Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canucks 4 Stars 2

The train keeps a rollin', and it was another one of those 'winning in spite of Luongo' games. It's pretty remarkable when you think about it. Sure he gives them goaltending that is good enough to get the win. But since his return, has he stolen a game? Not one that I can think of. Hell he hasn't even been in the 3 stars more than a couple times. But what we have seen from the Canucks is the kind of attention to detail that will be needed down the stretch and into what could be a long playoff run. A few weeks ago, the media were crowning the Flames as NW Champions. Now they sit a mere 3 points ahead, and have struggled with consistency against teams they are supposedly able to destroy.

If you guessed last night's game would be decided by one goal, you wouldn't be alone. That the Canucks and Stars will be decided by one has been a pretty safe bet lately. Unfortunately for Dallas, they simply aren't the same team they were even earlier in the season. Marty Turco has struggled at times, and despite all the hype about his puck handling skills, gave it up a number of times last night. The Canucks got another solid team effort, especially from the third line. Kyle Wellwood's playing like a confident center who can make plays and drive to the net, and if this 3rd line continues to produce, that makes the Canucks look that much scarier heading into the post-season. Ryan Johnson was great last night, winning a ton of huge faceoffs (11-3), and was part of a 4th line that brought energy every time they were on the ice. Ryan Kesler and Mats Sundin had strong games, each with a goal and an assist, and we saw the Canucks go 2 for 2 on the PP, while the Stars were 1 for 6.
Steve Ott certainly got a lot of attention last night, from both the Canucks and TSN. Neither of it was really warranted though. While Ott has played well since his promotion, I hardly think you can put him in the same league as Burrows. I was baffled at the seeming reluctance of the officiating crew to call penalties on him last night, though kudos to him for douchebagging the Canucks into taking retaliation penalties. Also puzzling was how they missed Turco's stick between the legs of Alex Burrows. I have always maintained Turco is not given enough credit for how dirty and cheap he plays, last night was just another example. It really felt good not just to set a team record for 10 straight home wins, but to send a message to a team that has been a real rival over the years. It was also nice to see the Stars out of the top 8.

Up next for the Canucks is a team that has been as hot as they have been lately, and another pest for them, the St. Louis Blues. The Blues sit in 11th, just 2 points back of Nashville and Edmonton for the final playoff spot, and are 6-3-1 in their last 10. We are looking to actually have a podcast pre-game show for this match up tomorrow... so stay tuned.

The Stars head to Calgary tonight, hopefully they have a chip on their shoulder and take it out on the Flames. The Blackhawks will try and rebound from their date with Marty Brodeur and the record books last night as they take on Columbus, another game the Canucks will be watching intently. The Jackets sit 5 points back, and Chicago is playing their game in hand on Vancouver. Another game with playoff implications is in Anaheim, as the Predators look to move ahead of Edmonton into 7th and put another nail in the Ducks coffin.

Gotta say that last few minutes of the Tampa Bay/Toronto game was pretty entertaining for 2 teams that will miss the playoffs. Speaking of teams that will miss the playoffs, imagine what will happen if Montreal doesn't right their ship quickly. Carey Price seems to have lost his ability to come up with clutch saves, and Halak may not be the one who can save them. I am not going to be surprised if the Habs fall right out of the top 8.

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