I Watched This Game: Canucks vs St. Louis Blues, March 1, 2012

The Canucks were in playoff form Thursday. How do I know? Because this game bore an eerie resemblance to a playoff game from last June. Let me break it down for you:

After two tough losses on the road, the Canucks came home looking to bounce back. The game was tight, with very little room for error, and the NHL’s top two teams entered the third period locked in a 0-0 tie. The contest appeared headed for overtime until, midway through the third, one of the Canucks’ point men put a shot just wide of the net. It popped off the boards and right onto the stick of a French winger that nobody likes, and he was able to jam the puck inside the post just before the goaltender could get across. Immediately after doing so, he scrambled to the boards to celebrate the game-winner with his linemates while Rogers Arena went nuts.

Yeah. Tonight’s game was effectively a shot-for-shot remake of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. I remember it clear as day, because I, like many of you, watched that game. And then I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 0 Blues

  • People are going to filter the last two games through the prism of the Cody Hodgson trade, and considering the Canucks only managed one goal in each (Chris Higgins’s empty-netter notwithstanding), I expect to hear several suggestions over the next few days that swapping Hodgson for Sammy Pahlsson has signaled the death of team scoring. But that’s silly. Hodgson’s absence from the team dynamic has nothing to do with Vancouver’s absence of offense versus Phoenix and St. Louis. Rather, it has everything to do with the presence of Phoenix and St. Louis, two teams that murder offence in cold blood. These are teams that have turned Mike Smith and Brian Elliott into Vezina candidates. Their smothering defensive systems are like auto-tune for mediocre goaltenders.
  • It’s far too early to know what kind of player Marc-Andre Gragnani is going to be, but man alive, does he rack up the mileage in the offensive zone for a third-pairing guy. Keith Ballard watched this game from home, and every time Gragnani got involved in the offense, he loudly remarked, Man, he is gonna get so benched for that. But Gragnani never did — he spent the entire game roaming without consequence. On one shift, he sprinted back into the play with a string of freshly-bought 50/50 tickets.
  • Gragnani got his name on the scoresheet early, registering one of the Canucks’ first two shots and taking the team’s first penalty, an overzealous crosscheck along the end boards on Andy McDonald. Not sure anyone else noticed this, but my favourite thing about this sequence came on the replay, when the cameras caught the woman sitting right at the boards putting her hands on her face in horror, ala The Scream. Seriously, lady, if you can’t handle seeing dudes getting boarded up-close, maybe sit a little higher up.
  • Roberto Luongo picked up only his third shutout of the season, making 29 saves in the win. He was as good as he had to be, although he looked a little shaky on a few rebounds and particularly bad on a shot in the second that inexplicably knocked his stick out of his hands. Look, I understand losing your stick when someone skates through it or it gets tangled up with a defender or something, but when your goaltending equipment can be knocked out of your hands by a shot, why even bother having it in the first place? That’s like putting Jurassic Park‘s backup generator in a place velociraptors can get to if the electric fence craps out — it sort of negates the purpose, no?
  • My favourite fourth line moment: a shift in the second period when the trio of Zack Kassian, Manny Malhotra, and Maxim Lapierre worked the puck to the goal then started jamming away at it. Malhotra got in a stab just after the whistle, which drew all five Blues, but Kassian jumped in front of his centre, backed him into the boards, and held his arms out like he was protesting an old Redwood being cut down. I half-expected him to chain himself to Malhotra. It was impressive, as was the fact that everyone backed off.
  • My second favourite fourth line moment is a tie between every other moment they were on the ice. Kassian has energized the heck out of that unit — Maxim Lapierre especially. Lapierre was throwing hits like Shaun and Ed all night, registering a whopping 10 in the game. Kassian, meanwhile, had 4 hits of his own. But the line didn’t just lead the team in physicality; they led it in shots as well. The trio generated 6 shots, the most of any of the Canucks’ four lines, with Kassian leading the way with a game-high 4. If he keeps this up, it won’t be long before people are demanding he get more icetime than Ryan Kesler and complaining that Alain Vigneault is mismanaging him — sure signs the fans have embraced him.
  • Alain Vigneault really has the giggles these days. Think he’s recently discovered one of the major benefits of living in Vancouver, and by that I mean the Vancouver Lego Club?
  • Mason Raymond is always a major factor against teams like the Blues and Coyotes because he backs off neutral zone pressure with his speed. He did plenty of that tonight, and I remain a Raymond apologist. That said, his strength is possession through the neutral zone and into the opponents’ end, and he had his pocket picked two or three times tonight coming across the red line. For Raymond, that’s completely unacceptable. He needs to protect the puck better. Might I suggest falling on it? That he can do.
  • Granted, the Blues play some amazing defence in the neutral zone, especially David Backes. He caught Alex Burrows with a massive open-ice bodycheck in the first. I don’t think he likes Alex Burrows.
  • In the second period, one of the officials tossed a towel onto the St. Louis Blues’ bench. It landed on Jaro Halak’s lap, and the look of annoyance on his face was absolutely priceless. He was like, Jaroslav is not towel man, idiot. I like that he just kind of sat there stewing until someone took it off his lap, which is about how I react to other people’s babies.
  • Burrows had the last laugh, however, scoring the game-winning goal with Backes on the ice. Not that the Blues’ captain could have done anything differently, mind you: the goal came after both Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis got a little lucky, with Bieksa’s fanned shot going right to Hamhuis and Hamhuis’s missed shot jumping right off the boards to Burrows. But Burrows made his own luck too. The way he chipped the puck up over Elliott rather than just trying to jam it in was sweeter and headier than lilac wine.
  • Alain Vigneault’s zone deployment is usually quite rigid, but he really spread out the starts tonight. Everyone had defensive zone faceoffs, from Henrik Sedin to Chris Higgins. And the fourth line started 3 shifts in the offensive zone to boot. Granted, the way the 4th line was playing tonight, they earned some offensive icetime, but still, it will be interesting to see what the new line combinations mean for AV’s meticulous approach to zone starts.
  • And finally, Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins scored the empty-netter to seal the game. He’s still reintegrating himself into the world of the living and he clearly doesn’t trust himself about human flesh, a fact that’s most noticeable at the end of the clip when Henrik Sedin tries to give him a facewash and he grumpily bats the captain’s hand away, likely afraid he’ll start snacking on it.
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85 comments

