I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, January 21, 2012

It’s amazing what a three-day break between games will do for a hockey team. For the first time in a while, the Canucks actually looked fresh to start the game. At even-strength, the Canucks dominated possession and out-scored the Sharks 4-1. Unfortunately, the referees called some penalties and Logan Couture plays for the Sharks, scoring a shorthanded and a powerplay goal to keep the game close.

The Canucks at even-strength and special teams were like two different teams playing two different games. I watched both of them when I watched this game.

Canucks 4 – 3 Sharks

  • The Canucks wasted no time proving that they were ready to play, as David “John Wilkes” Booth opened the scoring just one minute into the game. Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins earned his secondary assist (and celebratory hug) with a fantastic backcheck in the neutral zone to turn the puck over, then outbattling Benn Ferriero for the Ryan Kesler rebound to feed Alex Edler at the point. Booth’s tip was perfect; he must have an app for that.
  • Amazingly, every player on the second line had a part in that goal without once passing the puck between each other. It happened again just a few minutes later: Booth carried the puck in but got pokechecked. Higgins followed up and took a bad angle shot, angling for a rebound. Booth took one swipe at it before Kesler chipped it over Niemi and onto the top of the net. That line makes fewer passes than Shy Ronnie.
  • Jamie McGinn led the way physically for the Sharks, throwing 5 hits in the first period alone. One of them bowled over Mason Raymond, who calmly rolled backwards out of the fall and popped to his feet. He must have spent some time watching eHow videos while recovering from his injury.
  • The Sharks didn’t even register a shot on net through the first half of the first period, which must have been disconcerting for Roberto Luongo, who has gotten used to bailing out the team in the first period. Also disconcerting for Luongo: this song. Ra ra ra Roberto Luongo.
  • The best player for the Sharks was undoubtedly Logan Couture, who tied the game with a gorgeous breakaway goal while shorthanded thanks to a Hamhuis turnover at the blueline, then put the Sharks ahead with a nifty and unexpected backhand on the powerplay. He also robbed Henrik Sedin of a goal with a kick save when Niemi was down and out. He was more active in this game than acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin.
  • The Canucks powerplay has struggled recently and was 0-for-4 against the Sharks. They’re now 3-for-21 since they scored 4 powerplay goals against the Bruins. While they’re still the number one powerplay in the league, they haven’t looked threatening with the man advantage for too long. Considering that’s their main defence against teams taking advantage of them physically, they should maybe, y’know, fix that.
  • Cody “Silent G” Hodgson continued his strong play of late, and now has a 3-game point streak after a 2-goal effort. He was also 5-for-8 in the faceoff circle, with one of those wins leading to his first goal. Mason Raymond’s shot from the sideboards hit the traffic in front created by Jannik Hansen, leaving Hodgson to simply shovel the puck in on the backhand. Hodgson likely earned the offensive zone faceoff by winning his first three draws of the game.
  • Keith Ballard had a surprisingly good game while paired with Aaron Rome, as the two finished with the highest Corsi ratings among Canucks defencemen in this game. He also got the better of Joe Pavelski in a good scrap at the end of the second period, taking one of the Sharks’ best players off the ice for 5 minutes. If you’re looking for one of the few ways a fight can swing the momentum of the game, that’s a good example.
  • Kesler put the Canucks ahead in the third with an absolutely beautiful goal. Booth sprung Kesler and Higgins on a 2-on-1 after a flurry of activity in the Canucks’ zone. Kesler read the puck a story, sang it a lullaby, then tucked it in under the bar.
  • Unfortunately, the puck woke up just 36 seconds later as Dan Boyle tied up the game on his own rebound in front of the net. Though Chris Tanev had a good game overall, he abandoned the front of the net with Edler already near the boards, which left Boyle all alone. Burrows tried to get back to him, but couldn’t tie up his stick.
  • Hodgson put the Canucks up for good with an ugly goal, as his centring pass from the corner deflected off Michal Handzus and past Niemi. The common factor in both Hodgson’s goals was Jannik “Danish Ninja” Hansen in front of the net with a bushel of Sharks defending him. They should know better: one ninja against multiple opponents is unstoppable.
  • Luongo wasn’t fantastic in this game, but he did well to stay sharp despite the lack of activity early in the game. With the victory, he passes Kirk McLean for the franchise record for wins. Will Canucks fans start treating him with the same respect they give to McLean?
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28 comments

  1. Dylan
    January 21, 2012

    “Will Canucks fans start treating him with the same respect they give to McLean?”

    Not until he retires and we realize exactly how much we miss him.

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    Rating: +49 (from 51 votes)
    • Leftcoaster
      January 22, 2012

      I was going to say, “not until he takes the team on a miraculous run to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals….” wait, never mind.

