Like my current moustache and mohawk combo, this game was ugly, but ultimately a win. The critics will say that the Canucks didn’t deserve to win this game, but last I checked, Cory Schneider was a Canuck and he definitely deserved to win this game. According to the Canucks’ advertising campaign of the last 5 years, we are all Canucks, and I think we all deserved to win this game. Well, maybe not me, now that I’m an unbiased member of the media. I got all that I deserved: I watched this game.
There were a few dashes of red in the crowd, as Senators fans braved the not-so-hostile confines of Rogers Arena, but they seemed to be outnumbered by the fans in orange. Clearly, some Vancouverites double-dipped their metaphorical sports chip and got to see a dominating performance from Travis Lulay and the BC Lions in the CFL Western Final and a significantly less dominating performance from the Vancouver Canucks. Both featured star performances from redheads, however.
That first period was so boring. How boring was it? By the time the horn sounded, the game was being played in China!
I am so, so sorry for that joke.
The first period was deathly boring, however. It was so boring that whether or not Alex Burrows unlatched a door became a major controversy. Maxim Lapierre hit Jesse Winchester into the boards halfway through the period. The only problem is that he actually hit Winchester into the boards. The Canucks’ bench door opened and Winchester fell into it, which can be a very dangerous situation. Burrows’ hand can clearly be seen on the door at the time of the hit, which was all the evidence needed for Senators fans to declare him guilty.
Look, Burrows is an annoying guy with some incredibly aggravating tendencies. But to claim he opened the bench door deliberately is an incredible charge, as that crosses the line from being a pest to deliberately attempting to injure a person. As Burrows himself pointed out, he and Jesse Winchester are friends and the door was simply not fully latched at the time of the hit. You may call it blind homerism to defend Burrows, but I call it refusing to condemn someone without evidence. It’s impossible to tell whether Burrows was unlatching the door, attempting to latch it at the time of the hit, or whether he was even touching the latch. But, because it’s Burrows, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.
Incidentally, it’s usually the backup goaltender’s job to open and close that bench door, but it was Matt Climie’s first regular season game as the Canucks’ backup, so we should cut him some slack. But you only get one freebie, Climie: if there’s one more bench door incident, Canucks fans will be on your case like your name was Roberto Luongo.
Back to, y’know, hockey. This was a very physical game, with a total of 45 hits split between the two teams. The best hit came at the hands (and the rest of the body) of Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, who stopped Milan Michalek cold as he tried to leave the Ottawa zone. After the game, he stopped literal cold by handing out blankets at a local homeless shelter.
Like electricity to the neckbolts of a stitched-together corpse, Henrik Sedin brought this game to life with a powerplay goal a couple minutes into the second period. Thing is, the goal came with just 13 seconds left in the powerplay and was the first shot the Canucks had on that powerplay. The Canucks managed only 4 shots on goal during 4 powerplay opportunities. Quite frankly, this shouldn’t have even been a goal, as it took a friendly deflection off of Jesse Winchester’s stick and fooled Alex Auld. Also, hi Alex Auld! I have fond memories of his time in Vancouver, mostly because he wasn’t end-of-his-career-era Dan Cloutier.
With that goal, Henrik Sedin was briefly the Canucks’ leading goalscorer. That either means he’s developed a better shot (nope) or Daniel Sedin needs to start scoring more goals (yep).
It was very interesting watching Jason Spezza during this game, as he’s developing a potent two-way game. The Senators’ star seemed to be everywhere on the ice: he led the team with 5 shots on goal and made a beautiful pass on Ottawa’s lone goal. While Aaron Rome definitely should have tied up Colin Greening’s stick in front, there was no way he could anticipate that pass. Not even Shorty anticipated that pass, and he’s usually so far ahead of the play that it seems like he’s predicting the future. Wait…maybe that’s how he won the 50/50 draw.
Spezza was dynamite on faceoffs to start the game, going 13-for-16, including winning all 7 of the faceoffs he took against Ryan Kesler. He looked intent on proving that he was a Kesler type of guy. Unfortunately, that fell apart in the third period and overtime, as he went 3-for-8 through the rest of the game, all of them against Kesler. The Senators were dominating the faceoff battle to start the game, but it ended up an even 50-50 split.
Andrew Alberts should expect a call from Sheriff Shanahan after his ugly boarding penalty on Kaspars Daugavins. Alberts could see his numbers the entire way in and it was a little surprising that it was only a 2-minute minor. There’s simply no defending that hit, though John Garrett tried his best: Daugavins looks around, now is he looking for a pass or is he looking to see who’s coming? And he stops and uh…uh…gets pinned against the boards. Nice try, Garrett. Nice try. Stick to talking about food.
The goaltenders were absolutely fantastic in this game, notwithstanding Henrik’s rather weak goal. While Auld and Schneider made only 29 and 27 saves respectively, there were a lot of high quality scoring chances, particularly on the part of the Senators. Auld’s best save was a shorthanded gem on Kesler, whose 2-on-1 with Burrows ended up snared in Auld’s glove.
Schneider, meanwhile, was absolutely the reason the Canucks won this game, making two particularly larcenous saves after the game was tied. Milan Michalek got in behind the usually dependable Sami Salo and Dan Hamhuis for a powerplay breakaway, but Schneider turned aside his Burrows-esque backhand with the glove. Later, in overtime, Schneider bailed out Kevin Bieksa with a stupendous stop on Erik Condra after Juice got caught out of position trying to help a stickless Alex Edler.
David Booth got benched early in the third period after accomplishing only two things through the first 40 minutes: jack and squat. Similarly, Andrew Alberts played only 2:47 of the third period, having done little more than take two bad penalties. Alex Edler picked up the bulk of Alberts’ minutes, playing a team-high 27:32, with only 47 seconds of his ice time coming in the extra frame.
Edler didn’t have the game-high in ice time, however. Erik Karlsson played over 30 minutes for the Senators and led Ottawa with 8 attempted shots. He also leads the Senators in awesome hair. He has some sick flow. Combine it with his sparse, yet somehow greasy, moustache and you have a classic hockey player look. or trailer park look. Either/or.
Like an off-brand messiah, Chris Higgins redeemed this game by tipping in a Dan Hamhuis point shot to win the game in overtime. In so doing, he tied Henrik Sedin for the team lead in goals. That’s right, Chris Higgins and Henrik Sedin are currently leading the Canucks in goalscoring. After he scored, Kiss Huggins immediately skated over and hugged the glass in an attempt to include all of Rogers Arena in the victory embrace.
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