Alain Vigneault shocked the city of Vancouver Wednesday morning when he announced that Roberto Luongo would get the start versus the Colorado Avalanche. The controversial decision led to a boatload of speculation on what it meant. Was Vigneault simply riding the hot hand? Had Luongo reclaimed the starter’s job? Or maybe the Canucks were playing him against an inferior opponents in the Avalanche in order to showcase him to potential trade partners?
Nevermind that the showcase theory makes no sense whatsoever. Roberto Luongo has been in the NHL for more than a decade. He’s played 730 NHL games — 789 if you count the playoffs. Speaking of the playoffs, he’s gone to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s played in the Olympics. If you’re in charge of making roster moves for an NHL team and you aren’t sure who Roberto Luongo is and what he’s about in 2013, then you shouldn’t be in charge of making roster moves for an NHL team.
But if there really is a General Manager out there so braindead and incompetent that he needs to be reminded Roberto Luongo plays goal and does so fairly effectively, I’m sure he was pleased with what he saw when he, just as I, watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 0 Avalanche
Poor Roberto Luongo can’t win. For the controversial second straight game, he was controversially excellent, but unlike Monday night, the Canucks defence gave him some help. The result? A controversial 24-save shutout. Luongo’s most memorable came on a point shot from Jan Hejda, which got through Luongo, but was swept out of the danger area by the knob of Luongo’s stick. It was the biggest knob save since Doctors James T. Sehn and David Berman spent nearly 10 hours putting John Wayne Bobbitt back together.
But seriously, this is a huge controversy. How can the team deal with the distraction of both their goaltenders posting shutouts? It must be a nightmare for them. Speaking of shutouts, rather than panicking over the Canucks complicated goalie situation, feel free to take note of the fact that only Vancouver and St. Louis have already posted two shutouts this season.
Jason Garrison finally got his first goal as a Canuck, which should calm down some of the people concerned that, after 6 games, he had yet to make a millionaire of someone in Safeway Score & Win. The goal was the result of an excellent pass off the boards from Erik Johnson, who took too long to move the puck, then threw it away with Chris Higgins bearing down on him. Garrison immediately showed Johnson how to move the puck quickly, pouncing on the loose puck at the blueline and stepping into it like a bra. (That’s how women put on bras, right?)
After his worst outing of the season, Maxim Lapierre had a strong bounceback game, going 6-for-10 on faceoffs and registering 3 takeaways, one of which led to the goal that made it 2-0 late in the second period. Lapierre began and ended the play, stealing a puck from Greg Zanon in the neutral zone before leaving him in the dust and putting the puck through Semyon Varlamov’s five-hole. Now, I hate to take anything away from Lapierre here, but it’s worth noting that Zanon’s not nearly as fast since he has to cart his beard around in a wheelbarrow. And Varlamov left so much space between his legs that Lapierre could have crawled through like John Cusack in Being John Malkovich.
Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard have so much chemistry they can’t bear to be apart. After Ballard took a penalty for holding late in the second, Tanev suddenly developed a mean streak and got himself thrown in the box for boarding. It was boarding in Tanev’s typically casual style, of course. He did it one-handed. Yeah. It wasn’t much of a board. Still, it was the darkest thing he’s ever done and it changed him forever. He became Evil Tanev. When he exited the box, he had a black paper goatee.
It was a rough night for Cody McLeod. He was crunched along the boards by one of Keith Ballard’s classic hipchecks in the first, then he caught a Mason Raymond high-stick to the face in the third. Unfortunately for him, the refs didn’t catch it, and when he told them off, he was sent to the box for his impertinence. It wasn’t a great night for the refs: they also fell for Keith Ballard’s dive in the third period, which was about as believable as Russell Crowe’s singing.
The Sedins didn’t get on the board, but they had a strong night. Daniel Sedin led the way with a game-high 5 shots on goal for the Canucks, and while they didn’t get on the scoresheet, they were on the ice for Zack “Degrassi” Kassian’s fifth of the season, a powerplay marker that iced the game by pushing the Canucks past that dastardly two-goal lead. The play was really made by Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, who looked poised to shoot, but instead found Kassian camped at the side of the net and fed Kassian a pass. Then, after the game, Hamhuis found a family of four camped at the side of the road and fed them too.
Earlier today, I wrote about Jordan Schroeder showing well in the faceoff circle. Then he went 2-for-8 tonight. (I cursed him. Apparently, I can curse. Stay tuned tomorrow, when I gush about how well the Chicago Blackhawks are playing.) Manny Malhotra, on the other hand, had another great night on faceoffs. He went 10-for-13. Don’t look now, but he’s leading in the NHL in faceoff win percentage at a gaudy 70.6%.
This was the first game this season where the Canucks really dominated their opponents from beginning to end, and yes, I remember the 5-0 drubbing versus Anaheim. They may have dominated that game on the scoresheet, but they didn’t have control of it quite like they did versus Colorado. The shots may have been 24-23 in favour of Colorado, but the Canucks attempted 61 to the Avalanche’s 41.
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