There’s a lot to take away from this game, but let’s begin this recap with something no one can EVER take away: with the win versus the Chicago Blackhwks, the Canucks clinched their fifth consecutive Northwest Division title! Five in a row, baby!
Say what you will about the division title. Sure, it’s as easy to get as your first Pokemon. But the Canucks were the 1956-1960 Montreal Canadiens of the Northwest Division: that’s a half-decade of pure, uncut domination. I watched the Canucks cement a mother-flipping dynasty when I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 1 Blackhawks
Safe to say the Blackhawks didn’t bring their A game in this one. The Canucks outchanced the Blackhawks 19-8, outshot the Blackhawks 32-25, and attempted 65 shots to Chicago’s 46. (Also they scored more goals.) I think we all know Chicago can be better than that, but even still, it’s hard not to get a little excited at the sight of the Canucks outplaying them like this, because it reminds you that this can happen. It’s like when it rains frogs at the end of Magnolia. Sure, it’s not an everyday thing, but it did happen.
Here’s an even better movie reference: in attempting to describe how he was feeling about the Canucks after the second period, reader Rob Cormack sent us this compilation from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which is wholly appropriate.
Frankie Corrado made his debut for the Canucks in this one, playing 17:20 of impressively steady hockey alongside Alex Edler. It seemed like a tall order, expecting the 20-year-old to look like a top-four defenceman against the league’s best team in his debut, but he didn’t look overwhelmed in the slightest. I suspect someone reminded him the order wasn’t quite as tall as it seemed. He didn’t have to look like a top-four defenceman — he just had to look more like one than Cam Barker, and that’s easier.
Corrado’s standout work came in the first, as he surprised Marcus Krueger by using his body to staple the Blackhawks’ forward into the boards, then used his body again on the next shift by allowing Andrew Shaw’s stick to hit him in the head. Veteran presence right there. That’s using your face. Domo arigato, Frankie Corrado.
Midway through the first period, Niklas Hjalmarsson charged Daniel Sedin at the Canucks’ blueline, only to discover that the officials were calling that a penalty in this game. Rather than flip out and run the risk of losing the man advantage — a high risk, considering Alex “The Whistle-Maker” Burrows was on the ice — the Canucks quietly took the powerplay and responded there. As it often is, the goal was the result of a Jason Garrison shot. It deflected off the skate of Jannik Hansen, so he gets credit, which feels a little like giving credit to the wall after a hole in one at the L-shaped course of the mini-putt.
In the third period, Henrik Sedin collided with Corey Crawford behind the Blackhawks goal, and Crawford was given an interference penalty. If you’re wondering how Alex Burrows leads the league in minor penalties, it’s because if that’s him and not Henrik, that’s his penalty.
Zack Kassian skated on the fourth line tonight, save for a few shifts where he totally didn’t. In the first period, he had a great 82 seconds with the Sedins, and you got the sense that he might combine with them to score a goal if he was given another go. Sure enough, Kassian got the post penalty-kill shift with the twins and made it count, banging home a centring pass from Daniel. John Garrett talked about Kassian’s little push-off on Duncan Keith, but I was more into the way he absorbed a cross-check from Niklas Hjalmarsson like he’d been welded to the ice.
With the assist, Daniel Sedin did as Henrik did back on February 15th, passing Markus Naslund on the Canucks’ all-time scoring list and receiving a standing ovation at the first commercial break. Amazingly, he did it in his 905th game — just like Henrik. But when Dan Murphy pointed that out after the game, Daniel disclosed that Henrik said he got his milestone point two minutes faster. He totally did, and the fact that Henrik knew that off the top of his head is proof positive that the Sedins are hilariously competitive.
Knowing he wasn’t going to be able to make a play on Daniel, Duncan Keith just slashed the younger Sedin from behind on the breakaway because hey, why the heck not. I’d say it was the most inappropriate slash I saw tonight, but I spent some time on LiveJournal after the game.
Cory Schneider was excellent in this game, posting 51 minutes of shutout hockey before surrendering a snack goal to Daniel Carcillo. Yes, a snack goal. Longtime readers of this blog will know that the snack goal is a goal given to the opposition late in a game to ensure they won’t be too hungry next time. I wanted to be upset when it happened, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen one. It was like saying hello to an old friend.
Derek Roy and Ryan Kesler played well together, but Roy seemed far more energized by the return of Chris Higgins, who appears to be the Earth’s yellow sun to Roy’s Kryptonian metabolism.
And finally, the pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison was tremendous in this game. Garrison had a team-high 5 shots on goal and another 7 attempted. Hamhuis was his usual, quietly effective self. Together, the pair was going so steady they exchanged a letterman’s jacket and a class pin.
The Canucks season is over and all that's left is to ponder what might have been. What if Willie Desjardins had given the Sedins more ice time earlier in the season? What if Eddie Lack had been brought in for Game 6? What if Desjardins' counter-intuitive lineup decisions had paid off? […]
The Canucks are down 2-1 to the Flames in the playoffs, which means it's time for everyone to start second-guessing Willie Desjardins. The number one topic is his use of the Sedins, who are averaging less ice time than they had in the regular season, apparently to keep them "fresh". […]
The Canucks are back in the playoffs and facing an old rival in the Calgary Flames. This year, the playoffs feel wide open, with no prohibitive favourite to win the Stanley Cup, giving Canucks fans hope that they can defy the odds and go on a long playoff run. […]
The Canucks defeated the Kings in a crucial game on Monday night, potentially leaving the defending Stanley Cup Champions outside of the playoffs. It was close and hard-fought, proving that the Canucks can compete with the Kings if they do end up meeting in the first round. […]