I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, February 12, 2013

Games against the Minnesota Wild used to be an interminable bore. They still are, but they used to be too.

It was hoped by many that this would be the game that Henrik Sedin tied and then surpassed Markus Naslund’s franchise record in points. It was not to be, as the Wild were intent on making this game a slog with minimal scoring chances and little end-to-end play. While the Sedins dominated the offensive zone, they just couldn’t get the puck past Darcy Kuemper, who was starting his first ever NHL game. As per usual, however, the Canucks found a way to win thanks to great goaltending, secondary scoring, and offensive contributions from the defence.

Frankly, I have no idea why anyone would want Henrik to break the record against the Wild. I would be okay with him going on a brief cold streak, then breaking the franchise record against the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday, which would be much more satisfying. So, honestly, I’m kind of glad that Henrik didn’t get a point when I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 1 Wild

  • Roberto Luongo was once again excellent, making 25 saves on 26 shots, including a flurry at the end of the game when the Wild pulled their goaltender for the extra skater. His best save seemed to be largely overlooked, a kick save on Charlie Coyle in the slot on the powerplay in the first period that kept the Canucks up by one. Luongo’s best moment, however, came before the game even started, as he took the time to stretch next to Kuemper and chat with him before he made his first NHL start. It was a nice gesture and it had to be appreciated.
  • Of course, it may have also helped steady Kuemper’s nerves, as he looked marvelous throughout, making 28 saves on 30 shots. His best save came on Daniel Sedin after Alex Burrows sprung him on a breakaway with an aerial pass. Daniel cut across the net and tried to shoot against the grain, but Kuemper stuck out the blocker to keep it a 1-goal game.
  • Zack “Cantrip” Kassian weaved some minor magic for the Canucks’ first goal, finding Kevin Bieksa streaking into the slot with a slick pass under Justin Falk’s leg as the defenceman tried to kneel down to block it. Kassian has just two assists so far, but they have both been gorgeous.
  • Despite not scoring, the Sedins and Burrows were the Canucks’ best line, right up there with Show me the money and I’ll have what she’s having. The trio combined for 10 shots on goal and were constantly keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Oddly enough, Henrik’s best shift didn’t come with Daniel and Burrows, but when he got stuck on the ice after a change. He kept the puck cycling with Chris Higgins and Zack Kassian, spinning the Wild defence in circles and the Canucks eventually got a full line change in without the puck leaving the Wild end of the ice.
  • While the Sedins and Burrows were the best line, Jannik Hansen was the best Canuck, and his linemates, Jordan Schroeder and Mason Raymond, were also solid. Despite lacking the speed of Dale “The Flying Dutchman” Weise, seeing their combined speed in action is more exciting than heating up an electron.
  • With the Sedins stymied, the second line took it upon themselves to be wizardous, combining for my favourite goal of this young season. It started along the boards, where Jordan Schroeder held off Cal Clutterbuck and Tom Gilbert, who have a combined 9 inches and 70 pounds on the pint-sized centre, until Raymond could dig out the puck. Raymond then toe-dragged between two Wild defenders and found Keith Ballard stepping up from the blueline with a nifty pass. Ballard then passed the puck between Clayton Stoner’s legs to a wide-open Hansen, who went bar-down with a perfect wrist shot.
  • Incidentally, “toe-drag” is the ugliest sounding name for what is really a beautiful move. It sounds like some oily substance that builds up between your toes instead of a fine bit of finesse. I’ve got a terrible case of toe-drag. I never should have borrowed Chris Higgins’s Crocs.
  • While Jannik Hansen is due for a regression, I do think that he’ll score a decent number of goals this season, for the simple reason that he’s getting a lot more shots. With his 5 shots against the Wild, Hansen now has 32 shots through 12 games. That would put on-pace for 219 shots in an 82-game season. His career-high is 137 from last year. I expect him to score around 12 goals this season, which would be the equivalent of 20 goals in a full season. If he starts getting more powerplay time, however, he could end up with a few more.
  • Without Manny Malhotra, who missed the game for “personal reasons,” the Canucks struggled a bit in the faceoff circle. Maxim Lapierre was the only Canuck over 50%, but he did his best work in the defensive zone, winning 8-of-12 draws. The rest of the Canucks combined to go 3-for-12 in the defensive zone, so Vigneault relied on him at the end of the game for a defensive zone faceoff with the Wild’s net empty and less than a minute to go. Unfortunately, he lost the faceoff, then made matters worse by shooting for the empty net from his own blueline and missing, resulting in an icing call and another defensive zone faceoff. He made amends by winning the second one, allowing the defence to run out the clock.
  • Kassian and Lapierre provided the physical presence for the Canucks, with 5 hits each, but the best hit of the game came from Kevin Bieksa, who steamrolled Clutterbuck like he was Judge Doom.
  • Lapierre’s physical presence presented a problem, unfortunately, when he somehow ended up with the only penalty after coming to the defence of Daniel Sedin. Falk hit Daniel from behind into the boards, which seemed like it should have been a penalty. Lapierre did the right thing by getting into Falk’s face, but he was the only one pulled from the ensuing scrum. Devin Setoguchi scored a pretty goal on the subsequent powerplay when Andrew Ebbett missed his assignment on the penalty kill, leaving the front of the goal wide open.
  • The Canucks had multiple chances to extend their lead. When it was 1-0, Burrows got a breakaway and somehow missed the net with his patented backhand move. On a 2-on-1 with Hansen, Edler kept the puck and shot it wide instead of making the pass. Shortly after Setoguchi made it 2-1, Daniel had an open net and put it wide. Later in the second period, a pass from Higgins hopped over Kassian’s stick with Kuemper down and out. Even taking into account some of the close calls for the Wild, this game wasn’t anywhere near as close as it seemed. Or rather, like a man with halitosis whispering in your ear, it was closer than it should have been.
  • The oddest moment of the game came in the third period. As both teams were making line changes, Mikko Koivu somehow got ahold of Burrows’ glove and absconded with it into the Wild bench. Burrows didn’t seem to really notice until he was on his own bench and started yelling. As the ref came over to see what the fuss was all about, the glove was surreptitiously tossed back over the boards onto the ice. It was petty, immature, and friggin’ hilarious.
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27 comments

