Tonight we saw the importance of a two-goal lead. In the first period, completely against the flow of play, the Canucks opened the scoring. They then took advantage of an odd penalty call to get an almost unprecedented two-goal lead. Then, in the second period, a familiar sight: on a shot from behind the goal line, the puck takes an odd bounce and slips in behind Luongo. Without a two-goal lead, that’s the tying goal and the game takes on a completely different complexion. Instead, the Canucks proceeded to make the final 36-and-a-half minutes of the game deathly boring, shutting down the Predators, the game, and the pleasure centers of the viewers’ brains. It is extremely fortunate that they don’t award style points in hockey (Note: if they start awarding style points, the Canucks need to sign Patrick Chan immediately). Still, while it wasn’t pretty, it was a Canucks game. I tend to watch Canucks games. It should not come as a surprise, then, that I watched this game.

  • Eager to start their own aquatic animal-themed playoff tradition, Nashville fans opted for the catfish, which seems appropriate. We have voiced our displeasure with fish-throwing rituals in the past, but full credit to the Nashville ice girl who showed no qualms with grasping the ichthyoid projectile and displaying it to the crowd.
  • Ryan Kesler is going to get a metric tonne of credit for his work on the opening goal of the game, seen above, but let’s toss a little love towards Mason Raymond for his slick finish. The initial temptation has to be for Raymond to attempt a one-timer, to just direct the puck towards the net and hope for the best. Clearly, that’s what Rinne expects, as he lunges out towards the top of the crease to cut off the angle. Instead, Raymond’s initial touch on the puck directs it to the far post, where he’s able to tuck the puck past Rinne’s out-stretched pad from his knees. It’s a deft finish that shows some surprising confidence, considering it’s his first goal and only his fifth point of the playoffs. How is that even possible while playing with Kesler?
  • Okay, back to giving Kesler a metric tonne of credit. The Canucks’ opening goal comes completely against the flow of play: it was only their third shot of the game, the previous two coming from distances of 68 and 59 feet. Nashville had already had two powerplays and was dominating possession of the puck. On the play that led to the goal, it appeared that Kesler was content to simply dump the puck into the Nashville zone and go for a change, which should partially explain how lackadaisical Suter is with the puck. But Kesler alertly identifies the moment Suter loses the puck in his skates and bursts forward, anticipating the short pass to Weber and timing his pokecheck perfectly. He so thoroughly victimized Nashville’s top pairing that Horatio Caine took off his sunglasses and gave Weber and Suter a caring, pursed-lipped smile.
  • Shea Weber actually had a pretty tough series. Despite doing an excellent job shutting down the Sedins, he had no answer for Kesler and the physical exertion required to keep up with both of Vancouver’s top two lines seemed to wear on him. Shockingly, Weber didn’t manage a single point against the Canucks after putting up 5 points in 6 games against Anaheim. As much as the Sedins got a lot of press for their offensive struggles, Weber’s struggles were far more significant. Without Weber contributing on the scoresheet, Nashville ended up dependent on the surprising contributions of Joel Ward and David Legwand.
  • The Canucks second goal came after an…interesting diving call on Jordin Tootoo. I am legitimately surprised that Edler did not get two minutes for interference and completely shocked that Tootoo got called for diving on the play. On the ensuing powerplay, however, the Predators showed a distinct lack of urgency, allowing the Canucks to gain the zone and send two players nearly uncontested to the front of the net. Kesler tips the initial Henrik Sedin shot through Rinne, allowing Daniel Sedin to bat the bouncing puck into the back of the net. Side note: that phrase has always bugged me. It strikes me that one would need to be behind the net in order to put the puck into the back of it and that scoring a goal requires one to put the puck into the front of the net. Just saying.
  • Despite Nashville’s best efforts, the hot weather clearly affected the quality of the ice. The puck was bouncing more than Chuck Taine. The Canucks did well to take a two-goal lead while the ice was still in tip-top shape, forcing the Predators to battle the puck as much as they battled the Canucks’ forecheckers and neutral zone trap in order to tie the game.