  1. akidd
    March 2, 2012

    well, well, av finally has the team he wanted… a defensive, grind em out team. it looked pretty effective i must say and might be quite the formidable style headed into a playoff off run that if successful could include 2 or 3 or 4 matchups vs teams like the blues, preds, yotes, kings, bruins, rangers. if the wings or hawks don’t make a good run there might not be any pretty hockey at all to watch for canuck fans this spring.

    sure it was just two games vs two tough defensive teams but i contend that a new era has begun. av won the boardroom battle and got the team he wanted to play the style he loves. it looks to be a winning style and winning is what we want, right?. but i feel my ‘quality of hockey’ just went down. vancouver is taking some knocks. first it was zurich and then comes AV(and pahlsson.)

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    • Jon
      March 2, 2012

      The Canucks still have Kesler and the Sedins, as well as a few others who can do great things offensively. If this game seemed overly defensive, just look at the coach of the opposing team.

      What I think is great is that now we have the skill to match the Wings or the grinding ability to shut them down. Or, we could out skill a defensive team like Phoenix, but we also have players it would take to go toe to toe with them defensively.

      Also, our fourth line can actually play.

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    • John in Marpole
      March 2, 2012

      Really?

      Trading away a 1st year, third line player changed a team that has the past two seasons league leading scorers on its roster changed the team from offensive to defensive?

      No wonder Cody Hodgson was such an awkward skater, he wasn’t skating, he was walking on water.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 2, 2012

        Best comment.

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      • Steven Ray Orr
        March 2, 2012

        Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

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  2. stathead
    March 2, 2012

    Overheard on Twitter, 4th line name suggestion: Manny Malhotra, Zack Kassian, and Maxim Lapierre. MLK – Milk – it does a body good.

    And a Nina Simone reference- it gets better and better!

    So, I didn’t watch that game, though I watched this game… was the “French guy nobody likes” in the game 5 goal scored by Lapierre (I should say Laperrier, according to the Blues announcers), or Burr again? (We can’t have THAT many French guys nobody likes.)

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    • AnonymousCoward
      March 2, 2012

      MLK is more commonly known as the initials of Dr. Martin Luther King.

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      • TC
        March 2, 2012

        Indeed. Thus I am okay with calling it the, “I have a dream” line.

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      • stathead
        March 2, 2012

        Wow, I didn’t know anyone abbreviates his name – I’ve never heard him given anything less than the full four-word appellation. No disrespect intended; I just thought it was a funny comment when I read it on Twitter.

        Some of my best friends are black people!! (Harrison, we’re friends, right??)

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    • obituary mambo
      March 2, 2012

      @stathead Nina Simone is one of my all time favorite singers. I also prefer her version of that song to the whiny one I was directed to by the link. And yes, Lapierre was the game 5 goal scorer.

