I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Winnipeg Jets, March 8, 2012

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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54 comments

  1. Old Greg
    March 9, 2012

    FU for making me watch the whole Sleepless in Seattle trailer.

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  2. Canuck In Oz
    March 9, 2012

    You know, before today’s game, I was wondering why the Nucks had been playing so poorly for almost a month. Then I remembered. It’s the Sports Illustrated curse.

    On February 17, Adrian Dater of SI wrote an article about the Canucks.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/adrian_dater/02/17/vancouver.canucks/index.html

    Basically, the summary was that the Canucks had learned their lesson from losing the Cup final, and were ready to make another run. On Feb 18/19, the Canucks got to play Toronto & Edmonton, respectively…and then…well, you know the rest. It wasn’t pretty.

    Suffice it to say, hopefully tonights game blew the dust off whatever was ailing the team and they can start acting like a team that wants to go far in this years’ version of Who Dares Wins.

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    • Zach Morris
      March 9, 2012

      Cool, except there’s no such thing as the SI or the EA Games Cover curse.
      To get on the cover, or into SI, you have to be good. Getting on the cover represents a high point or hot streak that would be impossible to maintain.
      Doing seemingly poorly afterwards is simply a regression to the mean.

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      • John in Marpole
        March 9, 2012

        A sports blog is no place for logic, Zach.

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      • Canuck In Oz
        March 9, 2012

        You’ve got a better explanation, then?

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    • J21
      March 9, 2012

      There’s also the little asterisk that the Canucks have been pretty mediocre and low-scoring through most of the 2012 calendar year, not just since February 17.

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      • warren
        March 9, 2012

        Low Scoring??? Check the stats, when the first line comes back, this will be scary.

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        • J21
          March 9, 2012

          Not sure which stats you’re referring to… in 2012 the Canucks have scored 79 goals in 29 games, for an average of about 2.72. By contrast, in the 2011 part of the season they had 128 goals in 38 games for a total of 3.37. That’s a pretty substantial drop, and I doubt the Canucks are hovering near the top of the league in offense since the New Year… it’s not like the rest of the team has been picking up the slack since the Sedins’ disappearance. This is why they’ve started losing games.

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  3. obituary mambo
    March 9, 2012

    Though there were moments of frustration, I’m glad I watched this game. At one point I was certain Pavelec had made a deal with the devil, as he was making some insane saves. Surely some of those shots should have made it through to the back of the net. However, despite how beautifully the team was playing, they seemed to be racking up ugly goals. How was it possible that all those gorgeous chances were flat out denied while the unsightly ones managed to squeak by? In the end it didn’t matter, as Pahlsson’s game winner was a beauty.

    I was really unnerved by the crowd. Firstly, how were Jets fans able to make so much noise in the Canucks’ building? Shouldn’t they have been drowned out? Secondly, there was one point (during the second penalty, I think) where they sounded as if they were filled with a homicidal rage.

    I’ve come to the realization that it’s better to face teams with Czech forwards and defencemen peppering the roster because when it’s the goalie, you hear the name so repeatedly you want to self harm. Or, at the very least, throw things at the TV.

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    • superreggie
      March 9, 2012

      How did they make so much noise? There’s probably more Winnipegers in Vancouver than in Winnipeg! For the Canucks fans, it was just another game, with a bit of novelty thrown in. Certainly it was that way for the players, no-one on the Canucks had probably ever watched a Canucks/Jets game in the old days. But I’m sure that for the expatriot Winnipegers, this was a really exciting day…

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      • JS Topher
        March 9, 2012

        As an Ex-Pat myself, Ihad a blast watching this game! I cheered for both teams… meaning my team scored 5 times!

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      • obituary mambo
        March 9, 2012

        I wasn’t aware that there were so many native Winnipeggers living in Vancouver. At any rate, it would have been nice if this had felt more like a home game. As I understand it, in the building there was a melding of chants, so it sounded like “Go Cannets Go!” (as stated above, but I’ve heard the same from others who were there). Be that as it may, I didn’t hear it through the TV; Jets came through loud and clear, the Canucks end of it — not so much.

        Any thoughts on what caused the wave of anger in the stadium?

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  4. obituary mambo
    March 9, 2012

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: Go AmEx! It’s nice to see my countrymen put on such an awesome show. Here’s hoping more of those gorgeous chances find their way to the back of the net. Score early and score often, boys. ^__^

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  5. bergberg
    March 9, 2012

    No mention of Tanner Glass in your recap? Was he invisible? Was he busy fighting bears? Did anyone make a sign?

    SO MANY QUESTIONS!!

