I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings, April 20, 2013

Throughout the past few months, we have generally emphasized process over results. In the middle of the season, the Canucks were generally outplaying their opponents, but couldn’t string wins together, leading to all sorts of consternation among Canucks nation. We counselled patience, as the Canucks’ process seemed to be sounds, producing positive puck possession, even as it didn’t produce results.

Over the last month, however, the process has been questionable at best. The Canucks have been outshot by some pretty terrible teams, looked lackadaisical in their own end, and struggled to create quality scoring chances. And, of course, now they’re getting the results.

I give up. Nothing makes sense anymore. Heck, the Red Wings might miss the playoffs while the Blue Jackets get in. Up is down, left is right, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. The only thing that hasn’t changed: I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 1 Red Wings (SO)

  • Prior to the start of the game, there was a touching moment as Rogers Arena paid tribute to the victims of the Boston bombings with a moment of silence and Boston native Cory Schneider was framed in the “Boston Strong” ribbon projected onto the ice. As Mark Donnelly sang the US national anthem, it even seemed like Schneider’s eyes welled up a little, but I may have been projecting onto him.
  • The Detroit Red Wings have had the Canucks’ number this season, winning 8-3 and 5-2 in February and March. They had their number yet again, out-shooting the Canucks 34-14, including 17-2 in the third period. Seriously, Canucks, it’s time to change that number. Get a new cell phone and be more careful about who you give your number to.
  • At even-strength, it was even worse. The Red Wings had 29 shots at even-strength; the Canucks had just 8. Only one player had a positive shot differential at even-strength: Alex Burrows. He led all Canucks’ forwards in shots with 3 and came just short of scoring a beautiful shorthanded goal. Most importantly, he drew back-to-back penalties that led to the Canucks’ only goal of the game. Looks like practicing his pouty face paid off!
  • Alex Edler opened the scoring with just 12 seconds left in a powerplay, firing the puck past Jimmy “Dwight” Howard with Burrows providing the screen. Derek Roy won just one faceoff all night, drawing the puck back to Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, who, as per usual, immediately paid it forward and gave the puck to Edler for the disposable diaper, which is what my wife calls a one-timer.
  • According to Jim Hughson, Red Wings rookie defenceman Danny DeKeyser is “described by his teammates as a mobile Brad Stuart.” From now on, I’m going to refer to Brad Stuart as an immobile Danny DeKeyser.
  • The Red Wings tied up the game with less than a minute left in the first period, taking advantage of Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis getting tied up with Pavel Datsyuk in the corner, leaving Cory Emmerton alone in front. Normally, that’s not a problem — Emmerton had 10 career goals heading into the game — but he perfectly deflected a shot from Damien Brunner under Cory Schneider’s left arm. Like giving a waitress a fifty on a $30 bill at a restaurant and telling her to keep the change, it was an absurdly nice tip.
  • Despite being from San Francisco, apparently DJ Tanner and Rebecca Donaldson-Kastopolis are Canucks fans, as they took in the game at Rogers Arena. Cameron Candace-Bure at least has a vague connection to the Canucks: as her hyphenated last name would suggest, she’s married to Pavel Bure’s brother, Valeri, but I’m not sure why she would show up to this particular game with her Full House co-star, Lori Loughlin. You would think that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, as creepy identical twins, would be more likely to cheer for the Canucks.
  • The battle level of this game was akin to a playoff game, with even the usually peaceful Sedins getting worked up about getting worked over. One battle in front of the net broke out into full-on fisticuffs between Keith Ballard and Justin Abdelkader. The two of them swung wildly before slipping and falling like they were trying to fight on some sort of slippery surface.
  • Hughson was a little off his game, with his biggest gaffe coming as the Canucks skated into the neutral zone: “Zack Kassian, out of his own zone for Toronto.” Either it was a mistake, or Hughson is just trying to inoculate Canucks fans against the tidal wave of Maple Leafs hype that is about to hit with the Leafs clinching their spot in the playoffs.
  • Pavel Datsyuk was absurdly good — the Canucks didn’t get a single shot on goal when he was on the ice, while the Red Wings had 18. The only thing he didn’t do was score, either in regulation or in the shootout. That’s why it was so shocking to see him get stopped in his tracks by Dale Weise with a solid check. That capped off a great shift by the fourth line against the Red Wings’ top line and I can’t even believe that I just typed that.
  • The Canucks don’t win this game without a masterful performance from Cory Schneider, making 33 saves in regulation and overtime, then 3 more in the shootout. Schneider is now tied with Henrik Lundqvist for fifth in the NHL in save percentage and is looking like one of the best goaltenders in the league heading into the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Canucks have needed him to be that good. His stop on Johan Franzen with 40 seconds left, for instance, shouldn’t have been necessary: Ryan Kesler took a poor path towards Datsyuk, who was carrying the puck, then Andrew Alberts overplayed Datsyuk, allowing Franzen to rush in 2-on-1. With less than a minute remaining in a tie game, there is no excuse for giving up an odd-man rush. When Alberts got back to the bench, he told Vigneault that “[his] dog ate it,” which doesn’t even make sense.
  • Maxim Lapierre is the least likely shootout specialist in the NHL. He skated in agonizingly slowly, then made a dizzying array of dekes before going backhand shelf past a sprawling Howard. With that gorgeous goal, he is now 6-for-11 in his career for a team-leading 54.5% success rate. For context, Datsyuk’s career success rate in shootouts is 45.8%, though he’s had 61 more shootout attempts. Ridiculous.
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31 comments

