You had to know that at some point on this road trip, the Vancouver Canucks were going to hit a serious wall, and the quality of their play would suffer. After all, you can only play so many bad teams before you forget how to be good.
Sure enough, that’s what happened Thursday night versus the New Jersey Devils. For two periods, the Canucks hung in there, clinging to the memory of a decent hockey club. But in the third period, visits to Buffalo, Columbus, Philadelphia, and now New Jersey finally caught up with them, and they just forgot how to do hockey. It was bad. Fortunately, Roberto Luongo was there to bail them out, shutting the door the rest of the way to salvage the two points this type of hockey normally fails to yield. I watched this game.
Canucks 3 – 2 (SO)
- The Canucks came into Thursday night’s game with a 2-1 record when surrendering a goal on their first shot against. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say, and extrapolated over a full season, that’s 54 wins. Not too shabby. So you can understand why the club decided it was worth spotting the Devils a goal on their first shot. That’s thinking outside the box, as opposed to Maru, who is constantly thinking inside the box.
- Patrik Elias scored the goal on a play that was started by the legendary Jaromir Jagr. It’s tough to be mad at these two guys, since they’re just so old and so wise. They are, after all, the only two NHLers that were born in Great Moravia.
- That said, Zack Kassian must not have gotten the memo that Jagr is a highly-revered elder statesmen of the game. The Canuck winger tried to mix it up with Jagr in this game and was caught on camera shouting, “Shut up, you [expletive] goof.” That is not what you say to Jaromir Jagr, Kass. Show some respect. It’s “Shut up, you [expletive] goof, sir.”
- The Canucks tied this one up thanks to a terrible miscue between Cory Schneider and Andy Greene, who were attempting a handoff at the side of the Devils net and wound up with something more closely resembling the butt fumble. Greene headed behind the goal, thinking Schneider would leave the puck there, but Schneider pushed it forward instead… to Henrik Sedin, who immediately fed Ryan Kesler, who tapped it home like The Artist.
- Best part of that play: watching Andy Greene give up on it. The moment he realizes Schneider gave the puck to an ex-teammate, he just quits behind the goal, possibly due to jealousy. “I thought you said you were over Henrik. I knew you were lying.“
- The Canucks lost both David Booth and Dale Weise to injuries in this game, and finished the game with just nine healthy forwards on their bench. That’s still enough to roll three lines, but John Tortorella is stubborn — he refused to let circumstances shorten his bench for him. That’s his job. So he shortened the bench even further. Eventually, he was skating Daniel and Henrik Sedin with Daniel Sedin. “You’re both wingers, Daniel!” You could hear him shouting from the bench. “Pick up the pace!” To be fair, it was at 4-on-4 in overtime.
- How quiet was it in the Prudential Center? At one point, someone whispered, “This library sucks. It doesn’t even have any books.”
- The Canucks surrendered the go-ahead goal midway through the first, but the Sedins gained it back in the second on a nifty play, as they often do. After gaining the red line, Henrik banked the puck diagonally off the end boards to Daniel, who skated onto it and stepped into a one-timer like it was a clean pair of pants. It caught Cory Schneider completely off-guard, which is understandable. Unlike Bridon Gueermo’s dad, Daniel’s not much of a slapper.
- I know I already said the Prudential Center was quiet for this one, but The Gentlemen were in the audience and they had a really pleasant evening.
- In the third period, the Canucks finally succumbed to exhaustion and completely lost their legs, which is bad news, because you need those to skate. While they dragged themselves around the ice, however, Roberto Luongo stood tall, shutting the door from then on, stopped 17 shots in the lopsided final frame, then carrying the Canucks through the shootout as well. It was Luongo’s first stolen game of the season, and I suspect it will go over much better than Bart Simpson’s first stolen game.
- The shootout featured my favourite moment of this game, when John Tortorella decided to learn the hard way that the Sedins, despite all their talents, are just terrible at shootouts. He sent Daniel Sedin out as his second shooter. Sure enough, Daniel skated the puck in, stopped in the crease, then handed it to Schneider and looked tentatively to the bench to see if he’d done it right. No. No Daniel, you have not.
, I Watched This Game