Perhaps not surprisingly, there were a few shifts in the third period of the Canucks’ 6-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers last night when it seemed like the Oilers were more interested in evening the score than actually evening the score. In particular, Zack Stortini logged almost half of his total icetime in the third period alone but spent most of it following Tanner Glass around the ice like a lost puppy dog. Steve MacIntyre also took a late run at Andrew Alberts.
So when Theo Peckham went after Mikael Samuelsson and Ales Hemsky played pinata on Glass (after Glass stood Hemsky up while coming out the Canucks’ zone) a couple of minutes apart in the third period and the Canucks sporting a comfortable 4-1 lead, coach Alain Vigneault had had enough. Peckham and Hemsky were both penalized, the Canucks scored on both powerplay opportunities and then made no bones about making the Oilers pay where it mattered the most.
Canuck coach Alain Vigneault had his first-unit power play on the ice late in the game in response to some chippy play by the Oilers.
“If they are going to run around and be stupid, that is what you have to do,” said Henrik Sedin. “They have to realize if they keep doing it, it is going to be embarrassing. I think he did the right thing.”
After the Canucks were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round last spring, there was plenty of talk about how the Canucks were just not big enough or tough enough. There were many of the same concerns at the start of this season when Darcy Hordichuk was traded, Alex Bolduc and Guillaume Desbiens were injured, and Rick Rypien was granted a personal leave.
Now, amidst this surreal 17-1-2 run, talk has shifted from the Canucks’ lack of toughness to their new-found maturity. Through the first 40 games of the season, the Canucks are in top half of the league in least amount of penalties taken (11.9 PIM/game), least times shorthanded (157) and most powerplay opportunities (159). Combined with the fact that they currently have the NHL’s top-ranked powerplay (25.2%) and it’s easy to see why the team has bought in to the whole “turn the other cheek” thing.
It’s what good teams do, and looking at the standings this morning, the approach has served the Canucks well.