What a bizarre, infuriating game it was. Vancouver came out and dominated most of the first period, hitting like they’ve never hit before, making the right plays, getting scoring chances, causing turnovers and getting the first goal by Mason Raymond on the reunited speed line with Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson. Then it happened.
Whew! That was close. Not only did Jack Johnson nearly put the puck in the net, but if Michael Handzus doesn’t put his arms up in the air, he might have been able to bury it. Classic Bieksa pose in this picture by the way, standing upright, watching a member of the opposing team in front of the goal. With that said, perhaps I’m being a bit unfair. I thought Bieksa had a solid game, as did the rest of the Canucks D. Most notably, Alex Edler was strong in both ends of the rink. He was a beast, as evidenced by this hit on Drew Doughty (you think Edler trash talked him? Something like “welcome to the playoffs, kid” would have been nice).
Both have been keeping me up at night. Thankfully, Sami Salo is taking tonight off against the San Jose Sharks. The underrated Nolan Baumgartner will fill-in in his place. Did you know that ‘Baumer’ is a career +22 in 97 career games in a Canucks uniform? He’s played in ten games this season and has been a minus player only once. So this is a good move for the oft-injured Salo. Every time he goes into the corner to retrieve a puck I’m worried that he’s going to get injured. The “new Mitchell” has stepped up his game this year, and in my estimation has been the team’s best d-man this season. He’s also been remarkably healthy, which can only mean one thing: he’s due. A Sami Salo injury, combined with Willie Mitchell’s injury, could cause the Canucks to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
In dramatic fashion (thank you Brian Burke) at the Winter Classic, Team USA was revealed on Saturday. We tried to predict the roster back in August and did pretty well I think (we’ll happily accept accolades in the comments section). We correctly predicted all but four players correctly. Team USA was named with quite a few surprise omissions however. Lets take a look: