I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks, February 1, 2013

There were plenty of reasons to get excited for this game. The storylines! The drama! The controversy! It was Duncan Keith’s first game against the Canucks since he concussed Daniel Sedin with a dirty cheap shot last season. It was Roberto Luongo’s third straight start despite Cory Schneider supposedly being the number one guy heading into the season. It was the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks against the water-treading Vancouver Canucks, in the first game of the season between these two rivals.

Yes, there was a lot of hype heading into this game, and none of it paid off.

It seemed pretty clear that both coaches wanted their players to avoid the emotional rollercoaster like we saw when Buffalo played Boston the game after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller. Both teams played a controlled, defensive style and there were minimal post-whistle scrums and such that we’d see in even a normal game between these two teams. Luongo played well, easily justifying Vigneault’s decision. It was disappointing.

Well, it was disappointing to anyone who actually believed the hype. While it wasn’t the prettiest game, it’s always nice to watch a win, which I managed to do when I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 1 Blackhawks (SO)

  • The Canucks slowed this game down to a crawl and it looked intentional. It makes sense: the Blackhawks came into this game with a 5-0-1 record and a plus-9 goal differential, with a great powerplay and the best penalty kill in the league. The Canucks, on the other hand, have been limping through the start of the season, with Gillis flat-out stating that they “just needed to get through this first 2-3 weeks.” If the Canucks could have used Dr. Horrible’s Freeze Ray for the entire 60 minutes, they would have.
  • As for revenge on Duncan Keith, the Canucks thankfully showed little interest. They simply tried to hit him as you would any defenceman who carries the puck a lot and, as per usual, Keith side-stepped most of the hits. The biggest check on him was by none other than Henrik Sedin, who knocked him to the ice and received a big ovation from the Rogers Arena crowd. Henrik finished the game with 3 hits, which was odd. Then he rescued a whole bunch of Mudokons, which was Oddworld. Distinct difference.
  • The fans at Rogers Arena were fairly quiet all game — understandable given how uneventful it was, but they at least booed lustily whenever Keith touched the puck. They had plenty of opportunities, too, as Keith had over 28 minutes of ice time. Maybe that’s why the crowd was so quiet; all that booing wore them out. If there’s one thing I learned from reading Casper the Friendly Ghost comics, it was to always warm up and stretch before you boo.
  • On Tuesday, I wrote about how the Canucks were missing Kesler for the opening shift, and this game showed another example. Henrik Sedin lost the opening faceoff and the Canucks’ top line was stuck in the defensive zone for the first minute of the game, icing the puck three times in the process. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to ice it a fourth time, or they would have gotten the next one free.
  • The Blackhawks were undoubtedly the better team, but Roberto Luongo was phenomenal, stoning the Blackhawks all game like they were all named Stephen. Saul of Tarsus had box seats and looked on in approval.
  • Alex Edler started and finished the play that opened the scoring for the Canucks, threading a pass through the neutral zone to Henrik at the far blue line, who made a great move around Keith that somehow relieved the Blackhawks’ blueliner of his stick. With Mason Raymond driving the net and taking Keith with him, Henrik fed Zack “Dat Pass” Kassian, who faked the shot and found Edler trailing the play. It was a beautiful pass by Kassian that deserved a beautiful shot. Edler delivered, roofing a wrist shot over Corey Crawford. It was so beautiful that it made Ricky Fitts re-evaluate his entire existence.
  • Edler had a great game, but for one exception. He had a game-high 9 shot attempts — 3 on net, 3 blocked, and 3 missed — and blocked 3 shots himself. That one exception? He got absolutely undressed by Blackhawks’ rookie Brandon Saad, forcing Luongo to make one of his many fantastic saves. And by many fantastic saves, I mean just on that play, as he made a great kick save on Marian Hossa just a few seconds later. Luongo was more locked in than Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart.
  • Saad was arguably the Blackhawks’ best player, with a game-high 4 shots on net. He looked dangerous all night, and came just short of scoring when he got tripped by Edler while powering to the net. The whistle went for the penalty before it crossed and Hamhuis might have swept it away anyway, but it was still a great move by the rookie.
