After the highly contentious atmosphere in the Staples Center last night, the Honda Center was downright pleasant. It’s not just that the Anaheim fans are generally more congenial (one woman gave us free hot dogs), but the building itself is a little nicer, a little more organic. Whereas the Staples Center is cold, metallic, and looming, provoking aggression and ill will, the pastel paint job and burnt sienna seating of the Honda Center provoke congeniality, oneness with humanity and spiritual contentment. The Ducks fans were downright nice, although it might have been that they were defeated from the outset. They were outnumbered by Canuck fans from the moment the doors opened, and their teams found themselves trailing less than a minute in, after Manny Malhotra scored on Vancouver’s first shot. It was difficult for the Anaheim fans to muster much enthusiasm, especially since their attempts were quickly drowned out by the excitable Canucks contingent, like whom and with whom, [we] watched this game.
Cory Schneider recorded his first NHL shutout tonight, getting his body in front of all 26 shots as though he didn’t want to let in any goals. It was weird. He didn’t have to be overly acrobatic in these saves, but Schneider never is. He’s positionally sound, like a shooter tutor, but without all the holes. According to Sportsnet, he also scored all three Canucks goals, recording his first career hat trick (take that, Luongo!) Like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, he played every role tonight. Unlike Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, it was a treat to watch him.
It was less of a treat to watch Dan Ellis, who had many problems tonight. One of which was the first shot of the game, later extrapolated into the first shot of periods. Only in the third did he manage to stave off this problem, pushing it to the second shot. Ellis wasn’t good tonight, but it may not have been his fault. It may not have been Ellis. The in-arena announcer introduced him as Dan Sexton. Was it Sexton? If so, that might explain why he sucked at playing goal.
It’s a shame Ellis wasn’t on top of his game, as he only had to face 16 Canuck shots. Ryan Getzlaf, alone, had 11. The Canucks, as a whole, barely outshot Ryan Getzlaf. But don’t rush to claim Vancouver was outplayed. After scoring so quickly in the first and second periods, they clearly saw no need to push the play.
The 1/2 Pound Hot Dog sold at the Honda Center is obscenely large. It’s almost as obscene, porkwise, as Antiochus Epiphanes’ decision to sacrifice a pig on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem. Way uncool, Antiochus. Totally not rad.
You might think we at PITB could run out of ways and reasons to praise Jannik “Baby Dragon” Hansen, but he continues to find new ways to amaze. On Saturday, he was the game-winning goal scorer, but tonight, he temporarily transformed into a playmaking wunderkind akin to Bertolt Brecht. Seriously, he was so Brechtian he broke the fourth wall. And on the second goal, it was impossible to miss his use of Verfremdungseffekt.
Maybe the proximity to Hollywood Boulevard has inspired the third line to become star producers. They’re the Weinsteins of the Canucks right now, and it shouldn’t surprise. When this line originally broke out back in early November, it was during a mild scoring slump for the rest of the team. Unsurprisingly, they’ve again become the most consistent scorers during a dry spell for their more offensively inclined compatriots. This has been a longer spell, but it’s merely meant a longer string of great play from Malhotra, Torres and Hansen. They’ve got 10 goals in their last eleven games, and they’re doing it a number of different ways. Tonight, they scored one goal on the rush, and one goal on the forecheck.
Meanwhile, Mason Raymond can’t catch a break, save the literal way. You’ll recall, back in December, when he scored a hat trick against Calgary and appeared to be finding his game, only to suffer a broken thumb and miss a month. Now, as he appeared to be re-finding his game, he injured his shoulder in an open-ice collision with a Duck player. He went straight to the dressing room, returning to test the shoulder for one shift, but then it was back to the dressing room. Word is he’ll be re-evaluated Monday. Here’s hoping the doctors declare him awesome and give him a sucker and a balloon.
Rumour has it Keith Ballard has been playing injured, which might explain why Aaron Rome has been getting more icetime than him despite being objectively Aaron Rome. That said, Rome had more icetime tonight than every Canuck but Dan Hamhuis. Maybe everyone has groin injuries? It was probably the trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. That roller coaster really jerks you around. Granted, Rome wasn’t terrible tonight, but he also wasn’t Christian Ehrhoff or Sami Salo. In short: like the Jews might have said two thousand years ago, I’m a little tired of Rome.
The Ducks were really after Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis tonight. They may have been upset that his overt community work was upstaging CHOC night. He came out for the warmup skate with a fanny pack full of epi pens.
I suspect the Ducks were actually trying to provoke Tanner Glass into a scrap, especially once he rebuffed George Parros’ attempt to start one after the Canucks went up by two. We’ve seen, in the past, that when one team wants to fight and the other doesn’t, the best method to force their hand is headhunting their top guys. Seeing as Hamhuis was almost always on the ice (23:55) and had just recently returned from a concussion (sustained against this very team), he was a provocative target. Anaheim charged him often, but thankfully, the Canucks stayed zen and, like Ferdinand the Bull, refused to fight.
Speaking of Parros and Glass, it was interesting to see the two scrappers chat together before the game. We imagine the conversation went something like this: Hey, how are you? Pretty good. Want to fight later? Maybe. Isn’t it great being an Ivy leaguer? Yeah, totally. Well, see you later.
After a string of 16 unsuccessful man advantages, Daniel Sedin finally broke the slump by scoring a power play goal. How did he do it? Well, he turned Andreas Lilja into a Sedin and executed a perfect slap pass. I always suspected the Sedins were pod people.
In an ironic twist, Maxim Lapierre was the featured player in the Anaheim Ducks’ digest for this game. As an Anaheim Duck. Yikes. They should update their content.
After the game, we met Matt and Savanna, a couple of local Bulies who had taken in the game. It was neat. As we walked to our car, they spotted Harrison’s Tanner Glass shirt and shouted “Pass it to Bulis!” What followed was about a half hour of kindly chatting. They are solid people, which is more than I can say for the people of Futurama’s planet Trisol. They are made of water.
And finally, tonight marked our first meeting with mysterious third contributor Qris Johnson. He was a quality dude. He’ll be taking over the next two IWTGs as we make the long trek from LA to Phoenix, then from Phoenix to San Jose. Be nice to him.
Pass it to Bulis is the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. Without spaces, it's also our e-mail address. Have stuff to say? We want to hear from you. Talk to us at passittobulis [at] gmail.com.