I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, February 19, 2012

Sunday afternoon, it was announced that the Canucks had topped a poll asking NHLers to name the most overrated team in the league. This was just after Vancouver had pulverized Toronto 6-2 and just prior to making short work of Edmonton, 5-2. One wonders: if the Canucks are truly overrated, then how much worse are these teams than they seemed?

Of course, when it comes to polls of this nature, “overrated” is little more than a synonym for “disliked”, which makes sense: the Canucks are, as we know, loathed throughout Canada, and when you consider that they’re 11-2-1 and just spent the weekend batting Toronto and Edmonton around like a ball of yarn, it’s not difficult to understand why. Canada has one good team right now, a fact of which I would bristle at being reminded, were I not a fan of that team. But I am, so I was as bristle-free as a knitted moustache when I watched this game.

Canucks 5 – 2 Oilers

  • Clearly, a visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs is to the Sedins as a trip to Jamaica is for Stella Payne, because the twins quite visibly have their groove back. They opened the scoring less than a minute into this affair, salvaging an Alex Burrows fumble on a breakaway and beating Nikolai Khabibulin to the far side of the goal. I know it’s tempting to watch the twins work their magic on the play, but keep an eye on Burrows after the puck is swept to the corner: he kicks Khabibulin’s pad out from under him (either by accident or by nature), which causes the Oilers’ netminder to lose the post like WordPress just crashed on him.
  • Not long after the Henrik Sedin goal, the Oilers got into penalty trouble. Ben Eager took his prerequisite penalty for overzealous jackanapery (it’s Eager’s version of Wizardous Sedinerie), then Smid put the Oilers down two by cross-checking Ryan Kesler in the back of the head. Many felt it was a bad call on Smid, perhaps because they think players should be allowed to crosscheck other players in the back of the head. I know it’s not as egregious as the front of the head, everyone, but I’ll have you know the brain goes all the way around.
  • Congratulations to Sami Salo, who picked up his 300th NHL point by scoring the goal on the 5-on-3. Salo is brilliant at activating from the point when he sees space, and there was certainly a great deal of it when two Oiler defenders decided to drop below the goal line in a vain attempt to arrest the development. Speaking of Arrested Development, once that happened, Salo was more open than Tobias and Lindsay’s relationship, and he was much, much better at capitalizing on it.
  • How poised is Chris Tanev? In the first period, he was high-sticked in the mouth by Ales Hemsky and he didn’t even notice until after he’d made the outlet pass. Afterwards, he checked to see that he still had his cigarette.
  • A night after scoring one of the prettiest goals of his career, Manny Malhotra clearly decided it was time to retire his stick and attempt to master the art of the kick. Unfortunately, it’s against the rules to kick the puck in (except for when it isn’t). As soon as the officials checked in with Toronto, you knew this one was getting overturned, and not just because they’re probably still upset about Saturday. If they knew what a kick was out East, Canada might have a better national soccer team.
  • The Canucks had 17 shots in the 1st period, 6 of which belonged to Ryan Kesler. The entire Oilers team had 5. This was enough to necessitate a goalie change, and if you think it was unfair to blame Khabibulin for what was clearly poor team play, don’t worry, that’s not what this was. He’d just already faced a full game’s worth of shots.
  • I kept waiting for Sam Gagner to turn the ice into frozen wine. It never happened.
  • I doubt there were many that missed Dale Weise, but he got back into the lineup Sunday after Byron Bitz came down with a sore hip flexor, and the rookie winger made the best of it. He orchestrated two scoring plays in this one, although the Manny Malhtora goal was disallowed. It got to him, too. When Kevin Bieksa scored on a shot from the point and Weise realized he’d be getting an assist, he turned to the referee and said, Can I keep it? Please? I promise to feed it and walk it every day.
  • Cory Schneider was excellent Sunday, just as he has been for quite some time. He’s won his last 6 starts, with his last loss coming on December 15, 2011. That said, it’s worth noting that the Canucks have been giving him some crazy win support. They’ve scored 3 or more goals for him in his last 13 appearances, and 5 goals 7 times during that span.
  • Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins scored a goal in his second game since overcoming full-blown flesh-eating disease (the kind where you desire to eat flesh, just so we’re clear) to return to the lineup. Clearly, he still doesn’t trust himself around the living, because he avoided his precious post-goal hug entirely, even punching Cody Hodgson in the chest when he got close. Give him time, Cody. Give him time.
  • The Oilers took five penalties in this game: one for cross-checking, three for high-sticking, and one for slashing. Clearly, they misunderstood what Tom Renney asked them to “chip away” at.
  • After Henrik Sedin opened the scoring 53 seconds into the first and Shawn Horcoff scored 1:08 into the second, Daniel Sedin stuck with the early goal theme, scoring 33 seconds into the third. The goal came off a turnover, as Tom Gilbert put a pass off of Shawn Horcoff’s skates and right onto the stick of Alex Burrows. Burrows then showed Gilbert where passes are supposed to go, placing it gingerly on the stick of Daniel Sedin, who placed it gingerly behind Devan Dubnyk for the goal. Key: the first “gingerly” meant “gently”. The second gingerly meant “like a ginger.”
  • I know giveaways are something of a dubious stat, but there were 41 of them in this game, 22 by the Canucks. If they hope to end the Red Wings’ 23-game home winning streak on Thursday, they’d be wise to protect the puck a little better than that. These days, playing in Detroit is like walking in Detroit at night — it’s neither the time nor the place for recklessness.
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30 comments

