I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Columbus Blue Jackets, March 17, 2012

The Columbus Blue Jackets are like Dan from Dan in Real Life (or any other advice columnist from the movies): they can help everyone but themselves. Are your superstars struggling to score? Has it been awhile since your best defenceman wowed everyone? Has your team looked listless for weeks? Well, then you’re in luck, because the Blue Jackets are in town to get your game back on track. They’ll encourage you, set you up to succeed, and even play alongside you, gosh darn it — they want you to do well.

Columbus was exactly what Vancouver needed Saturday night: a beatable opponent. Granted, the Canucks still weren’t perfect, but if there’s one thing you don’t have to be to beat the Blue Jackets, it’s perfect. In the end, the secret to beating Columbus is simply to “score one more goal than them,” as Kevin Bieksa so succinctly put it in the postgame scrum. And that’s what the Canucks did. I watched this game.

Canucks 4 – 3 Blue Jackets

  • You’d have thought that Cory Schneider had ridden into town on a cloud like Jesus (or Goku) by the crowd pop he got when his name was announced as the starter. But, after all that fanfare, he was only okay tonight, allowing 3 goals, all of which were arguably stoppable. Of course, because this is Schneider and not Luongo, the shaky start was chalked up to the fact that he hadn’t started in awhile. A similar performance from Luongo would have been chalked up to the fact that he should never start ever again ever.
  • Sammy Pahlsson saw the bulk of the d-zone starts Saturday, taking 12 faceoffs in his own end and winning 7 of them. Interestingly, Maxim Lapierre only took two defensive zone draws. It looked to me like, with Kassian and Weise making up two-thirds of the fourth line, Alain Vigneault didn’t trust his bottom trio with the same defensive responsibilities they usually get. And, after both Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski scored goals immediately following faceoff wins in the Canucks’ end (one off Kesler and another off Pahlsson), I’d wager that Malhotra will be hurried back into the lineup for Monday.
  • Speaking of lost defensive zone draws, that’s what cost the Blue Jackets on David Booth’s game-tying goal in the first (although Aaron Johnson’s brutal defensive play after Kesler won the draw was definitely a factor). After Alex Edler gained control of the puck, and Chris Higgins tipped his shot through traffic, Booth made like Johann Strauss II and Blue Danube Waltzed past Johnson to the front of the net before promenading the rebound past Steve Mason.
  • Aaron Johnson had 8 blocked shots in this game, and not because he “wanted it more” or he “had more heart” or he “was willing to pay the price” or whatever: it’s because the puck was in his own end most of the night. In his case, 8 was a bad number. If you want a good number from a Johnson, I recommend Strawberry Letter 23.
  • Sprung on a breakaway in the first, Zack Kassian tried to go blocker on Mason but wound up going glove because, unbeknownst to him, Mason catches right. In his defense, he’s probably never seen Mason catch before, and not because he’s new to the Western Conference or he’s a rookie — Mason just doesn’t usually make saves.
  • Not long after Booth scored, Daniel and Henrik combined for a long overdue piece of Wizardous Sedinerie to put the Canucks up 2-1, moving the puck around beautifully on the goal line. Not only did they silence critics claiming they didn’t have it anymore; they silenced critics claiming Mason Raymond would hamper their line. On the goal, they showed they could produce regardless of who the third forward was. To prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt, they used Brett Lebda.
  • Speaking of Raymond, clearly, whatever’s ailing him is contagious, because early in the second period, Daniel Sedin overskated the puck on a scoring chance, then fell down. Raymond was immediately quarantined by Morgan Freeman and Dustin Hoffman before the virus could spread any further.
  • Okay, we should lay off Raymond. Yes, he fell down a few more times Saturday, but he had 8 shot attempts, the most among forwards on either team, and only one fewer than Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler’s game-high of 9. Still, despite the multiplicity of opportunities, the dude can’t catch a break. Right after James Wisniewski’s goal, Raymond had quick two scoring chances. He couldn’t get either on net, and after the whistle blew, his body language told the story: his shoulders were in a slump.
  • After Jack Johnson’s shot went off Ryan Kesler, Kevin Weekes and Mark Lee spent an absurd amount of time trying to figure out what part of Kesler the puck hit. I’ve never seen Kesler’s body examined so thoroughly. Oh wait. Yes I have.
  • Speaking of creepy ogling, Wizardous Sedinerie wasn’t the only big return Saturday: we also saw the return Chris Higgins’s abs-traordinary abs. The cameras caught the undershirt-spurning forward adjusting his equipment (not a euphemism) behind the Sedins at the bench. With an assist and a Twitter-exploding ab shot, Higgins finished a goal short of the Chris Higgins hat trick.
  • Alex Edler’s end-to-end rush sure was lovely, huh? Granted, most NHL defences will force a streaking defenceman to make, like, at least one move (Edler looked like a rod hockey centre with that straight track), but still, he showed some nice speed on this play. After taking the puck from Cory Schneider in his own end, Edler morphed into Bobby Orr, going coast-to-coast for the goal. Not since Alex Mack have I seen an Alex morph so fluidly.
  • The new powerplay formation, with Kesler at the point and Alex Burrows down low, produced two goals tonight, giving the Canucks 4 powerplay goals in their last 2 games and bumping their success rate back to an NHL-best 21.6%. One thing I like about this group is that it allows Burrows to do what he does best: free pucks for the Sedins. No one frees pucks like Burrows. He’s like Aladdin, but for pucks.
  • For instance, Burrows didn’t get an assist on Daniel Sedin’s second and eventual game-winning goal, but he made the play when he jumped in front of Henrik to poke the puck up the wall to Alex Edler. From there, Edler moved it to Henrik, who attempted a slap-pass with Daniel. It didn’t get through, but the puck came off the skate of the redundantly-named Nikita Nikitin and back to Daniel, who tucked it in like Buffalo Bill.
  • I like Bieksa, and I like Edler, but I don’t like the Bikesa-Edler pairing. I just don’t like it. Make it stop.
  • And finally, I thought Chris Tanev had a great game Saturday. Yes, he made a brutal turnover to Ryan Russell in the third, one of the few times I’ve seen him screw up an outlet pass, but he was jumping into rushes, making smart feeds, and doing a lot to move the play in the right direction. Tanev has grown exponentially even since the Canucks brought him up for this most recent stint, and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Considering he grew nearly a foot in one summer, freakish growth is sort of his thing.
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67 comments

