Canucks 4 – 3 Flames
My goodness, am I ever glad that hockey is back. Even if it’s the pseudo-Canucks, I am thrilled to watch it. As much as Harrison whined about his half of the split-squad equation, I enjoyed mine far more than I should have.
The final score may have had something to do with it. Even if the game in Calgary had been up-tempo and highly-skilled (and it certainly wasn’t), the final score would have made the game less entertaining for a Canucks fan. And if the game in Vancouver had been a more boring affair, I still likely would have enjoyed it. Fortunately, there was some decent hockey on the ice tonight, despite the lack of talent in the lineup. I should know: I watched this game.
- It’s very telling to see what kind of lineups the Canucks and Flames iced in Vancouver and Calgary respectively. Each gave their home fans the more talented lineup. The difference was that while the Canucks’ more talented lineup starred Marco Sturm, Maxim Lapierre, and Keith Ballard, the Flames’ more talented lineup starred Olli Jokinen, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Alex Tanguay. Even the Flames’ less-talented lineup in Vancouver had Jay Bouwmeester, Mikael Backlund, Nicklas Hagman, and Anton Babchuk. It’s safe to say the Flames had a few more veterans in the lineup than the Canucks.
- I was momentarily upset to miss the first four minutes of the game thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays refusing to go out 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning. Then I saw that no one scored. And then I remembered that it’s just the preseason and it didn’t matter. At all. Then I had a smoothie and felt better about life.
- There were 70 minutes in penalties in this game. 50 of those minutes were from fighting majors and 10-minute misconducts, meaning there were 10 minor penalties: that’s too many penalties. I can’t get behind that.
- Like a ziplock full of trail mix, Aaron Rome’s game was a mixed bag. His inattention while on the penalty kill allowed Nicklas Hagman to go in all alone on Cory Schneider and open the scoring. But he also played over 20 minutes and had some fantastic offensive moments. Yes, I’m still talking about Aaron Rome. He had 1 assist and should have had 2, as he snuck in backdoor, picked up a great cross-ice feed from Nicklas Jensen by kicking it up to his stick, then completely froze Calgary goaltender Leland Irving before slipping a pass across to Steven Pinizzotto who fanned on it. It showed astonishing poise and vision. But it sometimes seemed like he was trying too hard.
- Speaking of Rome, he absorbed what might be the first blindside hit to the head of the year. Hagman caught him looking the wrong way and picked up a 2-minute minor for charging. Like Peter Laviolette on Ville Leino, it was completely unexpected.
- Marco Sturm made a good impression in his first game with the Canucks, tallying a goal and an assist. After an Owen Nolan faceoff win on the powerplay, Rome walked the line then got a shot through to the net. Sturm spun off Anton Babchuk and smacked home the rebound. The spin-off completely baffled Babchuk, like the time he tried to figure out if that dancer on the internet was spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise.
- The nicest Canucks goal came shorthanded, as Chris Tanev intelligently jumped into the rush in the dying seconds of an Aaron Volpatti interference penalty, knowing he was safe to do so. His presence was clearly unexpected, as his check was caught flat-footed. The most important part of this goal? Sturm’s patience. He gained the line on the rush, but instead of trying to use his vaunted speed to go one-on-one, he slowed down, creating space for him to eventually feather the pass through to the rushing Tanev, who showed some patience himself, making sure that he got the puck up and over Irving’s outstretched pad.
- Cory Schneider gave up 3 goals in 20 shots in his half of the game: there was little he could do on the first two as his defence abandoned him, but he should have had the third goal of the game, an ugly short-side marker from Hagman. Eddie Lack, on the other hand, was perfect in his half of the game, stopping all 12 shots he faced. Backup goaltender controversy!
- Speaking of Hagman, there was a great moment when he loaded up a slapshot just as the whistle blew for offside. He just held his stick up in the air, looking for all the world like the human controlling him in a video game had held the slapshot button too long.
- This game saw the return of temporary Canuck Guillaume Desbiens to Vancouver and he made his presence felt, first by hanging a knee on Maxim Lapierre, then by getting in a fight with invitee Antoine Roussel. Looks like he finally learned how to make a fist.
- After a disappointing year, Jordan Schroeder was clearly looking to make an impact and he definitely succeeded. He formed a line with Steven Pinizzotto and Nicklas Jensen that was easily the best line in the third period, scoring the game-tying and winning goals. Quick, Canucks.com forum, start suggesting line nicknames!
- Schroeder started things off in the third. He and Pinizzotto broke in 2-on-1, and Schroeder immediately adopted his Brett Hull pose: stick in the air, gliding into the slot, letting Pinizzotto know exactly how this 2-on-1 was going to go down: Pinizzotto, you’re Adam Oates. Get the picture? The pass was perfect for a one-timer and the one-timer was also perfect for a one-timer.
- Jensen got his first point of the preseason with the second assist on Schroeder’s goal, then scored the gamewinner by wheeling out from behind the net, creating some space with some slick stickhandling, then taking a bad angle shot that slipped under Irving’s armpit. It’s a great start for the 2011 first round pick, better than the start Usain Bolt got at the 2011 World Championships. Well, maybe that’s a bad example.
- Finally, a moment with Owen Nolan: about halfway through the third period, Nolan got into a puck battle along the boards. While his opponent frantically poked and hacked at the puck, the 39-year-old calmly held the puck with his skate, expending no energy whatsoever. Then, at an opportune moment, he swung into action, pushing off the boards and kicking the puck to Jordan Schroeder, who was able to create a scoring chance. It was a wonderful example of old-man strength, as Nolan used only as much muscle strength as necessary to make the appropriate play.
, I Watched This Game