  1. Josh D.
    February 13, 2013

    Always happy with a Canucks win, but I’m always pleased to see boys from my hometown team make the big leagues! Good on you, Darcy! Smiles all around tonight!

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  2. obituary mambo
    February 13, 2013

    I won’t lie, I was starting to get a little stressed out there near the end. A situation which was helped in no way by my coffee buzz. Had the Canucks been scoring goals, that buzz would have been channeled into euphoria. Since the only thing happening was the usual boredom that ensues whenever the Wild are in the house, it instead turned into ever mounting frustration. It was about mid-way through the 3rd period that I realized I had forgotten to put my lucky jewelery back on after having taken it off during the 1st intermission. o_O If this game had been lost because of my flakiness, I would have been distraught. In the end it was of no matter, as the Canucks skated away with their sixth straight victory and with the Honey Badger’s gorgeous goal as the game winner. I’m pleased as punch with that. ^__^

    Excellent point about wanting the record breaker to come against Chicago. In a perfect world, that would totally be the case. Let’s all cross out fingers and hope really hard. I’ve always heard that good things come to those who wait. Well, Henrik’s been waiting; here’s hoping he gets the payoff he so richly deserves in the most satisfying manner possible.

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    • Zach Morris
      February 13, 2013

      I do like the idea, with the caveat that we all suggested it would be nice to win Game 7 against Boston at home as well…

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      • J21 (@Jyrki21)
        February 14, 2013

        Just out of wonder, why does it really matter who the opponent is? It’s not like they’re going to be awestruck or anything. In fact, I doubt they’d notice.

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  3. Andre
    February 13, 2013

    I recall seeing Mason Raymond losing his balance only once this season, compared with “all the time” last year. The sick moved and pass he made (at full speed) for the assist on Hansen’s goal would have been impossible last year.

    He has been similarly potent in other games this year, which makes the “Speed line” a genuine threat, one that will nicely complement the second line when Booth and Kesler return. If they stick together, they should be good for 30 goals between them this year.

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    Rating: +18 (from 18 votes)
    • Nick
      February 13, 2013

      Last season, in the first 5 or 6 games after returning from his back injury, Raymond was really good. Some commentators like D Taylor and G Valk were amazed, and said he looked like he’d never been away. But then the decline. And the balance issues. I wonder if that was mostly because he had no off-season to train, and he was just out of gas?

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      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  4. TamaraB
    February 13, 2013

    Having watched MayRay struggle after a cataclymic injury last season was hard — watching him come back and play his game — great. I enjoy seeing his dynamic. Confidence is a beautiful thing.

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    Rating: +25 (from 25 votes)
    • tj
      February 13, 2013

      I was thinking the same thing. The confidence he displayed for that goal was breathtaking. I’ve always been a MayRay fan, even when he was struggling he was determined, so to see him break through is really exciting.

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      Rating: +14 (from 14 votes)
  5. jms
    February 13, 2013

    Since I will be at the Chicago game, I appreciate the hoping for Hank to cool down for a few days. I don’t want to get beaten up at the United Center but it would be so fantastic to be able to celebrate the record!

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  6. Bolderevolution
    February 13, 2013

    I only caught the second half of the second period, but it was enough for me to really want Henrik to score as soon as possible and sort out this franchise scoring record once and for all. He seemed to be forcing it a bit, and he won’t do much against the Stars, Blues or Hawks with pot-shots and extended shifts. Maybe it was just a small sample of the game and I´m off-base here, but it seemed to me he needs to re-chill-out and play the game again like those silly fight scenes in the recent Sherlock Holmes flicks…i.e. like he usually does.

