Canucks 4 – 3 Blackhawks

The Canucks went into game 2 of their opening round playoff series with the Blackhawks hoping to do something they had failed to do in two previous tries: win the damn game. They succeeded, too, although it was no picnic, perhaps because this isn’t the National Picnic League. Tonight’s Blackhawks had more jump, more grit, and more offense than the Chicago team from two nights ago, but unfortunately, they didn’t get to play the Chicago team from two nights ago. They played the Canucks, who had more jump, more grit, and more offense than tonight’s Blackhawks. I watched this game:

  • How do you stop a gamebreaker like Patrick Kane? According to Alex Edler, you break Patrick Kane. (Where did Edler learn to hit like that? Breaker High?) Edler’s massive hit on the skilled winger did well to set the tone for the first period, and it was clearly a Pummel Patrick Kane sort of tone. Poor Kane was cleanly hit four times in the opening twenty minutes, which is especially impressive when you consider how elusive he normally is, as well as the fact that, after being run over by Edler, he was avoiding the contact like he had astigmatism.
  • Both teams were called for two penalties tonight. During the ensuing man advantages, the Canucks’ special teams outshot their Chicago counterparts by a margin of 2 to 0. One of those shots came shorthanded after some fabulous forechecking by Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. The other shot was Daniel Sedin’s powerplay goal half a minute into the second period.
  • Here’s a statement you might disagree with: Daniel and Henrik Sedin could have played better. Granted, they combined for five points, but when the Sedins get the kind of space the Chicago defense was giving them, you can expect four-point nights out of both of them. They had a litany of odd-man rushes, including a patently ridiculous two-on-nobody early in the first, and they couldn’t convert on a single one until Daniel Sedin finally scored on a three-on-two in the third. As productive as they were tonight, they can top this performance.
  • Speaking of Daniel Sedin, his game-winning goal (above) is a perfect example of how not to play him. He’s going through the middle of the offensive zone; not the five stages of grief, and not menopause. You don’t give him space.
  • I was positively against a Cody Hodgson callup, but the young centre hasn’t looked out of place since joining the team for the playoffs. His skating has improved, and he’s been creating chances. It only took him two games to pick up his first career playoff assist, protecting the puck nicely behind the net before sending it to the point for Alex Edler’s goal. My concerns were never about Hodgson’s offense, however; his defensive elements still need work. Though he registered two takeaways, he didn’t win a single faceoff tonight (0-for-3), and he completely lost Ben Smith on the 4-3 goal. Mind you, Henrik Sedin was also guilty of forgetting Smith existed long enough to let him score, which means, on the bright side, Hodgson is earning comparisons to Henrik Sedin.
  • If you’re wondering where Ben Smith learned to sneak in behind his man like that, the answer is: from Jannik Hansen. Before he scored two goals by cutting to the net unseen, he allowed Jannik Hansen to do the exact same thing to him. There’s a reason Smith doesn’t normally play big minutes: he’s not that good defensively. He had two even-strength goals tonight and still managed to finish the game minus-1.
  • Another fine game from Jannik Hansen, by the way. I liked the way Alain Vigneault rewarded him by giving him Mikael Samuelsson’s usual shift with the Sedins after a penalty kill. I also liked how Hansen rewarded Vigneault for rewarding him by scoring on the shift. Will Vigneault reward Hansen’s reward of his reward? Soon this will be a tormentingly endless cycle of rewards, like a Save-On-More card.
  • Did anyone else notice Ryan Johnson compulsively spitting during the HNIC Subway bio? I know it’s not exactly difficult to catch a hockey player hocking gobs, but Johnson spat about nine times in thirty seconds. It was like he was pretending to eat a bag of sunflower seeds.
  • The hits in this game were 45 to 40 for Vancouver, but it wasn’t really that close. Vancouver was hitting; Chicago was registering hits. At one moment in the third period, both Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell received checks that sent them to the dressing room on the same shift. For a moment, I wondered if we were seeing a walkout, ala the 1976 Red Army. Ryan Kesler led the way tonight with seven hits. Kesler was hitting anything that moved. After the game, he hit his DVD copy of Field of Dreams.
  • Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis played a quietly stellar game. He had five hits, two blocked shots, and an assist on the game winner. Apart from Keith Ballard, who hardly played, Hamhuis was the only Vancouver defenseman who wasn’t on the ice for a Chicago goal, and Alain Vigneault smartly leaned on him to preserve the lead in the third period. He played 9:54 of the final frame, up from seven minutes in each of the first two periods, and his average shift length jumped from 42 to 59 seconds. This wasn’t the first time Hamhuis’s shift length has increased in a pinch. He once served soup for three days straight at a homeless shelter, although it was sort of his own fault. He brought too much soup.
  • Roberto Luongo’s going to get some flack for his game tonight. As I said earlier, Ben Smith was poorly covered, but Luongo also gifted him a couple of tap-ins. On the first, he should have gloved it cleanly, and on the second, he should have kicked that rebound to the corner. Even Viktor Stalberg’s wrist shot was a stoppable one. That said, what’s more frustrating: getting shut out by Luongo or getting three bad goals past him and still losing?
  • And finally, the Oscar for best actor goes to Tanner Glass, for pretending to lose the puck in his equipment after blocking a Niklas Hjalmarsson slapshot halfway through the third period. After the puck disappeared into Glass’s gear, prompting a much-needed stop in play, Glass magically opened his glove and–poof!–there it was. Suspicious. Now some people might suspect Glass only pretended to lose the puck in his equipment, but I suspect that Glass can stop bullets with his bare hands. Is Tanner Glass “The one”? We’ll know for sure if, next game, he manages to hit a Chicago player from the inside.
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19 comments

  1. Wisp
    April 16, 2011

    That’s an awesome new banner, but it seems Jan Bulis has some really effeminate hands.

