Imagine, if you will, three siblings whose parents unfairly insist that they do chores during the Canucks game against the Ducks. The chores require that at least two of the siblings help out at the same time. Fred, Biff, and Heidi, the siblings, decide that each of them will watch one period from the game, then afterwards they would get together and tell each other what the game was like. Fred watches the first period and reports that it was a dull, but evenly matched affair. Biff watches the second period, flips out, and lights a Canucks jersey on fire in the backyard. Heidi watches the third period and insists that the Canucks are the greatest team in NHL history. And then gets angry at Biff for burning her jersey.
It was like the game had multiple personality disorder. Or, it might have just been an elephant. Unlike the hypothetical siblings, I watched all of this game.
The first period was thoroughly boring. Nothing happened. Not going to talk about it. The second period, however, was a comedy of errors on the part of the Canucks’ defence (and the officials, but we’ll get into that in a bit) and the third period was absolutely incredible, as the Canucks came just short of tying the game with as dominant a performance as we’ve seen all year. Makes you wonder where that performance was through the middle stanza.
Honestly though, the Canucks were the better team for 2 of the 3 periods of this game; it’s a shame they go on aggregate.
A lot of Canucks fans made the trip down to California for the long weekend, making it sound like a home game. You could even hear them chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A” when Chris Higgins carried the puck into the Ducks’ zone.
Corey Perry has a dangerous slashing addiction. His family and friends should hold an intervention. I think Keith Ballard could be convinced to help him go cold turkey.
Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis has developed a reputation for being a very giving person. Normally, that does not include the puck. Just over 20 seconds into the second period, Hamhuis banked the puck off the boards to who he thought was Kevin Bieksa. Instead, it was Andrew Cogliano in a realistic Bieksa costume, who immediately passed it to Saku Koivu alone in front of the net, who one-timed it past Luongo.
The biggest story coming out of this game will be Aaron Rome’s five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing Devante Smith-Pelly. The only problem was that Rome didn’t actually elbow Smith-Pelly. What happened is that Rome caught Smith-Pelly staring at his skates as the puck slid past, hitting the winger’s head at the same time as delivering a bodycheck. The hit neither targeted the head, nor was the head the principal point of contact, nor did Rome’s elbow come anywhere near the head. It was, in short, the wrong call.
What would the right call have been? The referees could have called 2 minutes for charging or, perhaps, interference, since Smith-Pelly missed the pass and didn’t actually touch the puck. Calling it elbowing explains everything else about the call: if they thought Rome hit Smith-Pelly in the head with his elbow, then they are perfectly justified in calling it a major and a game misconduct. If Rome gets a suspension out of this, it’ll go completely against everything that Shanahan has been saying about what makes a headshot a headshot.
What is particularly frustrating about this call was that the referees initially directed Rome to the penalty box. It was only after deciding that Smith-Pelly was injured that they gave Rome a game misconduct, presumably for intent to injure. Smith-Pelly missed, at most, one shift.
Then again, since the Ducks scored two goals on the five-minute major, maybe the universe was just righting itself after Rome’s two-game goalscoring streak. Well played, universe.
The Canucks’ penalty kill was superb during the five-minute major, only allowing three shots. Unfortunately, two of those shots became goals thanks to some shoddy defending. The first defensive offender was Keith Ballard, who decided to inexplicably step up to Bobby Ryan at the blue line when Chris Higgins was already checking him. This allowed Cogliano to slip in behind and spend an afternoon having tea with Luongo before tucking the puck in on the backhand.
The other defensive blunder was by Hamhuis, who was uncharacteristically blundery in this game. Ryan Getzlaf threw the puck towards the crease: after a couple bounces it ended up on the stick of Corey Perry, who roofed it. The puck never should have found Perry’s stick, because his stick should have been tied up by Hamhuis. Instead, Hammy slowly turns, looking for the puck. The first instinct in that situation has to be to tie up the stick of the reigning goalscoring champion.
The Ducks’ fourth goal looked like Luongo flubbed it, but the Sportsnet crew did a good job slowing it down to show the puck deflecting off the toe of Sami Salo’s stick. Cue Don Cherry flipping out: You kids out there, y’know, you defencemen, when you see the guy, when you see him, the forward shooting, get your stick outta the way! That said, Luongo was a little too deep in his crease and probably could have stopped it if he had been out challenging a bit more.
In case anyone thought Luongo had tuned out of the game, he made a huge save on Bobby Ryan who slipped in behind the defence for a breakaway. If the Canucks had completed the comeback, those looking for a narrative could have pointed to that save. Instead, they might look at Cory Schneider shutting out the Ducks in the third period and try to reignite the goalie controversy.
Yes, Cory Schneider came in and didn’t let in a single goal, but considering the Ducks only mustered two shots on net in the third period, that’s about as impressive an achievement as getting an X-Box 360 achievement for completing a training mission. The Canucks out-shot the Ducks 22-2 in the final frame, while Luongo stared daggers at them from the bench.
The Canucks’ first goal of the game may have been scored by the second powerplay unit, but the fourth line deserve some kudos for the goal as well. They had a superb shift in the offensive zone, creating two shots on net, and forcing the Ducks to ice the puck. The tired Ducks scrambled for a change at their earliest opportunity, leading directly to a too many men on the ice penalty.
The powerplay actually looked remarkably ineffective, until Hamhuis and Booth combined for a smooth zone entry followed immediately by a shot from the point by Bieksa. The puck was definitely tipped by Cody Hodgson in front, but Bieksa was credited with the goal. Considering Hodgson only had one hand on his stick, I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to tip it, but intention only counts in hockey when it comes to injuries.
The Canucks continued to dominate in the offensive zone: after a crazy Sedin shift that looked like a powerplay, Keith Ballard had a chance at an open net, but had his stick checked by Perry at the last second. Like a bad surfer, Ballard just can’t catch a break.
All the people complaining about Jannik Hansen playing with the Sedins can now shut up. Oh wait, I was one of them. Well, I can’t shut up, I have an IWTG to finish.
Hansen’s first of two goals came on a perfect tip in front of the net. Salo’s initial point shot is blocked by Bobby Ryan, to his eternal regret. Upon seeing that, the two Ducks defencemen checking Hansen and Henrik begin to vacate the zone, assuming that the puck will follow the laws of physics and bounce off of Ryan out into the neutral zone. Instead, the puck stops dead on the ice like Ryan’s shinpads are made of vibranium. Daniel swoops in, swings the puck on net, and Hansen tips it between Hiller’s legs.
The real beauty is Hansen’s second goal, which shows that he’s just as hardworking in front of the net as Alex Burrows. The Sedins once again treat even-strength like a powerplay, with Hansen as a full contributor. Bieksa wrists the puck towards the net, Henrik and his check, Sheldon Brookbank, take Hiller out of the play, and Hansen manages to corral the bouncing puck and patiently move it to his forehand while falling to the ice. He displays softer hands than a lot of people give him credit for, which makes me wonder if he started a daily moisturizing regimen recently.
The Canucks almost completed the comeback as Corey “Slashy McSlasherson” Perry took an undisciplined whack at Henrik Sedin in the final minute, managing to break his stick across Henrik’s wrists. They managed to create a few shots during the 6-on-4 with Schneider pulled, the best being Ryan Kesler’s opportunity in close, but Jonas Hiller absolutely robbed him blind. Fortunately, David Booth spat in some dirt afterwards and put it on Kesler’s eyes, so he’s fine.
Finally, Sportsnet introduced a new segment called “Are You Kidding Me?” during the first intermission. I liked it better when it was called “Really? With Seth and Amy.”
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