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!
, I Watched This Game
, Wizardous Sedinery