Canucks 3 – 4 Penguins (SO)

Opening night at Rogers Arena was an awkwardly bitter sweet affair. The Canucks’ impressive trophy haul from last season was on display as Al Murdoch recapped the stellar 2010-11 season, while quietly avoiding the topic of the biggest trophy absent from centre ice. Then the awkward subject of the post-game-seven riots came up, leading into the inspirational honouring of the heroes who helped the city both during and after the riots. Henrik gave the ceremonial game puck to the incredibly shy little girl who had helped her dad clean up the streets the next day, which was adorable.

The game itself: also bittersweet. Having hockey back is like sampling the sweetest flavours at La Casa Gelato; seeing the Canucks lose in the shootout is as bitter as poorly-made hummus. I watched this game.

  • Did anyone else notice the plastic bracelets on Pascal Dupuis’ wrist? I’m guessing he promised one of his three daughters that he would wear them. Either that or he raided their dress-up jewellery.
  • Both goaltenders let in goals that they’d like to have back. The difference tonight is that Roberto Luongo let in two of them and Marc-Andre Fleury let in only one. The Penguin’s first goal banked off Luongo’s right leg from the goal line, while their third goal was a short-handed wrister off the rush by Matt Cooke that sneaked between Luongo’s blocker and pad. Or snuck. Or, since it was Cooke, weaselled.
  • Cooke deserves full credit for his first goal. It came off a bit of a broken play that left Dupuis all alone behind the net and Cooke all alone in front of it, and he snapped it top shelf where Daddy keeps the handgun. The second assist goes to Aaron Volpatti, who misread the play and threw the puck behind the net hoping to find Ballard rather than Dupuis waiting for it. Volpatti was streets behind on that one.
  • Back to the weak goals: Maxim Lapierre scored a candidate for Ugliest Goal of the Season, flinging the puck towards Fleury from the corner behind the goal line. Fleury went to parry the puck away with his stick and instead had it slip by, then accidentally kicked the puck in as he attempted to recover. The goal came off a fantastic forecheck by Lapierre and Dale Weise to turn the puck over.
  • Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins was the most consistent forward on the Canucks in this game: if it were actually possible to give 110%, I’m pretty sure he would. Higgins led the way physically with Maxim Lapierre, as both logged a team-high 5 hits each. Higgins added 3 shots on goal and 3 more attempts, along with 2 takeaways. Still, he was pretty disappointed in his game: since no one scored when he was on the ice, he couldn’t get into any group hugs.
  • The Canucks second goal was a thing of beauty and it kicked off what I am optimistically calling The Redemption of Keith Ballard. The much-maligned defenceman had a solid game at both ends of the ice, capped off by a gorgeous goal off a slick feed from Henrik. After starting the breakout in his own end, Ballard took off down the wing, showing up wide open at the back door while the Penguins were focussing on shutting down the Sedins. Ballard’s finish is impeccable. His Finnish, on the other hand, is awful; Salo cringes every time he tries to start a conversation.
  • Every Canucks centre finished at 50% or above in the faceoff circle. Their biggest victim was Evgeni Malkin, who won only 25% of his faceoffs, losing draws to Hodgson, Sturm, Malhotra, Henrik, and Lapierre. Despite scoring to seal the game in the shootout, Malkin did not have a good game, frequently losing his feet and the puck. He finished with no shots, though he was on the ice for both Penguins powerplay goals. Speaking of, the Canucks penalty kill was pretty terrible: not much more can be said about it.
  • Ryan Kesler was fully clothed when he was honoured in the pre-game ceremony, but he wasn’t dressed tonight. Ba-dum psssh. Also, CBC showed the naked photo during the second intermission with no warning: guys, kids watch Hockey Night In Canada. Just saying.
  • Daniel Sedin was robbed by Fleury in the first period when he couldn’t get the puck over Fleury’s glove after Gilmouring him from behind the net. He did not make the same mistake when he got another scoring chance, tucking the puck just under the bar to tie the game 3-3.
  • The NHL.com video shows the entire sequence leading up to that goal, and it’s a beauty. After Malkin misses the net from the slot, Daniel and Burrows break up ice. Daniel makes a slick drop pass to Burrows to get across the blueline, then Burrows makes a slick drag move to get a step on Paul Martin, drawing a penalty in the process. Burrows gets stuffed on his wrap-around attempt, but manages to keep the play alive with one hand on his stick as he falls to the ice, hooking the puck to Salo in the slot. His shot is fought off by Fleury, but Daniel gets the puck to Henrik along the boards, who flips it back to Daniel once he gets to the slot so he can finish the play off with a goal. It was a brilliant play by Burrows, who may not be a wizard, but spellcasters need a tank to draw aggro.
  • The deadly duo known to all Bulies as HamJuice led the Canucks in icetime, with Bieksa topping the list at 26:27 despite spending 2 minutes in the penalty box. Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis had his best moment when Malkin attempted to deke him out 1-on-1: not only did Hamhuis stand him up and come away with possession of the puck, he did it all while telling Malkin about how he can help donate to East Africa drought relief.
  • Cody “Silent G” Hodgson needs that nickname to stick. Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes couldn’t get his name right, pronouncing the “G” every single time. Lee also had issues with Aaron Volpatti’s name, pronouncing it three different ways through the game. It’s not that hard: just imagine you are making a burger out of a vole. Make a vole patty.
  • Silent G struggled early on in the game but became one of the Canucks’ most dangerous forwards late in the third period and overtime. He came just short of scoring the gamewinner late in the third, busting through the slot and patiently out-waiting Fleury: unfortunately, Fleury managed to lunge across and get just enough of the puck to send it inches wide. The scoring chance bore a remarkable resemblance to his first ever NHL goal.
  • The second line as a whole, however, was not as good. I was surprised by the choice to use Mikael Samuelsson in the shootout as I thought he had a pretty poor game. Marco Sturm was also disappointing, as he seemed to get knocked off the puck far too easily. It was not a promising start for the Candy Striper line.
  • While neither Samuelsson nor Burrows were able to score in the shootout, Luongo fell prey twice to similar dekes to the backhand from Kris Letang and Malkin. Yes, they were gorgeous moves, but it makes me wonder if that’s the book on Luongo in the shootout or if Malkin just saw what Letang did and copied him. It makes me wonder which one’s Annie and which one’s Frank.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

