I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Toronto Maple Leafs, February 18, 2012

The Leafs came into Vancouver having lost 9 straight games to the Canucks and were hoping to prove that they’d made the changes necessary to be successful in the West, like the American Office. Instead, they just wound up being awkward and cringe-inducing, like the British office. It was initially exciting to watch the Canucks absolutely dominate an opponent, but by the end of the game I just wanted to look away. This game was executive-produced by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. I watched this game.

Canucks 6 – 2 Leafs

  • The above video was the most dramatic part of CBC’s broadcast of this game, as the game was put out of reach halfway through the second period. It must have been disappointing for the many Leafs fans in the building, who did their best to drown out the Canucks fans early in the game. They didn’t succeed, but they tried, and in the process primed the Rogers Arena crowd. The Leafs fans were the second best primer ever.
  • Chris Tanev returned to the Canucks lineup for his fifth game of the year and he fit right in alongside Aaron Rome. Tanev played 18:38, finished plus-1, and had 4 blocked shots. The most stunning statistic, however, was that he was credited with 2 hits! Tanev had a grand total of 10 hits in 29 games last season and added 1 more in 5 playoff games. He had just 1 hit in 4 games this season. He hits less than Thales Leites against Anderson Silva. 2 hits in one game is a monumental event for Tanev — they even came in just one period.
  • Early in the broadcast, the Hockey Night in Canada crew made sure to point out that Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel had 10 more points combined than Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The Sedins had 4 points each; Kessel managed 1 assist, reducing the gap to just 3 points. It was just a matter of time until the Sedins broke out, but it was even more satisfactory to see it happen against the Leafs.
  • Henrik didn’t get a point on the Canucks’ opening goal, but he did tie up Lupul along the boards, allowing Daniel and Alex Burrows to spring out on a 2-on-1. Dion Phaneuf overplayed Daniel, expecting the Canucks’ leading goalscorer to take the shot. Instead, Daniel flipped it to Burrows, who had all the time in the world to pick his spot, slipping the puck under James Reimer’s glove hand. Really, the blame has to be placed on Keith Aulie, who made the most ill-timed pinch since Spock got overenthusiastic with a neck massage on his honeymoon.
  • Oddly enough, the best goal of the game came from the fourth line rather than the Sedins. After a savvy play by Dan Hamhuis in the neutral zone, Maxim Lapierre and Manny Malhotra broke in 2-on-2, which is not normally a recipe for offence. By adding a pinch of saucer pass, however, and a dash of diving brilliance, they created a delicious dish.
  • Elliotte Friedman made all of the advanced stat advocates giddy with a first period feature on Malhotra’s zone starts. Considering I’ve been playing that tune for over a year, it was gratifying to see someone in the mainstream media pick up the melody.
  • On his second goal, Burrows got the puck from Henrik with some room to shoot. Okay, a lot of room. Ridiculous amounts of room. Even Hitler would have said that he had enough room. With that much room, Burrows picked a corner, roofing the puck over Reimer’s blocker. How someone gets that open for a pass with the Sedins — two of the best passers in the league — on the ice is beyond me.
  • David Booth had a golden opportunity to extend his goalscoring streak to 4 games, but was foiled by Cody Hodgson. Booth bore down on net on a breakaway, but a broken stick in his path took away his option to deke and forced him to shoot early. Clearly, Hodgson is worried that Booth might catch up to him in goals and, like the chessmaster he is, thought ahead and intentionally snapped Aulie’s stick with a slap shot, knowing Booth would get a breakaway on the next shift.
  • Roberto Luongo didn’t have to be excellent, but, like the son of a Tiger Mom, he overachieved. It took Lupul knocking Bieksa into the net for Dion Phaneuf to score the Leafs’ first goal. Luongo would have still had it, but the puck deflected off his dropped stick up and over his left pad.
  • That’s when things started turning into a Keystone Kops routine, as Clarke MacArthur stepped on the puck while trying to break out of the defensive zone and fell flat on his face. Henrik flung it across to Daniel, who had almost as much room as Burrows and shot it back across the grain, putting the Canucks up 4-1 and chasing Reimer from the Leafs’ net.
  • The Maple Leafs have the second worst penalty kill in the NHL, while the Canucks have the best powerplay. It showed on the Canucks fifth goal: they threw the puck around with impunity and when Matthew Lombardi finally had a chance to clear it, he whiffed on the puck as it was spinning on end, giving it right back to Alex Edler. From there it was predictable: Henrik, to Daniel, to Salo, whose massive one-timer ripped past Gustavsson.
  • Burrows, looking for the hattrick, kept the puck on a 2-on-1 but was stopped by Gustavsson. In anger, he lashed out at referee Denny LaRue, knocking him to the ice without remorse. Or…he wasn’t looking where he was going and accidentally bumped into him. Depends on how much you hate Burrows.
  • The most wizardous goal of the game was also the most meaningless, as Kevin Bieksa finished off a brilliant passing play by Hamhuis, Daniel, Henrik, and Jannik Hansen to go up 6-1. The best pass of the bunch was Hamhuis’s brilliant breakout bounce pass from behind his own goal line to Daniel out past the red line. Daniel carried the puck in, dropped it between his legs to Henrik, who swung it across to Hansen, who made a quick touch pass on the backhand to Bieksa. It was some impressive Wizardous Sedinerie, but it was also the sixth goal in a game that ended 6-2. So whatever.
  • It’s really too bad that Nikolai Kulemin scored in the dying seconds of the game, because Luongo completely robbed Mikael Grabovski just a few seconds earlier, getting his glove on Grabovski’s backhand on the goal line. It was an absolutely ridiculous save completely nullified by the goal a moment later and by the fact that it was a blowout with 30 seconds remaining.
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64 comments

