The Canucks were bad Tuesday night, and not the Michael Jackson kind of Bad, which is good. Rather, they were the Colour Me Badd kind of bad, which is so bad it transcends regular badness and bleeds over into “baddness.” (My wife: do they really spell it with two Ds? Oh, that’s bad. No, honey. It’s badd.)
Versus the Stars, the Canucks were badd. They flubbed passes, left massive defensive gaps, squandered powerplays, and generated next to nothing at even-strength. To make matters worse, they were rewarded zero points for their efforts, which, while an appropriate reward for zero effort, marks the second consecutive game they’ve walked away with nothing. It was the first time they’ve suffered back-to-back regulation losses since November 4th. I remember that game. I watched it. Also, I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 5 Stars
Like the web of a bipolar spider, the fact that the Canucks have gone four months since losing two straight in regulation can be spun either positively or negatively. It’s good, in the sense that it shows how consistent the team has been this year. But it’s bad, in the sense that the two-game losing stretch in November (Wild, Blues) featured some of the worst hockey the Canucks have played all year, and the team has returned to this. Everybody knows the only reason to go back in time is to ensure your parents fall in love so that you continue to exist (or to give Chuck Berry the idea for rock and roll), so this jaunt into the past is completely unnecessary.
On the Canucks’ first shift, Zack “Kasstrol GTX” Kassian burned in behind Mark Fistric for a breakaway. When Fistric grabbed ahold of Zack “Kass in the Cradle” Kassian’s stick, the referee signaled a penalty shot, and we had some good early drama. Unfortunately, the young forward seemed to take his fortune for granted, like a rich reality star, and Zack “Kardashian” Kassian flubbed the opportunity.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the last we heard of Kassian as an offensive threat. The winger finished with zero shots on goal and zero hits — he was a nonentity. On the bright side, so was everyone else, so at least we know he’s fitting in.
Speaking of brightness, perhaps the lone bright spot was Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins, who had a goal and an assist and was on top of his game like Klaus Teuber standing on a map of Catan. Higgins opened the scoring midway through the second, after Jannik Hansen and Sammy Pahlsson forced a turnover in the neutral zone. The sudden transition caught Alex Goligoski unawares and caused the Stars’ defender to stumble while trying to turn back, and Higgins blew by him, then fired the puck past goaltender Richard Bachman to give the Canucks the lead. I’d say it was a stoppable shot, and not just because Bachman could see it all the way. Also, he’s made of solid matter, so the puck wouldn’t have gotten past him if he had been able to put his body where it was.
Unfortunately, the Canucks responded to Higgins’s goal by falling completely asleep. After surrendering a cheesy powerplay goal off a skate to tie the game, they allowed two 2-on-1s in the game’s final minute, the second of which resulted in Mike Ribeiro picking the top corner like that’s where the boogers were.
The best performance from a Vancouverite this evening came courtesy of Jack the dancing boy, who put more heart and soul into an LMFAO-scored TV timeout than the Canucks did all game. Amazingly, this kid didn’t energize the Canucks at all, which is a complete waste. Clearly, no inspiring youngster would have gotten through to them on this night. Not even the “if you believe in yourself, you will know how to ride a bike” kid.
Ryan Kesler was particularly grumpy tonight. If his three minor penalties weren’t a giveaway, his foul mood was especially noticeable when he collected the first one during a second period powerplay. After Richard Bachman froze the puck, Kesler took a whack at it, only to incite the ire of every Star on the ice. As the officials broke it up, he said some nasty words to Mark Fistric — words that looked, to my mind, to be along the lines of what Tanner Glass recently said needs to stop. Not cool, Kesler.
Here’s a fun thing to do: watch for the tweets from the Vancouver media every time Sammy Pahlsson makes a minor defensive error. He wasn’t good tonight, but his iffy coverage was consistently getting singled out. Clearly, some are skeptical of Pahlsson’s highly-touted defensive abilities and looking for evidence to the contrary. This is going to be a fun storyline to follow. Pahlsson may be the the only player on the team whose defence will be scrutinized as closely as offence.
Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, he also made the best save in this game, robbing former Blackhawk Adam Burish early in the third. Of course, when the Community Man saw that Burish had been robbed, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
John Garrett, after Alex Edler’s fluky goal that almost got the Canucks back in it: “A taller goalie, that hits him in the shoulder.” Considering every NHL colour commentator used to be an undersized backup goaltender, I feel like throwing short backups under the bus has to be the broadcasting equivalent of snitching.
But John and John’s best/worst moment came in the first when Shorty told Garrett what CONCACAF stood for, then undermined any newly-gained acronym cred (it’s a thing) by admitting to Googling it. So if you were wondering why Shorty and Garrett often seem about as to have nothing to say about the game, it’s because their prepwork is mainly based on a completely different sport.
The Canucks might have been able to make a late push, but the game was put out of reach after Mike Ribeiro’s second goal made it 4-2. After Dan Hamhuis got caught too low, Daniel Sedin covered for him as the Stars broke back up the ice. Things might have been fine, but, for whatever reason, Daniel took “cover Dan Hamhuis” to mean “Do a Dan Hamhuis impression,” and attempted a poorly-timed hipcheck. Michael Ryder slipped by it easily and set Ribeiro up for the goal. On the bright side, Daniel’s turn as a hipcheck-happy but shaky defender was a nice Easter Egg for Keith Ballard fans.
Sadly, this was the most noticeable play by a Sedin on the night. Watching them go through this scoring slump is like watching Dan Radcliffe in anything besides Harry Potter. The whole time I’m just thinking, more wizardry, please.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]