I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers, January 20, 2013

On Saturday night, the Hockey Night in Canada crew couldn’t stop debating the debacle in the Canucks’ crease and I repeatedly heard them say that Alain Vigneault should “stick with the gameplan” and start Cory Schneider against the Edmonton Oilers. Vigneault only half-listened. He stuck with the gameplan, which happened to be to start Roberto Luongo on the second night of a back-to-back.

In fact, what if all of this has been the gameplan, a complicated scheme to completely depreciate the trade value of both goaltenders so that Gillis is unable to trade either one this season, thereby giving Vigneault the benefit of two great goaltenders heading into the playoffs? If so, that’s a stupid gameplan and he should stop sticking to it immediately. I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 3 Oilers (SO)

  • Luongo played quite well in his first start of the season, particularly in an area where Schneider struggled on Saturday: bailing out his teammates when they made brutal, terrible mistakes. Luongo spent the rest of the weekend preventing Alex Edler and Zack Kassian from going to see A Haunted House, slapping a cheeseburger that Keith Ballard found in a garbage can out of his hands before he could eat it, and stopping David Booth from tweeting out a picture of a squirrel he killed in Stanley Park.
  • The two goals that Luongo did allow, however, were both from bad angles and stoppable, though both involved some poor play defensively. Both were the type of save that either Luongo or Schneider in the regular rhythm of a season probably would have made, so thanks a lot, Bettman.
  • The Canucks got off to a strong start, particularly the Sedins, who were cycling like they spent the lockout blood doping. Expect a tell-allsome interview with Oprah in a little over a decade.
  • While the other defensive pairings seemed to sort things out after the gong show against the Ducks, Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev seemed to still have issues at times with moving the puck up ice and, occasionally, basic defensive coverage. Ballard’s absolutely brutal first period turnover will garner most of the attention, but Tanev’s sleepiness in allowing Shawn Horcoff a clear path to the net late in the second period was almost as bad.
  • One of my favourite things in hockey is a loudmouth linesman, the kind who screams OFFSIDE OFFSIDE like it’s a battle cry. Michel Cormier was that loudmouth in this game and I loved it. When he screamed NOOOOO when the play wasn’t offside or icing, I want to believe he looked like this guy:
  • Alex Edler seems pretty keen on earning his new $30 million contract, scoring his second goal in as many games. Sshhhh, no one tell him his new contract doesn’t kick in until next season.
  • Edler’s goal was pretty much everything that Canucks fans love about the quiet Swede. He made a perfect defensive play, breaking up a 3-on-2 with a well-timed pokecheck, then wheeled through the neutral zone with speed, cut across the ice, and blasted a slap shot just inside the post past Devan Dubnyk. The only thing missing was a devastating open-ice hit on Drew Doughty, but since Doughty wasn’t on the ice, we’ll forgive him.
  • Unfortunately, we also saw the negative side of Edler in this game, namely how uncomfortable he is on the right side. He got badly burned on the right side a couple times, particularly on the Eberle goal, as he got caught standing still in the final seconds of the middle frame, giving Eberle enough room to roof the backhand far corner. Appropriate time to stand still: when the person who is “it” calls out “Red Light!” during a game of Red Light/Green Light. Inappropriate time to stand still: when the Oilers’ leading scorer from last season is carrying the puck towards you.
  • Zack “Little Black Backpack” Kassian had an eventful game, finishing with a game-high 9 attempted shots, with 4 hitting the net. Early in the second he had a couple great scoring chances and missed the net on both. It seemed like he was trying to pick a corner instead of just getting the puck on goal. Still, he was getting himself into good positions to score and Vigneault noticed, blessing him with the coveted post-penalty-kill shifts with the Sedins, then eventually, semi-regular shifts midway through the game.
  • Kassian ended up as the benficiary of some old-fashioned Wizardous Sedinerie, although it wasn’t on one of those post-PK shifts. After some marvelous passing with his brother along the boards, Daniel spun a no-look backhand pass to the front of the net, where Zack “Panic Attack” Kassian met it and, instead of picking a corner, shoved it right into the middle of the net. Of course, he had very little choice, as he was shooting from inside the crease.