  1. JohnScott
    March 18, 2012

    First!
    I don’t sleep until I read I Watched This Game on Game Days.

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    Rating: +11 (from 13 votes)
    • A Blueliner
      March 18, 2012

      SAME!

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    • Andre
      March 18, 2012

      And I want Harrison’s babies too!

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 18, 2012

        ……….

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      • Brent
        March 18, 2012

        Are you sure…… after seeing the video? Perhaps that gene pool needs to be curtailed?

        PLUS This IS NOT going to make his wife very happy.

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        Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  2. Ginger
    March 18, 2012

    I watched this game with a room full of.. um.. people under the influence of St. Patty’s Day and we had a great time predicting Raymond’s next fall. We were all pretty accurate too. That said, I really wish he’d get his confidence back because he can score important goals, and he did have a couple of really nice take aways.
    CBC After Hours showed the picture of Higgins’ abs, and also showed a video of him working out during a past summer. Shirtless. Being a female I fully enjoyed that sequence, although I’m not sure poor Chris did. If this is what zombies look like I’m not as worried about an epidemic.

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    Rating: +39 (from 39 votes)
  3. By-Tor
    March 18, 2012

    David Booth sure said “you know” a lot in his interview today. Is Scott Oake expected to know everything now?

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    Rating: +6 (from 8 votes)
  4. invisibleairwaves
    March 18, 2012

    Sedin shift #LikeALebda
    Parked in front #LikeALebda
    Passed to Henrik #LikeALebda
    Minus one #LikeALebda

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  5. grumpiest
    March 18, 2012

    I have just listened to the entire Blue Danube Waltz (11:02) and discovered that I like 3/4 time.

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  6. Nick
    March 18, 2012

    Schneider whiffed on the first goal, true enough.

    But one of the replays of the second goal showed how pronounced the angle of deflection of the puck off Kessler’s skate was, and how tough a save that would have been.

    Schneider deserves better than to say he let in three stoppable goals.

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    • Steven Ray Orr
      March 18, 2012

      Schneider let in two stoppable goals.

