Canucks 3 – 2 Blackhawks

After two consecutive years of being “outcoached” by Joel Quenneville, Alain Vigneault is winning this series with shrewd icetime management. Three days ago, he announced that he planned to limit the Sedins’ shifts to between 30 and 35 seconds, and he caught flack for it. Tony Gallagher said there had never been a dumber idea. Despite criticism, however, he’s followed through since. For the second game in a row, Daniel and Henrik averaged 35-second shifts. In a series where the Blackhawks’ stars are being played to exhaustion, the twins have been able to hop over the boards fresher than the prince of Bel-Air and score timely goals against exhausted opposition. It made the difference two nights ago, and it made the difference again tonight. I watched this game.

  • Consider, for example, Daniel Sedin’s 2-1 goal, when the twins, fresh as daisies, scored four seconds into a shift where every Chicago player had been on the ice for 54 seconds or more. Pat Kane had been on the ice for two full minutes. The scoring chance is generated when Alex Edler saunters around a dog-tired Nick Leddy, and no one has the energy to pick up Daniel at the backdoor. To wit: when your team’s game plan is to shut down the Sedins, and your players don’t have the energy to do it, you’re gonna lose.
  • Mikael Samuelsson’s game-winner (above) is another example of this energy discrepancy. For the second game in a row, the Sedins generate a goal on the first shift after a penalty kill, when they’re so fresh, they’re almost funky fresh. While some stars, like Jonathan Toews, play in all situations, the Sedins spend man disadvantages resting up. The added bonus to a killed penalty, then, is that the twins are never fresher than immediately afterwards.
  • The Sedins were on the ice for all three Canuck goals. The combined length of these three shifts? 53 seconds. It’s ironic that the Blackhawks are the team in red, because the Canucks are killing them with Big Red freshness.
  • The battle between Ryan Kesler and Jonathan Toews is one of this series’ great subplots. For the most part, Kesler’s been winning the battle, but Toews has been getting the best of him in the faceoff circle, especially on the left side, where Kesler is weaker, and Manny Malhotra typically steps in. Kesler lost five of eight defensive zone faceoffs to Toews tonight, with the most detrimental coming on the Blackhawks’ first period powerplay goal. Not only does Toews beat Kesler cleanly, but he draws him out of the shooting lane, giving Duncan Keith a clear path to the net. That said, that was the only mistake Kesler made on the Chicago captain on all game. Kesler also had six shots on net, three hits, three blocks, and over five minutes of shorthanded ice time. The guy is an absolute warrior. Really, he’s a few bicep tassels and a little multi-colour facepaint away from being The Ultimate Warrior.
  • Alex Burrows was the big minute man among Canuck forwards tonight, logging a team-high 19:53 over 33 shifts. Burrows was good with the Sedins, but his best work came on the penalty-kill. By golly, was he ever good.
  • The Canucks have been getting uncharacteristically killed in the faceoff circle for two games now. Their best faceoff man tonight was Mason Raymond. Enough said. Personally, that’s about all I thought Raymond was good for tonight, as he struggled to create much in the middle. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the silver lining to Raffi Torres’s impending suspension is that Cody Hodgson will likely draw back in.
  • What do John Scott and Dustin Byfuglien have in common? What is war good for? The answer to both questions is absolutely nothing. Joel Quenneville dressed Scott to inject some much-needed size into the Blackhawks lineup, but Scott, like most giants, wound up clumsily ruining everything. Scott played a game-low 5:20, and in that time, he managed to singlehandedly lose the special teams battle for the Blackhawks. His mere presence in a first period powerplay formation nullified a Hawks’ man advantage, and he later took a bad penalty that the Canucks needed all of four seconds to convert into a goal.
  • People have been quick to vilify Raffi Torres for his hit on Brent Seabrook, but let’s slow down a second here. Torres was whistled for a charge earlier in the game when he left his feet to make a hit; that was a dirtier hit. On Seabrook, he didn’t leave his feet, he didn’t charge, and he kept his elbow down. The penalty was called interference, but the puck was right there, so that’s not what it was, either. Frankly, Torres’s only crime is getting there too quickly, and if Brent Seabrook doesn’t have his head down, Torres hits him square in the chest, not the head, like he did to Tomas Kaberle or Tyler Myers. Unfortunately, Seabrook’s head was down, and Torres hits him square in the head, not the chest, like he did to Jordan Eberle. It won’t help Torres’s case that he’s fresh off a suspension; I’d say to expect another one.
  • Roberto Luongo bounced back in a big way tonight, making 30 saves. He seemed downright addicted to robbing Patrick Kane. After the game, he broke into Kane’s apartment and stole his pajamas.
  • Daniel Sedin had four hits in tonight’s game. Sure he did.
  • Keith Ballard only played nine minutes tonight. He looked a bit shaky at times, but nine minutes seems pretty low nonetheless. Mind you, Justin Timberlake and Madonna could save the world twice in that time, so what do I know?
  • The highlight of the night, in my opinion, wasn’t a goal or a save. It was a pass Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis made during a third-period penalty kill. Under pressure in the corner, Hamhuis put the puck blindly between his legs, right onto his partner’s stick, for an easy clear. Any other play and the Blackhawks hold the zone and keep applying pressure. This isn’t the first time Hamhuis has gone between the legs, by the way. The underduck is his go-to move at local swingsets.
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18 comments

