesars accordingly. Not sure what a Bloody Caesar is? It's a Canadian take on a Bloody Mary involving Mott's Clamato, and you drink it on the Ides of March. Trust me, it's a lot less revolting when you share it with people you actually like, or like to watch. As in NOT the Vancouver Canucks.
It's hard to keep climbing the tree when a random squirrel or a raccoon keeps pooping on you because you're not paying attention, though. The Preds posted better numbers with scoring chances, shots on goal and power play shots than their opponents, and their penalty kill looked better than it has recently; but they effectively shot themselves in the feet with brainfart errors that clearly frustrated Trotz & Co. And then there's bad luck and bad timing. It was a hard-fought game that strangely didn't really start to fall apart for Preds until the last four minutes. To say there were crazy momentum shifts would be the understatement of the year.
ANDREW EBBETT? STEVEN PINIZZETTO? WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Who ARE these guys? Call ups, that's who. Ebbett pooped early - really early - by snatching Scott Hannan's giveaway barely two minutes into the first, catching Pekka Rinne off-guard. Not a good omen. A precursor, if you will, to the bizarro fight between Steven Pinizzetto and Kevin Klein (yes, you read that right) moments later after the former asked Mr. Klein for eine kleine nachtmusik. How dare you ask Kevin Klein to dance, Steven Pinizzetto! How dare you.
Ebbett set the tone for Vancouver immediately, and his teammates wasted no time feeding off his energy. Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond jumped on the Ebbett train and performed brilliantly all night. Hansen notched two assists and beat Chris Mason in the second period on a freak goal that bounced off Ryan Ellis who was sprawled in front of the net. Toronto decided it was a good goal but it was obviously nothing but awful.
CLUNAMI & HUSTLECHUCK
Rich Clune couldn't abide a fight so early in the proceedings that didn't involve him, so he started his party shortly thereafter in the first by dropping the gloves with the much burlier Dale Weise. They kept the party going with incessant, hilarious back-and-forth chirping from their boxes.
Apparently, a few days in Milwaukee did Matt Halischuk a world of good. He scored the Preds' first goal midway through the first period and helped to set up an important response goal from Nick Spaling (playing center in place of he injured Paul Gaustad) in the second when the mood was deflated following a greasy goal by Maxim Lapierre right out of the penalty box. Halischuk's vim and vigor was contagious and it was great to see him elevating his game again.
THUMB DOWN = THROW THEM TO THE LIONS
Pekka had a rough night. He grew progressively flustered and his confidence left the building five minutes into the second period following Lapierre's aforementioned goal and Mason entered stage right. Both netminders were on the receiving end of some sloppy coverage - primarily from Scott Hannan - but Pekka in particular didn't seem like himself at all. Mental and physical fatigue are definitely creeping into the picture midway in the season.
Scott Hannan and Ryan Ellis had bad date nights as well. Hannan's boo-boos led to two Canuck goals and Ellis was up and down all evening - literally and figuratively. He was in the box too often and dumb luck caused him to deflect a goal into his own net. He's not a happy camper on the flight to Calgary right now.
Craig Smith allowed Kevin Bieksa to bully him and play ticklemonster all night. While he was able to draw a slashing penalty on The Bieksa in the second period, overall he was in a pickle trying to extricate himself from the onslaught of poking, shoving, slapping and grimacing. Quel horreur.
Things were looking up when Gabriel Bourque took the Preds to within a goal of a tie with five minutes left in the game. And then just like that, Sergei Kostitsyn gifted Henrik Sedin with a penalty shot by hooking him on a breakaway. Alain Vigneault smirking through his bubble gum was even harder to watch than the way-too-easy goal Sedin scored as a consequence.
HAPPY AS A CLAM(ATO)
What really stings - more than what it feels like when clam juice exits your body, that is - is that the team played pretty well all things considered save for the weirdness and the costly lapses of concentration. I hate being the devil's advocate, but this game should have gone to OT or a shootout. In this case, I would have forgiven them for giving the Canucks a point if they'd managed to tie it up. They depart BC without a win and with tummies full of clam juice.
PETE & CRISPY'S EARLY BIRD SPECIALS
- Evel Knievel
- Raymond Massey
- Dewey, Cheatem & Howe
NUMBERS MAKE MY NIPPLES HARD
Player Tattoo? Advanced? Assessment
N. Spaling Yes - several! Sort of Loves them!
M. Erat Hell no.
D. Legwand Sure Hell no Thinks it's dumb now.
S. Kostitsyn Da! Da! A Faberge egg tramp stamp Da!
C. Mason Yes Not really Sweet!
S. Weber Yes Absolutely not Regret.
L. Lambert Hell yeah! Thinks so Fist pump!
Player Tattoo? Advanced? Assessment
M. Raymond Never!
V. Luongo Non - Satanic!
K. Bieksa Of course. Of course. Shut up.
M. Lapierre Ben oui! Ouais! Super butch.
A. Burrows Ben oui! Ouais! Sexy.
H. Sedin No, thank you.
D. Sedin Shhh - yes. Can't tell. Don't tell Henrik.