I'm convinced that the Calgary Flames took a page from
The problem tonight with the NHL's inconsistent reffing wasn't the fact that there were a lot of phantom or soft calls, but rather that they didn't call anything. It's one thing to let the game play on without any sort of stoppages, especially a match-up as crucial as this one, but it's totally another to let the lack of calls dictate what kind of behaviour the players can engage in. Case in point, Dion Phaneuf.
Just by my count, Phaneuf should've been called for penalties on at least four separate occasions, some of them committed right in front of McCreary, but no whistles. FOUR. Letting one go is something, but once Phaneuf realized that his after-the-whistle shot on Daniel Sedin wasn't going to called for a roughing or unsportsmanlike, he took advantage of it and did the same to Ryan Kesler. Had McCreary or Walkom remembered they had whistles on their hands, Phaneuf would've put his team in a giant hole against Vancouver's vaunted powerplay. His antics were dumb and pointless and one day it's going to come back and really hurt his team... and to think that a lot of people picked him for Canada. He's just not a very smart nor disciplined player. Speaking of penalties, where was the call for the slash on Christian Ehrhoff that snapped his stick in half in overtime? I seem to remember that a slashed stick that broke always resulted into a penalty.
<img src="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20100110/capt.dc63729580e341d28ff45831ce0a9801.flames_canucks_hockey__vcrd108.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Kudos to Kesler for fighting back against Phaneuf because no one else seemed to want to do it. Someone needed to respond with either a big hit or fight to show that Phaneuf's antics won't be tolerated. Instead, we got two Rick Rypien-Brandon Prust scraps that, while entertaining, sent the right message to the wrong player. It should've been Phaneuf there, but I guess with the new "fighting code" in the NHL a fight would've only been warranted had there been a big, clean hit. I'm tired of players thinking it's their job to respond with a fight only after a good hit (see
The Sedins were up to their old tricks again with a beautiful feed from Alex Burrows to Henrik to Daniel, and once again the twins weren't afraid to mix it up in the scrums. The new-found swagger, I think, has given them confidence and propelled Henrik to the top of the Art Ross race. The Canucks played a confident game all night despite being heavily outshot (quality over quantity, I say) and it has translated over to the penalty box, where in a hilarious sequence the gatekeeper told Rene Bourque (I believe it was him, serving Mark Giordano's penalty, although I could be wrong) to scoot down the bench so he had some place to sit. Bourque proceeded him to give him a little stare while the gatekeeper continued to ignore him.
Jarome Iginla was 1-1 against Henrik tonight in the circle and 1-2 overall, but it might as well be 0-2 because neither Shane Heyer nor Brian Murphy could agree on the proper way to drop the puck, something which has drawn the ire of many players and the league had set a standard for the proper technique before the season. Here's an idea: never mind if the player is ready or not - just drop the puck and if one player doesn't have his stick down, well, too bad. I understand that the linesmen are trying to make the face-off fair at a crucial moment in a crucial game, but c'mon, these are pros and if they don't pay attention then make them pay for it.
Mikael Samuelsson had a chance to end the game in overtime but missed the net, something that Detroit fans knew all too well about. Other than that miss he had a great game and really showed some great stickhandling and passing. Willie Mitchell also had a big lane to fire his slapper through, but it wasn't a particularly good shot (it kinda fluttered) and it was one of the few instances in which his extra long stick has a drawback. You can bet that the Canucks missed having Sami Salo at the point. In the shootout Kesler's post was the ultimate decider of the game because both goalies were beat three times each. What a call by Brent Sutter though, to use Jamie Lundmark as his last shooter. He played a heck of a game and Roberto Luongo's unfamiliarity with him must've made an impact.
It was a hard-fought and great game overall but it's tough to lose in a shootout like that. Until we meet again, Flamers (March 14).