-Craig Adams is expected to tie Ron Schock's record for consecutive games played tonight. Adams has been in the lineup for 312 games. Tonight that number will reach 313 and Saturday, it's expected to hit 314.
-Adams has become a lightning rod for criticism over the past calendar year and justly so. His play as well as the rest of the bottom six forwards was ... frankly... poor. He had some of the worst possession numbers of any forward in the NHL last season. Yet, he was in the lineup for all 82 games.
-Seen as a personal favorite of former head coach Dan Bylsma, it was assumed by many Adams would be jettisoned by new management. Adams had a bullseye on his back in training camp as the team brought in several viable options to compete bottom-six roles. With a new set of eyes looking at him as far as the coaching staff goes, Adams kept his job and has been in the lineup for all 24 games of the season.
-Assistant coach Gary Agnew has sung praises of Adams for his work on the penalty kill. Head coach Mike Johnston spoken of the respect of Adams. Was Adams a personal favorite of Bylsma and his assistants? Without doubt. But the current coaching staff of Johnston, Agnew and Rick Tocchet, which has no prior connection to Adams, has reached the same conclusion as its predecessor. Adams is among the 18 most qualified forwards available to them for the lineup on virtually every night of the season.
-Are there better fourth-liners in the NHL? Absolutely. If we had a fantasy draft, we would take any member of the Islanders' fourth line - Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck - ahead of Adams. But this isn't a fantasy league. With the players the Penguins have available to them at the moment, Adams undoubtedly has a place in this lineup.
-"Available" is a very important word. That's where a lot of Adams' value is. He's available because he's healthy. On a team which saw over 500 man games lost to injury last season, the Penguins didn't have many options available to them last season with the bottom six forwards. If you want to fault former general manager Ray Shero for not stocking the organizational depth chart with enough options for those bottom-six roles, that's fair if not outright accurate. But if nothing else, Adams finds ways to stay healthy despite playing a pretty hard, physical style.
-That's not an accident either. There isn't a player on the roster who takes better care of his body than Adams. He realizes he's not talented enough to get by on skill or knowledge of the game, especially at the age of 37.
-Adams is pretty intelligent about the game as well. All the jokes and stereotypes about being a Harvard man noted, he knows the game really well. He can deconstruct something simple like a faceoff for a clueless blogger and reveal a lot of details within the details. His intelligence has been a big reasons he's gotten this far.
-We talked to Schock earlier this week about the record and he was emphatic in hoping Adams can play 700 games. Adams will be lucky if he gets the record close to 400. Regardless, Schock had a pretty good perspective about the matter. He's proud of the record but is definitely not heartbroken over seeing it being broken.
-Schock was a pretty cool person to talk too. Despite approaching his 71st birthday, he still works as a landscaper. He said he likes the work because it keeps him trim.
-The best part of interviewing him was his insistence on not being called Mr. Schock. He wanted "Ron" because "Mr. Schock makes me feel old."
-We wonder if it was harder to put together a streak like that in the 70s or in the 2010s. In the 1970s, there were 12, 14, 16 teams as expansion kept adding franchise. There were far fewer NHL jobs back then. Additionally, the training methods and nutrutioun methods were prehistoric by today's standards. Players drank Coca-Cola after practices and beer after games. Today, they drink coconut water and protein shakes.
-That said, today's game is far more physical. Players are bigger and faster. While the game is far more violent in terms of fighting in the 1970s, the game today is far more violent in the respect that players hit and skate faster and harder. The players have gotten bigger while the rink has stayed the same for the most part.
-The fact that the record has been in place for nearly 40 years is staggering. There aren't many records in the Penguins media guide which predate Mario Lemieux's arrival.
-Radim Vrbata has found a new home with the Canucks. A 30-goal scorer with Arizona, he never quite had the same level of success with any other NHL team as he found with the Coyotes. He bounced around with the Hurricanes, Avalanche and Blackhawks before joining the Coyotes and putting out a 27-goal effort in 2007-08. A hot commodity on the free agent market in 2008, he joined the Lightning and struggled so badly, he was traded back to the Coyotes midway through 2008-09. He scored 20 or more goals in three of the next four full NHL season and seemed to be set with that team. Leaving as a free agent this past summer was seen as a risk to his personal success but he chose a pretty good destination in Vancouver playing on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. So far this season, Vrbata is his team's leading goal scorer with 11 goals in 23 games. The chemistry he has with the Sedins is quite evident when you watch some of his highlights:
-The Sedins just keep finding ways to mesh with any sort of winger they work with. From Anson Carter to Alexandre Burrows to Radim Vrbata, they just seem to work well with anyone.
