I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, March 19, 2012

Let us take heart. Tonight was not the worst Vancouver Canucks/Minnesota Wild game ever played. Admittedly, that’s like saying, “This isn’t the most awful Land Before Time sequel ever” or “I’ve seen worse Star Wars prequels,” but still, it’s a little perspective.

So there’s your silver lining, Canuck fans: as low as the entertainment value at the Xcel Energy Center was this evening, as much as this game was to the soul as Coke is to a molar, it could have been far worse: this game could have featured both Ducky the Dinosaur and Jar Jar Binks. Thankfully, it had neither, a fact with which I consoled myself while I watched this game.

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Breakdowning Alex Edler’s end-to-end goal versus the Columbus Blue Jackets

Most of the time, we use the “Breakdowning” feature to unpack busy goals. Back in December, for instance, we broke down two Sedin goals versus the Minnesota Wild. Both featured a great deal of movement and, eventually, a tiny defensive error on which the twins were able to capitalize. We also looked at a powerplay goal versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. In it, the Leafs’ penalty-kill unit made an error, and the Canucks were able to pull off a complex scoring play as a result.

Alex Edler’s end-to-end rush Saturday versus the Columbus Blue Jackets was hardly complex. Basically, the Swedish blueliner just skated straight up the middle of the ice.

And no one stopped him. If you’re wondering how this goal happened, let me make it very clear: typically, a skater isn’t allowed to do that. But Edler was, and thus we break down exactly what allowed Alex Edler to go coast-to-coast like Space Ghost on the Columbus penalty kill.

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What happened to the old Mason Raymond?

Mason Raymond has been a target for criticism for the vast majority of the season and it’s easy to understand why. The speedy winger has just 8 goals and 8 assists in 46 games and has been noticeably prone to losing his edge and falling to the ice. He’s survived a broken back, but it’s unknown if he’ll survive the displeasure of Vancouver hockey fans.
His recent promotion to the first line with the Sedins made sense on closer inspection, but that didn’t stop Canucks fans from freaking right out and calling for Vigneault’s head. Fortunately, the Canucks organization installed a statue of Roger Neilson in front of Rogers Arena and not a guillotine, or things could have gotten ugly.

I’ve been quick to defend Mason Raymond this season, pointing out that his deficiencies frequently mask his proficiencies. After all, Raymond was often criticized last season for his lack of production, but his underlying numbers were still strong, indicating that he was still a useful player whose efforts were under-appreciated. It was easy enough for me to assume that the same was the case this year, that Raymond’s lack of offensive production was making him an easy, and undeserved, target of criticism.

I was wrong.

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Video: Chris Higgins talks staph infections, Amex line, abs on After Hours

Chris Higgins was the guest on Hockey Night in Canada After Hours Saturday, marking the third consecutive week that a Canuck has occupied the chair to Scott Oake’s right. March has already given us interviews with Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa, and Higgins’s turn in Oake’s awkward hot seat falls somewhere between the two, neither as wacky as Bieksa’s mug-and-quip-fest, nor as dry as the Hamhuis interview.

For the most part, the talk covers ground with which the majority of Canuck fans should already be familiar: Higgins’s service family, which includes his police officer brother and his firefighter father, the American Express line being good, and Higgins’s staph infection and subsequent struggles last January. But do not dismay, Canuck fans, because if there’s one thing that sets 10 minutes with Scott Oake apart from your standard hockey interview, it’s that Oake asks the questions you’re typically not supposed to ask. In this case, that means Higgins’s After Hours clip features a solid five minutes on his crazy abs.

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