I Watched This Game: Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks, February 19, 2013

The Canucks first meeting with the Blackhawks this season was a massive disappointment. It lacked the emotion, excitement,  and intensity of a typical game between these two teams. There was no rancor on either side, making for a dull affair. When Roberto Luongo stopped Patrick Kane in the shootout, they smiled at each other and laughed, like it was a game of shinny. It was enough to make one wonder if the air had been completely let out of the rivalry.

Turned out they were just saving all their hate for their second matchup of the season. This game had all the best and worst elements of a fantastic playoff game: controversy, terrible reffing, emotion, back-and-forth scoring chances, and stupendous goaltending. It was a complete gong show. It was a hot mess. It was an incredibly stupid game. And it was entertaining beyond belief.

I enjoyed every minute that I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 4 Blackhawks (SO)

  • There’s no getting around it: the Canucks got absolutely dominated by the Blackhawks in this game, getting outshot 43-32. But it wasn’t just the quantity of shots for the Blackhawks, it was the quality. They outchanced the Canucks 30-10 according to Canucks Army and had a bevy of odd man rushes, including three breakaways in the first period alone. Even Kelly Clarkson thought the breakaway was overplayed in this game.
  • In honour of the NBA All-Star Game occurring this past weekend, the Canucks decided to play no defence in this game,. The Canucks’ defensive efforts were bad, while the Blackhawks’ were just half-bad, allowing half as many breakaways in the first period. Daniel Sedin was not able to convert on his one-and-a-half breakaways, so it was somehow appropriate that when he did open the scoring, it was with a weak goal from a bad angle. Daniel simply threw the puck towards the net on the backhand, hoping for a rebound. Instead, it went right through Ray Emery like it was Kitty Pryde.
  • The emotions began to boil over when Dale Weise levelled Marcus Kruger along the boards and was immediately challenged to a fight by Brandon Bollig. Weise didn’t seem to realize he was in a fight at first, taking three punches from Bollig before getting his gloves off. Once he did, it was a balanced tilt (which is an oxymoron, if you think about it), with Bollig scoring the takedown in the end.
  • It wasn’t exactly a stellar performance by the referees in this one, as they seemed to be performing a “Who’s on first?” routine in sign language at times. In the second period, one linesman raised his arm up, presumably for icing against the Canucks, but kept his arm up after the puck was touched and Chris Higgins finished a check. It turned out he had his arm raised for a delayed offside, which should have been called anyway when Higgins made a play for the puck. Later in the game, a referee seemed to signal a goal for the Canucks, then emphatically wave it off. Turned out he was just pointing at the puck so everyone knew he knew where it was. I admit, I was starting to get worried.
  • The Canucks defence had numerous issues in this game, but one of the biggest was gap control. Literally. The gaps between themselves and the Blackhawks’ forwards were too big. Patrick Sharp pulled the Blackhawks even with a blistering slapshot in the second period after Alex Edler gave him enough space to set up a Japadog franchise and enough time to start running it at a profit.
  • At the end of a Keith Ballard interference penalty, Maxim Lapierre took a cross-checking penalty to prevent Patrick Kane from a clear scoring chance. With that much consecutive time on the penalty kill, something had to break. It turned out to be Ryan Kesler’s stick, as Johnny Oduya snapped it in twain with a slapshot, then took advantage of the crippled penalty kill to perfectly set up Marian Hossa for a wicked one-timer, which is what my wife calls a particularly smelly disposable diaper.
  • Hossa got one more before the end of the period, making a power move in front of the net, then dragging the puck all the way around an outstretched Schneider to tuck it in on the far side. It was a gorgeous goal, helped along by some poor decision-making by Kevin Bieksa, who skated past Hossa instead of tying him up along the boards, and Jason Garrison, who tied up the man in front instead of covering for his partner and stopping Hossa from coming out front uncontested. I can’t help but feel that this is somehow my fault and that we’ll see new defence pairings in their next game. Heck, at one point Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis were paired on defence during a 4-on-4, something that I used as a joke in my post Tuesday afternoon. We’re through the looking glass, people. Beware of living chess pieces.
  • With just a few minutes remaining in the game, the Canucks staged a thrilling comeback. After David Booth drew a hooking penalty on Michal Rozsival with a strong drive to the net, Alex Edler drove a slapshot through traffic to bring the Canucks to within one. Inexplicably, Booth was awarded an assist on the goal, despite not even being on the ice at the time.
  • The Canucks pulled Schneider with a minute-and-a-half remaining. Edler and the Sedins held the puck in along the boards, then worked it free to Kevin Bieksa on the opposite point. His slapshot evaded Emery, with Burrows once again screening in front. It’s too bad he’s not allowed to do that during the shootout.
  • Like an internet argument, overtime solved nothing, but it was fun seeing Chris Tanev making a beeline for the net every time he was on the ice. If Tanev only scored overtime gamewinning goals, it would be my favourite thing ever in the history of hockey.
  • Edler and Burrows have generally been the primary shootout options for Vigneault this season, but they stayed on the bench in this game. Instead, Jordan Schroeder, Chris Higgins, and Kesler got the nods. Of the three, only Higgins scored, which was a surprise. Schneider stopped Toews and Kane, only to have Kane’s attempt deflect off his glove and slide into the net. Then Andrew Shaw pulled off a mirror-image version of Burrows’ go-to move, the forehand-backhand deke to win the game.
  • Early in the third period, Jannik Hansen hit Hossa in the back of the head with his elbow. Some people, particularly Canucks fans, saw it as unintentional, as he appeared to be trying to catch or hit the puck, which was batted down by Hossa just before the collision. Others, particularly Blackhawks fans, saw it as an intentional hit to the back of the head with no attempt to play the puck. I’m going to refrain from judgement for the time being and only say that I sincerely hope that Hossa is all right and was not concussed on the play.
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34 comments