-Fans entering the barn:
-A pair of No. 25s. Maxime Talbot:
-And Eric Tangradi:
-There are quite a few Canucks fans here. Alex Burrows:
-Bure Team Russia:
-The man who won gold in Vancouver in 2010, Sidney Crosby:
-British Columbia native Mark Recchi:
-The current No. 27, Adams:
-Jersey of the Night: The lettering and numbering font is off, but this is an amazing Richard Brodeur jersey:
-One of our favorite YouTube clips is of Islanders legend Mike Bossy scoring an overtime goal against Brodeur and the Canucks in Game 1 of the 1982 Stanley Cup final. Walking back to the dressing room, a camera man got in too tight on Brodeur who reacted by smacking him with his glove hand:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta and Thomas Greiss.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Kunitz and Scott Wilson.
-The Canucks' starters are Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Kevin Bieksa, Luca Sbisa and Eddie Lack.
-Their scratches are Frank Corrado and Niklas Jensen.
-Jimerson handles his business:
19:43: Early on, the Canucks nearly give up a goal. Sbisa loses a puck in his own left circle with Hornqvist hounding him. Hornqvist is right there and swipes it on net. Lack eats it up. Sbisa owes Lack a beer.
18:30: Simon Despres thumped Bo Horvat off the puck behind the Penguins' net with a solid check.
15:54: Brian Dumoulin chops a slapper from the right point. It his a body in front.
14:11; Vrbata flings a wrister from a bad angle on the left wing. Greiss holds it out.
12:40: Adams has a chance in the right circle circle but strikes a shot wide of the cage.
12:09: Adams whacks another one-timer from the left circle wide of the cage.
11:27: The Canucks strike first. Olli Maatta is hounded into a turnover in the right wing corner. By a forechecking Shawn Matthias. Matthias moves the puck to the left wing corner and backhands to Brad Richardson in the left circle. Richardson is able to whack a one-timer behind Greiss. Matthias gets the only assists. Put that one on Maatta. Canucks 1-0.
10:51: Off a turnover by the Canucks at the own blue line, Jayson Megna chucks a wrister from the right wing. Lack fights it off.
10:24: Malkin and Christopher Higgins are each smarting a bit on their respective benches after an accidental collision in the Vancouver slot.
8:49: Malkin slides a backhander from the high slot. It hits off the stick of Henrik Sedin and hops on net. Lack gloves it.
8:24: Trying to coral a puck a puck at the Vancouver blue line in front of the Vancouver bench, Malkin puts a reverse hit on Alexander Edler and drops him. Edler responds by slashing Malkin and breaking his own stick. That's an easy two minutes. Hornqvist, Crosby, Ehrhoff, Malkin and Sutter take the ice.
7:55: Off a feed from Ehrhoff, Malkin whacks a one-timer from the left circle. Lack makes the save but allows a rebound to the right of the cage. Crosby is there and flings it off the far post and it deflects away. Yeesh.
7:10: Maatta wires a slapper from the left circle. Lack eats it up despite a screen..
6:31: Racing for a puck behind the Vancouver net, Comeau plant Tanev into the end boards and drops him. It wasn't particularly violent hit but it was definitely illegal. Stanton, Tanev's partner, tries to fight him. Comeau doesn't take him up. Downie grabs Stanton but nothing happens.
6:18: Edler rips a wrister from above the right circle. Griess kicks it out. The Penguins' power play has come to an end. Play is halted. Comeau is sent off for boarding. Two minutes. Sutter, Adams, Ehrhoff and Rob Scuderi take the ice.
5:54: Vrbata has a chance to the left of the cage but can't get a shot behind a kneeling Ehrhoff.
5:20: Daniel Sedin wires a slapper from the left circle. Greiss eats it up.
5:02: Huge save. Off a feed from Marcel Goc, Sutter races up the right wing and attacks the net on a short-handed breakaway. He grips and rips a wrister from the right circle. Lack swats it away with his glove.
4:33: Nick Bonino tries to deal a cross-ice feed from the right of the cage to Burrows in the left circle. Burrows has an open look at the net but Despres leans back and breaks up the pass with his stick. Huge defensive play.
3:39: Crosby push the puck up the right wing, fends off a diving Matthias and flings a backhander on net. Lack deflects it out of play.
3:18: Off a cross-ice feed from Crosby, Spaling pounds a slapper from the left circle. Lack kicks it out.
2:42: Matthias flings a wrister from the left circe wide on the near side.