      Happy now? ;)

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    • akidd
      March 18, 2012

      i’ll say schneider deserves better. that whole paragraph was wowsers imo. schneider gets another win(yawn) to go to 16-6-3 and that’s all the love he gets. there might be a reason schneider is a fan favorite(those unfair fans)…he’s barely lost since he got here.

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    • hockeyispretty
      March 18, 2012

      Any goal that Schneider lets in is, by definition, unstoppable. (That should keep them quiet for awhile…)

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    • John Andress
      March 18, 2012

      I think the point is that Roberto Luongo would have been crucified for letting in any of those goals proving, once again, that perception rather than reality drives the response of fans (and media as well) to any particular player. I like the old line that if Roberto Luongo walked across the water in English Bay the headline would read”Luongo Can’t Swim.”

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      • John in Marpole
        March 18, 2012

        Dunno, even a pro-Schneids guy such as myself would cut Luongo slack on the goal where the puck moved 3 feet off its original trajectory after hitting Kesler.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          March 18, 2012

          I said “arguably” stoppable. Personally, I wouldn’t fault him on any of them, even the one that squeaked through, since it came on a point blank chance. Defenders aren’t supposed to allow those.

          But Luongo would have been crucified for this game. Because it was Schneider, however, suddenly everyone considers the context of the shots and cuts him some slack. It just makes me chuckle how any criticism of Schneider draws such ardent defenders, then everyone claims they’re being objective about Luongo.

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        • John Andress
          March 18, 2012

          I have lost count of the number of goals scored against Luongo in which the defense acted like the Keystone Cops or the puck took some miraculously eccentric bounce or change of direction only to hear Roberto vilified in the press and by the fans. He is clearly not being cut the same slack as Schneider to the point of unfairness. I am pro-Schneider as well. I am also pro-Luongo. I believe that we have the best goalie tandem in the league and I just do not understand why we have to denigrate one if we are going to support the other. They are both great goalies and we are going to need them both if we are finally going to achieve Cup glory. Being an elderly gentleman this is my fondest wish. Time is running out.

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        • akidd
          March 18, 2012

          a bullet with a ‘coho clang’ off the post and in might get a bit of slack too. those are some subjective fans, huh. it makes me chuckle too. amazing how they can appreciate a guy who’s now 32-10-6 in the last two years. and still hold a grudge against a guy who’s melted down in 3 consecutive playoffs. those fans are just off their rockers for forming opinions like that.

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          • Steven Ray Orr
            March 18, 2012

            All together with me, children, “Luongo is not responsible for the results of the Stanley Cup Finals”.

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            • John Andress
              March 18, 2012

              No, he is, really. He didn’t score anywhere near as many goals as we needed. I mean, come on. What do we pay him all that money for? For those of you who are ironically challenged. I am being facetious and my point is that Roberto Luongo did not lose the Stanley Cup Finals, but, in the end, the two shut outs that he backstopped the Canucks to in the series just weren’t enough. The Canucks lost the series. The whole team. The Canucks scored only two goals in total in games six and seven, in both of which they had the opportunity to win the series. So, yes, the 9 goals that Luongo gave up in those games hurt but the miserly 2 goals the team scored hurt just as much. He was not on the ice alone. He was part of the problem but he was not the whole problem, If you can take off the blinkers long enough to let a little reality shine onto your preconceptions and hobby horses, you might just catch a passing glimpse of the truth of the matter.

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              • Steven Ray Orr
                March 19, 2012

                Yes. This. A thousand times.

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    • Canuck In Oz
      March 18, 2012

      When are people going to learn to spell Kesler correctly?

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      • hockeyispretty
        March 18, 2012

        I know, right? It’s easy: K-E-S-S-er…-A-W-E-S-O-M… man, I keep getting mixed up.

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    • J21
      March 19, 2012

      This was definitely not one of Schneider’s better games, but considering the guy has been incredible in the overwhelming majority of his starts, I think the effect of the lag is a perfectly reasonable thing to point out — the one time this season he got to run with the puck he was positively dominant. To limit his starts when he has played incredibly this season — and I think most anyone without an axe to grind would conclude that he has been the better of the two this year, if only by a slight margin — is probably not the greatest use of resources at the Canucks’ disposal.

