I Watched This Game: Canucks at Colorado Avalanche, April 13, 2013

The Canucks have struggled versus the Colorado Avalanche for quite some time. No matter what they try, no matter what they do, they can’t seem to not get points. Coming into this game, Vancouver was 18-0-2 in their last 20 versus the Avs, and 10-0-0 in their last 10. You can understand how they might be a little complacent — these days, the Canucks could practically spot the Avalanche two goals and still come away with a win.

Unfortunately, there’s a difference between practically and literally, and the Canucks did it the latter way Saturday afternoon.

Even still, their struggles against Colorado continued — the Canucks still almost won. But, eventually, the Avalanche broke through, taking advantage of the complacency that had cleverly cultured for the last 20 games to finally catch the Canucks unawares. The result: the Avalanche won this game. And I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 4 Avalanche

  • The Avalanche had no margin for error here. One or no points would have mathematically eliminated them from postseason contention, and that made them a far more dangerous opponent than the Canucks seemed to realize. They were clinging to their playoff lives, and if there’s one thing I learned from Jeff Goldblum (and there are several), it’s that life finds a way.
  • Kevin Bieksa got the Avalanche on the board first in this one, and yes, you read that right. The Canucks’ blueliner was largely responsible for the first Colorado goal, playing the Henrik to Gabriel Landeskog’s Daniel with a tape-to-tape centring pass that left Colorado’s young leader all alone with Cory Schneider. The blond boy king showed no mercy on the redhead. It was like a scene from Game of Thrones.
  • The Canucks got the goal back when a strange combination of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, and Maxim Lapierre — perhaps the league’s most hatable trio — tied the game up early in the second. The play began with an absolutely absurd pass from Ryan O’Reilly, who spun in his own zone and blindly whipped the puck into the neutral zone. There, Alex Edler intercepted and one-touched a pass to Kesler, who moved the puck to Lapierre at the circle. From there, Lapierre tucked it in like Ben Stiller should have.
  • Edler’s play to start that counterattack was really reminiscent of the play he made to start the rush on Ryan Kesler’s goal versus the Coyotes, when he caught an errant pass from Keith Yandle in stride and immediately led the breakout the other way. In both cases, the lesson was the same: don’t throw passes to nowhere. Many of Edler’s plays teach lessons. He’s like Tyler Perry, except Swedish and, presumably, a better writer.
  • Speaking of passes to nowhere, it was yet another one — there were several in this game — that led to the Canucks taking the lead. With the Sedins pressing in the Colorado end, Greg Zanon took possession of the puck and had time to make a smart play that could clear the zone and end the pressure. Instead, he briefly confused himself with Daniel Sedin and made a no-look backhand bank pass to Henrik Sedin.
  • If you’re wondering why Maxim Lapierre was on a line with Kesler and Burrows in place of Zack Kassian, it was for faceoff insurance on a zone start. But if you’re wondering why Lapierre stayed on that line for awhile in the second, it’s because Kassian had a rough night. He was a team-worst minus-7 in Corsi, he seemed absent for long stretches, he made some odd choices with the puck, he overcommitted defensively, and if all of that wasn’t enough to get him in deep, he double-shifted when he wasn’t supposed to and then changed on a Colorado rush. Worse, he took too long to get to the bench and earned the Canucks a too many men penalty. That’ll do it.
  • Luckily for Kassian, things turned around for him early in the third. First, Lapierre pulled a Bieksa, turning the puck over and allowing Cody McLeod to tie the game 2-2. Then, on Kassian’s next shift, he was strong on the puck during a fourth line cycle, eventually leading to a Jason Garrison rocket to give the Canucks another lead. How much of a rocket was Garrison’s shot? As soon as it crossed the goal line, a little parachute deployed.
  • Garrison had six shots on goal in this game. They were all rockets. He’s a rocket man. He packed his bags last night, pre-flight.
  • Ryan Kesler is still getting up to speed, clearly. He had a breakaway opportunity in this game, but he couldn’t get away, because his acceleration still has a ways to go. As it stands, Bowser has better acceleration in Mario Kart 64.
  • Cory Schneider allowed 4 goals in this game, which may pave the way for Roberto Luongo to return to the Vancouver net for the next game, but truthfully, I thought he was great tonight. The Canucks were sloppy for much of the evening — perhaps because they’d been in Colorado for two days — but Schneider did well to absolve many of their sins with big saves. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stop Jan Hejda’s blast with 7.6 seconds to put the Avs on top for good. That goal was difficult to watch, both because it was disappointing and because of the chubby Avs fan pressed up against the glass behind Alain Vigneault afterward.
  • Finally, Dale Weise is a great skater, but he doesn’t have the offensive skill to play with Derek Roy. He’s basically the gremlin in Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. He shouldn’t be on that wing.
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20 comments

  1. the olde coot
    April 13, 2013

    That I did watch I cannot claim
    I had to ump a baseball game
    On getting home at ten past four
    I checked the net to learn the score

    Then who played goal I had to see
    Which one allowed three goals in three
    Losing at nineteen fifty-two
    I’m pleased it was not Bobby Lu

    Because when Gillis makes a trade
    I hope it’s Lui will have stayed
    For me he’s still our number one
    And should backstop our playoff run

    I trust he’ll start on Monday night
    The last two games give him that right

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  2. kenahora
    April 13, 2013

    Colorado Avalanche is a big and tough team…always.
    Forget the fact their record is less than…
    In the higher altitude the puck-gods were with the Avalanche..!
    A learning experience…hopefully!

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    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
  3. chicken hawk
    April 13, 2013

    I am surely most concerned
    How many times it must be learned
    That if you do not come to play
    The other team will make you pay

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    Rating: +17 (from 21 votes)
  4. Brent
    April 13, 2013

    What I I learned from Jeff Goldblum was that rationalization is more important than sex. Ever gone a week without a rationalization? (The Big Chill).

