Thursday, October 06, 2005

Game Report: Canucks 3 Coyotes 2

The Vancouver Canucks opened the season with a very solid victory against the over matched Phoenix Coyotes. Unfortunately for Canuck fans we missed the first six minutes of the game due to the Senators/Leafs game going into overtime. Most are criticizing the "Toronto Sports Network", however I thought they made the right call. The Sens and Leafs were putting on a great show and I wanted to see the end of the game. My only complaint is that there were a couple long delays where they could have switched over to the Canucks game. It was a no-win situation for TSN and it's unfortunate it had to happen on opening night.

As for the game itself, it was a pretty entertaining game with plenty of flow and chances. The Canucks look to be tailor made for the "new NHL". The defense was jumping up in the play all night as they really put a lot of pressure on Phoenix.

The Coyotes started strong, firing 16 shots on Dan Cloutier. However the Canucks took over the game in the second period and never really looked back. They were in control for most of the night, the final score flattering the Coyotes who never really threatened the Canucks.

The most surprising aspect of the game was that there were only 8 power plays between the two teams. By the end of the pre-season it was apparent that the Canucks were adapting well to the new standard of officiating and that carried over into the first game. Compared to the other games I watched the officials let a little more go, which might not be a bad thing.

Todd Bertuzzi made his much heralded return to the ice. It was not a great game for Bertuzzi. He looked very sluggish, was not very physical and had trouble handling the puck. He did however contribute on a beautiful tic-tac-toe scoring play. Bertuzzi should improve as he get more playing time under his belt.

Overall it was a solid effort by the Canucks, however the outcome could have easily been different against a better team. They will have to be a little stronger against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Canuck Report Card

Forwards: B+

The forward group was a little rusty at times, especially Todd Bertuzzi, but they generated several quality scoring chances. Markus Naslund was in mid-season form, scoring two nice goals. The Sedin line was not as good as the pre-season, but they still managed to put pressure on and generate chances. The third line was flying out there, I thought Kesler looked very good. The 4th line managed to get about a dozen shifts and were a plus on the night. It was an all around solid effort by the forwards.

Defense: B+

The top 4 was very good, especially Mattias Ohlund. Bryan Allen had a strong physical game, I believe it was his hit on Nedved that knocked him out for the remainder of the game. The only major gaff by the defense was the 4-on-4 in which Jovanovski and Allen got caught along the boards leaving the Coyotes with an easy chance to score. Nolan Baumgartner had a very solid game, picking up an assist on the PP. Steve McCarthy was the only disappointment on the blueline. He did not do much of anything and looked small and non-physical during his 14 minutes of ice time. Sami Salo led the team with 26:34 of ice-time, followed by Jovo at 24:06. As a whole the defense was sound in their own end and they generated plenty of chances by jumping up in the play. Also of note, they combined for only 2 penalties in the "New NHL".

Goaltending: A

Dan Cloutier kept the team in the game during the first period and made some great saves. With a few exceptions he was also very good at controlling his rebounds and unlike the pre-season, he was not over-committing. Great start for Cloutier.

Special Teams: C+

Vancouver was 0-4 on the power play, however they did generate several chances. On the PK side, they allowed a late goal to Oleg Saprykin as Phoenix went 1-4 on the power play.

Overall: B+

The Canucks were never in trouble and once they were on the board they controlled most of the game. The first period was not great, as they were out-shot 16-12, however they picked it up in the second, scoring twice and out-shooting Phoenix 14-7. Playing with the lead in the third, Vancouver tightned up defensively and held Phoenix to 9 shots. Overall it was a very solid start to the season.

The Canuck Fan's Three Stars

  1. Markus Naslund - Two goals sealed the victory
  2. Dan Cloutier - Was very sharp especially in the first
  3. Curtis Joseph - Kept the Coyotes in the game

ESPN Box Score

Next up: Edmonton on Saturday.

No comments: