There are two ways for Canuck fans to look at this game: on the one hand, you could be upset with the way the Canucks played, which would be fair since they didn’t play well. They were sloppy from top to bottom, making lazy, easily intercepted outlet passes, surrendering prime scoring chances, and forcing Cory Schneider into a virtuoso performance to preserve the victory.
On the other hand, they still won, and handily. Why? Because, as bad as they were, they still weren’t worse than the Calgary Flames on a good night. It’s tougher to be upset with Vancouver when Calgary exists to remind you that it could be much, much worse. With that thought hanging in the back of my mind, I was extremely content when I watched this game.
Canucks 5 – 2 Flames
Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis is all about making young people’s dreams come true, and 30 seconds into this one, that’s exactly what he did, scoring on an Alex Burrows feed after the pair were sprung on a 2-on-1. It was the first NHL shift of Flames rookie Max Reinhart, who grew up in Vancouver and often dreamed of making the NHL and being on the ice for a Canuck goal. Now, thanks to the considerate actions of the Community Man, he has been. Someone get Reinhart that puck.
Daniel Sedin got the second assist on that goal, and it was richly deserved. He starts the entire play, recognizing that Mark Giordano is pinching down the boards to hold the puck in and trapping him behind the play with a nonchalant chip to start the odd-man rush the other way. It was the best chip since Thunder Crunch Jalapeno.
Zack Kassian dropped the gloves with Tim Jackman midway through the first, which is notable only in that it was when I noticed Kassian had shaved his beard. Now he looks like Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. I spent the next five minutes hoping he’d axe his way out of the penalty box.
Shortly after this, Tom Sestito fought with Brian McGrattan, which was ideal because it took both of them off the ice for five minutes.
Dale Weise made it 2-0 for the Canucks, tipping a Jason Garrison shot up and over Miikka Kiprusoff. I loved Maxim Lapierre’s pass on this goal, a crazy accurate saucer pass that, as Elliotte Friedman pointed out at the intermission, went right to Garrison’s back foot, where he’s said he wants it. If you’re wondering what woke the Sedins up in the second period, I’d suggest it was the moment Lapierre made what was at that point the game’s best saucer pass.
Thing you might have missed on that goal: Mason Raymond trips over Matt Stajan’s stick in the middle of the zone and falls down, because of course he does.
That goal was part of a long stretch of the second period where the Sedins looked absolutely ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous. They were nigh unstoppable, yes, but they also looked completely disinterested in scoring, making spinning no-look back-passes when, say, on a shot on goal might have been more effective. They were like Cirque du Soleil acrobats, serving up a feast for the eyes with stunning control, jaw-dropping twists and twirls, and no net.
How disengaged was the Canucks’ defence? Somehow, Kevin Bieksa managed to tweet during the game. (Okay, it was probably some sort of evidence his account has been compromised. The funny thing is that the tweet violated the NHL’s social media policy, which enforces a social media blackout from two hours before the game to when the players’ media obligations are finished. It would be hilarious if he got fined.)
The Canucks had a few very short powerplays in this game. On one, Daniel Sedin ended the man advantage in six seconds in when he took a hooking minor at the blueline. That was bad. But on another, they scored in just four seconds after winning the faceoff and setting up the one-timer for Alex “Bomberman” Edler. That was good, especially since Edler’s bomb uncovered the boxing glove.
Henrik Sedin has taken a lot more defensive zone faceoffs this season than he usually does, but Alain Vigneault was able to get him down to just three in this game. Andrew Ebbett, Derek Roy, and Maxim Lapierre had 5, 6, and 7, respectively. Roy struggled the most, winning just 2 of his 6 and 5-of-17 overall. But he was good defensively otherwise, maneuvering through traffic and getting into lanes like a motorcycle amongst cars, which, considering his size, he sort of is.
Don Cherry had some strong words for the Canucks’ handling of Roberto Luongo at the first intermission. “They are letting him rot,” he said, in a rare complete sentence. But lest Canuck fans worry too much about Cherry’s opinion, I remind you that a moment earlier, he balked when Ron Maclean expressed the distance between Calgary and Vancouver in kilometres, because he thinks the metric system is “commie stuff”.
You’d be hard-pressed to claim the Hockey Night in Canada telecasts are art, although with all the men shouting over one another, both the aforementioned Coach’s Corner and Hotstove segments do occasionally border on noisecore. But Henrik Sedin’s 5-2 goal featured a very artful moment. As the puck drifted towards the empty net, the screen briefly went all-black in a Sopranos-esque flourish. What was this? Was Henrik killed as he entered the restaurant or not? You’d have thought the telecast was being directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, although he might have faded to blue. In any case, it was appropriate and poetic, since the puck’s slow drift towards the unattended goal truly did signal the moment it was time to fade to black.
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