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    • Chicky
      March 9, 2012

      Oh, there was a sign and a bear and some scrabble and it was THERE baby! :)

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      • Rituro
        March 9, 2012

        Pics or it didn’t happen.

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        • Chicky
          March 10, 2012

          Funny enough, Harrison has one I believe.

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  6. CanuckFanInSF
    March 9, 2012

    Also, no mention of Pavelec’s filthy save with Alex Burrows’ backside screening his face?

    This game is a perfect example as to why Ryan Kesler is the heart and soul of this team. Is it only a matter of time before Kassian goes up to the pressbox in favor of Byron Bitz?

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    • VanFan85
      March 9, 2012

      Kassian is young and is new to the team and right now he probably has a long(ish) leash but I wont expect that to last more than a few games. If he plays poorly lfor a long stretch like he did last night I could definately see Bitz coming into the line-up at some point. Its good to use that depth as motivation. He is a young guy and is still learning, chances are he wont be making those same mistakes for long. AV has patience for young guys if they arent making mistakes he has NO patience for youngs guys who do, it all depends on how coachable Kassian is and how quickly he is willing to learn. I think the Canucks are a better team with Kassian in line-up as long as he is playing smart and not making mistakes.

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    • Nick
      March 9, 2012

      Props to Schneider as well.

      He just keeps getting better and better.

      Roberto is probably expecting to start every playoff game and may be upset if it doesn’t happen … but if he struggles and Cory goes in, he might not get the net back.

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  7. Zach Morris
    March 9, 2012

    Awesome game last night.
    I really like what Kevin Cheveldayoff has done with Jets 2.0; he’s made some shrewd pickups and signed decent players at below market value (Antii Miettinen, Kyle Wellwood) and has enjoyed success (by SE Division standards) with the rabid fans.
    also, is it too late to say that, with Kyle Wellwood and Dustin Byfuglien, it’s no wonder the Jets are in the race: they’re the hungriest team in the NHL?

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  8. peanutflower
    March 9, 2012

    Kesler! Yes! Whatever you did with your skates it worked. This game was a really good example of how the rules have definitely changed according to the refs. Definitely. In a bad way.

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  9. biznow
    March 9, 2012

    Just when I thought “crackalackin” was the runaway winner of the name Kassian sweepstakes, you hit us with “launch pad mcquack”. well played. *slow claps*

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  10. Aderam
    March 9, 2012

    I think that tag needs to be edited slightly: “Kassian doesn’t have enough nicknames.”

    Excellent job as usual guys!

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  11. Phileo99
    March 9, 2012

    dang, I can’t believe you made me google MFEO. Not bad, but I’d be more impressed if you make a reference to badonkadonk in your upcoming IWTG’s. As for Tanev and MAG, why not? This pairing should have happened as soon as the trade was made. One stays at home, while the other is out roaming, one prefers to pass instead of shoot, and the other prefers to shoot instead of pass. Can’t think of a better MFEO pairing.
    And what’s that I saw yesterday? Aaron Rome was a healthy scratch? How blasphemous! Doesn’t AV need 14 more games to figure out what he’s got with Rome?
    Glad to see last year’s Kesler make an appearance at yesterday’s game.

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  12. Cathylu
    March 9, 2012

    Oh yeah! We broke our 2 game losing streak! I liked the game until we were down 1-2 and then I started getting that sick feeling. Glad we kept at it. Congrats to Pahlsson’s for his first Canuck goal. But why oh why did it have to be Wellwood scoring against us!

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  13. Brent
    March 9, 2012

    Good IWTG but also disappointed no mention of Tanner Glass fighting a bear of that Kyle Wellwood was playing like a man possed with a link:

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    • Brent
      March 9, 2012

      Weird how come the link turned into an embedded video? Sorry didn’t mean for it to be so prominent.

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    • Frank N
      March 9, 2012

      AV with the giggles is the BEST!

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  14. J21
    March 9, 2012

    So a new mobile skin. Hm. Looks a little retro and the author’s name doesn’t appear.

    Anyway, if I’m not mistaken, Shorthouse kept pronouncing Ondrej Pavelec ‘s last name as “Pavelek”. For a guy who generally makes an effort to give at least a hint of accuracy to foreign names, this is quite surprising. (C in Czech is a “ts” sound). I know there are some who say Tomas “Plekanek” like he’s a He-Man character, but I thought in his case most had figured it out — why not for Pavelec?

    Wheeler’s go-ahead goal early in the third is a good example of how free-wheeling this game was

    I see what you did there.

    the Jets were flying the other way

    …and there!