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      Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
    • shoes
      January 22, 2012

      I resent being lumped in with the anti-luongo crowd. Way too many memories of substandard goaltending over the years and Burkes stubborness in refusing to admit that Cloutier was indeed not the ‘Man’ ……Luongo has had some bad games at key times but the slaggers that say he folds under pressure only remember those games and not the larger number of pressure games that he is outstanding in. In addition to that …..you can play the replays over and over again the D doesn’t get any better in any of the blowouts that knocked lou out.

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      Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
    • Nee
      January 22, 2012

      I think that line from PITB is referring to the general, average Canucks fan. The type that watches some or most of the games, but tends to have more visceral reactions to players, rather than looking at it objectively through stats or analysis. The type that booed Lu earlier this season when the whole team was struggling. I think most fanbases are like this too…not just in Vancouver.

      The negative narrative that Luongo is saddled with is pretty prevalent in this city. It has quieted right now, since the team and Lu are playing well, but it inevitably re-emerges.

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      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
      • Warpstone
        January 22, 2012

        Agreed. There are a lot of Luongo detractors who seem to believe that every goal is the goaltender’s fault. They don’t see the defensive breakdowns or the play up-ice that led to the sort of bang-bang play that no goalie could stop.

        I think this is especially prevalent with the Canucks because when our blueline does not play conservatively like most teams. The system is not very forgiving to most goalies compared to the way most conventional teams focus on gumming up lanes. I really doubt a lot of lay-Canucks fans have any clue that the target of their booing on a goal should often be the forward who failed to backcheck the shooter trailing a race for the puck. :P

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        Rating: +6 (from 8 votes)
        • shoes
          January 22, 2012

          Agreed with that 100%……I have no problem with noting that Luongo has let in a bad goal now and again, but in general the terrible playoff losses were team efforts through and through. What fans often look for is the goalie to absolutely stop everything while the team takes a 40 minute break. Doesn’t work good in the new NHL…..teams are just too good and fast. The other thing is ………….fans of Vancouver, similar to fans of all teams ONLY watch their own team on a regular basis……and don’t catch other goalies bad nights. If Luongo was so bad as some in the media and many fans like to make him out to be…doubt we would be at the top of the standings on a regular basis.

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          Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  2. Gabrielle
    January 21, 2012

    After Kesler’s goal, I noticed that Kiss Huggins and Kesler shared an EXTRA long hug. Finally another teammate had to break them apart.

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    Rating: +29 (from 33 votes)
    • sarah
      January 21, 2012

      I was about to make the exact same comment!! I can’t believe Daniel didn’t mention it…such a thing of beauty. Higs even gave Kes this little “get over here” look and hand gesture and Kes seemed pretty happy to oblige. I may have even rewound my PVR for another watch of it after the goal…

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      Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
      • peanutflower
        January 21, 2012

        haha, I did too. I thought at first it was a replay, but it was an extra extra hug.

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        Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
    • obituary mambo
      January 22, 2012

      Epic Higgins hug! One of the best I’ve seen; it filled my heart with joy.

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      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  3. Zach Morris
    January 21, 2012

    Hamhuis’s turnover was on purpose.
    Community Man knows that everyone looks more beautiful when they smile, so he purposely passed the puck to Desjardins, knowing that Logan “Ugly” Couture would get a breakaway.

    Community Man, causin’ more smiles than a basketful of puppies.

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    Rating: +15 (from 17 votes)
  4. Gabrielle
    January 21, 2012

    Also, I have to admit I had a childish chuckle at the Canucks.com headline…

    “Cody Hodgson’s pair helps Canucks edge San Jose, 4-3.”

    :3

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    Rating: +19 (from 21 votes)
  5. Canucks Supporter
    January 21, 2012

    Congratulations to Luongo: he is a great regular season goalie. Having said that (and you brought it up) he will not get any more respect until he wins the cup… bottom-line. It may be with another team, it may be with the Canucks, but that is just the way it is going to be… I think that if he is with the Canucks, he needs to be on media black-out in the play-offs, and have a very short leash, there aren’t many goalies better than Luongo, but he has a tendency to implode in pressure games against our fiercest rivals and anything he says is going to be exploited/purposely misrepresented etc.

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    Rating: -8 (from 16 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      January 21, 2012

      McLean never won the Cup. Just saying.

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      Rating: +24 (from 24 votes)
      • shoes
        January 22, 2012

        cloutier and auld almost led us to several cups….if only we would have had the best line in hockey……oh wait a minute scractch that….

        Right now fans should chill……as we have 2 of the best goalies in the game period. the only other tandem in the NHL that is as good…..thomas and rask.

