Canucks 2 – 7 Blackhawks

The Canucks gave up 7 goals against only once this season, in the infamous Voldemort game against Chicago on November 20th. Though “Voldemort” implies that it shall not be named, like Dumbledore, I have never seen any reason to be frightened of talking about it. After all, the Canucks followed up the game by going on an incredible run, winning 17 of their next 21 games. The two games are remarkably similar actually: both games were tied after the first period, the Blackhawks scored four goals in the second period of both games, and Canucks fans collectively flipped the pool after each game. Also, both games were excruciating to watch. I should know: I watched that game and I watched this game.

  • Harrison called me in a panic after the game and I had to convince him that the Canucks were not out of the playoffs. I made him promise to stop listening to the callers on the TEAM 1040 after a loss.
  • Everyone on the Canucks was, at best, mediocre tonight. They were outshot, outhit, outplayed, and, of course, outscored. It was frustrating, demoralizing, and embarrassing. And it was one game. It was an ugly, ugly game featuring far more than a game’s worth of awfulness. But it still only counts as one game.
  • After the first period, it looked like this was going to be a very different game. Sure, Bryan Bickell made Kevin Bieksa look he was one-year younger with his pretty opening goal, but the Canucks responded quickly on the powerplay, as Salo got a couple lucky bounces off Blackhawk hips enroute to the net. Meanwhile, Luongo made save after save, including this rob-job on Toews to keep the game knotted at one in the first period. The crowd went from raucous to deathly silent, afraid that they were about to witness the dreaded sweep. Then everything went horribly, horribly wrong. I haven’t seen something go that wrong after a decent start since I watched The Forgotten.
  • Time to look at some major problems for the Canucks: the examples given are just when they lead to goals against, but they were a problem throughout the game:
  • Major problem #1: bad line changes. The Canucks got into the bad habit of heading for the bench while the Blackhawks were attacking through the neutral zone. Brian Campbell scored the ‘Hawks second goal of the game by taking advantage of one of these changes as the Canucks’ penalty killers change for the Sedins, leading to an odd-man situation that is poorly played by Mikael Samuelsson. That’s an undeserved -1 in the Sedins’ plus-minus column. They deserved one, however, for heading for a change just before Dave Bolland’s goal, the fourth for the Blackhawks. The turnover by Tanner Glass isn’t pretty, but the fact that no one was there in support is due to the bad change. Kesler gets a turn as well: on the Blackhawks’ sixth goal, he goes for a line change while on the penalty kill as the Blackhawks are crossing the Canucks’ blueline. The timing is atrocious and is exacerbated by Jannik Hansen’s aggressive hit in the neutral zone, turning the 5-on-4 powerplay momentarily into a 4-on-2. Patrick Sharp makes no mistake.
  • Major problem #2: forwards losing their checks in the offensive zone. Duncan Keith pots the ‘Hawks third goal when Daniel Sedin loses track of him as he slips into the slot and rips a slapshot top corner. That’s a deserved -1 in the Sedins’ plus-minus column. The goal comes just 17 seconds after Campbell’s 2-1 goal, but the Canucks can take solace in the fact that it wasn’t the shortest time between two goals tonight: the Kings scored two goals in 16 seconds.
  • Major problem #3: poorly timed pressure in the neutral zone. Dan Hamhuis is at fault on Michael Frolik’s goal, the fifth for the Blackhawks, as he is over-aggressive on the puck, turning a potential 2-on-1 into a breakaway. Clearly the normally steady Community Man had something on his mind: turned out he was in the middle of volunteering for Kids Help Phone and was counselling a young teenager through some tough issues at school via the bluetooth headset in his helmet.
  • On the plus side, Sharp’s second goal of the night, the seventh by the Blackhawks, didn’t fall under one of these major problems. It was just a simple conversion on a 4-on-3 powerplay that the Canuck penalty-killers don’t care about at all. With the score already 6-1, they half-heartedly waved their sticks in the vague direction of passing lanes. Jannik Hansen recognizes early that the pass is going to Sharp at the goal line, but he’s clearly in no rush to get there. It’s the least motivated I’ve seen Hansen since I invited him to sing bass in my barbershop quartet.
