I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, January 12, 2012

Last season, the Blues finished 11th in the Western Conference, well outside the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Brian Elliott was arguably the worst single player in the NHL.

Somehow, combining the two has led to tremendous success, as the Blues came into this game second in the West, just behind the Canucks, while Elliott is second in the league in save percentage, goals against average, and shutouts. He went from the worst goaltender in the league to being named to the All-Star Game.

Who would have thought the all-star goaltender in this game wouldn’t be Luongo? On the plus side, the Canucks had four all-stars of their own, three of whom pitched in to put 3 goals past the Blues’ all-star. I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 2 Blues

  • For the first time this season, Dale Weise won a fight. Sort of. He managed to get in a couple early punches on BJ Crombeen and slipped and fell to the ice before Crombeen could return the favour. Mostly, however, the two just spun around, which doesn’t count as fighting unless the spinning simultaneously sends you flying through the air like Dragon Flyz.
  • One of the reasons Alex Burrows scores a lot of goals is that teams sometimes seem to forget he’s on the ice. On the Canucks’ first goal, three Blues defenders go below the goal line to check Daniel and Henrik behind the net. Elliott makes the understandable assumption that his teammates on his right will be able to contain Daniel and looks over his left shoulder just as the puck banks out in front of the net, where Burrows is more open than 7-11.
  • The Blues evened the score just one minute later on a play that demonstrates exactly why Cody Hodgson doesn’t get more icetime. First he couldn’t get the puck to the neutral zone on a clearing attempt, which isn’t ideal; the bigger problem is that he failed to pick up his check in front of the net, leaving Dan Hamhuis with two Blues and only one clue.
  • Alex Sulzer may have read about Keith Ballard’s shot-blocking prowess before the game, as he attempted to boost his credentials for staying in the lineup by throwing his face in front of a shot early in the first period. Bad move. The only guy who should be throwing his chin in front of projectiles is The Tick.
  • Alex Edler lived up to his all-star billing, getting 2 assists in a team-high 26:03 in icetime. 9:45 of that time came in the first period as he double-shifted when Sulzer went to the dressing room with his cleft chin. With his performance in this game, he passed Dennis Wideman and Shea Weber in points and is now third in the NHL in defenceman scoring. He is currently on pace for 58 points; the team record for points in a single season from a defenceman is 63 from Doug Lidster in the 1986-87 season. Could Edler best that?
  • With his fight against Roman Polak in the second period, Maxim Lapierre has set a career high in fights this season with 5. He’s still not very good at it. He received an extra 2-minute minor, presumably because the referee looked at him turtling and said Yeesh, that’s rough.
  • Jason Arnott put the Blues ahead 2-1 with a contender for weirdest goal of the year. Luongo stopped his initial shot off the rush, then made a fantastic save on his rebound chance. Unfortunately, he had no idea where the puck was and, while spinning to locate it, dislodged the puck into the his own goal. But it could have been worse.
  • The Canucks redeemed a pretty awful second period by tying the game late. Edler made a smart pinch down the boards to keep the play alive, took the return pass from Manny Malhotra, then unleashed a slap shot from the point. Once again, the Blues forgot about Burrows, who tipped the puck past Elliott while sliding through the slot. It’s entirely possible that Burrows is Lemnos, in which case someone needs to contact the Legion of Superheroes right sprocking now.
  • Despite providing the gamewinning goal in overtime (spoilers!), the Canucks’ powerplay was not particularly good in this game. Either that or the Blues’ penalty killing was superb. The two best chances came late in the second period. For the Blues. David Backes and TJ Oshie both got breakaways while killing off a Matt D’Agostini interference penalty. Fortunately, Luongo transformed into a blue jay and made two stellar saves. I should be shot for that pun.
  • The penalty gave the Canucks a 4-on-3 powerplay for 1:40 in overtime. Then TJ Oshie inexplicably decided to turn it into a 4-on-2, racing to the bench to pick a replacement stick just as Henrik collected the puck from the boards. The result was as predictable as Ghost Ship. Henrik passed the puck to Daniel directly through the spot vacated by Oshie. Daniel shot the puck. The puck went in the net. It was,¬†serendipitously, Daniel’s 700th career point and 100th career powerplay goal.
  • The real highlight came after the game, as Dale Weise awesomely gave his stick to an adorable little girl who looked like all she wanted was a high five. You know what they say: give someone a high five and they’ll feel awesome for a minute. Give someone a game-used hockey stick and they’ll feel awesome for a lifetime.
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48 comments

