Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hockey Night In Canada – 28-Jan-06

Canucks 4 Avalanche 3 Shoot Out (1-0)

Oh man the North West Division! Where to start? So much happened that perhaps the best thing is just to go by some bullet points.

> Wounded – Naslund was scratched and we now know the problem with his groin is more significant than the average fan knew. With Jovo, Cooke and Park also watching the game from home. In his first shift, Wade Brookbank took a big hit on the end boards from Boughner. Brookbank didn’t return. The Moose call ups had to have a good night and for the most part they did.

> Ryan Kesler – One stat short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Kesler was only missing an assist as he fought Laperriere in the second period and had Vancouver’s third goal of the night at 9:12 of the third to put the Nucks up 3 – 1 with ten minutes and change to go.

> Alxeander Auld – The game's first star keep his team in the game for significant stretches. The save of the night came when the Nuck’s defence coughed up the puck and Hejduk streaked in cutting across the crease right to left. He shot back to the right side against he and Auld’s flow but Auld dragged his trapper and picked the puck out of thin air. Auld earned first star honours again with 40 saves on 43 shots.

> More fisticuffs – Brain Allen won a decision over Laperriere early in the first period off a scrum at the Vancouver net. Lapperriere must have been feeling a little upset and decided to take on the smaller Kesler in the second period. Kesler was game and landed a blow early but was in tough against the larger more seasoned Colorado winger. Early in the third period some bad feeling must have carried over from the second period or something. Right off the face off to start the third, Hinote flew directly at Kevin Bieksa who was only too willing to oblige. As with Colley of the Islanders, Hinote for his effort came out on the wrong end of a Bieksa decision.

> Classless Colorado Fans Part I – Hey Colorado get over it! Again the Pepsi Center patrons were relentless in their jeering of Todd Bertuzzi. Fair enough if they want to boo and hold up stupid signs professing some knowledge of Bert’s preference in underwear. But it shows a simple lack of sophistication when they cheer, as they did, for injury to a player regardless of who he is or what the history has been. Late in the second Liles lay a vicious slash on Bertuzzi right in that area between the top of your glove and bottom of the elbow pad. Bert applied ice and sat out the remaining minutes of the second period. The HNIC cameras caught a glimpse of the damage to Bert’s arm. Sure stuff like this happens in hockey every night but when the fans cheer for an injury it just shows their lack of class.

> Classless Colorado Fans Part II – Mid way through the third period another fan incident occurred. It wasn’t clear on HNIC what exactly was happening but the Refs had to have some overweight woman in a Hinote Jersey ushered out. This morning the reports were that she had thrown a set of nesting dolls at Bertuzzi. Yes indeed, I know rinks around the league are filled with rabid fans clutching their Russian nesting dolls just hoping for the opportunity to toss them at the opposition’s perceived villain. Grow up Colorado!

> With about six minutes to go in the game there was some sort of power outage that caused a loss of the HNIC TV feed. While we were gone the Avalanche scored to tie the game. They continued to press late in the game. Auld was very good in sending the game to an extra frame. TV coverage returned for Overtime. The Nuck’s took a penalty. The Avalanche pressed. The Avalanche took a penalty. With the teams three on three there were some chances at both ends. When Rob Blake returned from his time in the box the Avalanche tried to hit him with a pass behind the Vancouver defence. The hockey Gods smiled on Vancouver as the Linesman checked Blake and allowed the Nucks defence to get back into the play. This was the second of three moments of divine intervention. In the second period the Avalanche took a delayed penalty. Some how the Canucks got the puck sliding slowly back into their own zone with Auld on the bench. It was so painful to watch. The puck hit the outside edge of the starboard post of the empty cage. Phew! That one would have been on the highlight reels nationwide for weeks.

> A shoot out. Personally I hate the shoot out. But it is here and we live with it. With 65 minutes unable to find a winner Ruutu, Kesler and Carter shot it out with Svatos, Sakic and Tanguay. Ruutu found net with a carbon copy of the Penalty Shot goal he scored last visit to Chicago. Sakic beat Auld with a nice shot but in a third moment of divine intervention the puck rang off the port post and stayed out. Auld had already stopped Svatos and then went on to stop Tanguay to improve his Shoot Out record to 4 goals on 13 shots. Ruutu has 9 goals on the season and is a career agitator. Svatos (30), Sakic (19), and Tanguay (22) are all elite scorers but didn’t beat Auld on this night. Really, why not just flip a coin for the ‘bonus point.’

The two points were huge. In the standings the Canuck are tied with Calgary with 63 points. Colorado has 61 and Edmonton has 60. The next game is in the desert followed by two Alberta road games with the order of stops Calgary then Edmonton. If the playoffs were to start today Vancouver would draw Calgary without home ice advantage.


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