Canucks 0 – 2 Red Wings
After three straight outings in which the Canucks failed to put in a complete performance, tonight’s game versus the Detroit Red Wings had all the makings of an antidote. Vancouver always seems to get up for Detroit, and tonight was no exception, at least at first. The Canucks finally broke the trend of coming out half-asleep, outshooting the Red Wings 12-9 in the opening frame and even drawing the first powerplay. Unfortunately, their second period — in which the Wings outshot the Canucks 24-8 and scored the only two goals on the night — indicated that the team hadn’t relegated the poor starts to the past, but rather, the future. I’ll tell you what has been relegated to the past, though: this game, which happened hours ago. Back then, I watched this game.
- Apart from that second period, tonight was the best the Canucks have looked so far this year. That’s a good sign, in a sense that they’re showing some improvement but, considering they weren’t nearly good enough to win, it’s also somewhat disheartening, like Mola Ram.
- I’m not quite sure what to make of the clipping penalty against Keith Ballard for his hipcheck on Henrik Zetterberg. This is the second time Ballard’s been called for this very rare penalty (the first coming in the second round of the playoffs, when Ballard flipped Jordin Tootoo), and this time was truly ridiculous. While Jordan Tootoo went head over heels, meaning the check caught him somewhere below the centre of his body, Henrik Zetterberg went straight into the boards, meaning the check caught him in the midsection. Granted, the referees seemed particularly anti-contact tonight (penalties to Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi being quite stupid also), but this one’s a total head-scratcher. Ballard’s hit was so textbook, it was full of highlighted sections from the last student to have it.
- I would have loved to see how Max Lapierre’s fight with Justin Abdelkader began. Each time we saw a replay, Lapierre was already on one-knee, protecting his face while Abdelkader hit him with a flurry of lefts. Good on Lapierre for protecting his pretty face, by the way. Sure, he’ll get a reputation as a turtle, but what an attractive turtle he’ll remain.
- With Aaron Volpatti scratched tonight, it seems reasonable to assume he’ll be the guy that gets bumped from the roster when Ryan Kesler returns next week, but Marco Sturm has been bad enough to enter the conversation as well. Through four games, Sturm has registered one shot on goal for the Canucks, and it didn’t come tonight. Apart from a miss and a minus-1, his stat sheet was bare. Sturm also committed the turnover that led to the Red Wings’ second goal. Would the Canucks consider waiving him? He’d clear on the way down, to be certain, but the threat of his massive salary getting halved would prevent the team from attempting a callup until the playoffs. That might not be the end of the world, however. If Sturm could re-find his game during a season in the AHL, he could be a useful option if the Canucks suffer another rash of injuries to forwards over the course of a long playoff run.
- Sturm isn’t solely to blame on that goal, by the way. It certainly didn’t help that Keith Ballard backed into Chris Tanev while skating backwards when the puck came back the other way. Ballard briefly lost his balance, and the cross-up opened up a passing lane for Franzen to find Filppula.
- Speaking of Tanev, tonight was the first night the play seemed a bit too fast for him. Normally, he’s making smart outlet passes. Tonight, he was throwing pucks out the zone without much of that trademark poise. The Detroit Red Wings will do that to you.
- Consider what they did to Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who played their worst game of the season tonight, finishing the evening with respective CORSI ratings of minus-14 and minus-15 (thanks to Vic Ferrari for the stats), far and away the worst on either side. They were invisible for long stretches, and much of the Canucks’ difficulty in the second period was the result of their inability to stage a meaningful shift to turn momentum. Credit on this point goes to Pavel Datsyuk, who won 7 of 9 faceoffs against Henrik in the Red Wings’ defensive zone and worked tirelessly to take and keep the puck away from the Sedins when they were on the ice. Datsyuk was as anti-twins as Rocco Grimaldi.
- While Datsyuk showed why he’s won approximately eleventy billion Selke trophies, the Sedins were very suspect defensively, especially on the The Red Wings first goal, for which Daniel shoulders the bulk of the blame. After Kevin Bieksa’s weak breakaway pass to Alex Burrows is easily intercepted by Nick Kronwall (who had six blocked shots on the night, so a crap pass like that wasn’t getting past him) Kronwall reverses to Todd Bertuzzi. Datsyuk streaks ahead of Bertuzzi on the same side, drawing both defenders to the near wall. This opens up the middle of the ice, meaning Daniel Sedin needs to take away the pass to Justin Abdelkader, who’s streaking down the far side. Instead, Daniel chooses to go stag — in that he takes nobody — and Bertuzzi finds Abdelkader for the snipe.
- While we’re talking about Pavel Datsyuk, he’s freaking slick. In the second period, he tried a cheeky little spin move that bore a curious resemblance to Kenny Wu’s defense-splitting double axel from D2.
- Alex Burrows had two great chances in tonight’s game, but no luck. The first was a breakaway in the second where he opted to take a wrist shot rather than go for his patented backhand move. The second was a wide-open net in the third where he hit more iron than a diet full of dark, leafy greens.
- Alex Edler broke three sticks tonight. He has to have broken seven or eight on the season by now. Couple with this his broken fingers from last year’s Stanley Cup Final and it’s clear that Edler is under some sort of curse where anything his hand is touching gets broken. There’s a dirty joke there, and I’m not going to make it.
- Cody Hodgson had another fine game, buzzing around the net and showing flashes of the high-end skill he possesses. He nearly scored a goal too, putting a shot on Jimmy Howard at the end of the second period that crossed the goal line only a second too late. That said, my favourite moment from him was a first period play in the corner when he stepped around Niklas Kronwall by putting the puck through his legs. That’s gutsy, especially with a monster like Kronwall coming at you. If Niklas Kronwall were coming at me, I’d hand over the puck and the deed to my house.
- Cory Schneider was excellent in the loss, making 35 saves to keep the Canucks in it, especially in the second period where he was peppered like a Caesar salad. It’s tough to blame him for either goal, especially since the Canucks’ coverage broke down in front of him and both scoring plays forced him to move laterally. They also forced him to move literally, am I right, Kevin Weekes?
- And finally, what has happened to Jannik Hansen? Granted, he’s a Danish ninja, but he’s been unseen for four games now. This is the most drawn-out ninja strike ever.
, I Watched This Game
, Red Wings