Thought #2: A defence of two tales
The defence had its moments, to say the least. You can’t blame the defence much for either one of the goals that it allowed (read on, I am not leaving them off the hook). On a night Alex Edler played over 25 minutes, the Canucks defence only allowed 19 shots on net and blocked eight shots. Half of those blocks were off of rookie Ben Hutton‘s body.
That being said, it was not the rookie’s night. In fact, it was not any rookies’ night.
Jake Virtanen took a puck to his face in yesterday’s morning practice after Hansen’s shot clanked off the post. Scary moments after what happened to Dan Hamhuis. But a post to the head? I was secretly hoping that he would pull a Hansen — coming back to play overtime hero.
Back to the defence, Hutton and Matt Bartkowski had a rough outing. They were exposed in their own defensive end and each took a minor penalty. The Predators were strong skaters, but Hutton was beaten on multiple occasions. He is lucky that the NHL tallied only one giveaway against him.
Hutton’s worst moment came on the opening Predators goal. He was on the wrong side of Craig Smith. He should have been in front of him and to the right of Miller so that he could tie up Smith’s stick. He sure looked rookie tonight — not too many days have we said that for Hutton.
Bartkowski’s night was even worse.
The sequence leading to his tripping minor was ridiculous. He let Filip Forsberg close in on him to the side of Ryan Miller’s net. He simply stopped working. He gave the puck to Forsberg. Then he put his stick on Forsberg’s skates. He gave the Predators a power play, the second of the night. The first looked dangerous, and Bartkowski should have known better.
But there was good. Enter Luca Sbisa.
Luca Sbisa? Good? Yes. I kid you not. Sbisa recorded two hits, one being this solid check on Eric Nystrom.
See. The good thing about Sbisa is that because he doesn’t play with the puck and he knows himself, he plays the body. Simple. Same outcome at the end of the day. His teammate will fly by and take the puck to Sbisa’s relief.
Sbisa also recorded two shots. He might be the only Canuck defenceman who does a full wind-up for his slappers these days.
Next: Thought #3: Penalties and Referees