        Gillis gets two bigger guys that can skate for spares on the 4th line and we are going for another run

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        Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  6. jenny wren
    January 21, 2012

    ‘Twas wonderful to watch today
    Vancouver versus San Jose
    It wasn’t but a minute four
    Booth tipped Edler’s shot to score

    But when you give the puck away
    Especially on a powerplay
    And later take a tripping call
    You could be down once and for all

    Unless you’ve Cody on your side
    For then you’ll find the game is tied
    ‘Til Kesler gets one by himself
    A deke a look and forehand shelf

    Just as you think that it is done
    The Sharks then score another one
    Which leaves it up to “silent g”
    To seal the win four goals to three

    I’m truly thrilled but must complain
    Too long before they’ll play again

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    Rating: +17 (from 19 votes)
  7. Chris
    January 21, 2012

    Indeed, Hansen was an unstoppable Danish Ninja, and the Butterfly got all the protection he needed from him.

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    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  8. Hips
    January 21, 2012

    I think that the AmEx strategy is to basically speed up the ice at the speed of sound, scare the poop out of the poor bastard whos been stranded by his d-partner, then wristshot. Its basically the anti-Sedin.

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    Rating: +15 (from 17 votes)
    • superreggie
      January 21, 2012

      There is something two that. Two strong lines with distinct styles, sort of messes with their flow…

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      Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  9. CanuckFanInSF
    January 21, 2012

    Anybody notice Michael Handzus on Silent G’s 2nd goal? He was literally frozen looking at the ice thinking

    “What. The. F&%$. Just. Happened?”

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    Rating: +7 (from 9 votes)
  10. superreggie
    January 21, 2012

    There is something to that. Two strong lines with distinct styles, sort of messes with their flow…

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • Body Schmautz
      January 21, 2012

      Actually its Cody Hodgson’s pair that interferes with their flow. OK that sounds icky.

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      Rating: +8 (from 10 votes)
  11. Rituro
    January 21, 2012

    “That line makes fewer passes than Shy Ronnie.”

    “Kesler read the puck a story, sang it a lullaby, then tucked it in under the bar.”

    I had to stifle the laughter so hard my wife was concerned I was having some sort of attack. Well done, PITB.

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    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  12. akidd
    January 22, 2012

    rome and ballard had the highest corsi rating(with the least minutes) but for those who were watching the game not the make-believe stat sheet it was tanev who had the biggest impact. the defense was efficiently transitioning pucks and giving up very few chances for the first time since salo went down. and that was in large part to having another competitive d-pair(edler and tanev) putting less pressure on bieksa and hamhuis and leaving ballard and rome with appropriate minutes.

    tanev looked so smooth with edler in his 15:41. smart kid making smart plays all night long. and this from a kid who played himself off the team at the beginning of the season…not. with the defense not tripping over itself and coughing up pucks all night it was back to enjoying watching canuck hockey again. not a lot of sustained pressure by san jose. the d made the smart passes and got the puck going the other way. nice to see.

    to me tanev’s impact on the team was the story of this game. i’m not sure why the only mention of him in this recap was his one defensive lapse.

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    Rating: +16 (from 16 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      January 22, 2012

      Tanev was good in this game and I liked how he played alongside Edler, but he wasn’t the story of the game in my opinion, which is why he didn’t appear much in my writeup. I was very impressed with how Ballard and Rome played, but they had the benefit of playing against lesser competition, while Tanev was perfectly acceptable against the best the Sharks had to offer. He definitely deserves credit for that, but I can’t mention everything in one IWTG.

      If you’d rather I don’t say Corsi, I could say that Ballard and Rome’s ratio of shots directed towards the Sharks’ net as compared to shots directed towards the Canucks’ net was the best among Canucks defencemen, but Corsi takes up less space. ;)

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      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  13. obituary mambo
    January 22, 2012

    Finally, a game to feel good about. And it even aired at a reasonable hour over here – 10pm! I was beside myself with joy. Not having to wake up at the crack of dawn does that to me. Admittedly, I was a bit concerned about the team’s power play performance; they looked abysmal until the very last chance they were given. Here’s hoping that was the beginning of a marked improvement in the area.

    Off topic: what is going on with McLellan’s goatee? And might I recommend a shave? Not everyone can pull off facial hair. While it may make some look awesome, others just look skeezy. Men would do well to learn which camp they fall into.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • Warpstone
      January 22, 2012

      I’m pretty sure it’s because McLellan would look like a 12-year old without the facial hair. :D

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  14. superreggie
    January 22, 2012

    Shame about that one Tanev error, I thought he looked great.

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    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)