  1. Timmy Wong
    February 19, 2012

    Last time the Canucks lost to the Laffs, the stick-and-rink were considered “vintage.”

    Sigh…should have put money on this game. Oh well…there’s always next year, right?

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    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
    • JDM
      February 19, 2012

      I actually did win a bet on this one… a guy I work with emailed me to thank me for something at 4pm, and I told him it was the least I could do given the beating my Canucks were about to put on his Leafs. He suggested a wager of a fine cuban cigar, apparently adopting the optimistic view that no one could possibly beat the Leafs TEN times in a row. I said “Nah, I don’t – wait Reimer’s playing? Definitely”. Then the game happened, which resulted in my pointing out the poetry of wagering a cigar and then having your team get completely smoked.

      So, what variety of Cuban should I ask for? I’m tending towards a Montecristo #4, simply because it happens to be his favourite.

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      Rating: +24 (from 24 votes)
    • Nick
      February 19, 2012

      It was nice, in the post-game segment, to see Ron McLean eat crow again about his Burrows rants.

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  2. matthanlon
    February 19, 2012

    It was Nikolai Kuliman (sp?) on the second goal, great analysis, it was a a shame I had to work would have been a great game to see

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 19, 2012

      Ah, good catch. I’ve fixed the post.

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  3. Square Ball
    February 19, 2012

    What’s even better about the best goal of the game was the Byronic Bitz was the one that assisted Lapierre.

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    • Square Ball
      February 19, 2012

      By the way, Don Cherry called Lapierre tough today. That made me smile. I think we should call him Frank. I don’t know why.

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      • The Bookie
        February 19, 2012

        but Shirley he must be joking!

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        • Square Ball
          February 19, 2012

          Don’t call me Shirley…!

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  4. obituary mambo
    February 19, 2012

    I’m so disappointed that of all the games I’ve watched, this is one of the few I’ve missed. It sounds like it was a real doozy. I did, however, watch all the highlights on the official website, and I really liked what I saw. Thanks for keeping me in the loop as to how things went down, as well as your endlessly awesome analysis.

