Not sure why, but the Canadiens started this game like they had embarrassed themselves on national television in their previous outing. Frankly, they skated like it was their first time on indoor ice in days, shooting like they hadn’t scored a goal in over sixty minutes, and playing like above zero temperatures were suddenly new to them. Spurred by a novel appreciation for insideness, they jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back. The Canucks, meanwhile, drifted for the first ten minutes, spoiled by their indoor malaise. I say this malaise cost us the game. Also, we scored fewer goals. I watched this game:
To be perfectly honest, I hated this game. Not just because of the Canucks, mind you, but because the Canadiens play ugly hockey. Ogre ugly. They even employ an ogre. Have you seen James Wisniewksi these days? After taking advantage of a flat-footed Canucks team early, they spent the evening defending their lead by collapsing in front of Carey Price like the 1929 stock market, and clogging up the neutral zone like a big ball of hair in the J-trap. It was unattractive hockey.
Speaking of hate, Harrison would like everyone to know that he hates P.K. Subban. He claims he’s allowed to, because they’re both black. That said, I thought I heard him say something about the white way, but it turns out he was saying the white whale (he’s in Darren Pang’s book club). I’m actually a Subban fan. He’s a jerk, sure, but no moreso than Kesler or Burrows. He’s a pain in the posterior to play against and is unapologetic about being young and talented. Nothing wrong with that.
Tonight’s big story? Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg were in the audience tonight. I’d be upset about this if I were Nick Frost. Cruise is a much better-looking running mate, and considering his career-trajectory, he might soon be reduced to playing sidekicks. Anyway, considering Cruise and Pegg are from the United States and United Kingdom, respectively, I assume they spent the majority of the game wondering where the ball was. And fending off thetans. Couch jump.
One of Ryan Kesler’s most underrated skills is his overall opaqueness. He used this ability to great effect tonight, proving to Carey Price that it is impossible to see an incoming puck through a body. Not even with X-Ray Specs. You would need military-grade x-ray glasses, and the Canadiens just don’t have access to that kind of hardware. Come to think of it, that’s about the only kind of hardware they don’t have a tonne of. That’s a french ton, for those who don’t know.
Kesler was also a beast in the faceoff circle tonight. He went 13-for-13 in the defensive zone, 4-for-5 in the neutral zone, and 8-for-11 in the offensive zone. That’s 25-for-29 overall. I say again: he took 29 faceoffs. He lost four. But those four cost them the game. Trade him for money.
The Canucks Scrabble challenge (in which Harrison will be competing tomorrow) was enough of a big deal to get mentioned twice. It was sort of neat. That said, just to establish, Shorty’s proposed Scrabble technique of spelling the word “THE” to block triple word scores is not recommended, and doesn’t really make sense. I really can’t think of a single scenario where spelling the word “THE” to block a triple-word score–without actually using the triple-word–score would work. That said, Shorty’s Scrabble knowledge definitely tops Garrett, who only seemed to know that A had a low-point value.
Between his poor puck management, and his incessant urges to go wide and try wrap-arounds, it’s a wonder Mason Raymond remains an NHL second-liner. He should try managing a truck stop diner, where the turnovers, wraps, and poor management are expected.
Keith Ballard and Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis both played tonight, but neither was really back, if you know what I mean. They weren’t at 100%. For example, Dan Hamhuis only built one Venezuelanorphanage during the game.
Christian Ehrhoff played 28:35 tonight, which is more than he played in the games Hamhuis and Ballard missed. That’s too much icetime for the Hoff, who doesn’t play a steady enough game to be on the ice for half of it. Without Alex Edler, he’s a bit manic and overzealous. In the last ten minutes of the game (when he didn’t seem to leave the ice), Ehrhoff rushed the puck well, but tried to force play after play, and often wound up getting turned back or flummoxing his forwards. A steadying presence like Edler’s would have helped greatly. One might say that Christian Ehrhoff misses Alex Edler like Raffi Torres misses the net. That is to say, constantly.
Actually, I’m going to the Canucks superskills on Sunday, and I’m hoping Torres competes in the shooting accuracy competition. More than that, I hope he wins, just to increase his already astronomical ability to boggle. Think he plays Boggle? Should this be our next challenge? #BoggleMeRaffi
The Canucks evidently got 39 shots-on-net, with the Canadiens blocking another 22. The number of quality scoring chances, on the other hand, was significantly lower, and this is the third or fourth game in a row where this has been the case. During this stretch, with the defensive injuries, the Canucks’ shot totals have actually gone up, but the overall quality of their offense has gone down. One example would be the very common occurrence of the Sedins parking behind the net. Typically, they make something happen from back there, but half of the threat is predicated on the defensemen being viable passing options. They really weren’t tonight. Instead, you had long stretches of Alex Burrows darting back and forth in front of the crease, hoping to get open, before Henrik gave up and went somewhere else.
For the first time, Chris Tanev looked a little out of place in the NHL. He’s really only had one unimpressive game prior to this evening, but tonight, the Canadiens took advantage of how raw a talent he is. Unlike Mikael Samuelsson, whose minus-3 was not reflective of his overall defensive play (it had more to do with playing with Mason Raymond), Tanev’s minus-2 was self-made. On the opening goal, he drifted into center ice while David Desharnais tiptoed in behind him (inasmuch as one on skates can tiptoe) for a breakaway. On the second Montreal goal, he took himself out of the play with a poorly-timed hit and couldn’t get back in time to cover Andrei Kostitsyn. To this, I say: Tanev, play to your strengths, one of which is not strength.
The Canucks’ power play quite nearly bailed them out tonight, potting two goals on six powerplays (one here, one above), despite looking discombobulated, at times. Part of me feels like the power play let the team down tonight, especially considering the ill-disciplined nature of Montreal’s penalties. It was especially aggravating to see a five-on-three go to waste. The Canucks remain one of only two teams in the NHL that hasn’t scored on a five-on-three, the other being the special teams juggernaut that is Edmonton. Suffice it to say, sharing any statistical anomaly with Edmonton should be somewhat embarrassing.
At under five minutes, Cody Hodgson had one minute less icetime than Victor Oreskovich. Thinking about the playoffs, that is not a sign of trust. This is.
Carey Price played well tonight. He’s been good all season, really, and it wasn’t that long ago that everybody was calling for Bob Gainey’s head because he’d traded the wrong goalie. I brought crow for everybody. nom nom nom
And finally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Alex Burrows’s game tonight. Not too long ago, he was scoring like crazy, so it’s unfair to complain that he’s not scoring. But he didn’t score tonight. It would have been nice if he had done so, especially with the golden opportunities he was given. It was especially bothersome because he didn’t do much else. His puck retrieval was below-average and his forechecking was ineffective. He’s at his best when he’s creating turnovers and getting the puck to the Sedins, not when he’s waiting for the Sedins to get the puck to him.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]