Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche would have been the 11th game of the 2012-13 schedule for the Vancouver Canucks. What that really means, however, is that 10 games would have already passed prior to the game with the Avalanche and Canucks fans would have been finally allowed to pass judgement on the team thus far.
For some reason, 10 games is held up as the standard. Early in the season, as fans fly off the handle with pronouncements of doom if their team loses a few, or jubilation and parades if their team gets off to a hot start, people caution fans to “wait 10 games” before freaking out. That means that we were due for a good old-fashioned Canucks fan freakout prior to their game against the Avalanche.
The truth is, we don’t even know that much after 10 games. Teams can very easily be first place in their division, then crash and burn through the rest of the season and miss the playoffs, like the Minnesota Wild. Other teams can get off to terrible starts and do just fine during the rest of the season, like the Bruins starting last season 3-7 then winning their division.
We’ll never know how those first 10 games would have gone for the Canucks, but hopefully we’ll catch a glimpse of the remainder of the season. I didn’t watch this game.
Canucks 0 – 0 Avalanche
Shockingly, we don’t have any highlights for the non-existent game that wasn’t played last night. Instead, enjoy this low-budget, live-action rendition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opening credits montage alongside the original.
Instead of watching the Canucks obliterate the Avalanche, I went to see the Abbotsford Heat play the Toronto Marlies. It turned out to be a good decision, as I got to witness a piece of history: the Heat scored two goals in under 3 seconds in the third period, the fastest two goals by one team in AHL history. Amazingly, both goals came shorthanded. Even more amazingly, both goals came with a goaltender in the Marlies’ net. Normally, two incredibly quick goals like that would involve an empty net on the second goal, but this time Ben Scrivens was in net for both goals.
The first of those two goals will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the second, but it was a beauty, as Steve McCarthy caught the defence flat-footed with his speed through the neutral zone, picked up a savvy bank pass from Ben Walter, then cut hard to the net, opening up Scrivens’ stance and tucking the puck in 5-hole. It’s easy to criticize Paul Ranger for allowing McCarthy to get in behind him, but to be fair, McCarthy is a defenceman with a grand total of 10 goals in 135 AHL games and 17 goals in 302 NHL games. He’s not exactly someone you expect to jump up on a shorthanded rush. It was about as expected as the Spanish Inquisition.
Incidentally, 51 of those games were with the Vancouver Canucks in 2005-06. McCarthy is one of those members of the Heat that is not signed to the Flames, making him an ideal candidate for a Canucks fan who wants to support professional hockey in Abbotsford but feels uncomfortable cheering for a member of the Flames’ organization. McCarthy’s a BC boy from Trail and has 7 points in 8 games to start the season.
It’s the second goal that will have people talking; unfortunately, it happened so quickly that not a single one of the cameras in the building captured the goal. On the faceoff immediately after McCarthy’s goal, the Heat’s Ben Street decided to go forward off the draw to try to get the puck into the Marlies’ zone to burn more time off the penalty. He managed to pick the puck right out of mid-air, sending it flying towards the Marlies’ goal. Scrivens was apparently looking up at the clock, likely checking to see how much time was left on the penalty. By the time he saw the puck, it was too late, and it bounced right between his legs.
The goal will undoubtedly have people making comparisons to Vesa Toskala – a Toronto goaltender letting in a long-distance laugher – but Scrivens’ blunder isn’t on the same level as Toskala’s. At the very least, Toskala saw his coming and had plenty of time to prepare, while Scrivens had no reason to expect the puck to come his way. Also, Toskala let in the shot from the opposition goal line, not centre ice. Also also, there isn’t footage of the goal from multiple angles to show up on blooper reels for years to come.
The best part of the entire thing was that on the ensuing faceoff, Street tried it again. He went forward on the draw, batting the puck forward and sending a bouncing puck in on net. This time, however, Scrivens was paying attention and steered the puck aside, earning a Bronx cheer from the sparse crowd. Amazingly, Scrivens was still named the third star of the game thanks to some incredible saves he made earlier, and he had the brass balls to actually come out of the tunnel and wave to the crowd when his name was announced.
The second best part of the whole debacle? Brian Burke and Dave Nonis being in attendance, along with Laurence Gilman and Stan Smyl. The Leafs’ and Canucks’ management duos sat on opposite ends of the arena, but there was all sorts of speculation that they were there to discuss the possibilities of a Roberto Luongo trade. For that to happen to the Marlies’ goaltender, one of the Leafs’ top goaltending prospects, while the spectre of a Luongo trade hung in the air? Delicious.
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. […]