Apparently, the sixth time was the charm. Linden Vey made the most of his season debut and converted on the sixth chance the Canucks had to win the shootout in Detroit. It shouldn’t take a team six chances to finish the job, but man do these Canucks make life difficult on themselves. Sven Baertschi could have won it, but didn’t. Then Brad Richards beat Ryan Miller in a must-score situation that extended the skills competition. After that, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen and Daniel Sedin all had opportunities to end the proceedings. But it wasn’t until Vey, called up from AHL Utica earlier in the day to replace the injured Henrik Sedin, pulled the trigger and sealed the deal putting an exclamation point on what turned into a wild night in Motown.
The Canucks won’t like the fact they couldn’t protect a 2-0 lead late in the second period or a 3-2 lead with just over a minute to play. But for one night, it isn’t so much about what the Canucks won’t like as it is that they found a way to win. No for this night, the team can feel good about snapping a three-game losing skid and a road losing streak that was twice that length. And they did it with some offense. And from unlikely sources at that.
Oh, and they can celebrate surviving overtime and getting the opportunity to win the game in a shootout. For those keeping track, that’s now two of the last three overtimes the Canucks have been able to navigate to a shootout. So maybe, just maybe, they’re getting the hang of things in 3-on-3. Then again, they didn’t exactly carry the play in overtime.
I’m still not sure how the Canucks got seven shooters deep into the skills competition without Jared McCann or Bo Horvat getting a chance to take part. But Willie Desjardins dodges the bullet of having to answer that question for the night because ultimately the players he picked produced a victory.
Sven Baertschi hasn’t had much to show for his season, but he led the way with a goal and an assist on Friday. His goal was one of the prettiest the Canucks have scored this season with Baertschi finishing off a tidy three-way passing play off the rush from Radim Vrbata to Bo Horvat to Baertschi streaking to the front of the net.
Horvat had another strong night following up his effort 24 hours earlier in Philadelphia. He played 19:59, had four shots including a blistering wrist shot off left wing and followed his own rebound and very nearly tucked the puck in on a wrap-around chance in the first period.
How about Alex Biega getting power play time in a 3-2 game with under five minutes to play? He and partner Matt Bartkowski crushed it in possession Friday giving the Red Wings next to nothing when they were on the ice together. Biega continues to battle in all situations and on Friday night gave the Canucks 2:23 of solid penalty killing.
Chris Tanev picked up an assist on Radim Vrbata’s 10th goal of the season early in the third. It was Tanev’s first point since November 2nd which is pretty remarkable given how much he plays and the fact he’s often on the ice with the Canucks best players. He’s never going to be Bobby Orr, but with how well he skates and reads the play, it seems like there should be a little more offense to his game. But it’s pretty clear he’s been battling an injured hand for much of the season and perhaps that has limited his puck-moving abilities. At least, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Still, the following chart was pulled before Friday’s game. It’s a motley group of NHL’ers who’ve played more than 650 minutes this season and amassed five or fewer points. This is the company Tanev is keeping so far this season:
|1||Calvin de Haan||2015-16||24||NYI||NHL||CA||D||33||1||4||5||4||14||685|
|5||Trevor van Riemsdyk||2015-16||24||CHI||NHL||US||D||33||2||2||4||-5||9||676|
A couple of other items from Friday at the Joe:
*I know it’s been a grind for Chris Higgins this season. I’ve sort of abandoned the idea of him providing any offense with any regularity. But that puts an emphasis on his defensive play and his effort on the 3-3 tying goal with just over a minute to play in the third was not NHL-calibre. It simply wasn’t. There were breakdowns after his weak attempt to stick check Henrik Zetterberg and I don’t know what Ryan Miller was doing down on his knees so early on the play exposing the top of the net, but the puck doesn’t get anywhere near the Canucks goal if Higgins makes any kind of play on the sideboards. He simply has to give more in that situation. I don’t believe there’s any way even he could defend his actions there.
*Brandon Prust may have been the victim of a reputation call, but he can’t put the officials in the situation he did to call a penalty at the end of the second period. The Canucks were clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Wings had just scored and given the fans at the Joe something to get excited about for the first time all night and Prust stuck his nose into an altercation at the buzzer. He got nailed for roughing and the Wings started the third period on the power play. Now, the Canucks did a nice job of killing the penalty, so in the end no harm was done. But Brandon Prust can’t be putting his team in a tough spot like that one. He has to make smarter decisions. He got off to such a strong start to his season, but since returning from his ankle injury there hasn’t been much to the rugged winger’s game. In any department.
Now it’s off to Florida to finish up the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule for the Canucks. Next up, it’s a date with this guy:
No, not my then-six year old son. The other guy — who couldn’t have been more gracious that day. My son wasn’t quite sure what to make of some tall man offering him a hockey stick to take home from practice. I don’t think he fully appreciated who Roberto Luongo was then. However, years later, my kid still has the stick proudly displayed in his bedroom.
Have a great weekend. As always, thanks for stopping by this blog site. I’ll make my usual request to share this site via social media to help me get the word out and to let people know there is another place to get unique thoughts, views and information on the Canucks.