http://youtu.be/d8NHJGQlvxc

Canucks 2 – 3 Ducks

A number of Canucks veterans played their first game of the preseason tonight: Luongo, Burrows, the Sedins, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Samuelsson, Edler, and Salo. That’s 9 out of 19 players playing their first game of the season. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t quite as crisp as they could have been. Also, they were not so fresh and so clean (clean).

That said, the top-six forwards looked remarkably like the top-six we can expect to see on opening night, and it was a sudden and shocking reminder of how the Canucks play: Oh yeah, that’s what good hockey looks like. How do I know what it looked like? I watched this game.

  • A large number of Canucks fans were unable to watch the first two periods thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies/Atlanta Braves game going to extra innings. Thankfully, I have Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, which carried the game. The complaints on Twitter about Sportsnet continuing to show a game vital to the National League wild card race instead of cutting to a preseason hockey game were absurd. And I’m talking about the media.
  • For those wondering, the Braves lost in the 13th inning and so will miss the playoffs. Kind of a big deal. Also, do yourself a favour and catch some highlights of the games involved in the American League wild card race. Absolutely insane. Also, a fan gets hit in the junk by the gametying home run in the Rays/Yankees game.
  • The players battling for roles on the fourth line — Mark Mancari, Mike Duco, Victor Oreskovich, and Aaron Volpatti — were asked to prove their worth on the penalty kill, with all four seeing some significant time shorthanded. It’s clear that Vigneault will expect versatility from the wingers on the fourth line, which might be bad news for Todd Fedoruk.
  • The rust was on display on the Ducks’ first goal, as everyone on the ice got their wires crossed. Cam Fowler spun off Duco at the blueline, who chased Fowler down the boards, peeling off as he approached the net thinking that Edler would take him. Instead, Edler inexplicably backed up into the slot, almost running into Bieksa. Schroeder, meanwhile, skated cross crease to take away the passing option. No one took Fowler. In desperation, Mancari skated down, stick outstretched, hoping to take away the front of the net. Instead, the puck deflected off his stick past Luongo. Like Fawlty Towers, it was a comedy of errors.
  • While Luongo couldn’t be fawlted…er, faulted on the Fowler goal, Bobby Ryan’s 2-0 goal was another story. Just over a minute after the opener, Ryan stepped over the blue line and laced a shot top corner through Andrew Alberts’ legs. While Alberts certainly shouldn’t give a sniper like Ryan that much room, Luongo definitely wanted that one back.
  • The Canucks came on in the second period, starting with a Henrik Sedin goal. While his linemates were changing, Henrik kept the play alive, sending it to the opposite corner, where Oreskovich alertly tracked it down and made a nice pass to Bieksa at the point. As he is wont to do, Bieksa sent a wristshot on net, where Henrik tipped the puck. After benefiting from a bounce off Mancari in the first, Fowler had Henrik’s tip go off his skate and over Jonas Hiller.
  • Oreskovich was a revelation offensively, making a number of excellent passes and controlling the puck well down low. He also showed some latent dangling ability, creating space for himself with some excellent stick handling. Like Raffi Torres in a photograph, Oreskovich was noticeable. Was he motivated by my questioning of his Streakiscoringness? Is he angling for another Raffi head in his rating?
  • Speaking of potential Raffi Replacements, Aaron Volpatti demonstrated some more bowlingballitude. Unfortunately, his prospective pin, Andrew Cogliano, was facing the boards at the time. While Cogliano did turn towards the boards just prior to the hit, Volpatti might still have had time to pull up. We’ll see if Sheriff Shanahan has another video to make.
  • The Canucks first unit powerplay featured the expected substitutions: Burrows filled Kesler’s spot alongside the Sedins, while Samuelsson stepped into Ehrhoff’s role at the point. The powerplay didn’t strike, however, until the Canucks earned a 5-on-3 and Sami Salo stepped into a one-timer set up by Henrik with Burrows screening in front. Vigneault has to be given some credit, as he took a timeout, giving his first unit time to rest as well as giving Daniel the chance to shake off the slash that precipitated the 5-on-3.
  • Some might think that Salo should be on the first unit instead of Samuelsson, considering Salo is, y’know, a defenceman. But that would be antithetical to how the Canucks run their powerplay. It should be noted that Salo took the place of Edler, not Samuelsson, when he came in on the 5-on-3. The Canucks like having a threat from the point and a roamer, which was the role that Ehrhoff played. Edler is the quarterback on the point of the first unit, Salo plays that role on the second unit, while stepping in at 5-on-3 when they want the big shot.
  • Shorty’s play-by-play provided a line on Tanev that pretty much sums up how the youngster plays: Tanev gets bowled over by Sbisa but still comes up with the puck.
  • At one point, Burrows clipped Fowler with his stick following through on a shot, then immediately skated over to make sure Fowler was okay. Who is this guy wearing a Burrows jersey?
  • Andrew Alberts had a few moments where his skating let him down defensively, but he also had one superb moment offensively. Jumping into a 3-on-2 rush with Daniel and Burrows, he made like Henrik during a great give-and-go with Daniel, then a nice backhand-to-forehand move on Hiller. Unfortunately, like me trying to sing “O Holy Night,” he couldn’t get it high enough.
  • I hate to rag on the refs during a meaningless preseason game, but there were a couple calls in the third period that showed the zebras are in preseason form as well. The first was a weak tripping call when Burrows hooked Sbisa’s stick. The second was a baffling interference call on Andrew Alberts nailed Cogliano with a solid check nearly simultaneous with Cogliano playing the puck. If that’s a penalty, they may as well cut the blades off their sticks and switch the puck for a rubber ring.
  • Unfortunately, one of those penalties led to the game-winning goal. With Burrows in the box, Visnovsky slapped a one-timer through Luongo’s legs. The goal bore a distinct similarity to Salo’s tying goal, except Luongo didn’t have Alex Burrows jumping in his face. Luongo might receive a bit of criticism after this game. If so, he should pull a Carey Price and tell everyone to chill out. Please, Vancouver, we already riot like Canadiens fans. Let’s avoid criticizing our all-star goaltenders like them.
  • Speaking of all-star goaltenders, Jonas Hiller was on fire tonight. Figuratively. He made 31 saves for the win, 18 of them coming in the third period. He was especially impressive when the Canucks got a late 5-on-3 and pulled Luongo to get the rare 6-on-3 advantage. His butterfly was unbeatable along the ice. Also unbeatable: his Butterfree. If he busts that out in a battle, you are hosed.
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15 comments

