The Vancouver Canucks gave their fans a history lesson Saturday night, putting aside their usual blue and green attire to don the duds of their predecessors, the Vancouver Millionaires. The look was downright fantastic.
Unfortunately, the Canucks took their tribute to history a little too far. While it was nice of the club to show us what they would have looked like in Millionaires jerseys, I didn’t think the Canucks needed to show us what it would have looked like if the Millionaires had gone up against the 2013 Detroit Red Wings. It was a lesson I could have done without. While the jerseys looked excellent, the team in them looked decidedly less so when I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 5 Red Wings
The Canucks got on the board just six seconds into this one, as Alex Burrows struck quickly for the fastest first goal in Canucks’ franchise history. Brian Lashoff was the goat for the Red Wings, as he sprinted to the wall, hoping to cut off Daniel Sedin, only to have Daniel cut inside on him and take Alex Edler’s pass through the middle of the ice. Just like that, the Canucks were in 2-on-1 to start the game. Daniel fed Burrows, who made no mistake, wiring the puck like it was a young Kanye West’s jaw.
Unfortunately, the Canucks utilizing Mike D’antoni’s “seven seconds or less” playbook was the high point of the game. Pavel Datsyuk would tie the game up in short order, banking a puck off of Justin Abdelkader’s skate and past Roberto Luongo. It wasn’t the only time Datsyuk would orchestrate a goal this way. Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey would tell us that Datsyuk loved playing with Abdelkader because he went to the net or some such thing, but it seemed clear to me that Datsyuk’s favourite thing about Abdelkader was that he appeared to be made of Flubber.
Datsyuk got a lot of love in this game. Much of it was deserved, as he was very, very good, but the broadcast crew strained unnecessarily to praise him at times. On an Alex Burrows breakaway later in the game, Datsyuk just happened to be there when the puck jumped off of Burrows’s stick, and the crew practically lauded him for making the ice unsmooth. “Datsyuk is so good he gives the ice goosbumps,” Ball said. “Datsyuk gives ME goosbumps.” Hrudey said. “I’m gonna ask him to hockey prom.”
David Booth has been the recipient of some terrible, terrible luck this season. First he strained his groin on the first day of practice. Then his first goal eluded him just shy of forever despite strong possession play. Then, the game after he finally scored, he was fallen upon by Brendan Smith and twisted his left ankle. Why is this happening to him? We can only assume that, during one of his hunts during the lockout, he happened upon a cabin with an old book and read a Latin passage from it. That’s a surefire way to get a curse. Remember, kids: most Latin is curses. If you can help it, never read it.
A residual victim of Booth’s curse: Tom Sestito, who had just one shift in the second period and zero shifts in the third as Alain Vigneault shortened his bench after losing another forward. Sestito reportedly spent the rest of the game counting people in the building he was taller than.
I really appreciated the showmanship with which the official signalled Jannik Hansen’s penalty shot. The extra strides made it all very dramatic, as did the triple salchow into double axel combination. Very well executed.
Unfortunately, Hansen’s penalty shot wasn’t as well-executed. He came in slow on Howard and opened up a little room to the right, which was good, but he couldn’t finish. Like Cambo in the comments section, he disappointed everyone by hitting post.
This was one of Alex Burrows’ best games of the season. He scored both Canuck goals, the first on a blistering one-timer, the second on a backhand in close, and he led all skaters with six shots on goal. Most impressively, that’s six shots on goal with no others attempted or blocked. Every time he released, he forced Howard to make a save. Unfortunately, Howard made the save often, sucking the life out of the Canucks’ attack. I haven’t seen a Howard so obsessed with sucking the life out of things since Anne Rice.
Ten points to anyone who gets that reference without clicking through to the link.
Pavel Datsyuk felt all the love tonight as the CBC crew played Simba to his Nala, but I thought Howard was an equally big difference-maker in this one. The Canucks outplayed the Red Wings in this game, at least in terms of scoring chances and shots, butHoward kept Detroit in the game during the first half. Meanwhile, this game was still winnable for the Canucks in the third period, but some mediocre goaltending from Roberto Luongo saw the lead expand right out of reach.
The Vancouver powerplay is now 0 for its last 33, which is, as I understand it, pretty bad. The issues are numerous: for one thing, the puck never seems to go in. Actually, that’s pretty much it.
Finally, this was a game where the Canucks really missed Ryan Kesler — not just because he might have been able to help the Canucks’ abysmal powerplay with his shooty goodness, but because he might have been able to battle Datsyuk to a standstill somewhat. Datsyuk is an incredible player not just because he can score, but because he can score while shutting down the opponent’s top line, and as thin as the Canucks are at centre, Alain Vigneault really had no choice but to let the Sedin line go head to head with his. Datsyuk and his group will win that matchup most of the time. Busy Datsyuk with Kesler, however, and this is a completely different game.
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