Canucks 3 – 2 Sharks

Tonight, Daniel was busy writing “I Watched This Birth”, a hilarious, point-form recap of his first child’s arrival on this planet. (Welcome to Earth, Ozymandias Lovecraft Wagner!) Meanwhile in the dark recesses of his criminally insane mind, Harrison was diligently preoccupied with his other chosen profession: burglary. With real-life preventing your two usual bloggers from taking in tonight’s grudge match between the Sharks and Canucks, I, Thomas Drance, was asked to make like Gasper Noé and enter the void.

Whenever you’re the backup, there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders. But I fought through it and paid such close attention to tonight’s affair that some are saying I stole the game for Vancouver (at least, I think I’m the backup they’re talking about). Regardless, whether you run a hockey blog or a hockey team, having a worthy backup is a useful luxury.

Now, I’m not sworn for life to Pass it to Bulis or the Nights Watch. I’m not celibate, I don’t only wear black and I may not guard Westeros from the wildlings that live north of the Wall. But, “as night gathered”, I watched this game.

  • In the last two outings against the Avalanche and the Coyotes, the Canucks put in two complete and tidy defensive performances. Tonight, it was immediately apparent that the Sharks would not be so easily stifled. Or maybe that they were better.
  • A minute into the game, Patrick Marleau took advantage of a sloppy Canucks change and polkaed in on a breakaway. The Canucks skaters basically looked at each other and asked “Where’s Marleau?” They lost him so completely that he may as well have been dressed in red and white stripes, blue pants and the stupidest hipster tuque imaginable while occupying a world filled with identically dressed Marleau’s. Luckily for them, Schneider was Marleau’s Odlaw.
  • A minute later, Alain Vigneault gave his fourth line a rare offensive-zone start. When the Sharks’ fourth line center Andrew Desjardins jumped the gun on the draw against Maxim Lapierre, the referees waived him out of the circle, forcing Wannabe Canuck Brad Winchester to take the face-off in his place.  But Winchester clearly had other things in mind, such as staging a rematch with Aaron Volpatti for that one-punch in the preseason. While Winchester won the fight, he ducked taking that face-off with the same panache the Canucks exhibited when they tactfully avoided offering him a professional try-out deal this summer.
  • The sequence that led to the Canucks’ opening goal began when Jannik Hansen dumped the puck into the Sharks’ zone, and Keith “jerk-puck expert” Ballard crashed the net, softly bumping Antii Niemi in such a way that caused Niemi to lose his stick. As the puck went to the far side of the ice, Niemi slowly crab-walked along his goal-line, stickless, following the play on both knees, and Manny Malhotra smartly threw the puck towards the goalmouth. His centering pass took an “arrogant” lucky bounce off of Douglas Murray’s skate, and somehow beat Niemi top-corner. While this goal was pure luck, Malhotra’s game has picked up lately. Also, his PDO heading into tonight’s game was sub-970, so he was due for a beneficial spin of lady fortuna’s large glittery wheel.
  • Andrew Alberts has played solid, no-frills hockey over the past week, but clearly he’s still insecure about his role on the team. Midway through the first, in a desperate effort to earn the good will of Alain Vigneault, Alberts laid a vicious hit on rookie Cody Hodgson, whom, as we all know, the Canucks’ head coach regards with deep-seated enmity. Joked Vigneault to Alberts post game: “What can I say about Hodgson that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan? He’s bombed out and depleted.
  • The Sharks tied the game on a nice fourth-line sequence from Desjardins and Andrew, the other Murray. Murray took the puck wide and sent a pass behind the net to Desjardins while taking a hit from Maxim Lapierre. Desjardins skated to the other side of the net before sending a back-pass into the slot. Ryane Clowe whiffed on the “chance at a chance” in the slot (probably because he’s a “perimeter player”) but the puck slid back to Murray, who made no mistake, ending Cory Schneider’s shutout streak.
  • In the second period, the game really started to get good and “grudgey.” First, Winchester and Clowe targeted Bieksa repeatedly on a shift. Then Lapierre boarded Andrew Desjardins from behind at the same time that Dale Wiese went to deliver a cleaner, legal hit on the Sharks centerman. Lapierre took the brunt of Wiese’s hit and was called for a penalty for good measure. Then Joe Thornton tried to turn Alex Burrows into Salad Fingers (try saying “Win da Turd” in Salad Fingers’ voice – it’s both fun and wickedly creepy). Finally, Jamie “clean hip-checks are mean” McGinn collided with Alex Edler behind the Canucks net, injuring the Swedish tank, who didn’t return for the third frame.
  • Less than a minute later Andrew Alberts scored on an ugly knuckler from the point that beat Niemi. Seriously, Andrew Alberts scored a goal cleanly from the point. How could this have happened? Well it’s probably related to the fact that Niemi is, at best, a slightly above average NHL goaltender.
  • In the third period, Henrik Sedin took his obligatory hooking penalty with an irresponsible bit of stick-work on Sharks defender Jason Demers. Something I’ve always wondered: if Henrik Sedin is Captain Hook, then who is Smee? I nominate Kyle Wellwood. The ticking clock crocodile who traumatized him? Probably Tim Thomas.
  • It was nice to have Jim Hughson calling tonight’s game, if only for the return of the verb “Smeagoling.” Every play-by-play guy has some verbal tick that makes me chuckle (for John Shorthouse it’s “Willie Mitchell’s long reach”), and Hughson’s use of smeagoling is pervasive and brilliant. As a side note: If you look up “Smeagoling” in the dictionary, I assume you’d find a photo of Chris Higgins. That guy smeagols like Andy Serkis. Winning puck battles is his “Precious.”
  • On a pivotal third period offensive zone draw that followed a Canucks’ icing, Joe Thornton broke his stick taking the face-off. This wasn’t bad-luck; it was karma. Thornton only racked up four penalty minutes in the game, but deserved at least eight. The hockey gods punished him, even if the refs were reluctant too.
  • Ultimately, Patrick Marleau and Kevin Bieksa conspired to make the game more interesting than was necessary. Kevin Bieksa, who was the Canucks’ worst defender tonight by chance differential, personally iced the puck three times in the game’s last six minutes. He also partially blocked a Marleau shot from the slot that ended up caroming past Cory Schneider to make it a one goal game.
  • Forget the relatively facile shutouts he put up earlier this week — tonight was far and away Cory Schneider’s best game of the season. Frankly, the Canucks had no business being in this game and were handily out-chanced and out-possessed. Not only did Vlasic and Burns totally dominate their matchup against the Sedins, but the entire team struggled to deal with the Sharks’ forecheck and had no answer for San Jose’s “behind the net” game. No answer, that is, besides Schneider, who was so big and so red that he looked like Clifford in the net. I still think any talk of a “goaltending controversy” is premature and foolish, but Schneider’s play is clearly adding fuel to the conflagration.
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40 comments

