I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings, December 22, 2011

Any time the Red Wings and the Canucks meet, you know you’re in for a good one. Detroit and Vancouver always seem to get up to play one another. It makes sense, really. Not only are both teams among the elite of the Western Conference, but they play similar systems. Furthermore, their cores are similar as well: Both boast a Selke-calibre center, a large Swedish contingent, a Swedish captain, and a dearth of useless enforcer types.

When you have that much in common, you’re bound to fight. It’s the law of romantic comedies. I should know. I watch a lot of romantic comedies. I also watch a lot of games, and I watched this game.

Canucks 4 – 2 Red Wings

  • Not unlike the game versus Toronto, Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins opened the scoring in this one, burying a rebound after Mason Raymond was stopped on a breakaway. The guy to keep an eye on in the replay is Niklas Kronwall. Not only is the breakaway a result of his decision to come way down into the offensive zone while the Wings are changing, but he follows this blunder up by allowing Higgins to easily beat him to the goal. And then, clearly unwilling to be excluded from the “Shame Kronwall” party, Ryan Kesler gives him a needless forearm shiver on his way through to the goal celebration. Remember this moment, because Kronwall sure did.
  • Cody Hodgson’s goal, which came 21 seconds later, is the result of some great instincts in the neutral zone. Initially, he’s trailing what seems to be a fairly innocuous play, but then two things happen, both of which he sees: first, the puck squirts free to Jannik Hansen along the wall. Second, Danny Cleary (#11) forgets that he’s covering for Ian White and wanders away from the play area like an unattended child. Hodgson instantly sprints through the middle of the ice, hoping for a pass. When he gets it, he comes flying over the blue line and slaps the puck harder than Rick James on Charlie Murphy.
  • Manny Malhotra’s assist on the Hodgson goal was well-earned. Initially, he loses the puck to Ian White but, when White takes his sweet time in moving it, Malhotra turns back, lifts White’s stick, and throws the puck down the boards to Hansen. Like Evil Dead 2, it was a great second effort.
  • The Red Wings would get a goal back after Todd Bertuzzi won a battle with Sami Salo in front of the Vancouver goal, pushing the Canucks’ defender into Roberto Luongo. Then, while Salo was stumbling over Luongo, the puck came to the crease, and Bertuzzi pushed that into the goal as well. Bertuzzi was actually fairly involved in the action tonight, even once getting into it with Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis. Watching Bertuzzi punch a guy who had no interest in fighting him was a familiar sight, but this instance was very different. Rather than trying to skate away, Hamhuis just stood there, turning the other cheek and forgiving him.
  • Ian White had eight shots tonight. It was the most shots by a guy named White since the penultimate episode of Season 3 of Breaking Bad.
  • The wound on Mason Raymond’s face is hilarious. The poor guy is used to being so pretty — now he probably feels like he should be wearing a half-mask and living secretly in the organ room. And when it heals up, he’s gonna look like Guy Boucher’s son with that prominent supervillain-esque facial scar. We’ve been charting Raymond’s heel turn for awhile now, and it’s safe to say that his turn precious Alberta farm boy to death-ray-pointed-at-the-United-Nations-building madman is happening right before our eyes.
  • Alex Burrows would restore the Canucks’ two-goal lead with five minutes remaining in the first, tipping a Daniel Sedin pass past Jimmy Howard. It was amazing that Daniel could even see Burrows, what with all the Red Wings jerseys in front of him.
  • Mind you, after Daniel used his head to tip the puck over the blue line on a zone entry, I guess nothing he does should surprise me anymore. Seriously, what the heck? My favourite thing about this bit is that it wasn’t just some frivolous thing — it was the best possible play. With Pavel Datsyuk bearing down on him, if Daniel tries to get this puck down to his stick, he’ll probably lose it. But still, who thinks to do that?
  • The big story after this game was the Niklas Kronwall hit on Ryan Kesler, which was oh-so close to simply being a big, beautiful hit. As Kesler sprinted out of his own zone with the puck with his head down, Kronwall came across to level him, and I suspect he was more than a little excited at the prospect. If Kronwall wasn’t still thinking about the needless forearm from the first goal, he was thinking of the several other run-ins with Kesler, who had been spearing, hooking, slashing and yapping more incessantly than Marcel the Shell with Shoes on all night.
  • Truth is, Kesler deserved this hit — as a fan of him and his team, I approve of his asshattery, but Kronwall had every reason to be eager to make Kesler pay when he had the chance. The problem is that, like a DJ playing too much French electronica, his love of Justice overwhelmed him. He left his feet. Seriously, Neil Armstrong thought that was a giant leap.
  • Kesler was understandably upset — no one enjoys being hit like that. But for him to take the only penalty for roughing, well, that was silly. Thankfully, the theme of justice continued, as the Canucks scored the only goal of the ensuing powerplay. After Alex Edler forced a turnover at the Canucks’ blue line, Jannik Hansen sprinted into the zone with the puck, taking it to the net hard and falling into Howard. When Edler shovelled the loose puck into the empty net and the goal counted, Howard went nuts, going after Hansen just like Kesler went after Kronwall. This time there was no penalty, I suspect because the refs knew that the universe was just righting itself and they didn’t want to get involved. The universe is, after all, humongous big.
  • Truth is, as is often the case these days, the refs made the right call in allowing Edler’s goal to stand. Zetterberg pushed Hansen towards Howard. It wasn’t the first time someone had been pushed towards a Howard. Just ask Lea Thompson.
  • Roberto Luongo was the best player on the ice Wednesday, making a bevy of remarkable saves (38, in total) to keep the Red Wings at bay early and to prevent them from getting back in the game once the Canucks had restored the two-goal lead. His best save came when he snatched a Pavel Datsyuk shot right out of the air like Kuzco in the Emperor’s New Groove, but he made a kick save only moments earlier that was almost as good.
  • Manny Malhotra was 11-for-15 on defensive zone faceoffs Wednesday night. He would have had 16, too, but he was waved out of the circle (a rarity), meaning Cody Hodgson got a rare defensive zone draw. He lost it.
  • Special shout out to Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis who was really only noticeable when he was being punched by Todd Bertuzzi, but did so much in this game. He played just over 25 minutes, most of which was against the Red Wings’ top line, and he allowed them very little. He also blocked 5 shots, and prevented a bunch more on the way home when he talked some children out of trying a gateway drug.
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58 comments

