As a Canucks fan, it is thoroughly disorienting to cheer for the best team in the league. Cheering for the Canucks and cheering for the #1 team in the NHL is like serving both God and Mammon. It creates a kind of cognitive dissonance. Take tonight for example: the Western Conference is extremely tight. A mere 5 points separate 4th place Nashville from 12th place Calgary. In this atmosphere, a 6-0 shellacking of a team in playoff contention would be greeted by giddiness and glorifying of various hockey gods for bestowing such good fortune upon the Canucks. Instead, the Canucks are so far ahead of the pack (a whopping 7 points up on 2nd place Detroit), that this solid victory is treated with placidity and calm: the Canucks won. I was entertained. I am pleased. I watched this game.
Given the plethora of goals scored by the Canucks tonight, it seems fitting to, perhaps, mention them one by one so that we may revel in them. But first I shall point out an astonishing fact: the Canucks scored 6 goals tonight. Henrik Sedin had zero points. Daniel Sedin had 1 assist and now has 5 points more than his brother. Also an astonishing fact: the regal horned lizard shoots blood out of its eyes to defend itself from, incidentally, coyotes. Is this the blood that Daniel Sedin is out for?
Alex Burrows scored the opening goal of the game, giving him a 4-game goal-scoring streak. Just like his goal last game against the Stars, this adequately demonstrated the Fourth Law of Sedinery: if the opposing team has a chance to clear the puck out of the defensive zone and instead gives the puck away to the Sedins, a Canuck goal is a foregone conclusion. It’s a classic Burrows maneuver: head to the front of the net, get as close as humanly possible to the goalie, and look for the tip. The distance between his buttocks and Byzgalov’s chest was approximately the width of a hadron.
The second goal was scored by Jannik Hansen off a Lee Sweatt-created rebound. Sweatt looked significantly more comfortable on the ice tonight, getting good body position in puck battles and blocking 4 shots. His jump up into the rush on Hansen’s goal was a well-timed piece of offensive defensivity. Of note, Hansen came directly off the bench to score the goal, with none of his linemates having yet made the change. Thus, Malhotra and Torres were the only Canucks to finish without a plus in their +/- column and both were largely invisible tonight.
Incidentally, the sports bar Harrison and I went to tonight gave us hockey pucks with the numbers of Canucks on them. If they scored a goal, free booze. I got lucky number 36, so Jannik Hansen scored me a beer. If I ever get the chance, I’ll have to buy him one. I’d start a hashtag, but #LetMeBuyYouABeerHansen just doesn’t roll off the tongue. It’s also vaguely creepifying.
Cody Hodgson looked NHL-ready tonight. Yes, he scored his first NHL goal (seen above) with a nifty combination of puck strength, patience, and precision, but he also showed poise in the defensive zone, aggressiveness on the forecheck, and occasional surprising bursts of speed. Combine that with a respectable 4-for-7 night on faceoffs and one might be inclined to keep him on the roster for a few more games. Hopefully that one is Mike Gillis. He’s actually the one who decides that.
Seriously, though. What a fantastic goal. Ryan Kesler’s first of his two goals, however, was even prettier. He dragged it around Adrian Aucoin like he wasn’t even there. I was surprised Aucoin was. Quite frankly, I was surprised to be reminded he existed. Adrian Aucoin is still playing in the NHL? Wasn’t he on a defensive pairing with Colin Campbell? How old is this guy?
Mason Raymond played well and scored the fifth goal of the game on the kind of simple play he needs to make more often: he uses his speed to force all-star Keith Yandle into a rash decision then heads straight for the net, turning and getting in the perfect position to chip in the Samuelsson pass. After breaking out of a 9-game scoring slump with 2 points on January 24th, he cut short a new scoring slump by scoring another 2 points only 3 games later. Raymond, along with Kesler and Hamhuis, finished a game-high +4. That’s more pluses than Pepsi Lime (only +3 to Will? Lame).
And to cap things off, Kesler upped his goal total for the year to 30, marking the first 30-goal season of his career. This time he did all the work himself, picking a pocket, drawing a penalty, and sniping a corner. He seemed angry rather than celebratory after both his goals tonight and this post-game quote may shed some light: “I was kinda pissed about a couple things on the ice…I don’t want to get fined so I don’t want to say anything.” It’s a tribute to Kesler’s growing maturity that he turned this anger into beautiful goals rather than post-whistle scrums.
Luongo seemed incredibly pumped to see his shutout survive a last-minute powerplay for the Coyotes. Meanwhile, Tanner Glass was likely sweating in the penalty box desperately hoping that Luongo wouldn’t have him kneecapped if Phoenix scored. I’m guessing he was almost as nervous as he is about his upcoming scrabble battle. How do you spell relief? Seriously, make sure you know. I before E. Harrison loves to challenge.
I like Chris Tanev. Let’s keep him.
It may have just been the lackluster quality of the televisions at the sports bar, but the coyote at center ice seemed quite jaundiced. He should see a veterinarian about that.
The Green Men revealed in our interview with the duo back in December that they would be taking their act on the road. Sure enough, they showed up right next to the penalty box in Phoenix; unfortunately, there were only 3 penalties and only one of them against the Coyotes. It didn’t give them much of an opportunity to put on a show.
And finally, the fans who showed up in Canucks jerseys with the sign saying “We’re actually Coyotes fans. We just dressed this way to fit in” are my new favorite people.
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