32 comments

  1. BeCanucks
    October 7, 2011

    Well, the SH goal made me go “uhu” but the third was a good effort.
    1 point done, 116 to go ;-)

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  2. Chazz Ranger
    October 7, 2011

    Thought that was a pretty sweet season opener. Great pace, lotta action at both ends. Stoked for Hips, that’s the Ballard we need this year. Stoked also for Hodgson, that goal would’ve been epic had it gone in.

    Is there any cap room left to pick up a new breakaway move for Burrows?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • invisibleairwaves
      October 7, 2011

      The truth behind Aaron Rome’s hand injury: he suggested to Burrows that he should maybe try something other than backhand-glove-side sometime.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Harrison Mooney
        October 7, 2011

        Ha!

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  3. Phuong Pham
    October 7, 2011

    No comments on Tanev’s play tonight?

    I think tonight was the first time I’ve seen him have a tough game and struggle a bit.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  4. invisibleairwaves
    October 7, 2011

    Between this game and the SCF, it’s becoming apparent that Kesler is not merely a big part of the Canucks’ special teams, he IS the Canucks’ special teams.

    Also: My mind is still blown by the fact that Matt Cooke scored two goals as a result of elbowing penalties. The irony there is so potent that we need to consider the possibility that we spent this evening in an alternate universe.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  5. Zach Morris
    October 7, 2011

    Bieksa, Sedins, Burrows, Lapierre all had good games.
    Luongo’s in October form, but then again, so is Evgeni Malkin.
    If you played the “have a shot every time Evgeni Malkin loses an edge” drinking game, you’d probably be dead.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  6. Julia
    October 7, 2011

    “Both goaltenders let in goals that they’d like to have back.” I have to say, that’s my least favourite expression in hockey… I get where you’re going when you say it, but all I can think is, does a goalie ever let in a goal and say, “Gee, nice shot buddy, you can have that one”?

    Anyways, welcome back hockey and PITB, looking forward to a good season!

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      October 7, 2011

      Ha! Fair enough. I’m pretty sure every goaltender wants every goal back. I’ll think about that the next time I’m tempted to use that cliche.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • John in Marpole
      October 7, 2011

      Wish I could give 20 thumbs up regarding the “let in” phrase. Been playing between the pipes for 45 years, not once have I ever “let one in”.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Daniel Wagner
        October 7, 2011

        I let one in once. It was a fun co-ed game and the girl had never played hockey before.

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  7. J21
    October 7, 2011

    Best line of the night came from Mrs. 21 as I loudly cringed when Silent G’s shot slid by the post: “Calm down, it’s only preseason.”

    That wasn’t John Ashbridge, was it? Sounded like they had someone else.

    I hate the shootout as much as the next guy — in fact, much more than the next guy — and it’s not just because the Canucks are bad at it (I don’t understand what’s wrong with ties). But as long as they have an impact in the standings, and they do, then the Canucks need to start practising it. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they don’t. Rollie Melanson, at the very least, has to coach Luongo for these things, because his mistakes are correctable and shootouts happen many times throughout the season… and he’s just not very good at them.

    As I tweeted after the game, not only is the book out on Luongo in the shootout, it’s been translated into 22 languages. He bites on every fake and falls forward. The 2-0 result last night was a given the moment the final seconds of OT ticked down, as the Canuck shooters apart from Burrows have never been big breakaway buffs either. (Poor SO record or not, I still trust Daniel Sedin on a breakaway more than most Canucks, by the way. Vigneault shouldn’t be nearly as dogmatic in his shooter choice as he is. A lot of defensemen are surprisingly good one-on-one, for instance).

    As I said, shootout results impact the standings heavily. The experts might think the Canucks will run away from the NW this year, but it could be the difference between 2nd and 3rd seed in the Conference, and a home playoff date for a Game 7. This stuff matters.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  8. Tengerez
    October 7, 2011

    I am glad to have IWTG as one of my next day rituals. Thank you.

