Canucks 3 – 4 Predators

A day after San Jose failed to sweep their series with Detroit, giving Vancouver the glorious chance to get at least a day’s more rest with a game five series win on home ice, the Canucks failed to capitalize, frittering away the opportunity with a night full of uncharacteristic blunders. Brutal blunders, like turning the puck over, giving up a shorthanded goal, or making Joel Ward’s July 1st price tag skyrocket. As Roberto Luongo said, “[Nashville] didn’t do anything special tonight. Whatever they got, we gave them.” He is correct. The Canucks outplayed the Predators in nearly every facet of the game, generating more chances, and even outscoring the visitors four to three. Problem was, some of those chances came in front of Roberto Luongo, and one of those four goals was scored into the wrong net. Like I said, blunders a go-go, all of which Alain Vigneault would probably classify as real bad. Blech. My mouth tastes sour, either because of the adverb abuse in the previous sentence, or because I watched this game.

  • Early in the postseason, Alex Edler looked as though he’d spent his time away from the team getting awesomeness augmentation surgery, but the Vancouver blueliner has spent much of the second round fighting the puck. He attempted a game-high eight shots, but it seemed as though he whiffed on almost as many. He also turned the entire game with the blunder of the night. Prior to this game, his most egregious mistake came when he bobbled a puck behind his net and wound up giving David Legwand a shorthanded freebie. However, he managed to top that in the second period, taking out the middleman and putting an airborne puck past Luongo with his forearm to tie the game. Yes sir, nothing says “fighting the puck” like when you punch it into your own net. He’s playing so poorly that, when Mikael Samuelsson let David Legwand score another shorthanded freebie in this game, Alain Vigneault turned to Edler and said, “He learned that from you.”
  • Though it wound up being for naught, Ryan Kesler did everything in his power to end this series tonight. He had two goals, four shots, and six hits, and went an absurd 21-for-26 in the faceoff circle, including a perfect 10-for-10 in the neutral zone. In the opening period alone, he won 9 draws in 10 tries. To put that in perspective, The Predators won seven faceoffs total in the first. How can you tell he’s playing with confidence? His third period snipe, which cut the lead to one and made the last few minutes interesting, is high glove side, where the team has been explicitly told not to shoot. Kesler, like Calvin and Hobbes before him, plays by his own rules.
  • Kesler also plays by his own rules in the medical room, where he spent all of one shift after taking a puck to the face in the third. We’ve talked before about how he might be the only player to take Jim Robson at face value and literally play on crutches, but this was absurd. I suspect that, when trainer Mike Burnstein went to start stitching, Kesler told him, “Just cut it off.” When Burnstein blustered, “Ryan, I won’t cut off your face,” Kesler snapped back, “Then I’ll find someone who can.” Unfortunately, calls to Nicolas Cage and Hannibal Lecter went straight to voicemail. Anyway, Kesler came back and just seemed to play harder. On his next shift, he mixed it up with Shane O’Brien, (who punched him directly in the wound, then taunted him, tapping his stick on the ice), and the shift after that, he broke up a Matt Halischuk breakaway with a brilliant stickcheck.
  • Speaking of brilliant stickchecks, the Canucks’ first goal comes on a Jannik Hansen double-hook special. After chipping the puck into the zone, Hansen perfectly times an assault on Ryan Suter, hooking the puck away, then hooking it back to Raffi Torres for the tap-in. Hansen’s been quiet in this series, this is a pretty good example of his uncanny ability to generate a scoring chance with a timely stick lift. Seriously, with stick lifting ability like that, I bet Hansen’s a whiz at KerPlunk. #KerplunkMeJannik
  • Are the Canucks aware Joel Ward isn’t Anson Carter? I can’t figure out why they keep passing to him.
  • In all seriousness, I’ve heard too many people compare Ward to Dustin Byfuglien. They are nothing alike, apart from timely postseason scoring and shared skin colour. I’ve always been cool with a well-placed joke, but let’s try to be a little more insightful and a little less race-oriented with our actual hockey comparisons.