      I also got around to answering your question about Slavic pronunciation over on the Stars post (probably with too much explanation, as I am prone to do). And on that topic, I’d be surprised if anyone actually calls Halak Jaro; the usual diminutive form of Jaroslav is Jarek. However, I suppose the name could have been given to him by someone who is neither Czech nor Slovak. *shrugs*

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      • stathead
        March 2, 2012

        Oh, I didn’t even click the link – I just assumed it was the ultimate diva’s version! Many thanks for answering the question. I’ll look it up. Useful info for hockey fans.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          March 2, 2012

          The Jeff Buckley version is super good. But I agree, Nina Simone did it best.

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      • stathead
        March 2, 2012

        @obituary mambo If you check back, can you advise on how Zdeno is pronounced? I’ve been assuming it’s the sound in treasure with the e sounded like a long a. Cheers!

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        • obituary mambo
          March 2, 2012

          I think they actually get that bit of his name mostly right; it’s a short z sound: Zdayno.

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          • stathead
            March 2, 2012

            Thanks!

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            • Square Ball
              March 4, 2012

              Somebody Czech once told me it’s actually a gutural “kchk” sound: Kchara. Almost like the spanish j, if you know what I mean.

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    • J21
      March 2, 2012

      The Game 5 goal was Lapierre. Also, sadly, the Canucks’ last home goal, and last go-ahead goal, of the season. :(

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      • stathead
        March 2, 2012

        Thanks! May there be many more these playoffs…

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  3. obituary mambo
    March 2, 2012

    I’m glad I got the chance to watch this game (and thankful it was broadcast on TV, so I could record it and watch it this afternoon instead of at 4am). Of course, we have to wait and see how the trade will affect team chemistry, but so far I’m optimistic.

    The recap was top notch, as usual. I’ve come to realize that there are often hidden gems in the tags. “Ballard likes to watch.” Hee!

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  4. Cathylu
    March 2, 2012

    I liked that game! I loved winning IN REGULATION! It definitely looked like a playoff game to me. I also noticed when Kassian came in to protect Manny from harm. I hope the new kid works out and that he can keep his hits clean.

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    • SteveB
      March 2, 2012

      I was so relieved to see the clock tick down to zero without a “snack goal” spoiling Roberto Luongo’s shut-out.

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  5. Zach Morris
    March 2, 2012

    moral of the game:

    Canucks can do playoff hockey.

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    • Zach Morris
      March 2, 2012

      also, we’re a point AHEAD of last year’s pace.

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      • Phileo99
        March 2, 2012

        I’m predicting that the Canucks will finish somewhere around 110pts this year

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      • sarah
        March 2, 2012

        Are you serious! Hilarious how perception often overshadows actuality. I was positive that the Canucks were well behind last year’s pace..simply because it seems like there are so many OT and close games. I guess 2 points is still 2 points.

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        • obituary mambo
          March 2, 2012

          It’s hard to look at the Canucks remaining schedule and not be a little bit optimistic…

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  6. Phileo99
    March 2, 2012

    Great point about MAG being very visible on the ice. Who is this youngster, and did he come as advertised? Despite the limited sample set of this one game, I would argue yes. Clearly he is an upgrade on Sulzer. Sulzer had played a few (was it 7?) games with the canucks, but the main thing I remember about Sulzer was that he was weak on the puck, and he made some bad choices which led to turnovers. One game is too soon to conclude that MAG is defensively sound, but he didn’t make any bad choices with the puck, and he seemed positionally sound without it. I do like how jumped up into the play like he was the 4th forward on the ice.

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    • Shand
      March 2, 2012

      he did try an ill-advised drop pass that led to a pretty nasty turnover. But I think he hurried back to negate the chance or someone covered for him.

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  7. JM
    March 2, 2012

    I liked Shorthouse’s use of the word “mustered”. Had Garrett used it, I would have taken it as “mustard” and it would have made so much less, while simultaneously making so much more, sense.

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  8. Julia
    March 2, 2012

    Does anyone else think we are reverting back to the dead puck era? There was so much hooking and holding (by both teams) let go by the refs. It seems to me that this is partially why they traded Hodgson away, the NHL is transitioning into a league where offensive talents like the Sedins and Hodgson are smothered by all this hooking/holding/tackling/mugging.

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    • akidd
      March 2, 2012

      funny, i said more or less the same thing(not exactly but the same gist) and received 24 thumbs down. i guess i’m losing the popularity contest:)

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      • Daniel Wagner
        March 2, 2012

        I find that whining about such things always helps.

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        • akidd
          March 2, 2012

          hey, i put a smile symbol there. was just trying to make a good-natured point about how we perceive information based on the messenger. this whole coho thing has been a pretty neat study on crowd dynamics, perception and belief if you ask me.

          and you don’t really need to moderate me(noticed that some of my comments have had to await moderation.) i’m not going to say anything abusive. i just have some differing opinions from you. nothing out of the ordinary for hockey talk in canada.