  1. Wisp
    April 17, 2011

    As i mentioned in your earlier article, given tonights Sedintastic performance, as well as Bieksa’s bounce back season, perhaps the history ads are actually blessings?

    I watched this game in a hall filled with italian families. It was awesome. So was the pasta.

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  2. Erik
    April 17, 2011

    To be victorious you must be supple like reed; to bend, but not break. This is what the Canucks have been doing all series long, and indeed, all season long. Mind you, I’m enjoying this reed snapping back and thwacking the Blackhawks in the eye.

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  3. kim r
    April 17, 2011

    I’m kind of on the fence on Torres’ hit. Without blaming the “victim”, it was kind of silly of Seabrook to be admiring his skates when for the past three games the Canucks were hitting everything that moved. He wasn’t paying attention. There was no elbow and Torres didn’t leave his feet. The puck was there – is interference the new “gotta call something” go to?

    On the other hand, they are starting to call these hits now, even if it is interference or roughing. Plus, it is a bit of a lack of respect between players. Seabrook has his head down – perhaps ease off a little just out of respect.

    His suspension wasn’t worth four games and who knows what they will do this time. Consistency isn’t something NHL head office is known for.

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  4. annie
    April 17, 2011

    Correction: while war, arguably, is good for forcing advances in medicine, technology, and infrastructure, you would be hard pressed to convince me that John Scott or Dustin Byfuglien are good for any of those things.

    I’ve actually quite liked Mason Raymond for most of the year, despite popular opinion, but he had an awful game tonight. If he can’t win footraces then I’m not sure why we’re employing him. During the season, it was less evident, but he now looks like an overlooked hold-over from last year’s playoff team, totally out of his depth, similar to how I imagine Kyle Wellwood would look in this series if we’d hung on to him. It’s sad and you should be sad.

    And I still think the Torres hit was dirty, but I just don’t trust the guy anymore, so maybe I’m wrong. Don’t think he was trying to play the puck, though – he was there to bash and to bash alone. Not sure I’m comfortable with all this “well, technically, it was legal” stuff, either – if it was legal and somebody winds up with brain damage, then it needs not to be legal. But then I am a sissy lady girl and I was putting on my makeup and thinking about baking cakes for baby kittens when it happened, so.

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    • annie
      April 18, 2011

      Addendum now that we no there’s no suspension:

      Well, that’s fair, I guess. That’s by the book. Defenceman has to be aware behind the net, etc etc, keep yer head up kid. But when Raffi Torres does something that messes someone up, let’s not say “but he barely has any history with this kind of thing!” He has a history of getting away with it. Someone on a forum or on twitter or somewhere was saying that one of Torres’ talents is seeing a guy in an extremely vulnerable position and destroying him before he can get out of it. That makes him effective, but it also makes me dread the day when he “steps over the line” – or just keeps doing what he’s been doing – and someone gets hurt.

      The exceptions to the rules about north-south hits, behind the net, etc are in place to protect the player making the hit from being penalized for someone’s lack of attention – so that the puck carrier can’t just skate around with his head down and be invulnerable. They aren’t in place so that some guy can zone in on legal headshots waiting to happen.

      Also: Michalek, Skrastins, Berglund, Pacioretty, Eberle, if you think he has “no history” I don’t know what to tell you. One or two of those, you say “man, unfortunate that his shoulder came up like that, he didn’t know it would happen.” But let’s not be naive.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        April 18, 2011

        He definitely has history, but he’s not a “repeat offender” in the eyes of the league. No suspensions means the NHL won’t look any deeper. It’s unfortunate (and yet another reason they need to revise their disciplinary process) but that’s the way it is right now.

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        • annie
          April 18, 2011

          Yeah, sorry – I should have made it clear that I was talking about personal history, not suspension history. I’m trying to say that maybe the rules need revision.

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          • Daniel Wagner
            April 18, 2011

            I don’t disagree.

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  5. Human Cannonball
    April 18, 2011

    I found the following nugget left on John Scott’s Wikipedia page following the game:

    “On July 1, 2010, Scott left the Wild as a free agent and signed a two-year contract with Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. He then went on to play in game 3 of the first round playoffs, single handedly losing the game for Chicago giving the Canucks a 3-0 series lead #secretweapon.”