    Anyways, hard earned win. Too many brain farts, I was terrified it’d turn into Deja Vu. Didn’t think Kesler had it in him to be outplaying Towes, but damn, he’s doing it.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 16, 2011

      Jan Bulis has always been known for his soft hands.

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  2. beninvictoria
    April 16, 2011

    Words I thought I’d never see myself type. Jannik Hansen goal-scoring streak.

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  3. C
    April 16, 2011

    I noticed the Canucks didn’t engage in that much confrontation with the Blackhawks. I recall there was an incident where Tanner Glass was hit after the whistle blew and the Hawk that hit him (can’t remember who it was) looked as though he was trying to goad Tanner into retaliating but he simply ignored the Blackhawk and skated away. Good stuff.

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  4. Reece Elliott
    April 16, 2011

    I agree, the Sedins had inbinity fillion odd-man rushes and didn’t score on any of them! It seemed as though instead of marking the Sedins tightly, Seabz and Keith decided it would be more fun to play a hilarious, albeit risky playoff prank on their rookie goaltender. Nevertheless, I’m sure in their dressing room after the game there were still highfives all ’round.

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  5. Nat
    April 16, 2011

    Yeah, the discipline is great to see. Among the many frustrations of last years series, was the lack of focus.
    Luongo had an off night tonight, but given his play this year, I expect he’ll be better next game. This isn’t last years Luongo, who hadn’t been playing too well for quite a while going into the 2010 playoffs.
    Other stars: Danny of course, Kesler in beast mode, Edler setting the physical tone, Hansen elevating his game, and Hamhuis + Bieksa making smart plays in our zone.

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  6. from the flock
    April 16, 2011

    “It’s just two games,” the losers say.
    They’ve yet to win a game away.”

    “We’d rather be ahead by two,
    than need to catch up like you do.”

    whisky jack

    The ‘Nucks know and won’t ignore
    Despite the fact they’re up by two
    The Hawks won’t quit and what is more
    They did score three on Bobby Lu

    cinnamon teal

    though not over yet
    canucks in five is my bet
    they’ll not be upset

    clay pigeon

    although right now it does look bad
    this first place team can still be had
    and those who watched this game tonight
    do know full well that i am right

    two wins at home the series tied
    and then the hawks won’t be denied
    skeeter dan warned “don’t get cocky,
    (when predicting playoff hockey)”

    one need but look to playoffs past
    to see that leads don’t always last
    it’s only when four games are won
    that can one say the job is done

    and still i say with asterisks*
    the hawks will win this round in six

    chicken hawk

    * leave kessler and the twins at home
    ** give patrick kane some room to roam

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 16, 2011

      One of your best poems yet, Chicken Hawk. Asterisks/six rhyme is especially slick.

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  7. Justin
    April 16, 2011

    Edler was a beast out there but he was also on the ice for all 3 Chicago goals. On the first Ben Smith tap in – he was trying to double down on the passing forward (rather than sticking with his man) and on the Stahlberg goal, the puck jumped his stick.

    How did he get named 2nd star – Oh yeah, CBC.

    Interesting stat. Kesler has horrific playoff numbers. I know he had shoulder issues. Hopefully he breaks out of it!

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  8. Eugen
    April 16, 2011

    Excellent blog, perfectly fitted for an excellent game!

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  9. Dave
    April 16, 2011

    I enjoyed the game – but now I’d like some chicken.

    Missing their commentary.

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    • from the flock
      April 16, 2011

      how could you have missed it? see above.

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      • Dave
        April 16, 2011

        It wasn’t there when I posted it – I looked several times. :( Glad to see it now.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          April 16, 2011

          Comments don’t always show up on the new site right away. They have to be approved first. PITB is a surveillance society now.

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  10. annie
    April 16, 2011

    Oh look at that sweet banner, who made that

    A thing that always impresses me about the Roj: you can tell when a goal is going to be scored by the sound of the crowd. That seems obvious, I know, but I’m not just talking about the general on-your-feet cheering that accompanies a breakaway or the crazy delighted tension of sustained offensive pressure: there’s a really distinct sound when there’s a good scoring chance with a solid puck carrier coming across the blueline. You can hear it on the last goal in this game: there’s just, I don’t know, a short of shout and then a hush and the rising noise and you hear it and think “someone’s gonna put it in.” Obviously it doesn’t happen every time, I’m not trying to suggest we’re prescient, but there’s usually a good chance, a post, a rebound. I have to pay closer attention in the future because right now this just sounds like weirdo metaphysical shit, but what I’m trying to say is: the crowd at Rogers really, really knows what’s going on, for all the complaints about bandwagoners, and they feed it back to you with a very specific vocabulary of crazy noise.

    Meanwhile, also, yes I noticed Johnson spitting – I just kept thinking he looked like he was spitting at the little Subway logo in the corner. Delicious! That or his charade card said “chewing tobacco.”

    Also, who saw that really angry Hawks fan stand up after one of the goals? He was hilarious, I wanted to take him home and play him soothing music.

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  11. KF91
    April 16, 2011

    Did anybody else notice Mason Raymond being turned into a sandwich a few times this game? I saw him get checked by three hawks at once and then later he seemed to have the entire Chicago line standing menacingly around him.

    …What did he do to piss them off? xD

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 16, 2011

      I did. There was one shift where he got his by four Hawks simultaneously. It was like last season when Henrik Sedin got attacked by the Los Angeles “Rodney” Kings.

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      • far_raf
        April 16, 2011

        That had to be the best pic of that L.A. series, it was very funny / special.

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  12. Charlie
    April 16, 2011

    I hope Luongo rebounds in a big way to steal one from the Hawks on their turf. Our faceoff% was a point of concern too…

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