  • Back to Kesler. On his first goal (above), he bats a puck out of mid-air at the exact moment Weber leaves the blueline, then takes off with Raymond for a 2-on-1. Weber (whose speed is seriously underrated) actually manages to catch up to two of the league’s fastest players at full speed, at which point he leans on Kesler as hard as he can. But, not only does Kesler not budge in the slightest, he gets his stick beneath Weber’s and pokes the puck home, as the Norris nominee slides helplessly into the net. Kesler has embarrassed Suter and Weber numerous times in this series, which is probably better evidence for how well he’s playing than anything else I could ever say. He’s shown a remarkable knack for making Nashville’s superstars look silly. Bearing that in mind, he can probably forget about ever being invited to present a Country Music Award.
  • Daniel and Henrik are going to get ripped again tonight, after finishing the evening minus-4 and minus-3, respectively. People will use these stats as an argument against the Sedins being postseason performers, but it’s actually an argument against the overuse of the plus/minus stat to measure performance. While their plus/minuses wouldn’t look so bad if they’d score a freaking goal, they were offensively dangerous most of the night (especially in the second), and the defensive breakdowns weren’t their fault. Though they were on the ice for all four Predator goals, they weren’t at fault on a single one of them — their blueliners were. The shorty was Samuelsson’s boner, as he failed to get back on a turnover. The second goal was the Edler fluke. The third goal came on a bad turnover by Kevin Bieksa, and the fourth came when Edler whiffed on a clear and gave the puck away in the slot. A much more reliable stat, Corsi, which measures shots for and against rather than goals, tells a completely different story: the Sedins played almost exclusively in the offensive zone. Their respective Corsi ratings were a respective +15 and +17. There was no one better.
  • Mad props to the Green Men for, well, their mad props. They got a laugh out of Mike Fisher by showing him his wife in enemy colours and, a few days after being asked to cut out the handstands, they responded by making a handstand cutout. Brilliant. @LexieJovanovski suggested they give cutouts of themselves to all the fans in the stadium, creating the eeriest arena in the history of hockey. I think it’s a great idea, although it’s not a completely novel concept. Phoenix has been using cardboard fan cutouts since the early 2000s.
  • The Predators blocked 30 shots tonight, almost matching the Canucks’ actual shot total of 34. Kevin Klein and Mike Fisher had six apiece. Ryan Suter had 5. Cody Franson was the only defender with less than two. That said, it’s hardly fair for the Canucks. With those grey and white jerseys of theirs, the Predator skaters look a lot like the net.
  • I understand the referees have been somewhat unfairly maligned in this series, but it seems even less fair for them to go on strike without telling anybody and still show up for work.
  • Sergei Kostitsyn got completely screwed on a first period penalty call. As he and Bieksa raced to a loose puck along the boards, Bieksa held him up with a hook. Kostitsyn tried the Keslerian chicken wing, tucking the stuck under his right arm. No dice. He got called for holding the stick. On the plus side, the referees are wise to this move now, right, Predators fans?
  • Proof that Pekka Rinne has been studying up on Alex Burrows: on a first period breakaway, Burr went to his go-to backhand move, and Rinne was already across to stop the high backhand. Rumour has it he also wore a carbon steel jock strap and shaved his head, so as to combat Burrows’ other go-to moves.
  • Christian Ehrhoff has a tendency to succumb to sudden bouts of rage. You’ll recall this classic image from a regular season tilt with Chicago, when he lost his mind and starting flailing like a flail snail . Well, he had another pure freakout tonight, flailing at David Legwand in a post-whistle scrum. Just how crazy did he go? A minute into the offsetting minors, he tried to axe his way into the Nashville penalty box.
  • And finally, though this series is unfortunately returning to Nashville for game 6, I wouldn’t worry too much about home ice advantage. The home team has won just one of the five games thus far. Considering that, and the fact that the music is better here, I bet the Predators would just as soon stay in Vancouver.
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32 comments

  1. gumby
    May 7, 2011

    one word:

    feh.