  1. Noodle
    September 28, 2011

    Although we din’t win tonight, there were some encouraging signs for the upcoming regular season. Edler looked good on the 1st unit, despite a few gaffes, Oreo had jump, and wow is it great to see the Sedins back at it.

    On another note, did I miss the final installment of the Zombie saga? I thought it was supposed to be posted last week, but I didn’t see it… : (

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  2. peanutflower
    September 29, 2011

    Yes, it’s pretty amazing to have sat through the previous pre-season games, or as I like to call them, the pre-pre-season games, and to have the pleasure to again see the Sedins do what they do. One forgets how wonderful they are. It was pretty good tonight — it’s like the Sedins and Burrows and maybe a few others pull the rest up along with them. Oreskovich was amazing — just like he played in the playoffs. He definitely benefited by playing with the “real” Canucks. Burrows did a pretty good Kesler impression I thought. The PP looked good at times — I didn’t really see the Ducks have the puck control that the Canucks had. It’s too bad Hiller was so spot on. Tanev is and always will be the Canucks money in the bank defenceman of the future. Seriously. Luongo — well, I’ll give him this one as just a shake off the rust game. Just the one, though. All in all it was pretty good.

    It’s pretty weird how even now so early in the season old Shanny has completely changed the tenor of the game — now it’s not I wonder if he’ll get a penalty, it’s whether a hit is suspendable, now that suspensions are being handed out like candy.

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    • peanutflower
      September 29, 2011

      Okay, I admit it, I couldn’t help myself. I poked around in the Ducks forum. I never do that. 8 out of 10 posts reference the Canucks as divers in this game. I just didn’t see that at all. Including Daniel overselling the slash on his hand. Man, the Canucks will have to play minus limbs before anyone gives them a break on the slander this season.

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  3. chicken hawk
    September 29, 2011

    I could not watch all of this game
    The Braves and Phillies were to blame
    It took thirteen the final score
    Braves lost the game three runs to four

    Which of course provides the reason
    The Cards are playing this post season
    As are the Rays who beat the Yanks
    Evan Longoria gets the thanks

    The Nucks and Ducks were tied at two
    The end result was nothing new
    Luongo let the third one in
    And Anaheim hung on to win

    Though I admit there’s this to say
    The twins and Burrows came to play

    Chicken Hawk

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  4. Blaine
    September 29, 2011

    I Read this Blog Post. As usual, your analysis deepens my appreciation of the game. During the playoffs last year, this blog and community was a refuge in a sea of hysteria. I look forward to new entries almost as much as I look forward to watching prospects and PTO’s in pointless

    I just wanted to express my appreciation before going on to say that I felt justified in making “absurd” complaints via Twitter and directly to Sportsnet regarding their choice of programming. I admit it. I almost busted my caps lock.

