I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, February 7, 2013

Somehow, Cory Schneider getting the start in this game became just as controversial as him not getting the start in the previous three games, which is pretty silly. It also overshadowed some of the other storylines heading into this game, such as Jordan Schroeder playing in his home-state for the first time as a Canuck, Daniel Sedin not scoring a goal in 5 games straight, or Alex Burrows returning to the top line.

The storyline that most interested me is whether the Minnesota Wild are still as terrible as they were last year. How much of a difference would the addition of Zach “RZA” Parise and Ryan “Roto-Rooter” Suter make? Turns out, not much. The Canucks came out and dominated the first period, setting the stage for a fairly easy road victory. While there were bumps along that road, the Canucks ran over the Wild like they were talking on a cell phone. And, like a rubber-necker driving past a car accident, I watched this game.

Canucks 4 – 1 Wild

  • The Canucks essentially won this game in the first period, out-shooting the Wild 9-3 and out-scoring them 2-0. The Wild did eventually get their rears in gear by the second period. To be fair, their rears were previously in a gear, but it was first and they kept stalling every time they tried to shift. Just not enough clutch.
  • Cory Schneider didn’t have much to do in the first period, but a full one-third of his saves were great. So, that meant he made a grand total of one great save in the first, as Parise got the puck all alone and cut across the front of the net. Schneider stuck with him through thick and thin like a true friend, then kicked aside his shot like a Facebook friend request seven years later.
  • Dale Weise played just 49 seconds in the first period, but in that time he managed to lead the Canucks in shots with 2 and fight Zenon Konopka, one of the most experienced fighters in the league. While Weise is slightly bigger than Konopka, it was definitely a mis-match based on fighting ability. Still, Weise managed to hold his own in a tough, exhausting scrap. For Weise, that’s a win. Or, at the very least, an overtime or shootout loss, so he still gets a point.
  • Unfortunately, Konopka didn’t seem to get the memo that Weise is no longer the Canucks’ designated guy-who-isn’t-an-enforcer-but-has-to-fight-everyone-anyway, but is instead the Dutch Lindros. Just prior to his first fight, Weise drove to the net, forcing a tough save from Niklas Backstrom, then set up Aaron Volpatti for a great scoring chance in front.
  • Konopka even managed to goad Weise into a second fight, one that Weise was clearly reluctant to get into. We already know how reticent Weise is to fight twice in one game. Now that he can make the claim that he’s a legitimate third-liner, he’s likely even more frustrated to spend an extra 5 minutes off the ice. Instead of setting up Volpatti for scoring chances, he should be setting him up for fights, like a dating service but with punches.
  • Reuniting Burrows with the Sedins was a qualified success. Daniel fought off the check of Parise to open the scoring, swatting in a Burrows rebound like Obama swatting a fly, but the trio combined for just 3 shots on goal. Admittedly, they got less ice time than normal, as Vigneault began rolling the lines once the score was out of reach, but it wasn’t quite the revitalization of the Sedins that people might have hoped for.
  • Chris “Absinthe” Higgins finally scored his first goal of the season, tipping in a shot from Maxim Lapierre. The goal came exactly two minutes after a Parise roughing minor, which meant it was an even-strength goal, apparently. Somewhere in the NHL rulebook it says that a minor penalty is “up to” two minutes long, not “up to and including.”
  • The energy line of Lapierre, Higgins, and Zack “Third Wheel” Kassian was the Canucks best line against the Wild, creating some good offensive zone pressure despite playing a mainly defensive role. It’s nice to see Kassian take his demotion in stride and show his versatility. Once Kesler and Booth return, he’s likely to end up on the third line, so knowing that he can still create some offence from that position is reassuring.
  • The real highlight of the first period was seeing Keith Ballard get called for a penalty, then hearing him shout out, quite audibly, FOR WHAT? like he was Marcie from Magnolia. (NSFW)
  • As mentioned above, Schroeder was playing his first NHL game in his home-state and Vigneault made sure to get him out for the opening faceoff. Oddly enough, he got him out for the opening faceoff of the second period as well, and the third. I’ve mentioned how the Canucks have struggled on the opening shift without Kesler; apparently Vigneault liked the way Schroeder’s line started the game and wanted a similar start each period.
  • Schroeder’s family was watching the game and he gave them a show, tallying a team-high 4 shots on goal and battling hard all night. While his line did get stuck in the defensive zone for an extended shift in the second period, they also scored the third goal of the game on the powerplay. Schroeder dove after a rebound from a Jason Garrison wristshot, forcing Clayton Stoner to desperately sweep the puck away. Unfortunately for him, he swept it directly to Mason Raymond, who fired it into the open net like a human cannonball.
  • Brutally, Schroeder was robbed of an assist on the play, on the technicality that Stoner is the one who passed the puck to Raymond. But it’s okay: Schroeder’s dad was wearing a #40 Canucks jersey and Lapierre did get an assist, so he went home happy.
  • Just a minute-and-a-half later, Jannik Hansen made it 4-0, catching a beautiful aerial pass from Raymond for a breakaway, then snapping it past Backstrom like he was a Jet and Backstrom was a couple of kids playing basketball.
  • The Wild did manage to get one goal, a powerplay one-timer from Tom Gilbert after a couple nice passes. Schneider is faultless on that one, as Burrows lined up along the wall during a battle along the boards, ostensibly to block a pass to the point. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone at the point: Jonas Brodin had slipped down into the faceoff circle and Gilbert was in the slot. Basically, Burrows was guarding a pointless wall, like he was a soldier on the Israeli West Bank Barrier.
  • Schneider was excellent all game, particularly in the second period when the Wild pushed hard to cut into the Canucks’ lead. As pointed out by Iain MacIntyre, Schneider is 3-1-0 with a 1.71 GAA since his shaky opening night start. He also has a .940 SV% since that start. Luongo, so far this season, has a 1.53 GAA and a .940 SV%. We’re at the point where flipping a coin to decide who starts actually sounds like the most reasonable course of action.
  • Finally, Dan Murphy had a minor slip-up at the end of the game, accidentally referring to Minnesota as Schroeder’s home province. He owned up to it on Twitter immediately after, but my favourite part of the whole thing came in his post-game interview with Schroeder where he overemphasized “state” and made sure to say it twice: “…his first game in the state of Minnesota, his home-state.” See, the first “state” just brought him back to even, so he had to say it again so he would be plus-1 on the night.
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38 comments

