I Watched This Game: Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes, March 21, 2013

By all accounts, this game should have been a gong show. David Booth joined Ryan Kesler on the Injured Reserve list, Zack Kassian and Steve Pinizzotto didn’t even fly to Phoenix, and Chris Higgins tweaked his back at the morning skate, turning the Canucks’ lineup into the hockey equivalent of Aziz Ansari’s boombox mixtape.

Like that mixtape, the Canucks’ third line seemed to be thrown together at random, with Andrew Ebbett centring Dale Weise and Keith Ballard. Andrew Gordon drew into the lineup for his first game as a Canuck on a fourth line with Maxim Lapierre and Tom Sestito. The haphazardly arranged lineup looked like a disaster on paper, but the Canucks knuckled down and played a simple, hard-working road game.

That isn’t to say it didn’t have its bizarre moments, as it certainly did. At times, this game resembled the Coyotes’ original, seemingly peyote-inspired, jerseys. I reached a higher plane of existence when I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 1 Coyotes

  • So, how was Ballard in his first game at forward since his days with, coincidentally enough, the Phoenix Coyotes? Surprisingly good. Ballard, freed from his defensive constraints, looked like he was having the time of his life. On his first shift, he made a great outlet pass to Weise to set up a 2-on-1 that resulted in Ebbett hitting the post. Later in the first, he went inside-outside on Derek Morris and rang the post with a wicked backhand. That’s right, he was two posts away from two points in the first period. He genuinely looked like a good forward and the Canucks out-shot the Coyotes 9-6 when he was on the ice. Of course, now we’ll start hearing complaints about how the Canucks are paying $4.2 million for a third-line forward.
  • Ballard’s most entertaining moment came in the second period. The Coyotes had a fantastic scoring chance, but Antoine Vermette was unable to jam the puck past Cory Schneider, who covered up. With Vermette still jamming away, Ballard grabbed him from behind and more-or-less performed a Reverse DDT on him. Unfortunately, Vermette broke kayfabe and refused to stay down after what was clearly Ballard’s finishing move.
  • Chris Tanev, of all people, opened the scoring for the Canucks with his second career goal, from the exact same spot he scored his first career goal. After starting the rush with a nice outlet pass to Mason Raymond, Tanev followed up the play, completely unmarked thanks to a bad read by Lauri Korpikoski. Unlike Korpikoski, Raymond found Tanev, who had all day to pick his corner.
  • I’m guessing that Harrison and I, as Jan Bulis enthusiasts, were the only ones who noticed, but at the end of the first period, Daniel Sedin appeared to emulate the patron saint of PITB by jumping on the back of David Schlemko for a piggyback ride.
  • In the second period, Daniel completed the Bulis impersonation by running into goaltender Mike Smith, though he didn’t mean to, getting pushed from behind by Michael Stone while on a breakaway. Smith reflexively stuck out his glove hand to protect himself and smacked Daniel in the face, causing him to bleed like Shane O’Brien: Blood Unicorn. Is Daniel secretly trying to get mentioned more on our blog by imitating past PITB-favourites?
  • That was just the first time an unassuming Swedish Canuck ran Mike Smith in this game. Late in the second, while on the powerplay, Alex Edler saw Smith corral the puck behind the net and didn’t slow down, lowering his shoulder into the goaltender. This understandably sparked a massive scrum and Edler ended up with a 5-minute major for charging. It was a dumb play by Edler, though I was surprised that he got more than a 2-minute minor.  To me, it didn’t look like Edler connected with Smith’s head, while the refs seemed to think he did, earning him the major penalty. Now, there is talk of him potentially getting a suspension and Ben Kuzma even thought that Edler left his feet on the hit. I’m fairly certain that Brendan Shanahan will see it differently and I don’t think Edler will get suspended.
  • Just in case you think Kuzma changed his mind about Edler leaving his feet after tweeting it out…nope. It’s going to be in the Province tomorrow morning.
  • Weise came incredibly close to scoring his second goal in as many games, even going as far as to use the same move, but Smith stuck with him and made the save, then stopped Ballard on the rebound. With how Weise, Ebbett, and Ballard performed together in this game, I’m thinking it’s time to come up with a line nickname, as they’re clearly together to stay. I’m going with the WEB-line, for the awesome Spider-Man connection.
  • The Coyotes eventually scored during Edler’s major penalty, as a Radim Vrbata slap shot deflected off Cory Schneider’s stick, off the bottom of the crossbar, and right to Antoine Vermette, who had nothing but net. Even Larry Bird and Michael Jordan thought it was a little implausible.
  • One of my favourite little moments of the game was when Mikkel Boedker knocked the Canucks net off its pegs, then, since they still had a chance to score, he quickly tried to put it back, hoping the refs wouldn’t notice. What? Putting the net back in place? No…no, I was…cleaning it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  • The Sedins were largely hemmed in their own zone by the Shane Doan line, leaving it up to the Canucks’ secondary scoring, a dicey proposition given their patchwork forward lines. But the second line of Jannik Hansen, Mason Raymond, and Jordan Schroeder ended up providing both goals. Schroeder scored the gamewinner, cleaning up a Hansen tip off an Edler slap shot after missing the net on a previous glorious scoring chance just a moment earlier. You could actually read his lips on the bench afterwards: I can’t believe I missed that first one. Don’t worry, it looks just as good on the scoresheet.
  • It doesn’t look quite as good, however, when your own team’s website gets your name wrong:
  • Cory Schneider was solid in net for the Canucks, making frequent stops like an eager-to-please bus-driver. His best save came late in the third, as he robbed Martin Hanzal on a breakaway, caused by some bad gap control by Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison. That pairing got thumped by the Coyotes’ top lines: Hamhuis finished with a game-low minus-15 Corsi rating.
  • I have a feeling the stat-counters in Jobing.com Arena are slightly biased. According to the official scoresheet, the Coyotes out-hit the Canucks 50-to-19 in this game, which is simply absurd. Even worse, they had the hits at 24-to-4 after the first period alone. That is…slightly inaccurate. It’s worth noting that the Coyotes have been credited with 522 hits in 17 home games and just 294 in 14 road games.
  • This surprisingly entertaining game ended in the most anticlimactic way possible. As time ran out, Boedker slapped the puck towards the net from his own side of center. Jordan Schroeder touched the puck just before time expired and the horn sounded. Fans streamed towards the exits, the Coyotes began heading toward the dressing room, and the Canucks began celebrating. Meanwhile, the refs insisted that icing be called and a faceoff held in the Coyote’s zone. They spent a full minute ensuring that the correct amount of time was added to the clock: 1.2 seconds. The game essentially went from being an absurdist comedy to being an existential comedy, as everyone stood around, waiting for the game that was already over to actually end.
  • The best part: the cameras showing Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis essentially saying “screw it” and walking down the hallway toward the dressing room before the final faceoff. I don’t have time for your petty legalism! There are playgrounds to be built, dammit!
  • The true victim of the referee’s insistence on playing out the final second of the game was Andrew Gordon, who added a blemish to his otherwise fine stat-line for his first game as a Canuck: 0-for-1 on faceoffs. Poor guy.
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35 comments