  1. peanutflower
    February 19, 2012

    That was so a goal. Like I said, it’s time to get rid of any goals that come in off skates. All of them. If the league can’t make its mind up on what constitutes a kicking motion — and there wasn’t one here that I saw — then just get rid of it altogether. It’s like kids that fight over something. You take it away and then no one gets to play.

    Best line of IWTG IMO: I know it’s not egregious as the front of the head, everyone, but I’ll have you know the brain goes all the way around. Priceless.

    What’s with the Oiler fans booing over this one anyway?

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    • Amor de Cosmos
      February 20, 2012

      Absolutely. It’s not like its easy to kick the puck into the net. I’ve no idea why it was ever a rule in the first place. Though there’d be huge complaints it’d give an unfair advantage to those nasty Europeans who grow up kicking balls around.

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    • Cody
      February 20, 2012

      I would also be ok if any puck off the skate was a goal. Either way just make it concrete GOAL or NO GOAL.

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  2. Gord R
    February 20, 2012

    Love the Triple H line…Hodgson, Hansen and…Higgsen?

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    • The Bookie
      February 20, 2012

      Hudgsin. Silent D.

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  3. josiahbc
    February 20, 2012

    Sportsnet should make the line up banner bigger… and last longer.. and maybe add sound effects.. maybe then can figure out a way to have the banner follow the puck.. or just have it moving across the screen like a screen saver that bounces randomly off the walls

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  4. Beyond Hope
    February 20, 2012

    Nice to hear “out East.” I remember Global did a spot recently about how West coast they are, but compared themselves to “back East,” inadvertently outing the entire network as secret Leafs fans.

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  5. annie
    February 20, 2012

    I somehow parsed your comment on Gagner turning the ice into wine (or not) as something about drinking boxed wine on the bench, and carried right on reading for another minute before the “wait, what?” hit me. Maybe I was thinking of this. Either way, it didn’t seem entirely implausible.

    Honestly, I’m pretty sure Khabi left the game with an injury rather than straight-up getting pulled? And I think he did less to hurt the Oil than Dubnyk. Not that I’ve done a close investigation of the stats, but Dubnyk looked pretty weak to me, especially when he came in. Not that he got any help, with the total inability of the Oilers to escape the neutral zone: I mean, yeah, turnovers are clumsily measured and all, but by the middle of the third it seemed like the Oilers were trying to get the puck to the Canucks. “This thing is cursed! You take it!” I’d like to say it was terror of a crushing blueline hit, but it mostly just looked like confusion. Has Chris Higgins learned hypnotism in his time off? Have we considered this possibility?

    Blah blah say something nice about the Oilers: hey! Taylor Hall is really fast, you guys! He really is. I have absolutely no comments to make about finding him a jockey. And Ales Hemsky is just a pleasure to watch: I’ll honestly miss him when he gets traded to the Rangers for two mini-Caramilks and a scratch-n-sniff sticker next week.

    Did anyone see Weise politely handing Dubnyk his stick as the final horn went? Such a good boy. Bold prediction for the Red Wings game: Weise is assessed a holding penalty after trying to help Nick Lidstrom cross the street.

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    • Nee
      February 20, 2012

      “Did anyone see Weise politely handing Dubnyk his stick as the final horn went? Such a good boy. Bold prediction for the Red Wings game: Weise is assessed a holding penalty after trying to help Nick Lidstrom cross the street.”

      You know, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you could help do an IWTG in a pinch!

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      • annie
        February 20, 2012

        There’s no way I could keep up the laffs the way Daniel and Harrison do, but the sentiment is appreciated regardless. <3 and other such things.

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  6. Melissa Wiebe
    February 20, 2012

    Maybe Manny should become a soccer player; think of his in-laws used to play pro soccer…

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  7. sarah
    February 20, 2012

    After the Higgins goal, I was hoping the Triple H line would become the Quadruple H line [the fourth H standing for Hugs]. So I was disappointed that didn’t happen. Some of us have missed the inclusion of Kiss Huggins in Hockey Hugs….ok…just me. Although I thought maybe Hansen and Hodgson were concerned about catching the zombism, not Higgins being disciplined about staying away from the delicious flesh of his teammates….that came out wrong.

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  8. Michelle
    February 20, 2012

    I always love the Arrested Development references!

