This game was like the spaces favoured by The Dixie Chicks: wide open. There were 77 shots on net between the two teams, with another 43 shots blocked, and 21 missed shots. That’s a grand total of 141 attempted shots or, as the stats nerds would say, 141 Corsi events.
It’s a lot easier to understand now how the Jets were involved in a 9-8 slugfest with the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this season. The only reason this game didn’t devolve into similar silliness was the seriousness of Cory Schneider and Ondrej Pavelec, who combined for 72 saves. That’s still less than 77, which explains why goals were scored. I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 2 Jets
The atmosphere inside Rogers Arena was electric, as Winnipeg Jets fans flooded the arena and filled the air with “Go Jets Go” chants, only to be drowned out shortly after with “Go Canucks Go” chants. Meanwhile, the players on the ice were wondering who the heck the “Cannets” were and how they ended up with such a massive fanbase in Vancouver.
Kesler finished with 11 attempted shots, with 5 hitting the net and 2 hitting the crossbar. Higgins added 9 shot attempts of his own, hitting the net with a team-high 7 of them. Also, David Booth was there. He had an embarrassingly low 5 attempted shots, with only 3 on net. What a disappointment.
Despite dominating early, the Canucks were like a keyboard with no Shift or Caps Lock keys: they just weren’t able to capitalize. A little over halfway through the first, the shots were 15-2 in favour of the good guys, but Pavelec made like Jenny McCarthy and stopped every shot.
At the other end of the ice, Cory “Gingerbricks” Schneider was as solid as ever, and was particularly good during a late first period flurry, stoning Jim Slater like he was a garden path and Schneider was a landscaper.
John Shorthouse brought up an interesting stat during the first period, pointing out that NHL referees are on pace to call 321 fewer hooking and holding penalties than last year. This statistic was shared with him by Jeff Paterson, but I’m willing to bet where he found it, considering I wrote an article pointing that out on Thursday morning. It was a little surreal seeing a statistic I researched and published casually brought up during a television broadcast. It feels weird to be proud of something like that.
Speaking of penalties, I’ve stopped trying to figure out when a penalty will be called. I’m guessing that the referees are just as frustrated as fans, as they have likely been given a wealth of contradicting instructions. The refereeing was questionable for both sides, with numerous holds, hooks, trips, and high sticks that either went undetected or were ignored.
The story of this game was co-written by Albert Camus, as it took a series of absurd events for the Canucks to open the scoring. First, Alex Edler tripped Blake Wheeler on a partial breakaway. The referee absurdly called a 2-minute minor instead of a penalty shot. Then, while Kesler was forechecking on the penalty kill, Tobias Enstrom’s clearing attempt absurdly hit the referee and deflected right to Kesler. To top it off, the reason Kesler’s shot beat Pavelec is that it specifically wasn’t a laserbeam like his shots that hit the crossbar and stayed out. Instead, Enstrom checked Kesler’s stick right as he shot, causing the puck to flutter harmlessly…through Pavelec’s legs.
I have no idea what Zack “Pack Rat” Kassian was trying to do on Kyle Wellwood’s tying goal, but whatever it was, he shouldn’t have done it. Instead of moving to the sideboards to pick up the puck when Sami Salo sent it around the boards, he turned up towards the blue line and collided with Mark Stuart. Meanwhile, Evander Kane easily picked up the puck behind him and threw it on net, where Wellwood showed the touch and finish of Lionel Messi.
When Zack “Crackalackin’” Kassian joined the Canucks, he made an immediate impact, showing that he could fit in on almost any line, providing offensive jump in the top six and gritty physicality in the bottom six. Unfortunately, he provided neither in this game, finishing with no hits and no shots on goal. He had just one more shift after the Wellwood goal, but his mistake there wasn’t solely to blame, as his puck management was more suspect than Keyser Söze, turning over the puck several times in the neutral zone. It’s a good reminder that Zack “Launchpad McQuack” Kassian is still a raw rookie.
Wheeler’s go-ahead goal early in the third is a good example of how free-wheeling this game was: Booth flew down the wing and made a power move towards the net, getting a good backhand scoring chance that Pavelec stopped. Immediately, the Jets were flying the other way and Wheeler took advantage of two mistakes: Edler stumbled and Schneider cheated, expecting a pass. Instead, Wheeler flipped it shortside, which sounds like it should be archaic slang. Yo slim-britches, I heard you flipped it shortside like a proud flapper. Do me solid and dust your plate for cobwebs.
Edler and Wheeler combined for another goal later in the third, with the luck favouring Edler this time. The second line had yet another great shift, culminating in a point shot from Edler that deflected off Wheeler’s arm and bounced past Pavelec. Edler now has goals in back-to-back games and finished minus-1 in both. The contrasting elements of his two-way ability are clearly at war within him and his offensive side is winning.
Mason Raymond almost got murdered late in the third period and Kevin Bieksa was an accomplice, sending a suicide pass to Raymond in the neutral zone. Thankfully, Raymond saw the hit coming at the last second and sidestepped it as it was clearly a kill shot. Mark Stuart had the gun turned sideways and everything.
Only one Canuck was not on the ice for a single shot on goal against: Marc-Andre Gragnani. When he was on the ice, the Jets had zero shots on goal, while the Canucks had 7. He and Chris Tanev, his partner for most of the game, led all Canucks defencemen in Corsi, finishing plus-12. Could it be that they’re like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? MFEO?
The Canucks got fortunate bounces on their first two goals, but the gamewinner was a beauty. Jannik Hansen built up speed through the neutral zone and backed off the defenders as he gained the zone, dropping the puck to Bieksa. Now Bieksa has cajones, as he pulls a toe-drag around Bryan Little’s poke check before setting up Sammy Pahlsson perfectly for the one-timer. If Little gets his stick on that puck, it’s a 2-on-1 the other way with the score tied. Instead, Pahlsson wired it like emergency funds to a vacationing teenager.
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