  • Kassian was on the ice for just 5 seconds before scoring that goal, as he went straight from the bench to the front of the net. That almost explains why Ryan Whitney left the front of the net wide open to chase Daniel Sedin, despite Nail Yakupov doing a fairly good job of sticking with him. It’s possible that Whitney is just bad at counting, calls any number over 3 “many”, and didn’t realize that one Canuck was missing.
  • After scoring with the Sedins, Kassian got promoted to the top line for the back half of the game, as Burrows joined with Hansen and Higgins, bumping Lapierre to Malhotra’s line, presumably to create two uber-checking lines. That left a second line of Mason Raymond, Andrew Ebbett, and Dale Weise, which I’ll choose to believe was a promotion to the second line for Dale “De Dutch” Weise.
  • When you see Ben Eager lining up across from the Sedins, the correct response is not to fight him. The correct response is to let the Sedins treat him like a pylon and to go to the net for the inevitable tap-in goal. That said, Zack “Kickpuncher” Kassian appeared to punch Eager more effectively than Eager punched Kassian, bloodying the Oilers’ goon, then pumping up the crowd with some fist pumps, head bobs and an impromptu performance of Don Cherry’s smash techno hit, “Let’s go!” My first thought when I saw Kassian’s post-punch-up antics: Canucks fans are going to love this kid.
  • Weise took Kassian’s spot on the Sedin line with Kassian in the penalty box, which is a lot easier to spin as a promotion than that pseudo-second-line. Weise once again had a hilarious game, as he made things happen with his confident approach, including creating a breakaway for himself, but completely botched the execution, as he still seems to expect to have the same time and space he had in the Netherlands. On his breakaway, he tried a deke move instead of shooting and got caught from behind. He was like an office worker zoning out at his computer with an open spreadsheet: he looked productive, but got nothing done.
  • Weise had a tough game, first losing an edge and crashing into the boards, then getting wiped out by a Jeff Petry hipcheck, and finally going face first into the boards on a failed check on Justin Schultz. Of course, in the Netherlands, the boards would have been at least 5 feet further away and Weise would have been completely fine.
  • I hate to harp on Weise like this, but the Sportsnet graphic that came up late in the third cracked me up: “Weise: 22 G, 26 A in 19 games this season” without any context whatsoever. A few seconds later, the graphic flipped to show “with Tilburg Trappers (Netherlands).” I desperately want to believe that there’s a Canucks fan out there who hasn’t been paying much attention and tuned in just in time to see the first half of the graphic, looked away when the second graphic showed up, and now believes that Weise is a generational talent.
  • Andrew Ebbett hasn’t been overly noticeable two games in. There were only two times that he really stood out for me in this game: he made a very nice pass to Kassian in the second period to set up a scoring chance and he took a bad penalty in the offensive zone that led to the Oilers’ tying goal on the powerplay. He had no attempted shots, no hits, no blocked shots, no giveaways, no takeaways, and was 44% on faceoffs. He was just sort of there, like the guy in the blue sweater at the end of Blazing Saddles.
  • Daniel Sedin contributed to the turnover parade, giving the puck away at the blueline late in the third period. Fortunately, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed the net on a clear shot from the slot or the Canucks would have had to trade Daniel immediately. Wait, you’re saying that management shouldn’t make snap judgements based on one game? What team do you think you’re cheering for?
  • The shootout was predictable: the Oilers are chock-a-block with soft-handed shootout specialists, while the Canucks sent out a defenceman, an ECHLer, and a goon. Heck, the goon didn’t even get to shoot, obviously because Vigneault refused to do the logical thing and replace Luongo with Schneider for the shootout. Sure, Schneider might have strained a groin by going into a game cold and attempting to make acrobatic saves right off the hop, but if we’ve learned one thing from the start of this season, it’s that strained groins never happen.
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39 comments

  1. Zach Morris
    January 21, 2013

    Over at Canucks.com, there’s a panic that has hatched, molted and is now fully fledged. “Window to win the Stanley Cup Officially Over”, “I’m Giving This Team Five Games to Smarten Up.”