  1. Chinstrap Joe
    December 22, 2011

    Harrison – when you deal a drug as powerful as IWTG, you can’t keep us junkies waiting for our fix or you may have an uprising on your hands.
    Now that you have finally delivered, I can sit back in my chair, listen to some Floyd and get sweet on a bag of Funyuns…

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    • Zach Morris
      December 22, 2011

      I was having withdrawal symptoms there

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  2. MA
    December 22, 2011

    That Bertuzzi goal certainly could’ve been called off since Bertuzzi had shoved Salo into Luongo… I suppose it’s probably for the best that Luongo didn’t realize it and flip out or anything.

    We’ll take the win either way, fun one to watch.

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  3. stathead
    December 22, 2011

    Better to be a bit late and up to usual awesome standards. Some TSN announcer after the game was raging that the goal wasn’t disallowed – I guess he did not watch this game, or even the replays closely enough. I was hoping to figure out from this why Edler was first star over Luongo, since I often don’t understand about skaters’ amazing cleverness till I see it laid out here, and he had only one point. Maybe Mason Raymond was behind it?

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  4. Dave
    December 22, 2011

    Have to admit that I was surprised by some of the officiating – I really thought Kronwall deserved a penalty on the hit for leaving his feet. (Kesler did get lucky though, he definitely should have taken at least one more penalty.) Oh well, the numbers are sure to even out and we’ll start getting more PP’s again – including ones we don’t deserve – soon enough.

    I did like the consistency though: Red Wing pushes a Canuck into the goalie, the goal counts (regardless of which goalie).

    Most of all, it was a fun game to watch, lots of energy, emotion, and excitement.

    Love watching good teams play.

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    • J21
      December 22, 2011

      When the offensive player pushes a defending player in the guy’s own goalie, that’s far more problematic than when the defending player causes the shooter to knock his goalie over. There is a much greater argument for disallowing Bertuzzi’s goal than Hansen’s, but as usual the analysts just look at the “spectacular” factor (kind of like only suspending on plays where guys get injured).