  • As much as Predators fans might have reason to dislike the Tootoo interference call, there was an equally ticky-tack penalty against Higgins as he slashed Tootoo’s stick out of his hand. Singular. As The Blue Rajah says, two hands there, son.
  • Now for some praise for the refs: Steve Kozari made the right call on Legwand’s goal, immediately signalling when the puck crossed the line as Luongo flopped backwards to cover it up. Full credit, as well, to CBC for swiftly finding the right camera angle to isolate the puck over the line. I haven’t seen such fine investigative video work since John Anderton.
  • Kevin Bieksa was in rare form tonight, both on and off the ice. On the ice, he had 4 hits, 23:46 total time on ice, and 3:32 shorthanded. Off the ice, he cordoned off a corridor and taped up “Canucks Only” and “No Predators Except Partner” signs. Don Cherry claims that “Partner” is Shane O’Brien, but that clearly is not one of his many nicknames. If Bieksa had meant SOB, he would have written “Pain Lion” on the sign.
  • Bieksa wasn’t done: in the second intermission Scott Oake interviewed Juice and, at the end of the interview, inquired as to what the Canucks needed more of in the third, leading Bieksa to unexpectedly reference LMFAO: shots shots shotshotshotshots shots shots. Shots. In doing so, he completed his season-long transformation from goat to league’s crunkest defenseman.
  • The second period was thoroughly ugly, as Vancouver managed only 2 shots on net and were entirely unable to mount any offensive pressure. Nashville wasn’t much better, only directing 7 shots on net, none of them particularly dangerous. The Canucks turned things around in the third, controlling the play and forcing Nashville to constantly start from their own end, but it was still choppy, chippy and chuppy hockey. Like when you let a child decorate their own cupcake, there was too much icing.
  • Jeff Tambellini played less than five minutes in this game, and only had 1 shift in the third period. Despite this, he had a huge impact on the game, chasing down Martin Erat on a clear-cut breakaway then taking him down with a clean body check. The speed Tambellini shows is absolutely incredible to see: he starts about 10 feet inside Nashville’s blue line, while Erat starts at center. That’s a good 40 feet of separation between the two. Still, Tambellini manages to not only catch Erat, but also get inside position on him before hammering him to the ice with his hip and shoulder. It’s an astounding play and arguably the most impressive play of the entire game.
  • The dying seconds of the game were easily its most exciting portion. After Alex Burrows narrowly missed an open net, he and the Sedins, followed by Kesler, Hansen, and Higgins, swarmed the Nashville zone like Hellwasps, preventing the Predators from escaping with possession. Eventually, the Predators were forced to ice the puck, bringing Pekka Rinne back into his net. The Predators’ only shot after that came with 2 seconds left.
  • The Nashville fans were absolutely incredible at the end of the game, cheering the home team almost immediately after the final horn and starting a boisterous “Let’s go Predators!” chant as they made their way through the handshake line. The raucous energy in the building continued to soar as the Predators skated out to center ice to salute the fans. The Predators clearly have a devoted fanbase; here’s hoping that this small taste of success in the playoffs will bolster that fanbase and contribute to the health of that market. Also, the Predators could use an influx of capital in order to afford a goalscorer. Just maybe.
  • My favorite part of the post-game celebrations comes at the 5:04 mark. Henrik Sedin cannot contain his enthusiasm as he embraces a trainer then a coach in ebullient bear hugs. He best be careful with those or Tanner Glass might start fighting him.
  • And finally, a brief reminder: we’re only halfway there. I know that after the heart-stopping drama of round one and the mind-numbing boredom of round two that it feels like the playoffs have been going on forever, but the Canucks will need 8 more wins to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Canucks will fortunately have at least four days of rest, as round three is slated to start on Saturday at the earliest, giving the battered a chance to recuperate and the tired a chance to recharge their batteries.

