I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, January 4, 2012

Before we go any further, let us all observe a moment of silence in honour of the Minnesota Wild. (No, not because they lost Wedesday night — that would be silly. As a Northwest Division rival, there should be a celebration any time the Wild lose.) This moment of silence is because, speaking of Northwest Division rivals, the next time the Wild come to town, they won’t be one. This was Minnesota’s last scheduled visit to Vancouver this season. Next year, with realignment kicking in, they’re not in the Canucks’ conference. It’s a cause for celebration.

But first, as I said, a moment of silence. It’s a fitting tribute when you think about it. A moment of silence is an awkward span of time in which nothing at all happens, not unlike a game versus the Minnesota Wild. And I should know. I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 0 Wild

  • One person who might be bummed out with fewer visits from the Minnesota Wild: Roberto Luongo. He’s struggled against them in the past, but he’s on something of a roll now. In his 700th career game, Luongo stopped all 28 shots he faced to record his second consecutive shutout versus the Wild. It’s funny, because I distinctly recall Wild beat reporter Michael Russo tweeting that he shrieked “Really??!!” when Luongo told him he was starting the last game. Luongo hasn’t let in a Wild goal since. This is good news: if being unfairly mocked by members of the press makes Luongo play better, he’s going to play very, very well in the playoffs.
  • The Canucks’ first goal is a bit of a lucky one, as the puck appears to deflect in off Pierre Marc-Bouchard’s leg, but it’s also the result of some quick thinking by Daniel Sedin. After he gains the zone and stops up, drawing two Wild defenders to him, he makes a quick pass to Henrik, who takes the puck about four feet ahead, stops up, and gives the puck back. The Wild defenders get completely crossed up by this and wind up simply skating into the middle of the ice and forming a single-file line. It’s weird. As a result, a massive shooting lane opens up with only Alex Burrows standing between Daniel and Josh Harding, so Daniel seizes the moment and wires the puck like it’s Kanye West’s jaw.
  • Speaking of opening up lanes, let’s be sure to give Alex Burrows credit for his work on the 3-on-2 that led to his goal. Henrik Sedin’s saucer pass is a thing of beauty that completely ruins the Wild’s defensive formation, but there’s no passing lane until Burrows backs both defenders up by going hard to the net (so hard he winds up in it). The player to watch here is poor Nate Prosser, the defender on the near side of the ice. He might have been able to take a swat at Henrik’s waist-high pass, but gets his stick on the wrong side of Burrows, and has to lift it all the way up over his head to turn towards Daniel. By the time he brings it back down, the puck is past him and it (and Burrows) are in the net.
  • Minnesota fans will swear up and down that they’re doing just fine with a top pairing of Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella, but their team is really missing a shutdown defenseman and the Sedins have been picking them apart in the season series as a result. After the Canucks’ second goal, Jeff Paterson pointed out that Daniel Sedin’s been in on 8 of 10 goals the Canucks have scored versus the Wild this season.
  • For the record, if Nick Johnson had skated hard on the Canucks’ second goal, that play would have been a 3-on-3, not a 3-on-2. Instead, he cruised towards Henrik Sedin, let Alex Burrows blow by him, and wound up watching from a distance as the Canucks scored the goal. Not long after, he tried to make up for this gaffe by challenging Dale Weise to a scrap, but Weise declined. This was the right thing to do. At that point, the Canucks had a two-goal lead and all the momentum, and risking the loss of some or all of it in a fight (which Weise would probably have lost) would have been foolish. Of course, Weise actually declined the fight because it’s hard to tweet with achy knuckles.
  • Mason Raymond took a tripping penalty in the first after getting his stick into the legs of Devin Setoguchi. Then, to make matters worse, Setoguchi’s skate caught Raymond in the face as he fell. It was rough. By the end of the season, he’s going to have more facial scars than Jonah Hex. Needless to say, Raymond was particularly testy after this incident. Clearly, living in a world that constantly erodes his outer beauty is beginning to toy with him inwardly. In short, he’s become the NHL’s Dorian Gray.
  • Speaking of Devin Setoguchi, I thought he was fantastic. It was his first game back from an ankle injury but he looked dangerous all night. He had a team-high five shots, most of them on quality chances. Were it not for Roberto Luongo’s strong play, Setoguchi could have had two or three points. Instead, he was pointless, like the movie Skyline.
  • I really liked Andrew Alberts’ work on the penalty kill, especially one particular play where Matt Cullen gained the zone, and Alberts simply stepped into him along the wall. He didn’t crush Cullen; he just knocked him off the puck. Then, he turned around, collected the puck, and fired it down the ice.
  • Burrows very nearly scored another goal after Josh Harding stopped him on a 2-on-1 down low and the puck jumped into the air. In a split-second, he did what he often does, snatching it from the air, putting it down and trying to swat it in. Unfortunately, Harding stopped that too. But seriously, all Burrows does is catch and shoot. No one give him a fishing license.
  • As a southpaw, I take offense to John Garrett calling Josh Harding “Wrong-handed.” I never knew he was such a handist. I’m gonna write a nasty, left-handed letter.
  • Full credit to the officials this evening, as they ran into injury trouble and made some nifty adjustments to cover. After linesman Thor Nelson left the game with a cut, one of the referees converted to a linesman and the team officiated the rest of the game with only one referee. This was impressive. It’s also impressive that there’s a guy named Thor working as an NHL official and he hasn’t mistaken Zdeno Chara for a frost giant yet.
  • The Canucks struggled in the faceoff circle versus the Wild. Ryan Kesler went 5-for-14, Henrik went 6-for-17, and Cody Hodgson went an abysmal 1-for-7. Luckily, Manny Malhotra was on his game as usual, winning 12-of-19 overall and 10-of-15 in the defensive zone. Four of his defensive zone draws came against Mikko Koivu, who didn’t beat the Canuck centre once inside the Vancouver blueline. Another led to the empty-net goal.
  • And finally, another result of Malhotra’s faceoff prowess: the fourth line had the puck a lot Wednesday night. Maxim Lapierre had a game-high 6 shots, and the line generated 9 in total throughout the game. It was the best fourth line since Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
Tags: , ,