  1. Jacob
    February 8, 2013

    Am I the only one who can see that the Canadian government’s phasing out the penny is clearly part of a Toronto-centric conspiracy to deprive A.V. of his only way to choose the starting goalie, forcing Gillis to trade Luongo to the Leafs for a low draft pick? Wake up sheeple, we’re down the rabbit hole here.

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  2. the olde coot
    February 8, 2013

    Up a step on Zach Parise
    Dank’s third from Burr seems rather easy
    Of course I know it really wasn’t
    Is there anyone who doesn’t

    (Fourteen, deuces and thirty-three
    Each one knowing where each will be
    Cycling the puck so cannily
    At least on this we can agree)

    Then with Parise off for two
    Chris Higgins shows what he can do
    He’s by the crease just standing there
    To deflect the shot from Lapierre

    When Raymond on the power play
    And Hansen on a breakaway
    Have Vancouver ahead by four
    There is no need for watching more

    As I now know how this game ends
    It’s off to poker with some friends

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  3. Zach Morris
    February 8, 2013

    Oh, Murph, plus/minus is a meaningless stat.

    Good game all round, really. Maybe this is just me, but I get more emotionally invested when Luongo is in net. I really just want to see him succeed, he’s a multi-faceted, likable guy. Schneider is awesome, but he’s a little too…vanilla, like that one coworker who’s really good at his job and always polite and stuff. He’s just not “have a beer with” kinda guy.

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    • Snepsts
      February 8, 2013

      You are just too proud of being one of the two dudes who nailed the Strombone twitter account. But I don’t blame you, that made Luongo lovable. I mean, a guy to go out for a beer with. No one actually loves hockey players, right? *watches replay of Jannik “Honey Badger” Hansen glove catch to snap four times*

      And I have my own nicknames for every Canucks player. It’s creepy, I know.

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      • Zach Morris
        February 8, 2013

        Honestly, I’ve been a Luongo fan since he was in Florida.
        I’ll have you know I liked him for his cool name.

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    • obituary mambo
      February 8, 2013

      Personally, I’d love to get a beer with either one of our goalies. They’re both incredibly witty; I imagine the conversation would be dazzling.

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      Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
  4. BoredReader
    February 8, 2013

    I enjoy the game breakdowns here, but the ” like a every single bullet point is getting kind of old. Every single one has one…it’s like watching a bad family guy episode. Really seems like you’re trying too hard, and it shows, sorry bud.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 8, 2013

      Fair point. I’ll try to vary my joke delivery mechanisms a bit more in the future. Sorry this IWTG didn’t tickle your fancy.