  • While driving home, my wife and I stopped at a gas station. A fellow customer loudly complained that Luongo was terrible. He wasn’t. As you can see from the major problems above, Luongo can’t really be blamed for the loss. His performance in the first period was superb and his performance in the rest of the game was as good as could be expected. The team in front of him was atrocious, getting outworked in every facet of the game and giving up far too many prime scoring chances. I have a suspicion the man in the gas station went home and called the TEAM 1040. I feel bad for Blake Price sometimes.
  • The Sedins were atrocious 5-on-5 tonight, which will likely be attributed to the play of Dave Bolland, who made a triumphant return from injury by netting a goal and 3 assists. Henrik Sedin, on the other hand, was minus-4 and had just one shot. Brother Daniel didn’t fare much better, finishing minus-3. The Sedins couldn’t thread passes together at even strength and frequently got caught in the defensive zone, leading Alain Vigneault to experiment: after trying Mikael Samuelsson in place of Burrows, he tossed Raffi Torres on their line in the third period. Torres could be considered more of a physical deterrent than a linemate, along the lines of carrying mace if you walk home late at night in a big city.
  • The Sedins were much better on the powerplay, creating good scoring chances as soon as they had a bit more room on the ice. On a late powerplay, Daniel Sedin scored the meaningless goal seen above off a pretty slap-pass by Christian Ehrhoff. It’s followed by the most moribund celebration you’ll ever see unless you get a chance to go to a zombie wedding. If you do go, get used to hearing this song at the reception.
  • One of the main subplots of this series has been between Jonathan Toews and Ryan Kesler, as two of the best two-way centers in the NHL battle for supremacy. The way this story has been told is Kesler shutting down Toews, but as neither player has a goal in this series, who’s shutting down whom? Without secondary scoring from Kesler and his linemates, the Canucks are a little too dependent on the Sedins and the tertiary scoring provided by the bottom-six.
  • Jim Hughson succinctly summed up the last two days of Canucks’ coverage with this gem: There’s Torres, who was suspended by everybody but the NHL.
  • There were a few positives: the third line of Raymond, Hansen, and Torres managed to create some sustained offensive pressure in the first period and were not a defensive liability. Raymond actually had a decent game: he was one of the few forwards to finish even in plus-minus and was the only Canuck to finish above 50% in the faceoff circle, winning 6-of-9. Unfortunately, when Mason Raymond is your best forward, you’re in deep trouble, similar to when Kyle Wellwood is one of your strongest forwards in the playoffs.
  • Keith Ballard was the only defenseman who wasn’t a minus player. Sure, he only played about 15 minutes, but that was 15 minutes in which the Blackhawks did not score. I would have liked to see a few more of those minutes. I saw far too many minutes in which the Blackhawks did score. I did not like those minutes and I will never get them back.
  • Kevin Bieksa got into an old-fashioned knuckle-duster with Viktor Stalberg after the latter blatantly interfered with the former, knocking him into the boards. It’s just the excuse Bieksa needed to let loose some of the frustration of the 7-2 loss, as he bloodies Stalberg’s face by punching it repeatedly. It was only the second fight of Stalberg’s career and, to his credit, he owns up to the rash of late (and early) hits he had just thrown by facing the facial onslaught. It was disappointing, however, that CBC cut away from the fight just as it began. It wasn’t a long enough fight to get reaction shots.
  • The referees in this game, Dan O’Rourke and Brad Meier, did an effective job policing this game as it started to get out of hand, levying minors and misconducts liberally to dissuade any potential goonery. While a couple of their calls were questionable (goaltender interference on Ehrhoff and charging on Edler in particular), it’s hard to complain about the reffing when the score was so one-sided. It was odd, however, to see them break out their Precrime division, and kick Raffi Torres and John Scott out of the game for what amounted to a brief chat. Clearly, the refs were worried about a red ball.
  • And finally, there’s a picture of Vince Vaughn laughing at Roberto Luongo. In it, he is laughing harder than anyone did while watching “Fred Claus.”