    I plan on watching tonight’s game; here’s hoping it’s equally amazing.

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    • obituary mambo
      February 19, 2012

      BTW, am I meant to infer that you prefer the American Office to the original British version?

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    • stathead
      February 19, 2012

      CBC Hockey Night in Canada website has the full game to watch online.

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  5. TC
    February 19, 2012

    “He hits less than Thales Leites against Anderson Silva.”

    Heh, I clicked through to that link and it looks like an MMA blog written by Skeeter.

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  6. annie
    February 19, 2012

    So the Kings d just doesn’t pinch, eh? Okay no wait wrong game recap post. But seriously, watching LAK-CGY after this just reminded me of how strong Van City’s defence is offensively – even when they aren’t scoring, they’re such a huge part of the play. Obviously, but. Watching poor ol’ Willie Mitchell do the hokey pokey at the blueline in the LA was faintly tragic, and I kept whining to the long-suffering Hawks fan watching with me: “why don’t they activate? but why don’t they activate?” Because I am spoiled. Kevin Bieksa, you spoil me.

    The Leafs scored like jerks tonight. I mean, generally in a 6-2 win I am prepared to give credit where credit is due and try to make cooing noises at the losing side, but. Jerks. On the first one, Luongo and Bieksa were clearly engaged in interpretive dance/a game of Twister, which was very rudely interrupted. If you want to play hockey you’re going to have to schedule it, Leafs, and the dance recitals are not flexible. And then the second would have been a lovely loser-consolation if not for Kulemin throwing his arms up like the saddest cheerleader in the world. I am loathe to agree with Don Cherry, so I won’t say “don’t celebrate a late goal in a blowout,” but if you’re going to do it, at least try not to look like you’re secretly sad about it and you’re only in this play because counseling said you need arts credits.

    Brief notes from Twitter:

    -Advanced stats, like Ottawa Senators fans, are real even if you don’t believe in them.

    -Ladies, stop asking hockey players to marry you. They don’t have the necessary certification. I doubt they’re even ordained.

    -Luongo should really have his stick on a bit of yarn tied to the inside of his jersey.

    Okay, okay, I’m going to bed.

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  7. invisibleairwaves
    February 19, 2012

    The Sedins must be pretty disappointed that John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson are no longer playing for Western Conference teams, because they basically devastated them in this game. Jake Gardiner had an outstanding game though. But man, do the Leafs ever need a goalie.

    Hugely entertaining game overall. I can’t imagine how fun it’ll be once Toronto actually manages to assemble a roster that can hold its own against the Canucks.

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    • peanutflower
      February 19, 2012

      I agree. I remember when Liles could be counted on regularly to score a goal or two or three against the Canucks, often causing the Canucks to lose.

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  8. stathead
    February 19, 2012

    Has Don Cherry always been this nearly-bipolar? Suddenly he is calling the Canucks a tough team – is that code for “I don’t hate them anymore” or does he actually think the team’s play has changed that much since June? I don’t think it has.

    And he mentioned Weise in his list of tough players, even repeating the name with correct pronunciation this time at the end of the broadcast. Last time he mentioned Weise it was to very angrily call him a coward after the Bruins game for not fighting someone (second fight in a period, different guy from who he invited). Is this a roundabout apology for never having set the record straight after that verbal mauling Cherry gave Weise before Marchand explained the fight-deke had been a cunning ploy by the Bruins?

    Great game, but is weird to have the HNIC people paying attention to the Canucks and pretending to not hate them. I love the huge rigid smile of McLean every time he mentions Burrows with that forced enthusiasm to show what a balanced, unbiased commentator he truly is. PITB had perfect retweet for that: “Ron McLean would like everyone to know that some of his best friends are Alex Burrows.”