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  7. akidd
    March 18, 2012

    but nice to see some props for tanev, another guy who’s ‘done no wrong’ since he got here. top four sooner than we think.

    but i don’t see his growth as a surprise. if you’re looking for zombies on the team i’d check into tanev just from the cold blood angle. from his first game with the canucks he never looked like a rookie. an even plus/minus in the playoffs. if it weren’t for his two-way contract and gillis’ depth strategy he never would have left the team.

    like you say, he’s getting better and better. he could always pass and think and now he’s skating more too, learning the rush. that was a weird giveaway though. that he might be on the take was all i could come up with for an explanation.

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    • hockeyispretty
      March 18, 2012

      Tanev is not a zombie. He’s an android. Minor glitch on the giveaway.

      Mark Lee might be a zombie, considering his sleepwalky style of commentating. I finally muted CBC after the first period and put on Team 1040 where they at least sounded like they were happy to be watching a hockey game.

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    • hockeyispretty
      March 18, 2012

      As for Kevin Weekes, I couldn’t decide if he’s a Stepford wife or a happy, happy zombie, like a Care Bear only undead. But he didn’t know that Edler and Bieksa as a defense pairing is an abomination, instead misidentifying it as one of our core pairings. I do not forgive.

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      • MelT
        March 18, 2012

        Also Weekes seemed surprised that Kesler and Umberger didn’t like each other! Isn’t that a feud of Hatfield/McCoy proportions?

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        • J21
          March 19, 2012

          I think they claim to have buried the hatchet as of a few years ago.

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  8. hockeyispretty
    March 18, 2012

    “On the goal, they showed they could produce regardless of who the third forward was. To prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt, they used Brett Lebda.” Burn…

    “Of course, because this is Schneider and not Luongo, the shaky start was chalked up to the fact that he hadn’t started in awhile. A similar performance from Luongo would have been chalked up to the fact that he should never start ever again ever.”

    Bwa ha ha ha! Sunday begins well. I’m going to go laugh for awhile in the shower and over coffee now.

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    • Andre
      March 18, 2012

      Raising the bar for analysis and humour, the prescribed antidote to Don Cherry.

      P.S. You folks wouldn’t be from that cynical generation X, Y, or Z, would you?

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  9. obituary mambo
    March 18, 2012

    This was a fantastic IWTG, and the game wasn’t bad either. I’m so delirious with the win I can barely think straight.

    The Chris Higgins interview on After Hours was a treat as well. Such a humble, down-to-earth guy. The love and respect he feels for this family is admirable as is the pride he takes in coming from a blue-collar background. And I absolutely love the fact that they dwelt on his abs for as long as they did, the fact that he was such a good sport about it and his little dig at Kes. “I’ll take his word for it.” Swoon.

    I love this team.

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  10. shoes
    March 18, 2012

    Not a great game, but flashes of the ole Nucks shone through and they WILL be ready for the playoffs. This team is going through a non-confident period at present, but they know what it takes and have the team leadership.

    It always amazes me that this team gets labeled arrogant in the national media. Where on earth does that come from and please just name one player that sounds arrogant. hard to get more humble than this bunch and those that aren’t totally perfect in humble are totally perfect in humour. Go Canucks Go!

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    • hockeyispretty
      March 18, 2012

      That’s true- how about Burrows’ quick interview with Oakes? You can put that guy anywhere and he never gives a gleam of impatience or worry over demotion. He just carries on scoring and wants the team to win.

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  11. peanutflower
    March 18, 2012

    I’m just not going to jump on the Schneider is the next coming bandwagon. He’s a good goalie, yes, but he gave up some big rebounds, his puck handling, while getting better, is pretty awful, and his numbers just aren’t enough better than Luongo’s to make me say that Schneider should replace Luongo. Schneider hasn’t played enough games to give the job to so I’m going to remain a Luongo supporter. Luongo is the man. Games that he has done badly in the team in front of him has played just as badly if not worse. As a long time fan I’m just not going to throw Luongo under the bus. I think he has what it takes and I’m going to cheer for him all the way. So there.