  1. By-Tor
    January 13, 2012

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Oshie actually abandon his defensemen on that play. I thought for sure I’d gone mad and was seeing things. A blind man behind a closed door on the other side of the universe could have seen what was going to happen after that!

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  2. jenny wren
    January 13, 2012

    ‘Twas our Canucks against the Blues
    I did not see how we could lose
    For in the goal was Bobby Lu
    And we had Rome and Duco too

    Then Burrows scored so early on
    Though very soon that lead was gone
    Again they scored but we weren’t done
    As Burrows got another one

    Then seconds into the OT
    Daniel scored while four on three
    But it needs said that it would seem
    St Louis has a solid team

    And now I know that we could lose
    Whenever ’tis we play the Blues

    Jenny Wren

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    • jenny wren
      January 13, 2012

      whatsamatter? you folks who don’t like my praising another team should go read the Raffi interview. or maybe you think i was being sarcastic when i wrote, “For in the goal was Bobby Lu / And we had Rome and Duco too.” Well I wasn’t. Luongo is a superb goalie, Rome is solid on defense, and Duco complements the intensity displayed by the other Canuck forwards. or mayhap you don’t like comments that are pretentious because they’re written in rhyme. whatever, cheers for reading.

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  3. Stevie G
    January 13, 2012

    The real question is, which idiot started shouting for “Osh! Osh!” from the Blues bench?

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    • stathead
      January 13, 2012

      I think they thought the shot was going round the boards. You’re right, they really should’ve waited to be sure.

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    • MelT
      January 13, 2012

      Normally, I’d suspect the old stick-tapping master of deception, Kesler, but he was on the ice at the time, so unless he’s now a ventriloquist…
      Wait, if he was a ventriloquist, he could have done it!

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      • By-Tor
        January 13, 2012

        …or the Sedins. After all, they always seem to be coming up with new plays.

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  4. stathead
    January 13, 2012

    Ohhhh, ohhhh, ohhhh – own goals suck. South American football players get shot for that sort of thing.

    So, as for that OT goal – why was it 4 on 3 instead of 5 on 4 in the powerplay? Is OT usually 4-on-4?

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    • TheOldFirm
      January 13, 2012

      Yeah, OT is played 4-on-4 to increase the chances that someone will score.

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      • stathead
        January 13, 2012

        Thanks!

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    • RG
      January 13, 2012

      “Is OT usually 4-on-4?”

      OH COME ON.

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      • stathead
        January 13, 2012

        Only professional hockey-watchers allowed here! Am new from England; like the hockey, and think some fans are great but some seem kind of ill-tempered.

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        • JS Topher
          January 13, 2012

          but your handle is stathead…

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          • peanutflower
            January 15, 2012

            Ask stathead a question about soccer and you’ll probably get a pretty good answer, I’d bet. It’s okay, none of us are “professional” hockey watchers.

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  5. matthanlon
    January 13, 2012

    Weise top bloke

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  6. akidd
    January 13, 2012

    daniel, not sure why you keep reiterating your point about hodgson and ice-time but you do. even if you’re just jousting with gallagher it seems like you’re developing a thing against the kid. it’s coming off a bit harsh.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 13, 2012

      I wasn’t as clear on that bullet point as I intended. Hodgson started this game on the second line and was receiving more icetime. I meant to say that as good as Hodgson is, this is an example of him not being quite ready yet for the increased responsibility and tougher minutes that the second line plays. It didn’t quite come out as intended.