20 comments

  1. Winsy
    January 5, 2012

    Nice Shakespeare reference! Takes me back to 12th grade English Lit!

    This game was a snoozer! I fell asleep during the 3rd and had to rewind the ‘ol PVR.

    I like how you wrote about Devin Setoguchi. Shows that you are not just a Canucks fan, but a HOCKEY fan too.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  2. Wisp
    January 5, 2012

    Okay, I can get behind Thor jokes. The linesmen should say “I SAY THEE NAY!” every time the puck goes offside.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  3. J21
    January 5, 2012

    Was it the fact that Loki replaced Thor on the line that led to that ridiculous icing call against the Canucks on a very playable puck in the final minute?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  4. Zach Morris
    January 5, 2012

    Dany Heatley was once again had an impact on and off the ice tonight, providing the talent, veteran leadership skills and playoff experience that the Wild saw in him when they picked him up from San Jose.
    Unfortunately for the Wild, his impact was so light as to be undetectable to the naked eye.
    Even worse, several Minnesota players followed Heatley’s lead, trying to emulate his light backchecking and weak work ethic that had made Heatley so reviled in Ottawa.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Zach Morris
      January 5, 2012

      off-topic, but Lars Eller scored four goals for the Montreal Canadiens last night. The last Canadien to score four in a game?
      JAN BULIS.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +35 (from 35 votes)
  5. Mike
    January 5, 2012

    I don’t think “wrong handed” means what you think it means. My understanding is that wrong-handed means you catch and shoot in an incombatible way. If you catch with your left but shoot right-handed (or vice versa), you have to turn the stick around as a goalie to puck handle. It means you’re using your catching mitt on the end of the stick rather than as the pivot in the middle of the stick. As a wrong-handed goalie, I can tell you this provides much worse control and less power than if your catching mitt was your pivot hand and your free hand (in the blocker) was used to handle the stick up high. I always thought that was the main factor between whether a goalie was a good puck handler or not – the loss of control from being a wrong-handed goalie.
    Garrett’s observation wasn’t handist. You left-handed right-brainers are so sensitive.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
    • J21
      January 5, 2012

