From Mason Geertsen’s third goal of the season late in the first to Tyler Benson’s third period shorty, the Giants played a solid 60 minutes and were full marks for the 6-3 win. Six different G-Men scored, and Payton Lee made 26 saves in the win.
Look for some colourful Christmas wear on Saturday night, as these same two teams do the second half of the home-and-home on Ugly Sweater Night at the Coliseum. We at Pucked in the Head dare you to have as much fun as these five beauties:
Or even these folks:
It’s a bit of an ironic time for the Giants to go on a tear, as their crosstown NHL brethren in blue and green are in the middle of their longest losing streak of the season. The Canucks still sit high in the standings, however, based upon a strong first quarter. The Giants, on the other hand, languish at the bottom of the Western Conference despite garnering a full ten points in the last five games.
Still, it’s probably not a coincidence that the run comes with a new coach behind the bench. It’ll be interesting to hear at the end of the season just what Claude Noel brought to the room that Troy G Ward didn’t:
Claude Noel about to go 4-0 as @whlgiants head coach. That's one more win than team had in its previous 15 games. Been a good week.
Jackson Houck scored the shootout winner for the Vancouver Giants on Saturday night, but it was his period goal a full period earlier that made the fur fly. His one-timer from just left of Saskatoon goaltender Nik Amundrud gave more than 8,000 fans reason to rain down teddy bears for the Vancouver Christmas Bureau, and inspired a record thirty-seven and a half alliterative phrases from play-by-play man Brendan Batchelor. In addition to the toy collection for underprivileged children, proceeds from in-rink fundraising also benefitted the CKNW Orphans Fund and The Province Empty Stocking Fund.
The Blades can thank their goaltender for the point they earned this night; the Giants dominated possession for the first 40 minutes, but were unable to ripple the mesh behind Amundrud until Houck bobbled a one-timer into the back of the net at 2:18 of the third period.
Despite being badly outplayed, the Blades never trailed in the game. Amundrud made 38 saves in the loss, plus two of three shootout attempts. For his part, Payton Lee saw very little action in the first half of the game, but came through when it mattered; he made two point-blank stops on Soshnin, and another late in regulation on Blades top scorer Alex Forsberg. He also stymied all three Saskatoon shooters in the skills competition.
Also scoring for the Giants was Jakob Stukel; defenseman Arvin Atwal had two assists in the win. Scoring for the Blades were Nikita Soshnin on a power play and Josh Uhrich off a Giants defensive miscue.
The Giants next home game is Wednesday, December 10th against the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Prince Albert Raiders; Saturday the 13th is — besides a horrible idea for a sequel— Ugly Sweater Night against the utterly revolting Victoria Royals.
The Odlum Brown Vancouver Open has announced a schedule change for 2015, moving the region’s biggest tennis tournament to August 15-23. Offering $200K in prize money, it is one of the biggest Challenger competitions on both the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours. “Up-and-coming Canadian players can now head west right afterwards and come play in the Odlum Brown VanOpen,” says Vancouver Open Tournament Director Ryan Clark, pointing to mid- to late August being a better slot on the tour.
Pat Quinn was an intimidating presence in just about any room that he entered, but he was kind and generous to players, media and fans, and he was humble and thankful for the successes that he had on and off the ice.
I was lucky enough to speak with the man twice. He was genuinely honoured to be on people’s radar after a lifetime in hockey. He was respectful, thoughtful, well-dressed and well-spoken, and he always stressed to his players that they should be, too.
There are many memorial pieces in today’s media, both traditional and social. I’m unlikely to cover new ground here at PITH. Suffice to say, this isn’t about a player, coach or GM; we’ve lost a good man. He wouldn’t have wanted all the attention when there are many others in the world struggling, wounded, oppressed and ill — give to, or volunteer for your charity of choice today in Pat Quinn’s honour.
Here are links to a few of the articles about the big man:
The prevailing sports talk around Vancouver today is, “The Canucks are first in the NHL; who’da thunk it?”
And I’ll admit, I’ve been pleasantly surprised thus far myself, but not for their perfect record against Alberta teams, or how they ground out a 2-1 shootout win in Anaheim. Rather, I’m impressed with the way this year’s Canucks are playing an entertaining game, and finding different ways to win. Interestingly, they’ve only found one way to lose — badly, as they did in 7-3, 6-3 and 5-1 lopsided losses as well as ones where 3-1 and 4-2 scorelines flattered the boys in blue quite dramatically — but hey, there are 12 Ws and only 5 Ls so far this year, so we’ll surely see some variation in this category soon enough.
Two of this year’s pleasant surprises in the NHL have been the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks. Both are playing entertaining, offensive hockey — yeah, I know, Nashville?!?!?!? and they’ve both gotten far more out of the first ten to fifteen games of the season than most prognosticated. But to be honest it’s not as shocking as you might think. Canucks and Preds rosters are trying to impress new regimes behind their respective bench, and any player with the slightest bit of a nose for the net has to prefer Willie Desjardins and Peter Laviolette to John “No Plan” Tortorella and Barry “No Neck” Trotz.
Note: I know I’m a few games behind. So what. It’s fun to look at all the scorin’ and goalin’ and such.