  1. BeCanucks
    November 27, 2011

    Premium back-up job!
    Thank you for a great IWTG.

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  2. invisibleairwaves
    November 27, 2011

    BLOGTENDING CONTROVERSY

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    • Zach Morris
      November 27, 2011

      wow, Drance has shown he can be PITB’s #1.
      trade Mooney, trade Webster.

      Just kidding, I love you all.
      Unless you lose.

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    • Nee
      November 27, 2011

      Joked Vigneault to Alberts post game: “What can I say about Hodgson that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan? He’s bombed out and depleted.”

      A Chapelle Show, Salad Fingers, and Lord of the Rings reference? Niiiiiiiice.

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  3. DubiousRhino
    November 27, 2011

    What ever happened to Qris Johnson, the other 3rd blogger?

    Is there a blogger controversy at PITB?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      November 27, 2011

      Ha. Qris simply got busy with real life.

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      • The Bookie
        November 27, 2011

        that sucks, used to love reading his posts here & on cdc

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  4. Brosef Stalin
    November 27, 2011

    Clearly, once Daniel is back from his absence he will get the next IWTG writing…

    …or will Thomas continue on his winning record? (Winning = writing an IWTG and having it posted on the site I guess)

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  5. CanuckFanInSF
    November 27, 2011

    Good job on the coverage, Mr. Drance. An Odlaw reference? Bravo.

    Tonight, I had the choice of watching a delayed game via GameCenter Live or sit through a Bay Area SportsNet Telecast. I chose the latter.

    If I took a shot every time one of the commentators said the phrase “most disliked among the league” or “not popular with other NHL players” I would have been passed out by the third frame and would have not been able to declare that “IWTG”.

    Thank you to Hank for shutting them up. After his beauty of a goal, they were left in disbelief.

    Sharks were not very effective in creating screens in front of Gingerbricks and as a consequence he caught all pucks directed his way like they were Pokemon.

    It was an awesome team effort tonight. Every single line put out their best. I want to give David Booth props tonight. He was playing with insane energy and was all over the ice. Sucks that it didn’t translate into a goal, but he did create a couple of scoring opportunities and he finally doesn’t look out of place with his line.

    Luo seemed genuinely pleased in Schneid’s performance. Despite this fact, the “goaltender controversy” machine will go on full speed ahead.

    Can we just all get along and celebrate the fact that this is the first time we have strung 4 consecutive wins in a row this season and that we have jumped a couple of spots up the standings?

    I also hope that the boys don’t take the CBJs lightly on Tuesday. They definitely find a way to keep the momentum going.

    #GoCanucksGo

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    • peanutflower
      November 27, 2011

      Yeah, eh? How on earth did a team like Vancouver become most hated anyway? It’s pure media hype is all it is. Now everyone who watch the game you did will think the same thing, and so it goes.

