Thursday, December 28, 2006

Game Of Night

Usually this will cover the locals. But I felt inclined to give a few thoughts on the unlikely game which took place between Western Canada bitter rivals Calgary and Vancouver.

In a wild back and forth game which had it all, the Canucks cameback to beat the Flames 6-5 in OT. When I flipped it on the Center Ice feed, it was 2-0 Canucks. Apparently they played a strong first period and led on the strength of goals by each Sedin. Have I mentioned how great these two twins are? Splendid stickhandlers and puckmovers who are so underrated it's sad.

When we flipped it back on again after watching the Stars hang on for dear life to edge the Avs 5-4 in another weird game (Stars scored the last three), the Flames had comeback to tie only to see Vancouver go ahead once again on a Matt Cooke soft backhand which beat Miikka Kiprusoff. A few minutes later came one of the niftiest plays you'll see shorthanded. Off a three-on-two rush, Willie Mitchell adeptly setup Brendan Morrison, who tipped home his pass for a pretty shorthanded goal to restore the two-goal lead. It's also worth noting that that goal came on only their second shot of the period at the time meaning Kipper hadn't made a save. Weird to say the least.

So Vancouver was in control right? Wrong! The Flames got quick goals from Kristian Huselius (2nd of night) and rookie David Moss (3rd in 3 games since recall) less than 2:00 apart to quickly tie it. Btw...it's worth noting Roberto Luongo looked pretty bad on both. I'm sure TSN studio analyst Mike Keenan was grinning from ear to ear after explaining why he couldn't re-sign the netminder and opted to trade him for what now is a failed return. Has anyone seen Todd Bertuzzi? Last we saw Alex Auld, he was being lit up like a Christmas tree and had lost his starting job to ageless wonder Ed Belfour. Bryan Allen now is the best part of this deal. Yikes. As my favorite Weezer song says, "Say It Ain't So." I'll admit I was wrong about that deal. Dead wrong.

So back to this wacky ending. After Daymond Langkow scored a PPG to put Calgary ahead, Vancouver's Ryan Kesler responded a minute later to force OT. In it, a Sami Salo point shot deflected off a Flame taking a wicked bounce past Kiprusoff to give the Canucks the unlikely win.

It was refreshing to see an NHL game end in OT as opposed to the predictable shootout which is becoming more the norm. More so than anyone foresaw. Paging Bettman.

This was a great game with the kind of intensity you wanted to see. And oh. Dion Phaneuf struggled mightily in this one. Maybe he's not Norris material quite yet. But boy, I'd take him on my roster anyday as I would the Sedins and Jarome Iginla. The problem for the league is simple. These players all play in Western Canada.

But hey. It sure was great to see!

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