    There will be some significant rationalizations by the Canucks after this game. Reality is, they were horrible defensively.

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    • Brent
      April 14, 2013

      Just in case people never saw the big chill, it is a classic line:

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  5. Tom 1040
    April 13, 2013

    Well, I woke up at the beginning of the 3rd period.

    Though commenting ad nauseum that Canucks defensive synergy is their most glaring deficiency (directly followed by goal-scoring), I consider this game a one-off in terms of how bad the D and giveaways, in general, were today. The Canucks are pretty bad on D, but not this bad.

    Anyway, though I have felt that Garrison can often be seen to struggle on the defensive side, and I have yet to see him be physical, … what a shot!

    You can add another couple of goals (maybe up to 4) to his total based on the fact that his rocket deflected off people in front the goal (Weise, most recently).

    Though Gillis, as player agents do, oversold the other aforementioned aspects of his game, he was bang-on on the shot.

    So, even if Garrison is sometimes weak on the defensive side, he was a good signing (IMO) because of that laser.

    Finally, what was Lapiere thinking on a couple of those giveaways? Amazing.

    But, what do I know…?

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  6. jeremy
    April 13, 2013

    i owe garrison an apology. i was too easily frustrated by a newcomer’s play, and didn’t have the foresight to see how with time he could become a crucial, reliable and productive squad member

    on that note, man derek roy sucks. ended up a minus-2 tonight, and i can bet it was because he was so focused on getting that first goal he forgot about his own end. bring back jordan schroeder, am i right?

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      April 13, 2013

      No, you’re wrong.

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    • gumby
      April 13, 2013

      Um, no. Derek Roy does not suck.

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      • jeremy
        April 14, 2013

        *gently takes tongue from cheek*

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        • gumby
          April 14, 2013

          Whooosh, over my head.

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  7. kenahora
    April 13, 2013

    Colorado Avalanche is a big …physical and tough team…always.
    Forget the fact their record is less than…
    In the higher altitude the puck-gods were with the Avalanche..!
    A learning experience…hopefully!

    Can’t fault Schneider … just one of those games.

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    Rating: +3 (from 5 votes)
    • Neil B
      April 14, 2013

      Nope. I can fault Schneids. The ‘Nucks didn’t have a very goodnight,especially on team defence. There’s no denying that. But… the Avs possession that led to the game-winning goal started on Schneider’s stick.

      Firstly, something I didn’t know until I watched the clip (I heard this game, since I couldn’t find a live stream online), the Avs were trying to ring the puck around behind the goal–they had overloaded the zone to Schneid’s left, and his right was only covered with the one Av who was pressing the puck. So, natch, instead of reversing the flow of the play to where the Avs had no coverage, he played it to where they had numbers. He also did not put enough juice on the pass, so Hamuis was under pressure even before the puck arrived.

      Schneider brings a lot to the table, and he may be a better goalie at this point than Luongo. But the kid has poor puck-handling skills. Sometimes that results in a goal; and sometimes that goal will result in a loss. Today was one of those times.

      I’d still start him the next game. At this point, he’s our man.

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  8. cathylu
    April 13, 2013

    Well that was frustrating, to get a point (or 2) snatched away from us in the final seconds. We definitely could’ve played better. Thanks for this IWTG – since I watched this game on my husband’s iPad I think I missed a lot of the details.

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  9. Jason
    April 13, 2013

    The Canucks obviously didn’t watch coach’s corner last week. Don Cherry spoke about the difficulty playing in Colorado because of the altitude. He said it is okay if you arrive on game day, and not too bad if you arrive the day before the game, but don’t ever arrive two days before the game. The guy may be a wind bag, but he knows his stuff.

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    • ML
      April 14, 2013

      Sorry for being a noob but how come arriving early affects their play? I would think they’d have more time to get used to the altitude instead.

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  10. best behaviour
    April 13, 2013

    So… was Burrows in on that tying goal?

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  11. akiddd
    April 14, 2013

    i didn’t realize there was a game at noon. was looking for the Masters and, ‘click’, there was the 3rd period with about 3 minutes left. was just starting to focus when ‘fizzle’ went the winning goal and my first thought was, “glad i didn’t put two and a half hours into this.”

    flames, avalanche, flames, avalanche, predators, avalanche, coyotes, avalanche…what a deluge! How did the schedule get so dull? when lacklustre comes to town night after night you start to wonder about the nhl product. how did we ever struggle through an 82 game season with even more flame and avalanche games? stretching it thin, i’d say. and the canucks aren’t helping. Where did all the good hockey go?

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  12. iceman
    April 14, 2013

    Defensive gaffe has been a part of our blueliners package all this season, especially with Bieksa and Edler who also happen to be our current second pairing. For whatever reason they seem to be due for making a horrendous mistake on their own end in every few games. Of course, some people say they make it up with their offensive upside… A theory which I beg to differ.

    The very basic yet “prime” duty of a defenceman should be taking care of the puck in your own end, moving it out of your zone as quickly and safely as you can. Contributing to the team’s offence, while also important, doesn’t exactly cancel out your shortcomings on the other end. At the end of the day it’s the defensive blunder that will ultimately cost you and your team, no matter how many points you put up on your stat sheet. Sometimes I have to wonder if Canucks brass had rewritten the job descriptions of their blueliners.

    As for the yesterday’s game though, the whole team was out of sync and deserve to lose. On the other hand I’m watching Hawks-Blues game now and boy, they are skating at 2X speed and want to kill each other — that’s what I call playoff hockey. Hopefully playing Blues, Hawks, Wings and Ducks next week will bring such intensity back into this now-cruising team.

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