    Oh, and props to MayRay (to join the chorus) – watching him play like before he broke his back is awesome. He might even be a better player this year than 2010-2011. That toe-drag was beautiful.

    And, to offer an opinion on the term toe-drag, it sounds like a figure-skating move, which is only appropriate for such a pretty play. Anyone with foot hang-ups can start calling them toad-rags, maybe.

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  7. Amor de Cosmos
    February 13, 2013

    This was one of those occasions when I tend to agree with John Garrett that the Sedins don’t get anywhere near as much protection from the officials as other elite players in the NHL. Falk’s hit on Daniel looked a stonewall penalty, and it wasn’t the only one in this game. The referees allowed Minnesota to bully their way back into a contest in which they were being dominated, presumably to make a dull game appear more competitive. The Wild scored on the subsequent PP, and could easily have tied it later which would have been a travesty. This propensity to “even things up” on the part of officials is one of the characteristics of the NHL that makes it such a bush league operation.

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    Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
    • tj
      February 13, 2013

      Yeah, I’m a bit concerned that this is going to be another meme that others are going to play this season,W e’ll complain and get called whiners, and Ron Maclean will yap about how wrong we are. The Sedins, however, have been a bit more aggressive themselves, and we do have a bit more bite in our line-up. Nevertheless, if refs are starting off by letting that kind of garbage go–to the point that AV starts hollering at them after the rest of the team does while heading to the locker room–it’s going to be a more nail-biting season than I’d anticipated.

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    • Mark Ragnar
      February 13, 2013

      The refs were actually paid by the mob who had money on the under point spread, would the game be refereed any differently? Or is this just my Vancouver fan paranoia?

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  8. Zach Morris
    February 13, 2013

    I am glad I did not watch this game

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  9. jenny wren
    February 13, 2013

    Saw the Habs beat Tampa Bay
    Waiting to watch Vancouver play
    In the last minute six on four
    The Lightning struck to tie the score
    On a shot from Sami Salo
    (Which design won “He’s Your Palo”)

    147′s TSN2
    With the Canucks and Bobby Lu
    Bieksa’s first to put one in
    (Habitants got the shootout win)
    The goal on a nifty pass
    From my favorite Mau Mau Kass

    With Higgins banished to the box
    Luongo stops a dozen shots
    (Of course that is hyperbole
    It being really only three
    It just seemed that it was so)
    Then Hansen helped his PDO

    Throughout the third a threatened tie
    Setoguchi’s goal the reason why
    But it stays scoreless through the frame
    Vancouver wins another game
    While rookie Kuemper’s night in net
    Although a loss he’ll not forget

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    Rating: +7 (from 11 votes)
  10. Rob Robertson
    February 13, 2013

    I was at last nights game. The ‘Southsiders’ were also at last nights game. I guess they’re a group of hardcore Whitecap’s fans or something?

    Anyway, those guys were awesome. They were cheering and chanting the entire game. Orignal chants too, not the same tired old “go Canucks go” routine. I felt like I was at an English Premiere League game (the final score also helped that feeling).

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  11. Kenji
    February 13, 2013

    Cantrip? Because “Kassassin” is a copyrighted intellectual property?

    I like it, but I think the kids today would want something more “hep”

    How about “KA$$ MONEY”

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    • DanD
      February 13, 2013

      I always thought Zack “Big Mama” Kassian had a nice ring to it.

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    • Mark Ragnar
      February 13, 2013

      I was hoping “Zackhammer” would catch on.

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      Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
    • Rob
      February 13, 2013

      Zack “Big Mac’ Kassian – I’d like fries with that.

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  12. piker
    February 13, 2013

    It was awesome to have the Southsiders cheering proudly and loudly at an otherwise zombie-like game.

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  13. Benjo
    February 13, 2013

    Wasn’t it against the Wild last season that Bieksa threw his glove at someone? These 2 teams are glovier than OJ Simpson.

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  14. PeeSeeGee
    February 13, 2013

    I will preface this with the fact I grew up in Scotland and only started following hockey about 10 years ago when I came to Canada. My pre-2003 knowledge is a bit patchy.

    That said, every time I hear about Charlie Coyle, I confuse him with Charlie Conway from the Mighty Ducks movies.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      February 13, 2013

      Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

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  15. shoes
    February 13, 2013

    The NHL should be embarrassed by the treatment the Sedins are given by the refs. It has long passed the point of obvious and into the realm of incredible with the Keith hit on Danny not even drawing a 2 minute penalty. It will not change as long as the “colonator” is the defacto boss of the officials and for some strange reason Dan Ohallaron seems to be channeling his inner Auger into this vendetta. Not sure what this is all about, but it seemed to arrive with the Harts and Art Ross’s and then escalate during the public bashing by NBC and CBC during the Vancouver Boston series. It appears to be accepted around the league and the Sedins could not be handling it with more grace. I think their toughness and non-complaining attitude is driving the bigots mad.

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