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          • Daniel Wagner
            March 2, 2012

            The moderation is automatic, so it isn’t triggered by Harrison or myself. Not sure why it happened in your case. It usually only happens with new commenters or changed names. I trust that you’re not going to say anything abusive; apparently the computer doesn’t. ;)

            But the fact is that you and Julia weren’t making the same point. At all. Julia was making a larger point about how refs aren’t calling certain penalties; you were saying that Vigneault prefers to coach boring hockey. The differing reactions have less to do with who said it and more to do with what was said.

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            • akidd
              March 2, 2012

              you’re right. it seems like neith julia nor i are very entertained by that style of hockey. but she sees i as more of an external thing(refs, nhl) and while see it that way too i also concede that the canucks have also become part of the problem. the canucks probably had no choice if they want to win a cup but with AV’s former penchant for defensive hockey i’d say this could be a case of twisting his rubber arm. do you think my comment is really that off base to get so thumbed down on its content alone?

              i don’t really take the thumbs so personally but i do find it all quite interesting, this ‘for us or agin us’ stuff. and there is a large part of me that holds out hope that ‘free will’(if such a thing exists) and independent thought might gain a bit more traction with your readership.

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              • obituary mambo
                March 3, 2012

                @akidd Don’t worry, I didn’t thumbs down your comment, but here are my two cents on the issue:

                Shortly after AV took over the team they were in a rebuilding process of sorts, so he got the D straightened out and then he went to work on the offense. Remember that the O was in transition from the days of West Coast Express domination to the Wizardous Sedinerie we know today; these are things that can’t be worked out over night. Strengthening the D was the second step in making the team what it is today (the first having been the team’s decision to [finally] replace Cloutier). It seems to me that these are decisions AV and MG would have made together and shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the coach particularly likes (or even prefers) coaching defensive hockey.

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        • stathead
          March 2, 2012

          I’ve never really posted on one of these chat boards before (not counting the hot girls I’ve definitely been chatting to on the internet – jk). I assumed the thumbs down meant “I don’t agree with the content of this comment” but is not an actual personal thumbs down like, “you shouldn’t be making that comment.”

          Should I be using the thumbs down button to indicate that I’m glad someone is in the debate but I don’t agree with what they’ve written (please give this a thumbs-up in that case)?

          Or, when I type it, have I just unwittingly told someone to shut his pie-hole? (please give this a thumbs down in that case.)

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          • Daniel Wagner
            March 2, 2012

            People will give a thumbs up if they agree with the comment, or if they like someone’s username, or if they have expressed themselves in a uniquely humorous fashion. Likewise, people will give a thumbs down if they disagree with the comment, or if it has a typo, or if it’s silly, or if it’s dumb, or if it’s a joke that they don’t think is particularly funny, or if they had a bad day at work, or if they’re just a big meany-head.

            Really, it’s not worth worrying about.

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            • stathead
              March 2, 2012

              Hm- lots of room for ambiguity. Excellent. Next time I have a bad day at work, you guys better all watch out. Thumbs down on everyone!

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  9. J21
    March 2, 2012

    In following with the parallels to Game 5 of the finals, I expect a reporter asked an innocuous, fact-based question to Luongo after the game, like “Did you notice that the blue line is the same color as the Blues’ name?” to which his response will be endlessly dissected by media and the blogosphere for months. Eventually, after a snippy response from Brian Elliott, Luongo will be forced to remark, with exasperation, “I don’t get it, I’ve been changing his oil, wiping his windshield and filling his car up with ‘silver’ for the last several months.”

    Keith Ballard watched this game from home, and every time Gragnani got involved in the offense, he loudly remarked, Man, he is gonna get so benched for that. But Gragnani never did — he spent the entire game roaming without consequence.

    I feel this is somewhat telling. For the vast majority of us who’d never heard of Marc-André Gragnani before the trade deadline, reading the descriptions provided of him instantly made us say “Sounds an awful lot like Keith Ballard. Curious pickup.” And so when he does play like Keith Ballard, without facing the consequences that Ballard does, there are two conclusions that can be drawn –

    (1) Vigneault really does play favorites, and it’s not all merit-based. I’m a fan of El Viño generally, but I think this increasing criticism of him is valid. If Gragnani is just Ballard-who-played-for-Vigneault-in-junior, it is both telling about the bias involved and makes you wonder if the Canucks weren’t better off pursuing a player somewhat less like a current roster player, and letting Ballard get away with more.