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  2. mm
    May 7, 2011

    I can’t take it anymore. What’s up with the Kostityn thing? You know that’s not actually how his name is spelled, right?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 7, 2011

      Thanks, mm. For some reason, it’s one of the few NHL names I have trouble with. I know how to spell it correctly, and yet I always forget the second S.

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  3. peanutflower
    May 7, 2011

    This was a poopy game, no doubt. It was just one of those throwaways where everything went wrong, yet the Canucks still managed to outplay their oponents. IWTG is genius. I laughed and I laughed. Thanks for lifting the mood. I especially like this IWTG because it’s almost pure prose — i.e. no obscure links and references that I am too uncool to get. Kesler is unbelievable, and yet still there are some Van fans who now apparently hate Kesler because he’s a smug American (comments on Province article). Seriously? Kes is entitled to every smug preening goal celebration he can muster up, as every celebration means one more goal for the Canucks. I just wonder how long he can keep it up…

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  4. Steven K
    May 7, 2011

    Ward has been playing a lot like Kevin Weekes lately.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 7, 2011

      Ha ha, exactly.

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    • Pepe Silvia
      May 8, 2011

      “Joel Ward is playing literally on fire. Literally!”
      - Kevin Weekes

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  5. Nat
    May 7, 2011

    A frustrating game to watch for sure, but without the Edler own goal, I think this game would have ended differently. It sucks that the Nucks couldn’t finish things off though. I would’ve liked them to close out the series in front of our fans.
    On to the next one. I expect them to finish the series with Game 6.

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    • Nat
      May 8, 2011

      Also, I totally agree about the Sedins…they were really good tonight. Yes they were on ice for the GA, but those were defensive brain farts. They looked dangerous out there.

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  6. mongo
    May 8, 2011

    i’m just gonna say it. country music blows

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  7. jenny wren
    May 8, 2011

    An own goal ties the game at two,
    And flukey goals are nothing new.
    (So suddenly the puck is in,
    Oft-times resulting in a win.)

    Our shots on goal were thirty-four.
    They must have blocked three dozen more.
    (The twins were on when they scored two,
    And this also is nothing new.)

    There is of course that old cliche:
    (Though everyone was in the game,
    And really there’s no one to blame)
    The puck just didn’t bounce our way.

    So one more time that sad refrain,
    (“The puck just didn’t bounce our way
    But there’s another game to play.”)
    And off to Nashville once again.

    Jenny Wren

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  8. olde coot
    May 8, 2011

    That Ryan Kesler comes to play
    Like Kenny Linesman in his day
    The latter really was a “Rat”
    The former more an alley cat

    He’ll scratch and claw his way to get
    And badgers all without regret
    Like Linesman Kesler’s mean and tough
    He’s so much more than good enough

    A shifty centre who can score
    And attitude one can’t ignore
    He’ll never win the Lady Byng
    For wussy play is not his thing

    He takes me back to days of yore
    When winning was worth dying for

    Olde Coot

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  9. SteveB
    May 8, 2011

    “The Canucks have too much Swedish and not enough finish.”

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    • whisky jack
      May 9, 2011

      Overheard At The Urinal

      “There is no need to be astute
      To note the twins are just too cute,
      And must pursue the perfect play
      Not shoot the puck without delay.”

      “Some folks are quick to criticize
      Who use treadmills for exercise;
      They’re never short of sage advice
      Who ne’er set skate upon the ice.”

      “I’ve but to say what can be seen
      Concerning Hank and Dank Sedin,
      Who always will a shot forsake
      If there’s a pass that they can make.”

      “You’re just another Johnny Doe.
      The finished first and fourth in points you know!”

