Over the last two days, we’ve counted down the finest Canuck games of the past season, and it’s been clear that being a Canucks fan yields some absolutely riveting hockey. Some of last year’s games were veritable classics. The season series with Detroit, for instance, yielded nothing but magic. The season series with Dallas was immensely satisfying, too. Even the season series with San Jose had some great games.
Of course, they can’t all be beautiful. The Canucks played some absolute stinkers, too — games that, had we known they would be the athletic equivalent of being maced in the face (by an actual, medieval mace, no less), we would never have watched. Unfortunately, we didn’t know and, therefore, we did watch. From the blowout in Chicago to a divisional season series that never failed to disappoint, here are the five worst games of the 2010-11 regular season.
Here’s what we wrote in the IWTG after sixty minutes of the Canucks making Anton Khudobin look like the second coming of Ken Dryden: every so often, good hockey teams comes down with a case of bogusness. Suddenly, they flub passes, fan on shots, miss defensive coverages, and skate around like the walking dead, more suited to converging on the Monroeville Mall than the Xcel Energy Center. It can be terribly difficult to watch a team “do hockey” in these instances, as they seem to have entirely forgotten how. When this happens to your team, hockey fan, it is advised, for your sanity, that you A) stop watching, and B) do not continue watching. Unfortunately, we continued watching, and everything after that fateful decision was just as bad. The Canucks were terrible in this one.
Long before the Canucks cemented their reputation as road warriors by sweeping the five-game Southern California road trip, they put in a middling effort on a five-game Eastern swing, winning easy ones over Toronto and Ottawa, drifting through games in Buffalo and Piitsburgh, and absolutely failing to show up for the trip’s opener in Montreal. Carey Price picked up the shutout, but the Canucks hardly made it difficult. They played sloppy, uninspired, unpretty hockey, exacerbated by the Canadiens’ willingness to sit back, clog up the neutral zone, and let a fumbly, lethargic Vancouver squad turn the puck over all night. Most of their shots came from the point. Henrik Sedin went 0-for-8 on offensive zone faceoffs. The powerplay generated next to nothing on four opportunities. Worse, they didn’t seem to care. They hardly forechecked. They continually skated the puck into traffic. And they let themselves be pushed around by the Montreal Canadiens. In four tries, the Nashville Predators couldn’t produce a slower, uglier, more frustrating game than this one.
The season series with the Wild wasn’t exactly season 2 of Breaking Bad. In the previous decade, the Canucks and the Wild hated one another, as did their fanbases, and the games had some juice. Since then, the rivalry has cooled off somewhat, at least on this side of the border, leaving only gross hockey in its place. We still hate it when the Wild show up on the schedule, although nowadays it’s not because games are not fun to watch. Now, we’ll forgive a grody hockey contest when our team wins, but when they lose (badly, at that), it’s especially difficult to stomach. This puketastic early-season blowout featured some awful penalty-killing from Vancouver, which led to three easy mode powerplay goals by the Wild, brutal netminding from Roberto Luongo, Peter Schaefer on the second line, Rick Rypien’s infamous fan grab, and Ryan Parent.
Ah, the Voldemort game. This game — the sporting equivalent of The Human Centipede – was bad. The second meeting of the season between the two bitter, bitter nemeses came with more than a little hype. Chicago and Vancouver had already played an entertaining, tight game, and, considering they had quite the history of entertaining games even before that, one got the sense that this one, too, would entertain. Instead, the Canucks came out like ice: flat and easy to skate all over. They did nothing well. Their defense was awful, which was especially clear because the forwards took the night off (and also the Blackhawks scored seven goals). Roberto Luongo played terribly, and then Cory Schneider came in and played worse. The Blackhawks ran up the score and pushed the Canucks around all night. In short, it was a humiliating effort. The only saving grace was that it served as a wake-up call for a team that had been playing some spotty hockey up to that point. Of course, that saving grace was only noticeable in retrospect, two months later. On November 20, there was absolutely nothing redemptive about this game.
So what could be worse than the Voldemort game? Two horrible games rolled into one. Now, you might argue that this late-season mini-slump versus the Oilers shouldn’t count, but let me explain why I think it should: it was basically one game. The two games were so similar that one could argue the first one simply never ended. On April 2nd, the Presidents’ trophy-winning Canucks played ineptly enough to be outscored by three at the hands of the league’s worst team. They got pushed around. They turned pucks over. They generated next to nothing offensively. Then, after being absolutely embarrassed and looking nothing like the team that had run away with the league, the Canucks adjusted nothing, picked up where they left off three nights later in the second half of the home-and-home, and then got worse. How bad was it? It was enough to make people lose faith in the team. It was absurd. Despite having cleaned up in every major statistical category, the Canucks played so poorly in these two games that they had to re-convince people in their final games versus Calgary and Minnesota. The April 2nd game would have made this list on its own, but the fact that it wound up being 120 minutes long makes it the worst game of the regular season.Tags: Blogs are for lists, Canucks, featured, It's hard to make jokes after a game like that, Oilers, voldemort game, worst games