I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, December 19, 2011

Canucks 4 – 0 Wild

After 5 games on the road, the Canucks returned to the cozy confines of Rogers Arena with some concern that there might be a letdown with all of the travel. Sure enough, the Canucks were outshot by the perpetually-low-shooting Minnesota Wild in the first period and had 7 giveaways. They looked blunt, dull, or flat: in any case, not sharp. They were not, however, outscored or outgoaltended. Roberto Luongo stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period, then proceeded to stop every other shot as well, earning his first shutout of the season. I watched the Canucks finish strong because I watched this game.

  • Roberto Luongo was impressive throughout this game as the mental errors and giveaways of his teammates had no impact on their plus/minus. Three of the best scoring chances for the Wild came directly off doubleplusungood giveaways, but Luongo stood (or butterflied) tall, bailing out Dan Hamhuis, Alex Sulzer, and Mark Mancari. Unfortunately, like Sulzer and Mancari, the guy who uploads videos to Canucks.com apparently thought the game ended after the second period, so there are no videos of those saves available.
  • Sulzer and Mancari had to be kicking themselves — their giveaways came in the third period after they had actually performed reasonably well through the first 40 minutes. It was Sulzer’s first game in over a month thanks to injuries to Keith Ballard and Aaron Rome, while Mancari likely wanted to make a good impression to avoid being sent down to Chicago prior to the Christmas break roster freeze. Those late-game mental errors won’t help either of their cases.
  • For those worried about Cody “Silent G” Hodgson’s icetime: he actually had more icetime than Alex Burrows in this game. Of course, Alain Vigneault’s hate for Burrows is well known. Alain Vigneault co-hosts Coach’s Corner, right?
  • Dale Weise had an effective game on the fourth line, logging a game-high 6 hits, including a solid check on Colton Gillies that had the Wild centre hot under the collar. Instead of roughing things up after the whistle, he probably should have just rubbed some snow from along the boards on his neck. Much more effective.
  • Turns out that Alex Edler is a better defenceman than Dion Phaneuf. Unlike the Leaf captain, Edler played a potential breakaway to perfection, diving out to poke the puck away from the streaking Matt Cullen. He then asked Cullen to get dressed, because he was embarrassing everyone.
  • After Edler’s stellar defensive play, the Sedins took over. Henrik took the puck back up ice and combined with his brother for the longest, slowest give-and-go in NHL history, feathering a cross-ice backhand pass to Daniel just out of the defenders’ reach, then going straight to the net to tip Daniel’s perfectly-weighted return feed off Niklas Backstrom and in. It was the first of three incredible instances of Wizardous Sedinerie on the night.
  • With Henrik opening the scoring on a powerplay, Dany Heatley decided that the best use of his team’s first powerplay was to take a dumb penalty after the whistle and give the Sedins another chance to work their magic. Daniel showed that he’s just as comfortable in Gretzky’s office as Henrik is, flipping a sublime saucer pass to Kesler in front, who scored in a mundane, non-magical fashion. I’m pretty sure that Kesler is a Barbarian, but this still counts as Wizardous Sedinerie.
  • The hattrick of wizardry was completed by the underappreciated apprentice wizard, Alex Burrows. Henrik drew two defenders to himself off the rush, leaving Daniel and Burrows with a 2-on-1 down low. Daniel toe dragged the puck around Jared Spurgeon, then passed across to Burrows, who popped the water bottle off the top of the net. It completely a doubleplusgood showcase of Wizardous Sedinerie, as Daniel and Henrik finished with 3 points each, while Burrows had a game-high 6 shots on net.
  • Anyone who still thinks that Burrows is purely a beneficiary of the Sedins needs to take a closer look at that goal: the savvy pass from Henrik and the gorgeous move from Daniel are superb, yes, but if Burrows doesn’t tuck that puck underneath the crossbar, Backstrom likely makes the save. Honestly, Burrows has been excelling with the Sedins for almost three years; you think he’d get some respect by now. He’s the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey.
  • Jannik Hansen and Matt Cullen combined for the game’s oddest moment when they gave the puck away to each other four times in a row. Hansen lost the puck along the boards to Cullen, who attempted to clear the zone, only to have the clearing attempted intercepted by Hansen at the blueline. Unfortunately, he couldn’t handle the puck and lost it directly back to Cullen. Amazingly, Cullen had the puck go off the heel of his stick: the first player to jump on it was, of course, Hansen, who proceeded to work a give-and-go with Raymond to get a shot on net.
  • The Sedins may have been the stars on the ice, but the star off the ice was the fan in the Canucks luchador mask. I still want one in the worst way. His ladyfriend, on the other hand, appears to have drawn the Canucks stick-in-rink logo on her face in a mirror, not realizing that it would be reversed on her face.
  • Shorty’s response (after a long pause) to Rey Mysterio up there is also classic: As my father-in-law would say, “Oookay.”
  • As mentioned above, Raymond took a puck in the face during the third period. Fortunately, the only casualty appeared to be his pretty face. Well, that and the dignity of the fans in Rogers Arena who inexplicably did the wave while trainer Mike Burnstein tended to the wounded Raymond. Look, Canucks fans: there are very few times that doing the wave is acceptable. That wasn’t one of them.
  • Hodgson had a great game, winning 5 of 6 faceoffs (none of them in the defensive zone) and setting up the game’s final goal by headfaking his defender before whipping a fantastic pass to Jannik “Danish Ninja” from behind the net. Hansen finished off the play with no resistance from the Wild but, in their defence, he did appear in front of the net in a puff of smoke, so you can’t really blame them for not seeing him in time to stop him.
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17 comments

