Sunday, February 05, 2006

Running on Empty – 4-Feb-06

Canucks 1 at Oilers 3

The first place Vancouver Canucks made there way up Highway 2 from Calgary to Edmonton for the second game of two nights in Alberta. Unfortunately, in the last game of the season’s longest road trip (7 games) and having to play the two Alberta teams back to back the Canuck’s gas tank was on empty and Edmonton came away with a far more convincing win than the 3 – 1 score would indicate.

While the schedule is an acceptable excuses for the situation the reoccurring theme of lazy penalties and low shot counts are not acceptable. The Oil was 2-9 on the power play and the Nuck’s were 0-4. Every one of Vancouvers trips to the bin were of the type you label ‘lazy penalties.’ Ruutu Interference (ok Undisciplined), Naslund Tripping, Mojzis Slashing, Bertuzzi Holding, Ohlund Hooking, Green Cross check, Bertuzzi again Tripping, Naslund again Holding, and Carter Hooking. Pair this with Edmonton having shots totals of 13, 13 and 14 for a total of 40 compared with 7, 9, and 1 (yes ONE) for a total of 17 for the Nucks. You know, until 8:17 of the third period it was a one goal game. At any moment a lucky bounce could have turned the game in a completely different direction. Alas good effort usually beats lucky bounces.

Again the Sedins (Daniel (14) from Henrik, Mojzis) provide the offence with the only goal.

Kesler had a strong night again. Linden’s line put in moments of good effort particularity right after Daniel’s goal with some good chances of their own. The WCE showed up for one shift when they had five shots including some from the defence.

I write a Playoff forecast on Monday’s. Last week I was concerned for the workload that Auld is facing. So far my concerns have been unfounded. Auld would like to have the second period Stoll goal back but was full value in keeping the Canuck’s in the game with 37 saves on 40 shots. The other two goals, Smyth in the first and Torres it the third, were both power play markers. Auld now has 23 wins in 42 games played which is 7th best in the NHL. His 2.78 GAA and 0.911 Save % are very respectable.

Next up for the Nucks are those CBJ’s from Carolina? Cleveland? Oh yeah Columbus. The game is in GM Place on Monday night. With Columbus at 22-30-2 for only 46 points one would predict an easy night for Vancouver. It seems these weaker teams give the Nuck’s all sorts of grief coupled with CBJ being on a five game winning streak having just posted Shoot Out wins over Calgary and Edmonton.

Vancouver’s 67 points and 31 wins are still enough for first place in the North West and 3rd* seed in the West. If the playoffs were to start tomorrow we’d draw Los Angeles with home ice advantage in the first round.

* The NHL site shows Calgary in first. The ESPN site shows Vancouver in first. My understanding of the tie break goes 1) wins, 2) head to head record, 3) better GF – GA differential. Vancouver is third seed based on the extra win.

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