Clearly drawing some inspiration from the fact that the Grey Cup was in the building, the Canucks and Predators played to the first touchdown, giving us the most unexpected 6-5 game of the year. Seriously, hands up if you thought Nashville and Vancouver were going to combine for 11 goals.
How to explain this? It can only be the hand of God. One assumes that the good Lord was as sick of the Canucks’ goaltending controversy (such as it was), as we were, and perhaps just as tired of hearing about how Cory Schneider was the second coming of his beloved son. Thus, he intervened, rendering all goalies incapable of keeping the puck out, save Anders Lindback, whom he clearly prefers. For whatever reason, God made sure Lindback saw everything, much like I saw everything when I watched this game.
Canucks 5 – 6 Predators
Cory Schneider, meet statistical regression. Statistical regression, Cory. After boasting the impenetrability of a chastity belt for six games, Schneider’s came back to Earth so hard he left a crater, giving up 3 goals on a measly 5 shots. He was definitely at fault on the first one, failing to get himself properly set for David Legwand’s one-timer, but I didn’t think he was particularly culpable on the others. One ramped off Kevin Bieksa’s stick, one was a nigh-unstoppable Shea Weber blast from the circle. Still, it’s been six games since we’ve had to forgive the C-Wall for being human, so it was strange to see.
Good news for Scheider: Luongo came in to the game to start the second and didn’t fare much better. He made a great save on a Martin Erat breakaway, but he looked a little shaky on a few of the goals and it was all too familiar to see him on his belly at the end of a game in which he had relieved Cory Schneider. Still, let’s cut him some slack. The last time he went this long between playing games was the summer, so clearly, he’s probably reverted back to October mode. But don’t panic, Canuck fans: there’s a surefire way to convince the mind and body it’s December: the Boney M Christmas album.
The big story going into tonight’s game was the return of Mason Raymond, but that story was pushed back to Sunday when the Canucks failed to fax Raymond’s papers to the NHL head office in time. As a result, after waiting for Alain Vigneault to feel comfortable with removing Aaron Volpatti from the lineup for three games, Raymond was forced to sit while Volpatti played again. And scored. Amazing since, like Dante from Clerks, he wasn’t even supposed to be here today. (Stick tap to Cam Charron for that one.) Anyway, if it weren’t for the goal horn, you’d probably be able to hear Raymond groaning really loudly.
With Movember over, most of the Canucks shaved off their moustaches, but Andrew “Skinny Paul Blart” Alberts and Aaron “Wario” Rome continued to sport theirs. Do they know it’s Christmas? Do they need the Boney M Christmas album too? No. While there’s never a bad time for the Boney M Christmas album, both kept their moustaches for reasons of superstition. Not only did both unexpectedly transform into goal-scorers while sporting dusters, they scored game-winners.
I enjoyed the little back and forth between Alberts and Jordin Tootoo. It started in the first period, when Alberts absolutely levelled the Predators’ agitator. Then, in the third period, looking for his revenge, Tootoo took a sizable run at Alberts. Unfortunately, the ever-agile Alberts merely sidestepped the hit like horse droppings on a nature trail, leaving Tootoo to hit the glass all by his lonesome.
Speaking of Tootoo, it was also hilarious to see him go flying when Keith Ballard faked a shot and stepped around him in the first period. However, as John Garrett pointed out, Ballard was the last man back. If that doesn’t work, Tootoo’s going the other way on a breakaway. When we say Ballard is a high-risk player, that’s what we’re getting at. Also the fact that he plays a lot of Risk.
While Raymond may not have been able to make his season debut, there was no problem with the Green Men’s paperwork. They really seem to love annoying the Predators, so it wasn’t surprising to see them at their usual spot by the penalty box for the Canucks first game versus Nashville. Undoubtedly, their highlight was the giant naked Ryan Kesler cutout. Outstanding. Later, they did some quality Tebowing too, but no planking, which was disappointing.
Lucky for them, Ryan Kesler made up for the oversight by taking it upon himself to plank on top of the net in the second period. During play. In one of the strangest moments in a very strange game, Kesler took the puck to the crease and somehow wound up atop the goal. Then, not wanting to step on Lindback, he opted to climb over the backside of it in order to get back down. I tell you what, climbing over the mesh like that, he briefly looked like Spiderman.
