I’m not panicking yet. I’m far too level-headed to go off the deep end for a loss in which the Canucks soundly outplayed their opponent for the majority of the game, not even when that loss is their 8th in their last 11 games and puts the Canucks at the edge of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, not when there are still 20 games left to be played in the season. No, I’m not panicking.
But I will admit to being concerned. I’m concerned because I know it’s possible, however unlikely, to flip a coin and have it land on heads 100 times in a row. I know that for all of the underlying possession statistics that indicate the Canucks are better than their record indicates, it’s possible that things never turn around this season.
It’s possible that the next 20 games will be exactly like this one: the Canucks outplaying, out-shooting, and out-chancing their opponent, but not out-scoring them, with the Canucks failing to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes, and their opponents making the Canucks pay for every mistake they make. In which case, I won’t need to watch those games, because I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 3 Wild
The Canucks out-shot the Wild 36-25. When you count missed shots and blocked shots, that becomes 79-39. That’s territorial domination by the Canucks and they created numerous quality scoring chances. Unfortunately, they ran into a hot goaltender in Nicklas Backstrom, who did well to anticipate passes, get square to shooters, and make difficult saves look easy. It was the most frustrating performances between a pair of pipes since Russell Crowe in-between Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables.
Jordan Schroeder was very good in limited minutes in his return to the lineup. He centered the fourth line for most of the game, but should see a promotion in the future, as he pushed possession and created scoring chances for Dale Weise and Tom Sestito. The only problem was that Weise and Sestito weren’t able to finish any of those chances. They were basically a couple of pigs pushing pearls around with their noses, trying to figure out if they were food.
I actually really liked how Weise and Sestito played, as they both had strong physical games with a number of big hits, but they were hitting with a purpose. Weise had one particularly nice shift where he wiped out Jared Spurgeon with a solid check at his own blue line, springing a Canucks rush. He followed up and had a great scoring chance on a Chris Tanev rebound, but was unable to put the puck past a sprawling Backstrom. Looks like the puck is back to being a jerk to Weise. I told him that breaking up with the puck by text was a bad idea.
Team trainer, Mike Burnstein, was working his 1500th game, which is mighty impressive. Clearly the Wild were also impressed, as they paid tribute to him by giving him plenty of work in the first period. First they high-sticked Alex Burrows, then Ryan Suter gave Henrik Sedin a stiff crosscheck in the ribs. It was a small gesture, but it was appreciated.
The best moment of the game came when Zenon Konopka got in Mason Raymond’s face and gave him his best tough guy staredown. Raymond responded by, no joke, tickling Konopka’s chin. Unfortunately, I am unable to find a single animated gif of this magical moment. I’m disappointed in you, Tumblr.
The Canucks coaching staff finally put Jason Garrison back on the first unit of the powerplay and it bore fruit on their third opportunity, as a Garrison one-timer deflected off Daniel Sedin’s leg onto his brother’s stick with an open net in front of him. Henrik ended the streak of futility at 0-for-36, but the Canucks then had one more opportunity in the third period to narrow the lead and failed to convert. So…
The Canucks almost scored on their second powerplay, only in the wrong net. After Luongo came out of his net to pass him the puck, Kevin Bieksa lost control of the puck and nearly stickhandled it into his own net. As is his wont, he casually reached out and pulled it off the goal line, while Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis lept into the stands and performed CPR on all the fans who had heart attacks.
The Wild tied the game with a powerplay goal of their own, setting up Jonas Brodin with some quick passes for a slap shot that beat a screened Luongo. Then in the third period, Charlie Coyle neatly tipped in the go-ahead goal off a slap shot from Clayton Stoner. Luongo had little chance on either goal, though you might hope for something special on one of them, perhaps. He needed to give the Canucks a chance to get a point out of this game with a save on the third goal, but he wasn’t able to do it. To be fair, it was on a guy all alone in front, but you still hope that Luongo is able to bail out his defence with a big save.
Why was Matt Cullen all alone in front of Luongo to score the Wild’s third goal? Keith Ballard made an inexplicably dumb play, going for the hit on Cullen as he and Setoguchi came in 2-on-2 on Ballard and Chris Tanev. It was the wrong play to begin with, but Ballard made it worse by flubbing the hit, allowing Cullen a straight path to the net. Somehow, Michael Russo, beat reporter for the Minnesota Wild, managed to find some blame on that play for Tanev, who he called “Vancouver’s worst defender by far tonight.” No, I don’t know what game he was watching.
Finally, we’d like to send out a hearty Happy Birthday to Jan Bulis, who turned 35 on Monday. We’re sorry this couldn’t have been a happier IWTG for you, Jan, but we still remember you fondly. Well, mostly fondly.
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