      I always assumed that wrong-handed goalies had an edge because it’s easier to grip a stick with the blocker hand than a glove hand. But you raise a good point about the loss of leverage in trying to grip the end of the stick with a trapper too. Interesting — thanks for the insight.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • LOLslamball
      January 5, 2012

      Harding handles the puck normally, with his glove at the bottom and blocker up top.

      almost no NHL goalies use their stick backwards (with the curve on the backhand) If they are “wrong handed” they learn to shoot the opposite way, and that is a reason for being a poor puckhandler. however many other factors could go into that as well, such as poor situational awareness or vision.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Mike
        January 5, 2012

        Yeah, you know, you’re right. I never learned to shoot the other way but that makes much more sense for a professional. Shoot the other way so you get the benefits of the curvature of the stick and the top hand being the blocker hand. But yeah, doing that would seriously diminish a goalie’s capability with the puck – ask any player to play with their opposite hand and I’m sure their skills drop like a stone. Of course, brains aka situational awareness and ability to think on their feet, must play a huge role, too. But I wonder, are Turco, Brodeur, Hextall, etc. wrong handed or did they get the huge benefit of having catching glove/shooting hand compatibility and that’s why they are such renowned puck handlers? If they were wrong handed, their puck handling prowess is all the more impressive, just as any crappy puck handler who isn’t wrong handed is all the crappier for being that bad without the handicap.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • J21
          January 5, 2012

          Most goalies catch left, and most players overall shoot left, so I doubt Turco/Hextall/Brodeur would be in much of an exclusive group, to be honest.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  6. Aderam
    January 5, 2012

    Thor Nelson is my favourite linesman because his name combines to of my favourite people: the God of Thunder and Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson.

    Both are super badass. So I can only assume that Thor Nelson is too. :)

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  7. jenny wren
    January 5, 2012

    I didn’t watch the game tonight
    I’s invited out for dinner
    It seems it must have gone all right
    After all we were the winner

    I understand the only doubt
    When the Canucks were up by two
    Was whether we would shut them out
    The fifty-seventh* time for Lu

    So next we play you do know who
    This coming Saturday at ten
    Could be we’ll see some deja vu
    And someone will be hurt again

    I hope that it will just be fun
    And even better when we’ve won

    Jenny Wren

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 8 votes)
  8. tj
    January 5, 2012

    Nice one.

    The Dorian Grey reference made me weep, it was such perfect beauty.

    Ever notice how Manny’s face-offs look like classic cartoon caricatures, with his bottom stuck way up high and his shoulders way down low? And on Bieksa’s face-off when the camera caught him looking particularly bullish, he was only missing steam coming from his ears. Then Luongo, stopping all goals with aplomb… And the referees getting hurt… I couldn’t stop thinking of Loony Tunes’ “Hockey Homicide” all game.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  9. C.K.
    January 5, 2012

    Curse you, you made me read the write-up for Skyline and that is 5 minutes I will never ever get back!

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  10. sarah
    January 5, 2012

    Quote of the Game: Shorty: “That’s the same post Dan Hamhuis was cursing last game…oh wait, he probably wasn’t cursing”

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      January 5, 2012

      Ha. I heard that. Community Man cursing? Perish the thought. If anything, he went back and forgave the post.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
      • The Bookie
        January 5, 2012

        That’s when he sends in Kiss Huggins to make amends. This has also led to Kiss tutoring Luongo on proper post hugging.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  11. LOLslamball
    January 5, 2012

    They finished the game with only one linesman and the two referees stayed referees.

    I was at the game and the remaining linesman was working both blue lines and icing calls, that’s what led to the bad icing call at the end of the game.

    It wouldn’t be possible to have a ref convert to a linesman without changing jerseys, how could he put his arm up for icing? it would look like a penalty.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  12. Dani
    January 6, 2012

    This entire post was A+, Harrison. Except for one glaring omission: There’s not a mention of Edler doing a belly flop after the faceoff and then Salo denying a Wild 2-on-1 merely with his presence. Or was it a 3-on-1? I can’t remember. Regardless, it’s quite a grievous oversight, but I think I’ll be able to work through it.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      January 6, 2012

      Aw crud. You’re right. That was in my notes and I forgot to mention it. #IFail

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)