Another great moment at the Predators’ net: just after Jannik Hansen scored the Canucks fifth goal on that blistering slapshot, the Sedins and Burrows came over the ice and played an entire shift in the Nashville end. At one point, Burrows was knocked into the goal and, hilariously, rather than get out, he tried to hook the puck into the goal with him. Can you believe people are still upset about Brett Hull’s foot being in the crease? 11 years later, teams are setting up a guy in the opponents’ goal to recruit the puck.
After going down 2-0 early, Cody Hodgson and Chris Higgins combined to cut the lead in half on a first period powerplay. It was a pretty give-and-go, as Hodgson sent the puck to Higgins below the goal line and then buried the return pass short side, catching Pekka Rinne unawares. Also unawares: the goal horn guy, because he forgot to turn it on. Either that, or we experienced the goal celebration from Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins’s perspective, as everything goes silent and the magic of the hug briefly takes you away.
I’m really impressed by Dale Weise’s dumps. Stop laughing. The Aaron Volpatti goal was the result of Weise chasing his own dump-in hard and getting to the puck way ahead of his man, but he stood out on a handful of other dump-ins as well, either by being the first one to the puck or by hitting the defenseman like a truck (5 hits tonight) for getting there before him. I guess you could say Weise had dumps like a truck.
Maxim Lapierre had 8 hits tonight, one more than Thriller. But this was a mistake. The fact that Epic didn’t release “Baby Be Mine” as a single grinds my gears to this day.
16 hits and a goal for the fourth line tonight. Starting Roberto Luongo next game is a pretty easy decision, but breaking up this trio to get Mason Raymond back into the lineup is a tough sell. While I’d be surprised, I could understand if Raymond’s debut was put off yet again.
What a play by Burrows and Henrik on the Canucks’ fourth goal. In the past, we’ve discussed the way Burr goes about occupying a crease, which is less like the NHL’s prototypical unmovable tough guys and more like a squirrel darting back and forth in traffic. This was a great example. Kevin Klein had him completely tied up, but Squirrows made a sneaky little move to get his stick in there and deflect the puck home.
Strange exchange from John and John just after Dan Murphy pimped the Canucks iPhone app. Garrett: You have the Canucks App on your phone? (dismissively) You have every app. Shorty: I’m an app master. Not to be confused with an Ab Master.
David Booth looked good tonight. Also, he played well. While it didn’t translate into a single point tonight, I thought this was David Booth’s best game as a Canuck. He won seemingly every puck battle he was in, he was all around the puck, and he had four or five quality scoring chances, two of which came in the first five minutes.
After a period in which the Canucks pressed like crazy, the Predators scored the dagger with 1:16 to go. How could this have happened? Mainly because Jannik Hansen forgot Mike Fisher was good at hockey, and let him by as the Predators entered the zone. Hansen tried one of his patented stick lifts, but unfortunately for him, Fisher’s as strong with his stick as he is in his faith, and he was not ashamed to let it show.
Normally Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis is quiet contributor (he played a team-high 25:04 — did you notice?), but he quite nearly scored the goal of the year in the third period, making a crazy spin move to shake his man at the blueline, following that up with a mad deke to shake another, then taking the puck right to the net. After the game, he felt like such a badass he went out and bought himself a brand new leather-bound Bible. In red.
Cody Hodgson had a great game, but his faceoff skills have really fallen off. Only a few short games ago, Alain Vigneault was letting he and Malhotra split third line faceoff duty. Now it would appear Hodgson is hardly trusted in the circle. He only saw one even-strength faceoff tonight.
And finally, the Canucks had 21 shots in the second period. The Predators had 20 in the game. The fact that Vancouver lost tonight is kind of absurd, but that’s what happens when you fail to Win Da Turd. Amazing, since the term trended worldwide on Twitter during the last hour of the game. And then John Shorthouse said it on-air, which is the equivalent of your Dad saying he really likes the band you’re into. Not cool anymore.
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