I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, October 25, 2013

Even before this game started, the Canucks had already had the most successful 7-game road trip in franchise history, with a 4-1-1 record. Sure, two of those games came after regulation, but it’s still an impressive record, considering the 7 games of the trip came in the space of just 11 days.

As a result, a loss against the Blues wouldn’t just be unsurprising, it would be borderline acceptable. This was the second game of a back-to-back, with significant travel in-between those two games, while facing several injuries, with the backup goaltender in net, and multiple AHL-level players in the lineup. To top it off, the Blues are a very good team, off to a 5-1-1 start, and were well-rested to boot, as it had been a week since their last game.

Even getting a point out of this game would have been an accomplishment. Somehow, the Canucks managed to extract two. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 2 Blues (OT)

  • The Canucks understandably got off to a slow start, not getting their first shot until over eight-and-a-half minutes into the game. Fortunately, the Blues got off to a slow start as well, only getting two shots in that time. That kind of slow-paced, low-event hockey suited the Canucks just fine, as they got their legs under them. Prior to that, they had their legs just waving willy-nilly over their heads.
  • Zack Kassian and Tom Sestito helped their teammates out with a couple timely fights that gave the rest of the Canucks a breather. At least, I assume that’s why they fought, as there was literally no possible other reason for them to fight when they did.
  • With minimal actual scoring chances in the early going, it took a lucky bounce to open the scoring for the Canucks. Chris Higgins, who started the season on an unlucky streak with 21 shots without a goal through the first six games, was the benefactor, as his shot from well out deflected off Roman Polak, who laid himself out for the shot block. From Polak’s leg in, it was a perfect shot, beating Jaroslav Halak top corner over his glove. It looked so pretty that Higgins asked Polak if he would lie down in front of him for the accuracy portion of the Canucks Superskills Competition.
  • Ryan Kesler was at his beastly best against the Blues, leading all skaters with 8 shots on goal. No other Canuck had more than two, mainly because they spent most of the game desperately searching for Kesler’s enchanted rose so they could rip all the petals off.
  • “Kesler’s enchanted rose” is not a euphemism, you perverts.
  • Kesler extended the Canucks’ lead halfway through the second period, after a great shift by Higgins, Mike Santorelli, and Zack Kassian. That line cycled the puck effectively, then started a change with the puck still deep in the offensive zone. Kesler and Daniel Sedin came on and Santorelli freed up the puck below the goal line. While Kesler created some separation in the slot, Daniel cut to the front of the net and drew two defenders. Santorelli found the wide open Kesler, who fired it past Halak.
  • Eddie “The Stork” Lack was superb in net for the Canucks, making 22 saves on 24 shots, with the only two goals coming on the powerplay. Well, technically the second goal came just after the powerplay ended, but still. He had little chance on either goal, as he was completely screened on the first, which came at 5-on-3, and got his stick caught in Chris Stewart’s skates on the second, preventing him from making a blocker save on Vladimir Sobotka’s knuckler. He was a far more effective stork than the one tasked to deliver Baby Mario and Baby Luigi.
  • The Blues were on a 5-on-3 powerplay thanks to a questionable charging call on Zack Kassian. It appeared for all the world like a clean hit and Tortorella agreed, calling it a “body check.” It was a game-changing penalty, particularly after Backes may have embellished a hook by Kevin Bieksa. Also a game-changing penalty: 1920′s silent gangster movie The Penalty, which helped establish Lon Chaney as one of early Hollywood’s great character actors.
  • After the Blues tied up the game, the Canucks devoted the rest of the game to wasting as much time as possible to get it to overtime. At one point, Alex Edler literally just sat on the puck. That’s not a joke. He actually did that.
  • In overtime, Daniel Sedin drew a late penalty with a strong cut to the net, then set up the gamewinning goal on the subsequent powerplay with a shot from the slot that deflected up to Kesler, who viciously shoulder-checked the puck down to his stick and scored. This somehow led to a scrum as David Backes attacked Daniel and started throwing inexplicable gloved punches. It was one of the most childish things I’ve ever seen in a hockey game and I like to stick around to watch the Timbits hockey between periods.
  • Both Backes and Daniel got two minute minors and 10-minute game misconducts, which is hilarious. Enough of that you two, you have to sit out the next non-existent 10 minutes of this game. Let that be a lesson to you.
  • With both Dale Weise and David Booth injured during the Canucks’ last game against the New Jersey Devils, the Canucks called up Pascal Pelletier and Darren Archibald from the Utica Comets. For Archibald, it was the first NHL game of his career and he acquitted himself fairly well, getting two shots on goal and a hit in 8 minutes of playing time; the Canucks actually out-shot the Blues 3-1 when he was on the ice. With the Canucks short-staffed, getting some unexpected competence from a call-up like Archibald was essential to help keep the minutes of the Canucks’ top forwards under 25 minutes.
  • Well, almost all of the Canucks’ top forwards. Henrik Sedin broke the 25-minute barrier by 4 seconds to lead all forwards in this game, one second more than David “Sore Loser” Backes. Backes, upon hearing this, threw himself facedown on the floor and started flailing, kicking, and screaming “It’s not right! Not fair! I wanted to have the most ice time!”
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23 comments

  1. dontpassjustshoot
    October 26, 2013

    Ha- great game summary. Pleasantly surprised to come in from an evening of hunting zombies on Granville Island to find we won! (Is it weird that I wondered about the result of the Canucks match DURING zombie apocalypse?)

