This game featured 5 fewer goals than the previous night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and was simultaneously 5 times more exciting to watch. The game had an insane tempo, like John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, with both teams flying, particularly in the first period. It was fast-paced fun, like Contra, but with an even less satisfying ending.
Once again, the Canucks played well, out-shooting the Blackhawks 36-29, but just couldn’t score more than one goal. That said, the “played well, didn’t win” narrative isn’t a particularly fun one to reiterate again and again. I could go for a few “played terribly, got lucky” games any day now. I was entertained, but disappointed, when I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 2 Blackhawks
- The Canucks have been getting a rough ride from the refs recently, but were apparently on their good side in this game. Not only did the Canucks end up with one more powerplay than the Blackhawks, including a 5-on-3 that led to their only goal, but they also got away with blatantly having too many men on the ice for over 10 seconds. It’s not like they were close to the bench, even: all six skaters were below the top of the faceoff circles in the defensive zone.
- Not only did the refs miss the Canucks’ inadvertent man-advantage, CBC missed it too. It wasn’t mentioned once on the broadcast, though I may have missed it during the intermissions when my brain shut down while trying to listen to Glenn Healy.
- The Canucks regrettably wasted another strong performance by Roberto Luongo, who made 27 saves on 29 shots. Luongo has allowed 2 or fewer goals in all but one of his last twelve starts. Only two teams in the NHL are averaging fewer than two goals per game, so if the Canucks were even scoring goals like a not terrible team, they would currently be on a 12-game winning streak.
- The line of the night went to Rick Ball, in regards to the Canucks’ 29th ranked power play going up against the Blackhawks’ 29th ranked penalty kill. “It’s the resistible force against the movable object,” quipped Ball, before ruining it by shouting, “Amirite?! This guy knows what I’m talking about! All right, I’m Rick Ball, tip your waiter, good night!”
- Surprisingly, the power play actually led to the Canucks only goal, when Andrew Shaw took a terrible tripping penalty while the Blackhawks were already shorthanded. That brought out Jason Garrison and his heavy shot to join the first unit. Ryan Kesler set up Garrison at the point, Corey Crawford kicked out the shot, and Kesler pounced on the rebound like someone incapable of making rational decisions about romantic relationships after a big breakup.
- Really, the goal was fate. Kesler, number 17, drew the initial slashing penalty on Andrew Shaw that led to the 5-on-3 at 17:17 in the first period. Kesler, who we must remind you is number 17, scored the goal. It was, of course, his 17th point on the season. It’s like out of that Jim Carrey movie where he’s obsessed with the number 23. I don’t remember what it’s called but it’s all about the number 23. “The man who was obsessed with a number”, maybe?
- Stick-tap to @blue_raven and @TheRealSC for pointing out the above coincidence. You’re good people.
- An early turnover by Zack Kassian in the defensive zone led to extended pressure by the Blackhawks and a second period turnover in the neutral zone forced Ryan Stanton to take a hooking penalty to prevent a scoring chance and saw Kassian stapled to the bench. Tortorella screamed at him, “No more turnovers!” and a sad Kassian was seen after the game crossing Tortorella off his Christmas baking list.
- The Blackhawks came on strong in the third, getting 7 shots before the Canucks had one and hitting the crossbar and post with one shot on an early power play. It took just 9 seconds for the Blackhawks to take the lead, scoring 2 goals in less time than it takes Usain Bolt to run 100 metres.
- It started with the Canucks inability to clear the zone, allowing Patrick Kane to spin and centre to Andrew Shaw, who tipped the puck between Roberto Luongo’s legs. Dan Hamhuis lost his footing in front of the net, preventing him from tying up Shaw’s stick, but, to be fair, tying up a stick can’t be done. It’s a rigid stick, not a string or a cherry stem. Come on, people, you’re asking for the impossible here.
- Off the ensuing faceoff, the Blackhawks activated their sleeper agent: Ryan Stanton, who the Canucks claimed off waivers from the Blackhawks prior to the start of the season. The usually steady Stanton was uncharacteristically aggressive at his own blue line, creating a 2-on-1 for the Blackhawks. Marcus Kruger fired the puck five-hole on Luongo, who had to respect the possibility of the pass across. Tortorella, benched Stanton not long after, giving him 10-and-a-half minutes of ice time in total. With Stanton’s cover blown, he may try to flee the country, so the Canucks are keeping their eyes on the borders and airports.
- After going down by a goal, the Canucks pressed hard, out-shooting the Blackhawks 12-2 over the final 13 minutes of the game. As has become all too common, the Canucks just couldn’t buy a goal. Not only was Corey Crawford unreal, the Canucks had a spate of bad luck, with the puck hopping over Daniel Sedin’s stick on an open net. At the most critical juncture, the Canucks just couldn’t get the puck to the net: all four of their shot attempts in the final two minutes missed the net or were blocked. As good as Crawford was, he didn’t even have to make a save at the end of the game.
- Alex Burrows had 3 more shots against the Blackhawks, bringing him up to 42 shots this season without a goal. Now that he understands the meaning of life, maybe he can get around to putting the puck in the net.
, I Watched This Game