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.

Canucks 0 – 2 Wild

  • A word on tonight’s loss and the the mass panic it has incited: don’t waste your breath, because the Canucks’ unwillingness to waste their breath prior to the playoffs is large part of why it happened. This team honestly doesn’t care about finishing first — they’re just trying to finish the schedule healthy. If anyone got chewed out in the locker room for tonight’s performance, it was Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa for blocking three potentially injurious shots apiece.
  • The Wild scored the only meaningful goal in this game on a powerplay, and it’s worth taking a look at how they got it it. During a line change, Dany Heatley slashed and then cross-checked Daniel Sedin at the bench, instigating a brief scuffle during which Daniel swung back before Alex Burrows and Kevin Bieksa stepped in to defend him. Burrows was plucked from the scrum and sent to the box, and the Wild scored on the powerplay. Now, if the Canucks don’t retaliate in this instance, this game goes scoreless into the second period. But they did, and thus surrendered the game-winning goal. Please consider this the next time you claim the team can’t win unless they show teams they can’t go after the Sedins.
  • A lot of people on Twitter blamed the referee giving Burrows the only penalty, but that’s sort of the risk you run when you enter a post-whistle scrum, no? It’s hockey’s equivalent of sitting in the splash zone at SeaWorld.
  • Speaking of putting oneself at risk, spotting the Wild a one-goal lead heading into the second period is equivalent to being blonde and running back into the house in a horror movie: it’s the worst thing you can do. Inevitably, Minnesota did what they always do with a one-goal lead — they made like the Animaniacs and said ‘Hello, nurse.’
  • Far more entertaining than this game were Wild beat reporter Mike Russo’s generously slanted live tweets regarding it. “Sedin tries to spear [Heatley] in the face,” Russo wrote about the altercation between the two, followed by a second tweet in which the attempted spear to the face was upgraded to an attempted “slash to Heatley’s face”, then a third tweet in which it was a “blade to the eye“. Replays show it was an weakly attempted slash to Heatley’s midsection on the backhand. But hey, if I had to cover the Minnesota Wild, hockey’s equivalent of watching paint dry (but with much more garish colour combinations), I might be prone to fits of dramatic exaggeration as well.
  • Meanwhile, in local homerism, I’m assuming everyone else noticed that Sportsnet’s “Iron Man streak” graphic featured an appearance from Dr. Mark Recchi. Really funny — for a hockey blog. Not so much for a broadcaster. With that, I believe we officially forfeited our right to call another town’s media biased. But that’s okay. Who needs rights after the Patriot Act?
  • While I’m ragging on Sportsnet, do their “starting lineup” graphics really need to take up the entire screen? They couldn’t share that info via ticker or something? It really has to be the televised equivalent of sitting behind a man in a stovepipe hat?
  • There’s really no excusing Ryan Kesler’s clip on Cal Clutterbuck, but before anyone says otherwise, it was nowhere near Marchand on Salo, a hit everyone continues to misunderstand. The suspension was largely because it was the dreaded combo of premeditated and injurious, not simply because it was a clip. Still, what Kesler did was needless and dangerous clip. You could argue that he was reacting to avoid a player that takes runs (a defence certainly holds more water with Clutterbuck than with Salo coming in), but Kesler was the one approaching with speed. Frankly, it looked to me like a bone-headed play that warrants some kind of supplemental discipline. I’d wager a fine, but I don’t think the Canucks will mind all that much if it’s a one-game suspension, since it will force him to sit out a game.
  • Matt Kassian was the most visible Kassian tonight, followed by the city in Azerbijan. Then Zack.
  • Nonsensical call of the night: Jannik Hansen’s goalie interference penalty, which, like a trip to visit George Bluth in prison, featured no touching.
  • While we’re on the reffing, I understand that there were only 10 seconds remaining in the game and everyone wanted out of this house of wax, but there’s no excuse for not calling Jared Spurgeon’s corkscrew scissor takedown on Henrik Sedin at the side of the Wild goal. It was a blatant trip and it occurred with the referee looking right at it, and yet no arm went up. The moment Kyle Brodziak gathered up the puck to try for the empty net, the whistle should have blown for the delayed penalty, giving the Canucks five seconds to try one last play. Instead, Brodziak ended the game.
  • The Canucks mailed it in so hard they deserved a rebate tonight, but overlooked here is the fact that, for the first time in quite some time, their defense showed up. Of course, limiting the Minnesota Wild to one goal is kind of like the Sedins having a multi-point game against the Columbus Blue Jackets: it impresses nobody.
  • Speaking of the Sedins, lack of urgency aside, they were great tonight. Daniel had a game-high 5 shots, and Henrik was back to his old self, making passes more absurd than an Edward Albee play. He made a blooping saucer pass to Daniel Sedin during a second period powerplay that was just stupid, and he made a no-look, between-the-legs pass to Dan Hamhuis in the third that traveled all the way across the zone, from the far wall to the point. He was passing on a whole other level. He could have succeeded where the Balrog failed tonight.
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31 comments

  1. Errand
    March 19, 2012

    If only the score WAS 2-0 Canucks. Sigh.