  1. Square Ball
    April 21, 2013

    I don’t remember ever seeing such a slow shootout attempt. But like the tortoise proved in the past, one does not always need the speed of a hare.

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    • Zach Morris
      April 21, 2013

      I immediately thought of Patrick Kane

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    • Alex
      April 21, 2013

      Patrick Kane….

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    • Neil B
      April 22, 2013

      Well, there is that Jason Allison shootout attempt, which started on on Oct. 5, 2005, and is due to be completed any time now.

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  2. Tom 1040
    April 21, 2013

    Gee, the start of the ‘article’ sounded like it was a bunch of sound bites put together of all the BS we typically hear from Gillis and AV.

    In fact, to a very few objective Canuck fans, it makes perfect sense: They’re not that good!

    And, with gimme games against the AV’s, and many games against non-playoff teams like the Flames, etc. they have had it pretty easy.

    What’s more, and excluded from this article, how many games has Schneider stolen when the team has been completely outplayed?

    Yes, no question, lots of injuries, but things were going to change with the addition of Roy and the return of Kesler. Wrong.

    Enjoy the playoffs. Who knows, maybe the Canucks can miraculously come together and make some noise – but I have yet to see any evidence that they can.

    Next year is going to be worse.

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    • Angry Canadian
      April 21, 2013

      You mentioned the other day that you’d leave if you got any more abuse. Obviously, the fine readers of PITB didn’t do a good enough job in their responses.

      Canucks can’t win with you – play great and lose…no good. Play lousy and win…no good. I’d love to have play great and win…which we’ve seen on rare occasions this year, to be sure, but I think the 2010/11 season set some sort of bar for some, including your fine self, that measures the current team. Well, whatever. We’re in the playoffs, and who knows what the hell is going to happen. All I know is that wiser hockey minds than mine believe you need a hot goalie to go all the way – Thomas & Quick certainly proved that for their teams the past two years…I guess Cory could qualify for that designation.

      Also, my fellow readers may correct me but I believe that the addition of Roy & return of Kesler has changed one vital area – the power play. Was it not something like 2-55 before their appearance? Recently, I think the stats are in the 20% success rate. That’s a nice change.

      As far as next year being worse…yeah, maybe. But I don’t think we’ve finished this year first. Worry about next year later.

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      • Dougster
        April 21, 2013

        Is it just me or is there a trend of teams being outshot and winning? There is no substitute (or game plan) for great goaltending. If you’ve got it you can go a long way in the playoffs, and I like our chances. Tanev and Higgins will be back in a week too, and if everyone is healthy (fingers crossed) no one will want to play us.

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        • best behaviour
          April 21, 2013

          Canucks fans do talk about great goalies stealing games as if: 1) the goalies are mediocre and unacceptable if they’re not doing it every night, and 2) it only happens with the Canucks. Reimer saved 49 out of 50 to help the Leafs clinch last night. Schneider himself said he thinks some of our shots weren’t credited and that lots of their shots weren’t quality scoring chances. I love seeing gCanucks play their tight style, even though a lot of fans find it boring and defensive. I’m with Shorty (or was that Garrett?): if you want exciting hockey, ask for the refs to call the penalties as in the rule book! Then we get powerplays, excitement, AND consistency!

