I Watched this Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, March 10, 2013

Prior to this game, the Canucks were first place in the Northwest Division. I wish that hadn’t changed. But they came into Minnesota to play for first place and put in one of their ugliest efforts of the season. It was the kind of disastrous game that leads to player’s only meetings that last longer than five minutes. Now the Wild are first place in the Northwest and they’re terrible. I thought the Canucks were supposed to beat up on the weak Northwest Division, not be a reason why the Northwest is so weak.

Prior to this game, I hadn’t watched this game. That’s another thing that I wish hadn’t changed. Instead, I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 4 Wild

  • As you can probably tell, I didn’t much care for this game. The frustration started just 24 seconds in when Zach Parise opened the scoring thanks to every single Canuck on the ice making a mistake. Okay, Chris Higgins wasn’t to blame, but you can portion out his share of the blame to everyone else.
  • Mason Raymond lost the faceoff, then overplayed the puck carrier, Jared Spurgeon, instead of taking the man in the middle, Mikko Koivu, a clear indication of his unfamiliarity with playing centre. Alex Edler received much of the blame on Twitter, but his hit on Spurgeon is the right play if Raymond is marking Koivu. Since he isn’t, Edler should have stayed more central. Instead, Chris Tanev comes over to cover, but overplays Koivu, hoping that Jannik Hansen is backchecking and picking up Zach Parise. He isn’t. Cory Schneider should be anticipating the pass to Parise with Tanev completely taking away Koivu’s shot. Instead, he slides over too late to get square to Parise’s one-timer and it sneaks under his arm. It was a series of bad plays and bad decisions that simply shouldn’t happen.
  • That was the only faceoff Raymond took the entire game, as he was moved back to the wing. I’m guessing it had less to do with his faceoff ability than his bad read on the Parise goal. It’s entirely likely that his experimental turn at centre is over, giving him a shorter stay at centre than the Republican and Democratic parties during the 2012 election.
  • The Canucks had the opportunity to pull even in the first with back-to-back powerplays, but, like a keyboard with no Shift or Caps-Lock keys, they couldn’t capitalize (or create hashtags on Twitter). The powerplay went 0-for-4 on the night with just 7 shots on goal. The Canucks have now gone 8 games without a powerplay goal. If this goes on any longer, Kanye West will declare that “George Bush doesn’t care about Swedish people.”
  • Man, when did this blog get all political?
  • Dan Hamhuis doesn’t struggle defensively all that often, but he had a rough game against the Wild. He was on the ice for three goals against and was most notably at fault on the Wild’s second goal. After breaking his stick earlier in the play, Hamhuis seemed lost. David Booth handed him his own stick, then pursued the puck carrier, Matt Cullen, while Hamhuis completely missed Jason Zucker heading to the front of the net. A quick pass and a tap-in later and Hamhuis was heading back to the bench while hanging his head like Charlie Brown.
  • Hamhuis’s struggles continued with a terrible turnover at the beginning of the second period, forcing Jason Garrison to take a tripping penalty to prevent a breakaway. After the game, all the Canucks gave Hamhuis a hug, because sometimes a Community Man needs a community, man.
  • Raymond exacerbated matters by taking a dangerous tripping penalty on an icing call, giving the Wild two quick powerplays to start the second. After some nice passing, Jared Spurgeon drove a one-timer through Schneider’s five-hole. Schneider was clearly frustrated he didn’t stop it, shaking his head after he drank from his water bottle. Either that or Keith Ballard replaced his water with Mott’s Clamato and Schneider was shaking his head at yet another terrible prank.
  • Maybe it was just because everyone else was playing so poorly, but I thought Andrew Alberts had a great game. He pinched well along the boards, won puck battles, and made smart outlet passes. He also wasn’t on the ice for a single goal against, though that is likely because he was only on the ice for just under 11 minutes. I can usually make some sense of Vigneault’s personnel decisions, but it seemed odd that he saw so little ice time when he was playing well.
  • Alberts even earned an assist on the Canucks’ first goal. After battling to keep the puck in earlier in the shift, Alberts picked up a puck that squirted loose when Zack Kassian made a power move to the front of the net. He quickly swung it over to Chris Higgins, who fired a quick one-timer before Niklas Backstrom could get set. It was Alberts’ first assist of the season, not counting all the times he’s reached stuff off of high shelves for Jordan Schroeder.
  • After a bad pinch by Edler led to a 2-on-1 for the Wild, Ballard made a nice sliding block to disrupt the pass across and negate the opportunity. I bring this up because Keith Ballard was playing with Alex Edler. On the right side. But why not? Edler hasn’t seemed to play up to his potential when paired with safe, reliable types like Jason Garrison and Chris Tanev; why not try him with the exact opposite? Oddly enough, the pairing seemed to work pretty well when they were together. Now Ballard just needs a German accent.
  • Henrik Sedin’s mind works at a completely different level than most. When a Jason Garrison point shot deflected into the air, Henrik managed to calculate its trajectory, recognized that he wouldn’t be able to get his stick extricated in time to use it, and deflected the puck in with his skate with a stopping motion rather than a kicking motion. It was entirely deliberate, but since he was stopping and not kicking, the goal counted.
  • Schneider didn’t have his best game, but he managed to ruin Devon Setoguchi’s night, stopping him three times from in close. First it was a marvelous glove save when Setoguchi was wide open in the slot. Then he sealed his pads to the ice on a backhand off the rush. Finally, he robbed Setoguchi when he was all alone in front after a terrible giveaway by Henrik, denying him for a third time. Immediately, a rooster crowed.
  • Schneider couldn’t deny a second goal to Parise, however, as he couldn’t seal the post on a rebound, allowing Parise to tuck it in like a high school gym teacher tucks his t-shirt into his sweat pants. A lot of the blame can go to the skaters in front of him, however, who had multiple chances to clear the puck and couldn’t manage it. Jordan Schroeder, in particular, had trouble winning puck battles and looked outmatched physically.
  • Burrows came close to bringing the Canucks back within one with a wraparound on a third period powerplay, but referee Paul Devorski made a slick kick save.
  • The Canucks came close a couple times as the third period wound down. Jannik Hansen hit the post on a shorthanded breakaway, then Garrison rung the crossbar with a one-timer. If either of those had gone in, the Canucks still would have lost the game.
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  1. Brent
    March 11, 2013