    I thought parts of this game were okay but really, Columbus is the worst team in the league, aren’t they, so I thought the Canucks could win in a more convincing fashion. I’m sure AV’s juggling of the defensive pairings probably contributed to the moments of cluelessness and the Sedins were certainly given more room, but it wasn’t a “convincing” win I didn’t think.

    I forgot the game was on HNIC so I PVRd it and started watching later, which I immediately regretted as I had to listen to Lee and Weekes for the whole game. If you just listen to Lee and don’t watch he’s really a bad monotone announcer. Weekes tries way too hard to be cool and come up with nifty remarks — Coast to Coast, butter on the toast — I mean, really? “They’re just toying with the Blue Jackets” — well, in that shift I did agree with Lee, I must admit.

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    • peanutflower
      March 18, 2012

      Yes, that is a pretty negative post, as I just read it. I’m trying to balance off all of the positivity from earlier posts :)

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      • khr
        March 18, 2012

        I think you have to take off the blinders and see that Schneider has been REALLY good since being here and recognize that Luongo’s best days are behind him. Not only are Schneider’s stats better, but he’s doing this after sitting for long periods of time.

        Although I like Luongo, his past performances aren’t enough to sway me that he automatically needs to be the starter. I think you have to go with the goalie who is playing the best at the time.

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        • Steven Ray Orr
          March 18, 2012

          Luongo’s best days are behind him, eh? Mind pulling out your crystal ball and telling me what the winning 6-49 numbers are for next week?

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          • khr
            March 19, 2012

            Nice picture. Forgive me if I don’t take your comments about sports seriously.

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            • Steven Ray Orr
              March 19, 2012

              Yeah, people who have fun certainly have no place talking about hockey. I’ll learn my place and start leaving it to the manly men.

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    • MelT
      March 18, 2012

      I loved “coast to coast, butter on the toast,” but then I was a little hungry at the time…

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    • John Andress
      March 18, 2012

      Totally agree in respect of Luongo. That is not to say that I don’t like Schneider or think that Luongo is necessarily a better goalie. It just means that Roberto’s long list of accomplishments earn him the nod over Schneider who has just over one aggregate season of NHL hockey on his resume. Schneider is going to be great. Luongo is great. Aren’t we lucky to have them both?

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      • peanutflower
        March 18, 2012

        Yes, we are.

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        • Steven Ray Orr
          March 18, 2012

          Here here.

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    • hockeyispretty
      March 18, 2012

      Agreed – except I know that Mark Lee can do better! I’ve heard him being very excited and animated at the first Nugent-Hopkins game. He just doesn’t plug in for these regular games, I think, or else only gets excited over specific players or something. It’s so aggravating to watch such exciting things happening and him commentating as though it’s golf.

      He should be made to watch a few games with Hockey Night in Punjabi commentary. Those guys sound tremendously excited the whole time even if it’s a 0-0 stalemate that goes to shootout.

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  12. sarah
    March 18, 2012

    As pretty much all your female readers have and will point out, Higgins was one of the After Hours guests. Obviously watching a clip of him working out shirtless was an enjoyable way to revel in my St. Paddy’s buzz, but the blatant sexual harassment he received from Scott Oake was super uncomfortable. I was almost tempted to tweet in a actual hockey question. Almost.

    I didn’t just watch the Higgins interview, also IWTG…I don’t know when I have ever sighed with such relief as I did at the return of the Wizarding Sedinary. It’s been missed.

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  13. Cathylu
    March 18, 2012

    It’s sorta sad that we’re so excited and grateful to defeat the NHL’s last place team. But don’t get me wrong; I’m also very happy for the win. Especially since for a while we were the team that liked to help the unfortunates. Hopefully this will kick start our guys and they’ll tear it up on the road trip. I must say Eddie’s goal was fabulous! And an assist for Scneids! I also agree with several of the commenters – listening to the CBC play-by-play is torture. We also are going to listen to Shorty next time (even though it’s a pain to try and sync it up with the TV).

