This game must have been a massive relief to Canucks fans who were tired of the low-scoring, defensive snoozefests that the Canucks have been known for recently. For once, the Canucks didn’t sit on a one-goal lead and bore fans to tears. This game was wide open right from puck drop, with goals galore. Heck, even one of Wayne Gretzky’s seemingly unbreakable records was broken, tonight! What more could you ask for?
Wait, you wanted the Canucks to score? You didn’t want more goals in general, only more goals for the Canucks? Oh.
Well, crud. That sure didn’t happen. I watched this game.
Canucks 0 – 4 Oilers
The Canucks were pretty much atrocious from top to bottom. It wasn’t just a couple players or one defence pairing — everyone was awful, as the Oilers soundly outplayed the Canucks in every zone, winning every battle and beating them to every loose puck. The loss was a true team effort: all but three players finished minus-1, with only Tom Sestito, Jordan Schroeder, and Jannik Hansen finishing even. The were terrible as a team and they lost as a team. They were Justice League Detroit, in other words.
Things fell apart on the first shift of the game. As Dan Hamhuis pinched slightly down the boards, Henrik Sedin did a terrible job covering for him at the point, allowing Taylor Hall to break back the other way all alone and snipe a shot shortside on Schneider. It was the first shot of the game.
The Canucks actually came remarkably close to replying immediately, as Alex Burrows intentionally iced the puck, banking it to Daniel Sedin, who pulled off a pretty spin-o-rama but couldn’t put the puck past Devan Dubnyk. For a moment, I was excited, thinking that the best thing that could have happened to the Canucks is going down by one goal 16 seconds into the game, as it would force them to get creative and pull out of their defensive shell. Nope.
After an extended shift in the Canucks’ zone, Steve Pinizzotto made a bad read, overplaying Jeff Petry at the point to cover for Chris Higgins, allowing Ladislav Smid to unleash a slapshot that beat a screened Schneider. Andrew Ebbett, unfortunately, was the one providing the screen. It was the second shot of the game.
After allowing 2 goals on 2 shots, albeit on opportunities created by terrible defensive play in front of him, Schneider was given the hook. It was extremely unusual for Alain Vigneault to pull his goaltender so soon, but to be fair, he did have a group of pirates behind him in the stands chantingHook, hook, give us the hook.
It didn’t help. After a complete clustercuss in the neutral zone, Hall somehow ended up all alone and easily converted a cross-ice pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins past Roberto Luongo for his second goal. It was the third shot of the game.
The 3 goals in the first 2 minutes and 43 seconds of the game were the fastest three goals in Oilers history and they came on not just their first three shots of the game, but the first three shots of the game period. By either team. Before the Canucks could even get a shot on goal, they were down 3-0. On the plus side, the Oilers’ first three goals came in one second too long to be a perfect pop song.
Honestly, there was next to nothing to like about this game. The Canucks’ put in a putrid effort, only managing 23 shots on goal in their bid for a comeback. They may as well have just stayed home. Dubnyk was forced to make a couple nice saves, particularly on Chris Higgins in the first period, but for the most part the Canucks didn’t challenge him at all.
The only bright spot for the Canucks was that after allowing two quick goals, Luongo shut the door the rest of the way, making numerous unreal saves. He brilliantly snagged a deflection from Lennart Petrell in the second period and late in the third made a fantastic kick save on Jordan Eberle. It was nice to see at least one Canuck still trying with the game out of reach.
His best save, however, and in the argument for save of the season, prevented Hall from having a four-goal game. Luongo was down and out after Edler ran into him, but he somehow managed to scramble across, getting his blocker up, backwards, to bat Hall’s shot away. The effort propelled Luongo completely into the net. It was the only time in this game that a Canuck’s effort propelled anything into the net.
People sometimes come to PITB looking for a little optimism to counterbalance the general negativity and cynicism that surrounds the Canucks, but there was nothing to be optimistic about in this game. The Canucks have lost a lot of games this season when they’ve outplayed their opponents. In those cases, we’ve praised the process. They’ve also won a number of games they didn’t deserve to, in which case we’ve praised the results while pointing out the flaws in the process. This time around, the process stunk and the team fully deserved the result.
After a win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks are sitting in second in the Pacific and boast the division's best goal differential. That said, a big part of that goal differential comes from the Canucks' league-leading 10 empty net goals. […]