  1. best behaviour
    February 20, 2013

    I don’t understand – you can clearly see Hansen’s left glove closing near the puck in midair. He’s trying to reach around the left side of Hossa’s head to glove the puck, isn’t he? His elbow is actually pointing away from Hossa’s head on that angle. If he’s been previously concussed, he might well be susceptible to getting his bell rung by light contact that would be fine to a fully healthy player. Hope he’s OK, but I think Hansen was after the puck as usual.

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    • madwag
      February 20, 2013

      backhandshelf has a post on hansen’s “hit” with a plethora of comments from a variety of fans. the comments are a bit repetitious but you might be interested.

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    • Zach Morris
      February 20, 2013

      Objectively, if the roles were switched, and it was a Canucks player on the recieving end, I would want at the very least a fine, no matter how incidental the contact.
      Hope Hossa’s okay.

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  2. Carlo
    February 20, 2013

    Canucks deserved to lose this one. Almost had a heart attack during those last two minutes with those Edler and Bieksa goals but they were downright lucky to pull out of that one with a point. They won’t stand a chance against them in the playoffs if they keep this up so they’d better smarten up and take care of the puck a lot better.

    As for the Hansen hit, I’ll reserve judgement just as you. Lol!

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  3. jenny wren
    February 20, 2013

    While Cory warrants passing praise
    Denying Blackhawk breakaways
    Dank backhands one past Emery
    The only goal the first would see

    The Hawks keep coming wave on wave
    ‘Til Cory cannot make the save
    And when they take a three-one lead
    A certain loss it seems indeed

    ( The end of two I wrote, “It seems
    Canucks can’t beat the better teams.” )
    Three minutes left I must confess
    I think to watch NCIS

    But Edler scores from off the post
    So of a chance appears the ghost
    Then just as Burrows sets a screen
    Bieksa scores from each Sedin

    A little bit of hockey theft
    They stole a point with seconds left

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  4. smj
    February 20, 2013

    Just to add to the poor reffing theme, some on ice announcements: On Edler’s penalty “Number 24 Vancouver for roughing”
    On Kesler’s penalty : “Number 17 Chicago for Unsportsmanlike/embellishing”.

    Is there an NHL ref strike I didn’t hear about?

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    • jimbob
      February 20, 2013

      there was another one too, on daniel’s penalty. they announced #33 Henrik Sedin,

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  5. John Andress
    February 20, 2013

    Did anybody count how often the Canucks failed to get the puck out of their own zone, turning it over at the blue line? It seemed like time after time after time after time to me. I find it very frustrating and it also seems to me that this has been a tendency in Canucks hockey for some seasons now. I can well see opposing coaches telling their forwards to pressure the Canucks in the defensive zone and watch for the weak shot off the boards. Never-the-less, as you say, a very exciting game and thank god for Cory Schneider!

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  6. Shade of Blue
    February 20, 2013

    Help me out with something I’ve never understood: why doesn’t a forward skate immediately to the bench for a new stick when his breaks on the penalty kill? (Alternatively, he could head to the bench and be replaced by another player who can jump over the boards as soon as the exiting player is close. If a dman breaks his stick, he gets one from a forward who then exits…)

    Obviously it is bad to be down an extra player on the pk, but staying on the ice without a stick seems pretty useless. Kesler is a spectacular defensive player, and tried valiantly to get in the way when he lost his stick, but it clearly wasn’t hard for Chicago to move the puck around him, creating a de facto 5 on 3. So why not have him hustle to the bench instead?

