I Watched This Game: Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins, October 19, 2013

The Canucks have looked quite good at times this season. The only problem is those times have generally been at the same time they’ve been facing some of their weakest competition. Their wins have come against weaker teams — the Oilers, Flames, Devils, Flyers, and Sabres — while they’ve lost twice to the powerhouse Sharks and couldn’t stick with the Canadiens after an embarrassing own goal.

The Canucks have faced legitimate questions about whether they can keep up with the stronger teams in the league, but this game against the Penguins, despite the end result, proved that they can. This was, by far, the most entertaining game of the season, even though it was obscenely early in the morning for a Saturday. Yes, 10 am is early for me. I’m a night owl with two young kids.

Thankfully, the Canucks and Penguins kept me awake and alert when I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 4 Penguins (SO)

  • Kudos to whoever came up with the line nickname “BeastMODO” for Kesler and the Sedins. That’s some quality punmanship.
  • While this game got off to a wide open start, it took over five minutes for the first shot on goal, a long wristshot by Kevin Bieksa. It took another two minutes after that for the first whistle of the game, a penalty on Chris Higgins. It felt like they were trying to get the game over and done with before fans on the west coast even realized it was a 10 am start.
  • Despite a 4-1 powerplay discrepancy in favour of the Penguins, the Canucks actually outshot the Penguins 39-28, particularly dominating the first period 15-5. The Penguins, however, had three shots hit the post in the first, including one off the stick of Chris Conner that banked off the back of Luongo’s mask after it hit the post, causing the Pittsburgh goal horn operator to jump the gun and light up the Canucks’ goal crease like he was Fallout Boy.
  • The Canucks were lucky to still be tied as the Penguins hammered more iron than a Celtic swordsmith, then got some further good fortune when Alex Edler’s shot from centre hit Marc-Andre Fleury in the chest, popped over his head, and rolled over the goal line. Either Edler is a real-life Fulton Reed with better skating or Fleury is who we thought he was.
  • After that stroke of good fortune, it was funny to see the Canucks try to replicate that luck, as both Bieksa and Hansen seemed to intentionally shoot up high on Fleury’s chest later in the game and both times he juggled the puck, almost giving up a dangerous rebound.
  • The Penguins quickly tied up the game, however, when Luongo couldn’t snag Pascal Dupuis’ heavy slapshot, popping the puck up into the slot. Daniel Sedin couldn’t grab it with his glove either, instead knocking it down directly onto the stick of the most dangerous man on the ice. No, not Eddie Candell – Sidney Crosby. His initial shot was blocked, but he had plenty of time to pick his spot with his second shot.
  • The Safeway featured product was Kraft Peanut Butter, leading to John Garrett calling peanut butter on Triscuits “good for you” and a “nutritional snack.” Keep in mind, this is the same guy who extols the virtues of Cheese Whiz and Kraft Dinner, so do your own research, please.
  • The Penguins have one of the most dangerous powerplays in the league and the Canucks tempted fate with the number of penalties they took in this game. Fate was finally seduced midway through the second period, when Evgeni Malkin took advantage of a too many men penalty, making a great move behind the net to draw both Bieksa and Luongo to one side of the net before getting Chris Kunitz to take it on the other side. He didn’t believe it was bad, as the Penguins pulled ahead.
  • It looked like the Canucks tied it back up again less than two minutes later, when Chris Higgins finished off a Jannik Hansen wraparound feed, but it was waved off immediately, as Mike Santorelli had knocked the net off its moorings. Clearly, Santorelli is desperate to hold onto his title as the Canucks’ leading goalscorer. Soon he’ll start questioning the quality of Higgins’ abs to try to shake his confidence.
  • The Canucks tied the game on a pretty passing play by, oddly enough, the fourth line. Dale Weise neatly chipped Tom Sestito’s clearing attempt past Paul Martin, dropped the puck to Kevin Bieksa, who tipped it to Brad Richardson. The play was nearly broken up there, as Martin got his stick on it, but Richardson managed to get the puck back to Weise, who made a superb pass back to Richardson for the wide open net. It was the ugliest pretty passing play I’ve ever seen, but you have to give credit to Weise, who had the presence of mind to pass up the shot and shoot Richardson the pass.
  • Jordan Schroeder regrettably left the game near the end of the second period, going down awkwardly in a battle with Tanner Glass. It looked like he may have twisted his right knee, but reports indicated that he was favouring his left foot, the one he injured blocking a shot in the pre-season. Hopefully it’s a minor injury and he’ll be able to return quickly.
  • Richardson joined the third line in place of Schroeder and the line pitched in a go-ahead goal. It was mostly thanks to Zack “Action Package” Kassian, who showed some nice hands in close quarters to keep the play alive and onside, then went to the front of the net, where he was in perfect position to tip a Bieksa point shot past Fleury. Ryan Stanton would have had the second assist, giving him 5 points on the season, but David Booth evidently tipped the puck before it reached Kassian, making this the rare double-tip, which is infinitely preferable to a double-dip.
  • After Luongo’s shutout against the Sabres, Canucks fans might have hoped that he had overcome his annual struggles in October, but Luongo was still a little shaky in this one, with two of the Penguins’ goals coming off rebounds when Luongo just couldn’t snare or absorb the initial shot. The second came just 22 seconds after Kassian gave the Canucks the lead, as Olli Maatta converted a Kunitz rebound for his first career goal. With better rebound control from Luongo, the Canucks win this game in regulation.
  • Simultaneously, the Canucks don’t get this game to overtime to earn a single point if Luongo hadn’t come through on a late penalty shot by Brandon Sutter. Dan Hamhuis continued his sloppy play to start the season with a turnover at the blueline, leaving Chris Tanev with no option but to pull down Sutter on a partial breakaway. Luongo saved Hamhuis’s bacon with a snappy glove save, after which he tossed the puck away condescendingly. Luongo then said Not in my house, before remembering that he was in Pittsburgh.
  • After overtime solved nothing but a crossword puzzle with the clue “Paycheck booster”, they went to the shootout, where all three Canucks shooters tried to go five-hole on Fleury unsuccessfully. They must have had a scouting report that indicated he was weak there in the shootout, but really they should have just aimed for his chest.
  • Luongo, meanwhile, stopped Jussi Jokinen, one of the best players in the shootout in the league, then stoned Sidney Crosby, but got undone by Evgeni Malkin. Malkin’s forehand-backhand deke was so fresh that it temporarily turned Luongo into a breakdancer — Luongo’s backspin was doper than diacetylmorphine.
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27 comments