 

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28 comments

  1. Reece
    April 20, 2011

    We’re still up 3-1. Nuff said

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  2. Rory
    April 20, 2011

    Despite the loss, I enjoyed this game for the general abundance of evil mirth.

    The shear amount of penalties we almost funny, as if both teams were misbehaving in front of their parents dinner guests. I was momentarily confused near the end, as I thought the NHL had placed glass in front of the benches for the play offs.

    The irony of Torres ending up on one of the better lines of the night was kind of funny. Funny but sad, since there was more then one occasion when he got the puck into the Blackhawk’s zone, only to look back and realize it was not just the media that had abandoned him.

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  3. invisibleairwaves
    April 20, 2011

    “It’s the least motivated I’ve seen Hansen since I invited him to sing bass in my barbershop quartet.”

    Brilliant.

    The game stunk, but it was about as meaningless for the Canucks as a playoff game can possibly be. Looking forward to a win on home ice on Thursday.

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  4. kim r
    April 20, 2011

    Your write up was so much better than the game. Doesn’t sound like a compliment because… well… this is a family blog, but it is.

    I’m hoping that they got all that crud out of their system, like when one is feeling ill and vomits and the stomach ache goes away. Glad it is only the one game and they should be glad that there isn’t someone somewhere with the ability to deem it two games, the extra for just being so bad.

    And how does Vaughn get off ragging anyone with that bad perm. *shudder*

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  5. Timmmy
    April 20, 2011

    I don’t claim to be a coach or anyhting, but here’s my 2 cents.

    I found the biggest problem in my view to be allowing the Hawks free possesion in their offensive zone. Too often it seems we let them skate it in without challenge and they either set up or get a shot off without a whole lot of pressure. This was killing me same time last year.
    For the Canucks, we really do the opposite… dump and chase. If we forecheck hard, we win the puck and create chances a la games 1-3. When we don’t, they get the puck and clear easily, as happened tonight and a lot of the time last year.

    Again, note the disclaimer that i really don’t know s***, but thats how I read it.

    That said, let’s put it behind us and go and win the next one!

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  6. antro
    April 20, 2011

    Thanks DW for consoling us. It was hard to watch. It was incredible how Hank, the man with the most assists in the last two seasons, could not thread a pass to save his life. Painful.

    On another note, I was feeling bad after the Torres hit on Seabrook, and I thought that I’d prefer the Canucks to beat them with Seabrook in the line-up. I was thinking that if that isn’t an illegal hit, something should be done to make it illegal, in the sense that maybe Torres didn’t mean to hit him in the head, but he did. But last night, I remembered that the Hawks aren’t above being completely malicious, and in that sense hypocritical for their criticism. There was a great deal of unnecessary crap. I thought the refs let the Hawks have their suspension in the way of malicious crap early on, including an uncalled slewfoot by Toews on Kesler when they were ostensibly “battling” after a face-off (CBC showed it on a replay). It reminded me of the many slewfoots (slewfeet?) that I saw Seabrook give last year, or the year before. Duncan Keith would call a sign of Seab’s toughness. (/End rant)

    It did feel like the Canucks were worried about getting called early on, and looked really tentative. Whatever. It means very little. I’m sure they’ll expose the Hawks for what they really are on Thursday.

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  7. MikeN
    April 20, 2011

    Thanks for pointing out that Luongo was not in fact atrocious in this game. I’m sick of half the city forming a lynch mob for the guy every time his defensemen leave him out to dry.
    Hopefully the Canucks used up all their awful last night in order to save up two games of awesome for tomorrow night.

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  8. Claire
    April 20, 2011

    Nice post Skeeter.

    The only thing worse than watching this game is not watching this game and being texted every time there’s a goal. Not cool.