  • While the game lacked emotion, there was one moment where tempers flared like a pair of bell bottom jeans. Late in the first period, Burrows was sprung on a breakaway, but was called offside. Disappointed, he slid the puck into the net after the whistle, which understandably displeased the Blackhawks. Sheldon Brookbank went after him, Burrows shrugged his shoulders as if he didn’t know what was going on, and they both went to the box. That’s about as emotional as it got. I’ve seen more emotion from Ben Stein.
  • While it may not have been his best save, Luongo’s second period glove stop on Bryan Bickell was definitely his most theatric. He flashed more leather than a photographer for a baseball glove catalogue. That’s probably not where you thought I was going with that.
  • While Keith has replaced him as the main Blackhawks villain, there is still some distaste left for David Bolland. It was still unfortunate to see him leave the game early, however, as he was the recipient of an inadvertent slash on the ankle by Jannik Hansen, who was simply sweeping his stick behind him trying to deflect the puck. Bolland did not return.
  • Patrick Kane tied the game up midway through the third period off a nice pass from Andrew Shaw. It’s tough to apportion blame on this one. Jason Garrison and Jannik Hansen lose a puck battle along the boards to Patricks Sharp and Kane. Kevin Bieksa doesn’t take Kane, though he does have to worry about Sharp coming to the net. Chris Higgins can’t get back in time to take Kane’s stick. And Luongo slides across expecting the early shot, only to have Kane hold onto the puck and roof it. Really, it’s just a nice play by some of the Blackhawks’ best players.
  • The Canucks had a golden opportunity to re-take the lead, getting a powerplay before the puck was even dropped after Kane’s goal, which turned into a 5-on-3 shortly after. It was one of the worst 5-on-3s I have ever seen, as the first unit couldn’t even get set up in the offensive zone. It was more painful to watch than a Scary Movie sequel.
  • Luongo’s biggest and hardest save came late, as Shaw tipped the puck on net, then tried to poke it in. While some goaltenders get deked out of their jock straps, Luongo thankfully still had his on and made the save with his groinal area. It was his second knob save in as many games. It would have been tragic to let in such a junk goal at the end of such a magnificent performance.
  • The best part of that save is Jordan Schroeder boxing out his man and frantically pointing at Luongo’s crotch, trying to make him understand where the puck is. You can see it most clearly in the overhead view. It’s right there. Right there! No, don’t move, don’t fall backwards, IT’S RIGHT THERE!
  • Luongo continued his stellar work in overtime and in the shootout, stopping every single attempt on net. His best save in the shootout came on Kane, who tried his patented quintillion-deke, the same one that fried Cory Schneider’s synapses in Switzerland during the lockout. Luongo didn’t bite on any of his many dekes, then dove out and grabbed both the puck and Kane’s stick. Unfortunately, Kane then fell over, ruining Luongo’s plan to get a ride around the rink.
  • Schroeder got the chance to score the shootout winner with his first ever attempt in the NHL. He just barely succeeded, squeaking the puck through Crawford’s legs. He also had a little help from the goalie, who accidentally tapped the puck over the line as he made a last ditch effort to sweep the puck away with his stick. Thank goodness he scored or we would have had scores of fans blaming Luongo for choking and allowing the tying goal in the third.
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34 comments

  1. Kelvin Yu
    February 2, 2013

    #kapassinated

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  2. betty
    February 2, 2013

    Two words: WE WON.

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    Rating: +15 (from 15 votes)
    • Angry Canadian
      February 2, 2013

      Those two words are always more sweeter against a team like Chicago, as opposed to, say, Nashville (apologies to any Predator fans who may have stumbled onto this page, no offense intended).

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      • Mel
        February 2, 2013

        I see that being a Canadian won out over being angry, hence the apology.

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        • Angry Canadian
          February 2, 2013

          I save my anger for Boston, politicians, lousy public transit, people who say Lu sucks (and there’s enough of them still, somehow), and bad customer service. Nashville just deserves our pity most of the time.

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      February 2, 2013

      Tied, really.

