I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, March 31, 2012

If the Canucks had been struggling to find motivation late in this season, there was plenty to be had in Saturday night’s date with the Calgary Flames. First, a victory would allow them to leapfrog the St. Louis Blues and take over sole possession of 1st place in the Western Conference. Second, a victory would officially eliminate the Flames — who objectively suck — from postseason contention. Third, Andrew Ebbett was back. Andrew Ebbett! That dude looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay. How can you not be motivated by that?

Sure enough, the Canucks rode the wave of motivation to a victory, jumping into 1st in the West, banishing the Flames to the irrelevance from whence they came, and letting Andrew Ebbett lead them to victory, like Moses (if Moses looked like Chris Martin from Coldplay). Also, a fourth important thing happened: I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 2- Flames (OT)

  • Fresh from his 3-point night Friday versus the Dallas Stars, Maxim Lapierre provided further evidence that Alain Vigneault’s got the goods when it comes to giving French checkers a makeover to turn them into star wingers. (AV is like the Freddie Prinze Jr. of the NHL.) Lapierre opened the scoring, kicking Henrik Sedin’s backhand saucer pass to his stick at the crease, then jamming the puck underneath Henrik Karlsson. But let’s give some credit to Karlsson, who helpfully neglected to pin his left pad flat to the ice, leaving room for the puck to squeak through. In effect, Lapierre’s goal was enabled by two Henriks, which, when you think about it, should feel nice and familiar to Canucks fans.
  • This was, to my eyes, Marc-Andre Gragnani’s best game as a Canuck. The guy spent most of the night paired with Alex Edler, and he didn’t look out of place at all. Speaking of familiar sights, while Gragnani’s been compared to Keith Ballard, he looked more like Christian Ehrhoff, playing his off-side, finding passing lanes, roaming in every zone like a bad cell phone, and initiating action like a slow sax riff.
  • Gragnani has really thrived in an increased role over the past two nights, putting three shots on goal in both games and, Saturday, scoring his first goal as a Canuck midway through the third period. Henrik Sedin made this play, as he often does. Sandwiched by Scott Hannan and Blake Comeau while trying to maintain control of the puck, Henrik moved it to Alex Burrows by kicking it like Q-tip. Then Burrows found Gragnani, who whistled it home like Walter in The Muppets.
  • Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins had another amazing game, with a game-high six shots, a breakaway, and a ton of other chances besides. I know some might scoff at this, but I think playing with Samme Pahlsson has something to do with the uptick in chances we’re seeing out of him. Have you noticed Higgins is getting a lot of breakaways all of a sudden? A lot of his chances are coming off opposition turnovers and quick possession changes. That’s Pahlsson’s bag.
  • Henrik Karlsson supplied our childish chuckle of the night when the cameras caught him moving some things around in his shorts during a stoppage. In his defense, Chris Higgins had just been on the ice. These days, after a Higgins shift, we all need to adjust.
  • Goaltending controversy update: Roberto Luongo was the best Canuck goaltender tonight. He made 31 more saves than Cory Schneider, and looked much more involved the game. Okay, sarcasm aside, with the exception of the Olli Jokinen goal where I didn’t quite care for his post-to-post movement, I thought Luongo was brilliant. As for Michael Cammalleri’s one-timer, there’s no stopping that shot. It’s a missile, and the only way to stop a missile is by having the Iron Giant collide with it way, way, way up in space.
  • Chris Tanev saw a career-high 23:03 of icetime. He and Dan Hamhuis were incredible. In keeping with their personalities, they were the lowest low-key pairing possible. You could hardly make them out. They were operating at baleen whale frequencies.
  • All the Canucks had a rough night in the faceoff circle, save Manny Malhotra, who won more draws than an expert at Hogan’s Alley. Malhotra went 12-for-15 on the night. Let’s give some love to Pahlsson, too. While he was only 4-for-12, he was 4-for-7 against Olli Jokinen, the Flames’ only real offensive threat up the middle. I mean, sure, Pahlsson lost all 3 draws he took versus Matt Stajan, but that may have been on purpose. Giving Matt Stajan the puck is a smart defensive strategy.
  • You had to feel for Jannik Hansen on the flubbed breakaway that led to the Flames’ second goal. In alone, he tried to deke to the backhand, but had the puck roll off his stick. Then he threw the puck blindly into the neutral zone, only to put it right on the stick of Jarome Iginla, who centered to Olli Jokinen for a one-timer goal. Basically, it was the worst breakaway of all time. The best breakaway of all-time? The Kelly Clarkson one.
  • Maybe Zack Kassian took a little confidence boost from the assist he picked up Friday, because he played a much stronger game Saturday. He was rewarded too, promoted to Ryan Kesler’s wing along with Andrew Ebbett for the back half of the third period while David Booth and Mason Raymond were benched. (The duo saw just over a minute of icetime in the third, and neither saw the ice after the 8:00 mark). This is good news for Kassian. If you’re the guy that gets promoted when Raymond is having an off- night, you’re gonna get promoted a fair bit.
  • In overtime, Vigneault trimmed the trio of Kesler, Kassian and Ebbett to a duo of just Kesler and Ebbett, hoping to catch some of that magic from the last time Andrew Ebbett scored an overtime goal. It worked, as Ebbett redirected Sami Salo’s point shot past Karlsson to win the game for the Canucks. He was instantly mobbed by the team. During the scrum, they all took the opportunity to relearn who he was.
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64 comments

