Monday, September 29, 2008

Canucks Knock Off Ducks In Shoot Out

In what started out as a snoozer turned into a pretty entertaining night of pre-season hockey at the Honda Center Sunday evening. Despite playing nearly a third of the game short-handed, the Canucks did well against a very deep Ducks line-up to skate away with a 5-4 win in a shoot-out in Anaheim.

Allowing the opposition ten power plays is unacceptable at any time, whether it’s pre-season or not. However, give credit to Vancouver’s penalty killers and goalie Curtis Sanford. Holding a power play unit with the likes of Pronger and Niedermeyer at the point and Getzlaf, Perry, and Selanne up front to just two goals is pretty good at any stage of the year.

On the other side of the special teams coin, the Canucks power play looked sharp, not only tonight, but through the first four games of the exhibition campaign. Seeing Daniel and Henrik Sedin work together again was a welcome site to Canucks fans I’m sure.

Some of the players that stood out for me on this night included:

Sami Salo (1g,2a): After causing a turnover that led to the first Anaheim goal, he redeemed himself big-time! He’ll be a big reason for any success this team has on the power play this year with his shot from the point.

Curtis Sanford (34 saves): The Canucks don’t remain undefeated in the pre-season if it wasn’t for his efforts in this one. Stood tall facing some of the best shooters in the league from close quarters. A big save on Selanne just before the 2nd period ended was definitely a turning point that kept the team in the game going into the 3rd period.

Kyle Wellwood (1g,SOWG): Didn’t jump out at you ever shift, but he was a big factor in the win. His goal to make it a 1-1 tie was a real goal-scorers goal, as was his finish in the shoot-out. Certainly doing his part to earn a spot on this team.

The Sedin’s (Daniel 1g,1a/Henrik 2a): Just a treat to watch these guys at work together. Daniel’s goal was a bullet that netminder J.P. Lavesseur never saw. And the pass Henrik made on that goal was a thing of beauty. Steve Bernier (1g,1a) must have felt like he’d hit the jackpot skating with those two in this game.

Rob Davison: Strong physical presence as we’ll likely come to expect this year. Logged more than 21 minutes of ice time. I’m thinking he probably hasn’t been used to that much in the past, but he certainly did not look out of place against a pretty offensive-minded home-team in this game.

A series of roster moves are expected to be made on Monday by team management. To be honest, being 4-0 in the pre-season is nothing but a bonus for this club. But make no mistake about it…they’ve earned what they’ve received so far. All three goalies (Luongo, Sanford, and Schneider) have done their part to help the team win. Both sides of the special teams coin have been really strong, especially the PK. It’s hard to imagine that the club has not worked on the penalty kill at all in practice the past week. When taking on some of the premier power play specialists in the league from Edmonton, San Jose, and Anaheim, you have to admire the fact the Canucks have allowed just five goals against in 32 short-handed situations!!

On a personal note, this was a night I’ll never forget. As I said off the top, this game was dull in the early going. I was actually wondering if I was going to get a chance to call a goal in my first NHL broadcast! But boy did it turn into a decent game to broadcast and watch. Tommy was great to work with and we had a lot of fun. The compliments and thanks I received before and after the game from colleagues and friends was really overwhelming. It might have seemed like nothing more than a pre-season game to most, but it certainly meant a whole lot more to me.

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