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    • JDM
      February 19, 2012

      I seriously doubt Cherry pays enough attention / is adequately not-senile to notice after the fact explanations like Marchand’s.

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  9. stathead
    February 19, 2012

    I hope the Canucks don’t find out that their fans were shaking heads in embarrassment and wanting to look away (except couldn’t, in manner of uselessly gazing at aftermath of car wreck) as their 6-2 victory game drew to a close. They may well conclude their fans are truly impossible to please and despair of us. Remember when the Oilers beat the Blackhawks earlier this year? 9-2, and as the game drew to a close, my sister and her friends in the stands were eagerly chanting “We want ten! We want ten!” See, those are desperate fans; we are pampered fans spoiled by an awesome team.

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  10. MelT
    February 19, 2012

    Two things I noticed last night:

    1. James Reimer has Don Cherry and Ron MacLean on his mask! I mean, way to suck up.

    2. I watched the Kings/Flames game too, besides the change in tempo from fast to slooow, I noticed that other teams take such long shifts compared to the Canucks. Canucks are so disciplined I wouldn’t be surprised to find that AV has a latex catsuit and a whip hidden in his locker.

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    • JDM
      February 19, 2012

      And the award for most disturbing image ever goes to…

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      • MelT
        February 19, 2012

        “Business Cat-Suit?”

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      • Matt
        February 19, 2012

        The most disturbing part is that you just know he would keep chomping on his gum while dishing out the verbal and physical abuse.

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        • JS Topher
          February 19, 2012

          Back turned, blindfold on, all you can hear is the twirling of the whip and the clicking of his throat lozenge… your legs quiver half from fear of the inevitable lashing, half from the excitement it brings to your loins.

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          • superreggie
            February 19, 2012

            OK, someone has to remove that post, before it’s forever emblazoned in my hockey memory… (kidding sheesh…)

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  11. Josh
    February 19, 2012

    Alex Burrows strikes again!

    I couldn’t help but laugh when he struck that ref. Too bad it wasn’t Auger or we would have another expose on our hands.

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    • Metaxa
      February 19, 2012

      It wasn’t Auger but he also reffed that infamous game with Auger.
      So Burrows is using his ninja training and picking off the peripheral components…leaving Auger to wonder and worry.

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  12. JDM
    February 19, 2012

    “Burrows got the puck from Henrik with some room to shoot. Okay, a lot of room. Ridiculous amounts of room. Even Hitler would have said that he had enough room. ”

    Every Bruins fan: “See? Alex Burrows and Adolf Hitler: fair comparison.”

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  13. peanutflower
    February 19, 2012

    AWOLNATION on HNIC. That started the night off just fine.

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  14. sarah
    February 19, 2012

    The 17 passes preceding the Salo goal would have been the most awesome thing seen at a hockey game this week were it not for the guy dressed as the Queen at the Jets/Bruins game. Sorry wizarding Sedinary, you come a distant second to a grown man dressed as Elizabeth II.

    In his post game interview, Bieksa paid Manny the most backhanded of compliments about his goal. Something along the lines of, “great stick work, won’t see something like that from him again.” Further cementing my belief that Juice is the Regina George of the team…

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    • Nick
      February 19, 2012

      Manny’s goal was a beauty … but Bieksa’s probably right.

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  15. Cathylu
    February 19, 2012

    I really enjoyed this game since I was’t sitting on the sofa getting that sick feeling that we’re going into OT. I like dominating the other team once in a while. And it was great to see Don Cherry live in all his glory (wearing a jacket made from a 1970′s death couch, as Harrison tweeted during the game. Hahaha!). What a hoot! I too was shocked that he called us a “tough” team. Who woulda thunk it?