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  5. Beantown Canuck
    December 22, 2011

    CHALLENGE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED. Harrison FTW!

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 22, 2011

      Give me a harder one next time.

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      • Beantown Canuck
        December 22, 2011

        that’s what she said

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        • J21
          December 22, 2011

          “Boom! Roasted!”

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          • Harrison Mooney
            December 22, 2011

            Massive zing-zanger there.

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            • Zach Morris
              December 22, 2011

              haha, zing-zanger
              :3

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  6. Tom
    December 22, 2011

    I pretty much only listen to the games on the radio, and I don’t like what I’m hearing about Kesler`s activities. how can I complain about the bruins in the final, or any team in any game, if I think its okay for someone on my team to do similar garbage.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 22, 2011

      Kesler’s a jerk, but every team has guys like this. You want good dudes? The Sedins are good dudes.

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      Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
      • Melissa
        December 22, 2011

        How is Kesler a jerk? He got barreled by Kromwell and how else is supposed to react?

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        • JDM
          December 22, 2011

          This is kind of like Kronwall justifying his hit with “the puck was right there!” That’s not why we have a problem with it, Kronner. Just like Kes’s reaction to the hit isn’t why we have a problem with his play tonight. He instead got in a foul mood and narrowly missed kneeing Henrik Zetterberg into oblivion. Having seen Booth get knocked out for a month plus (and he was lucky it was that little) no one wants to see that from a Canuck player.

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          • CanuckFanInSF
            December 22, 2011

            Kes needs to think about the bigger picture. The Canucks have lucked out on the suspension candy handed out by Sheriff Shanny (given that we haven’t received any this season). He is a vital part of the team and his actions are just reckless and selfish. We already got vindicated from the Hansen/Edler goal. No need for these kinds of shenanigans.

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            • Melissa
              December 22, 2011

              How else is supposed to play? Like the Sedins? The reason many fans like Kesler is because of how he plays. Kinda sounds like No. 44 back in the day before the hit.

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              • CanuckFanInSF
                December 22, 2011

                Whoa. Wait a sec. I’m cool with the retaliation on Kromwall, but NOT on the knee action on Zetterberg. That move ends careers and is just plain foolish.

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    • peanutflower
      December 22, 2011

      You don’t have to think it’s okay. Seriously, though, watch a game or two. Kesler is an emotional player and I think he momentarily loses his cool if he figures something ain’t right. That hit by Kronwall should have been a penalty. He clearly left his feet, and not just by an inch or two . If Kesler can’t count on the refs to make the play fair maybe he thinks he should take things into his own hands once in a while. There was just as many sneak hits and tweaks and jabs by the Red Wings — isn’t it par for a hockey game? I even saw Luongo swinging his stick around at a WIngs player standing near him. It was more of a “don’t even” kind of swing, but he gets his fair share of licks in too. I thought it was interesting that the TSN guys said that neither team saw fit to have a goon on the team, and they used that word, because they “don’t have room on their roster for one.” I thought that was a pretty good comment, and at last some kind of vindication, however small, that the Canucks (and the Wings) play a style of hockey that doesn’t need some random dude swinging around out there. But I digress…. what radio station do you listen to?

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  7. J21
    December 22, 2011

    As the time kept ticking away, I, for one, was starting to wonder if you had watched this game!

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  8. CanuckFanInSF
    December 22, 2011

    What did the five fingers say to the face??? SLAP! Omg. I miss Chappelle!

    Boy that was an amazing pass from Daniel to Burrows who totally caught Jimmy Howard on the blind side. Dude had no chance on catching that puck.

    Oh, Kesler. I don’t know man. I’m a fan, but trying to take out Zetterberg’s knee isn’t the way to earn love around the league.

    I loved Lu’s thievery on an awesome Datsyuk scoring opportunity. Datsyuk just semi-shook his head in disbelief. But that was blatant thievery.

    Watched the post-game shirt off your back ceremony. Waited for Chris Higgins’ name to be announced. Sure enough, dude did not have a shirt under all of that gear. Husband and I had a hoot over it. And yes, “Chris Higgins Scores, Has Abs” is still the headline of the year IMHO. Kesler was still on beastmode when he gave his shirt and I kinda felt bad for the fan he gave it too. I love Hank high-fiving the little girl who got his jersey. Way to go, Captain.