  1. best behaviour
    March 22, 2013

    Terrific game, Canucks!

    Trade Gordon, and fire AV for playing him at the end there. He’s uselees on faceoffs.

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    Rating: +24 (from 24 votes)
    • best behaviour
      March 22, 2013

      *useless* on faceoffs. And that’s Gordon, not AV. Actually, AV is probably useless on faceoffs – I’ve never seen him win a single one. Fire him all the more, I say.

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      Rating: +13 (from 17 votes)
  2. Lucky
    March 22, 2013

    I’ve seen a couple of tweets out there too where people claim he left his feet…really? its called a replay people!

    yay we won!

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    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  3. alviator
    March 22, 2013

    I’ll admit when I saw the Canucks line up I thought “Why even bother? Just add 1 to the loss column.” Glad I was wrong.

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    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
    • alviator
      March 22, 2013

      Know what? I think AV is just trolling us with the line up. Ballard’s probably in on it too.

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      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  4. dunegig
    March 22, 2013

    I’ve always thought Ballard would make a much better forward than d-man. Glad AV finally decided to listen to me.

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    Rating: +14 (from 14 votes)
  5. Josh D.
    March 22, 2013

    In all fairness, a reverse DDT is pretty lame as a finishing move.

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    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  6. akidd
    March 22, 2013

    what a difference superior goaltending makes!

    nice 2nd line. AV really dug deep into his crazy intuition to pull out that combo. who would’ve thought putting a skilled, speedy centre between to skilled, speedy wingers would pay off?

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    Rating: +17 (from 19 votes)
    • Nick
      March 22, 2013

      Agree 100% … that was some of the best goaltending we’ve seen this year. And getting more of it will be the difference between winning consistently and missing out.

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      Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
  7. TamaraB
    March 22, 2013

    My favourite part of the night was MayRay clearing the breakaway. Beauty move, well executed and effective.