  1. TheOldFirm
    April 1, 2012

    Just calling out a mistake in “Western Confernece.” in your first paragraph!

    Also, how about that Ebbett eh? he’s pretty clutchy! I’m thinking something like my buddy’s old VW Rabbit: double-clutch!

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  2. invisibleairwaves
    April 1, 2012

    I’m really not sure what Hansen was thinking after that breakaway. On the PK, you don’t throw the puck back to the blueline to set up a cycle, you get it deep and keep it there. Fortunately, Jannik Hansen is awesome, so I’ll let it slide. AV might not, though.

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    • Josh D.
      April 1, 2012

      I think the intent was to get it back into our zone to eat up some Power Play time before shooting it back down the ice. I thought it was a solid idea that got cocked up for a change.

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  3. hockeyispretty
    April 1, 2012

    Whoever was commentating for the game called it right when Chris Higgins drew a penalty: because it was on the CBC, it’s now officially OK to say a player was “fondled all the way in” when he’s harried as he attempts to score a goal.

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    • sarah
      April 1, 2012

      I was watching the game with a couple of girlfriends and after the announcer said that we all turned to look at each other, intent on making the same joke…

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      • CthulhuBob
        April 1, 2012

        Was it the one I said?
        “Mr Higgins can you show me on the doll where the bad hockey player touched you?”

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  4. hockeyispretty
    April 1, 2012

    I missed the start of the second period & brought up the boxscore on my computer. Nearly had a heart attack – Cory Schneider had nearly five minutes of time on ice. Luongo can’t have been pulled for his play. AAAAAGH. LUONGO IS INJURED RIGHT BEFORE PLAYOFFS! What happened? What happened?

    Turns out someone at Canucks.com is so used to Schneider (or has secret mancrush) that he subconsciously started using his slot for the stats instead of Luongo’s. Took half the period for them to notice. LOL.

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  5. Canuck in Oz
    April 1, 2012

    Appreciated the Muppet reference…don’t think you can have enough Muppets in any sentence myself, but that just might be my refusal to grow up. Still, I couldn’t help but think of some team/Muppet comparisons: MayRay as Gonzo – well intentioned but sometimes things still blow up around him. Salo, with his alleged iron fist during travel as Sam the Eagle. And of course, Luongo as Beaker. Everything bad happens to him and he never ever deserves it.

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    • Chris B
      April 1, 2012

      Does that make Daniel and Harrison Statler and Waldorf, up in the balcony?

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      • tj
        April 1, 2012

        I read this in the early morning, so I read Daniel and Henrik, and my brain couldn’t compute such a thing. Now, after coffee, I see this is possibly the perfect comparison.

        From the great book of Statler & Waldorf quotes:
        Statler: Wake up you old fool. You slept through the show.
        Waldorf: Who’s a fool? You watched it.

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    • JS Topher
      April 1, 2012

      We all know Hansen is Beaker… C’mon!

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      • Nee
        April 1, 2012

        Yup, he’s been called that for a few years now. Hansen is definitely Beaker. High voice, narrow head, red hair?

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  6. frankthetank
    April 1, 2012

    The Gragnani goal is a perfect example of just how strong Henrik (and) Daniel are. First, he manages to advance the puck to Burrows with Hannan (who has 33 pounds on him) trying to pin him to the boards. Then he wins the puck (again), kicking it to Burrows with both Hannan and Comeau trying to tie him up. All those people who think the Sedins are soft should pay close attention to plays like this.

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  7. chicken chick
    April 1, 2012

    Canucks douse Flames three goals to two
    With stellar play by Bobby Lu!
    Ebbet, Gragnani and Lappierre:
    The scoring comes from anywhere!

    The win combined with other news
    Concerning the St Louis Blues,
    Who lost to the worst team of all,
    One even worse than Montreal!