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  9. Tristan
    February 20, 2012

    ” which causes the Oilers’ netminder to lose the post like WordPress just crashed on him”.
    Ok, I know that every IWTG contains many humourous lines, each capable of tickling the idiosyncrasies of particular Bulies, but come on. That was solid, Mooney.

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  10. arman
    February 20, 2012

    typo “stick of Alex Burrow“

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  11. hockeyispretty
    February 20, 2012

    Even more sidesplitting than usual – one of your best this year. Thanks for making cross-checks to the back of the head fun, boys!

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  12. TIM DOUBROFF
    February 20, 2012

    PLEASE WRITE ABOUT, AS ONLY YOU CAN, HOW HNIC SHOWCASED ONE OF CANADA’S OVERRATED TEAMS NOT CALLED CANUCKS AND THE TEAM NOT CALLED CANUCKS LIVED UP TO THAT DESERVED REPUTATION. PLEASE WRITE AS ONLY YOU CAN, HOW HNIC SANG THE POINT DIFFERENTIAL BETWEEN KESEL/LUPAL AND D/H SEDIN AND HOW THE LATTER BLEW PAST THE FORMER IN 2 GAMES. THANK YOU

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    • tj
      February 20, 2012

      Dude, all-caps? Really? Have you been here much? Please don’t do that–PITB isn’t CDC. Cheers, thanksalot.

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  13. Mike H
    February 20, 2012

    Just a minor correction. It wasn’t Tom Renney behind the bench. Looked like Toby from The Office, so no wonder the Oilers played so poorly. No one ever listens to Toby.

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  14. Nee
    February 20, 2012

    Nicely done boys.

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  15. chicken chick
    February 20, 2012

    The tale of unassuming Dan
    Was really more engaging than
    Vancouver’s latest win tonight,
    Which yet of course was a delight!

    But too much just another game.
    The lengthy season is to blame.
    Perhaps because they are so near
    I want the playoffs to be here.

    To watch the players show their skill
    Should be enough I know but still,
    I’d like each game to mean much more
    Than just two points they’re playing for.

    I need the time that what is up
    For taking is Lord Stanley’s Cup!

    Chicken Chick

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  16. Phileo99
    February 20, 2012

    Great summary of the game. Oilers kind of lost their spirit after the first 2 goals.
    I would opine that the Sedinery in this game was not as wizardous as the previous against neon Dion. The oilers are more familiar with the cycling, drop passes, and no lookers than the Maple Laffs, although you would think that the Laffs studied the tape on Sedinery.

    The TripleH line is looking rather nice. Hodgson causes the turnover, Hansen passes to Kiss Huggins, and he announces he’s back with the goal. Though he was really out of character when he didn’t initiate the post-goal kum-byah celebration.

    Tanev is looking good too. Playing well enough that AV can’t find a reason to put Alberts back in the lineup.

    Feels good to snack on the bottom feeders!

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  17. tj
    February 20, 2012

    I managed to remain blissfully ignorant of the ‘overrated’ news, yesterday. Kind of funny that last year, we were pretty much touted as winning the Cup, and now we’re overrated? Bieksa’s calling out players for dissing anonymously was well said. Who did the CBC poll, primarily eastern teams? I’m not as much offended as appalled by the childish, unscientific poll being a part of HNIC then hailed as some kind of ‘proof’ of something. Anyway, I’m pleased that the Canucks were able to show how good they are this weekend, and hope they can slay a few eastern dragons on this road trip. (Note, Boston’s sure struggling right now: guess they’re allowed to, though.)

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    • tj
      February 20, 2012

      (Yeah, I”m cranky this a.m. :) But should note, there were a numerous smiles regardless of my mood whilst reading this IWTG. Then I read the piece about the poll before commenting, hence the cranky! But: great IWTG!)

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  18. Cathylu
    February 20, 2012

    Can we please be the team that breaks the Redwings streak?! Pretty please?!?!

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  19. JDM
    February 20, 2012

    I think you’re giving Burrows too much credit – I think he was trying to pass to Henrik and it ended up on Daniel’s stick. Apparently Dubnyk thought the same thing, as he was in position to stop Henrik but left half the net open from Daniel’s angle.

    I feel it is an injustice that Cody didn’t get an assist on the Higgins goal, given his forecheck created the turnover. Shenanigans.

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  20. Garth
    February 20, 2012

    Have you guys done a review of the numbers on disallowed goals that have been reviewd by head office? It would be good to either open this right up or put the discussion to bed with some analysis of how the Canucks make out compared to other teams.

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    • hockeyispretty
      February 20, 2012

      Sounds like a job for super-Drance!

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  21. Chris
    February 20, 2012

    Albeit most likely temporarily, the Canucks now lead the NHL in goals for. Nice work guys. As a fan, it’s hard not to look past a visit to Nashville for thursday night’s Showdown in Motown.

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  22. Abby
    February 20, 2012

    Ha. Loved all the cracks at *ahem* those other Canadian teams who are *ahem* not doing very well.

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