2:18: A wrister by Kevin Bieksa is blocked by Ehrhoff.
0:16: Vrbata rips a loose puck from the left circle on net.
0:04: Linden Vey booms a one-timer form the right circle. Griess kicks out a rebound to Sbisa in the right circle. Sbisa booms it back on net. Greiss kicks it out. Richardson has few chances at the rebound but can't beat Greiss. Huge saves.
0:00: End of period. Canucks 1, Penguins 0.
-There was a pretty stale first seven or eight minutes to that period. After Richardson's goal, each team exchanged some offensive chances.
-That was the first we've seen of the Sutter-Ehrhoff-Malkin-Crosby-Hornqvist power play unit. It looked okay. They kept things simple.
-The Canucks have a 10-8 lead in shots on net.
-The Canucks lead in attempted shots 22-16.
-Vrbata leads the game with four shots.
-None of the Penguins has more than one shot.
-Bieksa leads the game with 9:00 of ice time.
-Ehrhoff leads the Penguins with 8:35 of ice time.
-The Canucks lead in faceoffs, 10-5 (67 percent).
-Henrik Sedin is 3 for 4 (75 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 8 (33 percent).
-Ehrhoff leads the game with two blocked shots.
18:53: Paul Martin corrals a puck at the blue line and chucks in on net. It get deflected wide and hits off the end boards. Lack smother the rebound. Megna and Bieksa spar a little bit after the fact and a scrum develops behind the cage. Nothing comes of it.
18:16: Off a feed from Vey, Matthias has a nice chance in the slot but Greiss boots it out.
15:55: Higgins chucks a wrister from a deep angle on the right wing. Greiss eats it up.
15:02; Another power play for the Canucks. Downie is called for delay of game after he puts a puck out of his own zone. Spaling, Sutter, Scuderi and Martin takes the ice.
14:03; A wrister by Burrows is denied by Greiss.
13:42: A wrister by Vrbata from the left circle is blocked and cleared by the Penguins.
13:02: Downie's minor is killed. The Penguins really snuffed out the Canucks during that two minutes.
12:27: A wrister by Jannik Hansen from the right circle is blocked out of play by Scuderi.
11:53: Settling a loose puck in the high slot, Burrows pumps a wrister on net. Greiss snags it.
10:13: Megna hustles up the right wing and gets tripped up by Edler. No call.
9:30: The Penguins have switched up their top two lines a bit. Comeau is on the first line while Spaling is on the second line.
9:21: Higgins rips a wrister from the right wing. Greiss gets a piece of it.
8:32: Hornqvist pushes a puck through the neutral zone and is PLANTED hard to the ice by Stanton in front of the Penguins' bench. Hornqvist goes down hard. He recovers to his skates and makes his way to the bench under distress. He appears to be favoring his left shoulder. Stanton almost seemed to hit him helmet on helmet too. No call.
8:26: The Canucks cash in quickly. Despres tries to corral a puck behind his own net but fumbles as Richardson applies pressure. Richards is able to move a puck to Matthias above the blue pain and and Matthias punches it in. Fans boo. Downie protests to the hit on Hornqvist but to no avail. Richardson and Weber get assists. Canucks 2-0.
8:01: Off an offensive zone faceoff win in the Canucks' left circle, Martin chucks a wrister from the center point. Lack gets a piece of it. Sutter has a look at the rebound but cant' get a clean shot off.
7:23: Off a feed from Comeau, Scuderi chops a one-timer which Lack boots out.
7:00: Comeau breaks his stick on a one-time attpe at the blue line. Horvat tries to take advantage of the situation and push the puck pas Comeau to create a breakaway from the Vancouver blue line in. Comeau takes matters into his own hands and power bombs Hovat to the ice. What a hit!
6:54: Plays halted int the Penguins' offensive zone after the Canucks are nabbed for too many men. Vrbata will serve the minor. Ehrhoff, Crosby, Malkin, Sutter and Donwie take the ice.
6:06: Ugh... what in the world. Greiss tries to play a puck from behind his own net and it just gets ugly from there. Hansen chases after him and force him to turn over the puck. Hanson turns and deals a pass to Richardson aboe the crease and he plunks in the easy goal. It didn't look like anyone skated back to support Greiss. The Penguins call time out to get organized. Hansen gets the only assists. Ugggleeee. Canucks 3-0,
3:51: Edler chops a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.
2:43: Adams pushes the puck up the left wing and chucks a wrister on net from the left point. Lack eats it up.
