I Watched This Game: Canucks at Nashville Predators, April 15, 2013

The big story heading into this game was Ryan Kesler getting moved to the wing alongside Derek Roy in order to load up the top-six with offensive talent. It turned out that story was a big, fat lie and everyone who told that story was just a big, fat liar and a generally terrible person. Just awful.

What actually happened was that Derek Roy moved to the wing alongside Ryan Kesler. Completely different.

Some chemistry experiments lead to a slow descent into moral ambiguity. Thankfully, the chemistry experiment that threw Kesler and Roy together produced offence instead of methamphetamine. Still, I suffered from withdrawal symptoms after I watched this game.

Canucks 5 – 2 Predators

  • Here’s a great sign for Canucks fans: Ryan Kesler’s wristshot is back in full effect. After a great zone entry by the Sedins on the powerplay that pushed the Predators back, Henrik set up Kesler in the high slot. Kesler pulled the puck in tight to his body and whipped it past David Legwand and by Pekka Rinne’s blocker. To be fair to Legwand and Rinne, I’d be hesitant about touching anything that was tight to Kesler’s body as well. It’d be just a little awkward, that’s all. Not a problem for many of our readers, of course.
  • Just before Kesler opened the scoring, Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne traded massive saves, with Luongo robbing David Legwand shorthanded and Rinne making an even bigger save on Burrows a moment later. For a moment it looked like this would be a great goaltending battle, but then the Canucks lit up Rinne like they were in Amsterdam. In that simile, “Rinne” is the street name for a particularly fine strain of marijuana.
  • Okay, we’re just two bullet points in to this IWTG and we already have a meth and a marijuana reference. Oh dear.
  • Putting Roy on Kesler’s wing paid off less than five minutes into the game, as the third member of that line, Jannik Hansen, stole the puck on the forecheck, set up Dan Hamhuis for a one-timer. Hamhuis’s shot was low and hard, forcing Rinne to give up a rebound, which Roy swiped into the net while diving. If only Rinne had time to say “Roy, no swiping!” three times, he could have prevented the goal.
  • I don’t mind hockey fights. In fact, sometimes I quite enjoy them. I hated Steve Pinizzotto’s fight against Rich Clune. Hated hated hated hated hated this fight. Why? Because of the timing. Clune was hassling Pinizzotto to drop the gloves right from centre ice and he finally obliged right as Maxim Lapierre was heading towards the net for a scoring chance. It was a terrible decision for Pinizzotto to fight while the Canucks had a chance to score their third goal. A borderline fourth-liner like Pinizzotto needs to pick his spots better. He can’t make decisions that cost the Canucks a scoring chance, particularly when they only have a 2-0 lead, which is, as John Shorthouse reminded us, “the most dangerous lead in hockey.”
  • Nashville came out flying in the second period, out-shooting the Canucks 19-10 and tying up the game with goals from Nick Spaling and Bobby Butler, with assists to some shoddy defending by Kevin Bieksa and Andrew Alberts. On the first goal, the puck hopped over Bieksa’s stick behind the net, allowing Sergei Kostitsyn to easily set up Spaling in front. On the second goal, Alberts’ gap control was atrocious, giving Butler far too much space to load up his wristshot and pick his spot, putting the puck off the far post and in. Those defensive errors were emblematic of how the Canucks played throughout the second and most of the third period; fortunately, Luongo was fantastic, making 36 saves.
  • The powerplay that has struggled so much throughout the season has started to click at just the right time. Over the past six games, the Canucks are 5-for-19 for a solid 26.3% conversion rate. Jason Garrison helped that along with the second powerplay goal of the game, blasting a slap shot past Rinne after a nice interchange between Mason Raymond and Kevin Bieksa at the blueline created some space. Jannik Hansen provided a more effective screen than Flex Seal on a screen door.
  • The Canucks’ new-look second line was down to just one player by the end of the second period, as Roy left the ice after an uncalled high stick to the face and Hansen struggled to the bench after falling awkwardly after a collision in the defensive zone. Canucks fans collectively held their breath, then passed out because there was an intermission break. When they collectively came to at the start of the third period, they were relieved to find both Roy and Hansen out on the ice to start the period.
  • As an aside: the Predators have a player named Austin Watson. I hear he used to hang out with Dallas Sherlock.
  • Like they did against Calgary on April 10th, the Canucks flipped the switch in the third period, scoring twice to seal the game after Garrison pulled the Canucks ahead at the end of the second. The top line got things going: Henrik set up Daniel at the point as Burrows battled his way to the front of the net. Daniel’s point shot was deliberately wide, looking for the tip. Burrows obliged, pulling the puck back towards the net and bouncing it past Rinne.
  • The second line experiment paid off again for the Canucks’ fifth goal. An Alex Edler wristshot deflected off Hansen, who was once again screening in front, directly to Roy, who smartly swung the puck across to Kesler to deposit into the open net. A pairing hasn’t delivered results this quickly since Mentos and Diet Coke.
  • Unlike Pinizzotto’s fight, I had no issue whatsoever with Zack Kassian taking on Pekka Rinne. After Rinne gave Kassian a quasi-butt-end and a full-on cross-check, Kassian took a look over his shoulder, saw Shea Weber coming and thought, Eh, it’s worth it, and shoved Rinne.
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  1. jenny wren
    April 15, 2013