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    • superreggie
      March 9, 2012

      I’d like to chime in here and say… I love you guys but… ditch that mobile skin… it’s goddawful…

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    • obituary mambo
      March 9, 2012

      Czech also doesn’t use a soft A, so it was just bad all round. Plus, Pavelec has one of the most awesome sounding first names there is, but every time either of the commentators said it they did so in a way that made it sound no more glamorous than Andre (as in the Giant). For my money Ondřej is a much, much better sounding and far more unique name.

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      • J21
        March 9, 2012

        Well you can’t take any umbrage with them not being able to say “ř”. That doesn’t fit anywhere near English phonetics and I’m pretty sure was inserted into the Czech alphabet by a medieval linguist playing some sort of practical joke. But “Pavelets” wouldn’t exactly be a tongue-twister.

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        • obituary mambo
          March 9, 2012

          You’re right; I suppose I just find it mildly annoying. However, in some words/names ř isn’t all that difficult to pronounce, and this is one of those (admittedly rare) occasions. I’m sure they could pick it up if it were explained to them. Or maybe they could opt for Ondra instead, which is much easier to pronounce and still accurate.

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  15. Ridla
    March 9, 2012

    The ref that deflected the puck to Kesler has been sanctioned by Gary Bettman for failing to conspire against the Canucks. He has been transferred to the tier II Uzbek league.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      March 9, 2012

      I’d say with the missed high-sticks, Kesler being tackled behind the net with no call, and myriad other ridiculous non-calls, they more than made up for it to the Jets.

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  16. John Andress
    March 9, 2012

    Like you, I was amazed at the somewhat eclectic decisions of the referees last night. In post-lockout days gone by a tap on the hip drew a hooking penalty and a little tug on the arm was holding but now full-blooded tackles a la NFL or sticks wrapped around a skaters waist seem to be acceptable. I am not even thinking of the unseen penalties missed. The NHL denies it has instructed officials to relax the calls on hooking, holding and interference as a strategy to slow down the speed the game is played at in response to the number of head injuries incurred this season. That denial may sell in Sunrise, Florida, Raleigh, North Carolina or Phoenix, Arizona but it wont wash here. The evidence is manifest right in front of our eyes. There have been measurably fewer of this type of penalty called this season (323 fewer thus far is the unverified number that I heard and I am sure that most of us have read Mr. Wagner’s most excellent article on this subject some days ago). The odd thing is that the NHL dishonours us as fans. Since we all agree that head injuries are a major issue, if they were to say that that is what they are doing I have no doubt that hockey fans would accept their reasoning even if we didn’t accept their strategy. We would all enthusiastically pile into the debate and search for an answer to the problem that wouldn’t detract from the game which has never been more entertaining than it has been post-lockout. But don’t tell us that we are not seeing what we know we are seeing. We are not (all of us, at any rate) idiots.

    Postscript: I read the following remarks by Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec in a Winnipeg newspaper game report:
    “We did a turnover in their zone and then they come up to our zone and got the middle. It was too late to do something about it. We could have won the game but too many mistakes.” I live in Victoria but I am sure that from here I could have heard the screaming about not accepting responsibility and throwing team-mates under the bus had one Roberto Luongo made these comments.

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    • hockeyispretty
      March 9, 2012

      That’s for sure. Back to that post on perception again…

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  17. the olde coote
    March 9, 2012

    This is a marvellous post
    I love the images the most
    “wired it like emergency funds”
    is a fantastic simile
    but “They spurred each other on like
    (this was better than french toast)
    Annie Oakley and Frank Butler”
    (which is good only if you know
    just how these two went toe to toe)
    truly most appealed to me

    third best i have to say
    “more suspect than Keyser Soze”
    which doesn’t rime with cosy or rosy
    or “a pocket full of posey
    ashes ashes we all found down” eh
    but does serve to explain
    how Zach may prove a greater pain
    than the one we gave away
    of course there’s always this to add
    that marc-andre is not too bad

    “like Jenny McCarthy” is borderline
    unless you mean to educate
    in which case it’s very fine
    and you I won’t incriminate
    for being in perhaps poor taste
    and won’t suggest it be erased
    (in fact the more I think of it
    “stopping every shot” shows a bit
    more than just a little wit)

    i guess by now i’ve diagnosed
    some reasons why i love this post
    and so good times to each and all
    and hope we’re up for Montreal

    cheers
    the olde coot

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  18. superreggie
    March 9, 2012

    I loved that they played “Jet” by Paul McCartney… which further fed the Winnipeg crowd. What a game! Love me some firewagon hockey!

    Is it possible that Henrik still has foot trouble? I’ll take my answer off the air…

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  19. Innovation
    March 9, 2012

    MAG and Tanev, well done gents. The only thing I would mention about those guys is that one of them has to learn how to shoot the puck. It’s like they were playing hot potato with the puck when both were open to shoot. I don’t know if they succumb to complete paranoia of getting a shot blocked and giving up a breakaway, but it was getting a tad ridiculous at times.