 

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23 comments

  1. kim r
    May 10, 2011

    It took the crowd a good 20-30 mins to really get going on Robson. That’s how sleepy this series was. Should be a fun next series no matter which team it is.

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  2. DavidRThomson
    May 10, 2011

    Great Post! I watched Patrick Chan’s Gold Medal, SB and WR winning skate and was blown away! Imagine if this guy was given a helmet and a stick…sickker than Datsyuk after some practice! He would dance around all the defenders! Now back to the post…Kesler was a beast no less tonight but as good as he was, I think Tamby had the play of the game…unbelievable skating!!! Reminds me of Grabner’s speed as it takes little to nothing to accelerate and be in full flight! Just imagine what he can do given more ice-time! And yes Shea Weber was not a factor at all! Canucks did a great job of shutting him down! I am glad you mentioned Bieksa’s antics especially the LMFAO’s “shots” reference xD That was priceless! And yes I was kind of worried about the fans because they were throwing the orange-but-actually-yellow shirts around but very classy of them to stand up and cheer on their team, chanting “Go Preds Go”! One of the most respectable fanbases I have ever seen! These fans deserved the great success their team had and should be very proud of their team…an elite team in the making no doubt. They proved and showed a lot and I have nothing but the utmost respect for their organization (altho I didn’t like them punching a canucks training dummy and bashing Canucks-coloured cars xD) Barry Trotz is the classiest coach in the league, especially praising the Canucks and congratulating them on their success. He deserves the Jack Adams Trophy for what he has done with this franchise and Pekka Rinne was impeccable! This guy kept the Preds within striking distance and deserves the Vezina after such an incredible performance this series!

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  3. annie
    May 10, 2011

    “Back of the net” ain’t nothin: “left his feet,” that’s the odd one. Left them where?

    Mainly I’m here to say hurray, Mason Raymond: he had that goal coming for a long, long time. I always need at least one moderately unsuccessful guy to cheer for in the playoffs, but I was not really expecting him to suddenly develop a crazy good forecheck and nearly telekinetic willpower to keep the puck in. He’s missed a couple of great chances, but he’s also manufactured a few, and seeing (or hearing, in my case) one go in was also great.

    Also, while the Nashville cheer at the end was terribly charming (though the jaded part of me thinks: they just aren’t used to it yet – and may they never get too used to it) I must speak to the atmosphere in Victoria today: it was like 28 Days Later. There was absolutely no one out. They’re always saying that on HNIC but really, it was almost creepy. A Strange Chill Fell Upon The Land, For It Was Six PM On Gameday And The Folk Were Under A Deep Spell.

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    • peanutflower
      May 10, 2011

      We were all at Podium!

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  4. J21
    May 10, 2011

    By scoring against the flow of play in the first, the Canucks pretty much did what their opponents always do to them when they fail to capitalize early. It seems for the Canucks, dominating early without scoring is the worst thing that can happen, worse than even simply sucking early. When they get chance after glorious chance but fail to score, it’s like a guarantee that they won’t later get the first goal of the game. It was so weird to be on the other end of that.

    I hope you will leap on this one for “quotes taken out of context, part (X)”:

    Joel Ward: “We’re not superheroes, we’re human, so that’s also disappointing.” [Presumably after having insult added to injury upon waking up to find that he is neither bulletproof nor able to teleport].

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    • Daniel Wagner
      May 10, 2011

      Ha, that quote is gold. Joel Ward’s reaction to not being a superhero is disappointment. Of course it is.

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  5. peanutflower
    May 10, 2011

    Great IWTG. Great Punctuation! I miss the old PITB format though. Now the Youtube links won’t open — and you have to clink twice, and then when you’re done you have to hit back in the browser and it goes back to the main page, and then another click to get to the full IWTG and continue reading. Or is it just me who experienced this?

    Anyway, I watched the game, but watching that replay of Jeff Tambellini is amazing — honestly, it’s like he was catapulted out or something. Remarkable. Love Henrik being so exuberant. It’s unlike him.

    Glad the series is over. It was hard to watch. The Canucks played the third period like they were some other team. The Wild of old maybe? Kudos to them for figuring that out and not leaving it until the 7th game.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      May 10, 2011

      Peanutflower, I think you can avoid the link trip by holding down the CTRL key when you click it. Then it opens the link in a new tab, and you can just pop over, view it, and pop back.

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      • peanutflower
        May 10, 2011

        that works. thanks. that was driving me nuts.

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  6. Pseuccubus
    May 10, 2011

    Is it bad that as happy I am that the Canucks won this series, I’m equally happy that I don’t have to watch these two teams play each other (or listen to those awful train whistles or “Too-too-zelas” as my husband calls them) until next season?

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    • peanutflower
      May 10, 2011

      I’m surprised they even allow that whistle. I heard (but didn’t see so unless there is vid it isn’t so) that some of the Canucks actually stopped in the first game as they thought it was a whistle. It became incredibly annoying after a while. Now we can get back to some wide open hockey hopefully. And have the joy of hearing Jeremy opine about the Canucks.

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  7. olde coot
    May 10, 2011

    My friend C. Gull flew home today
    He had these parting words to say:

    “Mister Mooney and Skeeter Dan,
    Though I remain a Nashville fan:
    I find your blog insightful fun
    And am so pleased that your team won.
    The Canucks are the better team;
    I hope they realize their dream.
    While they gave all that one could ask,
    The Preds weren’t equal to the task.

