Kicking ass and dousing Flames

For the fourth time in a row this season, the Canucks defeated their arch rivals from Cowtown.

Winning the game 5-3, the Canucks managed five goals from five different players, a statistic not to be easily overlooked considering the oft-repeated criticism of the team’s putative inability to score (excepting, of course, the top line of Naslund and the Sedin twins).

The Positives:

  • Rookie Mason Raymond, in his second stint with the big club this season, is looking every bit the player he has been (highly) touted to be. The kid is quick as lightning with the puck (not just without it), he has impressively soft hands and a deft touch around the net, and he has that intangible all gifted players rely on: hockey sense. Make no mistake, this kid is going to be a terrific player. It is early stages yet, but I suspect once he puts on a few more pounds (as Jim Hughson suggested last night on the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast) he is going to be a 25-30 goal scorer and a 65-70 point-player. The most important improvement in his game since his first call-up, however, is that he is playing with confidence. As Hughson and Craig Simpson also noted, Raymond was hungry for the puck all night long; he wanted to make things happen.
  • The Sedin twins are simply amazing when in possession of the puck. In fact, I think it is worth suggesting that they might be the best tandem in the league with the puck. (The goal by Henrik to make it 4-3 in the Third was spectacular. He put the puck past Kipper off a perfect pass from Daniel before the Calgary netminder even knew the puck had been passed.)
  • Byron Ritchie was outstanding against his former team. Charged with the responsibility last night to shut down Flames sniper Jarome Iginla in the absence of Ryan Kesler, Ritchie performed admirably, effectively neutralizing Iginla for most of the game.
  • Sami Salo looked his (old) dangerous self again. Not only did he score his first goal of the season, he looked like he wanted the puck at the point, and could have scored a couple.

The Not-so-positives

  • What is with all the tip-in goals? All three of the Flames goals, not to mention the fourth (disallowed) goal, were scored off tip-ins in front of the net. Granted the Lombardi goal was simply an amazing piece of skill, but both goals by Iginla and Conroy were largely the result of having a free pass to and in front of the Canucks net. The Iginla goal, in particular, highlighted a problem Canucks fans may have over looked since the Bieksa injury: with Bieksa out, the Canucks rely entirely on Mattias Ohlund and Willie Mitchell for physical presence in front of the net. Last night, with Ohlund injured and Mitchell in the box, it was remarkably easy for Iginla to get advantageous positioning in front of Luongo. As much as guys like Edler and Krajicek (and, even, Miller) have stepped up since Bieksa went down with injury, I will be much more comfortable when he returns and the Canucks can depend on three tough, physical defencemen to clear the front of goal.
  • Why on earth do the Canucks never seem to hold leads well against Calgary? Don’t get me wrong, it is hard to complain when you are 4-0 on the season and 10-2 in your last 12 against the Flames, but let’s not ignore the observation that the Canucks regularly piss away two and even three goal leads against the Flames with frightening regularity in too many of these games.

At any rate, a win well deserved and much appreciated by a Flames-hating Canucks fan such as myself. More of the same on New Year’s Eve at the Library, please.

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