I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks, November 23, 2013

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.
Tags: , ,

26 comments

  1. Stefan Lager
    November 24, 2013

    Canucks must go back to the basic success formula.
    They mustn’t score the first goal.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  2. Mel
    November 24, 2013

    I think you have that backwards, your brain shuts down trying NOT to listen to Glenn Healy. On the other hand, you do get gems like PJ Stock’s malapropism, “You can keep all your apples, uh, together.” Too bad he can’t keep his brains in one basket.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +17 (from 19 votes)
  3. Naturalmystic
    November 24, 2013

    Stanton acted like the insecure ex boyfriend that meets his old flame in a social situation. He goes overboard trying to show that he doesn’t care about the ex by doing something inappropriate like trying to remove his girlfriends tonsils with his tongue. Stanton was trying way too hard to show the Blackhawks they made a mistake by dumping him.

    What was up with the interrogation of Luongo by the CBC team after the game? I almost expected them to ask him how he felt after his first pet died. It was ridiculous. I can’t believe he put up with their questions as long as he did.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
    • smj
      November 24, 2013

      I agree, after hours started even more awkwardly than normal. Kelly just wouldn’t give up on why Lou let the goal in. Lou is a class act as usual.
      I also enjoyed the panel’s suggestion that we need to trade kesler and bieksa….?

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  4. whisky jack
    November 24, 2013

    Vancouver playing back to back
    It’s Bobby Lu not Eddie Lack
    And the usual cast of jocks
    Now up against Chicago’s Hawks
    Who take a stupid penalty
    Canucks can score when five on three
    As Kesler does to take the lead
    To score again is what they need
    But that is what they do not do
    Vancouver 1 Chicago 2
    At bottom line it’s sadly lame
    This scoring but one goal a game

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 16 votes)
  5. Andre
    November 24, 2013

    After a series of disappointing losses (disappointing because we dominated much of the play but had nothing to show for it), I’m beginning to have doubts about the team. Either our time will come (optimistically) or we’ll remain in that same rut throughout the season (pessimistically).

    Personally, I’d like to see more of Kesler/Kassian/Booth driving to the net with the puck instead of setting up for teammates or shooting from afar.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
  6. jenny wren
    November 24, 2013

    i tell myself i need not care,
    that it’s an option i could choose,
    for forlorn fate has brought me where
    it hurts so much to see them lose.
    there’s sadly nothing i can do,
    but sit and reflect helplessly:
    such things have happened hitherto
    and what we wish may never be.

    of course once more i’ll watch them play,
    and hope their effort’s not in vain
    this monday night against LA,
    that we not hear the sad refrain:
    i know they lost but it did seem
    vancouver was the better team.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 9 votes)
  7. BBoone
    November 24, 2013

    If GMMG has a strict policy of not interfering with his coach, then he needs to rethink that policy.
    Teams as complicated as a professional hockey team need to have consistency and routine as a significant part of their home base over an 82 game season. Tortorella simply cannot seem to make a decision for his lineup and then let it be. He seems to have little confidence in his own judgement . The constant changing and in game snap judgements reflect a lot of doubt. It is time for upper management to demand , and be part of , some coherent plan for the team going forward and for the Coach to run the game with that in mind. It is time to have enough faith to allow a set lineup time to become comfortable in the roles and expectations .

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: -2 (from 2 votes)
    • Phileo99
      November 24, 2013

      Did you not get the memo?
      The coherent plan is, and I quote from JT:
      “We’re just throwing s— at the wall hoping something sticks…..”

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
      • BBoone
        November 24, 2013

        You are right. What was I thinking .

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  8. Chris the Curmudgeon
    November 24, 2013

    Same script, different actors. I didn’t get to watch this one, but between the box score and IWTG I think I get the gist of it. Canucks can play with anyone, but can’t score with them. I know we just had an article about this, but that’s just because it comes up game after game.
    Out of curiosity, I looked back over the season at the teams’ success with or against an extra attacker at the end of the game. I think it’s a microcosm of the season so far, in that it’s the purest case of requiring offence and being willing to pull out all the stops to get it, in other words, it’s when your snipers are most needed. I count three cases where other teams were able to tie the game late while their net was empty, whereas the Canucks have not scored a goal yet in that scenario this year (last night just another example). I have no explanation for why Burrows is so snakebitten, and it’s unfathomable to have a 4 million dollar forward, even one who’s underachieving, sit in the press box in favor of Sestito. But, I think it’s no longer reasonable to just chalk this trend up to “not getting the bounces/bad luck/hot goalie/etc” and admit that the team may have a lot of things going for it, but it’s still flawed and needs to be fixed, now.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
    • Naturalmystic
      November 24, 2013

      Booth played himself off the team. Salary is irrelevant as Gillis himself said a month ago on Team1040. The Oilers sent home/waived/sent to the minors Sheldon Souray, the Rangers did the same thing with Wade Redden. If the guy is hurting your team you can’t play them.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)
      • Brian
        November 24, 2013

        The problem is, the actual facts do not agree with your assertion. Booth’s numbers are actually not that bad. He is +3 and his advanced stats are similar to Santorelli’s.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
        • Naturalmystic
          November 24, 2013

