Friday, October 7, 2011

Canucks vs Penguins - October 6, 2011

October 6th - Penguins 4 - Canucks 3 (S/O Final)
Tonight the Canucks opened up their season against the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.  After an incredibly dramatic end to their season last year, the fans were a bit subdued early on, and clearly it rubbed off on the team.

The Canucks came out fairly flat and looked uninspired for the first 20-30 minutes.  A couple of questionable calls from the officials early on did not help matters, as the Pens were up 2-0 on a pair of power play goals half way through the first period.

As the game wore on, the Sedin twins took over and dominated.  In the end, the late start and some great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury proved to be too much as the Canucks fell in shootout.

So how did the Canucks perform this evening?

Daniel Sedin - 9
Dan scored the tying goal and was tenacious and creative most of the night.  He and Henrik took over the game for stretches in the third period and over time.

Henrik Sedin - 9
Henrik Sedin continued to showcase himself as one of the best passers in the league with two amazing set ups to Keith Ballard and Daniel Sedin.

Alex Burrows - 8
Burrows had five shots on net and was the spark plug for the line tonight.  Solid but not spectacular.

Cody Hodgson - 7.5
Cody showed some flashed with a couple of nice rushes and smart players.  A solid rush down the right side and a chance with two minutes to go to put away the game winner where he demonstrated great patience, only to be foiled by a tremendous Fleury save.

Mikael Samuelsson - 6
Samuelsson played well on the power play and protected the puck well, but seemed flat-footed and out of position frequently in his own zone.

Marco Sturm - 6.5
For a player touted for his speed, he was unable to showcase his quick feet.  Sturm seemed a bit lost out there with Samuelsson, but hopefully some chemistry will develop.

Chris Higgins - 8
Higgins earned praise for his physical play and tenacious forecheck.  If he and Hansen continue to play well, they may earn second line ice time over Sturm and Samuelsson.

Jannik Hansen - 7.5
Hansen's speed was a difference maker tonight, giving the Pens defenders fits most of the night.  He was not a tremendous offensive presence but played well defensively.

Manny Malhotra - 7
Manny is on the comeback trail.  Played well defensively, and was a modeest 7 and 7 (50%) on draws.  Rating of 7 seems quite fair.

Maxim Lapierre - 8
Lappy scored a fluke goal, worked hard, was 5-2 on faceoffs and was a +2.  Not bad for under 9 minutes of ice time.

Dale Weise - 7
Weise did not look out of place tonight and had a workman-like effort for his first time as a Canuck.

Aaron Volpatti - 7.5
Solid on the forecheck and creative along the boards, Volpatti acquitted himself well.

Alexander Edler - 7.5
Edler was quite steady and notched 6 shots on goal and a +2 rating.  If he can stay healthy he should have a career year.

Sami Salo - 7.5
Salo was steady and reliable and moved the puck well.  On the down side, he passed on a couple of chances to hammer the puck at the end, which was a bit disappointing.

Dan Hamhuis - 8
Hamhuis moved the puck out of the zone quite well and was reliable in over 25 minutes of ice time.  Best moment was stripping the puck from Malkin clinically is a one on one situation late in the contest.

Kevin Bieksa - 8
Bieksa was all over the ice tonight.  If he can continue to iron out the wrinkles in his game, he'll be a very solid performer.  Over 26 minutes of ice time and 4 hits with a -1.

Keith Ballard - 9
Ballard was solid all night. Made numerous nice plays in tight situations, rushed the puck well, made a good first pass and scored a beauty of a goal.

Chris Tanev - 8
Tanev was pretty solid as well.  He recovered from one gaffe by making a solid defensive play and was very efficient in his 15 minutes.

Roberto Luongo - 5
It was a tough night for Roberto.  A weak goal from behind the net opened the game five minutes in, and a weak shorthanded goal to Matt Cooke may it 3-1.  If that weren't enough, he looked like a fish out of water on both shots in the shootout, sinking the Canucks' hopes.

Officiating - 7.5
The referees tonight might like to have a couple of their calls back, and had a tough decision to make on a disallowed goal when it appeared as if Fleury's glove may have snapped back behind the goal line from a Daniel Sedin shot.

PuckWatch Hat-Trick
1) The Sedin Twins were simply awesome and took the game over in the last 25 minutes.  While Malkin often gets more hype, he was pretty much invisible.  The twins were creative, solid on the forecheck and dangerous all night.  They deserve more respect from Canucks fans and the rest of the NHL as two of the very best.

2) Roberto Luongo's goaltending will be the story of the night.  Canucks fans endured a playoff run that saw him often as the second best goaltender on the ice, and tonight was no different. Two ugly goals in regulation and 0/2 in the shootout made him the victim of some bronx cheers from the Vancouver faithful.  Fans may begin to wonder when he'll pull a Patrick Roy.

3) Hodgson and Ballard provided some early returns.  Ballard played very well and was noticeable for all the right reasons.  Hodgson was fairly quiet early on but showed considerable skill and hockey sense later in the game, showing a glimpse of things to come.

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