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    • JS Topher
      February 19, 2012

      That suit… wow… I thought I was losing my virginity all over again

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  16. Jo
    February 19, 2012

    Hamhuis seems to be really on his game. +17 and those passes were amazing. My vote for most underrated. Definitely sets up a lot of opportunities for others. #4 Star

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  17. Tired in NS
    February 19, 2012

    Such is the pain we feel on the East Coast. Suffering through Leafs broadcasts with pro-Leaf broadcasters. It’s like watching Billie Jean King and McEnroe comment on the US Open with a 39th ranked American playing Federer. Or Scott Hamilton commenting on the World Championships.

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  18. piker
    February 19, 2012

    Salmon? But the CBC said it was a tuna or a carp! Yet another reason why the CBC should never be allowed to broadcast sports from Vancouver.

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    • peanutflower
      February 19, 2012

      That didn’t look like a salmon to me. It looked like a carp kind of thing. Dogfish. The first fish that was thrown a while back was a salmon, but I don’t think this one was. Dogfish would be appropriate, I think. For a dog of a game.

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      • JDM
        February 19, 2012

        Was definitely NOT a dogfish. Dogfish aren’t slimy like that.

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        • peanutflower
          February 19, 2012

          I’m pretty sure Kesler slid through the slime on the first play after they removed whatever kind of fish it was.

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      • Steven Ray Orr
        February 19, 2012

        “Oh hell. This game is turning out to be quite the intense battle. And all I brought was this dogfish! I guess I’ll just have to save it for the drive to Edmonton tomorrow.”

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  19. peanutflower
    February 19, 2012

    I have to say that the Canuck luv from HNIC was almost embarrassing in its magnitude. I skimmed through Coach’s Corner so not sure what Cherry had to say, but Healy, whoever is Hughson’s sidekick, Elliott, and everyone else was just super magnanimous. It was pretty weird. Listening to Ron McLean stumble over his Burrows praise was the highlight of the game, I thought. It’s like he had a list of 10 times he was supposed to say nice things about Burrows and he was trying to check them all off by the end of the game.

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    • John Andress
      February 19, 2012

      Staying on the HNIC theme, I was quite amused when, in the first period, that Simpson chap burbled enthusiastically that had a Leaf player who went down along the wall just tried to sell it a little more artistically he could have drawn an interference penalty. This whilst watching a Canucks team that has been flayed and pilloried in the media and by none other than Mr, Cherry himself over the past few seasons for embellishing and diving? Sometimes I get the impression that it is not what is done that matters as much as who does it. Can you imagine the howls of outrage if Alex Burrows had drawn a penalty that way?

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      • Harrison Mooney
        February 19, 2012

        Yep. As I said last year: everybody dives. Tomorrow I’m gonna break down one of the Canuck goals and show how it could have been negated if a Leaf player had gone down.

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    • Sue
      February 19, 2012

      Cherry totally ignored the Canucks on CC. They acknowledged the score was 2-0 and Cherry basicly said pfffttt, now put up that Boston thing woodya….

      He is so tiresome.

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  20. piker
    February 19, 2012

    Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the Canucks not participating in the silly post-goal, bench run down glove slap routine. Hope it lasts for the remainder of the season. When you can use good sportsmanship to get under the skin of your opponents – all the better!

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  21. Tom Benjamin
    February 19, 2012

    “Wizardous Sedinerie”

    Isn’t this redundant? And how are we spelling Sedinerie these days?

    I’ve always thought somebody came up with Sedinery because Sedin Sorcery was too hard to say.

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    • Sue
      February 19, 2012

      I felt the reverie in the wizardrie

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    • J21
      February 19, 2012

      Is this *the* Tom Benjamin? On PITB? It’s like that incredible moment in Reese commercials when some accident of history brings together chocolate and peanut butter!

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  22. Don_Rocko
    February 19, 2012

    I loved Jim Hughson’s call on the 5th (power play) goal. When Lombardi goes to clear it and whiffs, he just says, “Whoops!”. It was like he saw 15 seconds into the future where Lombardi would be getting the glare-o-doom from Ron Wilson as he skates back to the bench, head down.

