Saturday, December 04, 2010

Poetic Performance by Luongo in 3-0 Shutout of Blackhawks

Roberto Luongo's poetry skills were on display last night, but more importantly so were the goaltending skills which once had many believing he was the best goaltender in the world. Luongo's game stealing performance was all the more impressive/encouraging because it came against a Chicago team that was "in the head" of Luongo and the Canucks. Luongo stealing the game was impressive, but it was the way he stole the game that really resonated with Canuck fans. It was the first time in a long time that Luongo truly frustrated a team. It reminded me of Kirpusoff's Vezina winning season, where team's knew they needed to be lucky just to get more than one goal. In the past few seasons that fear and dominance has been missing from Luongo's game. It's only one game, but it's a start.

Perhaps the significance of the game - and in turn Luongo's performance - is being overstated, but Canuck fans have to be encouraged by the team's response to their humliatating 7-1 home loss to the same Chicago Blackhawks. On to the game notes...

  • While the shot totals do not flatter the Canucks, it was actually a fairly even game. The Hawks obviously had a few grade a chances and the Canucks didn't play enough in the offensive zone, but most of Chicago's shots were from the outside or above the circles. After the first Chicago only had 13 even strength shots on goal.
  • Other than Ehrhoff's terrible turnover on an ill advised behind the back pass, the Canucks six defensemen had a great game. Keith Ballard was outstanding blocking 6 shots and delivering 4 hits in only 12:45 of ice time. Easily his best game as a Canuck - he deserves an increase in ice-time. Dan Hamuis was also oustanding, it looks like he is finally getting over his foot injury.
  • The Canucks special teams continue to reside at the top of the league and they came through again in Chicago. The penalty kill was perfect and the power play came through with the key insurance goal in the third period.
  • The 4th line has received a lot of criticism this season, but delivered a solid game. Glass scored what turned out to be the game winning goal and Perrault had his best game as a Canuck.
  • The third line had a tough assignment and struggled at times, especially Torres and Samuelsson, but Malhotra was once again dominant in the faceoff circle winning 15 of 20 draws!
  • Jeff Tambellini showed that he can be effective in tight physical games. He was credited with a team leading 6 hits and had a solid night overall.
  • As a team the Canucks blocked 19 shots and did a great job at containing the Blackhawsks on the outside. The forwards and defense were particularly effective defending Chicago's tactic of circling up high in the offensive zone. The Canucks communicated well and stayed with their checks, switching off or staying with their man whenever it was appropriate.

With the "statement" game out of the way the Canucks take on the slumping St. Louis Blues Sunday night in Vancouver. After a great start to the year the Blues have lost 4 in a row and are 3-9-1 since November 10th. The Blues play in Edmonton Saturday night so they should be ripe for the picking on Sunday.