      I’ve been a huge supporter of Hodgson since he was drafted and I sincerely hope that he has an extremely successful career, preferably for the Canucks. I definitely am not intending to slag the kid, because I think he’s a phenomenal talent.

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      • foobarbear
        January 13, 2012

        i don’t think it came off that way. did you edit the article afterwards?

        but i would also say the same thing–cody’s got a long way to go before becoming KESLORD in his own end.

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      • madwag
        January 13, 2012

        hodgson gave the puck away and justly deserves to be called on it; however, he wasn’t the only one to do so. he was just the one who got burned.

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    • Josh
      January 13, 2012

      I’m fairly confident that Daniel’s tongue has never left his cheek when it comes to CoHo.

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    • stathead
      January 13, 2012

      To me it’s been coming across like they object to the lobby for increased ice time which Hodgson’s agent seems to be orchestrating via Tony Gallagher & mob mentality. They support Cody & his play.

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  7. jezz
    January 13, 2012

    Before today I figured PITB’s post-game coverage had everything a man could want. Little did I know how many more puns based on bird species could have been slipped in beside all the technical play analysis. Please let this be the dawning of a new era, a better era, for an already magnificent institution.

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  8. Zach Morris
    January 13, 2012

    decent game for Luongo last night, and he tied Kirk McLean for the franchise record for wins with 211 (and he did it in 165 fewer games than McLean).
    he still owns the record for Florida, so with his next win, Luongo becomes the best goaltender ever for both teams.

    not bad.

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  9. J21
    January 13, 2012

    Apparently the Oshie blunder was borne of a misunderstanding — according to Blues fans, Hitchcock has a hard-and-fast rule that a player with a broken stick goes to replace it ASAP (which makes sense in certain circumstances — PITB has covered the related folly of skaters racing to give a goalie their own stick, for instance). However, he apparently also has a hard-and-fast exception for 4-on-3, for pretty obvious reasons.

    So while Oshie has accepted blame, I imagine the biggest culprit is whoever called for him from the bench.

    On the Backes-bumps-Burrows-boarding-bit, it was funny — I had been watching a stream of the Blues’ feed throughout the third period, and was remarking to myself how surprisingly neutrally they were calling the game (admitting Blues’ penalties, complimenting nice plays regardless of who made them, etc.)

    Then Backes takes the world’s most unambiguous boarding penalty and they’re claiming it was a bad call — “Just a bigger player pushing a smaller one”. Yes, within a really obviously dangerous distance from the boards, guys. If a Canuck had done that, there’s no way I’d be disagreeing with the call. That was so textbook I think I saw a Random House logo.

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    • shoes
      January 13, 2012

      When Burrows draws a penalty…..it is automatically a dive from many in the media, and in the game (players and coaches) and definitely fans of other teams….They don’t even have to be watching let alone watching objectively It has gone beyond pathetic, but they should refer to the montage that Ron Maclean and Colon put together a couple years back. The same montage that was to depict Burrows as a diver and they really came up with no “diving vids” Funny that when Maclean and/or the Colonator both have access to every video on Burrows ever.

      It is not going to change. Boston fans thing Patrice is a real man for inserting his fingers in another mans mouth while a teammate pins the mans hands down. They also think that no man responds by biting. I keep my mouth closed in Boston, because I want no “manly Bruins fans” sticking their grubbing fingers in my mouth AND me being forbidden to do anything but stand there. Pretty silly if you ask me.

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  10. peanutflower
    January 13, 2012

    What, so now we have to write smarty-pants comments for a smarty-pants blog? I’m not that good at puns. Anyway, St. Louis has never been a roll over and play dead team for the Canucks, and they weren’t this time either. I thought the Canucks looked like they need a rest. I always think St. Louis should be called Santa Lucia Blues — they must have more Italians on that team than any other NHL team. I’m not for the putting down of Lapierre for “turtling”. He came to the defense of his team mate, as he has done quite a bit of late, and that’s what counts. Who cares if he wins the fight or not? I’ve watched hockey for 41 years and except for clear-cut KOs I’d sure be hard pressed to say who wins and who loses. I don’t care either. Lapierre did what he should have done. Curious about the extra penalty though…

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    • shoes
      January 13, 2012

      The extra penalty….looked like game management by the referees to me…..and I absolutely hate that.