    For an important game, they were flat, flat, flat.

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    • chicken chick
      March 11, 2013

      Dear MG

      Since not as good as they once seemed
      To get the Cup of which we’ve dreamed
      You have to make a major trade
      Swap for some guys worth what they’re paid

      Why two goalies when one will do
      Get a sniper for Bobby Lu
      Also a “D” for Edler’s right
      So we might win some other night

      And find a coach can motivate
      No more can you procrastinate
      For losing’s not what fans expect
      We want a team warrants respect

      The Nucks are sick and need a cure
      Time for a move and that’s for sure

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  2. BakerGeorgeT
    March 11, 2013

    They may not score enough, read the play well on defense, play with enough energy and get the goaltending they need… They had great Corsi last night. I don’t care if they do any of those things as long as the Corsi is there. Oh, and David Booth was amazing last night.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 11, 2013

      Haha well, actually, they didn’t. The Canucks were outpossessed and outchanced, and Booth was relatively ineffective, which makes a whole lot of sense, considering the outcome.

      I understand that you’re just being snide, man, but the possession data really is valuable, especially for deciphering Alain Vigneault’s constant references to “the process”. If a coach made all of his decisions based on wins and losses, he’d simply be a bad coach. You’re not going to win every game, even if you play well enough to win every game. Nor are you going to lose every game in which you play badly. So keeping a watchful eye on the underlying data to spot patterns in the Canucks’ play really is worth doing.

      This club has been better than their recent record suggests, and Booth has been better than his rate of production suggests. Obviously, wins, losses and production matter, so it’s not like we’re claiming the team is playing lights out hockey, but it can be a good sign nonetheless.

      Last night, however, there were no good signs. They were bad.

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      • Unknown Comic
        March 11, 2013

        Freud thinks too much emotion and self-esteem is derived from perceived hockey knowledge and the results of the hometown team. I guess that recipe would make it hard for some to reconcile the fact that what they see is only half the story and advance metrics do indeed tell a greater story.