    I admit, I listened to the TEAM 1040 on my way home and panicked a bit but…. We are up 3 games to 1 and will be playing at home. These are the words I chanted softly to myself as I tried to fall asleep last night.

    It’s just 1 game.

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  9. chicken hawk
    April 20, 2011

    Chicago now has won game four
    Vancouver needs but lose three more
    And you all know it surely will
    From here on in ’tis all downhill

    I must agree it’s somewhat sad
    That what was good should turn out sad
    Mayhap next year just wait and see
    You’ll not play us until round three

    Take solace that you finished first
    Of all the teams you’re not the worst
    Accept the Hawks you can’t defeat
    And your round one ends incomplete

    On Thursday night game number five
    Chicago keeps its hopes alive

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    • JS Topher
      April 20, 2011

      Wow, is beyonce in the house? Because you just rhymed sad with sad… only from a Hawks fan

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      • chicken hawk
        April 20, 2011

        BUMMER!

        I intended “what was good would turn our bad”

        Thank you for seeing that.

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        • JS Topher
          April 21, 2011

          *out… “what was good would turn OUT bad”… that’s what I think you meant anyways… I was pretty sure I knew what you meant all along Mr. Hawk. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a small jab at the enemy.
          Alas, I feel no pleasure… poor chicken hawk… so confused that his hawks are losing the series to our beloved Nucks… then they play well one game and he starts to wonder what is real and what is dream… he stumbles his words… he errs his spellings… he misplaces his emotions… his poetry suffers… discombulated… the sad(bad?) state of a hawk caught in a storm…

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  10. gumby
    April 20, 2011

    I thought this post was going to be titled “I Watched the First Two Periods of This Game”.

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  11. Johan
    April 20, 2011

    I was a bit confused about the reffing last night. I mean, obviously some of the Canucks were out for blood in the third but if the refs are handing out misconducts to prevent fights (where the risk of injury, which I guess is the primary concern, is comparatively low), the players can’t get the frustration out of their system, instead taking that frustration out with dangerous hits, which are more likely to cause injury/ warrant suspension. Not that Edler is a big fighter but his hit that got the charging call, whether it deserved the call or not, was aimed more than anything at releasing frustration.

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    • Steve
      April 20, 2011

      Yeah, I was a little confused too. The no-show by the ‘nucks overshadowed the in consistency of the penalties.

      Ehrhoff’s goalie interference
      Keith’s cross-check on Torres (wasn’t that bad), then no trip/slewfoot after the whistle (slewfoots are supposed to be worse, right?)

      When the game was out of hand in the third the refs did a surprisingly good job controlling things. Props.

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  12. Dave
    April 20, 2011

    I saw two problems this game:

    1) The Canucks weren’t playing well at all.

    2) The Officials were much more focused on “game management” than on calling infractions. No one expects perfection from officiating, but when one team takes all the phantom penalties and the other gets all the breaks it doesn’t help matters – and often makes things worse because players get frustrated and start taking unnecessary and dangerous risks – or stop playing altogether.

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  13. peanutflower
    April 20, 2011

    i turned the game off, I must admit, but it seems I missed some exciting stuff. I’ll wait for the next game in Vancouver. I can’t possibly imagine that the Canucks will let this go unanswered. Good for Bieksa hammering on whoever that was. A couple of things I found interesting: CanucksHD sends out Youtube links periodically through each game, and this time there were comments attached to a couple of them in the posting itself, like “Kevin Bieksa beats the living life out of Viktor “Cheapshot” Stalberg”, and “Here are a few classless Blackhawk fans disturbing the Canucks management group.
    Stay classy Chicago…” and “And the oscar goes to……..PATRICK KANE for Diving” I’ve not seen comments like that to date from what one must presume to be the Canucks organization. I like it, but it is a departure from their relatively impartial postings before.