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      • Brosef Stalin
        November 27, 2011

        I love when they’re doing interviews with opposing players before every game now…

        “So do you hate the Canucks?”

        “Uhh… Well I don’t really like any other teams in the league… so… kind of?”

        “CANUCKS ARE THE MOST HATED TEAM IN THE LEAGUE. YEP.”

        I am 100% on board with the “Embrace the Hate” drive right now. If everybody wants to hate us for being a dedicated fan base and enjoying our surely brief period in the sun and hate the team for falling into media (and Dr. Recchi) created biases then let them! It will make it all the more satisfying when their streaking teams finish out of the playoffs and all they can do is continue to whine about Swedish diving teams and the like

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    • Nee
      November 27, 2011

      Gingerbricks? Never heard that nickname before…I may have to steal it : )

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  6. the olde coot
    November 27, 2011

    On CBC the Blue and Green
    Meet the Black and Teal machine.
    With both teams on a winning streak
    Should be a beauty so to speak:
    An epic game is what I mean.

    The question’s asked, “Who’ll get the start?”
    “He’ll go with Cory if he’s smart.”
    “Don’t bench a guy who’s going good.”
    “There’s not a fan who thinks you should.”
    “If Lui plays, they’ll fall apart.”

    The Flock thus has its point of view,
    And time will tell if it is true.
    I hope Luongo gets the call
    And gives the Sharks sweet bugger all:
    That is he posts a shutout too.

    But Lui sits and ponders why.
    It’s after one a one-one tie.
    Sharks have the Nucks upon their heels.
    I worry how Luongo feels
    Although his turn is coming nigh.

    Schneider stops six throughout a kill,
    Then Henrik demonstrates his skill
    And “We want Alberts” drifts one in,
    So maybe we’ll go on to win.
    Another goal we surely will!

    That other goal just never came,
    But the result remained the same.
    Despite outshot sixteen to four
    Three wins away one can’t ignore,
    And Cory Schneider is to blame.

    The Olde Coot

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  7. swizzler
    November 27, 2011

    game of thrones references ftw

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  8. peanutflower
    November 27, 2011

    Awesome blogging job! Come back any time! Seriously, though, I didn’t think that the Canucks had no business being in the game. The game i watched didn’t seem overly lopsided. Granted, it wasn’t a blow out like the previous two games, but the Canucks weren’t terrible considering it was a back to back against a good team. I think they’re starting to feel the November love and that wall of invincibility is being built one brick at a time. They’re a very good team still. I prefer the slow building momentum to the rousing rocking finish anyway, so I’m having a good time. And god, why can’t we get Hughson more often!

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  9. J21
    November 27, 2011

    1. Daniel’s predicament makes me thankful that my daughter was born during the PREseason last year.

    2. In answer to a poster above, I believe Qris is with his qids in Qalifornia getting ready for Qristmas.

    3. I’d say Antti Niemi’s play fell well within the “standard distribution” for NHL goaltenders, but can you imagine the fan/media reaction in Vancouver if Roberto Luongo turned in a similar performance? This is the problem — people have lost all concept of what “normal” is in NHL goaltending. Hint: that was it. (Schneider really was fantastic, though).

    4. I believe that’s Jason Demers, not former coach Jacques. :)

    5. How is it that teams like the Sharks — who were also chirping the Canucks *during* their playoff series — are not called out by all and sundry for massive irony in whining to the media about the Canucks supposedly being whiners? For that matter, when’s the last time the “arrogant” Canucks (’cause nothing personifies arrogance like a group of soft-spoken Scandinavians, amirite?) volunteered details on their disrespect of anyone to the media? At what point do people call BS on this self-fulfilling garbage?

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    • ArtemChubarov
      November 27, 2011

      Jacque Demers – Doh!

      Canucks were out-chanced two to one, and the possession numbers were bleak. They were out-classed and the difference in the game was the goaltending as I see it.

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      • John Andress
        November 27, 2011

        The Canucks were not “out-classed” unless you consider slashing at an opponent’s hands and calves “class” and chirping the opponent for talking too much. Really? And the last time I looked the goalie is a part of the team. Unless, of course, Niemi was playing for someone else lase night which certainly seemed to be the case. No matter how you slice it or dice it, a win is a win is a win and San Jose didn’t.

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        • ArtemChubarov
          November 27, 2011

          They were out-classed by the numbers good sir. Schneider’s stellar performance, and the good grace of the percentages were responsible for the win. If the team played like this 10 times, they’d maybe win 3 or 4 of those games – so I feel justified putting it the way I did.