    Pass it to Bulis is like a relaxing hot tub after that frothy whirlpool.

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    • Bob
      January 21, 2013

      Stupid article.

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    • Andre
      January 21, 2013

      It (slow starts) happens every year and you would think that Canuck fans would be used to it by now. Then again, panic seems to be the normal mode among some fans…

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    • Abby
      January 21, 2013

      This is the exact reason that PITB is my hockey homepage and not the Canucks.com boards.

      Stay awesome, Bulis commenters.

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      Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
    • Kevin Zecchel
      January 21, 2013

      That’s why I abandoned the Canucks forums long ago. It’s the only hive of scum and villainy more wretched than Mos Eisley Cantina

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  2. BornSlaming
    January 21, 2013

    “the Sedins, who were cycling like they spent the lockout blood doping”

    *slow clap*

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    • Smokey
      January 21, 2013

      Oh, I get it now! Cycling! Nice one Wagner

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    • Abby
      January 21, 2013

      Ouch. Ouch.

      But still absolutely hilarious.

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  3. jenny wren
    January 21, 2013

    Against the Oil game number two
    And AV went with Bobby Lu
    Edler gave us the early lead
    First goal of three that we would need
    (The two we got were one too few
    Cynics will scoff that’s nothing new)

    ‘Twas not the team we saw last night
    The one that gave the fans a fright
    (Some felt this team one of the best
    Might soon be called Toronto West)
    I thought myself they played quite well
    As time goes on they shall excel

    (If Mau Mau Kass could hit the net
    The Hodgson trade fans might forget
    He scored tonight for Buffalo
    As Johnny Garret let us know)
    But Zach did too and won a fight
    He had himself an awesome night

    (Re the shootout one can’t waffle
    Both our guys were simply awful)
    But now we have a week of games
    I’ll watch us Wednesday douse the Flames
    And then on Friday down the Ducks
    For I believe in our Canucks

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    • Smokey
      January 21, 2013

      I know it doesn’t rhyme or fit the meter, but the proper term is “Toronto-by-the-sea.”

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  4. John Andress
    January 21, 2013

    In respect of your last point, Schneider being substituted in for Luongo for the shoot-out, I almost forgot that facetiousness is a prime ingredient in IWTG. I am so relieved that it is though but what’s the betting that there is some naive soul out there that agrees with the idea?

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  5. Nick
    January 21, 2013

    AV contributes to the goalie hysteria by being needlessly tight lipped about who his starters will be.

    Would it have been that much of a disadvantage to simply tell us, before Saturday, that Schneider would start game 1 and Luongo would start game 2, and mitigate some of the controversy?

    The opposition knowing the goalie they would face, a few extra hours ahead of time, looks pretty trivial in comparison to the work they’ve got to do to get their power play going.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 21, 2013

      He did, actually. There were reports prior to the weekend that indicated Vigneault would start Schneider Saturday and Luongo Sunday. It’s true that he didn’t directly say it to the media and he was tight-lipped with Scott Oake post-game on HNIC, but it was already out in the media in Vancouver.

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  6. Cathylu
    January 21, 2013

    Well, that game was a little less terrible than the one before. My optimism for a win pretty much disappeared when I could see we were going to a SO. But I did absolutely laugh out loud when Zack fist-pumped to the crowd after his fight. How can you not like that?

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      January 21, 2013

      Had Eager done it, there’d be a lot of complaints… I’m not a fan of post-fight whooping, no matter the team.

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      • Smokey
        January 21, 2013

        Had Eager done it it would’ve looked pretty stupid, considering how much his face was bleeding.

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      • tj
        January 21, 2013

        Yeah, I agree with you on this. So, I’ve chosen to (mis)read the act as an ironic reference to the film Goon.

