I Watched This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, April 10, 2013

In the Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s classic bout, the Rumble in the Jungle, Ali famously used what came to be called the rope-a-dope strategy. Early in the fight, he provoked Foreman into an all-out attack, but absorbed the blows by leaning against the ropes, allowing their elasticity to distribute the kinetic energy. Once Foreman had tired himself out and began making mistakes, Ali pressed the counter-attack and ended up winning the fight by knockout in the eighth round.

Against the Flames, the Canucks seemed to employ a similar rope-a-dope strategy. In this case, Roberto Luongo was the rope and the Flames were the dopes, as the Canucks coasted through much of the game before seeming to flip a switch in the third period, capitalizing on the Flames’ errors, and scoring three quick goals to win the game.

Unlike the Rumble in the Jungle, this game won’t go down in history as one of the greatest sporting events of all time. Even still, I watched this game.

Canucks 4 – 1 Flames

  • Roberto Luongo was the surprise starter for this game after Cory Schneider was reported ill with the flu. Since the Canucks couldn’t play the game without their full complement of redheads, they called up an emergency backup redhead from the University of Calgary, Dustin Butler. Coincidentally, he was also an emergency backup goaltender.
  • Also missing from this game: Chris Tanev and Chris Higgins, who both are out with injuries. This led Sportsnet to run a graphic with the title “Chrisis? What Chrisis?” which is simultaneously the worst and the best thing ever. Personally, I would have gone with “Canucks’ Chris Crisis Causes Concern.”
  • I don’t know what to make of the line of Ryan Kesler, Zack “Puck Passing” Kassian, and Mason Raymond. At times they showed remarkable chemistry, with Kassian showing his puck distributing skill, particularly on a nifty between-the-legs drop pass to Kesler in the first, but the line as a whole got badly out-shot by the Flames when they were on the ice. Kassian finished with a 17-3 shot differential in favour of the Flames, Raymond’s finished 15-4, and Kesler’s was 12-4. Personally, I think the solution is to put Chris Higgins with Kesler and Kassian when he returns, forming the Kes-Kass-Kiss line.
  • All three members of that line were on the ice when the Flames opened the scoring, but it’s hard to really blame any of them, as the puck pinballed off Kesler’s shinpad and Garrison’s skate and in. Unfortunately for the Flames, the last two digits of their score didn’t match the lucky numbers and it was game over after that.
  • A lucky bounce like that was bound to happen, considering that the Flames were out-shooting the Canucks 11-6 at the time of the goal. It took that kind of bounce to beat Luongo in this game: he made 40 saves in his first start in over three weeks. He didn’t show any rust or emotional turmoil; instead, he was the same as he ever was and didn’t seem at all like he wanted to find himself in another part of the world.
  • It didn’t take long for the Canucks to respond, as Alex Burrows tied the game up with the most Burrowsy goal possible. Jason Garrison’s point shot ended up at Burrows’ feet in the crease. With his stick tied up and not wanting to kick the puck into the net, he dropped to all fours in an attempt to knee the puck in. Turns out, this isn’t allowed, but Burrows admitted to Dan Murphy during the intermission that he had no idea it was against the rules. The referee waved the goal off immediately, but the video review revealed that it was Dennis Wideman’s stick that knocked the puck into the net. When Burrows just goes hard to the net, he gets goal after goal called off. When he blatantly (if unintentionally) tries to cheat, the goal counts.
  • How long did Alain Vigneault manage to keep himself from putting Kesler on the penalty kill? Approximately one-and-a-half games. In his defence, Kesler only came out shorthanded when Maxim Lapierre was in the box for a tripping penalty and so wasn’t available. Of course, Kesler blocked a shot while killing the penalty and led the team in blocked shots with three. I swear, he needs an intervention.
  • The first half of the third period was all Calgary, as Luongo was forced to make several solid stops while staring down open Flames. Personally, when I stare at open flames I just get really quiet and contemplative, but Luongo managed to stay focussed and keep the game tied until the Canucks could take over.
  • Maxim Lapierre scored the go-ahead goal thanks to a fantastic forecheck by Andrew Ebbett, who turned the puck over behind the net and flipped it in front, where Lapierre whacked it in like he was Princess Lockeroo. Wait, no, that’s Waacking. My bad.
  • Three minutes later, Kesler and Kassian’s callow chemistry paid off. Kassian gained the zone and neatly dropped the puck to Kesler, who fired it on net, as he is wont to do. Kiprusoff kicked the puck back out to the faceoff circle, where Dan Hamhuis went into his full wind-up and blasted a fastball on goal. Kiprusoff, like J.P. Arencibia trying to catch R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball, couldn’t handle it and the puck popped up into the air for Raymond to bunt in. With his speed, he was able to beat it out for a base hit.
  • Raymond’s speed led to the Canucks’ final powerplay of the game and a pretty give-and-go goal for the Sedins, as he was hooked on a breakaway, but didn’t earn a penalty shot since he still got a good scoring chance. The Sedins created a better one: Daniel slid the puck to Henrik along the boards, then slipped into the slot to receive the return feed, which he fired just inside the far post. Incredibly, it was Daniel’s first powerplay goal since January 5th. He managed to go 35 games without a powerplay goal, which doesn’t even seem possible.
  • Regrettably, the Canucks weren’t able to get Dustin Butler into the game in the final minutes. Apparently, Luongo and the rest of the Canucks wanted to get him into the game once it was out of reach, but there wasn’t a stoppage in play after Daniel’s goal. Probably for the best: Canucks fans can be pretty hard on their goaltenders.
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  1. bw
    April 11, 2013

    Is Dustin Butler in the Canucks’ farm system or was he a 1-day contract like Levesque?