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  2. clutch fan
    October 26, 2013

    That Backes bit is right on the mark! He and Jackman were totally hissy fitting it up at the end there.

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  3. Mr Lewis
    October 26, 2013

    Damn that was fine! I was was figuring on a blow out by the blues, but after getting to watch only the 1st I started getting a weird, warm, cozy feeling.
    Maybe this Tort experiment has something going for it. Let them play like beasts, night in night out. If it all crashes and burns I’ll love the lead up and ashes. Throw a scare into opposing teams out of sheer gutsyness.
    Beats last year.

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  4. Josh D.
    October 26, 2013

    I like to imagine that Jackman is still sore about the time Bertuzzi knocked him on his ass.

    Great game by the boys, all things considered. I couldn’t be prouder after this road trip!

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  5. Scarborough Albuquerque
    October 26, 2013

    Got Backes in my pool, Those twelve penalty minutes are a boon. I’ll take ‘em, eight days a week.

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  6. shoes
    October 26, 2013

    I can help you out with the calls. If Sedin is not equally penalized, then Backes gets a game misconduct, which carries over, which he should have anyway as he heard with that mini-hissy fit.

    Backes “may have embellished” LOL……you maybe should analyze that penalty as much as the Kesler “dive” the other night. I would build you character to know that all teams dive. If fact after watching several games in the last 3 days I have come to a brilliant conclusion. MOST calls are penalties that are “drawn” by a dive. Which explains why the Bruins, Canucks and Sens get some of the least # of PP’s in the league right now. They are 3 teams that are not diving by and large. Having said that, Danny went down rather easy in the OT. Was that a make-up call for the obvious Backes dive that even got the game to OT? looked like it and I wished the refs would just quit it already. I have no desire to watch the refs controlling the outcome of a game, or playing even up as they see fit or not. That is why the playoffs are better hockey.

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    • sara
      October 26, 2013

      shoes – you are 100% correct. The PITB bloggers are hell bent on portraying the Canucks as the biggest divers in the league. Forget about the garbage the rest of the league gets away with. They will never be confused with hockey geniuses.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        October 26, 2013

        Yep. We here at PITB definitely hate the Canucks and think they’re the biggest divers in the league. We’ve been consistent with that message for years. You’ve pegged us, sara.

        But seriously, you could not be more wrong. I’m kind of baffled that me calling out the refs for a bad call on Kassian and Backes on embellishing somehow got spun as me portraying the Canucks as divers. I mean, I can’t be a genius, because I can’t figure out how you came to that conclusion for the life of me.

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        • John in Marpole
          October 26, 2013

          Are you absolutely certain that Sara isn’t a Cambo sock, which is socked up as a Canuck fan? Since socks come in pairs that is a possibility as they both exhibit a similar grasp of the game/reality.

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        • nateb123
          October 26, 2013

          To be fair you did say Backes MIGHT have embellished. Not exactly the same thing.

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          • Daniel Wagner
            October 26, 2013

            That was a case of using understatement to try to make a point. Apparently it didn’t quite work. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

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        • shoes
          October 26, 2013

          Well I certainly do not feel you are out to expose the Canucks as divers. I love your blog or I would not be here. However I do feel that you were harsh on Kesler the other night. My reasons are having watched more hockey than usual this Oct, I realized recently that it is diving and embellishing that is winning the day. My case in point is Backes and Danny yesterday, both went down easily and the calls were at least equal. Kesler did draw a penalty the other night and that also might back up my point.

          That means the Canucks need to learn how to dive and start getting calls like the SJS, LA and a few other teams. Because another theory of mine is that the Canucks were always terrible divers and usually got caught so they stopped diving. The refs took a year or so to catch up to their stop and the media may never catch up.

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          • Daniel Wagner
            October 26, 2013

            I would like to point out, though, that Harrison wrote the Kesler post the other day.

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            • shoes
              October 26, 2013

              Yes, well just like the Canucks get called “divers and whiners” I lump you both in together ….LOL

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  7. Kippers
    October 26, 2013

    Great showing by the boys in this game. Absolutely stole 2 points.

    I think the scuffle at the end of the games started by the Blues really showed the maturity of Kesler. He attributed his non-retaliation to him being gassed, but I think it just shows he doesn’t care about Jackman’s goonish antics and just wanted to celebrate with his teammates on this hard earned win. The ref certainly shared this sentiment when he patted Kesler on the bum and Kesler skated over to his team with his arms raised in celebration.