    The other interesting thing I found was the following line from the NHL.com overview of the game, which doesn’t sit quite right with me:

    “Chicago will attempt to become just the fourth team in NHL history but second in as many years to win a series after losing the first three games.”

    Doesn’t that read like something from an article describing Chicago on the brink of a huge upset, rather than following their presumable collapse to a much higher seeded rival? I think Qris’s recent article could be amended by changing the title like so:

    “Focusing on history makes for poor playoff predictions*

    *and poor writing

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  6. beninvictoria
    April 18, 2011

    an interesting quote from a Mr. Joel Quenneville, when asked about the Torres hit (the first one)
    “Brutal. Major. Absolutely. They missed it. We could have scored four goals on that play. Is it a suspension? I don’t have to worry about that. It’s not my call. The guy didn’t even get through his first game back off one.”

    two points I’d like to make. Raffi Torres did technically make it through his first game back, he wasn’t ejected, and to my knowledge completed the game. secondly “we could have scored four goals on that play” really? oh man that is weak coach. you had 7 powerplays to the canucks 2 and although you did score on two of them, you didnt score on FIVE of them, that’s 10 minutes of powerplay time that your team squandered. “we could have scored four goals” seriously? you’re like the kid who misses the wide empty net and blames their stick, or who blames their poor test scores on the quality of their pencils. you’re excuse is childish and i expected better from you. your team could have won the game, but instead of taking the blame you hang the refs out to dry, which is cruel because the refs tried their hardest to give you this game.

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    • Qris Johnson
      April 18, 2011

      Disagree with the second point, because the ‘Hawks scored immediately on the Torres penalty. They were in “Do it for Brent” mode. They probably wouldn’t have scored 4 goals, but with an extra 4 minutes and change of power play time, it seems plausible they’d have entered the 3rd with at least a one-goal lead.

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  7. chicken hawk
    April 18, 2011

    The Canucks played the Hawks at home,
    And Patrick Kane found room to roam.
    He whipped a goal past Bobby Lu,
    Assisted on three others too.

    Then I awoke ’twas but a dream.
    Vancouver proved the better team.
    Still I believe it’s not too late:
    Chicago now will win four straight.

    Sure some will say I’m dreaming still,
    And go on saying so until
    The Hawks shall win four five and six,
    Just as the Chicken Hawk predicts.

    And you can say you read it here,
    This statement of your fondest fear.

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    • Nigel
      April 18, 2011

      Chicken Hawk, Please don’t leave after the canucks finish off the hawks on Tuesday… I will miss your awesome poems… Please cheer for our canucks all the way to the stanley cup!!!

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  8. Chinstrap Joe
    April 18, 2011

    I was on the fence on the Torres hit until I saw this video from the NHL explaining legal and illegal hits. I think Torres’ hit was completely legal by these standards.

    http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=618&id=63737&loc=interstitialskip

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  9. Karen
    April 18, 2011

    I seriously do not understand why Ballard’s ice time has shrunk as much as it has in the playoffs. I don’t think he’s been playing particularly badly, but I’m hardly an expert. Just seems odd that he was getting way more ice time during the regular season when he was babysitting Tanev.

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  10. peanutflower
    April 18, 2011

    This from Seabrook: SEABROOK – “I don’t think he was trying to hit me in the head, but if the league isn’t going to suspend that I don’t understand.” Soooo, if you don’t think he was trying to hit you in the head then why would you think he would get suspended? Much as I love Raffi and his play with heart mentality (as opposed to play with brain mentality), and as much as I think Hodgson is over rated (I mean really, he looks too much live Liv Schreiber to be taken seriously), the Hodgson/Hansen/Raymond line is more effective against the Hawks. and as the Canucks just need one more win to close this out maybe AV would consider keeping that line together. The Hawks of course believe they’re going to win the next four. Nope. Not this time. And I totally agree with Ballard’s lack of playing time. What’s with that? Is it his size? what? team chemistry? is AV saving him for something special?

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  11. Scott Brown
    April 18, 2011

    I thought it was a cheap shot. Taking a run at a vulnerable player. Deserved a suspension.

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  12. Reece
    April 18, 2011

    I’m glad to see it wasn’t a suspension; however, since the hit was considered legal, why was a penalty even called on the play? Also, I couldn’t believe the number of hockey analysts calling it a blind-side hit. If your blind side is completely contingent upon the direction your face…faces, you could, in theory, protect yourself by simply looking away from an oncoming hitter. Out of sight out of mind, I always say! However, since the direction in which your body is facing is the sole decider of blind-side-hittiness, it is clean: Seabrook’s body was nailed head on.

    You’ve got to keep your head up. Ask Eric Lindros or RJ Umberger: those two players have both been destroyed on a number occasions because of bad habits like watching a puck go on to their stick.

    You can play dangerously, but expect to get your teeth rattled every once in a while.

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