Trailing by a goal and facing elimination heading into the third period, Ryan Kesler made it very clear what the Vancouver Canucks needed to do to keep their scant playoff hopes alive. “We just got to go out,” he told Farhan Lalji, all fiery determination and temerity, “and compete like bastards.”
Now, admittedly, I’m not entirely sure how a bastard competes. Did he mean the Jon Snow type of bastard? Or the Inglourious, Nazi-killing type of basterd? Personally, I would have appreciated Kesler spelling it out loud instead of just saying it.
Either way, the Canucks did indeed come out in the third period like a group of lovechildren and, by the eleven-minute mark, they had turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Unfortunately, Kesler’s speech had also inspired the officials to officiate like bastards. Two illegitimate powerplay goals against later, the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated. For the last time in 2013, I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 4 San Jose (OT)
A quick disclaimer: the Canucks didn’t lose this series because of the officiating (although San Jose’s absurd, 24-10 advantage certainly didn’t help). Truthfully, they didn’t even lose this game because of the officiating. They lost it because their penalty kill killed the wrong team. That said, the Canucks shouldn’t have had the opportunity to lose this game on the penalty kill, since the last two calls that went against them were absolute rubbish.
The victim on both calls (apart from the Canucks): Tommy Wingels, who apparently became a made man at some point between Game 3 and Game 4. How and when he went about making his bones, I have no earthly idea, but from that moment on, the officials introduced Wingels as “a friend of ours”, and he was an untouchable. Kevin Bieksa was the first to learn this, pushing Wingels behind the goal and earning a cross-checking minor. It was the sort of “cross-check” that befalls a Sedin about a bajillion times a game without any reaction from the officials. But Wingels went down, one would argue of his own volition, and an official’s arm had the equal and opposite reaction of going up, like Newton’s Third Law of Motion except for terrible officiating.
The Sharks scored on the powerplay, sending the game to overtime, where Daniel Sedin committed the cardinal sin of touching Wingels again, making mild and completely legal shoulder-to-shoulder contact with the winger in the corner. Wingels lost his footing and went into the boards awkwardly, which was unfortunate. Daniel was sent to the box for boarding, which was also unfortunate, but also unbelievable and wrong. The Sharks scored again on the ensuing powerplay and that was that. You’d have thought Thing T. Thing from the Addams Family was a ref tonight, because the officials had a hand in deciding this game.
Daniel Sedin was given an additional penalty at the end of this game for abusive language. What did he say? If I could hazard a guess: “Tommy Wingels sucks.” You can’t speak ill of Wingels, either.
If there was another offending party on the overtime goal, it was Cory Schneider, who did not give the Canucks the goaltending to which they’ve grown accustomed. He was shaky all evening, and really shouldn’t have had trouble with that Joe Thornton shot. In hindsight, you can certainly say that Roberto Luongo should have been in goal, but only in hindsight. Schneider was the right move going in. He was healthy, and he had outplayed Roberto Luongo for the second year in a row and won the right, fair and square. This was his game to lose, and unfortunately, he exercised his right.
The fact that this season ends with Schneider looking bad and people overreacting by clamouring for Luongo a year after they overreacted by clamouring for Schneider is darkly hilarious. You’re ridiculous, Vancouver.
Speaking of unfairly-maligned individuals accused of being terrible by flippy-floppy, flipping flip-floppers, this was more than likely Alain Vigneault’s last game behind the Vancouver bench. He remains an excellent coach who at first did a lot with little, then developed what he was given into a lot, but his time with this organization is probably over. After two first-round exits in a row, I think it’s fair to say he’s hit his ceiling here. Knowing this and expecting their market share to drop significantly as a result, the Cadbury candy company, which owns both Halls Cough Drops and Trident gum, announced layoffs in Vancouver.
This broadcast opened with a great stat. As the TSN team set up the matchup, they explained that the Canucks’ needed to score more goals, and highlighted it by telling viewers that, not only had Chris Higgins gone 18 games without one, but he had also gone 468 shifts without a goal. I like the idea of producing a more shocking number by citing your stat in a larger denomination. I kept waiting for them to tell us that Henrik Sedin had gone 910,800 seconds without a goal.
Watching this game with Daniel, I remarked that Mason Raymond had all but stopped existing some time ago. I wondered if, perhaps, he had inadvertently gone back in time to the year his parents met and fell in love, then gotten hit by the car that was supposed to hit his father and made himself the object of his future mother’s affections, then come back to 2013 without sorting it all out. We all saw what happened to Marty McFly’s guitar skills as his existence was being threatened. Raymond needs to go back there before it’s too late, not just for the sake of his career, but for the sake of his existence. Anyway, then he scored a game-tying goal.
Raymond may have also played his last game as a Canuck. He has a lot of good qualities, but one thing I won’t miss: his tendency to slow up on puck races and attempt to body the guy he’s racing away from the puck. He did it several times tonight. It was infuriating every time. Raymond: you are faster than most and stronger than few. This is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Does The Road Runner try to defeat Wile E. Coyotes in hand-to-hand combat? No. He plays to his bloody strengths.
The one penalty from this game that nobody can doubt: Scott Gomez’s call for slashing the Canucks’ bench. Who slashes people who are sitting down? A young Guns n’ Roses playing an intimate coffee shop venue, that’s who.
Not long after hitting his second soul-crushing post of the series, Daniel was still able to help produce the game-tying goal, hooking up with brothers Hank and ‘Ank for some wizardous sedinerie halfway through the third. The give-and-go play with Henrik was nice, but I loved the pass to Burr more, as Daniel fed Burrows with a little backhand saucer flip that went over Brad Stuart’s stick but through his legs. It was like some sort of Groverian lesson on direction.
Granted, the wizardry came a little late in the series, but as you probably know: A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to. It’s the downside to employing wizards in a game with a clock.
Shortly after Daniel’s goal, Alex Edler put the Canucks ahead, blasting a slapshot over Antti Niemi’s shoulder and just inside the post. It was a perfect shot, and it came on a perfect pass. After Mason Raymond tied up Brad Stuart in the corner, Burrows skated onto the puck and then sent a backhand feed all the way across the zone and right onto Edler’s stick. It was a pass so sweet, you’d have thought it was delivered by stork.
But as it turned out, the primary purpose of Edler’s goal was to gather up our bits of cut-up heart one last time, and turn them from diced to minced. Shortly after that, the penalty parade started, allowing the Sharks to steal Game 4 like they stole Game 2. It was the worst parade since the one at the end of Animal House.
And that’s that. Thanks so much for reading us this year. We’ll still be posting daily through the summer, as we do, so please check back with us occasionally. We’ll also be accepting guest posts, so by all means, reach out to us at email@example.com. In the meantime, we’ll get started on the autopsy of this season. I imagine it will be about as much fun as this one.
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