I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, October 3, 2013

When the first game of the regular season is a loss, it’s tempting to keep talking about the process, individual performances, and positive signs like it’s still the pre-season. After all, it’s a long season with plenty of time for the Canucks to adjust to a new system and for the roster to evolve into its final form. Like a Pokemon, it takes a lot of battles, a trade, or…uh, an elemental stone. Okay, the metaphor breaks down a little.

In any case, I say forget being level-headed. This is the first game in months where the result actually matters. I say we revel in this loss. Let it hurt. Get upset. Allow the loss to get under your skin and piss you off. You can wait until tomorrow to realize that it’s just one game out of 82. For now, let this game matter, because games that matter are way more fun than games that don’t matter.

This game? The one that mattered? I watched this game.

Canucks 1 – 4 Sharks

  • It seemed a little cruel for the NHL to schedule the Canucks’ season opener in the same arena in which they so painfully ended last season. TSN certainly was intent on reminding Canucks fans about it at every opportunity, which would have been fine if the Canucks hadn’t been intent on reminding Canucks fans about it as well. The Canucks had more turnovers and giveaways than a charity bake sale.
  • Things didn’t start out too badly. On a first period powerplay, the Sedins showed that the rumours of the death of magic have been greatly exaggerated, pulling some Wizardous Sedinery on an unsuspecting Justin Braun. After muttering “Bored now,” the Sedins turned Braun inside-out (thankfully not literally) with some quick passes, before Daniel set up Jason Garrison for a devastating one-timer from the top of the slot.
  • Meanwhile, Roberto Luongo was stunning in the first period, making 16 saves to ensure the Canucks had the lead going into the first intermission. His best save came after Hamhuis fanned on a pass in his own end on the powerplay, giving Joe Pavelski a breakaway from the blueline in. Luongo shut down Pavelski like he was displaying the blue screen of death.
  • For anyone who thought that the talk of putting the Sedins on the penalty kill was just that — talk — the Sedins each played just short of 3 minutes shorthanded and looked pretty good doing it. The Canucks killed off 7-of-7 powerplays, including a full two-minute-long 5-on-3, though the Sharks did have 11 shots with the man advantage. Chris Tanev played a large part, playing 5:12 shorthanded and blocking 5 shots. If he wasn’t too busy limping and wincing in pain, he would have given the Sharks the Dikembe Mutumbo finger wag on his way back to the bench.
  • Speaking of blocked shots, Alex Burrows saved a goal with one in the first period, albeit inadvertently. After crashing into his own net, he turned to find the puck while lying in the crease and took a Brent Burns wristshot off the visor. I can only hope that on Fox Sports One, Jay Onrait narrated the highlight with his popular catch phrase, “That’s using your face!” We miss you, Jay.
  • There were three big problems for the Canucks in this game: the turnovers, the forwards outside the top two lines, and way too many penalties. The latter kept the Canucks from establishing any sort of rhythm at five-on-five, where they played reasonably well, aside from the aforementioned turnovers and bottom six forwards. Despite being out-scored 4-0 at even-strength, the Canucks were about even with the Sharks in shot attempts, even when the score was close.
  • The Canucks just gave the Sharks too many quality chances, whether off odd-man rushes or bad giveaways. On the first Sharks goal, it was Garrison getting caught at his own blue line before Brent Burns sniped the top corner coming down the wing. On the second, Brad Richardson failed to clear the puck out when he had an opportunity, leading to a Justin Braun wristshot sneaking past a screened Luongo. The third goal came courtesy of a Chris Higgins giveaway in his own zone. On the fourth, it was Hamhuis with the turnover at the Sharks blue line, as his point shot got blocked, sparking a 2-on-0 breakaway for Tommy Wingels and Andrew Desjardins.
  • All four Sharks goals came off turnovers, meaning the main issue for the Canucks was puck management. Don’t get excited Mike Gillis haters, I said puck management.
  • While I can’t say that new acquisition Zac Dalpe didn’t see a lot of ice in this game, because I’m assuming that his eyes work and he saw the ice all game, he didn’t spend a lot of time on the ice. He had the lowest ice time in the game, playing just 3:19. That’s right, he had less ice time than Tom Sestito. On the plus side, he did have two shots, more than Alex Burrows, who saw all three of his shot attempts miss the net. That’s likely why David Booth ended up on the top line with the Sedins in the third period.
  • Finally, it’s time to make a snap judgement based on limited information from a small sample size: the Canucks’ third line is a tire fire that will never be fixed and will only bring Canucks’ fans tears and heartache. No third-line centre will ever ease this pain. Not Brad Richardson, not Mike Santorelli, not Jordan Schroeder, not even if they trade for the best available centre at the trade deadline — even he will be a disaster. Everything is horrible forever. Even chocolate cookies taste like dust. All is darkness. Darkness is all. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
  • Hey! Hockey’s back! Wooooooooooooo!
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29 comments