    Vancouver’s now first in the West,
    Although New York is still the best
    In terms of points gleaned overall
    In still a race too close to call.

    The next challenge for our Canucks
    Is versus the once mighty Ducks,
    Who like the Flames will play for pride
    Lest someone say they never tried.

    Chicken Chick

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  8. Zach Morris
    April 1, 2012

    Man, I hate the Flames.
    Yesterday was as satisfying as a playoff win.

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  9. Brent
    April 1, 2012

    This game, like this IWTG, was good on so many levels. So many people played great, Lou was great again, they came back from a goal down, they had a strong second period (what up with that?) and Ebbet scored! PLus I can use my “Flames are not in the playoff joke again.”Goes something like this, but works better in the presence tense rather than the future. There is going to be a fire at a golf course in Calgary in about a week. Yup, there are going to flames everywhere.

    Awesome interview with Schneider on afterhours. Talk about Bulis gold! you might be able to get two blogs out of that. Nice suit to boot.

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    • the real bob
      April 1, 2012

      flames not making the playoffs is quite common as oilers might get 1st overall again and toronto misses playoffs again

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    • hockeyispretty
      April 1, 2012

      I am waiting on watching the After Hours interview as I have total confidence in Harrison or Daniel to chop it into convenient linked video clips and write it up so it’s ten times better and funnier. (Damn. It’s sunny out. Never mind, boys, you need your vitamin D to keep up the writing skills. I can wait. Until nightfall ONLY. ;)

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  10. Drew
    April 1, 2012

    Any IWTG with A Tribe Called Quest is a winner.

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  11. sarah
    April 1, 2012

    Anyone doubts as the the Canucks zombism must surely be squashed by the way the team surrounded Andrew Ebbett [the only non zombie due to his 35 game absence] after his OT goal. You could practically hear them chanting “one of us, one of us” as they mauled him into the boards.

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  12. peanutflower
    April 1, 2012

    Weird but true, the NHL.com main page has nothing about the Canucks and this game. Not one thing. ESPN.com has nothing about the Canucks either. It moves them down in the power rankings despite having a league leading 6-game win streak and just talks about how the New York whatsits are the best and the Penguins can’t be stopped. I guess one can’t expect anything different from US-centric websites, but come on… Actually, maybe it’s better for the Canucks to just fly in under the radar without all the pomp and circumstance of last year.

    I’m expecting a whole PITB blog about Schneider’s after hours, but I have to say what a great suit, and what a great guy.

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    • tj
      April 1, 2012

      Last year, the Canucks hype was everywhere (before they were ‘the most hated team in the league’), so if this flying under the radar means the pressure is lessened, than I’m all for it.

      Although I agree it’s remarkable how downplayed the wins are, even from Van’s own media. Willes’ latest about the Canucks being ‘one game short of disaster’ although (poorly) tongue in cheek, is dangerously close to how the team is covered even in this town.

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      • John in Marpole
        April 1, 2012

        Willes was channeling his inner-Gallagher when he wrote that one. He got the tenor just about right.

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        • peanutflower
          April 1, 2012

          I know! I caught the title of the article by accident, and I was like what? What sort of crap is this? The tongue in cheek aspect of that article was barely detectible

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          • tj
            April 1, 2012

            It felt a little like he was trying too hard (to be PITB? Did the editors put him up to it?). He doesn’t have a funny-tone in his body (of writing), so he ought to stick to what he does better. I commend him for trying something new; it’s good to lighten up once in awhile, especially here in Van. And it does show he’s aware of the intensely over-critical media. Reading through the comments only proves this point.

            Legion of Blog scared me today with the Ebett injury piece. I didn’t watch last night’s game because, apparently, my inner demon self won’t let me watch a good game with Razor in the crew. Anyway, I was momentarily ‘fooled’ by the reporting of AE’s injury. Fool me once…

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          • shoes
            April 1, 2012

            You peoples are being too tough on the Vancouver sports writers …..Put yourself in their shoes (no relation) …..You wake up one morning and take in the mirror, you are middle aged and pinched faced,…..indeed you look like you been sucking on a lemon for 20 years…..then you look down and realize your tighty-whiteys are 3 sizes too small and pinching like heck…….you think you can still write a positive story on the Canucks after those monumental discoveries.?

            And not to be overlooked ….Ed was very cleverly trying to make it look like fans had gone off the rails (some had) but he knew all along it would come around.

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  13. Wagman
    April 1, 2012

    Anybody else notice Hammer line up a big hit, just miss, and go flying? It was just on the edge of the screen and there was no replay, so not sure what happened. I was a little surprised that he would go for that type of hit a few games before the post-season! Save those for the play-offs!

