"If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment."
Those words of American poet and philosopher Henry Thoreau were certainly salient to the Vancouver Canucks’ efforts against the Calgary Flames Wednesday night as once again they saw another two-goal lead evaporate on home ice.
And for many fans it may have appeared there were mitigating circumstances in the way it happened, but then fans have come to expect such circumstances whenever Stephen Walkom comes to Rogers Arena to ply his profession as an NHL referee. So nobody was probably even remotely curious why a penalty which is so rarely called would be applied for such a minor offence.
But in this case, Walkom was merely carrying out the directives of the league when he gave Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler a second period penalty for ‘concealing the puck’ which gave the Flames their second 5-on-3 man advantage of the session and allowed Mikael Backlund to tie the game at 2-2 after they had been outplayed by a wide margin up to that juncture in the game.
Edler may indeed have closed his hand on the puck for only a moment to try to sweep it away from his own goal, but the league sent out a video detailing how they were going to call that infraction much more closely this season. Further, the same video also claimed that infractions would be called just as stringently when a team was already down a man, so in a way Walkom killed two birds with the one seemingly strange stone.
"They also said you’re not able to grab a puck and then wave it around and put it down on the ice like you used to and that they were going to really crack down on that so the penalty isn’t really a big surprise," said Keith Ballard, who enjoyed nearly 18 minutes of ice time in the extended game. "They also said they’re not going to worry so much if it puts a team down two men either, they were going to try to call infractions as they happen. And that was the call he made."
If that is indeed the case it should well benefit the Canucks over a longer period of time, skill teams clearly being the main benefactors of these adjustments if in fact that turns out to be the case long term.
The Canucks stuck to those above words of Thoreau quite nicely despite the adversity. As the game progressed, they ended up getting their compensation when Zack Kassian scored the shootout winner while Cory Schneider was rebuffing all but one of five Calgary attempts. And for Schneider that had to feel good as earlier in the game he seemed to be committing all kinds of goalie sins, losing sight of the puck on shots from long range and leaving a ton of room on his stick side for Alex Tanguay to shoot at when he got the Flames on the board at even strength 11 minutes into the second period.
"That’s the Cory we know," said Alex Burrows when asked about his strong performance in the second half of the game as he begins to round into the player everyone remembers from the previous 60-plus games he’s started in this league. "We’ve got lots of faith in him and we knew he would play this way and you all saw it happen tonight."
The shootout certainly provided a surprise from coach Alain Vigneault when he selected Daniel Sedin to be Vancovuer’s third shooter in shootout given the fact the usually high scoring twin was just four of 22 previous attempts over the length of his career. Needless to say he didn’t improve his percentage with yet another lame effort, even against Miikka Kiprusoff, who is one of the goalies who really struggles in this part of the game.
Vancouver is perhaps the only team in the league that dare not use its traditional top scorer in this competition, which may explain why the Canucks traditionally struggle. But with Schneider such a rock at the other end, perhaps more victories in this part of the game will be in the offing for this team.
© Copyright (c) The Province