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    • Robert Nicholson
      February 20, 2013

      The hole left by the player if he leaves to change a stick is simply too large. Blackhawks would have scored a lot easier had Kesler went to get a new stick. Kesler can stay in the line and he can still check. Those are better than nothing. Stick change happens when Canucks clear the puck.

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    • Zach Morris
      February 20, 2013

      St. Loui bench boss Ken Hitchcock has a hard and fast rule about just the situation you mentioned. His players must always go get a new stick, no matter the situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBoZu8zPY4k

      you can hear Oshie’s teammates yelling “OSH, OHS!” from the bench.

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  7. Shade of Blue
    February 20, 2013

    Did Kruger say something nasty to the Canucks during the pre-game skate? He got run over by Weise, and then later Booth hustled clear across the Chicago end of the ice to crush him into the boards!

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  8. cathylu
    February 20, 2013

    I agree we didn’t really deserve to win this game but man there was a lot of screaming going on at my house when Juice tied it up at the end! And thank God for Cory – he did a great job keeping us in the game. If the ‘Hawks keep it up like this I hope they enjoy the President’s trophy, and the curse that seems to go along with it.

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  9. Bolderevolution
    February 20, 2013

    I”m with cathylu – the way the Blackhawks are playing, they’ve got the President’s Trophy half wrapped already.

    I just hope these Canucks can take second in the conference and avoid the Hawks until the conference finals…and then rag-doll them in 5 or 6. Most of the marquee Hawks have been playing since autumn, so maybe fresher west-coast legs in May and June will be the edge.

    Meanwhile, the Canucks need to re-learn how to skate with a third-period lead. I miss those recent days when a lead after 2 was all we needed (not that it would have helped last night).

    Anyway, I’ve never been so stoked about a loser’s point! There IS such a thing as a good loss.

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  10. Rob
    February 20, 2013

    I was reminiscing last night about the Canucks from ’10-’11. The thing I admired most about that team was they played hard for 60 minutes every night. That got me thinking about when AV came in and Luongo was brought in and the work ethic that was instilled in the team around that time really layed the foundation for what was to come, and momentum started to build leading up to 2010-2011 season. After the SCF loss to Boston it seems like the bubble burst, and its as if you could see the life being sucked out of them. After that loss they havent played with the same passion or determination that they did before. They started sleeping through the 2nd period, a trend that started last year and has continued through this year. 2011, and the previous couple seasons before that, when the canucks had a lead (especially going into the 3rd) it was almost a guaranteed win, nowadays its a coin toss. They have shown heart and determination to come back in a few games – last night in particular – but they shouldn’t have had to come back in the first place. I can’t really explain it, but this team needs “something” to wake them up because for a majority of last season and so far this season it feels like they are just sleep walking – going through the motions.

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    • the olde coote
      February 20, 2013

      They have to play three effing frames

      To win their share of hockey games

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    • Frank N
      February 20, 2013

      I agree they need something. And I would suggest that something is a new coach. I think AV did a lot of good for this team. And he had his chance. But after the 2011 SCF they’ve not been the same hungry team and they seem, quite frankly, often unprepared and uninspired (partly due to AV’s hands-off approach!?). A shake-up with a new & extremely demanding coach where players would have to prove themselves again, and just the different msg the players would hear in the dressing room, might be enough to turn them around.

      I understand the sentiment GMMG seems to exhibit of giving AV another chance, but it is the wrong approach. If they don’t change now, the chance might be forever lost.

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      • Prophet
        February 20, 2013

        I think GMMG should flip HIS coin to see if AV gets to keep his job!

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  11. Zach Morris
    February 20, 2013

    That was an interesting game.
    Colour commentary with Shorty really sucked: “I think they’re gonna count it.”
    “I think they’re probably gonna count it, too.”
    “Mike Leggo was waving it off.”
    “Yes.”
    Riveting insight, there.

    Good game by Schneider, nice to see the bounceback :)

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  12. Paul from YT
    February 20, 2013

    Regarding the officials in this game, the prev 2 games for the Canucks and of course the Preds/Col game…did Gary Bettman hire the NFL replacement officials that were used during the NFL strike in order to save some money?

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  13. Lenny
    February 20, 2013

    Can’t help but notice we haven’t won a game since shelving MM. Coincidence I hope.

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  14. Chris the Curmudgeon
    February 20, 2013

    I tend to disagree with you Wagner. This game was not the least bit entertaining to me. I don’t watch with anything near an objective lens, I watch because I want my team to outplay, outscore, outhustle and outhit the other team en route to victory. In this game they did none of those things, for the first time in a few years, I can honestly say that the Blackhawks are a better team than us. Perhaps not on paper, but most definitely on the ice. That’s a tough pill for me to swallow, but after two matchups, it’s painfully obvious we’re not ready to stack up to them in the regular season or the playoffs.

