This was easily the worst game of the season. It’s not that the Canucks were bad at all — in fact, they dominated the Blue Jackets from start to finish — but the entertainment value of this game was nearly non-existent. This game was duller than a beach ball. Construction workers had to turn off the game on the radio so that they could operate heavy machinery. It was like Waiting for Godot with less Godot.
I regret to say that I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 0 Blue Jackets (SO)
The Canucks out-shot the Blue Jackets 34 to 17 and controlled puck possession in the offensive zone for vast stretches of time. The difference in shots was even more stark through the first two periods, as the Canucks had 25 shots to the Blue Jackets’ 8. The Canucks attempted 75 shots, while the Blue Jackets only attempted 38. If it weren’t for Sergei Bobrovsky, this game could have easily been a blowout. Bobrovsky now has a .930 save percentage for the season, which should make Philadelphia Flyers fans break down in tears.
Maxim Lapierre had just 11:22 in ice time in this game but somehow ended up providing most of the highlights. He had two glorious chances to score during the game, both times in all alone. On the first, he tried to go five-hole and was stymied by Bobrovsky and on the second, he sent the puck over the net after a great pass from Andrew Gordon. He was also credited with a game-high 7 hits, though I don’t recall a single one. Most importantly, he actually propelled the puck over the opposing team’s goal line, albeit in the shootout. I had almost forgotten that was the entire point of the exercise by that time.
Every single Canuck got a shot on goal in this game except for Chris Tanev. When asked why he refused to get a shot, he just mumbled something about Jenny McCarthy and took off.
It seemed like there were a lot of missed penalties, with the worst coming in one shift as both Jordan Schroeder on one side of the ice and Jared Boll on the other side got hit from behind dangerously into the boards with no call on either. Two other times a blatant penalty happened directly in front of a referee who happened to be literally looking in the wrong direction at the time. That said, I find it pretty hard to blame the refs for not paying too close attention to this game. I’m pretty sure it killed more brain cells than all the alcohol I have ever imbibed.
Considering the penalties that were missed, Keith Ballard’s penalty for slashing was pretty absurd, considering he only had one hand on his stick. When Ballard’s stick hit him, Derek Mackenzie snapped his head back as if he had been shot simultaneously from a school book depository and a grassy knoll. Hilariously, Ballard skated right up to Mackenzie and repeatedly snapped his head back as if he were listening to heavy metal played backwards.
I’m honestly not sure if the refs were worse than normal or if the complete lack of anything else happening on the ice made their missed calls more obvious. In my notes from the third period, I have four straight bullet points about blatantly missed calls. In a more exciting game, those notes might have had a goal or a nice save to distract me from writing down those missed calls or they would have at least appeared further apart.
Alain Vigneault is trusting Jordan Schroeder more and more. Against Columbus, he took most of the defensive zone faceoffs, going 6-for-8. Vigneault even sent him out a few times late in the game just to take the defensive zone faceoff and get off the ice, similar to how Manny Malhotra was used. As for why Schroeder got the job in this game, consider that Maxim Lapierre took just 4 faceoffs and lost all of them.
Schroeder’s line with Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen was easily the Canucks’ best, though the third line of Alex Burrows, Andrew Ebbett, and Keith Ballard gave them a run for their money. The second line combined for 8 shots on goal and had 9 more blocked. Hansen got the best scoring chance out of all of them, using his speed to create a breakaway in overtime and making a nice move only to get robbed by Sergei Bobrovsky, who I will now refer to as Robrovsky until I realize how dumb it sounds.
…and there it is. Wow, that’s dumb.
Cory Schneider was only called upon to make 20 saves, included the three in the shootout, but he was still remarkable, making a superb save in the third period on Nick Foligno after Kevin Bieksa turned the puck over, then stopping Foligno again in overtime. Personally, I’m just impressed he was still awake after the Blue Jackets only managed 2 shots in the first period. During the first intermission, Bieksa had the line of the night: “Schneids made 2 huge saves for us. Just kidding, I can’t even remember what they were.”
The Canucks’ biggest save of the game, however, wasn’t made by Schneider. With just over a minute remaining in the game, Chris Tanev’s clearing attempt hit the linesman, leading to a wraparound attempt by Ryan Johansen that slid straight through to Foligno at the back door, who had an empty net. Dan Hamhuis, with his back to Foligno, kicked out his right skate and just got his toe on the puck to deflect it wide. He didn’t just prevent a sure goal, he also prevented this game from becoming outright soul-crushing.
With realignment coming next season, the Blue Jackets will be joining the Eastern Conference, meaning fewer games in the Pacific Time Zone. Shorthouse noted how tough it was for Columbus fans: “Overtime begins at 12:29 Eastern. But you’d have to stay up. I mean, there’s no way you could’ve gone to sleep watching this.”
Shorthouse did his best to enliven the game with his commentary. Dan Hamhuis made a great play to gain the zone and centre the puck for Andrew Ebbett, but Fedor Tyutin tipped the pass, preventing Ebbett from making solid contact with the puck. Shorty nailed the call: “Darn Tyutin.”
Maxim Lapierre scored the only goal of the shootout with a slick move to the backhand after head-faking like he was Mikael Samuelsson. It was a very nice goal, which is why it was only appropriate that the game actually ended with Matt Calvert losing control of the puck on his shootout move and having it slide harmlessly and anticlimactically into Schneider’s pads.
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