    And in viewing the Youtube video comments, I once again sort of wish the internet was never invented. Actually, in viewing comments for just about anything (except PITB, where the readers are a well-educated, well-informed rational sort) it seems that the internet does nothing other than give buffoons and boors the ability to make really tasteless and ill-conceived comments completely cloaked in anonymity. I guess that is the point of the internet, perhaps, but sometimes I’d just like to return it for a refund.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 20, 2011

      As far as I am aware, CanucksHD has no official ties to the Canucks organization.

      Anonymity is a strange animal. Penny Arcade has a particularly succinct, if crude, formulation of how the internet affects otherwise normal human beings. Language warning on the link.

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  14. DanD
    April 20, 2011

    Yeah, there’s no way the Canucks come out with a bad effort tomorrow. They hate losing more than once.

    However, if they do, I will personally flip an in ground pool. That’s how panicked I will be.

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  15. Karen
    April 20, 2011

    “Though “Voldemort” implies that it shall not be named, like Dumbledore, I have never seen any reason to be frightened of talking about it. After all, the Canucks followed up the game by going on an incredible run, winning 17 of their next 21 games.”

    Those were basically my thoughts by the end of the game. Actually, my exact thoughts were “hmmm… Voldemort Game: Playoff Edition… wonder what Post-Voldemort Game: Playoff Edition wll look like”. No need to panic. At least not yet.

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  16. Anon
    April 20, 2011

    I’d just like to point anyone worried about our chances to the San Jose-Detroit series last year (especially game 4) and see if you can draw any parallels.

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  17. Eugen
    April 20, 2011

    It is inexplicable how a team playing like the Canucks did since the other 7-1 loss to the same Chicago can play this bad. It is like someone pushed the “Turn off” button and this was apparent from the first period.

    Don’t remember the last time I saw the Sedins looking slow and predictable like in their rookie years. Most of everyone else was more interested in playing dumb hockey like we witness in the other 2 series vs Chicago. This game looked like a perfect copy of the last year’s series when the lost of composure proved to be fatal.

    Canucks are the only ones capable to beat themselves. Last night they served us a horror dish and it remains to be seen if 48 hours are enough to come back to the effort and commitment from games 1-3, or the horror show will continue!

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  18. William
    April 20, 2011

    I am a diehard Blackhawks fan and am thoroughly enjoying this series even though we are down 3-1. Luongo Is a tremendous netminder and the Canuck in general deserve to make it further in the playoffs. Dont get me wrong, I wish for the hawks to come through, but I would much rather watch great hockey then mediocre skating. What people do not understand or even take into consideration is the Blackhawks lost 1/3 of their championship team and to be able to overcome that with a rookie goalie and make the playoffs is damn good. I honestly believe though we should not even be in the playoffs, but i will cheer my loudest until we are taken out. Good luck Canucks and if you beat us, I will root you guys all the way.

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    • peanutflower
      April 20, 2011

      well, that’s nice of you. that’s a pretty nice post. (not like some others)

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  19. @william
    April 20, 2011

    @William

    I want to hate Chicago I really do… i visited last summer and wore my Sedin T-shirt a few times (favourite Tee). And I got numerous comments from locals about how good the Sedins are how Vancouver will do it next year.

    Such a beautiful city We had such a great time. My wife and I are thinking about moving there.

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  20. HawksChamps2010
    April 20, 2011

    Man, I just can’t help myself and because seven times was just not enough…….. here you go Canuck fans……..wait for it…………da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da-da. I love this song!!!!

    Go Hawks!!

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    • BECanucks
      April 20, 2011

      Rira bien qui rira le dernier!
      :-)

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  21. O Dog
    April 22, 2011

    Canucks got away with a multitude of cheap shops at end of 2nd period of Game 5. Could not believe that Hawks did not start the 3rd period with at minimum, a 2 minute power play. Thank goodness that it was already 5-0 as the refs blatantly swallowed the whistle probably because they did not want to see the Hawks score more to prevent Canucks from totally going into goon mode. I would laugh if the Hawks win the series-especially since half of their roster was gutted due to the cap

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