  1. Sarah
    October 19, 2013

    Cloutier!!!

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  2. Cathylu
    October 19, 2013

    After NOT enjoying the NHL Network play-by-play guys (who pretty much assumed we had no chance at winning the game) I was generally happy with our play. One point is better than no points.

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    Rating: +7 (from 9 votes)
  3. peanutflower
    October 19, 2013

    Excellent game. That “flick of the wrist” is a gem.

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    Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  4. Chris
    October 19, 2013

    You think 10am on a Saturday is a early start. It was a 4am Sunday morning start in Sydney. Really testing my love for the nucks

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    Rating: +16 (from 20 votes)
    • TubaNat
      October 19, 2013

      Mate, after moving to the UK they’re normally all 3am starts for me!

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      Rating: +9 (from 11 votes)
      • Chocoball
        October 19, 2013

        1am in Hong Kong! :D

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        • Oceansize
          October 20, 2013

          For me in Germany it’s usually 3 or 4 am. Makes it easy to go to work right after the games end though :)

          Having a game start at 7 pm on a Saturday night was a welcome alternative, although the connection to Gamecenter Live was a nuisance this time .

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          • TubaNat
            October 20, 2013

            Yeah, mine too!

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  5. the olde coot
    October 19, 2013

    I didn’t get to watch this game,
    More reffing soccer was to blame,
    But I did watch the lowlights though:
    It seemed the Nucks were somewhat slow.

    A touchstone for the team, a test,
    Comes when they play against the best:
    Today they did not measure up
    As one to challenge for The Cup.

