One day removed from Mark Spector (not to be confused with Marc Spector, Moon Knight) implying that “Danes and Swedes” are the source of Vancouver’s issues, the Canucks defeated the Minnesota Wild, getting goals from a Dane, a Swede, and a Finn. Minnesota’s two goals from good ol’ Canadian boys weren’t enough to defeat the European onslaught.
Here’s the craziest thing about the big trade for David Booth: both players sent to Florida were healthy scratches in this game. That’s right: a power forward winger to skate alongside Ryan Kesler for two players the Canucks didn’t need in the lineup. Kudos, Mr. Gillis, kudos.
The Canucks seemed particularly affected by the early afternoon start, taking three penalties in the first period, which made it tough for the team to find their legs. The Sedins didn’t seem to hit their stride until 5 minutes into the second period, a little just after 2:00 pm. Which is otherwise known as the time the Sedins would normally be waking up from their pre-game nap. Wait, did anyone check if the Sedins were sleep-skating in the first period?
The Wild were quick to remind the Canucks that they made some changes in the off-season, as former Sharks Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley combined to open the scoring on a pretty little give-and-go. Technically the goal wasn’t on the powerplay, but it still came on the man advantage as Andrew Alberts hadn’t made it back into the play. It appeared that Sami Salo expected Maxim Lapierre to follow Setoguchi to the net and vice versa. That was the first time this season that Salo has been on the ice for a goal against at even strength.
During the first intermission, Dan Murphy, Iain MacIntyre, and Tony Gallagher touched on Mike Gillis’s comments on the Team 1040 regarding the terrible, terrible editorial that appeared in The Province. Unsurprisingly, Gallagher, the Province employee, wasn’t too critical of his employers. More surprisingly, he wasn’t all that supportive either, saying that he’ll defend their right to write about sports, but “that’s about as far as I’ll go.” In other words, please leave the sports coverage to people who know the sport.
Daniel Sedin evened the score as the Canucks carried the play in the second period. While on the powerplay, it appeared that Daniel attempted to bank the puck off Backstrom’s pads so Kesler could get the rebound. Instead, the punk bounced off Nick Schultz and in. Of course, knowing Daniel, he instantaneously calculated the angle and velocity necessary to bank it off of Backstrom and Schultz and in like he was Amadeus Cho. So he’s also a math wizard.
Part way through the second period, Alain Vigneault began sending out Jannik Hansen in place of Cody Hodgson on the second line. Vigneault clearly didn’t like what he was seeing from Silent G early in the game, as Hodgson only saw three shifts in the second period and just two in the third period. Hodgson averaged a little over a minute per shift, far more than any other player in the game, which might indicate that he was trying to do too much on the ice or getting caught and unable to change, either of which would be a reason to get benched. Also, Vigneault might have had in mind Hodgson’s poor defending on Ryan McDonagh against the Rangers and didn’t fully trust him in such a tight game.
Keith Ballard once again had a strong game, finishing with 5 hits and 7 attempted shots. He set up Ryan Kesler with an open net late in the second, but Kesler missed the pass. Unfortunately, shortly after the Wild went the other way and scored, as Kevin Bieksa wasn’t able to tie up Kyle Brodziak’s stick in front of the net. Since Ballard was defending the right side of the ice, he wasn’t able to wipe out his man with a patented hip check and lost position on him behind the net.
There’s a lot to like about the Canucks’ second goal, Jannik Hansen’s first of the season. It’s a perfectly executed rush up the ice: Malhotra neatly kicks the puck up to his stick then gains the line. As soon as he does so, he pulls up, creating some distance between himself and the defender. With Kevin Bieksa jumping up, turning it into a four-man rush, and Andrew Ebbett sneaking in the back door, the Wild don’t seem sure who to take, which leaves Hansen plenty of room to tip the puck off Malhotra’s point shot. That was the most well-executed rush I’ve seen since Stephen Harper beheaded Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart in 2007. He’s pretty skilful with an axe.
My wife: Wait, would Stephen Harper do the beheading or would the Governor General do it?
The Canucks absolutely dominated the Wild on faceoffs, winning 63% of the draws. Henrik, Kesler, and Malhotra did the heavy lifting, each of them winning 60+%. With Kesler back in the lineup, Lapierre is relieved from defensive zone duty: Kesler and Malhotra combined for 17 defensive zone faceoffs, while Lapierre had just one. No word of whether when Kesler relieved him of duty he also judged him to be disabled and mentally incapacitated.
The Canucks dominated the overtime frame, outshooting the Wild 6 to 0. Kesler deked out in front but had the puck poked off his stick. The Sedins gave the Wild fits after they iced the puck, but were unable to finish. It wasn’t until Dany Heatley took an awful penalty in the offensive zone (as Senators and Sharks fans nod in recognition), taking a pointless two-handed hack at Kesler’s stick, snapping it clean in half. And…the Sharks won the Heatley/Havlat trade.
There was a long awkward pause between the slash and the referee lifting his arm for the penalty, as if the ref honestly couldn’t believe what he had just seen and felt that he could not longer trust his senses. He immediately became a Cartesian sceptic: Suppose…that some malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me…
So the Canucks had a 4-on-3 with Henrik, Daniel, Kesler, and Salo on the ice. That’s about as close as you can get to a sure thing in the NHL. Salo shot so hard from the point it created a tornado behind the puck and blew the clothes off of Backstrom. Also, it popped the water bottle off the back of the net a good 2 feet in the air. And Chloe Ezra went wild.
The game-winning goal tied Salo with Mathias Ohlund for the franchise record in game-winning goals from a defenceman. He did it in his 700th career game, and, as per usual, Alex Burrows is the one who snagged the puck for Salo, explaining “we love him so much.”
What? No, I’m not crying. I just…I just have something in my eye…shut up, you guys…
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]