Game 1: Ducks 7 - Canucks 3
SummaryIt wasn't a pretty night to be a Vancouver Canucks' fan - though it certainly was interesting. The Canucks were never all that crisp on the evening, but played a solid first period and entered the intermission tied at two.
The second period saw the team unravel due to poor defensive coverage, sloppy play, and average goaltending. A 5-2 deficit after two periods chased Cory Schneider and should have generated a determined effort in the third, but the Canucks came out flat and did not manage a shot until they scored on an Alex Edler laser beam halfway through the period. The rest of the game saw about six or seven odd-man rushes against from untimely gambles and horrible defensive coverage.
So what went wrong and was there any silver lining?
- Jannik Hansen: The Danish dynamo made the most of his increased presence and was arguably the most noticeable Canuck on the positive side of the ledger. Hansen set up two goals, was skating for miles, lodged 19:19 of ice time including over four minutes on the powerplay. The Canucks will need more performances like that from him while Kesler and Booth are on the shelf.
- Dale Weise : While a lot of the Canucks appeared to be sleepwalking on the ice tonight, Weise looked determined. 14 minutes of ice time, four hits, and a handful of shots. The scoresheet only shows one shot on goal, but he clearly had about three or four. They were not glorious chances, but he and Aaron Volpatti made the fourth line one of the Canucks' few bright spots this evening.
- The Power Play: Perhaps the only area of the game the Canucks can receive praise for tonight - Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler both converted, and the team had good puck possession and entries for most of the night. An awkward entry from Henrik did lead to an Edler penalty later in the game, but for the most part, the Canucks moved the puck well and generated a lot of shots from the point.
- Cory Schneider: In his first game as the Canucks' starting goaltender, Schneider failed to make the necessary saves to keep his team in the game. Schneider probably can get a pass on both of Daniel Winnik's goals, and potentially the Sheldon Souray laser, but Corey Perry's goal and the Palmieri goal that chased him will draw some criticism. Schneider was hung out to dry by horrible defensive coverage, but two or three of the goals went through him, and that's unacceptable.
- Dan Hamhuis: There should be honourable mention to Keith Ballard and Kevin Bieksa as well, but Hamhuis had a tough night. By being directly responsible for the Corey Perry (4th) goal by mishandling the puck, and the Selanne (7th) goal by skating into the corner to defend thin air - he had a rough night. He did get the Canucks on the board in the first period, but was on the ice for five of the Canucks seven goals against.
- Penalty Killing: The Ducks power play went a staggering 3/3 tonight. What is this? The Canucks/Kings playoff series from 2010? I didn't see Jack Johnson or Drew Doughty out there. The first two Ducks PP goals took a total of 26 seconds with the man advantage.
Final ThoughtCoach Alain Vigneault hinted that Roberto Luongo would get the start on Sunday against the Oilers after Schneider started versus Anaheim. With Luongo replacing Schneider early in the second period, will that change the coach's plan?
More importantly, Schneider did nothing to quell interest in Vancouver's goaltending situation tonight. The events of Saturday night present an interesting road ahead.
If Luongo starts Sunday and bombs, fans and media will suggest that the crowded crease is creating an untenable situation for both goalies. If Luongo plays well on Sunday, he'll continue to run with the torch and Cory Schneider's reign as a starter will be limited to 26 minutes... for now.
If on the other hand Vigneault changes his plans and starts Schneider on Sunday, Schneider could lay another egg and cause some concern (panic) for fans, or he could play well and the team would risk alienating Luongo by showing such preference towards one goalie.
Either way, the Canucks' goaltending situation is anything but settled, and Sunday will see another chapter unfold. As depicted above, there are a plethora of turns that this story can take. Time to grab some popcorn and watch it unfold.