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  14. jenny wren
    March 18, 2012

    After Cory let a soft one in
    As if to show that he can too
    Misjudge a puck like Bobby Lu
    Or others of their goalie kin
    The Blue and Green went on to win

    The power play was two for three
    And Dank scored twice before the end
    With two assists Hank’s on the mend
    Weise wants to stay as one could see
    And Tanev too we can agree

    With plaudits to the Amex line
    And Edler’s rushing coast to coast
    To score the goal fans loved the most
    But what struck me as truly fine
    Luongo’s smile was just divine

    He was so joyful Cory won
    Of controversy there is none

    Jenny Wren

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  15. Alison
    March 18, 2012

    I agree that watching a game with the HNIC gang is painful. At least the commentators were complimentary to the Canucks, albeit clueless. I was surprised at Kelly Hrudey’s negativity after the game. He’s usually the one bright light for me along with Elliott Maybe Ron MacLean has some dirt on him and he was blackmailed to take the heat off his usual hate rants. MacLean looked like the cat that ate the canary. It was kind of surreal or was it just my St Patty’s fog? Great IWTG as always.

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  16. Julia
    March 18, 2012

    “Not since Alex Mack have I seen an Alex morph so fluidly.”

    Nice one.

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  17. bob
    March 18, 2012

    In other news, Rick Nash was caught in the Canucks eqipment room sewing his name on a vancouver sweater in hopes that Columbus would leave him behind

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  18. Nick
    March 18, 2012

    I didn’t miss Gragnani last night.

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  19. piker
    March 18, 2012

    The Whitecaps game was better…

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    • bob
      March 18, 2012

      only because it was basically watching 22 guys trying to play soccer on a slip n slide

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  20. Nee
    March 18, 2012

    Speaking of Macs, remember “Mac and Me”?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdvO0tmNjGo

    Worst movie of all time. OF ALL TIME!

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  21. TubaNat
    March 18, 2012

    Fun game, but the commentary was woeful. At one point Lee listed the shots and blocked shots, following which Weekes piped in with his ‘and also, and listed the exact same stats. I could practically hear Lee saying off mike ‘seriously dude, I literally just said that’

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    • The Bookie
      March 18, 2012

      ahh, that’s what it was! i was racking my brain today trying to remember which Lee/Weeks moment literally both me and my roommate facepalm, and there you go.

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  22. Josh
    March 18, 2012

    Absolutely loved the Alex mack reference. I’d totally forgotten about that show. She was a babe back in the day!…. That’s not creepy, I’m probably younger, and at the very least the same age as that actor….

    Oh yeah, and hockey and stuff.

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  23. Josh
    March 18, 2012

    Did some research.. She’s 8 years older than I am. And she’s not so much of a babe anymore… Oh well, what can you do..

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  24. Rob
    March 18, 2012

    Did anyone watch the Flyers and Penguins this morning? Now that was a hockey game.

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  25. hockeyispretty
    March 18, 2012

    Nowhere else to post this really, but it’s funny: that cute dancing kid Jack is on the Canucks home page with the following bizarre caption: “Jack’s back.
    It’s not a weakness, self-inflicted, or a result of not trying. Don’t stay silent.”

    I had no idea what this could mean with respect to his dancing around at a game, then realized it’s been scrambled with the campaign for that Mindcheck depression awareness. :D

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    • The Bookie
      March 18, 2012

      Yeah well, too much dancing at gunpoint tends to make kids depressed.

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  26. hockeyispretty
    March 18, 2012

    Am just watching the game highlights.

    It’s marked with the CBC logo, but the announcers are not Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes!
    http://video.canucks.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=6&id=165705&intcmpid=van-game-post-highlights-v

    What is going on with that? Surely CBC doesn’t have different sets of announcers for the same game broadcast in different regions.

    I think it actually sounds like Shorty and colleague of cheese fame. Does the Canucks web site overlay own team’s announcers over video clips after the game? Or is it possible to get that feed somewhere? (Please, please…)

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    • bob
      March 18, 2012

      they usually overlay it with the TEAM1040 radio coverage

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      • hockeyispretty
        March 19, 2012

        Nice. After the Boston game they had a few clips with the Boston commentators, and though it’s not exactly what you want to hear, it’s tolerable in the event of a win.

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  27. peanutflower
    March 19, 2012

    Coast to coast AND butter on the toast. And then the clip cuts out before Dorsett says F-me. Hilarious. Edler even got a fist bump at the bench.

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  28. yobbei
    March 19, 2012

    “He is like Aladdin, but for pucks”

    I LOL’d at that…

    Thank you for another great PITB

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