    They simply didn’t rock and roll,
    But played as if on cruise control.
    Of course that’s not the way it was.
    The reason why? Well just because,

    Having trounced two of the worst,
    Vancouver tied a team in first!

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    Rating: -2 (from 24 votes)
    • Matt
      October 20, 2013

      Why would you think they were slow, when they outshot and played in the other end for a good part of the game. the Pens are a favorite for the cup and the Canucks got a point.

      Sheesh.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        October 20, 2013

        You missed the point of the poem. Read it again.

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        • the olde coot
          October 20, 2013

          Thank you, Daniel, for this thought:
          It’s clear the gist some never got.

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    • Shoes
      October 20, 2013

      Not a bad game all in all. I like the forecheck we have going for 65 minutes. or most of 65 minutes. Interesting to see how they fare in CBJ today, but they arrived in Columbus before the Jackets, who were busy getting schooled by the Caps.

      5 of 6 points so far on this 14 point road trip.

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  6. Timeout
    October 19, 2013

    I gotta say, Stanton has impressed me. Everyone wrote his waiver claim off as useless but he has proven to be a value pick-up by Gillis.

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    Rating: +33 (from 33 votes)
  7. TubaNat
    October 19, 2013

    7pm in Guildford – I know this start sucks for the rest of you, but for one I got to watch the Canucks play at a reasonable hour, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, loss or no loss.
    And yes, ugliest pretty pass of all time is exactly how I’d describe the 4th line goal; that one was great!

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    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
  8. Andre
    October 19, 2013

    What I appreciated the most about this game was the consistency of effort displayed by the Canucks. Their tight defense and aggressive forechecking reminds me of the way they played in 2010-2011.

    Also, the third line (Schroeder-Booth-Kassian) really impresses me with their dedication, energy and smart play. We all know that a cup run is impossible without solid 2nd and 3rd lines, and seeing them play is a very encouraging sign. I just hope that Schroeder is not plagued by the injury bug.

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    • peanutflower
      October 19, 2013

      One gets the sense that the team is “getting it”, right? They looked pretty darn good today, I thought. There were a few lapses and goofs and such, but all in all it was a pretty respectable showing. That Weise, Richardson, whoever it was goal was like drunk Sedinery lol.

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  9. Cody
    October 19, 2013

    Intelligent Heroin joke = +1000000 levels

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  10. mac 'n cheese
    October 19, 2013

    NO SCRABBLE REFERENCE?

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  11. shoes
    October 20, 2013

    Good game! You can tell by the lack of slaggers and mullets posting here.

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    Rating: +2 (from 12 votes)
  12. chocoball
    October 20, 2013

    John Garrett’s idea of Kraft peanut butter on triscuits as a “nutritional snack”…no wonder his career as a pro athlete was sub-par….

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    • Chinook
      October 20, 2013

      Peanut butter on triscuits is WAAAY good. And healthier than cold pizza and a ciggy.

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      Rating: +4 (from 6 votes)
  13. Matt
    October 20, 2013

    For a team that controlled the shot and possession count, how is it that Vancouver only drew 1 penalty to Pittsburgh’s 4?

    In OT, I thought I saw clear interference – Paul Martin denying Henrik a path to the puck behind the Pittsburgh net. Official was right there, looking at the play. No call.

    I understand wanting to “let the boys play” but that is a call that needs to be made, especially given the Penalty Shot award to Sutter with a couple minutes left in the 3rd.

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  14. Chinook
    October 20, 2013

    Daniel, I suggest Zack “Action” Kassian sounds better than Action Package.

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    • Naturalmystic
      October 20, 2013

      Sounds like a Davie street bar.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 20, 2013

      “Action Package” may have been a little too inside baseball, I’ll admit. Sprung from a Yahoo Messenger conversation with Harrison. I try to use a different nickname for Kassian every time and the pickings are starting to get slim.

      Haven’t used “Action Kassian” yet, though, so that’ll be next. Thanks!

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      • Harrison Mooney
        October 20, 2013

        My favourite thing about this running joke is I don’t think anybody has really picked up on it, and Daniel is the only one of us doing it. It’s literally just for him and I respect that.

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