After a long streak of sub-par play from the Canucks, all the talk leading into this game was regarding whether they would wake up for a meeting with their hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. That likely won’t be discussed as much after this game, where the Canucks put forward a hard-working, physical effort and played with a passion and emotion that hasn’t been seen in some time.
Unfortunately, one of the causes of that emotion was an ugly, ugly elbow by Duncan Keith that knocked Daniel Sedin out of the game. The result: a massive outpouring of concern and vitriol from Canucks fans, an entertaining game on the ice, and a certain suspension for Keith. I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 2 Blackhawks (OT)
As we all know, ninjas can strike quickly and without warning; it took just 27 seconds for Jannik “Danish Ninja” Hansen to open the scoring. Samme “Sami” Pahlsson hit him with a superb outlet pass through the neutral zone and Hansen did the rest, powering past Johnny Oduya and using his left leg to protect the puck before snapping it past Corey Crawford’s blocker. The quick goal shouldn’t have come as a surprise: Sudden Strike is one of a ninja’s key abilities.
Apparently Hansen had it out for Oduya, as he further embarrassed the former Jet with a massive hit that knocked an entire pane of glass onto a row of Blackhawks fans. Inexplicably, Canucks.com doesn’t have a highlight of the hit at the time of this writing, but does have Alex Edler’s crushing of Andrew Shaw mislabeled as a hit by Henrik Sedin.
Mason Raymond came back like the cat in his first game after being unceremoniously scratched against the Minnesota Wild. He was inarguably the best Canucks skater on the ice, using his shiftiness to draw an early penalty on Viktor Stalberg and his speed to create scoring chances throughout the game. He had a team-high 5 shots and added 3 hits in over 20 minutes of ice time, capped off by a confident end-to-end rush in overtime where he went, shockingly, straight up the middle.
It’s hard to say that the officials didn’t try to keep control of this game early, sending Dave Bolland to the penalty box simply for trying to re-enact the original cover to Spinal Tap’s classic album Smell the Glovewith Zack “Mac Daddy” Kassian.
The refs decision to give Duncan Keith only a 2-minute minor for his elbow to Daniel Sedin’s face, rather than a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, however, led to the game going a little off the rails. Daniel not only didn’t have the puck — he never touched the puck. If only it was blindside, it could have been a perfect combination of everything the NHL is trying to get out of the game. An in-person call from Brendan Shanahan should be forthcoming. It was an infuriating, inexcusable hit. Elbows don’t get that high accidentally.
Or maybe they do, if you’re Duncan Keith. He played dumb after the game, saying “It’s a fast game” and that he’s “not trying to hurt anybody.” Expect him to claim tomorrow, “I don’t even have elbows.”
TSN made sure to point out during the second intermission that Daniel had hit Keith in the head earlier in the game and some Blackhawks fans might say this excuses or justifies Keith’s elbow. Anyone who says this is a complete and utter moron and deserves to play the prancing role in the Fish Slapping Dance.
The Blackhawks tied up the game with some quick passing that moved the puck from behind the net to the slot in less than a second. Luongo clearly lost track of the puck off Hossa’s stick, as he thought it was a shot and he had stopped it. While he paused to let Hossa know who killed Dumbledore, Patrick Kane roofed the puck.
Since Keith was still on the ice, Zach “Daddy Mac” Kassian went after him in the Blackhawks crease after a whistle, leading to all 10 skaters getting tangled up. Seabrook cleared Kassian out, while Bieksa threw some jabs at Keith and Burrows gave him an amateur facelift. As a result, Burrows got 4 minutes in minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct, Kassian got a 2-minute minor and a 10-minute misconduct, and Keith got 4 minutes and a 10-minute misconduct, despite being the victim. Really, the refs were trying to save his life. Dan O’Halloran slipped him bus fare and told him “Get out while you still can!”
With Daniel out for the game and Burrows and Kassian unavailable with their misconducts, the top-line turned into a mish-mash, with Raymond, Weise, and Booth all getting shifts with Henrik. Weise tried to make Henrik feel at ease by drawing a goatee on his face with a red sharpie, but ended up offending him instead. Too soon, Weise, too soon.
The Canucks had chance after chance in the third period, but Crawford matched with save after save, even when those saves weren’t pretty. Chris Higgins had two one-timers in a span of 9 seconds that Crawford turned aside with two of the most awkward saves you’ll see this season, with the second going off his skate and between his legs with enough room for an actual, literal beach ball to get through.
Sami Salo has been uncharacteristically tentative at times this season. He hesitated to pinch down the boards after a rebound off an Alex Edler slap shot, leading to a rush back down the ice for the Blackhawks. With Salo’s gap control a little off after his hesitation, Dave Bolland was able to feed Oduya coming into the slot. Oduya’s shot deflected off Andrew Shaw’s skate and in, which was a nice piece of redemption for both players after Hansen punished Oduya in the first period and Shaw got destroyed by Edler, or rather, Henrik.
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