    AV and Kes were clearly unhappy despite the win last night. During the post-game scrums, they were dishing out “no comment. I don’t want to get fined” like they were glowsticks at a rave party.

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    • peanutflower
      December 22, 2011

      I want to know how you got to watch the shirts of our backs thing. What station was that on? Dang. TSN cut out right after the game.

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      • CanuckFanInSF
        December 22, 2011

        I caught it at Canucks TV (online) by chance. I was trying to look at stats and wanted to see AV post-game, and I clicked on the link and they had a Canucks Christmas video shortly followed by the ceremony. It was great to see Romer and Ballard. After the ceremony, it went to the post-game scrum.

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        • Rituro
          December 22, 2011

          Combed over the post-game videos at canucks.nhl.com and couldn’t see anything that looked like the jersey ceremony. Sadness. :(

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          • stathead
            December 22, 2011

            After the game, near the top of the home page they often have a “live post game coverage” link. That’s usually cutting in and out of interviews, but this time had the ceremony.

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            • sarah
              December 22, 2011

              Ten Points to Gryffindor if anyone can find a link to the video of that ceremony [because I can not]

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              • tj
                December 23, 2011

                It’s up there now. Just watched it. Anyone know how they choose the winners?

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  9. Zach Morris
    December 22, 2011

    My own observations:
    -I was pretty sure that hansen goal wasn’t going to count. I was surprised that it did count. I imagine that’s how the Bruins felt when they realised they were allowed to break all the rules. “Are you sure? I mean-” “No, just shut up and enjoy it”
    -Yesterday I was just reading a piece in the Denver Post about the death of the slapshot on the rush, and then Hodgson scores on a slapshot on the rush. It was pretty cool, almost as cool as Hodgson promising to take his grade school teacher to one of his games if he ever made the NHL, and then actually doing it. Trevor Linden 2.0, ladies and gentlemen.
    -”Seriously, Sami. ‘Luongo’ is not Italian for ‘Sit on me so the opposition can score.’ ”
    -Last night’s game was pretty weird. John Shorthouse stuck as much soccer as he could into the game after daniel’s header (“daniel, flicking the puck back into touch”), Kronwall led a hit with his back (HE PIROUETTED), and the Canucks and the Red Wings had a scrappy game. That’s like Oprah hasslin’ one of her guests, it just didn’t seem right

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    • CanuckFanInSF
      December 22, 2011

      ”Seriously, Sami. ‘Luongo’ is not Italian for ‘Sit on me so the opposition can score.’ ”

      Maybe in Finnish?

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    • J21
      December 22, 2011

      What’s even cooler about Cody’s story is the fact that he brought his teacher to a game at the Air Canada Centre — price-wise, that’s like treating 400 people to a game in Florida.

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  10. Rituro
    December 22, 2011

    Just when you think we’ve seen every trick in the Sedin playbook, Daniel makes a sublime header to gain entry into the zone. The reaction from the Rog was pretty much my reaction as well.

    Golden Skate… er, MVP, anyone?

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  11. peanutflower
    December 22, 2011

    While I waited for IWTG I stooped to reading Spector’s blog. Yes, I know… but there was an interesting comment posted that I thought was pretty interesting, so I’m sharing:

    Let’s look at the Canucks power play opportunities for the last few games:
     
    Detroit – 0
    Minn – 3 (scored on the first 2)
    Tor – 1
    Car – 1
     
    Really it’s inconceivable that a team playing this well and with this much speed would only draw that many penalties.  This is not just a “Canucks whining” thing either.  As of yesterday, the top 2 teams at drawing penalties in the NHL were…..Carolina and Columbus!  The two worst teams in the league.  These are facts that can’t be ignored.  It’s not a statistical anomoly.

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  12. Matt
    December 22, 2011

    I found TSN’s coverage to be a bit bizarre. They seemed to spend 10 minutes ruminating audibly about who would be the 3 stars; it’s nice that they think about it, but it’s not as though they were choosing the next Pope. And then Gord Miller–the guy with the great face for radio–says, “If they go to 5-2, I’m making Luongo my third star.” Why would the Canucks’ scoring another goal put Luongo over the top, unless Luongo himself were to score?