  1. Johnny English
    October 4, 2013

    Never stop writing this stuff it is pure gold. I am living in England for this season and the highlights paired with your IWTG is pure gold. In games like this I prefer it to watching the game, it’s like the quick bandaid pull approach. How was Lou in the remaining 2 periods? I saw he was superb in the 1st.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 4, 2013

      Luongo was good in the second and third periods as well, but the Sharks did score four goals on him. All four came off turnovers where he didn’t have much chance, but he’s capable of pulling off a big save on those kinds of opportunities. I definitely wouldn’t pin the loss on Luongo: he was good enough to win, but the team in front of him was not.

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  2. Jake
    October 4, 2013

    Welp, it’s another Canucks October.

    Buckle up, liver. You’re in for a whoopin’.

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  3. akiddddd
    October 4, 2013

    the sharks are a pretty good team.

    the canucks were competitive thanks to lou and some great pk work. they kept it close until they didn’t. they finally lost patience(higgins was the first to snap) with the lack of scoring chances and down they went.

    i kinda liked the look of the 5 on 5 zone defence. they’re still working on it but the relative absence of chasing guys around in the d-zone was a noted improvement.

    booth got his look on the 1st line and i hope torterella has satisfied his curiosity now.

    but what i fear most is that the injury parade (and later the exhaustion parade.) tanev, burrows, kesler(friendly fire,) daniel(friendly fire) all surely have the ice packs going and probably others. i really don’t know about this shot blocking mandate. plus the western travel, plus the short bench….

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  4. PB
    October 4, 2013

    I turned off the game as soon as the third goal went in, knowing that the only slightly saving grace would be reading this recap in the morning. Thanks for it.

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  5. Nuckon
    October 4, 2013

    Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn indeed

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  6. Casey Ydenberg (@CAYdenberg)
    October 4, 2013

    You can interpret the poor transition game as either: a) adjusting to a new system or b) crap coaching. I guess time will tell. Some solid individual performances in this game.

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  7. Zach Morris
    October 4, 2013

    Anyone else get nervous at how quickly Tortorella dusted off and fired up the “Alain Vigneault Line Blender”?

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    • biznow
      October 4, 2013

      I expect to see more of the blender over the next few weeks while he tries to figure out what he has and what works together. Tortorella is a new coach trying to find his team.

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    • Frank N.
      October 4, 2013

      Not really. Torts is still looking to see what kind of players he has and how they perform in actual games. But in the end, what can he really change line-up wise? It’s pretty much the same personnel (at least on the lines that really matter!). Plus the lack of a 3C with upside just continues…

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  8. Luc
    October 4, 2013

    To be fair, Dalpe only saw less ice time than Sestito because he was quicker at skating to the bench when his shift was over.

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  9. Aaron
    October 4, 2013

    Don’t get excited Mike Gillis haters, I said puck management.
    Ha ha ha loved that line.

    Zach I wouldnt worry about the line blending. Once Kassian is back the lines should get less blended and yes even that horrible 3rd line might make something of itself. I did like the agression, fore check, PK, Goal tending and tempo in this game. They are adjusting to a system and overall I saw lots of positives against a strong team.

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  10. bluemoonjones
    October 4, 2013

    Well, game 1 i n the books. 81 more to go. Ever the eternal optimist, I did see reasons to be optimistic last night; I thought the first 10 minutes of the game were as good as I’ve seen the Canucks look, end to end, since the finals run of 2011. So that’s something. A game does last 60 minutes though, so there’s that…

    But the big thing that jumped out at me last night really hurts, and it doesn’t have much to do with the ‘nucks: I kind of saw this coming in the playoffs last year, and yes I know how early it is this year, but the San Jose Sharks are going to be very, very good. They are deep, fast, physical, well coached, made up of a nice blend of youth and veterans, and, here’s the icing on the cake, with IMHO the best goalie in the game. If anyone can knock out the Blackhawks this April/May from the West, it’s them. And I actually think match-up wise they would have had a good shot at ‘em last year if they’d have won that game 7 against the Kings. Yuck.

