No mystery here, I mean opening night at the Saddledome, the crowd chanting like it was a Stanley Cup final, and the Flames playing in the first period like they believed it was. The problem was, someone forgot to tell the Nucks the game had started. Talk about been schooled in all departments...the Canucks gave up two power play goals within the first seven minutes. Hey, it was so one-sided the Nucks best scoring chance didn't take place until seven minutes into the game, by yes, you guessed him, “Hands of Stone”, Steve Bernier.
Poor Ryan Johnson gets rocked by Eric Nystrom, Daniel Sedin by Dion Phaneuf, the intensity was ultra high and the Canucks just could not match it nor did few try. For those readers out there that have debated with me about toughness and it not being important in the game, take note, not one player tried to stir things up to change the momentum.
What can I say, the Nucks were in a benevolent mood doing all the receiving and this was still the first period. Wake up I said, I must be dreaming. Am I still watching game six against Chicago?
Best Canuck in the first period, Mason Raymond, flying and putting that extra weight (now up to 187) to good use, delivering some timely hits. At least one Nuck was trying to match the Flames deliverance.
Let me comment briefly on Phaneuf, a “rock n sock ’em” hitter, that at times delivers cheap shots, doesn’t answer the bell when challenged, and hides behind a visor. The hit on Daniel, if you watch it closely, was with an elbow to the head, no penalty. I thought the league was serious about taking shots to the head out of the game. When Kevin Bieska went to Daniel’s defense to take Phaneuf on, what does he do? He runs.
So what happened to the Roberto Luongo that looked to get off to a fast start? Three goals on seven shots, all to the blocker side? If not for the shot over the net by the Calgary player (missed his number) it would have been 4-0, because he had Louie down and out counting ice chips.
Second period—new game. As I’ve mentioned many times, hockey is like three games (periods) within a game. So when Bieska scored the first Canucks power play and cut the lead to 3-1, you knew there was enough time to get back into this contest. Well maybe not yet, as Brandon Prust makes it 4-1 and this looked like the start of a blowout. Which Nucks team was going to show up?
I was thinking to myself, that if the Canucks were going to get back into the game, they would have to score another goal before the end of the second, because Mikka Kiprusoff was not going to give up three goals in the third, not with that Calgary defense in front of him
The best Canuck on the ice in the second period, Mikael Samuelsson, who unloaded from every angle and when you do that, good things happen. His reward, a second power play goal tip in and lo and behold, its 4-2 going into the third.
Well the Canucks came out in the third and totally dominated, bombing Kiprusoff with 21 shots, which was a complete reversal of the first period and the only thing that held the Flames in the game was “The Kipper”. It was “game on” after Alex Burrows scored in the first minute of the third to make it 4-3, but try as they might, and at one point out-shooting the Flames 17-1, the Nucks couldn’t get that tying goal. Makes sense to me, the Nucks only won, one of the three periods. Not quite enough there boys.
My “Turning Point of the Game” was on the Nucks last power play. There were some great chances, Sergei Shirokov at the side of the net, Sameulsson also, but they just could not penetrate Kiprusoff’s armour.
When you look at the shots on goal for the game (42-23) and the scoring opportunities the Nucks had, this game was really lost in the first period. Honestly, Kiprusoff out dueled Luongo to secure the win. Louie was great in the third but I know one thing, on another night, with that type of third period effort, for the whole game, Calgary goes down in flames.
Were the Flames the better team? Maybe for the first 27 minutes but after that it was all Canucks.
So as the boys head out for a nooner in Colorado, we can all hope they’ve got that rotten period out of their system. That would be nice but we all know it’s a long season, and there will be a few more along the way.
Honourable mention, Sergei Shirokov, like this little water bug, bouncing off players 50 lbs heavier, was hitting (I counted four) anything that moved, looks even faster (a “Quarter Rocket”—number 25 in your program) then I remembered him in camp. Not bad for a first game, making plays at both ends of the ice, and if that puck doesn’t bounce over his stick, would’ve had the tying goal in the third period.