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    • stathead
      December 22, 2011

      I think he had initially said that Luongo should be third star, and then he made some cool saves and the guy said maybe second star, and then said but third star if Canucks score again… I could be misremembering though, because that game was action-packed. I thought he should have been first star myself, since neither of the goals he allowed was a facepalmer and 38 saves is v cool.

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      • stathead
        December 22, 2011

        But Luongo is actually one of the NHL’s compuware three stars for today! Cool. Is that 3 Canucks in one week? God speed, our boys at the front. OK, enough hockey- Christmas cards. Very late Christmas cards.

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    • peanutflower
      December 22, 2011

      I noticed that too. They spent a lot of time NOT doing play by play. While I like Ray Ferraro and I think he’s one of the best, I’d rather hear the play by play than a whole lot of aimless speculation

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  13. Cathylu
    December 22, 2011

    I wasn’t feeling well last night and I went to bed at the end of the second period. I know we scored once because I heard my husband “wooo!” downstairs. But I guess I missed some other interesting stuff. Thanks for filling me in on the details. And the “Daniel directing the puck with his head” thing…there are no words. I know I haven’t been a fan very long but I’ve never seen THAT before!

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  14. Frank Nelissen
    December 22, 2011

    Mr. White, Yo! Kudos for the reference!

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    • The Bookie
      December 22, 2011

      yeah loved the reference. I got my roommate and his gf into Breaking Bad and they’re somewhere in the 3rd season .. literally right as I read the Ian White joke I heard the opening music coming through the walls!

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      • The Bookie
        December 22, 2011

        Although as an addict of the show, I have to point out – it was in the second last episode of Season 3 (Half Measures) that Mr. White fired a lot of shots.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          December 22, 2011

          WHAT? That is an inexcusable error for me.

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  15. Melissa
    December 22, 2011

    Refs had a hand in this one; they clearly didn’t give Kromwell a penalty that he deserved. Kesler is an emotional player, not dirty; a dirty player purposely goes after players to injure other players, ie Matt Cooke.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 22, 2011

      Well, he did purposefully go after Zetterberg a little later on. I don’t think Kesler’s a dirty player, but he *is* a huge jerk on the ice.

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      • jeff
        December 22, 2011

        You guys missed a hilarious dick move by Kesler after Bieksa’s hit on Filppula — check out in the NHL.com highlights how he skates by, sees the hit, and immediately turns and plows right through Filppula as he’s getting back on his feet and looking the other way. Poor guy.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          December 22, 2011

          That was Kesler? I was gonna write about it but I wasn’t watching at home, so I didn’t get a chance to rewind and see who it was.

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        • CanuckFanInSF
          December 22, 2011

          I saw that.

          Suffice to say, he was out for blood. His temper/emotions got the best of him last night. Burr and Lappy looked like saints beside him.

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  16. jenny wren
    December 22, 2011

    Up on the screen of my I Mac
    I found this pome from Whisky Jack

    It’s five AM on Thursday morn
    And here I sit my patience worn
    While last night’s game was wholly wow
    I’m wanting Mooney’s posting now

    But when it’s later in the day
    Mayhap I’ll see what he’s to say
    (After some beers with Friendly Mike)
    And check those comments I dislike

    For now another cuppa “joe”
    And then it’s off to work I go

    Whisky Jack

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  17. jenny wren
    December 22, 2011

    The top team in the NHL
    Is not the Nucks as you know well
    The Hawks are leading in the West
    And in the East the Bruins are best

    But to these facts fans paid no heed
    As their team grabbed a two goal lead
    And when the first was played and done
    Nucks led the Wings three goals to one

    Into the second and up by two
    ‘Twas Howard versus Bobby Lu
    And all who watched would not ignore
    It could matter who next would score

    ‘Twas within one Detroit until
    Vancouver scored while on the kill
    Terrific game and it was nice
    The Canucks won while on home ice

    And furthermore I make this claim
    These are the best teams in the game
    ‘Cause they don’t whine nor are they goons
    Unlike the Hawks and Boston Bruins

    Jenny Wren

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  18. jyrki lumme
    December 22, 2011

    Another great IWTG, as usual, and probably the best Nux game so far this year. That said, I’m definitely a bit concerned for you, Harrison, given your knowledge of Howard the Duck. There is no possible good reason for someone to have watched this film, much less recall it in a blog post. I will concede, however, that Lea Thompson was kinda’ hot back then (pre-Caroline in the City).

