Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Game Report: Vancouver 3 - Chicago 1

"We had to work for this win." Markus Naslund.

It's been said many times this season that the Canucks have not had a full 60 minute effort. They may have finally put that to rest. Led by a strong first shift from the number one line, Vancouver put forth a very good effort against a Chicago team that came out strong in the first period.

While Chicago took the lead late in the first period, the Canucks matched their work ethic and gave you a sense that they would eventually prevail. Led by Markus Naslund and Ryan Kesler, Vancouver would take the lead in the second and finished well for their 14th victory of the season.

Game Notes

  • All the talk after the game was concentrated on the great game by Ryan Kesler. After struggling in recent weeks, Kesler came up with what was probably the best game of his NHL career. Hopefully he can build on his confidence and provide Vancouver with a strong 3rd line presence, something which has been lacking in recent weeks.
  • If Markus Naslund can play like that on a regular basis I would be a very happy camper. That's the kind of effort you need out of your captain. Naslund helped set the tone in the first shift and he maintained his intensity for the entire game. I was especially impressed with his defensive play and effort.
  • Unfortunately I was less than impressed with Bertuzzi. While he started strong he faded as the game went on. There was one play that was indicative of everything that is wrong with Bertuzzi. A Chicago player was skating with the puck along the end boards while Bertuzzi trailed just behind. Instead of skating up beside the Chicago player and hammering him into the boards and taking the puck, Bertuzzi simply coasted behind him. It was just a small little play, but it really stood out to me.
  • The strong effort out of the gate also played a factor in Vancouver only taking one minor penalty. That is not a typo. Go figure, when you actually move your feet and aren't lazy you don't need to take hooking penalties.
  • Alex Auld rebounded well from his last start. Auld was sharp, stopping 32 shots. Also credit the defense for making it very difficult for Chicago to get shots from quality positions.
  • Speaking of the defense, Mattias Ohlund and Bryan Allen were excellent.
  • Nathan Smith looked pretty good in just his third NHL game. Smith got the call rather than Josh Green who was probably a little gassed from all his recent travels. It will be interesting to see if Smith can maintain his level of play once the adrenaline of a callup has worn off.
  • For the first time in a while the bottom two lines had solid contributions. Obviously a lot of that had to do with the amount of 5-on-5 play, but the Canucks need more of a presence from their grinders. For the most part this season our grinders have been outplayed by the opposition's.
  • Finally it was nice to see Henrik Sedin rewarded with a goal. The Sedin line has been the most consistent line all year long and even when they have been slumping on the scoresheet they have made solid contributions game in game out. Anson Carter was particularly good last night.

Next up are the Sharks on Thursday.

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