    (2) Even when Ballard is healthy, we’ll be seeing too much of Aaron Rome. And I’d rather it be Ballard in the lineup (Gragnani + hip checks) than either.

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    • Amor de Cosmos
      March 2, 2012

      If Gragnani begins to make high risk cross ice passes in his own zone, or pointless end to end rushes that end with him bouncing the puck gently off the goalie’s pad then he’ll probably be treated the same way as Ballard.

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      • SteveB
        March 2, 2012

        If Gragnani nearly accidentally decapitates Roberto Luongo after a goal, he’ll probably be in AV’s Doghouse along with Ballard. ;^)

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    • akidd
      March 2, 2012

      hey, criticizing AV is taboo here. that’s 50 ‘hail bullis” for you:)

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 2, 2012

        You are the worst member of this cult.

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  10. JDM
    March 2, 2012

    Number of things to take out of this one.

    First, you give credit to Kassian for energizing the fourth line. I liked his game last night, but I lay all the credit squarely at the feet of Maxim Lapierre. That guy was the Canucks’ best player last night. I think he set the tone for his linemates. And they were not only good in terms of energy, physical play and getting shots, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the zone start vs finish stats for that line. Seemed like they always left the ice with a faceoff in front of Elliot.

    Second, with respect to our offense-first defensemen. Gragnani has to be the most active blueliner not playing for the Senators. I’ve never seen that much roaming before by anyone, be it Bieksa, Jovo, Ehrhoff, no one. He also passes up opportunities to shoot, but that’s fine. I’d like to see a Gragnani – Tanev pairing down the road a ways. Oh, incidentally, Bieksa was awful yesterday, made few good decisions and plenty of bad ones that ended up turning what should’ve been a clean breakout into a minute of zone time for STL.

    With regard to STL. I can see why they’ve racked up points. But they are simply not as good as Detroit is. In the streak-breaking game it seemed like there was zero room, zero time or space behind the net, no chance to create anything offensively. The Wings didn’t even play particularly well by their standards and their team defense was still utterly stifling. While the Blues are very good positionally, and don’t make many glaring errors, they aren’t quite at that level of suffocation yet. And I suspect Elliot isn’t so much “good” as he is “made to look really good by the Blues system leading to almost no chances in the middle of the ice”.

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    • Warpstone
      March 2, 2012

      STL are certainly a good system team, but to be fair they were on the tail end of long road trip too.

      I don’t know if it really matters if a team is as good as Detroit in terms of talent, so much as they are as good in terms of consistency. That’s why STL and NSH scare me more than Detroit: the playoffs are incredibly rewarding to teams that are able to eventually grind their way to a disciplined 4 wins.

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    • John in Marpole
      March 2, 2012

      I dunno, I think the presence of Kassian was the catalyst for Lapierre’s extra bounce.

      For example, when Malhotra gave a lateish poke at a covered puck, resulting in a bit of a swarming on him by the Blues, Kassian placed himself between Manny and the Blues and that ended the scrum. Past history of these kinds of things is that the canucks in the scrum get manhandled for soem time, which didn’t happen.

      Players play larger when they know they have someone backing them up. Lappy has been doing a great job as an irritant/scrapper so far this season, now that there is a true heavyweight (I hesitate to use that word because of the numbskulls who have been calling Kassian a ‘knuckle-dragger’ since the trade) on the roster Lappy can play even more aggressive.

      So yes, the effect is Lappy being even more active/aggressive, the cause is the addition of Kassian.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 2, 2012

        I just think Kassian’s got him energized. It’s way more fun crashing and banging with a partner.

        ….. that came out wrong.

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        • John in Marpole
          March 2, 2012

          I know what you mean, and upon further reflection I think we’re both tight. We’re kinda saying the same thing, I just didn’t word mine as well as you did.

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      • akidd
        March 2, 2012

        lappy looked pretty dam crazy, er happy, out there. knowing that the worst thing that can happen is having to fight the 2nd toughest guy out there can do that. it’s looking like there might be some copyright issues with the bruins as the canucks look to usurp the adjectives, “big” and “bad”. now if they can just find a low-bridger.

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    • sarah
      March 2, 2012

      Agreed. And I thought he had an extra twinkle in his eye for most of the game too. I think Lappy is liking this new kid. Maybe we’ll be seeing a new Tumbler bromance out of all this: Kappeirre? Lassian? Laspian? That one doesn’t work so well…

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  11. peanutflower
    March 2, 2012

    Does anyone but me connect AV’s giddyness recently to the departure of Hodgson and any drama that may have been around him? The timing is pretty curious, and last night he was all smiles and chuckles too. Mr. Happy.

