When we here at PITB first exhorted Canucks fans to avoid “flipping the pool,” as it were, it was on the eve of the 2011 playoffs. We encouraged fans to keep from panicking in case of a post-season loss that could not be explained in light of the Canucks’ dominant regular season. Don’t panic! Don’t freak out! Don’t flip the pool!
An early round exit from the playoffs after a Presidents’ Trophy-winning season? That might be a reason to flip a pool. And yet, just a couple years later, we’re saying the exact same thing just a few games into the pre-season. It seems like Canucks’ fans threshold for panic has been significantly lowered as the Canucks’ perceived Stanley Cup window has begun to close. The Canucks are 0-3 in the pre-season and there are actually people worried about it.
Look: the Canucks need to play better. A good start would be better players, such as a veteran top-six forward or six. The Canucks didn’t bring the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Garrison, or Luongo. The Oilers had Hemsky, Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Smyth, and Yakupov. Don’t flip the pool.
I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 5 Oilers
- Nicklas Jensen was a late addition to the lineup, as David Booth tweaked his groin just a few minutes into practice. Of course, Jensen was injured on a hit by, I believe, Jujhar Khaira early in the first period, forcing him to leave the game after just 29 seconds of ice time. As he skated off the ice, he was heard to exclaim, “I’m not even supposed to be here today!“
- The Canucks opened the scoring thanks to Mike Santorelli, who made a strong argument for making the Canucks’ opening night roster. Yannick Weber hit him with a pass in stride and Santorelli drove into the Oilers zone, created a little space, and fired a wristshot under Jason LaBarbera’s right arm. A horde of cartoon mice and a flock of cartoon birds immediately surrounded Santorelli as he celebrated the goal.
- Mark Lee, as per usual, was terrible. His worst moment came when Eddie Lack lost the puck behind the net only to have Sam Gagner’s shot at the open net get blocked. Lack was literally behind the net and nowhere near the puck, but Lee somehow attributed the save to Lack instead of the diving Weber. It’s his job to describe the play accurately and he managed to describe something that was physically impossible.
- Andrew Alberts was almost as bad as Mark Lee. Alberts threw some big hits, wiping out both Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, but he was a mess defensively. If you want to know how many Oilers played in this game, ask Alberts, as he was a turnstile all game. Mike Brown, of all people, dangled around Alberts, who was forced to take a hooking penalty on the Oilers’ fourth-liner. Even his big hit on Hall left Eberle and David Perron all alone in front of the net.
- Also, the Oilers’ first goal can be partly pinned on Alberts, who got outmuscled and shoved down in front of the net by Sam Gagner, allowing Gagner to easily convert a cross-crease pass from Perron. Gagner is 5’11″. Alberts is 6’5″.
- Jordan Schroeder seemed to be having a pretty good game until he took a puck off his in-step from a Nail Yakupov one-timer. X-rays on the foot were negative, thankfully, but Tortorella evidently doesn’t trust the Oilers’ x-ray machine and he’ll get checked out again in Vancouver. Fans and media will be quick to blame Tortorella’s emphasis on shot-blocking, as if no Canuck has ever been injured blocking a shot before, but it was a routine block that any coach would expect of a player.
- I saw Zack Kassian get flack for a lack of involvement, as he was credited with no hits or shots, but I thought he played well, making some very nice passes, including an amazing backhand bank pass to Bo Horvat in the third period that nearly led to a Hunter Shinkaruk goal. His high stick on Gagner later in that same shift, however, was inexcusable, as he missed bodychecking him by several feet, losing control of his stick in the process and taking out several teeth. Kassian won’t rest until everyone’s mouth looks like his.
- Despite giving up 4 goals, Eddie Lack looked good in net, making 27 saves on 31 shots. He robbed Smyth on a first period breakaway, took a goal away from Ryan Hamilton in the second, and made a series of great saves on a second period penalty kill. On the Oilers’s third goal, he even made an incredible save on Smyth again, stretching out his stick to block Smyth’s first shot. Unfortunately, Smyth was more open than 7-11 and got a second whack at the puck.
- Yannick Weber had some good moments, improving his defensive positioning from his previous pre-season game and jumping up in the rush to create scoring opportunities, but he still has some weaknesses defensively. On Smyth’s goal, Weber chose to make a sliding shot block attempt directly in front of Lack’s butterfly instead of tying up Smyth. Again, some will want to blame Tortorella’s emphasis on shot-blocking, but that’s just poor defensive awareness on the part of Weber.
- Late in the third, Edler got his stick into Perron’s “midsection” along the boards, causing Perron to cry out in distress and look to the refs for a call. Pro-tip, Perron, if you don’t want a stick in your “midsection” don’t crouch on top of the puck. The puck is the thing people are trying to hit with their sticks. If you put your “midsection” near the puck, it might get hit by a stick. That’s just the way it works.
- Jannik Hansen was the best Canucks forward in this game, tying Edler and Yakupov with a game-high 5 shots on goal. One of those shots even found the back of the net, with Santorelli and Chris Higgins creating some havoc in front. Santorelli managed to poke the puck out to the slot after drawing a penalty and Hansen roofed it like he worked for a roofing company and someone had paid him to roof a building. The puck had a nice little Mansard roof when he was done, is what I’m saying.
- Finally, if Kellan Lain ends up playing a few games with the Canucks as the fourth-line centre, I wouldn’t mind. He skated well, particularly for his size, smartly drawing a penalty on Darnell Nurse in the second period by chipping the puck past the young defenceman and keeping his feet moving. He didn’t play much, but when he did, he was pretty okay. “Pretty okay” is about what I hope for from a fourth-line centre.
, I Watched This Game