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      • BakerGeorgeT
        January 21, 2013

        I’m a big fan of whooping it up post fight. Too bad the fans at the game didn’t know they were supposed to whoop it up, too… sigh. Soon playing the Oilers won’t be boring.

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  7. yobbei
    January 21, 2013

    They say Thank God Hockey is back. I say Thank God I watched this game is back…

    I really hope the Edler on the right side experiment would work out or else this is gonna be a short season…. oh wait…

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  8. Tengeresz
    January 21, 2013

    I didn’t watch this game.

    I had to work, where the game is not available, which is how I didn’t watch the last few seasons.

    This feature is gold to me, even now that I have moved back to Canada and CAN watch many games. I like the summary, the wit, and the background.

    Thanks, It’s good to be back.
    (For me, hockey, PITB, and IWTG)

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    • Brent
      January 21, 2013

      Probably too late now, but when you are out of the country you can always go to:
      http://www.rojadirecta.me/
      You wil be able to watch any game, but the time change might kill you if you are in Europe. I think you can also watch it after, but I never figured out how to do it.

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      • Tengeresz
        January 21, 2013

        Thanks, I’m sure that there are other out of country fans that will be able to use that tip. I did find some feeds, and even bought centre ice for the playoffs one year.

        The big problem for me was when I was working — no broadband. Bleh.

        But big happy face: I’m back in the land of good local amber ales, hot wings, and hockey on every screen in the bar. That’s how I spent Saturday night, and many more to come.

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  9. Amor de Cosmos
    January 21, 2013

    Most of the Oilers played somewhere during the lockout. Most of the Canucks didn’t. The significance of this was clear last night. For example, the smug and patronising comments about Dale Weisse’s Dutch experience (not here, on TV mostly) ignore the fact that, so far, he’s been one of the few players in blue and green to play every shift as though he’s laced up skates before. Same applies to Kassian. I don’t doubt that the rest of them will catch up, eventually. But I do wonder why the senior players at the club didn’t get some competitive games somewhere when it was clear that it was going to be a protracted lock out. Yeah, I know, the risk of injury. Sure helped David Booth eh?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 21, 2013

      I think you have a point here. Weise has been one of the strongest Canucks, as much as I kid him, and it definitely has to do with his experience overseas. That said, Schneider played in Europe and he still got off to a rocky start and Jannik Hansen has been good, but not noticeably better than his teammates who didn’t go to Europe.

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    • bestbehaviour
      January 21, 2013

      Agreed – most of the commentators were absolutely snickering at mentions of how well Weise did, like anyone who can’t make a massive impact immediately upon arrival in smaller overseas leagues is a complete joke and it’s even a joke to play in a smaller league. But guys were playing in Britain, Switzerland, etc. who didn’t have anything like the same accomplishment. It is something real, to turn up and turn things around and get your team into the playoffs.

      Nice new “IWTG” header – but can you guys sometimes use the version with Batman in it, just to switch things up?

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  10. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    January 21, 2013

    “…as he still seems to expect to have the same time and space he had in the Netherlands”

    I sort of feel this was a missed opportunity to inject the phrase “, much like a marijuana dealer, ” between “as” and “he”.

    Anyway, while I have a 600-some odd page list of sports fan idiocy that I don’t understand, one of them is evaluating the team’s performance based on a shootout result. HFBoards went into full-imbecile mode after the (rather predictable) result, as though the game would have taken on a different color had the Canucks won the shootout.

    All shootouts are ties. The game does not retroactively play better or worse in the 60 minutes of hockey based on how the shootout allots the extra point. There should be no greater or lesser happiness with the team’s performance after the 65 minutes are done. And yet there always, always is.

    My concer was knowing with 100% certainty that the Oilers were going to tie it up after they got a late power play, since I wasn’t born yesterday. That’s whethere the bile and vitriol should be directed, not the final result.

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      January 21, 2013

      *That should be “The *team* does not retroactively play better or worse…”.

