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.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]