The Goods: Halted by Habs
It’s March, not May.
That’s the good news.
The bad news comes in the form of another Vancouver Canucks loss, this time by a 4-1 score at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
There’s no such thing as an easy win, but on paper these teams were separated by 30 points in the standings going into the night and clearly at different ends of the spectrum in terms of playoff aspirations.
For the opening 20 minutes the Canucks played like the second place team in the NHL, they skated circles around the Canadiens outshooting them 15-5 and outchancing them all frame.
Vancouver was again hungry in the second and it led to Ryan Kesler’s 21st goal of the season, scored 11:58 in. And that was about the only highlight the Canucks produced
for the remainder of the game.
Blake Geoffrion scored with 1:17 left in the second to swing momentum into the Canadiens favour and they carried it into the third period scoring the go-ahead goal 13 seconds
in. Erik Cole was behind it, Roberto Luongo dreaded not getting in front of it.
Montreal piled on two more goals in the third, one on the power play, in a dominating finish by the Habs.
Luongo, who gave up at least three goals for the sixth time in seven starts, was understandably upset with himself post-game. The Canucks netminder went back to the early
goal in the third period as one he cannot allow with the game still up for grabs.
“The initial shot got blocked and I got up, he shot it back,” explained Luongo of the goal. “In retrospect I should have probably stayed down on that one and try to seal it up; obviously it’s not a goal that I want to be giving up.”
Luongo stood tall to shoulder the blame, but this was a team loss, one where offensively the Canucks mustered only a single goal for the third time in 10 games. Over that
stretch Vancouver has found the back of the net for three or more goals in a game just twice.
The solution to the Canucks woes, according to coach Alain Vigneault, is giving the team two full days away from the rink to re-energize, re-focus and re-dedicate themselves to Vancouver Canucks hockey.
That idea went over well with the players.
“It was a really tough February, we were away for a long time and this is a good chance for us to get away and re-focus a little bit during some time off and be ready,” explained Henrik Sedin, now without a point in eight straight games, one off his career low of nine.
“We’ve got 13 more games here and then the important games start. We’ve got to re-group during these two days and be fresh for the next practice.”
We should all take note and do the same.
Accepting a loss like this, especially to the last place Canadiens, is tough, but go back to last season and on Game 69 Vancouver beat the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in a shootout
for its fourth win of a seven game streak.
The Canucks appeared to be peaking at the right time, then they faced the last place Edmonton Oilers in Games 79 and 80 and lost them both.
In a month this loss will be meaningless. It’s March, not May, remember.
KASSIAN VS. STAUBITZ
Since arriving in Vancouver he’d scored and picked up an assist.
Zack Kassian achieved another important first Saturday night.
Following a scrappy first period between the Canucks and Canadiens, it was just a matter of time before gloves were dropped, punches thrown. Kassian paired up with Brad Staubitz 4:55 into the second in a heavyweight tilt featuring a combined 12-feet-four-inches of height and over 430 pounds.
Both giants landed some vicious punches with no clear-cut winner emerging, except the fans. They treated the pair to a rowdy cheer post-fight as a salute for their efforts.
It wasn’t a planned tussle, Kassian revealed post-game. He didn’t like the way Staubitz was playing, so he let him know it.
“He was running around a bit and when people take liberties with your teammates, you can’t sit and watch, you’ve got to do something about it,” said Kassian, adding that the fight had nothing to do with his lack of playing time in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets.
“I didn’t play much because I didn’t play well, it’s pretty simple. He’s a coach that plays you if you’re going, so if you’re not going you shouldn’t play. That happens, I need to get going and tonight I just wanted to play my game, play hard, start skating and the fight just happened.”
Coach Alain Vigneault on where his patience is with his star players…
“Anytime that your best players aren’t giving a top performance, obviously there’s a level of concern. Not sure if we’re tired physically or mentally, but if that’s the case what we can do is eliminate the excuse and we’ll give our guys two days off and get back at it on Tuesday and hopefully everybody will come back with a good frame of mind.”
On what the turning point of the game was…
“I think it was the second period. We came out real good in the first, carried the play for most of that first period, then in the second we didn’t come out with the same jump, we didn’t go after them the way we should have, then obviously in the third Lui gives up a bad goal and we didn’t respond well at all. “
On Alex Edler’s delay of game penalty in the third period…
“Alex Edler has got all the time in the world to make a better play than that, I don’t know where he is right now, but obviously he isn’t playing real well.”
On what the most concerning part of the recent losses is…
“The most concerning thing for me is when our best players aren’t our best players on the ice. “
-@CanucksClown, putting a positive spin on all the Montreal support in the house Saturday.
both NHL and MLS action. Final score: 4-3 Montreal. Sacre bleu.
Dancing Jack Millos is in New York for an appearance on the Today Show! Read more
ahead tonight. That way you’re not crazy out of the loop Sunday and the rest of next week.