    Once you obtain a two goal lead
    The comeback one do not concede
    As happened here on Monday night
    ‘Til later on they did it right
    Extending then their lead to three
    To win the game convincingly

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  2. Square Ball
    April 16, 2013

    I liked Kassian taking on two players at once while he was being held against the glass after the Rinne incident. Just so casual. What else does he need two arms for, right?

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  3. Zach Morris
    April 16, 2013

    To paraphrase Justin Bourne, the Canucks are like a cat playing with a bug.
    They’re in control. They aren’t hurried. Sometimes they let the bug get away from them.
    Other times they go into beast mode and crush the bug like it’s just a bug.

    Did you know cats are crepuscular? They are most active at dawn and dusk. If this is the dusk of our playoff window, let’s hope we’re hunting, not catnapping.

    There’s a pun with “Predators” here somewhere…

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  4. Carlo
    April 16, 2013

    I wish Kass and Rinne ended up dropping gloves. That would’ve been epic. Lol!

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    • Andre
      April 16, 2013

      Unfortunately, I see too many goalies being given free passes. Rinne’s slash on Kass was obscene. There was also Mike Smith’s deliberate move that drew a penalty, while he was given a free pass on his calculated interference. Reminds me of Tim Thomas’ hack’n'slash work on the Canucks in a previous playoff, all with the knowledge that refs will let it go.

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  5. akidd
    April 16, 2013

    since the helicopter shot i now just see kassian as this innocent wide-eyed kid out there exploring the world. “hmm, what’s that?…hey that guy’s hitting me with a stick. hey!” kinda thing.

    so i’m split between feeling good that the canucks are such snipers that they don’t need many shots and feeling a little worried that they’re getting outshot. oh well, might as well bask in the sharpshootedness of the evening. way to score goals, eh!

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  6. ikillchicken
    April 16, 2013

    “Over the past six games, the Canucks are 5-for-19 for a solid 26.3% conversion rate.”

    Solid? That’s better than any team in the league’s season conversion rate. Of course, we need to keep it up. Six games could easilly be an anomaly. But at the moment the PP is looking more than solid. It’s looking as good as it ever has.

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  7. Tom 1040
    April 16, 2013

    Ummm, everyone…

    Don’t mean to rain on the homer parade, but, like Calgary, Nashville more closely resembles an AHL team than an NHL team.

    Hence, upcoming games against top caliber teams will soon be here and better judges of ‘process’.

    But, having said that, make no mistake – Dallas – Vcr is going to be a dandy.

    Looking forward to that one.

    In closing, Garrison’s shot is something else!

    Remember, he could have 10 or 11 goals right now (other’s goals due to goal-mouth deflections); and, what’s more, he had a very slow start.