2:13: Bieksa strokes a slapper from the right point. Megna blocks it.
0:36: Despres gets aggressive and pushes the puck up the left wing and rips a low wrister on net. Lack kicks it out.
0:10: A slapper by Maatt from the right point is blocked out of play by Maatta who is now skating with Scuderi.
0:00: End of period. Canucks 3, Penguins 0.
-First, there is no update on Hornqvist. He did not return to the game after being slammed by Stanton.
-To this point, this game has come down to mistakes. The Penguins made three bad mistakes and the Canucks have cashed them in.
-The Penguins' depth is really being tested. For Pete's sake, Steve Downie is on the varsity power play.
-The Canucks have a 22-13 lead in shots on net.
-Richardson and Vrbata each lead the game with four shots.
-Adams leads the Penguins with two shots.
-Bieksa leads the game with 15:46 of ice time.
-Ehrhoff leads the Penguins with 15:21 of ice time.
-The Canucks have an 18-16 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Bonino is 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Sutter is 4 for 10 (40 percent).
-Ehrhoff leads the game with three shots.
-None of the Canucks has more than one blocked shot.
20:00: Hornqvist is not on the bench or the ice to start the third period.
19:25: Off an offensive zone turnover by Edler, Spaling has a chance in tight but can't beat Lack with a backhander.
18:49: Despres whacks a one-timer from the right point. It gets blocked.
18:27: Horvat tries to jam in a puck in tight but Greiss holds it out.
17:59: Martin makes a nice move at the right point and rips a wrister wide on the near side. It hits off the end boards. Sutter tries to jam it in with a forehand shot but can't beat Lack's right skate.
17:18: Edler air mails a shot from the neutral zone. Greiss holds it out.
16:23: Burrows lifts a wrister from the left wing. Greiss fights it off.
16:10: Dumoulin has a nice battle with Burrows to the right of the cage and shoves him to the ice.
15:42: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Bieksa chucks a wrister from the right point. Greiss fight sit off.
15:22: Off an offensive zone steal, Goc flings a wrister from the right wing which Lack kicks out.
13:58: Crosby pokes a puck by Tanev on the left wing and tries to attack the net on his backhand. Lack holds it out. Downie and Edler get tangled up after the fact and nearly fight before an official steps in and breaks it up. Edler and Downie are sent off for roughing. We'll see four on four play for two minutes.
13:27: Robbery. Spaling pushes the puck up the left wing and feeds it to Sutter in the slot. Sutter tapsit on net and is robbed by Lack.
12:18: Malkin lugs the puck up ice from his own zone, attacks the Vancouver zone, gets a step on Tanev and lifts a backhander from the right circle. Lack fights it off.
11:31: Megna chips and chases a puck up the right wing, gets past Edler and rips a low wrister on net. Lack says no.
11:15: Horvat and Hansen each get chances in tight. Greiss kicks denies them.
9:38: Ehrhoff pinches in on a loose puck int he slot and chops at it. It gets blocked.
8:54: Ehrhoff has another chance in tight but can't get a clean shot off.
8:46: Off a backhand pass by Crosby from the left corner, Maatta cranks a one-timer from the right point wide to the far side.
6:44: Megna tries to jam in a puck from behind the cage. Lack says no.
6:15: Maatta pounds a slapper from the left point. Lack fights it off as Edler horse collars Crosby to the ice to the left of the crease. That's two minutes for holding. Crosby, Malkin, Downie, Ehrhoff and Sutter take the ice.
4:49: Martin chucks a wrister from the left circle wide of the cage.
4:10: As the Edler minor expires, Megna races up the right wing and snaps off a wrister which Lack eats up.
1:58: After a few stagnant minutes, Blake Comeau weaves his way into the offensive zone and chucks a wrister on net from the right wing. Lack eats it up.
0:41: A wrister by Ebbett from the high slot is blocked.
0:00: End of game. Canucks 3, Penguins 0.
-First things first. There was no update on Patric Hornqvist's status.
-That... that wasn't very good.
-How bad was it for the Penguins? Even one of their ice crew members took a tumble while cleaning the ice tonight. They were flat-out horrendous tonight on all levels.
-Injuries were a major culprit. When Jayson Megna, Blake Comeau and Nick Spaling are in the top six forwards and THEN Hornqvist leaves the game, there's only so much a team can do, especially against a skilled opponent like the Canucks.
-The most mindless cliche in sports is "Injuries aren't an excuse." They aren't. They're a reason. When you're missing two three top-six forwards (Hornqvist, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz), a third-line winger (Beau Bennett), a Norris Trophy-candidate (Kris Letang) and a steady No. 6 defenseman (Robert Bortuzzo) injuries are a reason for terrible games like this.