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    • chicken hawk
      March 19, 2012

      i have but this one thing to say
      that did the playoffs start today
      it wouldn’t matter whom they’d play
      they’d lose in six games anyway

      chicken hawk

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  2. Errand
    March 19, 2012

    Also, I noticed some actual shots from Tanev. And they didn’t all look like he was lightly dusting the ice under the puck, either.

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  3. peanutflower
    March 19, 2012

    I PVRd this game and the PVR HD protested overuse and deleted the last half of third period, but I didn’t really want to watch this game anyway, for a few reasons. a) I hate the colour of the Wild’s uniforms. b) at this point who cares if the Canucks win or lose? As long as they don’t get hurt, right, PITB. c) I don’t like to watch any team with Heatley on it. I think there’s something off about him. He seems to be playing in his own little world and it ain’t a good one. All the potential in the world but nope, it’s just not there.

    So in the part of the game I did watch I saw a) the most horrible officiating in the world. b) Yay Bieksa, BUrrows and the others standing up for one of our little Sedin man ( and BTW did you see how quick Daniel got off the ice?). c) A nice return to Sedinery. d) What, no repeat Bobby Orr, Alex? Really? e) “Dr. Mark Recchi” had me scrambling for my Wikipedia to find out if I was the only person who didn’t know that he actually WAS a doctor. That’s the first time I’ve seen a show be that riske. f) At least the Sportsnet graphics don’t make that weird light sabre sound that made me tell everyone in the room to be quiet while I figured out where the noise was coming from. They might as well have a tail on the puck.

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  4. chicken chick
    March 19, 2012

    a stupid call we didn’t need
    produced a minnesota lead
    and since the nucks did lose the game
    it is the refs should share the blame

    when they decide to let things go
    then what they’ll call one cannot know
    just how two refs can blow a call
    is something i don’t get at all

    another thing one can’t ignore
    you cannot win unless you score
    and ev’rything vancouver shot
    josh harding turned aside or caught

    and i’ve to add one can’t refuse
    to see the nucks have learned to lose

    chicken chick

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  5. Josh D.
    March 19, 2012

    “Take care of your body and it will take care of you.”

    John Garrett’s Zen.

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    • Frank N
      March 20, 2012

      But in good John Garett fashion, it was still food related!

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  6. invisibleairwaves
    March 19, 2012

    This game was so dull I switched over to the third period of an 8-0 blowout during the second. I think I speak for us all when I say: “hughbglhgugbbguh”.

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  7. heh
    March 19, 2012

    nice iwtg, one of the bitterest yet! I could do without the last few points trying to find positives where there aren’t any though.

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  8. Micheal
    March 20, 2012

    It’s like the Canucks don’t *want* to win. Or perhaps they feel as though Gillis slammed the perverbial window down on thier fingers with the Hodgson trade. Or maybe opened the window but installed a screen?

    The Canucks right now make about as much sense as what I’ve just wrote.

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  9. Nick
    March 20, 2012

    At the risk of this being interpreted by some as a slight to Luongo; and replies about how Luongo has had games in which he was just as good, and how Luongo has also lost games when the team didn’t score … I thought Schneider played a strong game tonight and it’s too bad they couldn’t get a couple of goals for him.

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    • akidd
      March 20, 2012

      funny, there was no mention of schneider in the iwtg. did he play tonight? it sounded like the canucks went without a goalie as there was just a mention of the defense only letting in one goal.

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  10. Josh
    March 20, 2012

    Terrible game. Great IWTG as always. Didn’t see the first period so I was not aware that the penalty was of the retaliatory variety, but it definitely raises a good point to those, myself included, who yell and scream for retaliation whenever someone messes with the Sedins.

    Oh, and Dany Heatley is a loser. It brings me great joy to see Ottawa and Michalek doing so well while Heatley has toiled in mediocrity and underachievement since publicly demanding a trade from the team he had just signed a massive contract extension with. Dick.

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    • Josh D.
      March 20, 2012

      Another Josh appears!

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  11. James W.
    March 20, 2012

    You know, I was fine with the result. The Canucks actually looked pretty good, at least on the defensive side. Schneider didn’t make any brilliant saves because he didn’t need to – he was in perfect position all night. Can’t blame him on the PP goal, which was admittedly a really nice play. Heatley definitely got away with one, and I have no idea how that Hansen call got made. Regardless of their inability to score tonight, they looked fine, and there are few teams out there who play such a suffocating style of game as Minnesota, so there will be more chances in the playoffs. Woe is (not) Me.

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  12. Cathylu
    March 20, 2012

    I was at this game and I have mixed feelings about it. It wasn’t great but there was some Sedinery and Cory did a great job. I’m not sure Lu would have wanted to play anyway; at the end of the warm up it looked like he got hit in the nuts by one of the Sedins (when all the players are at the goal mouth trying to jam the puck in). Anyway I got to visit with my cousin Mark between periods (he was rocking’ a vintage Northstars jersey). Now I’m little nervous about Chicago – or maybe we will rise to the occasion.

