Canucks 2 – 1 Blackhawks (OT)

The similarities between this game and last February’s Olympic gold medal game are uncanny. The remarkable performances by Ryan Kesler and Jonathan Toews; a star-making showing from the losing goaltender; Roberto Luongo losing the shutout on a goalmouth scramble in the final minutes; an overtime goal coming out of the corner less than ten minutes into the extra frame; the fact that it happened in the same freaking building; the fact that it will go down as of the finest games in the history of Vancouver hockey. This game had everything: it was intense, emotional, terrifying, heart-attack inducing, and then, in the end, immensely satisfying. And I watched this game.

  • I must say, am quite pleased with the outcome of this game, especially after Crawford stoned the Canucks on so many chances to bury it. When Toews sent it to overtime, I thought I was going to vomit myself inside out. When Burrows took the penalty, I did a full re-enactment of James Dean’s classic “You’re tearing me apart” outburst from Rebel Without a Cause. Okay, that’s not true, I’m not that outwardly emotional. It was more wooden, like the one from The Room.
  • Your overtime hero: Alexandre Burrows. The safe pick to score might have been Ryan Kesler or one of the Sedins, but this is Burrows’s second series winner. You’ll remember that he scored an overtime goal to complete a sweep of the St. Louis Blues back in 08-09. In short? He’s got The Knack. I do believe his second series-winning goal makes him the clutchest goal scorer in Vancouver history. Future generations will speak of how you could count on Alex Burrows, like some sort of French abacus.
  • It really is an incredible goal. Chris Campoli makes the right play, in theory, trying to flip the puck out over the forechecker, especially with Mason Raymond skulking around, waiting to intercept a D-to-D pass. However, Alex “Rodriguez” Burrows shows a quick glove and snatches the clearing attempt right out of the air. From there, he sprints to the slot and slaps it home. Not since Monty Python have I seen such an effective slap.
  • Burrows almost didn’t become the hero, though. He nearly became the goat. He whiffed on a few sure tap-ins, and was even granted a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway. But, he couldn’t close things out, choosing not to utilize his usual backhand deke on Corey Crawford. (Crawford later bragged that he knew Burrows would shoot. Good on Crawford if he did, but he was the only one.) It was his missed pass that let Brent Seabrook turn the play back on Jonathan Toews shorthanded goal. Then, a minute into overtime, he took a penalty that looked like it might be the end of everything. Instead, the Canucks killed it, Burrows got one more chance at greatness, and this time he nailed it. The line between hero and goat is razor thin. Sometimes, it’s blurred.
  • It’s hilarious watching Burrows dodge an exuberant Daniel Sedin in order to do his patented Luc Bourdon tribute, only to slip and fall because he’s too excited. Then he is summarily piled upon. Kevin Bieksa would later say that the dogpile was so aggressive that he chipped a couple teeth. Ironic, since there’s probably about twenty mouthguards in that pile of bodies.
  • Speaking of redemptive stories, is there a bigger one than the sordid tale of Roberto Luongo? After questions about his mental fortitude or his ability to block rubber discs with his body, he committed robbery at times tonight. They were calling him RoKlepto Luongo (okay, no they weren’t). Luongo’s biggest save of the game came during the overtime penalty kill, when he slid across the crease to get his body in front of a Patrick Sharp attempt, although a down and out kick save on Jonathan Toews was also pretty spiffy. Like at the Olympics, Luongo fought the puck at times, but he made saves when it counted (except for that one he didn’t, but that doesn’t count). The Canucks’ goalie is now 4-0 in playoff first rounds, and he’s 2-0 in game sevens, with a 0.96 goals against average and a .961 save percentage. These are, of course, classic choker statistics.
  • That said, anybody who watched Roberto Luongo this season had to be feeling a lingering sense of dread as we waded into the final ten minutes. That’s snack goal territory, and Luongo wasn’t about to let some silly most important game of his career prevent him from doing what he does best: surrendering a goal within the final 10 minutes. For the 10th time this season, Luongo couldn’t hold the goose egg. I would have preferred if he hadn’t done that, but as great American preacher Jonathan Edwards said, wicked men are inconsistent with themselves.