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  3. the olde coot
    March 11, 2013

    “A battle for the Northwest lead!”
    This Sunday night a win we need
    Imperative for Booth to score
    The twins Sedin to shoot some more
    And just like you I’ll watch this game
    Desiring lots of less the same
    Insipid things I’ve seen of late

    Merely seconds we had to wait
    As Minnesota went ahead
    I shan’t repeat what Jenny said
    Then seconds left we’re down by two
    Just pathetic the green and blue
    So bad I’m heading out the back

    To talk of Zen with Whisky Jack
    We hear within two kinds of screams
    Each team has scored or so it seems
    “Vancouver is not playing well”
    “Don’t care about the NHL.
    I find my time is better spent
    Pondering what the Taoists meant
    By ‘finger pointing at the moon’.”

    Into the third and very soon
    It’s very clear no longer news
    Canucks have truly learned to lose

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  4. Nick
    March 11, 2013

    Maybe it’s time to let someone else coach the powerplay.

    When Ehrhoff and Salo were on the points, Newell Brown was a PP genius.

    With Edler and Schroeder on the points, he seems like someone who has no idea how to get it done.

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  5. bluemoonjones
    March 11, 2013

    I am not an eternal optimist by nature, nor a unabashed fan of all things home team, so the fact that I’ve stayed very positive towards the Canucks’ fortunes to-date as they’ve muddled through the first half of the season can’t be attributed to those two personality traits (failings?); I simply believe that this is a very good hockey team that will gel come playoff time.
    HOWEVER, after last night’s game, I’ve felt my first twinge of legitimate concern. Something just ain’t right, and whatever it is needs fixin’. Badly..
    One thing that comes to mind here for me is something I’ve believed to be true during the past few years but have been ridiculed for it when saying it out loud amongst my smallish cadre of stateside ‘nuck fans: Kevin Bieksa is the MVP of this team. Not the best player, but the most valuable, warts and all. Please come back, Juice (though I don’t believe his absence is the ‘nucks only problem right now, but it sure can’t hurt to get him back).

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    • peanutflower
      March 11, 2013

      ditto that. all of that.

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    • Tox 26
      March 11, 2013

      Great to hear there’s more “stateside” fans of the team. While I like Bieksa, I think the current woes the team is facing won’t be remedied by his return alone. Like some who have commented, I felt that last night’s game was a turning point of some kind. As I watched it I realized for the first time in a long while that I didn’t expect the Canucks to win. I always expect them to win. Even when their play is substandard. Even when they’re just phoning it in I have the belief that they really are the better team and could turn it on if they decided to. but last night was different. Aside from a couple players, they were uniformly awful. Can’t put my finger on it… if I could I’d be a GM somewhere… but something has to give and quick. Still a fan, but open to a major shake up to the Canucks lineup. Time to break out the defibrillator and see if we can get the heart of this team beating again.

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  6. Naturalmystic
    March 11, 2013

    Lol. Casucks get rolled again. The players have stopped responding to Vigneault, time to send him down the road kicking rocks. I say it everytime, these guys are not as good as you believe they are. This is a second tier team that is going nowhere in the playoffs. How does it feel to know that this team will never win a Stanley Cup. The Leafs will win before the Casucks. Very little talent coming down the pipe with regards to draft picks and the farm team. Certainly no one to replace the sisters when they get old. A couple more years in the middle of the pack and then it’s a fight to make the playoffs. This is the way things go in sports. The Casucks had their chance to win it all a couple of times with this roster but choked when it mattered. Sunrise, sunset.

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  7. DanD
    March 11, 2013

    When you mentioned Charlie Brown, I clicked on the link thinking, “Please be Arrested Development. Please be Arrested Development!” And it was.

    I love this blog.

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  8. chinook
    March 11, 2013

    The boys better take a long look at the Millionaires logo on their jerseys and then get a W in Columbus, or they will be wearing a plugged nickel at their next home game.

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  9. madwag
    March 11, 2013

    “Immediately a rooster crowed.” very good, danielson. exceedingly good!