          I don’t think Tortorella cares about advanced stats. He cares about guys being able to play. Booth has shown that he can’t. As for advanced stats(hockey metrics)…Tortorella admitted when he was hired that he didn’t know much about that sort of thing. His actions in juggling line combinations based on his gut instinct(throwing line combos against the wall to see if they stick) imo shows that he isn’t interested in hockey stat analytics.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
          • tom selleck's moustache
            November 24, 2013

            While Booth has certainly underachieved, can it really be said that he’s worse than Sestito, though? Booth’s game was supposed to be one of being physical, north/south, while putting the puck in the net; basically, a fourth line style of play with scoring. Now, he’s not scoring; but his style of play is still suitable to filling a fourth line role. So why not use him? Especially when Tortorella’s already shown no faith in his fourth line as currently constructed. Surely, the addition of a third line player on the fourth line can’t be a bad thing.

            This also makes sense from the standpoint that the workload that’s currently being demanded on the top three lines can’t be considered sustainable. People often talk about a trickle down affect when having players return from injury; how about a trickle up affect? The Canucks need to have a fourth line that they can play on a regular basis, and be competitive, to keep from overworking their top guys. It would seem like utilizing all assets at their disposal would allow them to do that.

            VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
            Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        November 25, 2013

        I see your point, but the thing is I think it’s because salary IS relevant that he’s sitting. For the money he’s making, he should be a top 6 forward. He’s clearly not capable of filling that role, at least not right now. However, he’s still decidedly better, even on his worst day, than a couple of the plugs that are filling in the bottom of the lineup now. If he were making league minimum, he would most definitely be playing ahead of Sestito and Welsh, so I think it’s just because he’s underachieving in the context of his contract that he’s sitting. If the goal is just to ice the best possible team, that seems counterproductive.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
        • Brian
          November 25, 2013

          You’re probably right that his salary is part of the equation, but at some point, a rational management team has to realize that lamenting a sunk cost is pointless.

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  9. NewWave
    November 24, 2013

    Even though the team is losing, I like their style of play (especially when compared to how this same team played the last two seasons). They may not do well this year (points wise) but if the youth can step in next year (plus a smart FA acquisition), I think they will have a strong team. All in all, much better hockey.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  10. NewWave
    November 24, 2013

    Should Kassian be playing 20 minutes a game with Utica and Archie playing 7 – 10 with the Canucks? I think so

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Brent
      November 24, 2013

      I don’t think Kassian would clear waivers. So unless it is a 2 week “conditioning” stint, it probably won’t be happening. Although it would probably be a good thing. He is just so inconsistent and is commonly a defensive liability.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  11. DanD
    November 24, 2013

    Rick Ball was a major breath of fresh air in the CBC broadcast booth. Smooth, knowledgeable, and a few good quips as well. I hope he stays on to do more Canucks games for them in the future.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
  12. Tom1040
    November 24, 2013

    Enjoyed Kesler’s ‘embellishment’.

    Enjoyed Toews calling him out.

    Enjoyed Kesler showboating to the camera in the corner.

    Enjoyed Kesler mocking the Chicago bench.

    Enjoyed Chicago scoring 2 in 9 showing Kesler as the complete knob he truly is.

    What goes around comes around, Kesknob.

    Otherwise, pretty boring game, I thought. Chicago is tops overall?

    Not impressed with the entertainment value.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: -10 (from 24 votes)
  13. akidd
    November 24, 2013

    the canucks defended well. they got a lot of shots. they were competitive but they did not create many grade A scoring chances. it’s not so much a question of finishing, it’s creating the good chances. the hawks created quite a few and the resulting score was a fair one. lots of good teams in the west. the hawks are yet another. the kings will be yet another still. not sure what the plan is at the moment but i’m glad it’s not up to me.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
  14. Roddy
    November 24, 2013

    Come on guys, this streak of bad luck is AWESOME! Don’t you see it, we’re gonna have to compete super hard going in to the playoffs. This is a good thing for a team that for the last billion years didn’t even have to show up at the end of the season. We’re gonna hit the playoffs in competitive shape. I’m much happier watching the Canucks play awesome and lose by a goal then watch them win games they shouldn’t and head in to the playoffs without needing to fight for it. The Kings and the Sharks of the last two years were on a roll when they steamrolled us in the first round.

    As for making the playoffs, I think our luck is bound to change, just because of science and the universe and all. So if we keep this team playing like it is now, we are in damn good shape.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  15. mb13
    November 25, 2013

    So when is the “best goalie in hockey” going to steal the Canucks a victory? Everybody talks about how well he is playing but I see someone in the middle of the pack in save % and GAA. I see someone that does just enough not to win. A “stand on the head” performance once a season would be nice.

    And … is everyone slowly coming to the realization that the Canucks maybe aren’t that good. Their top-end talent isn’t top end and their depth is laughable. I guess GMMG could ride the coat-tails of the previous regime for only so long. When people are talking about Stanton and Santorelli as being strong acquisitions, well that says everything, doesn’t it.

    Hey – at least they went with the youth movement… oh wait… they didn’t.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
  16. mb13
    November 25, 2013

    Sorry – how many more years of Jason Garisson do Canucks fans have to suffer through?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)