This one started out promisingly, like that movie Vanilla Sky, as Chicago and Vancouver came out flying in a high-paced, nearly even first period. It began to come off the rails a little in the middle portion, like that movie Vanilla Sky, as the Canucks took the lead, then immediately surrendered two powerplay goals to finish the frame down by one. And then, like that movie Vanilla Sky, everything went to crap in the end, and the final twenty minutes was so freaking bad you doubted whether any of it was ever any good, even the stuff you initially liked. Vanilla Sky sucks, and I was reminded of it when I watched this game:
I can assure you that any frustration you feel pales in comparison to that of Ryan Kesler, who put in one of the most spirited performances of his career tonight, registering a game-high five hits and directing nine pucks at the net. Unfortunately, only two of those pucks reached Corey Crawford — four were blocked, three missed wide, and none went in. In fact, despite his efforts, Kesler finished the night a minus-2, on the ice for two goals against and in the penalty box for another. By the end of the evening, he looked about ready to kick a puppy.
One example of Kesler’s obscene effort level tonight: on one second period rush, he tried to go around his man at full speed, instead catching the side of the Chicago net and flying, shoulder-first, into the end boards. Of course, he was back in the third period, no doubt after punching his shoulder back into place and then punching it again until it stopped hurting.
There are people out there who are going to compare tonight’s 5-1 rout to last year’s 7-1 Voldemort game, which came in mid-November and acted as the inspiration for the Canucks’ big turnaround going forward, but let’s be clear on something: while there are chronological similarities, the games were very different. Despite the lopsided score, this one wasn’t the rout it appeared to be. The Canucks actually outshot the Blackhawks 29 to 27, and if you look at shots directed, it’s 68 to 43. Territorially, they held the advantage.
Really, this one only came unglued once they were pressing to tie things up late in the third and stopped playing defense. Between Kesler’s efforts and their failed comeback attempt, clearly the lesson is: never try.
Check out John Garrett’s disgusted groan on the Jonathan Toews goal. Dude sighs like they put olives on his pizza and he specifically requested they hold the olives.
Keith Ballard left the game midway through the first period with a back injury after a seemingly innocuous collision with Dan Carcillo. Ironically, this was the only impact Carcillo had on tonight’s game, and it was by accident.
Somehow, although the Blackhawks had six healthy D-men and the Canucks didn’t, Duncan Keith played an absurd game-high of 29:51 tonight. He would have played more, too, if this game had been close in the third period. When you play that much, I think it makes more sense to count your bench time.
It’s interesting to note the differences between Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows on the top line. One major difference: Hansen can fly. Not literally, of course. Granted he does look a little like Peter Pan. Hmm.
Anyway. What I actually mean is that Hansen has speed that Burrows doesn’t. It was especially evident on a third period breakaway chance, when Hansen picked off a Duncan Keith pass and put two full strides between he and one of the league’s smoothest skaters by the time he crossed the Chicago blueline. Unfortunately, what Burrows lack in footspeed, he makes up for in breakaway skill. Hansen, on the other hand, has about as much finish as the song that doesn’t end.
That said, his finish wasn’t so bad on the lone Canucks goal. After Daniel Sedin chips the puck into the neutral zone, setting up a two-on-one for Henrik and Hansen, Hansen darts to the net at full speed, and Henrik hits him with a perfect saucer pass for the tap-in.
David “Bluth” Booth was a real Milford man tonight, neither seen nor heard. Ideally he is more noticeable on the ice, especially since he’s so noticeable off the ice, amirite ladies?
It only delayed the inevitable, but did anybody catch Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis’s casual, but obviously intentional net dislodging during the Canucks’ first penalty kill? And that wasn’t all he dislodged. After the game, Hamhuis stuck around to perform the Heimlich on the referees, who had been choking on their whistles the entire game.
Marian Hossa was incredible tonight. He had three assists, and each one of them was downright fantastic. His drop pass to Steve Montador for Chicago’s fifth goal was nuts.
And finally, Roberto Luongo looked pretty good tonight, don’t you think?
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