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  11. Chinook
    October 4, 2013

    What did you think of Ryan Stanton’s play?

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  12. NarkusMaslund
    October 4, 2013

    As an East-Coaster, I only watched the first half of the game, but did think the Canucks looked decent for a team that was badly out shot-attempted in the first period and first half of the second. The comments about the eliteness of the Sharks are well said. I expect some growing pains early in the year as the team adjusts to Torts, and I wouldn’t be shocked with an early season trade. Luongo in good form to start the year (one game in, anyways) is a great sign. Bottom line is the Canucks will need at the very least above average if not elite goaltending if they are going to make some noise this year, and Luongo certainly looked ready to do his part last night.

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  13. Kenji
    October 4, 2013

    I like how they played, from what I saw. Apart from the whole not having much finish thing – is it me or do the Canuck forwards have bad shots?

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  14. chicken chick
    October 4, 2013

    Where’s 1040 When I Need Him?

    So every troll is on a roll
    Smugly smiling, “I told you so!
    This game’s the way that things will go,
    Lui’s a bigger sieve in goal,
    Talk of trade has taken its toll,
    Forwards can’t score as you well know,
    The defence is awkward and slow,
    Once again the answer is, ‘No!’”

    Enjoy your trolling while you can
    It is so easy to abuse
    And get your joy when others lose
    By ragging on the loyal fan
    Who because he’s chosen to choose
    Simply ignores your vacuous views

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    • Tom1040
      October 4, 2013

      I told you so!

      ;)

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  15. DanD
    October 4, 2013

    I turned on the 3rd period just in time to watch the last 2 goals go in. Welcome back, Canucks! I was hoping to wait a few games before we got a stinker like this.

    Some of those giveaways just seemed like total space-out moments (especially Higgins’). I’m hoping they’re still just shaking off a bit of rust and adjusting to the new system. Because coughing up the puck the way they did shouldn’t happen in any system.

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  16. wes
    October 4, 2013

    was just over at canucks army reading the recap and comments and sheesh… what a bunch of downers. credit to the writers and maintainers of this site, not only is your approach amusing and fresh, but it’s managed to conjure an audience with sensibilities. so thanks to pass it to bulis and thanks to the commenters for being cool.

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  17. Nee
    October 4, 2013

    “I say we revel in this loss. Let it hurt. Get upset. ”

    /flips pool
    /re-fills it with water
    /flips it again

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  18. Chris the Curmudgeon
    October 4, 2013

    In the calendar year 2013, the Canucks have now played 59 total hockey games (pre-, regular and post-season). They have compiled a 28-24-7 record across those games. Of that, they are 28-14-7 against the rest of the NHL and 0-10-0 against San Jose. I think it’s time to hire a beat-the-Sharks guru or something because I’m starting to lose my sense of humor about it.

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    • iain
      October 4, 2013

      nice stat, c the c!

      I saw most of the 1st period, which seemed like the best bit to watch :-)

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  19. Abby Heat
    October 4, 2013

    “More turnovers and giveaways than a charity bake sale.” You guys kill me…

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  20. Iceman
    October 4, 2013

    We haven’t registered a win on a season opener for several years now, so I’m not that upset with the last night’s result. It’s all about process and it was the first step.

    I’m a bit puzzled by Hammer’s performance though… For the team’s most reliable defenceman his mind didn’t seem to have a complete control of his body, causing several very un-hammer like moments including a crucial turnover in the 3rd that sealed the deal,

    Hope it was just one of those nights where his timing was off, not battling an injury.

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  21. John Andress
    October 4, 2013

    May I suggest that we cut straight to the chase and begin the annual ritual immediately? It will save time later. Trade Luongo for a bag of pucks. Fire Yortarella. Tar and feather Mike Gillis. A Vancouver tradition lives on for another year.

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  22. Doop
    October 4, 2013

    Hey guys, Dan Hamhuis here. Sorry about all the turnovers last night. I hurt my hand building a not for profit school.

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  23. cambo
    October 5, 2013

    The slide to re-build has begun in Nuckland. The big difference between Nucks and the Flames is the Flames actually have prospects while Casucks not much. Time to trade the Sister’s, Kesler, Bieksa and Loselongo (opps already tried that) One word to describe the fan base in Vancouver, CHUMPS

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    • mayhew
      October 5, 2013

      Trade the Sister’s what?

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