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    • Amor de Cosmos
      April 16, 2013

      That could’ve been a game from two years back. Overwhelm the opposition in the first period, play flat as a griddlecake in the second, massive pushback early in the third and efficient close-out to end things*. Yes, it was against a bunch of kids and minor leaguers, for the most part. But it was nice to see a recognisably Canucklike performance again.

      • BTW, does anyone kill off a game as well as we do? I loved the defensive PP, it’s not sexy but it’s the right thing to do.

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    • akidd
      April 16, 2013

      yup, no one knows what kind of a team this is. they were outshot and outpossessed but were able to put puck into net. we will see, like you said, against some more competitive teams. i’m sure glad we get to find out with a healthy kesler though. he’s some kind of piece to this puzzle. a competitive guy for sure. i missed watching him brood on the bench after a missed opportunity. no one furrows his brow like good old kes.

      and ya, garrison’s a good one too. your buddy gillis sure has managed to attract some free agents eh?

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      • Tom 1040
        April 17, 2013

        We all guess right sometimes, which is about all Gillis does, apparently, given his other ‘genius’ moves.

        Happy to discuss his ‘ability’, credibility, and legacy – anytime.

        Just remember, Gillis didn’t choose where they were born.

        By the way, Bob MeKenzie (sic?) and Iain Macintyre (sic?) both tweeted Raymond’s name as being bandied about at the trade deadline. Did you read that? I think I did.

        What’s more, is Raymond part of the core? Well, not as much as Higgins is, apparently.

        Anyway, take care all the best.


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  8. Rob
    April 16, 2013

    I think Keslers 2nd goal would be a great candidate for a “breaking down”. Nashville looked fine defensively when the Canucks gained the zone, then very quickly broke down to allow Kesler to get wide open – might be worth looking at.

    Nice to see the Canucks play like the Canucks we are used to, but gotta keep in mind that they were playing a team with 11 call-ups in the line-up. The Dallas, Stlouis, Chicago, Detroit, Anaheim line-up will give us a better look at how good this team really is.

    On a bright note, the Canucks have killed off 26ish straight penalties and as Daniel pointed out they are 5-19 on the powerplay, those are more like the numbers we are used ot seeing from them – but again – its been some pretty weak competition as of late.

    Ryan Kesler is a Nashville killer, they are probably sick of that guy by now.

    Bring on STL – Go Nucks.

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    • J21
      April 16, 2013

      If PITB did a “breakdowning” for literally every Canuck goal, I’d read ‘em.

      Even the empty-netters.

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  9. JanBan
    April 16, 2013

    I wasn’t surprised Kassian shoved Rinne back- he clearly deserved it. I was kind of shocked by Kass’ anger, though. Most of the time when he fights or agitates he’ll skate to the box with a grin, or at the very least he’ll be cooperative with the refs. But last night he was really fighting back- even in a game Vancouver was dominating 5-2. Makes you wonder what Rinne said to him to set him off so much.

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    • tj
      April 16, 2013

      I was surprised at first too, but it’s pretty consistent with his character. He does seem to react strongly to injustices or unfairness, or what he perceives to be such. His ‘conversation’ with Rinne seemed to be, ‘What the hell are you doing? You can’t do that?’ It was a very emotional immediate response, and then the look over the shoulder to see who was going to come get him when he did the inevitable…

      I think a cartoon bubble breakdowning of that could be pretty interesting. Like that seemingly slo-mo pass the other day, and the helicopter love-fest, Kassian does seem to actually think things through in a very visual way.

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  10. JanBann
    April 16, 2013

    I wasn’t surprised Kassian shoved Rinne back- he clearly deserved it. I was kind of shocked by Kass’ anger, though. Most of the time when he fights or agitates he’ll skate to the box with a grin, or at the very least he’ll be cooperative with the refs. But last night he was really fighting back- even in a game Vancouver was dominating 5-2. Makes you wonder what Rinne said to him to set him off so much.

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