  1. Canucklehead_in_T.O.
    December 20, 2011

    The NHL needs to amend the rule book in order to include some kind of supplementary and appropriately severe discipline for any player ruining the lovely, porcelain man-boy face of Mason Raymond.
    Perhaps a hefty fine and 10 lashes for each millimeter of scarring upon that miraculous canvas of god which is #21′s downy-soft and uncannily disarming visage?

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    • Steeeve
      December 20, 2011

      Teammates exempt?

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  2. the olde coot
    December 20, 2011

    Fair Lady Luck so slyly smiled
    Upon the Minnesota Wild
    Inflating thus their PDO
    But Fortune’s fickle as you know
    And what starts fast must surely slow

    We witnessed that so well tonight
    Which was to Jenny Wren’s delight
    As our precocious foster child
    Just sat and watched the game beguiled
    While were well tamed the fading Wild

    For quite some time ’twas to and fro
    With crass concern but even so
    As the game went it went all right
    For Henrik did his team ignite
    Canucks now have first place in sight

    The Olde Coot

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  3. Zach Morris
    December 20, 2011

    odd that you should use newspeak, I’m reading 1984 RIGHT NOW!

    Luongo got a shutout!
    ~happy hand clap

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    • Zach Morris
      December 20, 2011

      Also, some observations.
      -NO SNACK GOALS!
      -I am really spoiled as a sports fan, being able to watch the Sedins all the time. I take some of their Sedinerie for granted, to be honest. The announcer yells, “WOW! WHAT A GOAL!” and I respond, “meh, that was a garbage goal for THEM. Where was the no look backhand between the legs tip pass by Henrik followed up by a video game move by Daniel to avoid the poke check and score, top shelf?”
      -They just make it look so easy. Maybe that’s why they don’t get a lot of respect. “well, even I could knock in a mid air shot if I had that pass”.
      -I’m happy we beat Minnesota. I’m overjoyed that Luongo got a shutout. And it was an entertaining game. Considering some of our classic barn burner meetings last year, I’m practically ebullient with glee.
      -Hockey players really say “Obviously” and “At the end of the day” too much. But then fans and the media complain if players say something unusual or potentially incendiary.
      -I noticed something I haven’t noticed since the SCF last night: the Canucks look like they have their confidence back. They’re taking their time, not making desperate plays, they seem to know the puck is going to go in at some point.
      It’s good to have you back, boys.

