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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