  • A lot of people are going to be talking about the incredible effort by Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, and they’re right to. His shorthanded goal was the stuff of sheer will, as he outmuscled Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, and Alex Burrows to tie the game in the late stages. That said, Ryan Kesler was just as good tonight and throughout this series. Ignore the people complaining he didn’t score. He singlehandedly generated the game’s first goal by completely undressing Duncan Keith to set up Burrows. Kesler also played 25:02, game-high among forwards. He finished a game-high plus-2. He registered a game-high six hits (including this bit of thwackiness on Niklas Hjalmarsson). You’ll hear a lot about Jonathan Toews all-heart performance; Kesler’s may have been better. At worst, he battled one of the game’s best forwards to a stalemate, which I think makes him one of the game’s best forwards.
  • After failing to win a spot on the third line towards the end of the regular season, Maxim Lapierre’s game really came together in the playoffs. He hade five hits tonight, giving him 33 in the series, second in postseason hitting behind Dustin Brown’s 34. Since Dustin Brown is eliminated, that makes Maxim your active hits leader. Alain Vigneault’s decision to place him on a line with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen paid off as well. This trio, which we called the Dead Line because two of its members were trade deadline acquisitions, put in a solid performance, spending the majority of their shifts in the offensive end of the ice. While they never scored, their shifts were some of the most threatening in the game, especially a minute-long third period shift during which the line generated chance after chance, hemming the Blackhawks in their own zone for over a minute, and allowing a Sedin line change without forfeiting possession of the puck. Naturally, the Sedins gave it away immediately. Typical.
  • It was good to see the Green Men tonight, but it was especially nice not to see them often, because it meant there were very few penalties called. Mike Gillis’s prepared speech the other day clearly paid off. Some have complained about the lack of whistles tonight, but I think the larger issue here is whether the green men are brothers, and maybe their dad is also a green man, but he has a moustache growing outside of his mask like Dr. Mcninja’s dad. Riddle me that.
  • The Canucks defense deserve credit for the game they put together tonight. Alex Edler was the best d-man on the ice for either team, finishing with a four hits, four shots, 2 blocked shots, and a plus-12 Corsi rating in a team-high 28:49. Kevin Bieksa played a mistake-free 28:09, jumping into the rush and forcing the Blackhawks defenders to think twice about getting caught low on transitions. And Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis had a game-high 5 blocked shots to go with 3 hits and two takeaways. He registered two giveaways as well, but both were nonperishable food donations delivered to needy families during the third intermission, so it’s hard to fault him. Why the stat guys scored it that way is beyond me.
  • A lot of people have knocked the acquisition of Keith Ballard, especially after Michael Grabner went on to become a Calder nominee. However, Gillis explained that the purpose of the acquisition was to give the Canucks depth at D, especially in case of an injury before a big game like this one. To nobody’s surprise, Sami Salo was unable to go for game seven, and Keith Ballard was waiting in the wings to fill in. He did so, admirably, and I do believe that alone makes the trade a success. Hips only played 11:05, but he was reliable, and he also made this wicked hipcheck on Marcus Kruger. Tip for the kids: it’s never a good idea to stickhandle backwards through the neutral zone.
  • And finally, for those of you who prefer the male gaze, let’s give a golf clap to the  cameraman on the opening goal that finds a busty girl jumping up and down (0:15) immediately after Alex Burrows scores. Never underestimate a man’s power to find and film boobs. Somebody has lightning-fast reflexes. Anyway, that may be animated gif territory.
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28 comments