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      • the olde coot
        February 8, 2013

        But “their rears were previously in a gear, but it was first and they kept stalling every time they tried to shift. Just not enough clutch” was truly delightful.

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  5. peanutflower
    February 8, 2013

    I swear, Minnesota’s problem now is Heatley. Wherever he goes apathy and irritation follow shortly thereafter.

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    • chinook
      February 8, 2013

      Agreed. The solution: trade Heatley to a cash-strapped, cap-floor team, that wants the low dollars at the end of his contract. Or the Wild buys him out.

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  6. Shade of Blue
    February 8, 2013

    *I thought Schneider, Raymond, and Hansen were the three stars for the Canucks tonight.
    *I hope Tanev’s wrist isn’t too sore…that blocked shot looked like it really hurt.
    *How can a team with Pavelski, Heatley, M.Koivu and Suter be so bad? Are the depth guys on that team really so mediocre?
    *Refreshing to see the Canucks start the game right at the opening whistle, instead of skating around like they were doing warm up drills for the first 5-7 minutes.
    *Even when the Canucks were hemmed in their own end for extended periods, they remained calm and managed to avoid desperation penalties. This bodes well.
    *the Kassian, Higgins, Lappy line looked really good. I continue to be impressed by Kasian’s passing ability and he showed good defensive hustle, getting back to cover for a pinching dman and cutting off a potential two-on-one.
    *I can’t be the only one who spent the entire time between the 2nd and 3rd goals anxiously willing the Canucks to score again to and definitively pull away from the cursed two-goal lead.
    *There were years-long stretches when flipping a coin to choose the Canucks’ starter would have gotten you a middling goalie (at best), regardless of which way the toss went. Every time I hear Garrett talk about being a former goalie, I remember to be grateful that it is our current tandem patrolling the Canucks’ crease instead of, say, Garrett and Hanlon. If this counts as a controversy, then I hope things remain unsettled for the rest of the season!

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      February 8, 2013

      You’re thinking of Setoguchi, not Pavelski (who still plays for the Sharks).

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      • Zach Morris
        February 8, 2013

        Ssssssetoguchi

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  7. zach
    February 8, 2013

    turns out lately every time the city tries to run a guy out of town he ends up playing absolutely lights out. Count em, Raymond is scoring, Ballard is playing solid on the third pairing, Luongo…well he’s just being Luongo. You know where I’m going with this.

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    • Andrew
      February 8, 2013

      So what you are saying is we should trade the Sedins and Edler.

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      • Kesler's Nose
        February 8, 2013

        It’s a start.

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      • Brent
        February 8, 2013

        Maybe we should just say were are going to trade them?

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        Rating: +17 (from 17 votes)
  8. Andre
    February 8, 2013

    As much as I wish that the Canucks found their true form (they haven’t yet), I can see that our problems pale in comparison to others’. This makes me appreciate coach AV (and our goalies) so much more for keeping us winning in spite of ourselves.

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    • Flippin the Pool
      February 8, 2013

      Amen to that!

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  9. Henry
    February 8, 2013

    It’s time to start talking about Tanev and Ballard. They have become the Canuck’s best and most controlled pairing. Fun to watch these two working togetter

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 8, 2013

      I agree, they have been very good. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that they’re being matched up against the opponents’ weakest players. They’re being given fairly protected minutes, while Edler, Garrison, Bieksa, and Hamhuis are playing much tougher minutes.

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      • Nee
        February 8, 2013

        It’s nice to see those guys having success, considering Ballard’s well publicized struggles and Tanev’s humble origins.

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      • Brent
        February 8, 2013

        Doesn’t “sheltered minutes” mean making them look good for a trade? Hope not, I am liking Ballard a lot more this year and it appears AV is as well. Now as long as he doesn’t pole-ax one of our starting goalies (you can google it if you don’t know what I am talking about), I think it would be good to keep him, rather than buying out his contract at the end of the year as I thought they were going to do. I still miss Rome though. Remind me why we didn’t keep him?

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        • Daniel Wagner
          February 8, 2013

          No, no, sheltered minutes just means that you’re sheltering them from the best players on the other team. It’s possible that they’re doing this to make Ballard look better for a potential trade, but I doubt it. Usually, you shelter players because that’s what brings the best out of them. Ballard isn’t best suited to go up against tough opposition. His skillset is better suited to taking advantage of weaker opposition with his speed and puckhandling.