-Apologies to any Scott Wilson fans out there in forgetting him.
-The other part of this was execution and effort. The Penguins had little of either. The execution is understandable given the injuries and suspension. The effort is inexcusable. That's not our observation. That's Comeau who ripped the team's effort after the game. Check out the Post-Gazette's game story when it goes on line at midnight. He was pretty harsh.
-Sidney Crosby had another pretty stale game. He definitely got some scoring chances but he couldn't' bury them. He had on open net on a rebound in the first period and put it off the opposite post. And he also had a breakaway in the second period but was denied by Eddie Lack. Regardless, he needs to offer more.
-Crosby was asked about that missed goal and his lack of scoring lately:
“I had an open net. You get that usually. I'd love to get more chances. I'm not to worried about not scoring. Eventually the puck goes in but we need to get more chances for sure.”
-The Penguins' vaunted power play has been neutered with the injuries to Letang, Kunitz and Hornqvist. Steve Downie was a regular on the first power play for heaven's sake.
-Craig Adams led the team in shots on net. Craig Adams.
-No. Seriously. Look:
-Posting that photo feels like posting a photo of a hostage holding up that day's newspaper.
-Turnover killed the Penguins. All three Vancouver goals came off turnovers behind the net.
-The ugliest of them was when Thomas Greiss lost a puck to Jannik Hansen who fed Brad Richardson for a goal. Greiss took full blame for the goal:
On the third goal:
"I was over-thinking it and wanted to hold onto it. He [Jannik Hansen] came in fast and just took the puck from me."
Was there a miscommunication with a teammate on who was supposed to come back and retrieve the puck?
"Most of the times, those guys just swing away and I just put it up the boards. I just made a bad read and that was pretty much it. "
-Olli Maatta had another rough game. A turnover by him led directly to the game's first goal by Richardson. It might be insensitive to point this out, but he has not been nearly as effective of a player since returning from neck surgery as he was before. We're not sure if anything from his illness is attributable to his current state of play, but it's pretty apparent he has not had the same level of success.
-This game wasn't without any small successes for the Penguins. Jayson Megna had another nice game on the second line. He created a few things with his speed flying up and down the wing. The only problem is the puck coming off his stick is only so dangerous at the NHL level.
-Christian Ehrhoff didn't play a perfect game but he stepped up and logged some major minutes in virtually every situation. He looked like a No. 1 defenseman most of the night.
-Brian Dumoulin made his season debut by recording 15:08 of ice time on 22 shifts and blocking one shot. He also had one nice physical battle with net-front terror Alex Burrows which results in Burrows falling to the ice in the third period. Dumoulin looked pretty smooth with defensive partner Paul Martin.
-Marcel Goc was okay in his first game back after recovering from a foot injury. He had 11:35 of ice time on 15 shifts.
-It was kind of forced after Hornqvist left the game, but Steve Downie got some time on the top line tonight. Given his success as a first-liner with the Lightning a few years back, we wonder why he hasn't gotten more of a look in that role in recent weeks given the injuries.
-If the Penguins' depth let them down, the Canucks' depth led them to a victory. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Radim Vrbata didn't really have much of an impact on this game but their bottom-six forwards did. All three of their goals from Richardson and Shawn Matthias came from role players.
-It would be a stretch to say Eddie Lack was tested that much but he was strong. He did more than enough to get this shutout.
-We never read anything into scouts being at a game. But there were 18 of them at Consol Energy Center tonight.
-The Canucks led in shots on net, 31-21.
-The Canucks led in attempted shots, 54-42.
-Radim Vrbata led the game with five shots.
-Adams led the Penguins with four.
-Ehrhoff led the game with 23:32 of ice time.
-Bieksa led the Canucks with 23:14.
-The Canucks led in faceoffs, 29-21 (58 percent).
-Henrik Sedin was 9 for 13 (69 percent).
-Goc was 5 for 8 (63 percent).
-Christopher Tanev and Ehrhoff each led the Canucks with three blocked shots.
-Lack recorded the Canucks' first shutout of the Penguins since they had a 5-0 win, Feb. 17, 1988. Kirk McLean made 27 saves. Sidney Crosby was seven months old.
-That was the 181st shutout of the Penguins in franchise history.
-Adams tied Ron Schock's franchise mark for consecutive games played at 313.
-A Penguins loss + and an Islanders win = a new leader in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division:
-Highlights (so to speak):