  1. invisibleairwaves
    April 27, 2011

    Great writeup as always.

    I loved what Hughson and Simpson said right after the overtime winner: absolutely nothing. They just let the reaction of the players and the crowd say it all. Too many play-by-play guys and colour commentators *cough*McGuire*cough* would have lessened the impact of that moment by yammering on about whatever. Hughson may be a bit of an obvious homer, but he’s fantastic at what he does.

    Can’t wait for round two against Nashville. A nice low-scoring defensive showdown should be great for calming down after the sheer madness of this series.

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  2. Jevant
    April 27, 2011

    What an awesome game.

    One quick question – where the heck was Gillis at the time of the GWG? Not in the box with Smyl and the rest…anyone have any idea?

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    • thejwo
      April 27, 2011

      He was in the bathroom. Seriously hilarious

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      • Harrison Mooney
        April 27, 2011

        Serious? What is it with this franchise and having to drop a deuce at crucial moments?

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  3. peanutflower
    April 27, 2011

    God, that was intense. Luongo just lies on the ground in the post-goal crush as if he’s got nothing left and can’t even stand up. Kesler is the hero. Has anyone ever worked harder? if he doesn’t get the Selke there’s something wrong with the process.

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  4. from the flock
    April 27, 2011

    From the Flock:

    Again a goal two minutes in!
    It should have been enough to win,
    But Crawford saves and Crawford saves,
    And then short-handed Johnny Toews….

    …. it’s apoplectic ecstasy:
    Burr scores his second in OT!

    Chicken Chick

    And so it seems that I was wrong
    The time has come to say, “So long”
    I pray your team stays stout and strong
    I’ll play for you a drinking song

    Despite the tension and suspense
    Which all agree was just immense
    I think yours is the better team
    I hope you realize your dream

    And had you lost the game tonight
    I am not sure I’d found it right
    For good reasons you finished first
    And past at last results reversed

    Now carry on and win round two
    There’s nothing now that you can’t do.

    Chicken Hawk

    (They didn’t lose as you well know,
    So well known names won’t have to go.
    There was no way they would stand pat,
    If losing to the Hawks like that.)

    It was a night for Bobby Lu,
    Who warrants now praise overdue!
    And Dan Hamhuis and Kessler too
    Were stalwarts for the green and blue.

    Alex Burrows was simply great
    Scoring early and scoring late!
    And if you would be asking me,
    The third line was star number three.

    And credit goes to all the rest
    For moving onward in their quest.

    Jenny Wren

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  5. antro
    April 27, 2011

    Well, that was awesome! The snack goal wasn’t necessary, for my taste, but there you go.

    From the posted video: I love how AV and Coach Q don’t even look at each other when they shook hands (around 43 secs). The hatred is written all over their body language.

    I thought the Sedins were good in games six and seven. But I can’t help but wish they would get nastier. I think that’s the secret reason for Samuelsson being on their wing now. To speak to them when they are on the ice the Swedish words for slash to the wrists and cross-check from behind. Maybe he’s the Sedin-whisperer.

    Speaking of nasty. What was nice to see is that both teams got over the nastiness after the Torres’ hit on Seabrook, and all the maliciousness of game 4. There was great hockey played instead.

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  6. DanD
    April 27, 2011

    Poor Daniel had to settle for hugging Bieksa, who strikes me as a bit of a nipple pincher. But I guess we all celebrate differently.

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  7. PeeCeeGee
    April 27, 2011

    Anyone else slightly sad at losing the poetic comentators. Does Nashville have poets too?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 27, 2011

      We’ve learned over the last few months that a couple of the poets in the extended family are Canucks fans. I believe Chicken Hawk married someone from Vancouver and had to move, which is why he ends up watching Canucks games and commenting on a Canucks blog.

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      • chicken chick
        April 27, 2011

        Not To Worry

        Mister C. Gull is here in town
        He just flew in from music city
        “Unlike the Hawks they won’t let down,
        On Nuckleheads they’ll have no pity.”

        He just remarked to Jenny Wren.
        “Predators plunder and destroy,
        Each meaner than a broody hen.
        You’ll witness now sadistic joy.”

        “As talk is cheap we’ll wait and see
        If your home team is but a name,
        ‘Cause anyone who’s asking me
        Will hear that they’ll not win a game.”

        So responded our Miss Jenny
        “You heard me right: none’s how many!”

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        • antro
          April 27, 2011

          This is just confirming my suspicion for a long time: the rhyming commenters have a very tight and similar style for different people. It seems there’s some serious centralized editing going on.

          Don’t get me wrong. I often “like” your posts. And it gives my an argument to my wife about how watching hockey can be an educational experience for our daughter…

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          • chicken chick
            April 27, 2011

            it’s a genetic thing: this penchant for iambic quadrameter.