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      • John in Marpole
        December 20, 2011

        It’s so true that a regular diet of Sedin (and Burrows) magic makes one so used to it that it becomes almost unremarkable, however that makes it all the more puzzling that – according to a Tweet quoted on 1040 earlier today – Wild fans were complaing that the Canucks are a boring team to watch…

        No normally I’d be inclined to accept the judgement of a Wild fan for what constitutes boring hockey, because after years of watching a boring team night in and night out they should be experts on the subject. However, I’m thinking that what happened was they were enchanted by Sedin wizardry which caused them to change channels to the Yule Log channel for 2 hours and they actually missed last night’s game.

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        • Zach Morris
          December 20, 2011

          that’s gotta be it.
          how can you call the Sedins boring?
          coldly efficient, perhaps, but not boring.

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  4. Gabrielle
    December 20, 2011

    Near the end of this game, I was very worried about snack goals. Thankfully we were able to preserve Lu’s shutout. =D

    Hopefully we can catch up to Minnesota pretty soon and surpass them.

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  5. Zach Morris
    December 20, 2011

    Since Nov. 1, Luongo is 10-3-1 with a 93.1 SV%, 1.95 GAA, and 1.5 SO.

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  6. John Andress
    December 20, 2011

    I agree with you entirely about Alex Burrows being under appreciated. Many seem to habitually regard him as the lucky chump who gets to be the third guy on the Sedin line. Anybody who has watched him for the past few years has seen Burrows develop into one of the smartest, hardest working forwards the Canucks have had and he compliments and enhances the Sedins rather than tagging along like a little bother. Not to put too fine a point on it, Alex Burrows is a wonderfully talented, hard working hockey player and one of the best in the entire NHL. The road he traveled to get there only makes his success more remarkable and for him, no doubt, doubly satisfying. And you can place that where the sun don’t shine, Ron MacLean.

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  7. J21
    December 20, 2011

    On the topic of respect, I remember earlier in their careers, when the Sedins were basically just the “endless cycling duo” who still put up decent numbers, one of the explanations for why the NHL brass largely ignored them was that they were so unspectacular style-wise, even if they were consistent producers. Certainly can’t say that anymore… I’d say most of their goals are highlight material these days. That slow give-and-go was so fun because everyone watching just knew what was in the process of happening — and had full time to digest it too — but there was nothing the Wild defenders could do about it.

    The one thing about it is the play that led up to it, namely Edler’s diving check on Cullen. Great play and, under the rulebook, perfectly clean, because Edler hit the puck first. But philosophically, I’ll admit I don’t understand this rule. Why does it matter if you hit the puck first if the end result is still a trip that not only nullifies a scoring chance, but also takes Cullen irredeemably out of the play? It’s not like you can board or charge a guy just because you also hit the puck. (High-sticking, with its follow-through exception, is the only penalty that has something similar). Here Cullen’s doing a fantastic job penalty-killing, basically getting himself a shorthanded breakaway… that doesn’t seem like the type of play that should be able to be used against him. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’ll bet the fans boo pretty loudly there. Still a beautiful goal, though.

    Re: Burrows — I’ve said it time and again. His story is the type of thing that CBC should absolutely lap up (and they would, if he had the smarts to play for an Original Six team). The fact that Maclean has it in for him, of all people, is just obnoxious because of how obvious the double-standard is.

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    • Zach Morris
      December 20, 2011

      if you hit the puck first, you nullify the scoring chance before you trip him.
      There is no scoring chance on the play, so refs don’t call a penalty.

      ^I just made that up, how’d it sound?

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      • J21
        December 20, 2011

        But then he’s out of the play for when the puck goes back the other way — you’ve gone much farther than merely nullifying the scoring chance. In this case, if Cullen is backchecking, the quality of chance isn’t nearly as high.

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        • Zach Morris
          December 20, 2011

          Edler is also out of the play though, having dived to check Cullen.

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          • J21
            December 20, 2011

            Fair point. And I suppose it’s not all the time that the puck zips back the other way that quickly.

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  8. Cathylu
    December 20, 2011

    Not much to add. Everyone else said it better than I can. I really enjoyed the game because I was expecting a much closer score. I know they had some key players out with injuries but I still thought it would be a battle. I feel like we’re making our way up the mountain! (Sometimes the Wizardous Sedinerie is so beautiful it almost makes me cry.)

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  9. akid
    December 20, 2011

    i like that. “sedinerie” with and ‘ie’. very sophisticated:)

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