    Epic like for
    “spellcasters need a tank to draw aggro.”

    and to complete the trinity: those Defenders have to heal any damage (to zone control). They keep the team alive, and can chip in some attack when possible.

    I liked seeing Ballard get the start and some good play, and loved him scoring in the first game. If Ballard plays like this all season, Edler can return to form, and Salo stays healthy we won’t miss Errorr-hoff at all.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  9. Mel
    October 7, 2011

    Fresh from reading your pessimistic season preview, I was actually pretty happy at seeing the team improve as the game progressed.

    I was hoping you would comment on the very awkward broadcasting moments though: the long close up on Ballard as, apropos of nothing, Mark Lee talked about suicide (Keith’s thinking, “Suicide? But I’m having a good game!”); or Kevin Weekes repeatedly mentioning how “silky” Kris Letang is, but not referencing his skating or shooting or even his hair.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  10. Earl
    October 7, 2011

    @J21 – correct – the announcer was Al Murdoch (former Grizzlies announcer).

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      October 7, 2011

      Thanks for the correction. I just assumed it was still John Ashbridge. And you know what happens when you assume things: assumptions.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  11. madwag
    October 7, 2011

    Danielson

    It was your mom who watched this game
    She said she found the tempo slow
    That it was nowhere near the same
    As were the ones just months ago

    I do not think she got it wrong
    But I play poker Thursday night
    (Dealt Jack Seven all ev’ning long)
    And trust your blog to get it right

    Seems you enjoyed it more than she
    Perhaps because you must critique
    And analyze the game for me
    Creating interest so to speak

    And so you did I will admit
    As I perused the words you writ

    Madwag

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  12. curious
    October 7, 2011

    Do you guys know how many comebacks we had last year? The year before, didn’t the Canucks lead in comebacks in the third? Last year I don’t remember seeing a lot of that, so this game is giving me optimism that we can reclaim that title!

    Now, if we only the Canucks can combine that and scoring first, we’d be awesome! =D

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  13. Matt
    October 7, 2011

    Silent G?! I thought it was “Silent D”. Thanks to my pedantic corrections, everyone I know is now pronouncing it “Co-ey Hodson”.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  14. Matt
    October 7, 2011

    Please disregard last comment. I just realized it’s stupid. And stupid comments cannot be tolerated on PITB!

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      October 7, 2011

      Nope. It stays because, stupid as it is, it made me chuckle.

      You see, the chuckle factor tops the stupid factor here at PITB. Most of the stuff we do is stupid. But if it brings even mild chuckles, it was successful.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  15. Wagman
    October 7, 2011

    Overall a fairly enjoyable game to watch, even though we couldn’t pull out the win. Almost everyone seems to have a bit of rust, the announcers included (as others also observed). I lost track of how many times I heard “smooth skating Paul Martin”. Maybe Lee’s a fan of the former smooth talking Prime Minister. And it looks like you decided to avoid the “Salo’s big stick” line…?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  16. The Bookie
    October 7, 2011

    I’d be interested to see Lu’s breakaway #s compared to his shootout #s. Seems to me he’s much better at dealing with breakaways, which is evidence of the trouble he has mentally under pressure (ie. on a breakaway there’s not much time to think, only to react, but in the shootout he has time to stand around and watch the opposing player slowly head down the ice towards him).

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • John in Marpole
      October 7, 2011

      Good point about the difference between a game-play breakaway and a penalty shoot. personally I’m not a fan of the shootout, but I’d become one if instead of a penalty shot format they switched to the ‘breakaway drill’ format every team uses in practice, and have a defender start from the far blueline and chase down the shooter.

      That would make shootout a lot more interesting.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  17. cambo
    October 7, 2011

    As usual the Cannots downfall will be coaching, defence and of course lack of toughness. This year will show again that during the playoffs any and every tough guy will smash the chicks in the face and send them to usual prone position with no one stopping them. 0-41 fools.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      October 7, 2011

      You realize that there are 82 games in a season, right? Just checking.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Harrison Mooney
        October 7, 2011

        Clearly, he’s only forecasting the first 41.

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  18. Johnny b Goode
    October 7, 2011

    What happened to the nickname Aaron “Peppermint” Volpatti? That one was clever, especially if he’s called upon for more one-hitter knockouts.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • peanutflower
      October 7, 2011

      it probably got lost in the Valpotti, Volpotti, Vol-whatty thing.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • gog
      October 8, 2011

      Volpattimort seems reasonable as a nickname, or Voldermort if one is lazy….

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  19. Geoff
    October 7, 2011

    I was kind of disappointed in CBC last night, seemed like they went out of their way to say nice things about the Canucks to make up for the playoffs last year. If you are gonna hate on them, do it all year, and if you are gonna jump on the bandwagon maybe wait till February.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  20. Geoff
    October 7, 2011

    Regarding the shootouts I forgot to add that if AV starts pulling the goalie with 2 minutes left in overtime I won’t complain, because I am pretty sure our odds are better doing that then trying to win in a shootout.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)