Black Ice Issue #26 — Millimeters Away From Win In Mile High

The first period was all Canucks. They out shot, out drew and out played the Aves by a wide margin. Darcy Hordichuk opened the scoring early, chipping a pass from Jason Jaffery over the left shoulder of Peter Budaj. Most of the play happened in Colorado’s zone. The third-line grinders continue their scoring woes, Kesler having one point in ten games. After a short handed two-on-one opportunity that left Burrows passing late and Kesler not getting much of a shot off, you could tell that the confidence level in the pair is at a season-high low. The Raymond, Wellwood, Pyatt line looked solid with the most scoring chances of the period. The PHD line held the zone well, but there was little to write home about in terms of chances. Schnieder was great when it mattered, challenging the shooter and keeping rebounds to the outside. Even a disallowed goal, knocked in off Ryan Smyth’s glove, didn’t rattle the cool-as-a-cucumber rookie tender.

The second period started out slowly. The rhythm of the game was prosaic, with each side bumbling up and down the ice giving-up little but giving even less. The Aves jumped on the board first when, North Van native, David Jones made a rush up ice and Willie Mitchell knocked the rebound into his own net. A few minutes later Ryan Smyth, making up for his disallowed goal in the first, wired a shot from the point through the pads of Schnieder to to make it 2-1. The boring and frustrating second period got interesting after a vicious boarding incident occurred. Ian Mcleod drove Kevin Bieka’s head into the boards (a suspendable play if you ask me) and all the Canucks on the ice jumped Mcleod. Unbelievably, after the penalties were handed out for the post-whistle scrum, both teams remained five-on-five. This seemed to spark the Vancouver players however, still reeling from the Bieksa hit. First, Daniel Sedin takes three whacks at a loose puck (after Kesler missed two whacks a minute earlier) and evens things up for the Nucks. This was a full team effort after Darcy Hordichuk tried to spark his team with a fight, taking on Cody Macorkmack in a quick bout. It was hard work that paid off, it’s nice seeing Daniel score these gritty goals, we’ve seen more and more of them lately. And the Canucks didn’t quit, with Ryan Smyth in the box for a light-holding call (perhaps a gift from the refs for the Bieksa hit) Steve Bernier put his team ahead slapping a nice rebound from Mason Raymond past Peter Budaj. The last few minutes of the period was exciting end-to-end hockey that looked nothing like the beginning of the period.

The third period needed to be the make or break stanza for the Canucks, but there wasn’t enough goalkeeping to keep the lead entrenched. Milan Hejduk tied the game 3 minutes into the third when he threw the puck on net and it went in off Shane O’Briens stick. The second goal-against off a Canucks D-man of the night. Regardless, Vancouver swung back when Steve Bernier potted his second of the night, snapping a sweet feed, courtesy of Burrows from the slot. He didn’t even look at the vulcanized rubber, he just shot a seeing-eye-puck past Budaj with what should have been the winner. It was sadly not the case. Clear evidence that Cory Schnieder is not quite ready for a full-time NHL job, he let in a weak shot from Daniel Tjarnqvist through the 14-hole under his right arm. Demitra could have cleared the puck to maintain the lead with three minutes left, but he failed this task, leaving a clear lane for Tjarnqvist open. It was a simple case of — where the fuck is Luongo tonight? So off we go to overtime which solved nothing and then a shootout where Colorado scored on every shot. Yes, every shot.

In terms of Cory Schnieder, it was a blow to the young net-minders short shift in the NHL. When Blue gets back, the rookie will obviously continue his development in Manitoba. He showed poise early on (particular the win Friday in Minnesota) but manifest his clear need for confidence, something that is gained only from experience. What the Canucks need more than letting a rookie goalie have a crack at the majors is a wins. One point is not good enough. On a road game that continues in its malignancy, it was up to the veterans of the team to come up with a bit more effort. Sadly it’s Steve Bernier who was the best Canucks on the ice, right behind him was Alexander Edler. To win, you need to play 60 minutes of hockey. The Canucks played 57 and it cost them the game. While the young guns put in a worthy effort, blame lay in the poor play of the leaders in the last 3 minutes. This made all the difference.

Next Up — Nashville

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