      Whisky Jack

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  10. Saintez
    May 8, 2011

    Love how you claim VICTORY when you win and whine like little babies when you lose, your first goal was a gimmie on a pred turnover right in front of the net. You’ve totally received far more favorable calls this series (no boarding on the spalding concussion). I’d love to see the Canucks play without 5 of there regular contributors. The preds have gone without Sullivan, Lombardi, smithson, o’reilly, bouillon. Their payroll is 28 million less than
    Vancouver. You hate to give any credit dont you. A little pathetic. I guess if you are the only team left in canada playing, there is a little pressure. Nashville actually has a lot of other things going for them besides hockey….

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  11. John Andress
    May 8, 2011

    Not really playing like potential Stanley Cup champions, are they? They may stagger back from this one but how many more times can they do it? Not good enough and, unfortunately, it is starting to look as though it will never be good enough. How disappointing.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 8, 2011

      Seriously? It’s one loss.

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      • John Andress
        May 8, 2011

        No, it’s not just one loss. It’s another in a string of 5 losses in 12 games to teams that they could and should have beaten without turning things into an epic struggle. At some point in time the ‘find the hardest way’ system is going to backfire and bite them on the ass. They will run out of ideas and energy just as their long-suffering fans eventually start to believe that they just don’t have it when they most need it. Staggering from crisis to crisis is not the way a championship is won. I hope that I am over-reacting but it is hard to see this team not finding a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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        • peanutflower
          May 8, 2011

          How do you figure that? The Canucks’ record against the Blackhawks and Predators in regular season was not a blow out by any means. I believe they were about 50/50 or close to it. Thanks for your comment, debbie downer.

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          • Mikita's Helmet
            May 8, 2011

            Andress appears to be the only Nuck fan not wearing rose-colored (or whatever color their unis are this year LOL) glasses.

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        • kim r
          May 9, 2011

          Considering they’ve finally broken the Chicago curse and they went 2-2 with Nashville during the regular season it’s not been that bad. Yes, they looked like the Keystone Kops this game, but really except for Rinne is Nashville in this series? If they come out with a lackluster or bad performance on Monday’s game I will have to reevaluate what you are saying and perhaps agree.

          But not yet.

          And yes, we have played Charlie Brown to their Lucy for many years. Have some faith.

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      • John Andress
        May 9, 2011

        I take it all back. I apologize. I was reacting out of fear, anger and frustration. It is hard to break the habits of a lifetime. Henceforth, I shall try to eschew negativity and remain positive and supportive under all circumstances. Just, please, please, try not to make it so hard for me.

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        • Mikita's Helmet
          May 9, 2011

          But you were spot on. History is bound to repeat itself, ad infinitum, with the Canucks.

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    • Mikita's Helmet
      May 8, 2011

      Bingo!

      Can’t finish Caschmucks have had to play 4 extra games when they had a chance to finish out a series so far and travel 9,400 extra miles.

      Even if they go on to the Western Conference Finals – fingers crossed that they don’t – they’re gonna be worn down physically & psychically.

      Don’t see’em beating the Sharks (or Wings).

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  12. Mikita's Helmet
    May 8, 2011

    Proof is in da puddin! They’ve never won the Cup.

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  13. JS Topher
    May 8, 2011

    Psychically? Do the other teams have psychics on the bench breaking the canucks down mentally or psychologically? Must be a Nashville fan!

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    • Mikita's Helmet
      May 9, 2011

      You sure do know your hockey history? LOL!

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  14. Sach
    May 9, 2011

    This is the best blog at the Sun! :D And I agree on most of the points… Edler’s own-goal was really a momentum turner 8l

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  15. kim r
    May 9, 2011

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for pointing out that the twins aren’t responsible for any of the goals and that in this case at least the plus/minus is BS.

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    • Mikita's Helmet
      May 9, 2011

      Twins aren’t responsible for anything. Just what you want from them during the playoffs. Not taking responsibilty.

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