The last time the Canucks were in the playoffs, things didn’t go so well. Poised to make like Janet Jackson and go deep, Vancouver’s first draw was an LA squad that had, unbeknownst to anyone, somehow managed to find the postseason settings and switch the difficulty to “easy”. As a result, the Canucks were hapless, and when they finally repossessed their haps, they were on the verge of elimination. Five games after they had begun, they were out.
That trauma in mind, you could understand why the Canucks might be reluctant to go back there, and why, with a chance to clinch a return to the postseason with a win over the Dallas Stars, they gave in to their fears in the third and descended into self-sabotage instead. They lost this game to the enemy within: themselves. Also Dallas. They lost to Dallas. I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 5 Stars
Truthfully, the Canucks weren’t terrible in this one, unless by “this one”, you mean the third period. Then they were indeed terrible. They made so many miscues in the final frame, it looked less like a hockey game and more like a Kevin Lowe press conference. The Canucks have struggled in their last four thirds. This is a problem. Everybody knows that if you aren’t mindful of your thirds, your photo composition just goes straight to crap.
Midway through the first period, Andrew Alberts lost his giant stick while the Dallas Stars were pressuring in the Vancouver end, so Derek Roy gave Alberts his tiny one. A few seconds later, Roy happened upon Alberts’ giant stick in the corner and picked it up. He spent the tail end of his shift skating with the giant thing. I kept hoping he’d try to lift it over his head and then collapse under the weight of it.
One of my favourite things about Dan Hamhuis is that, occasionally, Shorty trips over his name and calls him “Damn Hamhuis”. Every time this happens, I imagine it’s the name of a Damn Yankees-style musical. The plot: One day, Hamhuis says “I’d sell my soul for a Norris season,” and then a slick salesman appears and offers him exactly that. And then Hamhuis screams, “GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN.” And then Satan leaves, and rest of the production is just 90 minutes of gospel music.
Speaking of Roy, he scored the first goal in this game, skating onto a bouncing puck in the Dallas zone, then chipping it past Alex Goligoski before beating Kari Lehtonen on the backhand. Poor Goligoski. The only thing more frustrating than being beaten by a chip is being beaten by Chip and Dale. Just ask Donald Duck. Or Fat Cat.
The first assist on that goal went to Ryan Kesler, who was Roy’s centre for the third straight game. Look: the duo has produced a couple goals since being paired together, but so long as this experiment is propped up by Andrew Ebbett as the third line centre, I hate it. Only two Canucks finished without a shot on goal in this game: Henrik Sedin and Andrew Ebbett, and Henrik gets a pass because, speaking of passes, he’s really good at making them. Ebbett, on the other hand, is just a complete nonentity right now. I move that we call a third line centred by Andrew Ebbett either “The field goal kicker line” or “The lower-back pain line” because it should never be iced.
Lest we only pick on Ebbett, Mason Raymond was a minus-three in this game. It’s amazing he was on the ice for that many goals because I never noticed him at all.
In the absence of Kevin Bieksa (whose MVP case saw yet another boost as the Canucks moved to 1 shootout win and 8 losses without him), Cam Barker skated alongside of Alex Edler for the second straight game. He wasn’t terrible, except for the unfortunate moments when he totally was. On the Stars’ 2-1 goal , rather than taking his man, he took his bags and showed him to his room.
But, lest he be overtaken in the “blunders that lead directly to goals against” category, Keith Ballard did Barker one better just two and a half minutes later, overskating a puck at the top of the Canucks’ zone and allowing Jamie Benn walk in alone. When he returned to the bench, he gave Barker a long, evil eye and sneered, this doghouse isn’t big enough for both of us, pal.
Alex Burrows picked up his league-leading 25th minor penalty of the season in this one. This guy draws minors in a way I honestly cannot fathom. He’s hockey’s Justin Bieber.
There weren’t a lot of highlights in this game, but the play of Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis was fantastic. TimeOnIce.com crashed, so I don’t have their Corsi rating, but traditional plus/minus tells us they finished even and plus-one, respectively, in a 5-1 loss. Furthermore, they had a combined 15 shots attempted. I think it’s safe to say they spent the night above water, and not just because they play on ice.
Steve Pinizzotto had a little feud going on with Aaron Rome early in this game. He seemed to be operating under the notion that you become Alain Vigneault’s favourite the same way you claim the iron throne: by killing the last guy.
Speaking of Rome, that was him breaking up the Zack Kassian/Andrew Ebbett 2-on-1 by intercepting Kassian’s pass across. Watching a young player fail and Aaron Rome succeed at the same time? I’ll bet AV had to eat a whole raw potato just to calm down.
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