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  10. Wagman
    March 11, 2013

    Almost time to panic… I’ll wait to see how Tuesday’s rematch against Columbus goes. If they are flat and have another poor outing, I expect there to be a move within a week or two, and probably not the one everyone is expecting. I’ll be outside prepping the pool…

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      March 11, 2013

      I don’t think Gillis will ever make a trade to “shake things up” because it’s not on his terms. Like a lot of GMs, I think he’s a bit obstinate in the face of the threat of seeming to bow to the hysterical pleas of fans.

      If a change comes, I think it will be when the team is doing a bit better so that it doesn’t look like a panic move. He needs to keep up appearances a bit for his potential goalie trade, otherwise he’ll get a lot of lowballs. Not that I think either goalie can return much (and that has nothing to do with performance this season; it’s the glut on the market).

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      March 11, 2013

      What I hope is that ownership takes that decision out of Gillis’ hands before he does something stupid. The new GM can decide who he wants for his coach.

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      • whisky jack
        March 11, 2013

        With so much wrong so little right,
        The entire team is too uptight.
        Their turnaround will not commence
        While everyone is so intense.

        Snake-bitten by old Lady Luck,
        What they do now is fight the puck,
        And only when they loosen up,
        Will come the chance to win the Cup.

        The problem is they care too much,
        That with the Way they’re out of touch:
        One does without doing as though
        A function of time’s faultless flow.

        Try not to try and notice then
        There’s effortless success again

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  11. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 11, 2013

    “It was entirely deliberate, but since he was stopping and not kicking, the goal counted.”

    Don’t forget the provision of the rule that states that the “Toronto War Room” can disregard any consistent application of the rules at its whimsy.

    I am certain I have seen sideways-skate goals disallowed before (and plenty of deliberate kicks allowed, for that matter). Honestly, having a War Room that has no greater expertise than anyone else is like appealing from the highest court in the land to the writers of “Punky Brewster”.

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  12. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 11, 2013

    Does anyone else open this blog and hear the song “Rapper’s Delight” in the back of their head? I’m Bulis, I’m Bulis, I’m Bulay Bulay Bulis.

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    • steveB
      March 11, 2013

      not until you mentioned it
      now it’s stuck in my head
      which is somewhat better than the Monday-after-yet-another-disappointing-Canucks-loss gloom ‘n’ doom blahs

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    • allan gleerup
      March 11, 2013

      well now is the time to get some size into the pic so here it is a fast winger in niklas jenssen, 6’3 ’215… Brendan Gaunce a tiny bit slow but big w good hockey senses and a person with good leadership now put kassian in there and how big is that line all u need to do is tell Kassion that he is not there to be slick …. work the boards take guys off the puck w aggressive forecheck like he really is supposed to do! They could do it now cause it looks like the other way aint workin.

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  13. Brent
    March 11, 2013

    Don’t be getting ahead of yourself Mr. Cambo. There is still half a season to go and although we certainly will not be getting the presidents cup, I doubt we will go down in the first round. Well unless we play Chicago, them maybe.

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  14. cathylu
    March 11, 2013

    I know part of my problem is becoming a fan at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, which was an amazing, amazing season. And even last year we “sucked our way to the top” as some said. This shortened season is just terrible – so many issues that could maybe be worked out in an 82-game season just can’t seem to be fixed. I know in years past the Canucks had many mediocre or even awful seasons but I’m not ready for that yet! But I still love our team no matter what.

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  15. Lowell
    March 11, 2013

    I don’t know what you folks are so mad about, The canucks aren’t that good.

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  16. obituary mambo
    March 12, 2013

    I watched 2/3 of this game. Time change — slippery weasel! Seriously, why don’t all countries which participate in day light saving time turn their clocks forward/back on the same dates? We won’t “spring forward” for another 2 weeks. Anyway, I forgot that North America had already made the change and missed the first period. From what I saw, it seems the Wild got the memo about the division lead being on the line, but delivery to the Canucks was delayed until the 2nd half of the 3rd? If they’d played the whole game with that level of intensity, there’s a very real possibility they could have skated away with the win. Grumble grumble…

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