Kevin Bieksa admitted it right there in Saturday’s post-game interview with Cassie Campbell-Pascall: the Canucks pretty much played a single period of decent hockey against the Edmonton Oilers. They stunk the place out in the first period, played below expectations in the second, but were the better team in the final 20 minutes. It was enough to win the game.
Past editions of the Canucks could play keepaway for 55 minutes and change, generate chance after chance down low, and give up a late snack goal before losing in a shootout. So far this year, they’re managing games more effectively and finding ways to win.
Canucks 0, Oilers 1. Jordan Eberle from Taylor Hall and Martin Marincin, 12:39 of the first period.
Taylor Hall loses a stride in the neutral zone, and that half-second hesitation is enough to freeze — wait for it — Luca Sbisa. #5 moves slightly into the middle, opening up a lane for Jordan Eberle cruising in on the right boards, and he flips a cutesy little backhand over Ryan Miller’s pad. Yannick Weber did the right thing, taking Nugent-Hopkins on the far side, so he has none of the blame on this one.
Canucks 1, Oilers 1: Luca Sbisa from Chris Higgins and Nick Bonino, 19:13 of the first period.
Thank heavens for the Oilers d-zone coverage. Remember all the running around the Canucks did in their own end last year? If not, just watch the boys in blue on this replay. The Oilers act as if the ’76 Habs are swarming their net, but this isn’t Lafleur, Shutt and Lemaire with Big Bird Robinson on the point — instead, the dreaded Sbisa-Higgins-Bonino connect to send it into the dressing room tied at one.
Canucks 2, Oilers 1: Linden Vey from Derek Dorsett and Tom Sestito, 16:37 of the second period.
If that last scoring combo wasn’t embarrassing enough, the Oilers manage to let Derek Dorsett and Tom Sestito collect apples on the same goal. Want a trifecta? Alex Edler gets a mark in the plus column on this one as well. Ben Scrivens delivers a gift-wrapped rebound to ol’ Dorsett and follows it up with a massive five hole for him to shoot at.
Canucks 2, Oilers 2: David Perron from Leon Draisaitl and Andrew Ference, 17:41 of the third period.
Ah, the short-lived lead. That’s the Canuck hockey we’ve grown to groan at over the past couple of seasons. Also in the not unexpected category: Alex Edler with a minus. Give the goat horns to Chris Tanev, who bobbles the puck behind his own net to create the open ice. Should Ryan Miller have this one? Probably, but give Perron credit, it’s a hell of a wrist shot.
Canucks 3, Oilers 2 (SH): Derek Dorsett from Ben Scrivens, 4:05 of the third period.
Give credit to ol’ Double D on this one, he hustled in on a shorthanded forecheck, and took full advantage of the worst goalie mistake since Marc-Andre Fleury was a junior. Like the Canucks second goal, Scrivens screws up twice on the same play: here he’s so flustered by his giveaway that he forgets to square himself to the shooter. Dorsett should never have the short side to shoot at on that play.
Here’s Fleury’s gold-medal losing gaffe from 2004, in case you’ve forgotten:
Hands up everyone who predicted the Canucks would have seven wins after ten games.
That’s what I thought.
The Canucks had the Montreal Canadiens number through the Naslund and early Sedin years, but surely this visit would be different — this year’s Habs are a sexy pick to take the East this year, what with their gold medallist Carey Prices and their swashbuckling, fancy dressing, bazillion-dollar PK Subbans and such.
As pundits are fond of telling us — and by pundits I mean me and Harrison Mooney — the Vancouver Canucks have a history of helping opponents break out of a slump. So it was with trepidation that fans approached last night’s visit from the league’s doormat Carolina Hurricanes.
That’s right: the Canes are worse than the perennially disappointing Edmonton Oilers, the comically atrocious Buffalo Sabres and the junior-hockey-teams-have-more-fans-than-we-do Florida Panthers. Carolina has exactly zero wins on the season, to match the zero fucks given by most people in Raleigh about the sport of ice hockey — meaning they had the Canucks exactly where they wanted them.
Would the Canucks respond, or would they snooze with les Habitants on the horizon? You’re darn tootin’ they’d respond. It was viewers of Sportsnet that snoozed, but I digress. On with the goals…
Let’s start with a moment of silence for Eddie Lack’s GAA and SV%, shall we?
Lack’s save percentage, a dismal .862, is 59th in the NHL after three appearances. His 4.62 goals against average is 61st overall. Keep in mind there are only 30 teams in the NHL. Sixty-two goalies have seen ice time this season, and the only guy with a GAA south of our boy Eddie’s is Viktor Fasth of the Edmonton Oilers, whose two-game, 5.19 goals against average would lose him the backup spot on most junior benches.
The Avs started the season with the punch of a newborn koala. Despite adding proven snipers like Jarome Iginla and Danny Briere in the off-season, Colorado’s first goal of the season came at 3:08 of the second period — of their third game. They had won just one game in their first seven before meeting the Canucks. As we all know, Vancouver is a polite town, and that Eddie Lack is a pretty affable guy. If someone needs off the schneid, the Canucks are the ones to help them out.