It took 65 minutes, but the Canucks finally got some good, clean looks on Brian Elliott. Granted, these looks came in the shootout, where you have to trade good clean looks with the opposition, but still. Let’s call this a moral victory. Considering the difficulty the Canucks had mustering shots on goal, let alone shots from areas where Elliott might have been remotely challenged, we can call breakaways the Blues were forced to allow them after overtime a win.
Granted, it’s a lot harder to call the result of the shootout a win, since the Canucks failed to score on the Blues as many times as the Blues scored on Schneider. Looking at it this way, it’s harder to call the shootout a victory. I’d be tempted to call it a loss, even.
I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 2 Blues (SO)
As badly as the Canucks were outplayed, it’s important to note that the they were on the second night of a road back-to-back and without Kevin Bieksa, whose absence tends to have a negative effect on this club. (You thought they missed Ryan Kesler? They’ve got just 1 win in 8 games without Bieksa this season, and it came in a shootout.) Now, I’m not blaming these two things for the loss, but they were Scary Movie 5 bad in this one, and I’ll bet that Bieksa and a day’s rest upgrades their performance to Scary Movie 2, at least.
I really enjoyed the Blues’ too many men penalty in the first, which came shortly after one of the earliest skirmishes in the Canucks’ end. This skirmish, like the innumerable skirmishes that followed, could have drawn several penalties, but no whistles were blown. One can understand why the Blues might come away from said skirmish thinking they could do use an extra skater for the rest of the period without getting a penalty. Unfortunately, they quickly discovered that using too many guys was the one thing they weren’t allowed to do in this game.
Cory Schneider very nearly picked up a shutout in this game, which could have been some spectacular point thievery if he’d pulled it off. Ocean’s Eleven-calibre thievery – but more impressive, since Danny Ocean had help. Basically, this game was Ocean’s Eleven if Ocean’s eleven spent the whole movie telling the casino staff what they were doing and where to find and kill Danny Ocean.
But while the Canucks didn’t do much to help Schneider, they sure stood up for one another. In my favourite moment, Keith Ballard looked ready to drop the gloves with David Backes when Alex Burrows suddenly decided Ballard needed saving and put Backes into a sleeper hold. It was very WWE, especially when Backes came away from the altercation bleeding inexplicably from the head. I felt sorry for Derek Roy, who has an Ultimate Warrior costume for just such occasions, but wasn’t able to change into it in time.
Burrows received four minutes for his part in the fray, because, when assessing penalties, Burrows starts with a two-minute handicap.
There are several reasons interrupting that fight was a silly choice for Burrows. First, Backes and Ballard have fought before and Ballard lived to tell the tale. He’d have done fine. Second, the only thing better than getting Backes off the ice for five minutes might have been taking Ballard with him. Ballard had a game-worst Corsi rating (plus/minus but for shots directed at the net) of minus-22 in this one. Basically, Ballard gave the Blues unlimited shots. He was like the best health care plan.
The Canucks got on the board with just 12 seconds to go in the middle frame, converting on a powerplay with Vladimir “Ziggy” Sobotka in the box for hooking. The shot came courtesy of Alex Edler, who threw a harmless-looking wrist shot on net, only to have it beat Brian Elliott just inside the post. In Elliott’s defence, Jannik Hansen was standing right in his line of vision, and Hansen is fully opaque, like all Danes. Except for the ghosts.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin both picked up assists on that goal, and they deserved to finish the night with points. While the Canucks were outshot 36-22 in the game, the Sedin line was the only group to finish with a positive Corsi rating. On the other end of the spectrum was the Andrew Ebbett’s line, led by an abysmal minus-13 performance from Ebbett himself. One of Ebbett’s problems: the Blues flattened him repeatedly. He was so flat by the end of this game you’d have thought he was Russell Crowe in Les Miserables.
One would assume that Ebbett’s rough night will be enough to see Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy on different lines again. In terms of phrases that have run their course, “The Ebbett Line comes over the boards” is up there with “We’ve got company!“
As mentioned, Backes was a wild thing in this game, but at one point, he became a wild thing in the Sendakian sense — monstrous, yes, but also incredibly childish. Sent to the penalty box along with Zack Kassian, the cameras caught him mocking Kassian’s receding hairline. “You’re bald! You’re bald!” He was shown saying over and over. But cameras missed the part where Backes called him “Zack ASSian“ and then spent the rest of his time in the penalty box giggling.
But before we rip Backes for being a six-year-old, we should point out that, later in the game, Keith Ballard tried to stab him in the groin. Everyone was childish in this one. If there was a giant piano on the ice, they’d have forgotten about the game and spent the entire 60 minutes playing “Chopsticks” on it.
Backes probably deserved to be thrown back into the penalty box on the Blues’ game-tying goal. After a little whack to Cam Barker’s leg, which was enough to throw Barker off his game (because that’s all it takes, apparently), Backes went after Henrik Sedin in the neutral zone for a series of cross-checks. That was deserving of a penalty. Instead, however, the play carried on and Jay Bouwmeester beat Cory Schneider before celebrating like a guy that’s going to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in a decade in the NHL.
The silver lining in this one: with the win, the Blues’ chances of finishing 6th — and thus, facing the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs — decreased by 1%. Sure, the 1% may not seem like much, but you tell that to Occupy Wall Street, pal.
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