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    • Andre
      April 21, 2013

      My analysis may not be as harsh as yours, but I generally agree with you. There’s something missing with this Canucks team, sometime that “clicks” them together as a unit. They played as a tight unit in 2011, but not last year and not this year.

      I agree that stellar goaltending has kept the team in contention. Our defence and power play are inconsistent, though they used to be top performers. Our goal differential was huge, now it is not. We play like the Predators of past years, with low scoring, tight defence and relying on a winning goal keeper.

      I agree that injuries have been hard on the team, but Pittsburgh has been without its top players, yet remains at the top. I feel pessimistic about our playoff chance. I hope I am wrong about this.

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      • whisky jack
        April 21, 2013

        Come playoff time why should they be
        Any better than they have been
        So in round one I think we’ll see
        That gone in five can be foreseen
        By the ineptness of their play
        Forwards who’d rather pass than shoot
        A “D” often in disarray
        A powerplay in disrepute

        Mayhap C Wall or Bobby Lu
        I do not think it matters which
        Will be enough to see them through
        And so they might a series snitch
        But as they are so oft outshot
        Because of draws so seldom won
        They’ll need a goalie really hot
        Or else their shortened season’s done

        I hope it will be otherwise
        And they will represent the West
        But that would be a great surprise
        For they’re not better than the rest
        Chicago St. Louis and LA
        Columbus and the mighty Ducks
        And maybe even San Jose
        Seem stronger now than our Canucks

        Though it could be I’m proven wrong
        And if I am PITB
        As thus their season they prolong
        I’ll read your blog assiduously
        To savor each and every win
        And revel in its magnitude
        While wearing my best Buddhist grin
        My faith in Wonder then renewed

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      • Chako Mika
        April 21, 2013

        In think the biggest overall difference from 2010-2011 is their transition game. That year they were SO quick to get the puck up ice on any turnover and become an instant threat to score. This year not as much, but I still think with stellar goaltending, some luck, good health, and Daniel Sedin finding his A+ game they can go far. I kind of like them being the dark horse this year…

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        • Taco
          April 21, 2013

          Yes.. their D’s turn back in the neutral zone to regroup. Hard to see the cause on the tube but I suspect the forwards are flat footed in the offensive zone and fail to clear in a timely manner.

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      • Tom 1040
        April 22, 2013

        Hi Andre,

        To be honest, after reading your take carefully, you seem to be ‘more’ harsh than I.

        Gee, I wish more people would be polite even though they may disagree.

        I include our hosts with this comment on occasion.

        PITB is a great blog. I am very impressed with it though … well, maybe I could understand their sentiments as regards ‘counter opinions’ if I put as much work into this as they do.

        Right now…ahhh, what do I know?

        Best regards, Andre.
        T.

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    • shoes
      April 21, 2013

      Haha Tom1040…..I like your mullet and the fact the internet works in the frozen wastelands of Alberta and the signal gets through the tin walls of the trailer, but really you should be out sledding or chasing rabbits with your .22, instead of concerning yourself with the Canucks.

      No matter what, playoffs are better than wishing the snow would melt off the greens before July.

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      • Andre
        April 22, 2013

        I may disagree here with Tom 1040 or others, but I do not become disagreeable in my responses, and wish that you – or others – wouldn’t either.

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    • DanD
      April 21, 2013

      Tom 1040 sounds suspiciously like Blake Price.

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      • Tom 1040
        April 22, 2013

        I am almost certain that BP would be insulted by that comment.

        And, if you had said that I sound suspiciously like Dan Russell, it is I that would have been truly honoured.

        I find he reflects my views very closely, by chance.

        Let me assure you that I am neither person.

        You have my word.

        Best,
        T.

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    • Neil B
      April 22, 2013

      The way the ‘Nucks have played this season recalls the rope-a-dope Sharks of 1995 (and not just because Shneids has all of Arturs Irbe’s puckhandling skills). Those Sharks has one NHL bona-fide top 6 line, two fourth lines, and a decent AHL bottom-6 line, which toiled its way into the playoffs on a strike-shortened season. Sound familiar? (The biggest difference is that the Sharks went 19-25-4 that year, as compared to the ‘Nucks’ 25-13-7 with 3 games left.)