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    • John in Marpole
      March 2, 2012

      Although you might be right, AV’s upbeat demeanor also coincides with this being #1 in the league thing, too.

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    • akidd
      March 2, 2012

      AV is pretty ecstatic. he just won a huge boardroom battle. and/or as someone suggested to me he’s cracking up :

      http://youtu.be/s66VNF5-624

      guess which one is AV and which is hodgson.

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  12. Lenny
    March 2, 2012

    Every Canuck played at least 11 minutes last night, and no one played more than 24. That is good. Against a good team like St. Louis that’s very good news. Hope it stays this way. Even Boston’s minutes last night against NJ were heavily skewed towards their best players (though they did play 3 minutes of OT).

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  13. Warpstone
    March 2, 2012

    PITB, any thoughts on how we’re basically getting a not too subtle message from the officials that everything besides stickwork and slew foots is kosher again?

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  14. V
    March 2, 2012

    Not to change the topic or anything, but mega-points for the excellent “Shaun of the Dead” reference.

    Also I totally know what you mean about other people’s babies. I just panic and freeze, waiting for someone else to take responsibility.

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  15. zach
    March 2, 2012

    that first paragraph – priceless. Could be right up there with the best IWTG opening paragraphs ever.

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    • zach
      March 2, 2012

      I’d also like to point out that I felt like Don Cherry last night. Not because I am an old cranky man who complains about everything, says inappropriate things, and mispronounces names with shocking consistency. No, no. Because I watched the fourth line play, and I was in love with the physical game they brought last night. And I am none of those things.

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  16. Chris
    March 2, 2012

    For the record, Boston is one of the most stingy defensive teams in the league too and the boys hung a 4 spot on them and their reigning Vezina Trophy winner…some of the credit for that is probably due to a laser beam off the right wing that had Thomas saying uncle. I was looking for someone to scare up a goal by burning Elliott that cleanly last night, but curiously, the highly skilled young player I remember from the Boston game did not appear in my lineup card.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 2, 2012

      Chris, you’re becoming one of the comments section’s most lovable curmudgeons.

      Are you honestly trying to argue that Cody Hodgson’s slapshot goal is the reason the Canucks scored 4 on the Bruins?

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        March 2, 2012

        No, just that the Canucks seemed to eschew the idea that having three lines that could score is a good thing, and dumped our top prospect to make the team bigger and more checky. And now that bigger, checkier lineup has scored 2 goals in 125 minutes (+ an empty netter). I realize the sample size is too small, but watching the game yesterday, I never once really felt the revamped 3rd line was much of a threat to score, and the second PP didn’t exactly set the world on fire either. My point about the Boston game was simply that we were up against a strong defensive team, and we were able to witness both the first and second unit power play pumping in 2 goals apiece, a testament to balance our team no longer has. Cody was first star of that game by the way. I suppose the flip side is the team’s only given up 1 goal over that time so maybe there’s something to that.

        I’ll try to tone down the curmudgeonliness though (spell-check says that’s not a word). Or I could keep it going, after all every message board needs a crotchety old crank. I’m not much of a sonnet-writer after all. We’ll see if my anger over the Stoja…I mean Kassian trade subsides over time.

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        • tj
          March 2, 2012

          Hey, you do realize your second-coming prospect hasn’t got a single point so far, right? If he’s so important to you and akidd, why bother being a Canucks fan anymore? If all the Canucks ‘were’ to you was this one player…

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          • tj
            March 2, 2012

            (Erm, I meant to sound rhetorical and not incendiary–apologies for the crankypants tone…)

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          • akidd
            March 2, 2012

            among other things, i guess i’m a little dismayed at how quickly many readers here seem to be able to cut ties with someone who so recently was ‘one of us’.

            and as i’ve flogged my church metaphor more than enough, as has been pointed out i guess i probably shouldn’t draw any comparisons in this regard to how other ‘organizations’ do the same.

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            • Harrison Mooney
              March 2, 2012

              One of us! One of us! Gooble gobble…

              But seriously. I agree it seems strange to 180 on Hodgson so quickly (and I’ve seen some places where he’s been vilified unfairly — not in my writing, I assure you), but keep in mind that you’ve been ripping us for being too hard on Cody all year. We haven’t really changed our stance on him at all.

