One week and one day before the election vote, Ryan Kesler proved to be a bit of a politician.
That is, he fed Canadians a big, fat, um ... half-truth.
During his second intermission interview with Hockey Night in Canada’s Scott Oake, the exceptional Vancouver Canucks centre promised his team would make up for a gaffe by rookie goalie Cory Schneider that allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to tie the score at 2-2.
“We’re definitely going to get that one back,” said Kesler, before taking it one step too far. “And we’re going to win this hockey game.”
The Canucks did score one early in the third, but as far as calling shots goes, Kesler is no Mark Messier, Babe Ruth or Owen Nolan.
The Hawks took the contest on a Ben Smith overtime goal and now take the series back to B.C. for a seventh and deciding game.
Suddenly, there’s a very real possibility Canada could be without a team in the playoffs after Tuesday night, should the Bruins eliminate the Habs in Game 6 of their series and the Canucks lose a fourth in a row to the Hawks.
Given that the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular season team - and they were a popular pick to win the Stanley Cup - they would wrestle away from the 2009-10 Boston Bruins the title of Biggest Chokers Ever by bowing to Chicago again Tuesday.
Meanwhile, coach Alain Vigneault did himself no favors with his goaltending choice for Game 6. With star netminder Roberto Luongo having stopped just 30 of 40 shots in the previous two tilts, Vigneault turned to Schneider. Now, Schneider was playing fine until he coughed up the puck behind the net, leading to David Bolland’s late goal in the second.
“(Schneider’s) been battling all year, good for him,” Kesler told Oake. “He got his shot and he’s going to run with it.”
The Kesler Hex strikes again. Schneider’s run, of course, would last just another two and a half minutes, as he suffered some sort of lower body injury when falling in his attempt to stop a Michael Frolik penalty shot.
So for Game 7, Vigneault’s is left to go back to Luongo, whose confidence had to be skaken vigorously when, on such an important night, he was benched in favour of a rookie. It couldn’t have improved any later. On the Smith goal, “Loo” flopped like a fish out of water.
How bad does it look for the Canucks? It’s doubtful even Kesler would guarantee victory for them now.
STARTS AND STOPS: Has there been sweeter revenge than the David Bolland demolition of Dan Hamhuis, a big, clean hit that led to Chicago’s first goal? ... Since Bolland has returned to the lineup, the Hawks have won three straight, he has five points and a plus-6 rating - and the Sedin twins have one point and a are a combined minus-13 ... Glenn Healy, speaking of the Sedin twins: “They’re the only two Swedish people I know who don’t kill penalties.” They need to do something ... Ever since the league clamp-down on head shots began, there’s been more head shots than ever. How’s Kevin Bieska this morning? ... Before these playoffs, Smith played six NHL games and had one goal. In these playoffs, he has played six games and has three goals - including the biggest of the season for the Hawks.
THINGS I THINK I THUNK:
Tyler Ennis would have scored 50 had he been shooting on Brian Boucher all season. Deflected or not, an NHL goalie makes that save ... Leino, in Finnish, means “best kept secret” ... Did anybody pick the Tasmanian Devil that is Jordin Tootoo in their playoff pool? He’s got four points already, or almost a quarter of his regular season total ... Best save of the first round of the NHL playoffs now belongs to Ray Emery. Who would have predicted that a month and a half ago? ... They seem to play better tunes (Jennifer Lopez) during play stoppages in Nashville. Then, it’s not called Music City for nothing ... “The Philadelphia Flyers are like a vampire,” said TSN’s Bob McKenzie. “You have to put a stake through their heart.”
-“Clarke and Gare”. The picks of EJHradek_ESPN to score the winning goal om Flyers-Sabres OT.
-”Is ‘huge stones’ trending yet?” #Vigneaultsdecision - CBC’s Jeff Marek
-”Sami Salo may be hurt? In related news water is wet and the sky is blue.” - Sun Media’s Eric Francis
-”Nice blank, Marek.” - Marek, chirping himself for forgetting Jacques Martin’s name during the second intermission.
Over the weekend, both Nathan Horton and Peter Laviolette spoke about “greasy” goals. That has nothing to do with but still reminded us of Luongo, who prefers the hairstyle that would qualify him as a greasy goalie ... Do the Flyers figure out a way to get either of free agents Tomas Vokun or Ilya Bryzgalov onto their roster over the summer, or do they stick with the organizational plan of building a very strong lineup while going with a wing and a prayer at the most important position?