Looking at it, it’s kind of remarkable that the Canucks won Tuesday night. They were outshot by a 2-1 margin for the first and second periods and 33-23 overall. They were outhit 40-18. They won only 18 of 40 faceoffs. By the end of the first, they were without both of their second-line wingers, and by the end of the second they had lost their starting goaltender.
And yet, despite all of this, when the final horn sounded, they hadn’t just eked out a victory — they’d cruised to a 6-0 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. How the what? I honestly have no idea what I saw. All I know is I saw it. Because I watched this game.
Canucks 6 – 0 Avalanche
Hey, remember when there was some question over which Sedin was going to be the goalscorer this season? Yeah, that’s over now. Daniel Sedin scored thrice on Tuesday night, bumping him to 12 goals on the season — 4 more than his brother. He is once again the finisher. Unrelated: I imagine “The Finisher” to also be a superhero that shoots varnish out of his knuckles. He fights villains such as “Poor Deck Maintenance Man” and “The Shoddy Carpenter”.
Daniel’s first goal came on a beautiful piece of Wizardous Sedinerie only three minutes into the first period, on a play that began when he and Henrik pressured Shane O’Brien into coughing up the puck after a dump-in. Eventually, Henrik skated onto the puck along the half-wall and made an unbelievable, no-l00k backpass to Alex Burrows, and Burrows followed that up with a surprising feed of his own, throwing the puck past a sprawling Semyon Varlamov to Daniel below the goal line. With this, both Daniel and Varlamov raced to the far post from opposite sides like they were playing duck duck goose, and as Daniel wrapped the puck around, Varlamov tobogganed into his own goal, taking the puck with him.
The Avalanche had a chance to get the goal back on the very next shift, as Kevin Bieksa coughed up the puck at the Colorado blue line, sending Jay McClement and Daniel Winnik back the other way 2-on-1. Winnik made a perfect cross-ice pass to McClement, but Roberto Luongo made an even more perfect kick save to hold the Avalanche scoreless. Luongo was clearly in the zone Tuesday night. Every shot was hitting him. Unfortunately, one hit him in the neck. Friggin’ zone.
With Chris Higgins out with a curious (and gross) foot injury, Jannik Hansen earned a promotion to the second line, and he made the most of it, scoring twice in the game. His first goal was a beauty. After taking a pass from Cody Hodgson, Hansen faked a slapshot, which sent Ryan O’Byrne sliding into T.J. Galiardi on the shot block attempt. With a lane cleared, Hansen walked to the net and passed the puck to Bieksa, who made a Luongoesque kick save before feeding it back to Hansen for the goal.
Hansen’s second goal of the night — and also his ninth of the season, matching his career-high — came on a feed from Alex Edler. Why was Hansen so open? Because Matt Duchene overskated the blue line in attempting to pressure Keith Ballard. With the middle of the ice opened up, Edler found Hansen cutting in and Hansen buried the puck. I loved John Shorthouse’s call after the goal: “Jannik Hansen’s got a pair.” You heard the man. Don’t let the high voice fool you — Beaker’s got sack.
Another Hansen moment I really liked: on David Booth’s last shift, Kesler tipped the puck into the Avalanche zone and then went after it. He wound up right next to Hansen, and there appeared to be a brief confusion over which of them would go after the puck, and which would stop up to take away the boards. Then Hansen darted ahead, and an appreciative Kesler gave him a little love slash.
David Booth’s knee injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Coming off a 3-point night, you could just see the confidence oozing out of him (or maybe he just caught Chris Higgins’ infection, I don’t know). He looked strong in the early going on Tuesday, especially on his last shift, when he made a power move off the wall that completely fooled Shane O’Brien. Unfortunately, Kevin Porter stuck a knee out in desperation, and Booth went down in a heap instantly. Ugh. Here’s hoping Booth is okay, because he was just beginning to find his game, and a long-term injury could restart the whole process.
Porter’s hit is the sort of careless stunt that can end careers, so I wasn’t surprised when it earned him a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. However, Colorado coach Joe Sacco was. He called it a “marginal call” after the game. Seriously? If you think it’s a “marginal” call, then you sir, are a “marginal” lunkhead.
Kevin Bieksa had an interesting night. After surrendering a 2-on-1 early in the first only to be bailed out by Luongo, Juice did the same thing on his next shift, only to be bailed out by Luongo again. He wound up finishing a plus-3 with an assist, extending his point streak to six games. Also, in the second period, he took an elbow to the mouth courtesy of David Jones. It cost him a tooth, which was unfortunate. But on the plus side, I bet the Tooth Fairy leaves a freaking gift card to Holt Renfrew under the pillows in Yaletown.
You had to feel for Roberto Luongo. Not only did he take a puck to the throat (earning a rare ovation from the fairweather crowd at Rogers Arena), but he had to leave the game, meaning Cory Schneider came on in relief. Last time that happened, Luongo didn’t start again for a month. Of course, Luongo had pitched a half-hour of shutout hockey at that point. How could Schneider top that? How about a half-hour of shutout hockey and a point? Schneider picked up the second assist on Alex Edler’s goal after kicking the rebound out to Cody Hodgson at the neutral zone.Here’s footage of Luongo in the medical room immediately after this goal was scored.
For their flawless goaltending, Luongo and Schneider were both awarded third star honours, which was sort of neat. I liked Daniel Sedin’s snide one-liner on this: Did they hug out there? Of course, Daniel had every right to be a little snide. He’s been playing with his twin brother for the better part of a decade and we only just now discovered that the press box can give out co-stars? I call bullcorn.
For instance, how does Daniel Sedin get first star honours in this game while Henrik gets nothing? Take another look at Daniel’s second goal, which is my favourite on the night. He starts this play, drawing Stefan Elliott to the goalmouth where the Avs’ defender trips over Semyon Varlamov’s stick. Then he comes out in front of the net. That’s when Henrik comes flying in and starts circling the net, making all kinds of space for him. On Henrik’s first go-round, he takes the puck, backs off Ryan O’Byrne, then drops it back to Daniel. On Henrik’s second go-round, he makes a subtle pick on Elliott, opening up a small lane for Daniel to step into the slot and shoot the puck. Had Henrik gone around a third time, he would have drop-kicked someone in the chest.
While Daniel’s second goal is my favourite, his third goal is a thing of beauty as well. After crossing the blue line with the puck, he makes a drop pass to Henrik, who stops up at the half-wall then surprises everybody by making an obscene down-low pass to Alex Burrows rather than looking for the trailer. Just as on the first goal, Burrows meets Henrik’s pretty pass with a pretty pass of his own, centring the puck for Daniel, who slides it home. It’s not the prettiest hat trick goal we’ve ever seen Daniel score, but it caps off what might be the prettiest suite of hat trick goals we’ve ever seen. Are the Sedins good or what? Note: if you choose “what”, get out.
People will rave about the Canucks’ 20 blocked shots in this game, a season-high, but keep in mind that they were badly outplayed and outshot. They wouldn’t have had to block so many if the play was in their end for less time. Still, credit where credit is due: Ryan Kesler blocked 6 shots, and the whole team did a great job of collapsing in front of the goaltender to prevent shots from getting through. Maybe the whole team should have been named the third star. Maybe it’s possible? After seeing co-stars awarded like it’s the freaking Emmys, it’s clear THE RULES NO LONGER APPLY.
And finally, there aren’t many people talking about Cody Hodgson’s rookie campaign outside of Vancouver, but with his 2 assists Tuesday, he moved past Gabriel Landeskog and into 6th in rookie scoring. Not bad for a n00b.
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