          Check out the numbers by the way, they’re not pretty: http://canucksarmy.com/2011/11/27/canucks-v-sharks-scoring-chance-data

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          • John Andress
            November 27, 2011

            People behave with or without class. Numbers are just numbers. And if they played the way they did last night against the best teams in the league you may or may not be right but if they play that way against most of the teams in the league they would win 7 or 8 of the games. A win against one of the best teams in the league is a win for me.

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            • ArtemChubarov
              November 27, 2011

              Just to be clear, I wasn’t using “out-classed” in the behavioral context, but in the context of team performance. I haven’t seen the Canucks struggle to break a forecheck to the extent that they did yesterday all season. They were out-shot by 18 and out-chanced 2 to 1.

              I call them like I see them, and I think the Canucks won on the back of three weak-ish goals and some stellar play from Schneider.

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      • J21
        November 27, 2011

        To be clear, I wasn’t disagreeing that goaltending was the difference. Rather just that I doubt Niemi will get roasted for that performance the way Luongo would if he pitched the exact same game — and in my mind his game was simply normal, not an abomination. I’m saying that with the high-strung Vancouver media, it’s a bit frustrating that every goal that could have maybe been stopped if all other factors were perfect is dissected ad nauseum and labelled a bad goal. We, as fans, used to accept that there was a spectrum, not just “OK” and “bad” goals. This seems to have gone out the window in recent years.

        In short, not an observation about what you wrote, but what I was guessing the San Jose Mercury News was not doing this morning (apart from the distraction because the 49ers did blah blah blah). Or at least that they shouldn’t be, in my opinion.

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  10. Canuckles
    November 27, 2011

    What was Harrison REALLY doing tho?

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  11. madwag
    November 27, 2011

    So Skeeter Dan is now a dad
    Which sure has made his father glad
    He saw the little guy today
    That he is cute is a cliche
    But grandad’s certain no one’s had
    One any cuter anyway

    The best to Rachel and her man
    And their addition to the clan
    May Ozzy blossom through their love
    And many blessings from Above
    Yes you’re a father Skeeter Dan
    And one your dad is most proud of

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    • madwag
      November 27, 2011

      “Hodgson” with a silent “g”,
      “Kesler with one “s”
      And “Rachael” has a second “a”
      One day I’ll get them right I guess

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  12. Anon
    November 27, 2011

    Great IWTG! This blog really is my favourite, I mean Game of Thrones references? YES.

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  13. tj
    November 27, 2011

    Tough-love IWTG, here. Didn’t think they played *that* badly. Shneider was amazing though. The tone of this post is a bit harsh and lacking humour for my tastes (and why I read PITB), but I appreciate the coverage.

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  14. natevk
    November 27, 2011

    I think we should trade Harrison to Tampa Bay for the television host Paul Kennedy. I mean, sure they don’t have the same role and all, but common, it’s Paul Kennedy!

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  15. seethruhead
    November 27, 2011

    Can’t give this rendition of the IWTG the love others are. Attempts to relate the game to pop-culture gets a 10. Pulling it off, a zero. When the joke is 6 degrees separated from the game it’s clunky and boring. Mooney’s culture references hit without a paragraph of setup. Recommend giving the backup more seasoning on the farm team.
    Yeah, Vancouver is demanding, just ask Lui.

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  16. The Bookie
    November 27, 2011

    Andrew ‘Ugly Knuckler’ Alberts?
    Cory ‘Gingerbricks’ Schneider??
    Lovecraft Wagner???

    let the good nicknames keep on rolling!

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    • Harrison Mooney
      November 27, 2011

      Lovecraft’s not a nickname. That is Daniel’s son’s *actual* middle name.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      November 27, 2011

      Yep. Ozymandias Lovecraft Joseph Wagner. Actual name.

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      • Zach Morris
        November 27, 2011

        Cool name.

        are we going to get to read your “I Watched This Birth”?
        Will it also have esoteric pop culture references?

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        • Daniel Wagner
          November 27, 2011

          I’m going to go with no. I didn’t have time to make any notes…

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          • Zach Morris
            November 27, 2011

            D’awww….

            Mr. Harrison!
            Is there an “I Watched This Burglary” in our future?
            ;)

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      • The Bookie
        November 27, 2011

        That is THE COOLEST thing I have heard in quite some time.

        To the city of the old ones!

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        • Daniel Wagner
          November 28, 2011

          Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

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      • J21
        November 27, 2011

        Who names their kid “Joseph”? :P

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      • Rituro
        November 28, 2011

        Thy babe is Ozymandias, king of kings,
        look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

        Seriously, when babies, um, “make works”? That’s a whoooooole lotta despair goin’ on for the parents.

        Still, congrats! Fhtagn!

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  17. Cody
    November 28, 2011

    I love gingerbricks as a nickname. The combination of senses that this name ignites creates a truly delightful experience. The colour, the taste, the wall, and the unknown element that reminds me of how my granny’s apartment used to smell. Truly sensational sir.

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