The Canucks came into this game riding a 4-game win streak. The Flames came into this game playing, well, the way the Calgary Flames play nowadays. They’re simply not a good team anymore, and they’re especially not a good team when their centre depth is so depleted by injuries that their first-line centre is their first-line winger.
Of course, the worst injury the Flames are dealing with is in goal. Miikka Kiprusoff is out with a lower-body issue, so Leland Irving was in with a full body issue, the issue being that his body doesn’t get hit by pucks as often as Kiprusoff’s. The Canucks were able to use that to their advantage, putting 5 unanswered goals past Irving in the final two periods. Not unanswered, however, is the question of whether or not I watched this game.
Canucks 5 – 1 Flames
We’ll spend some time talking about another Canuck to make personal history tonight, but first, a word on Chris Tanev, who made personal history the other night when he scored his first NHL goal. At 5:24 of the first period of this game, he had another first: he made what had to be his first ever bad pass, a no-look toss behind the goal that was easily intercepted. Tanev is always casual, but this pass was just too casual, like wearing Juicy Couture pants to the office.
Since this game had the feel of a 60-minute outperformance, it’s strange to think that there was a time when the Canucks actually trailed, but the Flames opened the scoring with just inside two minutes remaining in the first. Lee Stempniak was able to pounce on a loose puck without any interference from Alex Edler, whose stick had broken moments earlier, as it often does, so he was unable to lift or tie up Stempniak’s. Still, I wished Edler had just reached out and touched Stempniak’s stick with his hand. I suspect it would have come apart upon contact. Think of how many sticks break in his grip. Edler has “The Edler touch”.
Mason Raymond took a puck to the face in the first period, and wound up spilling so much blood that the game had to be stopped to clear out all the sharks.
Alex Burrows tied the game up in the second period, finishing off a little Sedinery from his usual spot in front of the goal. Burrows is practiced at getting a stick on pucks in the crease, and he showed his speed on this play, spotting the puck loose in front of Leland Irving and poking it like a Polkaroo. DJ Dave played “Electric Worry”, as usual, but I was secretly hoping he’d just play the Polkaroo song. How d’ya do? Polkaroo! How are you? Polkaroo! Whaddya say? Polkaroo! Pol-ka-roo!
The weirdest part of that goal: when Burrows goes to high-five everyone at the bench, Keith Ballard holds his glove out in the wrong direction, blocking the camera with his palm on purpose. Why? No idea.
The Canucks’ first powerplay gave us our first look at a new powerplay formation — one that replaced Daniel Sedin with Jordan Schroeder, then replaced the second defenceman with Daniel Sedin. It didn’t pay off on its debut, but it did in the second period, when Henrik Sedin somehow managed to lure the entire Flames penalty-kill to the half-wall before Alex Burrows sneaked in and fired a pass to Alex Edler. Showing his usual, impressive vision, Edler quickly threw it to Schroeder, who looked like a lost child standing in front, all tiny and unattended. He directed the puck past Leland Irving for his first career NHL goal.
You don’t tend to get a lot of credit when you’re the second assist on someone’s first ever NHL goal, but Alex Burrows really made that goal happen. First, he dug the puck out of the battle along the wall and fed it to Edler. But that’s not where his great play ended. One of the reasons Schroeder’s so unattended is that Dennis Wideman, who left the goalmouth to try to win the puck, can’t get back to the front of the net because Burrows rushes in front of him and runs some unseen interference to allow the Canucks to go one-up. It’s the best hidden block leading to a 1-up since the hidden block before the first gap in World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros.
The Canucks closed off a three-goal second period with Kevin Bieksa’s second of the season. His shot was nice, but I was much more enamoured with Daniel Sedin’s pass, which made Steve Begin look like a silly, silly man. Begin rushes to the wall, thinking he’ll be able to cut Daniel off. Instead, Daniel stops up, then makes a swivelling back-pass around Begin to Bieksa for the one-timer. I like the way Begin tries to rush back into the shooting lane, then realizes he’s been drawn too far out of it and gives up. You can actually see the moment where he’s like, I suck.
The only reason Alex Burrows doesn’t get hit with Bieksa’s shot is because he dives out of the way. But he dives forward. What’s that about? That’s like in the movies when someone gets crushed by a falling tree because they run in the direction its falling. People say Burrows is a diver, but if he was really that experienced, he wouldn’t be diving forward like a moron.
Man alive, the Sedins were good in this game. I’d say they benefited quite a bit from Bob Hartley’s curious decision to line-match them with the Flames’ first line, which featured non-center Alex Tanguay playing center. The result was a dominant night from the Sedins, who possessed the puck so thoroughly that it started spiderwalking down stairs and spinning its head all the way around (warning: both links super creepy).
I enjoyed Maxim Lapierre just taking a Flames’ player’s stick, then getting as penalty for it. They called it holding the stick. It was stealing. I half-expected to try to sell the stick on Craigslist.
The Canucks also got a little lucky in this one. Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins’ goal, for instance, was the result of a fortunate bounce, as Kevin Bieksa threw the puck on net, only to have it jump off Maxim Lapierre’s leg and right onto Higgins’ stick. Higgins wasted no time in tucking it home the way young Ben Stiller should have in There’s Something About Mary.
Eventually, one Flames fan had seen enough and decided to throw his or her jersey onto the ice in protest. Or maybe it was a Canucks fan making Flames fans look silly by throwing one on the ice to make it look like a Flames fan had given up. Either way, we support this. I was surprised the Flames didn’t get called for too many men when that thing hit the ice. It would have been easy to confuse it for an actual Flame since, for long stretches, the rest of the team was invisible too.
I really liked the line of Hansen, Raymond, and Schroeder. They’re fast, they do great work on the backcheck, and they combined for the Canucks’ 5th goal. Schroeder scored it, getting his second of the night and his career by collecting the rebound on a Mason Raymond shot and putting it past Irving. If you’re wondering how he was so wide open on the goal, remember that he’s very small. I mean, his helmet is one half of a Kinder Surprise capsule.
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