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  14. warren
    April 1, 2012

    Fun read Harrison, good with the morning coffee….you should think about a career in sports writing ; )

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    • Harrison Mooney
      April 1, 2012

      I dunno, man. Think I’ve got the chops?

      I FEAR THAT I LACK THE CHOPS

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      • tj
        April 1, 2012

        You have the suit, who needs the chops!

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    • Brent
      April 1, 2012

      Sports writing? He is the Mayor of Awesomeville! He just does this on the side. I suspect Danielle has a real job.

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  15. Abby
    April 1, 2012

    Another funny announcer thing (serioulsy, the commentators for cbc…) At one point when Higgy really fought along the boards for the puck one of them said something to the effect of him being ‘really hungry’ and I had to cover myself from laughing. That zombie staph infwction jyst keeps cropping up!

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  16. Cathylu
    April 1, 2012

    Another game where our guys-who-aren’t-our-”stars” scored all our points. That’s one of the things I love about our team. I was looking at the NHL website during the OT and our score disappeared. So I scrolled to the other side and saw we’d already won. I had to keep my mouth shut for a couple of minutes until our TV caught up with real time so as not to ruin it for my husband. I know, that’s a good kind of problem to have.

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  17. Parker
    April 1, 2012

    Anyone else notice Tanev’s shift right after Gragnani’s goal? It was like he had gone mini-beast-mode. Possessed by goal envy, perhaps??

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  18. John Andress
    April 1, 2012

    I have found this season to be a trifle wearing. The negativity surrounding the Canucks from opposing fans and from our own local mainstream media has droned on and on all season and “the most hated team in hockey”, whiners, divers and cheaters themes, although palpably crap, were hard to listen to day after day, Then. last night, two things happened that made it all disappear. The first was the Ebbett overtime winner. Not the goal itself which was very satisfying, but the team’s reaction to it. The massive outpouring of esprit and affection for the success of a guy who had suffered such a horrendous injury and doggedly worked his way back through an arduous rehab process was, not to put too fine a point on it, heart-warming. Ebbett’s team-mates were thrilled for him on a human level that transcended the event and made me proud of them. Secondly, the Schneider appearance on After Hours. This guy is likeable, intelligent, insightful, articulate and witty. No arrogance. No self-serving. No agenda bashing. Just good clean fun. The Alain Vigneault cameo appearance highlighted how relaxed and close-knit this team is from top to bottom. So come on haters, give it your best. The Canucks have reaffirmed for me the qualities that have made me a fan and all of your bitterness and jealousy can’t change that. This is a group of people who will go to the wall for each other and by god I am happy and honoured to be able to go with them.

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    • tj
      April 1, 2012

      this

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      • Amor de Cosmos
        April 1, 2012

        squared

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        • peanutflower
          April 1, 2012

          cubed

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          • CthulhuBob
            April 1, 2012

            To the nth-degree.

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    • Frank
      April 1, 2012

      Agreed!
      I am extremely proud of the Canucks organisation (and their position in this community), the players and the product they put on the ice, night after night. And then to see all the warm fuzzy feelings they have for Ebbett, or for Manny last season upon his return, it’s just heartwarming!

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    • Brent
      April 1, 2012

      Nice post John! I suspect all of us were touched by the group celebration after Ebbetts goal. Like you said, I think it really speaks to the camaraderie that must exist in the dressing room. I know it isn’t as big a deal as Aung San Suu Kyi’s getting elected today, but things like this (and her being elected) help to reaffirm my faith in humanity. Everybody was just so happy for him, after so much adversity, scoring ANOTHER overtime goal to put us on top in the West. AWESOME!

      I am a fairly recent addition to PITB. I used to read and post on the CBC sport page, but I just found myself, like you, becoming so disillusioned with all the negativity. People would just post the nastiest most negative things about the Canucks, most of it mindless drivel. Like driving in Vancouver, it just made me think that the world is full of a bunch of jerks. Really glad I have found Bulis. People are so positive, but can be critical when warranted, and I have learned so much about hockey and the Canucks. Oh ya, Daniel and Harrison are kind of funny too. Bit of a bonus there.

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    • sarah
      April 1, 2012

      Now I just feel bad for comparing that heartwarming display to a vicious zombie attack…

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  19. BrandonC
    April 1, 2012

    What might have been the favourite moment for me was when Dan Hamhuis took a clearly late slapshot after an offside call… but because he’s the Community Man everyone on the Flames just gave him a hug and thanked him for all of his charitable work instead of mugging him. If that was Juice taking that late slapshot we would have seen a line brawl, I’m sure.