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              • akidd
                March 3, 2012

                glad you got the ‘one of us’ reference. am not so cosy with the hyperlinks so i use single parantheses for everything. just can’t get enough of them.

                and yes, you have definitely been consistant…which is…suspicious…hmmm(note to self: double-check phone taps of gillis and mooney…:)

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            • obituary mambo
              March 3, 2012

              I don’t think any of us have “cut ties” with Hodgeson. News of his trade put me in a serious funk just as I supposed to be getting ready to go to bed (my time zone is 9 hours ahead of PST). I even tweeted something about feeling despondent. I think most of us are hopeful that sacrificing Coho was worth it. Then again I haven’t gotten around to reading the trade posts, so maybe I’m missing some comments of the “Good riddance! I never liked him anyway,” variety. It seems doubtful, though. I, for one, will continue to support Coho in Buffalo and hope he plays well tonight — just not well enough to beat the ‘Nucks. ;)

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        • Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
          March 2, 2012

          I think having three lines that can score is a very good thing, but having one that you have to shelter defensively because they are easy to get scored on is a bad thing. If Hodgson’s defensive game had progressed as quickly at the NHL level as his offensive game it would have been fantastic. However, it didn’t and so the “third line that could score,” came at too great a cost.

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          • akidd
            March 2, 2012

            hi dave, i’m not sure if coho’s defensive shortcomings were exactly ‘as advertised’. while he’s no sammy pahlsson he was a plus player on the canucks and so far is a plus player on the sabres. imo, with AV’s ‘sheltering’ he never got the chance to prove his defensive abilities(or improve them.)

            fwiw, i think perhaps the canucks now could be considered cup favourites, or close, whereas i didn’t feel that way with what i’d seen in 2012 up to the trade.

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            • Nee
              March 2, 2012

              Can I say something?

              I think you have really thoughtful things to say, but you really shouldn’t take downvotes personally. Some of your comments on here, about some kind of PITB cult, just seem to be unfair.
              It’s natural that fans will want to see the trade in a positive light. Doesn’t make them zombies, or cultists. Your opinion may not be as well received as others on here, but that doesn’t mean that people are just following the team mantra or PITB mantra.

              And really, thumbs up/down are so arbitrary anyways. Hell, when I use my mobile to comment, half the time I end up accidentally down-voting someone. : )

              So what I’m saying, in a long winded way, is keep expressing yourself. Your voice is appreciated (by me at least). Just don’t imply I’m a zombie if I don’t agree, okay?

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              • akidd
                March 3, 2012

                nee, thank you for your thoughful reply. i ‘ve read some of your posts this year and i really appreciate you telling me how you feel. let me say that i think that ‘the bulies’ seem like a really nice bunch of people and that i appreciate that this blog is about a lot of other things besides hockey. and it’s not very nice or polite of me to try to analyze other people out loud.

                these are pretty disorienting times for a lot of canuck fans. and a lot of things get said as people try to figure out what just happened. it feels foolish but i know there has definitely been an emotional impact for me from this trade( in a lot ways much more than the SCF loss.) and i’m pretty sure i’m not alone. i won’t even get into how silly this all feels to get so involved in’just hockey’ .

                i think harrison and daniel have put together a great blog and i think a lot of people really enjoy coming here and have grown quite attached to this site. these guys are funny and charming. it makes perfect sense that most comments(and thumbs:) be positive towards them. but they are also talking about some pretty controversial stuff for the hockey world and i guess i’m struck by how there are rarely any comments disagreeing with their hockey perspective.

                i realize there are some newer fans here who are soaking a lot up and look to harrison and daniel for ‘hockey guidance’ .they might not feel comfortable or inclined to start offering up contrary opinions, nor might they be that interested in the debate side of hockey. i totally understand that.

                but in the whirlwind of discombobulation that just blew through things got pretty hectic. it was a heated thrashing out process and when i saw some pretty articulate, intelligent comments getting thumbed way down i was a little perturbed because i felt that the negative response to those comments might not have been a reasoned one. and that started disturbing me more than the trade issue itself.

                i’ve unfortunately had some first-hand experience, happily resolved, with a situation where someone close to me was a victim of coercive persuasion and from that developed for me a renewed appreciation for ‘free will’ i’ve done some reading and thinking about it and it’s a really tricky concept.

                we’re all pioneers in this medium and i feel that harrison and daniel have very good intentions. but i ‘m also feeling the power of their influence as they mix personality with reasoning. of course this kind of thing happens all around us, all the time, in all different aspects of our lives, in ways that affect us much more importantly than our preference of lou or schneider. but it’s still the same principle.

                so i blurted out things like, “true believers” . it really did feel from the huge disparity of thumbs, that didn’t seem to reflect opinion outside of pitb, that some independent thought processes were being compromised. and i bristled.

                i know that pitb isn’t going to start organizing flower-selling trips to the airport. it’s just hockey ,(even though one could contend that hockey talk in canada is really about more than just hockey and it’s also an underground way to communicate other ideas through hockey.) and i certainly don’t want to make anyone feel bad about all the fun they have here. and i certainly didn’t want to offend you, nee. i just want to remind people about’free will’ and ‘independent thought’ because sometimes we forget.

                and harrison and daniel, you two have got a powerful concoction going. you may not have asked for exactly this but that’s what you’ve got. i have no doubt that your success will grow. you’re also two pretty strongly-opinionated guys(as am i) doing some pretty avante-guard crossover stuff here. it’s a delicate balance. and i can imagine it can be hard to throttle back when you’re feeling the love but…please be gentle and wise with your powers.

                i might regret this post in the morning but i’m hitting send anyways. night.