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  3. immie_8
    February 2, 2013

    So glad that you were able to get this up tonight! Reading IWTG after a win is always a treat! Great job, as usual! Only you could seemlessly fit in a stoning of Stephen reference – brillian!

    “That’s probably not where you thought I was going with that.”

    No, but I wish you would have gone there. ;)

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    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  4. Brent
    February 2, 2013

    I thought there was lots of emotion. It was just intense, focused emotion. I was pretty worried for the last few min’s of the third, the shootout (what no mention of the just barely high sticking by garrison?) and had basically given up by the shootout. I mean it was Luongo in net! For the shootout! I was pleasantly surprized! Hope Schroeder got that puck.

    Is this the turn around game? Is it all light and roses from now on?

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  5. Shade of Blue
    February 2, 2013

    *Saad was remarkable for for Chicago and used his speed on several occasions to make the Canucks d-men look flatfooted.
    *Hossa was the Hawks’ best player; always dangerous offesnively and made a couple of key defensive plays, back checking Hansen on could have been a clean break on net and also managing to almost single handedly disrupt the Canucks’ 5 on 3.
    *Kassian continues to impress.
    *The muddle that is the second and third lines cannot be disrupted too soon by Kessler’s return.
    *If this is what Lou plays like as the number two guy, it’ll be worth his contract to just keep him (and our new number one). Wonderful to see the goalie in the Canucks net being the proverbial brick wall (again) tonight.

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  6. Abby
    February 2, 2013

    “And with my freeze ray I will stop–the clock.”

    Really, you guys just keep getting better with these references.

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  7. eon869
    February 2, 2013

    They play the Oilers on Monday, not the Flames.

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  8. v
    February 2, 2013

    biggest, hardest save – you forgot it was his longest one too!

    … it took a while

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  9. Andre
    February 2, 2013

    This game underscored your earlier point (Alain Vigneault rides the point thief as Luongo gets third straight start…). I recall from the past as similar tactic by AV, where he used a player with unusual frequency to highlight his play before a trade. Ah! It’s the Cody Hodgson trick again!

    Clearly AV is doing a Cody Hodgson to get a better deal for Luongo. How can anyone be so blind in thinking that Luongo is really THAT good? Don’t let yourselves be fooled again, Vancouver fans!

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    • Bford
      February 2, 2013

      Yeah, Luongo was clearly being sheltered and put in easy situations that would make him look good: it’s much easier to get a win from the crease than from the bench.

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    • Zach Morris
      February 2, 2013

      I liked your comment, and then I read it more closesly, and I was going to get angry, but then I realised you were reasonable and humourous :)

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    • Andre
      February 2, 2013

      An obvious corollary is that Canucks fans will howl for months after Lou is gone, forever comparing the new arrivals with the brilliance of Lou’s goaltending.

      Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Roberto Loungo isn’t coming into his prime and turn out to be the best goalkeeper in the league at this time. He seems to have conquered his one great weakness, which is the debilitating intensity of his expectations that caused his inconsistency.

      Ironically, this may have been hastened by the trade talks. I think that he let go of his expectations and simply focuses on the game ahead. Watching him in games, he seems more relaxed than the pacing lion of the past.

      No matter what, we will always love you Lou Strombone!

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      • TeeJay
        February 2, 2013

        Lu is playing for the love of the game. He LEAD WITH HIS HEART.I hope the whole TEAM does too.

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        Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
  10. mac n cheese
    February 2, 2013

    “It would have been tragic to let in such a junk goal”

    I see what you did there ;)
    I love this blog.

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  11. TeeJay
    February 2, 2013

    When the unexpected happens to the suprised of evryone which seems to be the FRINGE Season Finale Episode. Nah! Just kidding around.