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    • Nee
      February 19, 2012

      I liked that he said immediately when that happened: “Will he pay?”

      And not 5 seconds after….yes, he did.

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  23. Lisa
    February 19, 2012

    I was at this game and it was glorious!

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    • gumby
      February 19, 2012

      I was at this game too and it was spec-tac-u-lar. So many loud loud loud Leafs fans. I was surrounded by Phaneuf and Gilmour jerseys (Gilmour’s one thing, but Phaneuf? Ew.). They sure were quiet/drunk by the end of the second, though.

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  24. Leftcoaster
    February 19, 2012

    Pretty sure the snack goal was scored by Kulemin, not Grabovski

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  25. peanutflower
    February 19, 2012

    I want someone to count up the number of times the camera pans to the GMs box when Burke is in the house versus any other GM. I bet it’s more for Burkie. Has he ever looked happy when he’s been in that visitor’s GM box at Rogers? I’m betting not.

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  26. Bejoyed
    February 19, 2012

    In other news, Eric Wellwood had his first NHL goal in Philly’s loss to the Pens. Time for another update in The Wellwoods’ world?

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    • Sue
      February 19, 2012

      zat Kyle´s pard?

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  27. tj
    February 19, 2012

    Any opportunity for the east to actually see what we can do, and then we do it with aplomb— amazing passing; impressive goaltending; smart hits; no diving; classy showmanship once the game was undeniably hours; etc, etc–it’s a damn fine game. None of the annoying Canucks tropes & cliches of the past 6 months seen here, tonight (erm… last night). Not to mention the bumbling of the east-based commentators, who couldn’t deny the beauty of the team… A very satisfying game, indeed.

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    • tj
      February 19, 2012

      (Ack! I used the proverbial ‘we’–damn, I hate it when I do that. Please replace ‘we’s with ‘the Canucks’.)

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      • sarah
        February 19, 2012

        I have a theory on the “Loyal We.” I think it’s ok.

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  28. superreggie
    February 19, 2012

    I listened to the game on TEAM 1040 (I have a thing for games on the radio), and I’m surprised by the ho-hum praise for Malhotra’s goal on the HNIC replay video linked here. I mean, they give him credit, but the radio guys completely wigged out, immediately compared it to Bobby Orr, I mean, this is Manny Malhotra, and he dived, and knocked the puck out of the air. It was incredible for anyone, but… Malhotra! I’ve watched it a few times. What a pass! What a goal!

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    • tj
      February 19, 2012

      I like listening to games, too. It’s very nostalgic for me.

      Funny, no one mentioned this Manny’s is the kind of dive Canucks can stand beside ;)

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  29. Canuck In Oz
    February 19, 2012

    Bit late for my comment, since the Edmonton game starts in about ten minutes, but is it just me, or has Lu lost his stick a fair bit lately? Should he get a bit of pine tar to keep said piece of equipment attached to his hand so he can stop pucks?

    Being overseas, I don’t get the myriad of hockey games on the tube (one or two a week, if I’m lucky, but I don’t recall seeing the stick go AWOL for other goalies. Could be wrong, though.

    Regarding today’s game…oddly enough, someone who lives around the corner from me has an Oiler sticker on his car (hockey not so big down here in Melbourne,sadly), so I’m hoping to walk by his place with my Kesler jersey on a few times tonight after getting home from work.

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  30. DanD
    February 20, 2012

    This may have already been said (I didn’t read all 60+ comments), but it was so nice to get Hughson tonight! The man is an artist.

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  31. Doug
    February 20, 2012

    To be honest – I wasn’t surprised by the result but really expected a little more in Coaches Corner regarding the game and teams playing it – the first period was dismissed with barely a passing mention – shame on CBC for not paying due respect to the fan bases involved in the game that wanted a little more insight however painful it might have been for Ron and Don to show some Toronto humility. What praise that came seemed to be given grudgingly at best.

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