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  8. chicken chick
    October 26, 2013

    From their commune in Chilliwack
    Miss Jenny Wren and Whisky Jack
    Await the game against Saint Lou,
    Discuss the start of Eddie Lack,
    And wonder how their team will do,
    “Given they’re playing back to back
    And have a host of injuries too.”

    As they both watched it’s this they saw:
    Vancouver win the opening draw,
    Two futile fights we did not need,
    Chris Higgins give his team the lead,
    Then Kessler set up in the slot
    Make no mistake wristing his shot,
    Which prompted Jenny Wren to say,
    “Saint Louis looks more tired than they.”

    Which soon is seen to be untrue,
    As then the game is tied at two,
    “Though that Bieksa penalty,
    A little soft it seemed to me.”
    Nineteen minutes of agony
    And once again we’re in OT:
    Saint Louis 2, Vancouver 3.

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    • jenny wren
      October 26, 2013

      “And Lack was good as good can be:
      A cool calibre backup
      To help us to Lord Stanley’s Cup.”

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  9. the real bob
    October 26, 2013

    good sportsmanship by the blues

    oh wait

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  10. John in Marpole
    October 26, 2013

    In answer to the ‘how many Cups’ BS, if one wants to compare the Canucks and the Laffs one must restrict the comparison period to the time both teams have been in the NHL.

    A quick comparison of the period 1970 – 2013 shows:

    Cup Final appearances – Canucks: 3, Laffs: 0
    President’s Trophy (or equivalent), Canucks 2, Laffs: 0
    Conference 1st place – Canucks: 3, Laffs: 0
    Division 1st place – Canucks 11, Laffs:1
    Head to head playoff record – Canucks: 1, Laffs: 0 (4 games to 1)

    Since 1970 both teams have not qualified for the playoffs on 16 occasions

    The team with more success since 1970 isn’t the Laffs, chum

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  11. shoes
    October 26, 2013

    hey cambo. How come you get so mad when the Canucks win? You sound like the cyber version of Backes from yesterday.

    And stop whining about what the Canucks have not won, we are aware of that. It is almost the future now.

    PS not sure what team you are a fan of, but guessing here…..The Flames will be scary around 2020 and the Oilers will be partially through the next rebuild by then. Hallsy and Nailsy will be retired in disgrace.

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  12. arjay
    October 27, 2013

    glad to see the boys are responding to challenges well and to a new group of players and a new system.

    Just want to make an observation here about the local media. The resident yellow journalist ran on a platform of “AV only likes to play D and can’t coach younger players.” Even when those proved to be utterly fact free he continued his campaign as he would otherwise have to admit the obvious; he was making it up to avoid praising someone he utterly detested.

    When AV tinkered with the line combos—including playng Kes on the wing (not a new idea)—-everyone (including the posters) howled in outrage. But now Torts is doing it; winning at a slighter lesser pace than AV but winning nonetheless and everyone is hailing his “new approach” and coaching genius.

    Just wanted to point out the tangible media bias and hypocrisy year over year. (coach over coach)

    Still, I am delighted to see what MGGM and Torts have cobbled together in this salary cap tightened year ……….but as has been stated ad nauseum, it’s all about winning in the playoffs here in Vancouver.

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  13. J21
    October 28, 2013

    I didn’t see this game, but it’s incredibly impressive that the Canucks didn’t get blown out 7-0, let alone actually win this game. It may have been a perfect storm of “just crazy enough to work”. Scheduling back-to-backs between Newark and St. Louis is pretty inexcusable to begin with, frankly.

    So yeah, the Backes thing at the end. If you reverse the jerseys, this is all the hockey media is discussing for weeks on end, and it would lead to another 5- or 10-year “reputation” for the Canucks (the entire team, because the jerseys change your DNA) as whiners, etc. Is Backes getting let off the hook here, by either the league or media? How is that not suspendable?

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  14. Collin
    October 28, 2013

    Backes went after Daniel Sedin because he felt Sedin dove on the penalty call in OT. If Backes was just a sore looser he would have gone after Kesler most likely, as the two have a bit of a history. Plus, no one goes after the Sedins. They are nice guys. Especially trying to fight them. They don’t fight. You just don’t go after guys that don’t fight. You will never see Sestito try to drop the gloves with superstar skill guys (e.g. Crosby, P. Kane, etc.). The penalty call was a little soft in my opinion as the refs tend to let more borderline infractions go un-called in OT (which is of course illogical as the game should be called the same all the time, but history has shown the NHL refs have different standards for regular play, OT, playoffs, and playoff OT).

    Suffice it to say, I would really like to see the Canucks get back at the Blues for their treatment of D. Sedin. This is probably the 2nd worst treatment of a Sedin I have ever seen (the Duncan Keith elbow was the worst). Worse than Marchand’s little love taps to Hanks face during the Cup Final. Sedin could probably handle Marchand in fight, as he’s bigger and stronger. But, Backes is not a fair fight. It’s not honorable for a bigger, tougher, more experienced fighter to go after a non-fighting, non-agitating, nice-guy, skill player. And just to make it more gutless, Backes chooses to do this at the end of the game, when there is no chance for immediate retribution.

    /rant

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