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  2. smj
    April 11, 2013

    Daniel’s last ppg January 25th not 5th? Could be wrong that’s just what JS said after the goal….
    love that Burr dropped to the ice for that…too bad it wasn’t legal Raymond would have had a whole new offensive plan….

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  3. whisky jack
    April 11, 2013

    With C Wall sick it’s Bobby Lu
    Though as a backup he should do
    It’s more likely we could miss
    Both Tanev and the other Chris
    While playing in the Saddledome
    As our boys play away from home
    So we will watch and we will see
    If our recent streak will end at three

    Outshot playing the mostly red
    Vancouver finds the Flames ahead
    But then John Garrett gets it right
    A goal’s granted the mostly white
    And John Shorthouse says let’s insist
    His mate is given an assist
    On Howe’s last goal some years ago
    The replay shows that it was so

    After a fruitless middle frame
    Of this close checking hockey game
    Which despite the lack of scoring
    Only trolls would post as boring
    It’s in the third six minutes left
    Lappy converts on Ebbett’s theft
    And Raymond bats a rebound in
    To pretty much insure the win

    The final score is four to one
    But just before my rant is done
    Some fuel for this season’s story
    We lost nothing losing Cory
    But there’s no need for you to frown
    Or rush to quickly thumb me down
    I am just simply pointing out
    Which one they’ll trade is still in doubt

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  4. Nee
    April 11, 2013

    That stat about Daniel’s last goal doesn’t make sense. Our first game of the season wasn’t until January 19th…

    Unless you mean his last PP goal was during pre-season scrimmage ; ) Perhaps it’s actually Feb 5th, not Jan 5th?

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  5. Cathylu
    April 11, 2013

    “The Kes-Kass-Kiss line” – I love that! Hope Cory is better soon but Lu did a great job. It’s nice to see us score some goals. Hopefully we can keep rolling and put some more distance between us and the Wild.

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  6. Neil B
    April 11, 2013

    I think that this game will spark Daniel to return to his high-scoring ways. He received a major wake-up call at 15:34 of the 3rd period, when he said, “Holy Crap! I’m tied with Mason Raymond for goals with 8 games left in the season!”

    Look for more goals from #22 as he attempts to shake off that nightmare moment of his career.

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  7. Chinook
    April 11, 2013

    Thats a startling shot differential for the Kesler-Kassian-Raymond line – good observation. But Higgins continues (when he gets back) to work so well with Roy that I doubt we will see Kes-Kass-Kiss. Sedins and Burrows tried the long diagonal shoot-in three times (I think) without success. I like that they keep trying it – keeps the opposition D worried!

    And I enjoyed your baseball metaphor – specially Raymond beating out the bunt for a single! You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.

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  8. steveB
    April 11, 2013

    Once again, badly out-played and out-chanced by the Flames, but not out-scored. 2 Pts. F.G.

    I enjoyed learning about John Garrett’s participation in Gordie Howe’s last NHL goal and the campaign to give him credit for the Assist on it. #giveittocheech

    youarepostingcommentstooquicklyslowdown :-(

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  9. Snepsts
    April 11, 2013

    Ebbett and Weise are two of my lowest-scoring favorite players. I thought they both had excellent games and they show excellent consistency despite Vigneault’s modularity with wingers (which has been a necessity this year, to be fair). Weise shows signs of potential if he can develop some shooting skill. And, while Ebbett is too old/small to hope for much of a future with the Canucks, at least, he reminds me a lot of Wellwood who although younger has had some success with a developing team in a relatively easier conference. I.e., good trade bait. Luongo + Ebbett + Garrett for Alfredsson. Make it happen, Gillis. Do it. Do it. Do it.

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  10. J21
    April 11, 2013

    “Chrisis? What Chrisis?” Holy, SNET made a Supertramp reference? That’s awesome! And sorry, but way better than your alliterative alternative.

    Interesting that last time the Canucks went the emergency-backup-goalie-from-CIS-hockey route with Chris Levesque, they also targeted a redhead. HMMMM….

    “Kes-Kass-Kiss line” – Krusty the Klown might have a thing or two to say about using a triple-K initialism and the foibles it may invite.

    Did Burrows say he was actually trying to knee the puck? What it looked like on the replay was that he was trying to splay himself over the puck as a kind of makeshift table, simply to shield it from Flame defenders while letting it slide into the goal under its own momentum. I thought that was genius.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 11, 2013

      Oh man, I totally missed that Supertramp reference. I feel dumb.

      And yes, Burrows said he was trying to knee the puck in his first intermission interview with Dan Murphy.

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  11. peanutflower
    April 11, 2013

    What DOES Burrows have to do to draw a penalty these days. I swear the refs even when they are looking at him aren’t looking at him.

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