      The key to the ‘Nucks post-season success will be keeping all their defencemen healthy. If they can do that, they will win it all. If they can’t, they won’t. It’s that simple. When you look at the last 5 Cup winners, only Detroit (2008) had fewer than 4 of their 6 top d-men play all through the playoffs–and they had Lidstrom playing damn near 27 minutes per game.

      The near future for the ‘Nucks is Kessler. If he can get back to (near to) form from 2011, then the boys will be OK. If his future is to hover about the 60-70 games per season mark, then the ‘Nucks will be in Philly’s situation sooner rather than later.

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  3. jeremy
    April 21, 2013

    i actually agreed with henrik sedin’s ‘concussed’ analysis of the game: it was a good one! i rarely felt that the canucks were making serious, dangerous gaffes – they weren’t producing anything, but then they weren’t ever put in the position where they needed to. AV noted that the defence was down to five men for much of the game – two of whom were andrew alberts and cam barker. considering these things, being outshot is low damage. also low damage: blocking fewer shots than the other team. detroit blocked twelve, which is fine, because it looks like they won’t be needing those shins in the post-season.

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    • Chako Mika
      April 21, 2013

      Yes I couldn’t agree more, especially after a long road trip facing a desperate team, missing some key guys. They can’t play rope-a-dope like that without a great goalie of course, and there were some gaffes, but they played a smart game. I bet they were hoping for a few more blunders by the Wings to pounce on. Playoffs here we come!

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  4. smj
    April 21, 2013

    Wish I didn’t know this, but thought I should let you know MK & A Olsen are not identical twins…they’re fraternal.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      April 21, 2013

      Mind = blown.

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  5. Chinstrap Joe
    April 21, 2013

    My inner hope is that somehow the Canucks will get hot in the playoffs and go deep. In reality, the way they are playing, Cory will maybe be able to steal one series but more likely, they will be golfing by the second week of May.

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    • Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
      April 21, 2013

      I could see it going either way – first round exit or really deep. Injuries have just been too big a problem this year. Kesler’s injury his first game back, Booth’s injury the game he scores his first goal, Higgins’ injury right as the chemistry he was showing with Roy started paying off, losing both Bieksa & Tanev (the only two righties in the D-corps) in quick succession.

      Get enough pieces back and they’re a contender… otherwise, they’ll just pull up short.

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  6. Cathylu
    April 21, 2013

    I’m really glad we “stole” this game from the Redwings. In my book a win is a win. I too was shocked when Weise knocked Datsyuk down especially since the announcers were sounding like it was “The Pavel Datsyuk Show – The Sequel”. Great job Cory and great job Lappy!

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    • mac 'n cheese
      April 22, 2013

      I’m so happy to hear your thoughts on the announcers- watching Canucks games on CBC can be so disorienting! Perhaps there should be some kind of drinking game for every time they bring it back to loving on Datsyuk?

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  7. jenny wren
    April 21, 2013

    Saturday night T O advances
    While trolls bemoan Vancouver’s style
    Cory lowers Detroit’s chances
    And I loved Lappy’s crooked smile

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    • Dougster
      April 21, 2013

      … Beautiful!

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  8. akidd
    April 21, 2013

    but it was an entertaining game! lots of great skating and passing to behold from both teams. I’m gonna miss the wings when they move to the east next year. gourmet hockey.

    yup, the wings outshot and outchanced the canucks but the play on the ice was close to even with the wings having the decided edge. and schneider looks sooooo good!!! he barely moves unless he has to. efficient and focussed is dear cory. gotta like that.

    there was lots to like about that game. energy and speed mostly. but also structure and positioning. the wings had to earn their chances.

    if every game has to be a harbinger of the coming playoffs it gets a bit exhausting. How about instead canuck fans soak up the good vibes from their team playing their best game in weeks, and against real competition. henrik was right. is it enough? probably not. are there holes in the canuck game? yup. but is it a postiive shift in the right direction? yup as well.

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  9. Alex
    April 21, 2013

    Once again CBC turned a red wings game into 3 hours of Datsyuk masturbation. Honestly, 3 montages of him is more than enough.

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  10. kenahora
    April 21, 2013

    Wish there was another play by play announcer from CBC.

    The Americans do it so much better…and knowledable….and an educated vocabulary.

    The CANUCKS continue to try and make sense of their game…BOBBY LOU & THE GREAT CORY are on the front-lines battling the barrage.

    Hopefully chemistry and a return of significant players will fill the breach.

    If Canucks shy away from greasy dirty -area of opponents nets…the who season is kaput…!

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