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    • Chicky
      March 9, 2012

      Agreed, the excessive passing between them had me yelling at the tube last night that someone needs to learn to lean into a bullet shot at the point if this is going to be the pairing.

      Maybe Salo could give them some pointers. He’s got a lazer.

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    • Karen
      March 9, 2012

      Was at the game last night, and had a pretty good view for the 2nd period. There was a nice stretch where they actually DID figure out how to shoot the puck, although I think only 1 of Tanev’s and none from MAG actually even hit the net. They had Tanev briefly paired with Edler, and then MAG briefly paried with Salo… wonder if AV was hoping for a quick in-game crash course on shooting the puck??

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  20. Kavy36
    March 9, 2012

    Did anyone else notice the reappearance of Kiss Huggins in the middle of that celebratory hug? He looked so happy. Apparently his taste for flesh has finally worn off, and he can accept the embrace of his AmEx linesmates again. And the Canucks broke their losing streak? What more can you ask for in a game?

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  21. VanFan85
    March 9, 2012

    It was great to see the Canucks come out flying last night. The Amex line was in full Beast Mode – Kesler could have had 5 last night. Whatever you ate for breakfast yesterday morning Ryan, keep eating it! Sedins played better, they had some chances and looked dangerous on a couple of possessions in the offensive zone but they still appear snake-bitten though. I havent in a long time seen them fight the puck for this long of a stretch before. Is there a possibility that Hank has an upper body injury? His passes arent as crisp as the have been in the past – a shoulder or wrist problem possibly? It’s not the end of the world with the 2nd and 3rd lines contributing but we will still need them to pitch in and hopefully they can get this sorted out soon. My big question is, how long is Luongo’s leash going to be towards the end of this season and for the playoffs?

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    • bergberg
      March 9, 2012

      Seems to be a fair bit of speculation going on about Hank. If he does have some sort of injury, even if its just “nagging” and not really bothering him, it would be nice to see them rest him so he can be at 100% for the start of the playoffs. More important to have him ready to play then, then it is now.

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      • Nick
        March 9, 2012

        Resting Hank is both sensible and something he’d fight vigorously.

        Remember that this is a guy who willing chose to have his finger tip amputated so that he could stay in a game in Sweden.

        When it comes to playing injured, he has the same heart as Kesler and Bieksa.

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    • J21
      March 9, 2012

      I would bet the farm that there is some sort of injury bothering either or both of them. Fans love to come up with explanations about mystical intangibles like “drive”, “determination”, “coasting”, “Canadian-ness” and other BS, but the reality is that physiology — because of health and fatigue — will have far more effect than any of those sportswriter storylines.

      It’s either purely a statistical fluke that neither is scoring, or they’re hurting.

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  22. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 9, 2012

    I like the stoned like a garden path reference Daniel. You could’ve gone for the far easier “stoned him like he was Jeff Spicoli and Schneider was a freshly packed bowl of BC Bud”, but your way’s better.

    I also wondered it the officials were somehow watching a different game that I was.

    And I have to confess, MAG redeemed himself pretty well last night and I’ve been riding him pretty hard of late. Taking him off the power play, and putting him with Tanev, seems to have worked nicely, I thought that was probably our most steady D-pair last night (albeit against weaker lines). Certainly they’ve earned another game together. I also want to give another shout out to David Booth: seldom does that guy touch the puck without something good happening. Let’s hope AV keeps the AMEX line together for a bit, because they seem more effective without Raymond (who also held his own on the third line last night in terms of puck possession, in my view).

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  23. Tengeresz
    March 9, 2012

    You had me at the Dixie Chicks.
    Sealed the deal with the de-bunkifying link to Jenny McSilly.

    Come for the insightful re-caps and breakdowning
    Stay for the clever pop-culture references
    (to paraphrase a Big Bangerette)

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  24. DanD
    March 9, 2012

    Daniel, you were on fire tonight! Beautiful IWTG!

    That is all.

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  25. bluelinewrister
    March 9, 2012

    That luongo/byfuglien insert is the best thing I’ve ever seen

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    • Nee
      March 9, 2012

      Yeah, the guy that makes those highlights does a great job. He always finds funny little moments to include and adds some cool extras.

      Much better than the NHL highlight package, IMO.

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  26. Nee
    March 9, 2012

    I love you PITB, but let’s just settle on Kassassin as Zack’s nickname and leave it at that.

    Your multiple nicknames in each IWTG are getting increasingly bizarre. Like “Launchpad McQuack”…really Daniel? Hehe. You so crazy.

    Good post as always!

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