With Duncan Keith scheduled to go before the Shanaban committee Friday afternoon for his elbow on Daniel Sedin, the Canucks flew into Dallas on Thursday with one goal and one goal only: play a hapless, soulless, sad-sack game of hockey that underscored just how vital Daniel was to their identity and how badly they missed him.
But, as usual, they choked. Led by a two-point night from Mason Raymond, who can never do anything right, the Canucks scored more goals than the Dallas Stars like idiots, winning the game and giving everyone — the Department of Player Safety included, unfortunately — the impression that they might survive without Daniel in the short-term. It was an unacceptable effort, since the team was supposed to be playing without any effort at all. Instead, they screwed up big-time and played a sound road game. And speaking of sound, I listened to this game. While I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 1 Stars
Here’s a sentence I never expected to write: with Daniel Sedin sidelined, Mason Raymond replaced him and the line didn’t miss a beat. Raymond played his best game in months, picking up a goal and an assist. The goal, which saw Vancouver open the scoring for the 50th time this season, was the result of a fabulous pass from Henrik Sedin, who did well to move the puck from the boards to an unguarded Raymond at the side of the net. But there were two other great efforts on the play: Zack Kassian screened Kari Lehtonen so well that the Stars’ netminder didn’t even see Henrik pass the puck. Also, Dan Hamhuis did well to lift his right leg to facilitate the pass, a move he learned on the open road. Nobody eases off the gas to let cars into the lane like Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis.
Man alive, did Shorty ever botch the call on Raymond’s goal. He calls Raymond Hamhuis. He calls Hamhuis Booth. And I couldn’t believe it when he said Flergh! instead of Scores!
If you’re wondering why Raymond was left wide open at the side of the goal for three whole seconds, you’re not alone. You can see Glen Gulutzan thinking the same thing at 0:15, complete with a disapproving “WTF.”
Raymond and Sedin would connect a second time, setting up Kevin Bieksa for what turned out to be the game-winner. Having enjoyed passing the puck through a defender’s legs so much on the first goal, Henrik does the same thing here, making a wizardous pass through Adam Pardy’s skates to Raymond. But Henrik’s not done victimizing Pardy, as he follows Raymond into the zone, then cuts through the middle of the ice, drawing both Pardy and Radek Dvorak out of the lane. This leaves it clear for Raymond to find Bieksa, who fires once, then picks up his own rebound and buries it like Louis Creed resurrecting his son at the Pet Sematery.
I think “picks up his own rebound” should be a flattering euphemism for going back to an ex-girlfriend.
Cory Schneider was excellent tonight, stopping all 25 shots he faced, including an early flurry of chances in the 1st to rob Mike Ribeiro of a multi-point night. He also stymied Ribeiro on a penalty shot in the second to remain a perfect 5-for-5 on penalty shots in his career. It’s worth asking if Schneider is the best one-on-one. The other candidate? The 1982 Hall & Oates classic. Tough call. Hall & Oates are soft rock legends.
Sadly, the Stars took 26 shots in this game. Schneider wasn’t in goal for a Vernon Fiddler shot, you see, having ventured behind the net to make a play with the puck then fanning on it and falling down. What could make Schneider do these things? Perhaps he and Mason Raymond underwent a body swap, like in Freaky Friday (1976), Prelude to a Kiss, The Hot Chick,Freaky Friday (1995), The Change-Up, Goosebumps novels “Why I’m Afraid of Bees”, “The Barking Ghost”, “Switched”, Freaky Friday (2003), or the “Body Swap” episode of Red Dwarf?
Schneider is a fabulous goaltender, but his puck-handling still needs some serious work. At this point, he is where Roberto Luongo was when he first arrived in Vancouver: abysmal. The Canucks should see about imprisoning him in one of those invisible boxes sorcerers trap mimes in occasionally.
Speaking of Vern Fiddler, has he become the Canucks’ greatest frenemy, the Shane O’Brien to their Alex Burrows? It’s clear everyone in the locker room hates him, but he always seems to make then laugh. And speaking of other hateable guys, is it any wonder Maxim Lapierre is the guy more NHLers would like to punch than any other? He does everything with that big, maniacal grin of his. He’s like the Joker on ice. I fully expect him to show up for a game in a purple tail suit flanked by a girl in a spandex jester outfit.
Alex Burrows needs to pull a Keyser Soze and come up with a sympathetic alter ego, because the dude gets penalties just for being himself.
And finally, while I suspect the Canucks are still trying to avoid blocking shots wherever possible, Alex Burrows really wanted this one, throwing himself in front of a puck in the dying seconds to seal the win. Can you imagine if he had gotten hurt there? Yeah, great meaningless two points guys! Oh, by the by, I shattered my ankle in several places to secure it.
Alain Vigneault and Rick Bowness have been working through some alternate defensive combinations of late, and the one they refuse to let fail is Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa. Tonight, for the first time that I’ve ever seen, it worked, which is a positive sign for the defensive core. If injuries force the Canucks to go to that pairing in the playoffs, it won’t look like ass. Hooray!
According to the scoresheet, Alex Edler took and lost a defensive zone faceoff to Mike Ribeiro 3:30 into the second period. Since this would have basically negated everything we’ve ever told you about Alain Vigneault caring strongly about who takes those, I checked. It was Samme Pahlsson. The scorekeeper must have written 23 instead of 26. On the bright side, according to the scoresheet, Pahlsson went 2-for-2 against Ribeiro in the defensive zone. Oh, what’s that? He actually lost one? No, you’re thinking of Alex Edler, that bungling clown.
Finally, Henrik Sedin had a brutal night in the faceoff circle, going 2-for-14. Aw, he misses Daniel.
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