    Regarding the “Kes-Wall” situation, on the supposed “forearm shiver”, I’m not entirely convinced that Kes, wasn’t just raising his arms hurriedly in celebration, knowing surely that Kiss Huggins would be lookin’ for some sugar tout de suite. You don’t wanna’ keep Kiss waitin’ for his Huggins.

    That said and, I’ll admit, having read another, less-awesome blog earlier, I am becoming increasingly disappointed with Kes’ tendency to pout and whine after the whistle and sometimes even – gasp! – embellish. Unlike yourself, I could do with a tad less asshattery, as you call it. It seems it wasn’t that long ago that Kes (and Burr) had resolved to change their ways and stick to playing between the whistles, with no jawing, diving or other BS after the play. I worry now that Kes may be reverting to his old, less-effective, former self.

    While it’s technically correct to say that Kronwall left his feet and thus his hit on Kes was worthy of a call, the reality is that, regardless of whether he “deserved” the hit, the fact is he had his head down, as you mentioned, and thus he should just “shut up and take it” to paraphrase Kronwall’s comments postgame. Kes’ suggestion that Kronwall should do the honourable thing and fight him is ridiculous and, as a fan of his, it’s embarrassing to hear Kes say such a thing. Next time keep your head up, lest ye be Kronwalled (not to be confused with Cornballed, which involves 3rd degree burns and a deep fryer).

    Finally, bravo on the Chappelle reference….great to revisit some classic Darkness moments – Merry Christmas! It’s a celebration! – enjoy yourself…….

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  19. starfish
    December 22, 2011

    Jenny Wren, I was up at 0500 too but I noticed that Harrison had tweeted (just to the right of the blog) that we shouldn’t expect anything until after 0900. Harrison, what were you actually doing last night. Whatever it was, you are forgiven for having written.

    As for all the references to pop culture & media that permeate PITB as a 50-something I need everybody’s advice. My sons have directed me to Breaking Bad & more recently Game of Thrones which to my delight have been cited in the last 2 blogs. What else should I be watching? Harrison, how about some more biblical quotes & classical allusions.?

    A word of the Kronwall-Kesler hit , and hits in general. If the hitter (as opposed to the hittee) is preparing to hit he will brace himself and push hard with his legs – given the nature of a skate blade & ice, a significant portion of the force generated will be downwards, into the ice. The equal & opposite reaction will be for the hitter to get some air. This is not evidence of dirt, just physics. Kes had his head down, it was a clean hit. And Harrison, he is not dirty, just emotional and given to outbursts of passion. The knee on knee to sub-conscious in the aftermath of the Kronwall hit. I reckon. It was that passion that took care of the Predators last May. My wife and all her girlfriends seem to like his passion too, particularly when he is deshabille.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 22, 2011

      Shows you have to see:

      Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones are my two favourite shows on TV right now.

      And if you haven’t seen The Wire yet, it remains the finest show I’ve ever seen in the history of television EVER.

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      • Demetrius
        December 22, 2011

        Then you clearly haven’t seen Hogan’s Heroes.

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      • peanutflower
        December 22, 2011

        okay, so I”m confused. You’re still talking about the original Game of Thrones, right? They have just done the one series. No one snuck another one in there, right? Just checking…

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    • Daniel Wagner
      December 22, 2011

      Players frequently leave their feet as a consequence of a clean hit. Kronwall left his feet prior to the hit, which is why I have a problem with it. If he hit Kesler and subsequently left his feet, there’s no problem.

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  20. peanutflower
    December 22, 2011

    Does anyone know anything about the NHL (who are….) stating that Edler’s goal shouldn’t have counted ? This was in Kuzma’s column today:

    It continued into Thursday with the NHL stating that the goal shouldn’t have counted because Howard didn’t have a chance to make the save.

    If Howard didn’t chance to make the save how did Luongo have a change to make the save?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 22, 2011

      If the guy preventing the goalie from making a save is a teammate, that’s different. Bertuzzi pushed Salo, but Salo also sort of lost his balance and fell into Luongo on his own.

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