Though it was a tough way to lose the game, the Canucks can take solace in getting the game to overtime and earning the single point.
Wait, what? That’s not how it works in the playoffs? The Canucks have been eliminated? That’s it? It’s over?
I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 2 Kings (OT)
Cory Schneider was once again superb, making 35 stops, well justifying his coach’s confidence in him. It was his third straight game where he allowed just one goal in regulation, which should have been sufficient for three wins. In fact, the Canucks scored four goals in regulation during those three games, so on aggregate, the Canucks won all three and are ahead in the series 3-2. That’s how this works, right?
On the plus side, at least the Canucks didn’t get anyone’s hopes up by getting to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final before being knocked out of the playoffs. That makes me feel way better about having to wait nearly six months for meaningful Canucks hockey.
An early highlight in the game was Jannik Hansen’s ridiculous spin-o-rama in the neutral zone. With Jordan Nolan bearing down on him, Hansen noticed that Nolan had no interest in the puck whatsoever and was just looking for the big hit, so Hansen poked the puck ahead, spun around Nolan, and picked the puck up on the other side. It was an absolutely absurd move and uncharacteristically flashy for the hardworking Dane, but it’s worth noting that the move came on a delayed penalty call, meaning there was no risk of it going awry.
With that said, Hansen pulled off all sorts of uncharacteristic moves in this series. For instance, after an entire season of always passing on a 2-on-1, he shot the puck every single time he was in that situation against the Kings. I’m beginning to suspect he was replaced with his doppelganger from a mirror universe at the start of the playoffs and I should have figured it out sooner: our Hansen has no facial hair, while the Hansen we saw in the playoffs, like the mirror universe Spock, clearly does.
What? What’s a playoff beard? What does that have to do with mirror universe Jannik Hansen having facial hair?
Alex Edler needs to spend the off-season finding a new brand of hockey stick that doesn’t break at inopportune moments. Quite frankly, if I was Easton, I’d pull my sponsorship from Edler, as he’s making their product look incredibly fragile. This game featured the most absurd broken stick yet, as he broke it trying to make a 5-foot pass to Henrik Sedin in his own end, leading to a dangerous turnover.
While Daniel Sedin’s setup on Henrik Sedin’s opening goal was sublimely wizardous, I’d like to draw attention to the contributions of Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Kesler instead. While on the powerplay, Hamhuis kept the puck in along the boards twice, the second time sacrificing the integrity of his left leg to do so (notably the only time the Community Man has ever sacrificed his integrity). Then, when Henrik flung the puck across the ice to his brother, Kesler cut through the slot, attracting the attention of defenceman Matt Greene away from Henrik for the return feed, managing to do so without leaning against a block of ice while naked.
Even better than the goal? The celebration afterwards. The Sedins managed to elevate awkward goal celebrations to an art form. Daniel flew in behind the net, expecting a big jumping hug with his big brother. Henrik, however, had other ideas, as he brushed Daniel aside and went into the corner for his own, down-on-one-knee fist pump. It’s hard to blame Henrik for dodging Daniel, who clearly left his feet and was aiming for the head.
It would be pretty easy to blame Kevin Bieksa for the giveaway that led to an Anze Kopitar breakaway with just a few seconds remaining in the first period, but the fault lies with David Booth’s pass that went directly into Bieksa’s skates. While I’m optimistic for next season, the arrival of this Booth has led to a bit more of a bogus journey than an excellent adventure. Fortunately, like Rufus, Schneider was there to bail him out.
During a first intermission interview, Scott Oake asked Henrik whether his brother makes him an elite player. Henrik’s response was perfect: I thought it was the other way around.
This could have been a very different game if Daniel had been able to convert on his breakaway opportunity late in the second period, but Jonathan Quick, like he did all series, made the save look easy. Of course, it could also have been a very different game if the Kings had converted on any of their Grade-A scoring chances in the first two periods, but Cory Schneider, the master impressionist, did several spot-on impressions of great saves.
Through 40 minutes, things looked pretty good for the Canucks. They opened the scoring, Schneider was locked in, they were creating scoring chances, and they were driving hard to the net to draw penalties. Then, like the second half of Hancock, it all started coming apart. I thought the two best Canucks in this game were Cory Schneider and Dan Hamhuis. It seems fitting, then, that they were the two players directly at fault for the two Kings’ goals.
On the game-tying goal, Drew Doughty made a great play to drive wide on Keith Ballard, who managed to keep his stick in the gap to at least prevent Doughty from driving to the net. Schneider, for some reason, completely overplayed Doughty, to the point that when Doughty swung the puck out front to Brad Richardson, Schneider was beside the net, which is a bad place to be to stop a puck. It’s possible that Schneider is an adamant advocate of net neutrality and was making a political statement by leaving the net wide open, but an elimination game is not the time for politics.
While Schneider was getting political, Henrik and Edler should have done a better job of tying up Richardson’s stick. They get blame assists on the goal.
The Canucks were lucky to last as long in overtime as they did after Henrik left Jeff Carter (former 46-goal scorer) all alone in front of the net. Somehow, this noted sniper managed to whiff entirely on his first shot, then lift the puck well over the net on his second. It was hilariously awful, but let me draw your attention to the fact that he had enough time for two clean shot attempts from directly in front of the net. IN OVERTIME. Like jean shorts where you can see the bottom of the pockets, that’s not supposed to happen.
Mason Raymond came just short of the most ridiculous instant redemption ever, as he smartly drove around the net with Quick out of position and had a wraparound opportunity with a wide open net. Unfortunately for Raymond, the universe hates him, and he hit the post. On the plus side, now we don’t have to suffer through endless Canucks Army articles refuting Raymond’s clutchness.
Shortly after this season’s designated goat came just short of becoming a hero, this season’s best defenceman committed a terrible turnover leading to the series-winning goal. Dan Hamhuis came wheeling out from behind the net, like he has done so many times this season. Instead of safely banking the puck off the boards or hitting a teammate with an outlet pass, however, he tried to skate it out and got caught by Trevor Lewis, who poked the puck off his stick to send Jarret Stoll in on a 2-on-1 with Dwight Kings. Stoll’s shot was perfectly placed in the top corner over Schneider’s blocker.
What really upsets me about Stoll’s goal isn’t actually Hamhuis’s turnover. That was a great hustle play by Lewis and those kinds of mistakes are completely understandable. What upsets me is Samme Pahlsson going for a line change before Hamhuis has gained centre and dumped the puck into the Kings’ zone. Pahlsson was in the defensive zone as Hamhuis carried the puck and he could see that Lewis was right on him, but instead of waiting, he went for the line change right away. If he had waited, it would have been a 2-on-2 and Salo would have been able to pressure Stoll and prevent a shot.
This was Sami Salo’s 100th career playoff game. I sincerely hope it was not his last. I like that guy.
Finally, I want to sincerely thank all of you on behalf of Harrison and myself for supporting Pass it to Bulis and reading the IWTGs and other articles we write. This was our first full year with the Vancouver Sun and it was a wonderful success thanks to great readers like you. PITB will still be running at full capacity throughout the offseason, so continue to check the blog every day and we’ll continue entertaining and informing you to the best of our ability.
And if you feel like this guy right now, we don’t blame you.
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