    “There’s one more thought I’d like to share
    Before I’m taking to the air:
    They’re some of those who troll your blog
    Are lower than a sausage dog.
    I speak of those who must demean
    The likes of Hank and Dank Sedin.

    “I speak to those who need to knock,
    Those little minds that have to mock
    Any player on any team:
    ‘You’re even smaller than you seem!
    I doubt you’ve ever worn a jock.’”

    Olde Coot

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  8. PeeCeeGee
    May 10, 2011

    When Henrik jumps on the ice after hugging the coaches, I thought (for a fleeting moment) that he and Cory Schneider were going to skip to the net hand in hand. Look at it again and tell me its not a possiblity.

    Also, Kesler was outstanding in this game. If only someone with influence on the internet could get a #KesLove hash tag trending.

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    • Pepe Silvia
      May 10, 2011

      After Henrik erupted like a little girl at a Bieber concert it looked like Schneider was the pushover dad asking him if then wanted to go get some ice cream.

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  9. Daniel Wagner
    May 10, 2011

    Ack, now I remember what I forgot to mention: yet another undeserved minus for the Sedins. Stupid late nights…

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    • Timmmy
      May 10, 2011

      Love the Minority Report reference, also find it awesome that you use ‘Ack’ as well. Sweet article!

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      • Daniel Wagner
        May 10, 2011

        Thanks Timmmy. I’m pretty sure my use of “Ack!” comes from grow up reading Bloom County. It’s pretty much the only thing Bill the Cat ever said…

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        • Nuck Jeet
          May 11, 2011

          Loved Bloom County, props for the reference. See if you remember this, my favourite BC line of all time: “Failure Mr. Jones, is hardly very original. Sit down”

          Enjoy: http://pics.livejournal.com/black_samvara/pic/0004qfa8

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          • Daniel Wagner
            May 11, 2011

            That’s one of my all-time favorites.

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  10. JS Topher
    May 10, 2011

    I am so proud of lil Tambo!
    I’ve been saying since game 5 last series that they need to give him a shot. The guy came out like mad when we started the season because he had his career on the line and so much to prove. Bench him for a stack of playoff games and surely he’d strike again. Number 10 is definitely one of those guys that can step up his game for the playoffs. That’s just who he is. I said it all along.
    I’ll admit though, I was pretty nervous when I saw him slated to play. I couldn’t have him be terrible, and have all my friends find me wrong. He HAD to make an awesome play or two. Thank god he did; for the Canucks, their fans, and my pride.

    P.S. Rome: W. T. F.?
    I just hope AV has been saving Ballard for the next series. Like “Hey, NOW the playoffs start, let’s let K-Balls play!”

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  11. Pepe Silvia
    May 10, 2011

    Henrik looked an order of magnitude happier than the others around him when that final buzzer sounded. Given this will be his first look past the second round I predict next series will be the Sedins’ coming out party. They were generating some quality chances against some very good defensive pairings and even better goaltending performances.

    The Sharks/Red Wings have solid defense and goaltending too, no doubt, but I don’t think it will be as suffocating to the same extent. I’m not talking wide-open hockey, but I think the Sedins will find they’ll have an extra 1/3rd of a second to make a play… and maybe that’s all they’ll need.

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  12. Rachel
    May 10, 2011

    Ok, I have to say, I think you’re a little off-base with your comments about Preds fans. I was in the arena, and those fans were SO quick to turn on their team at a moments notice. My section even began to boo their team in the 1st period. Yes, they chanted “Go Preds Go” at the end, but many had already left halfway through the 3rd, and the rest “threw in the towels” in the final moments. There were certainly angry fans in the sections surrounding ours.

    Not to mention that they seemed much more excited about booing and dissing the Canucks than cheering on their own team. Celebrating goals by repeatedly chanting “you suck”, and arena-wide chants about Canuck players being losers and sissies (not to mention a homophobic slurred version from a few of the 300-level seats) does not seem like “absolutely incredible” fans to me.

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  13. Tommy
    May 11, 2011

    Canadian fans dogging Nashville Tennessee fans about hockey is funny considering no cup I had to look it up I could not believe Vancouver has no Stanley cup …if I read NHL.com wrong plez correct me…he’ll of a job predators

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