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  13. Warpstone
    March 20, 2012

    Hmm, suspensions eh? Good idea!

    Can we get Henrik suspended for a few games for that “slash to the face” on Heatley? That would give him a few games off AND not jeopardize his precious iron man streak!

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  14. Zach Morris
    March 20, 2012

    I must say, I’m somewhat worried about the Canucks’ ability to “turn it on” for the playoffs.
    I don’t have any prior evidence, because this streak of half-hearted play is without precedent, but I feel that it’s dangerous to go into the playoffs and expect to play at a higher level.

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    • James W.
      March 20, 2012

      Agreed. I find it hard to believe that players have a ‘switch’ which they can just turn on that suddenly makes them win. I won’t complain if it happens, though…

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      • jenny wren
        March 20, 2012

        in short i know that i’m afraid
        ’cause i don’t like the way we played

        jenny wren

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    • Phileo99
      March 20, 2012

      Wednesday’s game vs. the Hawks will be the litmus test regarding whether the Canucks can just “turn it on” or not.
      Fans need to be thrown a bone here, the Canucks need to avoid another embarrassing loss against a hated rival. And we’re all more than sick of the Chelsea Dagger. These do not serve as perfect motivations to win, but they are sufficient reasons for wanting to turn it on.

      I think AV will start Schneider FTW!

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  15. Amor de Cosmos
    March 20, 2012

    I was planning to watch the 8:00pm replay of this. Turned on the TV at 7:59.45 to find Sportsnet Connected with the final score all over the screen. I mean… Duh! So I didn’t bother, which sounds as if it might have been the wise choice.

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  16. sarah
    March 20, 2012

    Hmm…I knew I was going to have to work late so I PVR’d this game so I could enjoy it when I got home. I heard the final score on the radio and so when I got home I promptly deleted this game. I’m glad YWTG so that I wouldn’t have to. Here’s hoping I don’t delete Wednesday’s Blackhawks game.

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  17. Chicky
    March 20, 2012

    Two things. 1) I’m glad I only partially watched this game. I was distracted by the short person in my house that demanded my attention. Little did I know it was saving me from boredom and potential tears.

    2) What I did watch, well, needless to say I’m aboutthisclose to writing a SWL to the NHL on their joke reffing, missed on both sides of the fence, do they have no shame? Do the refs lack pride in their jobs? Are they planning on job action a la Air Canada? Seriously, a giant WTF is due here. It boggles the mind that there hasn’t been a reffing staff change over. We need fresh blood in that pool.

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    • J21
      March 20, 2012

      There’s zero chance that every official suddenly got way worse and completely dropped the post-lockout rulebook all at once. Clearly a directive came from above in some ill-advised attempt to control concussions (or, more sinisterly, manage the standings).

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      • Chicky
        March 20, 2012

        Agreed. Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.

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  18. J21
    March 20, 2012

    This team honestly doesn’t care about finishing first — they’re just trying to finish the schedule healthy.

    While I agree being healthy should be priority number one — last year’s playoffs beautifully illustrated why — I don’t see why finishing first would not be priority number two. I can understand that there are no creampuffs in the West playoff race, so any opponent will be “tough”, but I’d still rather the Canucks play, say, Phoenix or (if the chips somehow fell right) Calgary or Colorado than match up with Chicago or San Jose again. True, the standings might shuffle around enough that the #7 seed ends up being more desirable than the #8, but why play with fire?

    Moreover, that little thing called home ice advantage does matter if they should make it far enough to play St. Louis.

    I just can’t imagine an NHL player ever saying “I’m not going to try to score this goal, since it’ll be too much exertion.” Even subconsciously.

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  19. jimbob
    March 20, 2012

    best thing about this whole game is the turtle neck and chain reference in the iwtg. nuff said.

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  20. shoes
    March 20, 2012

    Of course players have a switch they can turn on and off….and Vancouver fans always claim the team and the Sedins don’t pick it up for the playoffs….this year there will be no doubt. Meantime here you had a game where both goals were scored because of blown calls so yeah refs do influence the outcome of games, however there is no question that the Canucks should have scored at LEAST one goal and thus the EN would not have happened and lord knows what the refs would have called or not in OT. I liked a couple of signs from the Sedin line that gives me as much hope as ever going forward.

    Thank you for not breaking down this game.

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  21. Nick
    March 20, 2012

    Thanks for saying something about those irritating opening line-up graphics on SportsNet. If a goal is scored or an exciting play happens in the first minute of the game, particularly in the bottom of the screen, it’s blocked. Also dislike those 10 second advertisements from companies like Impact Insurance that SportsNet is putting on the screen every chance they can.

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  22. bob
    March 20, 2012

    EVERYBODY PANIC THE CANUCKS ARE LOSING!!!

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