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    Rating: +11 (from 13 votes)
  8. Zach Morris
    March 22, 2013

    Seems like there’s a sweet spot for our level of injuries. The more injured we are, the tighter we play. Also, if I’m not mistaken, Chris Tanev has now taken three shots this season and two of them have been goals.
    Chris Tanev for first unit powerplay!

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    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
  9. jenny wren
    March 22, 2013

    Tanev to Raymond to Tanev,
    Even better than Chicken Kiev.
    It seemed ordained that Mason knew
    Exactly what his mate would do,
    And laid the puck right in the slot
    For him to take the perfect shot.
    Such plays set Whisky Jack abuzz:
    “How beautiful the way it was!”

    The difference twixt the two of us,
    And it has been forever thus:
    He raved as well when Phoenix scored
    Which I deem rather untoward.
    For him, “It’s all part of the Way,
    And I just want to watch them play.”

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    Rating: +4 (from 10 votes)
  10. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 22, 2013

    Whenever there’s a big hit, 100% of the time the player is accused of leaving his feet, even when numerous replays show that he hasn’t (see Rome, Italy. I mean: Rome, Aaron.) This is because after impact players will always bounce up and back — this is elastic energy being transformed into kinetic energy (not unlike two Hot Wheels cars flying up in the air after a big-ass collision), but sports fans are generally too dimwitted for basic physics.

    There’s a pretty clear way to determine whether a player actually jumped: do you see space between his skates and the ice before impact? No? Then he didn’t jump.

    This saga will undoubtedly show the impartiality that Internet sports fans are so well-known for with respect to the Canucks. Edler is about the last guy who would deliberately run a goalie and had no reason to. He expected to get by him along the boards (as happens all the time in hockey), couldn’t, and by then it was too late to go anywhere. This will not stop the great collective wisdom of the Internet from declaring him a “goon” (like Jannik Hansen!), and declaring malice aforethought (for no apparent reason), purely because putting on a colored shirt apparently changes your personality. (Duncan Keith is a “good Canadian boy”, of course).

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    Rating: +27 (from 29 votes)
    • chinook
      March 22, 2013

      “not unlike two Hot Wheels cars flying up in the air after a big-ass collision” What a great image – well done sir! Even PITB can learn from that one.

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      Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      March 22, 2013

      Very well said. And frankly I don’t think we should care what internet sports fans think, for reasons well elucidated in your first paragraph. However, members of the sports media and other bloggers should know better, and yet I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of Chicago and Boston types got their panties in a knot about this (plus Damien Cox). I couldn’t be bothered to read them to find out, but it’d be nice if so-called journalists had a bit higher standards.

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      Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
      • shoes
        March 22, 2013

        Sports writers with higher standards? Hahaha….the head writer for sportsnet (mark spector) went through life with a mullet, which deteriorated to a comb-over and finally now sporting hair implants. And you want higher standards? Does it get any higher? hahahahaha

        Meantime, you can pretty well predict the usual suspects will break from typing out insults from their moms basement in the trailer park, to …….typing out insults from their moms basement in the trailer park, telling us all how they could clearly see Edler leave his feet and target the head…..and they will use Rob Blake as an example as to how right they are. (shanny is on vacation after working a month)

        Sadly the NHL is becoming very consistent in their inconsistency and little things add up to making certain teams in certain markets have a tougher path to follow to the holy grail. Not saying conspiracy but the refs, Blake and Shanny all know who signs there checks and whose team his son plays for. No rocket scientist needed for this deduction.

        Ben Kuzma is either trying to get in touch with his inner Albertan or prove once and for all that he is no homer. Funny that in spite of the video evidence plainly showing he was wrong that he just keeps on spewing it. Does Kuzma need friends that bad that he is trying for the other 29 teams fan bases for company?

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      March 22, 2013

      I suppose I could just as easily have referenced real-life auto racing accidents, which often see the cars fly up in the air . I suppose the drivers are just “jumping”.

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      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  11. Rob
    March 22, 2013

    Looks like Edler has a conference call with the league today. This will fall somewhere between Lupul’s 2 games and Lucic’s 5 games for running Miller, I’m going to guess that 3 will be enough and I’ll be suprised if it’s more. That was a boneheaded play, I watched it over and over agian at full speed and Edler had plently of time to stop and not plow into the goalie. To me this hit is almost as bad a Lucic’s, it was avoidable, it wasnt necessary, and it was stupid. When I saw the hit last night I thought to myself ‘my god the blogosphere is going to be going crazy today” because you know the Canucks are the softest team of goons in the league….. Stuff like this happens all the time, yet for some reason when the Canucks do it, it creates a !@#$ storm like no other.

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    Rating: -10 (from 12 votes)
    • Connor
      March 22, 2013

      Lucic did not get suspended at all for hitting Miller, which was a FAR worse contact.

