It’s hard to get into these early-start games. The Eastern timezone throws everything out of whack, and suddenly, with puck drop three hours earlier, it’s nigh impossible to settle into the usual routine. The pregame meal happens at the wrong time. You miss the pregame nap. Everything’s awry, and sometimes, it’s difficult to doff that feeling.
I’m not excusing Vancouver’s performance tonight. I’m referring to myself. The 4pm puck drop ruins my whole routine. With my dinner early and my nap straight-up cancelled, I found myself fighting the post-meal snooze blues all night. It was terrible, and the fact that the Canucks and Blue Jackets combined for a game that had all the waking magic of Goodnight Moon didn’t help at all. But because I am a professional, I didn’t fall asleep. Instead, I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 2 Blue Jackets
Let’s go straight to the bright side for those of you fretting over this loss: despite what you may think, the Canucks did not lose to the NHL’s worst team tonight. When the night began, sure, the Blue Jackets were 30th, but the two points they collected propelled them ahead of the Florida Panthers for 29th. In other words, the Canucks lost to the second-worst team. That’s not as bad.
And there’s another bright side: the Canucks don’t play the Panthers this season, meaning that not only did they not lose to the NHL’s worst team, but it’s literally impossible for them to do so. Things are looking up, Vancouver.
Alex Edler and Chris Tanev had a rough night, which won’t do anything to assuage the folks claiming that, if Keith Ballard is benched for his mistakes, so too should Alex Edler be. (Granted, while Edler’s performance won’t assuage this group, neither will reason, so it’s okay.) Edler and Tanev were responsible for both Columbus goals. On the first, they got crossed up in front of the goal, leaving R.J. Umberger wide open when Nick Foligno’s wrap-around attempt came off the post and onto his stick. Untouched, Umberger buried it like it was the natural despair one feels upon realizing his best years will be spent in Columbus.
On the Blue Jackets’ second goal, the game-winner, Edler made the curious decision to dive towards a puck with Matt Calvert coming down the wall. It didn’t work, as Calvert moved past Edler and beat Schneider high to end the game. I could have told Edler going to his belly was a bad idea. He does his best work upright, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Originally, that last line started out He does his best work erect, like… and then I couldn’t think of a simile that wouldn’t get me fired.
You think Edler never gets punished? He spent some time in the third paired with Cam Barker. Let that be a lesson to you, Edler.
David Booth continued his strong, yet bafflingly unproductive play. He had 5 shots, second only to Edler, and several golden scoring opportunities. A few of his power moves were highlight-reel stuff if he could have finished. But he couldn’t, for two reasons: first, the goalie can see him. Booth is used to his victims thinking he’s a part of the environment, and the NHL refuses to allow him to wear a jersey that lets him blend into the ice. Second, Booth isn’t used to getting this close to his targets. If only he could shoot the puck from an unseen vantage point in the stands.
Zack Kassian looked good too, but his beard is really having a negative effect on his play. It’s hard to do much on the ice when you have to spend the entire night evading Sasquatch hunters and Tenacious D.
The Canucks only had one powerplay in this game, and the NHL.com play-by-play summary does a good job detailing its ineptness. Here are the events, in chronological order: Columbus won faceoff, Hansen missed shot, Hansen blocked shot, Stop — puck in netting, Vancouver won faceoff, Burrows blocked shot, Daniel Sedin missed shot, Columbus takeaway, Vancouver giveaway. I’m not saying it isn’t an intimidating powerplay these days, but the first unit has started bringing a bowl of off-brand tortilla chips and a seven-layer bean dip to the offensive zone faceoff.
Speaking of the first unit, with Ryan Kesler missing from it, the Canucks are in dire need of a shoot-first player. Jordan Schroeder’s not it. He needs to not be on this unit anymore. I understand he’s American, but not all Americans are shoot-first. He’s from Minnesota, not Texas. Here’s how to tell the difference: Minnesotans say things like “Dontcha Know”, and Texans say things like, “I don’t think our state does enough executions.”
Max Lapierre had several chances tonight. As a result, several chances died on his stick. His lack of offensive acumen has been the biggest obstacle to him getting third line icetime in the past, and it really showed Thursday. Eventually, Lapierre was dropped from line three in favour of Schroeder, and I can assure you that was a demotion for Lappy, not a promotion for the Shredder.
The Canucks spent much of this game trailing by one, but they managed to tie it up early in the third on a goal from Henrik Sedin, who had a point shot dribble to him at the side of the goal and put it up over Sergei Bobrovsky. The real hero of the play, however, was Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, who put that puck through traffic to the other side. And after the game, he did the same for an elderly woman by assisting her crossing at a dangerously underlit intersection.
Jannik Hansen had an opportunity to win this game late in the third when he was sprung on a shorthanded breakaway. Unfortunately, with all that time and space, he inadvertently transitioned into shootout mode and put a weak one into Bobrovsky’s glove.
Andrew Alberts had an eventful first period. First, he knocked Derek Dorsett from the game with a big hit just outside the Canuck crease. Then, he had a puck disappear into the folds of his jersey. It was sort of funny, but it led to the funniest moment of the game, when a Columbus fan in the corner realized where the puck was and let out the most audible, hen-like guffaw I’ve ever heard on a hockey broadcast.
Speaking of broadcasting, there are times when Shorty and Garrett sound like a broadcast team, and there are times when they sound like an old married couple. Tonight was the latter. We had Garretty saying “You know I don’t like to whine,” then Shorty responding with a sarcastic “yes.” We heard about where they went for lunch, which was adorable. And in my favourite moment, Shorty told us of Garrett’s penchant for putting fries on his nose and then dropping them into his mouth, hands-free, which is exactly the sort of uninteresting story a guy tells about his partner, somehow failing to realize no one is as interested in the subject as he is. It’s like George-Michael Bluth talking about Ann Veal’s mayonegg.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]