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  12. jenny wren
    February 2, 2013

    proloque

    i beg of every head that talks
    an extended moment’s mercy
    about this game against the hawks
    not more of goalie controversy

    oh how i would that were to be
    you’ll note i used subjunctive mood
    because you know as well as me*
    the topic to which they will allude

    could always watch the game on mute
    to miss the much repeated rants
    and practice on my fipple flute
    the simple silence to enhance

    (others will want the volume loud
    desirous of the latest view
    one can be lonely in a crowd
    when all that’s said is nothing new)

    the game

    the story now is one of spite
    the source of that no mystery
    canucks against the hawks tonight
    two teams that have a history

    it’s on such things the heads insist
    the game itself is end to end
    then kassian gets his first assist
    chicago is the first to bend

    (’twas clear that kass could just have shot
    but he saw edler breaking in
    so twenty-three his third goal got
    one prayed that we’d go on to win

    when the canucks and blackhawks meet
    one wants to say, “I Watched This Game”
    especially if chicago’s beat
    for bragging rights one then can claim)

    it seems a second shutout win
    but then that goal from patrick kane
    now neither goalie lets one in
    and so it’s overtime again

    epiloque

    i saw jordan schroeder score
    and lui stopping four of four

    jenny wren

    * it’s clear it is “as well as i”
    at times some licence one must take
    though grammar geeks are standing by
    just waiting for that one mistake

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    Rating: +5 (from 13 votes)
  13. Zach Morris
    February 2, 2013

    I’m almost disappointed it was such a civil (BORING, UN-INTENSE) game. I still found it super exciting though, especially in overtime (FIVE MINUTES TO END IT ALL, BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THAT) and the shootout, where Luongo redeemed himself for what some felt was a weak tying goal (YEP, LUONGO SUCKS. STOP FLOOPING).
    I was surprised that Lapierre had such a weak attempt in the shootout (WOW MAN NEXT TIME JUST FALL DOWN), but very happy that Luongo didn’t face backwards like Carey Price in an All Star Game attempt to stop Kane’s All Star Game shot. Kane, where was your cape?
    Also, I have never been able to summon more than dislike for Patrick Kane. He just seems like a not-very-nice but highly talented person. Am I missing something? Does he build birdhouses for injured sparrows beside Dan Hamhuis in the offseason?

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    • Zach Morris
      February 2, 2013

      Also, no mention of Wes Rypien dropping the puck? #hockeytalks

      Also also, no mention of the failure of Blue Steel? #bringbackthespinorama

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    • Nee
      February 2, 2013

      “FLOOPING” ?

      : P

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  14. John Andress
    February 2, 2013

    If I am not mistaken, goals scored in a shootout don’t count in the calculation of a player’s career scoring statistics. It is ironical then, that Shroeder has a shootout winning goal on his resume whilst not yet being credited with his first official NHL career goal. How strange is that?

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  15. Lenny
    February 2, 2013

    “It was still unfortunate to see him leave the game early,”

    By ‘unfortunate’, you mean ‘totally awesome’, right?

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  16. Cathylu
    February 2, 2013

    Well, that totally was not the type of game I expected to see. Henrik Sedin hitting people!?!? What’s up with that?! Usually when we go to a shootout with Lu in goal I get a bad feeling but he was great. I’m glad for the 2 points.

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  17. Nee
    February 2, 2013

    “The biggest check on him was by none other than Henrik Sedin, who knocked him to the ice and received a big ovation from the Rogers Arena crowd. ”

    And you forgot to mention that Daniel checked him first into the boards, and then Henrik shoved him to the ice for good measure. Loved that.

    We didn’t need some guy to fight Keith this game. It was nicer/funner to see the twins fight their own battles.

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  18. Colby
    February 2, 2013

    I want to know what Luongo and Kane were chatting about at the end, maybe Luo was just asking him how his vacation was.

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    • Zach Morris
      February 2, 2013

      Lu said, “Not today”, in reference to Kane’s shootout attempt.
      Or maybe he was just turning down Kane’s dinner offer

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  19. Nee
    February 2, 2013

    May I propose this photo for the next ‘I Find This Photo Odd’ ?

    http://2.cdn.nhle.com/canucks/images/upload/gallery/2013/02/160505833_slide.jpg

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 2, 2013

      Heh, I think that’s worth a post all right.

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      • Nee
        February 3, 2013

        Yay! Love that you did it.

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  20. Smokey
    February 2, 2013

    You won’t miss Luongo, he ain’t going anywhere.

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  21. Kenji
    February 2, 2013

    Saul of Tarsus citation ftw

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