    No official survey shows, but my gut tells me so, that a huge majority of Sportsnet subscribers would rather watch a meaningless game of preseason hockey than two American baseball teams battle it out for a wild card spot. Yes, it’s preseason hockey and it’s meaningless but in the grand scheme of things so are all of professional sports. It’s a distraction but a carefully chosen one.

    So even though the MLB wild card race was epic in its meaning for the future of all humanity, my son and I would still have much preferred to see Luongo and the Sedins and Burrows take to the ice for the first time in months. Even it had been just another exercise in seeing how the fourth line stands up to another teams’ starters, I’d still want to see if Mancari could bring some physicality, watch Duco’s finely tuned agitation or Ebbet sitting on a phone book to see over the bench. I don’t think I’m in the minority here.

    But all defensiveness aside, thanks for being the pre-eminent hockey analysts in all of blogdom. Looking forward to the start of the season and the end of MLB broadcasts forever, amen.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 29, 2011

      Thanks for the praise. As for the complaints, I’d like to point out that in the original post I was pointing out the absurdity of media members complaining. Individual sports fans are perfectly justified in complaining that Sportsnet did not show what they wanted to watch and did not make it clear where fans could find the Canucks game. People with Shaw are even more justified, as Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey was apparently not working for them.

      That said, if the most exciting day in regular season baseball couldn’t grab your attention…well, fair enough, I guess you really don’t like baseball.

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      • Blaine
        September 29, 2011

        And thanks for the clarification. In all fairness, it was the most exciting baseball I’ve seen in a while. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for somebody, anybody to score! It is a great sport though, with its strict lessons in delayed gratification.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          September 29, 2011

          I played baseball for years, so I have a bit more of an appreciation for the game because of that. Delayed gratification is pretty much the perfect phrase.

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          • Noodle
            September 29, 2011

            Yep, Sportsnet Vancouver didn’t work. So no place to watch the game. However, I never would have watched, or been aware of, the wildcard epicness otherwise. So I’m kind of happy I got to see that. That being said, I still hate baseball.

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  5. George Stevens
    September 29, 2011

    I’m not happy with Sportsnet. I dont care how important those baseball games were, I hate baseball and the only reason I pay for my HD sports package is for Canucks games. The fools at Sportsnet should have provided some channel info for “Sportsnet Vancouver”, as I spent half my night flipping through channels to try and find it (I know I pay for it somewhere…)

    BOO to Sportsnet.

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  6. Wagman
    September 29, 2011

    I always enjoy IWTG, but there appears to be one glaring omission in this one: where’s the final score of the game? Usually it is below the first video at the top of the article. Is my browser messing around with the page or is it actually missing? Usually I would already know the score, but I am still working up to regular season form.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 29, 2011

      My bad. I’m still in preseason form too, apparently.

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  7. annie
    September 29, 2011

    Burrows checking on Fowler, though, right? Severe cognitive dissonance there. I mean, I am all for more sportsmanlike conduct in general, and I also happen to think Alex Burrows is probably a pretty nice guy, but I still sat there blankly looking at my screen like “did that happen?” Preseason, I guess, and a familiarity with what happens when things get up under the visor, cf Manny.

    My favourite part of this game was when the Canucks had a beautifully tight pp that failed to score, and I was yelling at my non-Canucks-fan friend about how great it was while she was out of the room, and then I made her come in and watch that 6-on-3 lulzfest at the end, and she looked at me with what I can only describe as a mixture of pity and condescension

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 29, 2011

      I have no qualms with Burrows checking on Fowler. I liken it to football, when a tackler helps up the guy he just tackled and they smile about it. There’s nothing wrong with a little friendliness amidst the competitiveness.

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      • annie
        September 29, 2011

        Oh no, I loved it, I just had a moment of suspicion. Is he up to something nefarious? Is that really Burr? Do they know each other or something? Are they part of a secret society designed solely to erode our belief in the nature of our constructed reality through the medium of performance art, having spent whole dramatic careers leading up to this point, this precise climax of human kindness crashing into the sacrosanct boundaries of the rink, questioning and reaffirming our belief in ourselves as a people? You know, that kind of thing.

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