      If the Canucks deserve 10 penalties in a game and the other team none….so be it, but consistency in calls and calls being as close to the rules as possible suits me the best.

      It seems that NHL officials need a new starting point for rules. So many changes and minute intricasies in things like a “puck off a skate into the net” It looks like they need to retrain some of even the veteran guys.

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      • peanutflower
        January 13, 2012

        Don’t even get me started about the puck off the skate thing lol. It’s my own personal belief that a puck should come off a stick — no matter whose it is — to count. That would get rid of all this speculation and did he kick or did he not kick and all that guff. No banking it in off player’s backs, no kicking or directing with skates, none of that. Pure and simple. In order for a goal to count a stick has to be involved. The end of the stick. The “right” end. Right?

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      • Zach Morris
        January 13, 2012

        goals would be no less contentious if it had to come off a stick; if anything, they’d be more controversial. “that puck definitely grazed the defenceman, no goal”
        and you’d take out about a quarter of all powerplay goals if you disallowed pucks bouncing off hands and backs and legs and whatnot

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        • peanutflower
          January 15, 2012

          that’s probably true. But it just seems almost like cheating, that kind of goal. Sure there was no distinct kicking motion, however you define that ( and maybe that’s the problem), but it sure was an intentional direct. I guess it all boils down to sometimes the refs call it right and sometimes they call it wrong, and until that sort of ambiguity or lack of preciseness or inability to be consistent, whatever you want to call it, is gone I still hate goals like that.

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    • bergberg
      January 13, 2012

      Yeah, my boyfriend is a Blues fan, and he went nuts watching Lapierre get the beat down (he’s also a Sens fan, so doesn’t like Lapierre for previous Montreal related reasons).

      But I’m with you! Who cares what the outcome of that fight was. Lapierre did the right thing after Polak’s hit on….was it Hansen?….I like to see the boys sicking up for each other.

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  11. juandesooka
    January 13, 2012

    Seems to me the Canucks have really bought into “team toughness”, standing up for each other in the absence of a designated tough guy. Also seems to me that most of them don’t know how to fight … and at least some of the camaraderie gained in standing up for your buddy is lost by getting repeatedly punched in the face for your troubles. I wonder if the team would ever consider some training and in the pugilistic arts … bring in a retired fighter to show them how to protect themselves and maybe even win one now and then. This might make sense even just from the standpoint of protecting the team’s assets … help avoid your guys getting hurt. But beyond that, sure would be satisfying to see them at least holding their own when the gloves come off. Maybe that’s a radical suggestion, can’t recall teams doing this (beyond the tough guys doing it on their own). But it’s silly to pretend this isn’t part of the game, and like anything, there’s skills that can be learned and practice makes perfect.

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    • tom selleck's moustache
      January 13, 2012

      I do remember Sidney Crosby getting a session with George Laraque early in his career for that very reason; so that he could defend himself adequately if, heaven forbid, the need should arise. It’s a novel idea and I don’t see any reason to not do it as, like you said, it is a skill to a great degree.

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      • stathead
        January 13, 2012

        But Sidney Crosby doesn’t fight – and he doesn’t get criticized for it.

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  12. Sandlak
    January 13, 2012

    Daniel, you get a pass on the stellar jay joke for the references to The Tick and Blue’s Clues. Very glad you linked to a clip with Steve from Blue’s Clues as opposed to that other guy who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up.