          As for Rome, he was simply going to cost too much to keep. He was a solid guy, but had limited utility. You can’t pay as much as Dallas did for a limited defenceman like Rome.

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          • Brent
            February 8, 2013

            Actually I was mainly kidding about the “sheltered minutes” thing. Just harking back to Cody’s profiling before he was shipped out.

            Sure Rome was somewhat limited, but he was solid defensively, made low risk decisions and had a definite physical presence. Given the way Edler was playing against LA last playoffs, I would have been much happier with Rome playing than Edler, but you pay a price offensively for that.

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      • steveB
        February 8, 2013

        I’ve seldom had the urge to throw my slipper at the TV due to a Ballard gaffe this season.
        Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Bieksa.

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  10. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    February 8, 2013

    “like a dating service but with punches.”

    So a normal dating service, right?

    Apparently Schroeder wore a #40 jersey at some point (I guess training camp at some point before Lapierre was on the team?), so even though I had the same reaction, it’s very likely Jordan’s Dad was indeed in a Schroeder jersey.

    Hey wait, isn’t a jersey with your own name considered to be a “jersey foul” on Puck Daddy for adults? How gauche, Mr. Schroeder. How gauche.

    By the way, PITB guys, “passittobulis.com” is officially blocked from my federal government computer. So you know you’ve made it when…

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  11. TeeJay
    February 8, 2013

    Talking about rears atleast nobody realeases their Kraken on the ice.

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  12. Warpstone
    February 8, 2013

    Which forwards get dropped when Kesler and Booth are healthy?

    Of the 4 on two-way contracts, it’s surely not going to be Kassian. That leaves Schroeder, Ebbett and Volpatti. Do you keep Volpatti and send the two centers to the Wolves?

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      February 8, 2013

      I suspect you’re right, even though this saddens me somewhat that Schroder could be demoted when he has played very well.

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      • Nee
        February 8, 2013

        Looks likely, unfortunately.

        Can’t see where he fits in the line-up once those 2 return. He’s not a 4th line crash and bang guy, he doesn’t really fit the 3rd line checking role that AV likes, and he’s a bit too green for full time 2nd line duties.

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  13. James W.
    February 8, 2013

    I have a hard time believing Minnesota is that bad. Forget their stars, part of the reason why Suter Pareasy Breezy Beautiful Cover Girl signed there were because of their prospects, but aside from Coyle, none of younger guys did much of anything. Granted, it’s a small sample size, and the majority of them will definitely be better in a few years, but the Wild’s depth did not impress me at all.

    Meanwhile, Vancouver rolled four lines all night, with our third line playing great, and all three defence parings played almost equally (Hamhuis played the most of all D-men with 22:54, Tanev played the least with 17:43), and this is still without our two best 5 on 5 players.

    The Canucks aren’t perfect by any means, but we’ve finally got forward depth that we didn’t have to sell the farm for, our 3rd defence pairing are actually pretty good, and we have two elite goalies that support each other.

    I’ll take this over, say, Matt Pettinger, Nolan Baumgartner, and Dany Sabourin any day.

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  14. Chris the Curmudgeon
    February 8, 2013

    I think Schneider has earned the next start right? It seems like instead of alternating, AV might want both guys to get stretches as the “#1″, where they play a few in a row, and then make way for the other guy during a back-to-back scenario.

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  15. jrc
    February 8, 2013

    What? No comment on Zach Parise (pronounced par-eez without the accent (like he was before), and pareazay with the accent (like his father)) telling the league to tell the announcers that it’s *now* pronounced pareessee? Did he take Huhked-on-Fonix with Brett Favre, or did he just need a change, like Prince, or like a unilingual anglophone looking for a job in Quebec (http://grooveshark.com/s/Looking+For+A+Job+In+Quebec/WxE8U?src=5)

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    • Brent
      February 8, 2013

      I love that Radio Free Vestibule skit! It was even funnier when my daughter translated what the guy actually said when he was forced to speak French. When we were traveling in France I and things were confusing I would say “Deux pamplemousse?” And my daughter would laugh. Mission accomplished!

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  16. Terry
    February 8, 2013

    I’m more curious if article writer Daniel Wagner is capable of forming a sentence or thought without attaching a simile, as though he constantly needs to show how “clever” he is. He must be “like” a one trick pony. :p

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    • Zach Morris
      February 8, 2013

      0/10

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