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  8. Schneider's Teeth
    April 27, 2011

    That was the best commentary I’ve ever heard for a game. That includes Chris Cuthbert’s calling in the gold medal game. Never has the commentary made me so excited for the entire game. It captured the mood perfectly the entire time. Jim Hughson’s “SCORES” at the end (that “SCORES” captured the mood of Vancouver better than anything I could have imagined) rivaled the golden goal call itself – that’s why Jim’s the best. I think we need to sit back and appreciate how spoiled we were last night. Hughson is a god.

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    • DanD
      April 27, 2011

      Agreed! He is fantastic. And it’s doubly awesome because he was the voice of NHL 06, one of my favourites of all time. It makes me feel like I’m playing an awesome video game and watching an awesome game all at the same time. He’s so good he makes me overuse the word “awesome!”

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  9. Ken Blankenship
    April 27, 2011

    Mike Gillis had some effect on the Refs and Linesmen. Did anyone else notice the brake out pass the linesmen gave us?

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    • FleurDeMar
      April 28, 2011

      I don’t think Gillis had any effect on the refs/linesmen. It’s game 7 in a crazy ass series. They just let them play. As well they should have.

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  10. Erik
    April 27, 2011

    What do you hear, Starbuck? Nothing but the rain.

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  11. Charlie
    April 27, 2011

    *Gives an impassioned, crescendoing, single-tear-filled, slowly-rising-from-his-seat golf-clap to the cameraman for his brilliant cinematography following that first goal.*

    This is what I live for indeed.

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  12. vancityt
    April 27, 2011

    Great recap. I had exactly the same anxious reaction–the reason I had to watch this game alone, and couldn’t even follow the live blog feed. I did a lot of pacing. And apparently, I am able to scream when no one is around. Those that 20 minutes damn near killed me; had to call my mother to make sure she didn’t actually have a heart attack. Serious concern all around.

    But with this win, and hopefully a rejuvenated and galvanized team, comes some comments that put me back in some dis-ease. I’m all for confident, but cocky makes me cringe, and this Sedin quote has me anxious: “We were the better team for five games… They had no business being in this series.” While I would say sure, why not to the first, but why say that last bit? Clearly they had earned the right to be in the series. Had anyone said that about the Canucks (oh, and they did, and do, all over the inter-webs), we’d be indignant and pull up stats to defend ourselves.

    I dunno. I’m just a bit unsettled by arrogance–as Bieksa called some of the ‘Hawks. It seems to go beyond trash talk, especially when you’ve already won the series.

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    • J
      April 27, 2011

      Apparently that Sedin quote was taken out of context. That’s not what he said at all. From a hockey comm I read: “he said the canucks played five really good games, and two really shitty ones. he didn’t say the hawks had no business being in the series, he said: “it was a strong effort for us to get the momentum back in the last game, and tonight, they had no business tying up the game.” his words were completely changed.” And a link to the video the line was misquoted from: http://video.canucks.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=805&id=111422

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      • vancityt
        April 27, 2011

        Thank you for the link. It seemed out of Sedin’s character, although the quote sure has been buzzing around the ‘net fast.

        Cheers.

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  13. JS Topher
    April 27, 2011

    I was just watching the new Canucks-featured “History” clip and I noticed that Henrik also ges hug snubbed. By his own brother no less. Its pretty bad when the captain of the team can’t even get a hug.

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  14. ryan
    April 27, 2011

    has anyone else seen ‘catfish?’ does anyone else think that’s what might be going on with these ‘chicken poets?’

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  15. The Bookie
    April 27, 2011

    Alright, so now we need a vote on the best Vince Vaughn photo-op from the series.
    Was it …. this one? http://committedindians.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Vince-Vaughn-Luongo.jpg
    or… this one? http://link.trekcubed.com/vaugngreen.jpg

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  16. Mr Rupert
    April 27, 2011

    “Future generations will speak of how you could count on Alex Burrows, like some sort of French abacus.”
    thats great

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  17. Peanutflower
    April 27, 2011

    I have to say that today is a pretty good day. It’s like the day after a visit to the dentist. The pain is now gone even though it was a terrible experience and you’re glad you went. If I as a lowly fan feels this much relief of pressure one can only wonder how the Canucks — mostly Luongo — felt with the win. I can’t possibly imagine it could be any worse than that for the march on the next 12 wins.

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  18. YAY
    April 28, 2011

    Luongo is the s to the h to the i to the t

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