After a pre-Christmas performance so stingy and humbugged it would make Ebenezer Scrooge proud (insomuch as that old coot can be proud of anything), the Canucks returned from the break as though they had been visited Christmas night by a trio of ghosts portending doom if they continued to be a team that loses to the Flames.
Here’s how it probably went down: the Ghost of Christmas Past took them to Christmas, 1987, when they were in the midst of a horrible stretch in which they won only once in 10 games. The Ghost of Christmas Present made them watch game tape from Friday night versus Calgary. And the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come showed them a horrifying future in which there is actual debate over whether or not the Sedins’ numbers should be retired.
Needless to say, the Canucks were forever changed by this harrowing experience, and they were thus far more generous versus the Edmonton Oilers, giving fans five goals to cheer about, and even anonymously sending a prize turkey to the Cratchit home. I watched this game.
Canucks 5 – 3 Oilers
Only moments after the Canucks had failed to convert on their first powerplay, Andrew Ebbett opened the scoring when a Chris Higgins’ shot deflected off Alex Plante’s leg, then off his skate and in. It’s worth noting that Ebbett’s first of the season, scored versus the Los Angeles Kings, came on a similarly lucky bounce off Willie Mitchell’s skate. Clearly, Ebbett prefers to light the lamp with a leg, like the Dad in A Christmas Story.
Speaking of Alex Plante, the poor guy had a rough night. Not only did the puck deflect off his leg for a goal, but he left the game bloodied after being run hard into the boards by Dale Weise. Weise was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit, which put Plante’s face directly into the glass. Will he be suspended? I doubt it. Ugly as the hit was, Weise connected with Plante shoulder-on-shoulder, but Plante was turning. Brendan Shahanan has been very clear about the mitigating factor of “sudden movement immediately prior to or during contact”, and this is one such case. You hate to blame the victim, but Weise isn’t at fault here.
Frankly, I was far more offended by the run Ryan Kesler took at Taylor Hall in the first period, for which he rightfully received a charging penalty. Granted, he didn’t connect, but if he had, that could have been dangerous. If you’re wondering why they call Kesler “Bull”, take note of that insane charge. No, Canuck fans, it’s definitely not because he prefers to sit under a tree and smell flowers.
Best Shorty and Garrett exchange on a night full of gems: With the time it took to rebuild the glass after Ryan Kesler tried to play Red Rover with it, Shorty started joking about how long it takes to build LEGO on Christmas morning. Garrett: Oh, you got them the Death Star? That’s a project. Of course, everybody knows you don’t finish the Death Star. You build three-quarters of it and then blow it up.
I liked Ebbett’s goal celebration on the first goal, which Shorty referred to as a “Pumped Up Kick“. I didn’t take him for a Foster the People fan, but there you go.
Ebbett added his first clean goal as a Canuck, second of the game, and third of the season on one scoring play later in the period, lunging to swat home a feed from Jannik Hansen, who is almost as much of a sure thing to pass on a 2-on-1 as Henrik Sedin. But I think the play of the play goes to Cody Hodgson, who made a nifty little stickhandle to wrap around Corey Potter and start the rush the other way. I’ve only seen someone undress a Potter like that in fan fiction.
That was Daniel’s joke. Mine: I haven’t seen someone undress a potter like that since the Unchained Melody scene in Ghost.
Two theories as to why renowned flashee Ben Eager beat up the penalty box camera. Theory 1: he blames the camera for humiliating him the last time he was in there. After all, any time a woman exposes her breasts, that’s a private moment. Why couldn’t the camera respect that? Theory 2: he’s a Luddite.
Henrik’s saucer pass to Daniel for the Canucks’ second goal is typical Wizardous Sedinerie. It’s a backhand saucer through Tom Gilbert’s legs and right onto Daniel’s stick. That said, I was amazed that this goal was allowed to stand, especially since Lennart Petrell definitely wasn’t. Daniel wipes him out on the way to the goal, which is a large part of why he’s so open. Of course, you can’t expect the refs to see it when Daniel’s using an invisibility spell.
The Oilers scored twice on the major powerplay given to them after the Weise hit, which could have made this a very different game had Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler not combined for a very pretty shorthanded goal. Burrows takes a circuitous line into the offensive zone to allow Kesler to get in behind him, then drops the puck and heads to the net. Then Kesler draws all three Oiler defenders to him (sort of — Ryan Jones just sort of drifts around) before centring the puck back to Burrows for the goal. It’s always fun when these two get some icetime together because, despite playing apart most of the time, they still have more chemistry than an episode of Breaking Bad.
Of note: the shorthanded goal was Burrows’s 14th goal and Kesler’s 17th assist. As you may know, they wear the numbers 14 and 17, respectively. This is the greatest synchronicity since Synchronicity.
Speaking of the Police, Kesler and Burrows’ 5-2 goal really had to Sting (ha ha, get it?). The Oilers still had a flicker of hope early in the third period, but Frick and Frack stamped it out when they stretched the lead to three for a second time, although this time with the roles reversed: Burrows drew all the Oilers to him, freezing both Khabibulin and Tom Gilbert with a fake slapshot at the side of the goal, then centered to Kesler for the score.
Between role reversals and synchronicity, Burrows and Kesler’s relationship is very Jungian.
With Andrew Ebbett’s two-goal performance, I was surprised that there weren’t more people clamouring for his icetime to be drastically increased at the expense of the Canucks’ other superstars (a.k.a. the Cody Hodgson Principle). Mind you, while Ebbett only played 8:03, he did get a few opportunities on the third line in place of Manny Malhotra. This was also something of a reward for Cody Hodgson, as Vigneault showed the rookie centre that he trusted him to be without the faceoff safety net of Malhotra for a short while.
Mind you, neutral zone faceoffs against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins aren’t exactly high stakes. If you lose, you don’t lose much, and chances are you’re not gonna lose anyway. The Nuge is one of the league’s worst faceoff men. He went 0-for-2 versus Hodgson and 2-for-10 versus the Canucks. RNH draws like he’s using MS Paint.
And finally, Alex Edler had six hits tonight, which is three more than any other player on either team and two more than Synchronicity.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]