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      • J21 (@Jyrki21)
        January 21, 2013

        (Among the 16 other typos made while eating…)

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  11. tj
    January 21, 2013

    Amor de Cosmos makes a salient point. …This has maybe been addressed somewhere, and I’m sorry to be CDC-ing on yr a**es here, but was there a specific reason ever given for why so few of the Canucks went elsewhere during the lockout?

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    • immie_8
      January 21, 2013

      I don’t think anyone’s ever said that, “We didn’t go over to Europe/play in the AHL for ______ reason.” But, IIRC, many of the guys talked about how they all had young families, and how, since they didn’t know if the lockout was going to last very long, they didn’t want to have to uproot their familes in the middle of the year. And, I do remember the Sedins talking about how they decided that they wouldn’t play in Sweden if they were locked-out at the beginning of the year and would instead come back to Vancouver and just be dads for a while.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        January 21, 2013

        I think family reasons probably had a lot to do with it. Some of the Canucks even have kids in school in Vancouver and didn’t want to be away from them for an extended period.

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        • tj
          January 21, 2013

          Thanks, guys.

          So what you’re really saying is, blame the kids? Heh. You know, if the Canucks suck this year, it’s gonna be hell in the schoolyard for a few kiddies… ;)

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      • bestbehaviour
        January 21, 2013

        Also, the media and fans had a fair bit of criticism for stars who “won’t work” here and then “take jobs away” from hardworking players overseas. A lockout is a PR battle and there may have been an element of avoiding that.

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  12. Lenny
    January 21, 2013

    Vandermeer has been waived. I guess camping outside Rogers Arena can only get you so far. Hopefully he goes straight to Chicago and Schroeder comes straight here. And Ebbett goes straight to the Press Box Wednesday.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 21, 2013

      That might be exactly what happens. If so, I’m pretty excited. Schroeder didn’t even get into a single game with the Wolves over the weekend, so it’ll be like he was just a healthy scratch for a couple games.

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      • J21 (@Jyrki21)
        January 21, 2013

        Why would Vandermeer be the odd man out rather than Barker? I found that puzzling.

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        • eric blacha
          January 21, 2013

          I’m pretty sure only Vandermeer has the two way contract.

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    • Brent
      January 21, 2013

      I feel bad for Ebbett. I really wanted him to do well after the collar bone injury and the (few) big goals he scored. Still remember that overtime winner near the end of last season! But he just hasn’t been doing it, of course many of the others haven’t been either. However, with Schroeder having great potential, I suspect AV will have less patience with Ebbett. Maybe he will have a better game against Calgary?

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  13. akidd
    January 21, 2013

    “a complicated scheme to completely depreciate the trade value of both goaltenders so that Gillis is unable to trade either one this season”

    “either” ?!?

    i realize you’re setting up a joke here but still…do you really want to go back there? keep that wedge and its thin edge safely in its carrying case please.

    as for the game, the first half wasn’t too shabby. i was wondering how many first picks these oilers were planning on stockpiling and thinking how sedins were again the best players on the ice. well, first period maybe. lou saved some canuck bacon there in the second. thanks lou. but it was a tale of three thirds. first one, good, second two, not very good.

    expecting the slow start allowed me to focus on the postives. like that large fellow with the missing tooth. cody whodgson(silent ‘g’ of course)? good thing burrows got his contract extension when he did. ben eager, ladies and gents. there had guys paying for his drinks after that tilt.like bieksa and daniel for starts. still, i ‘m not entirely convinced it would be a good thing to have a hard-hitting, soft-handed power-forward skating with the sedins. just kidding, i am convinced. entirely.

    and second line or fifth line? the hockey scribes weren’t kidding when they said it might an issue. stinky.

    i hope AV just keeps sending weise over the boards. i don’t care if he ever scores i just like to watch someone trying hard like that…with a little slapstick mixed in of course.

    and how set in stone are these defensive pairings? tanev and edler maybe? it’s a short season. am not sure if there’s time for the grand ‘edler on the right-side’ experiment.

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