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        • Tengeresz
          March 2, 2012

          You got a cool nickname out of all this. Rejoice!

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        March 2, 2012

        He’s +2, winning faceoffs, and getting scoring chances. And for all of his shortcomings, the Sabres haven’t given up a goal since he’s been on their team, and he’s been on…GASP…the penalty kill.

        Still a Canucks fan first and foremost, but am also a Cody Hodgson fan and the Sabres have gained ground on the “other teams I sort of like” list. Just like I still think Mike Gillis is a good GM, just that he made a mistake.

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  17. mr.mime
    March 2, 2012

    Article write good and make laughs from me

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  18. kavy36
    March 2, 2012

    I watched this game and spent the entire time MAG and Rome were on the ice screaming why isn’t there a defenceman at the point?! At one point one of the Sedins was keeping the puck in. Seriously not the best use of the twins covering for a defenceman who can’t stay in position. Bah. At least the 4th line kept me from popping a blood vessel- they were entertaining and effective. :)

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  19. stathead
    March 2, 2012

    Update- Luongo is NHL third star for his shutout! Sabres goalie Miller is first star with yet another high-count shutout – it’s at least his second time this week as an NHL star for a shutout. Saturday’s game should be intense!

    Funniest clip on the NHL site today is a hipcheck gone horribly wrong: http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=35&id=161584

    If this were Ballard, he might never play again. (Meaning AV might keep him a healthy scratch until retired or traded.)

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  20. Nick
    March 2, 2012

    Harrison, nice to hear a positive take on Mason Raymond.

    He’s streaky, looked very impressive when he returned, almost freakishly like he’d never been away; but for the past couple of weeks he looks like he’s completely drained.

    I’m not surprised, given that last summer, while everyone else was training and getting fit for another marathon season, Raymond was in a back brace and could barely walk.

    I think, if he’s able to rest a bit and “re-charge”, he’ll once again be a more effective player. The tools are there, but he looks exhausted.

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  21. Nick
    March 2, 2012

    One of the truisms of hockey is that having one or two big mean players on a team can lead others to “play big” as well.

    Max Lapierre did last night, and even the Sedins showed some physicality.

    I was surprised to see yesterday in a Sporting News article that the Bruins’ average height and average weight is slightly less than those of the Canucks and several other teams … but the presence of same mean bangers on Boston like Thornton and Lucic sure seems to give other Bruins the courage to play bigger than they are.

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  22. tj
    March 2, 2012

    I feel a need to defend The Scream-ing lady. Roller coasters and Cronenberg make me squeamish, and yet, despite my undoubtedly hilarious visceral reaction, I remain compelled to continue putting myself in the situation. Were someone to give me front row tix to a Canucks game (I’ve got as close as 5th), I’d holler and giggle and Scream too, but damn if anyone’s taking that ticket away from me.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 2, 2012

      You had me at Cronenberg.

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  23. Nick
    March 2, 2012

    Should interesting to see fans’ reactions during the Buffalo game if Kassian should happen to deliver an absolutely crushing hit on Coho.

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  24. anon
    March 2, 2012

    “On one shift, he sprinted back into the play with a string of freshly-bought 50/50 tickets.”
    Funniest line ever!

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  25. Don_Rocko
    March 2, 2012

    The tag ‘Ballard likes to watch’ had me in histrionics. … I’m not very mature.

    Regardless, great read as always.

    I thought the only part of that game that was worth watching was whenever the 4th line stepped on the ice – they were thumping anyone in a white sweater. It defined the term ‘energy shift’.

    The rest was like watching paint dry. The NHL seriously needs to talk to their officials and get the word out that they’re actually going to call penalties (on BOTH teams – I’m no conspiracy theorist) because right now it’s like open season on clutching and grabbing. It was akin to watching the Devils play the Minnesota Wild circa 2003. Come on, guys, at least call the blatant ones – I, for one, actually *like* watching teams score goals.

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  26. Mcallister
    March 2, 2012

    I only lasted through the first before the sleeping monster got me
    How did “Timber” Raymond do in the game? Still falling over?

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