    EVEN THE OPPOSING TEAM LOVES AND RESPECTS THE COMMUNITY MAN!

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    • hockeyispretty
      April 1, 2012

      Yeah, that’s his reputation all right – everyone was just like “Oh, I’m sure he didn’t hear the whistle. He was listening for any cries of distress from the downtrodden.”

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  20. Brandon
    April 1, 2012

    I like how our top line used to be 2 Sedins and 1 Burrows, and now its 2 Burrows’ and 1 Sedin!

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  21. CthulhuBob
    April 1, 2012

    I want Daryl Reaugh (sp?) as our colour man during the playoffs. He is soooo much more entertaining than Weekes or Simpson. And he doesn’t seem to dislike our team half as much of either of those guys. Is there a petition or something at CBC we can sign?

    hehe…fondled…hehe

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    • Nick
      April 1, 2012

      +1 for Reaugh.

      And at least while Ottawa stays alive, CBC might keep Craig Simpson and Jim Hughson on that series.

      Simpson, with his constant Sedins are slumping graphics, was hard to take last year … and is my least favourite colour guy since Greg Millen, and how he used to carve the Canucks every chance he got.

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    • Josh D.
      April 1, 2012

      I prefer Reaugh over Weekes by far, but I disagree when it comes to Simpson, I like how well he and Hughson bounce off on another, and that helps make it for me.

      *shrug*

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    • Mike S.
      April 1, 2012

      I didn’t like that Daryl Reaugh. He paused more than William Shatner, and rambled more than a politician.

      To be a successful colour commentator in Vancouver, you have to qualify for two out of three of the following: have unhealthy eating habits; be a retired athlete; or reiterate exactly what the play-by-play man just said.

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      • John in Marpole
        April 2, 2012

        Reaugh apparently does qualify under that criteria. As could be seen during Afterhours, he has put on some bulk since he retired as an active NHL goaltender. That didn’t look like celery and yogurt chub.

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        • Mike S.
          April 2, 2012

          I stand corrected. Welcome home, Daryl!

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  22. Nick
    April 1, 2012

    I wonder if AV will give Cory another start this week? It would be nice to see him play one last time. And would give Roberto a bit more rest.

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    • KeepSchneids
      April 2, 2012

      Nick… why are you bringing up the goalie controversy in this feel good piece? If anyone stopped to think objectively about it, you would keep Schneider over Luongo…. they are both good, Schneider is “unflappable” though and seems better under extreme pressure… and young. Trading Schneider would be the worst trade since Neely based on what we have seen from the kid so far. The goals that Luongo has let in recently (although few and far between) have been worse than the goals that Schneider has let in.

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  23. Nick
    April 1, 2012

    Probably our last chance to see Selanne on Tuesday as well.

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  24. wheres my stick ?
    April 1, 2012

    lous doing better but
    his mistakes are still bush league
    not a multi million goaly

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    • Chazz Ranger
      April 1, 2012

      Was that a haiku? Or just a badly made sentence thrown in a blender?
      “Ya, I’ll have a small order of troll nonsense, hold the punctuation.”

      John Andress, your post is all win. You took the words right out of my heart. Put what you wrote on a shirt, and I would wear in daily.

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    • the real bob
      April 1, 2012

      g-o-a-l-i-e if you’re going to troll at least spell properly

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  25. Zach Morris
    April 1, 2012

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kyh3_FdEMYs

    Schneider does his Burrows impersonation

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    • Brent
      April 2, 2012

      What is even more amazing it is pretty similar with the other Burrows (Lapierre) said after the game about his goal. Check out the Canucks TV web site.

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  26. Don Lever's Lever
    April 1, 2012

    Ya, I don’t mean to by mean, but Mark Lee I find too be stultifyingly boring. I vote no Mark Lee. Yawn.
    Hewie for sure.
    Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes: yikes. Goanies of the future!!

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  27. the real bob
    April 1, 2012

    I wonder if CBC losing funding is allowing Canucks playoff games to comeback to SNET -PAC. I need my fix of Garrett musings in the playoffs.

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  28. Bob
    April 2, 2012

    Ebbett with a big goal on return? Give that man a puppy

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  29. jimbob
    April 2, 2012

    “Giving Matt Stajan the puck is a smart defensive strategy.” laughed hard at this one! While i was watching this game, i was trying to figure out what went wrong with the flames over the past few years. I kept hearing names of former leaf players, and said “yup, that’s it” . if even the leafs don’t want you then i think you got problems.
    another spectacular IWTG as usual.

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  30. the real bob
    April 2, 2012

    you know the only reason renaugh is doing these gigs is to solve cory schneider

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