    Jury’s still out for me on Jason Garrison. The guy can’t seem to make a tape to tape pass out of his own zone to save his life. Bieksa was also awful in this game apart from his tying goal. Watching Alex Edler on the power play reminds me of Bart and Lisa Simpson playing rock-paper-scissors. Goes something like this:
    Opposing team: “poor old predictable Edler, always picks drop-pass”.
    Edler: “good ole dependable drop pass. Nothing beats drop pass.”

    Once again, Tanev and Ballard were the only defensive pair that shouldn’t be embarrassed of being paid to play pro hockey last night. I can’t remember the last time we saw such a sad display of defensive ineptitude from a Canucks team. Inability to clear the zone, way too much time and space given to the Hawks, missed assignments, frankly we were lucky it wasn’t 6 or 7 goals against with all the great chances and great saves by Cory.

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    • chinook
      February 20, 2013

      Your criticism is too harsh, a little over-the-top. That wasn’t a mid-tier team with mediocre players the Canucks were up against. Chicago is a legitimate first place team. Their road record is impressive – let alone to play in their intimidating building. Of course I hope several Canucks can play better next time, I’m not conceding the next game. But in this game, Schneider’s goal tending and the two-goal comeback tie were exciting (and thats better than just entertaining).

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  15. Nee
    February 20, 2013

    The inevitable back and forth after the Hansen hit between the 2 fanbases (check out twitter and osm eof the other blogs) is exhausting. So I’m just going to avoid talking about that entirely.

    Just wanted to say: Get well soon Hossa. No one wants to see a player hurt, and such a good guy like Hossa to boot. And good game by the Hawks. Cheers on an excellent season so far.

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  16. Coach Q's stach
    February 20, 2013

    Plain and simple – a dirty cheap shot by Hansen. No other way to explain it. Some of the justifications from canucklehead fans on the hit are almost as stupid as the comments by your idiot coach.

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  17. Arktic Knight
    February 20, 2013

    Gee, I posted a comment about Kesler a couple of hours ago and now it is gone. It’s nice to see that everyone’s opinion is respected on this blog.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      February 20, 2013

      We don’t delete comments. No idea where it went.

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    • Brent
      February 20, 2013

      Try and post it again. Sometimes if you have an embedded link it needs to be checked out before becoming “visible”.

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  18. shoes
    February 20, 2013

    The Canucks fans taking the high road on “reserving judgement” are truly admirable, however to think for a minute that a Danish forward was sent out to whack Hossa by somehow willing the puck to levitate above Hossas head at the correct time, is simply silly. I don’t know how this could look more like an accident and given the fact Hossa is backing into Hansen, not sure Hansen ever saw him until they collided.

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  19. MB13
    February 20, 2013

    Yesterday is a prime example of Schneider’s superiority to Luongo.

    If Lu was in net yesterday, the 3-1 would have turned into 5-1 or 6-1.

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  20. iceman
    February 20, 2013

    As much as I hated the way Canucks played and lost against their arch rival in the SO, there is one thing I pledged to myself after watching LA Kings winning the cup last season:

    Absolutely NOTHING that happened during the regular season matters once playoff starts.

    We all know how mediocre hockey LA was playing at this point last year, and this year too. It was just a destiny that Kings dragged their collective skates into the playoffs at #8 and then literally flew by all the other teams. I’m pretty sure any cup-hopeful teams will put their best foot forward to keep LA from making playoffs this year (if not, the next best thing for me will be seeing LA in the PO as #8 again, to face Chicago :-) ) .

    So, again, I won’t go too high or too low after each Canucks game, win or loss, at least during the regular season.

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    • cathylu
      February 20, 2013

      I agree.

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  21. Smokey
    February 20, 2013

    Canucks made a big mistake not leaving the net empty after we tied it up and going for the regulation win. Getting the bonus point is nothing compared to the awesomeness that would have been pulling the goalie in a tie game to try and break Chicago’s streak. Even if they got an empty-netter it would have been epic, and if we’d won like that…pretty sure that’s worth like 15 points in the standings? But nooo, they had to play it safe. Chicago was vulnerable after the late comeback, you saw how slow they came out in OT, shoulda gone 6-on-5 the rest of the way, needed to win in regulation.

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    • Shade of Blue
      February 20, 2013

      I agree in principle, but losing the point for the reg tie could be too important at the end of this short season to risk an empty net goal just for the (admittedly glorious) satisfaction of ending Chicago’s streak.

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