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  13. John Andress
    January 13, 2012

    The thing that struck me as I watched this game, and the two that preceded it, is that I was watching an exhausted team. Exhaustion, as well as taxing the body and draining reserves of energy, taxes the mind impairing reflex times and affecting the efficiency of the decision making processes that are a vital part of the player’s game. Twenty-one games in forty three days, nine at home and twelve on the road including two trips into the eastern time zone would tire anyone. Now I know that this will be immediately be derided by the haters as “whining” but I don’t think it is. Throughout this tough schedule the Canucks have continued to win and pile up the points, It does explain, however, why we are seeing far more turnovers than we usually see and why the creative play the Sedin line habitually thrills us with is just a little off. Passes that normally find the player’s stick are missing by a fraction. The puck being held on to for a fraction of a second too long. The clearance pass not quite making it across the blue line. I think that the coming weeks with fewer games and the All Star break will rest and rejuvenate this team and propel them into the remainder of the season refreshed and motivated. Sorry haters. Is that a whine? Well, too bad if you think it is. I admire what our team has done over the past month and a half under the circumstances and your negativity will not deter me from saying so. Well done Canucks.

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    • J21
      January 13, 2012

      It’s not whining, it’s fact. Much like people who discount the role of injuries, anyone who discounts the role of the schedule (something very proven by science, even apart from the obviousness) should never get into gambling, because they’re ignoring really important factors of great impact. The father of all Canucks’ blogs, Tom Benjamin, was always particularly focused on that subject.

      I thought the Canucks would get shut out (or maybe one goal) last night, because you could see they’ve been running on empty for a while.

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    • shoes
      January 13, 2012

      Good post, John……..The toughest part of the schedule is behind the Canucks, but it was tough. The Sedins, amongst others appeared almost out of gas in all 4 games. Goes to show the depth when they still got goals at times and we took 3 of 4. The next 3 weeks is going to be like a holiday. Hope they all don’t get fat.

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    • JS Topher
      January 13, 2012

      This is exactly why I find it such a crock that the NHLPA complained the way they did about the travel issues the teams would face with the proposed new alignment. Yes, the teams in the east would have to travel more but, they would STILL travel less than most of the pacific coast teams. It would just be closer to parity. Rich pansy players are probably gonna be looking for a raise before they approve that new cap next year.

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  14. zach
    January 13, 2012

    I might be wrong, but on the Blues first goal, it seemed that Bieksa bolted straight to the point man when the clearing attempt failed, which left a wide open Arnott in front of the net – usually the point man is a forward’s responsibility am I right? Point being, does Bieksa get a pass on the Blues first goal, or does he share the blame with Hodgson?

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    • jenny wren
      January 13, 2012

      i love rhetorical questions!

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      • zach
        January 13, 2012

        I just think its strange that unless its <15 into the regular season, Juice gets away with scrutiny that he sometimes deserves. AKA last night on the Blues first goal.

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  15. DanD
    January 13, 2012

    Most important thing I learned today: if I’m on the ocean, and I see a huge freakin abandoned ocean liner, I will not board it for any reason.

    Thank you Daniel for keeping me safe on the high seas!

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  16. Hanky Doodle Dandy
    January 13, 2012

    I’m a little disappointed. No discussion of hockey players throwing their chin in front of something is complete without a mention of Jeremy Roenick.

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  17. Lynsey
    January 13, 2012

    Daniel, I saw Weise give the stick to that girl too! She reached out to touch it/him and he just let go! Maybe he isn’t the best fighter (though we’ve seen some improvement), but I love his speed and defensive awareness. It was also great to see his generosity.
    I am curious if you thought Higgins had a little more jump in this game. He hasn’t looked great (energy wise) since his hospital stay, but last night his puck battle and forecheck were improved. Do you agree?

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  18. Meph
    January 13, 2012

    Lol, check out that OT goal video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBoZu8zPY4k&feature=youtu.be&t=48s and head to the 5 second mark.

    Watch both defenders point at a different Canucks “Pass is going there!” Then watch as Henrik pass to Daniel, which they didn’t point at.

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  19. Cathylu
    January 13, 2012

    I thought Weise giving away his stick after the game was pretty great too.

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  20. A Blueliner
    January 13, 2012

    *Puts down shotgun.

    I’m glad you realize that you should be shot for that pun.

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