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      Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
      • Rob
        March 22, 2013

        My apologies, I thought he got 5 for that, I must be thinking some one else….. And I don’t think Lucic’s was much worse than this. Edler knew it was the goalie playing the puck behind the net and he made no attempt to slow down, made no attempt to avoid contact, and actually braced himself for the hit like he was hitting another player…. To me there isnt much difference between the two other than the fact that Lucic was carrying a bit more speed than Elder was. Still a boneheaded play and still worthy of at least 2 or 3 games just for stupidity.

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        Rating: -15 (from 15 votes)
        • Nick
          March 22, 2013

          I agree with John Garrett’s take. Even though he’s an old goalie himself, he still feels that once a goaltender is way out of the net and holding the puck for several seconds to try and make a pass, he’s hittable. Gotta protect goalies of course, but goalies can’t be all over the defensive zone and untouchable.

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          Rating: +14 (from 14 votes)
          • J21 (@Jyrki21)
            March 22, 2013

            The rule book very directly says you can’t hit a goalie out of the crease, though.

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            Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
        • shoes
          March 22, 2013

          Actually, Rob, you must have no replays or youtubes available. Lucic had 20- feet of open ice to veer around Miller and he whaled into him much harder than Edler hit Smith. Shanny ruled he had no intent and that he felt Milan was poorly understood and in his opinion “quite cute” Not sure why he said that.

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          Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  12. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 22, 2013

    By the way, Kuzma is now saying on Twitter that Edler didn’t leave his feet (I know a link will get blocked, so it’s at 9:40 EDT/6:40 PDT on his feed.

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    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  13. Cathylu
    March 22, 2013

    Well, that game was “interesting” (or just plain weird). I’m glad for the win (good job Tanev and Schroeder) and glad the Daniel wasn’t hurt badly (seeing all that blood was a little scary). Wish me luck tomorrow. I’ll be at Staples doing my best to cheer our boys to victory.

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    Rating: +12 (from 14 votes)
  14. Cathylu
    March 22, 2013

    Maybe Edler’s “hit” on Smith was payback for Smith hitting Daniel in the nose. Maybe our Swedes aren’t so unassuming after all!

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    Rating: +7 (from 9 votes)
    • Chakomika
      March 22, 2013

      Thats the only reason I can see for pulling such a bonehead move! A little Swedish ‘how do ya do’.

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      Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  15. John Andress
    March 22, 2013

    I reluctantly disagree with those who saw this game as a gritty performance by a plucky, under-manned Canucks team. For my money it was a comedy of errors involving two inept teams, one slightly less inept that the other. The on-going theme of this season for me is the Canucks inability to clear their own zone. Do you think that at any point this season the Canucks will master the art of getting the puck out over the blue line?

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    Rating: -3 (from 9 votes)
    • Amor de Cosmos
      March 22, 2013

      Not until we’ve a centre who can win his share of defensive face-offs. That’s the single biggest lack right now. No Manny + no Kesler = no defence.

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      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      March 22, 2013

      Apart from their very best seasons, this has been a recurring problem since 1970… so no.

      Jim Robson probably could have applied for intellectual property over the phrase “To the line, but notttttt out”, he said it so often throughout his career.

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      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  16. Nick
    March 22, 2013

    Schneider was “solid” in net?

    I thought he was more like wow! More like what we were expecting after his stellar play last season.

    More like best player on the ice

    … and bringing the type of goaltending we’ll need from him and Lu to carry the team if they are to go on a run.

    Solid isn’t the same as outstanding.

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    Rating: +13 (from 17 votes)
  17. Nick
    March 22, 2013

    I don’t think Edler will get 3 games.

    That was hit almost nothing compared to the Lucic – Miller collision for which there was no suspension.

    Anyone else notice Smith throw his head back a second or so after the collision to ham it up?

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    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  18. Nee
    March 22, 2013

    “Daniel Sedin appeared to emulate the patron saint of PITB by jumping on the back of David Schlemko ”

    Oh I noticed. And thought of PITB! : )

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  19. The Bookie
    March 22, 2013

    “Daniel Sedin appeared to emulate the patron saint of PITB by jumping on the back of David Schlemko for a piggyback ride.”

    Henrik! This reminds me of that fat man I used to ride to work!

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  20. DanD
    March 23, 2013

    Two thoughts, both about the Jordan-Bird commercial.

    1. Jordan’s outfit needs to be in the 90′s Hall of Fame.

    2. Do they not realize that it only takes about 1 minute for McDonalds food to get cold and completely inedible? That’s the most implausible thing about that commercial.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)