I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Carolina Hurricanes, December 9, 2013

Mike Gillis has been somewhat justifiably criticized for his drafting record as the Canucks’ GM, with not a single one of his draft picks currently in the lineup. Sure Jordan Schroeder is on the Injured Reserve list, Zack Kassian was acquired for a Gillis pick, and there are numerous promising prospects or more recent mintage on the way, but the fact remains: there are no Gillis draft picks in the current lineup.

Where Gillis has done well, however, is filling in gaps in the prospect pool with free agent signings and two of them made Gillis look good in this game, as Chris Tanev scored early in the first period and Eddie Lack made it stand up as the gamewinner by pitching his first career shutout. I saw a youth movement, of sorts, when I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 0 Hurricanes

***

  • Eddie “The Stork” Lack was full value for the shutout, playing a sound game positionally so that he always seemed to be square to the shooter, forcing the Hurricanes to hit him in the chest again and again. Even better, he was swallowing everything like a Tendriculos, giving up few rebounds and covering up quickly any time there was a potential scramble in front of the net. He finished the game with more saves than a Seattle Mariners closing pitcher. On second thought, that sounds like a stealth insult. He had 31 saves, which was as many saves as there were shots on goal, so that’s pretty good.
  • According to Sportsnet, Lack is the first Canucks goaltender to post a shutout in his first start at home since Johan Hedberg back in 2003. Hedberg only had to make 14 saves for his shutout, though, so we’ll assume that Lack will have a longer and more storied career with the Canucks.
  • For the first time this season, Tom Sestito was a healthy scratch. No offence meant to him, but when he was re-signed by the Canucks, I thought he’d be a healthy scratch a lot more often. Jeremy Welsh dressed in his place and the fourth line managed to not be buried in their own end of the ice for extended periods of time, with all three members of that line — Welsh, Dale Weise, and Zac Dalpe — finishing with an even or better Fenwick rating in their limited minutes. I wouldn’t make too much of it, though. Like the spoons at a gelato place, this game is a small sample size.
  • Manny Malhotra returned for his first game in Vancouver as a Hurricane and he did his usual Malhotrian thing, winning 10-of-15 faceoffs for a game-high 67% success rate. I don’t have a joke here, it was just great to see him back on the ice. I like that guy.
  • As mentioned, Chris Tanev opened the scoring and was the only player to actually beat a goalie in this game other than John Shorthouse, who was busy slapping John Garrett in the press box to make up for not slapping him on Sunday. With Andrej Sekera defending without a stick, the Canucks moved the puck around the Hurricanes’ zone with impunity until Jeff Skinner passed his stick off to the defenceman. That opened up space for Tanev to step up to the top of the faceoff circle before releasing his wrist shot and it left Sekera screening his own goaltender while he was trying to figure out which way was up on his new stick.
  • Late in the first, Ryan Kesler got cross-checked by Sekera, who seemed to think that Kesler went down like Miller Lite: super easy. The refs seemed to agree, giving Kesler a weak roughing call off the ensuing faceoff to balance things out. That call had makeup all over it, like the Wayans in White Chicks.
  • This was the third game in four nights for the Canucks and it began to show in the second and third period, as the Canucks looked more fatigued than an Army Surplus store. After outshooting the Hurricanes 13-11 in the first period, the Canucks were out-shot 20-13 throughout the rest of the game.
  • With Alex Burrows out indefinitely, John Tortorella has been auditioning David Booth and Jannik Hansen on the top line, with underwhelming results. Meanwhile, Zack Kassian has been working himself back into the coach’s good graces, earning himself a third period shift with the Sedins. It was a good one too, with some good time spent in the offensive zone and 2 shots on goal, but Hansen was back with the Sedins on their next shift. Like one of Luongo’s snack goals, it was a snack shift for Kassian, giving him a taste of the first line so he doesn’t get too hungry for more later.
  • But really, Kassian has to get some time with the Sedins at some point, otherwise he spent all that time grooming an identical goatee for nothing. After the game, he all but admitted that’s why he grew the goatee, saying, “Maybe I’ll get a little Twin luck in me.” It doesn’t work that way, Kassian. Jeff Cowen already tried it.
  • We didn’t hear much about it for some reason, but Jannik Hansen had gone 9 games without a goal and had just one in his last 19 games, so his empty net goal to seal the victory bumped a slump for the Honninggrævling. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t care (NSFW).
  • We’ll leave the last word to John Garrett, who repeated it once it was safe to do so: “Shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout.”
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25 comments

  1. Kippers
    December 10, 2013

    Tortorella said at the end of the game that Tom Sestito was out due to an “injury”. He finished the team’s optional skate that morning, so no-one knows what’s really wrong with him. Good to see Welsh/Dalpe got to play against their ex-team together, despite their lack of minutes.

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    • NarkusMaslund
      December 10, 2013

      I’m really hoping “injury” was code for “oh my word, I just realized that Sestito is at best our 24th best forward we have in the system and I am coming to my senses and benching him going forward indefinitely.”

      Too much to hope for?

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      • Brent
        December 10, 2013

        Yes

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        • asdf
          December 10, 2013

          That you Shorty?

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  2. J21
    December 10, 2013

    “it was a snack shift for Kassian, giving him a taste of the first line so he doesn’t get too hungry for more later.”

    Wait, doesn’t Torts want him to be hungry? I’d say it was more of an “appetizer” shift. Hopefully setting the table for the good stuff to come.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 10, 2013

      You may be onto something, J.

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  3. Amor de Cosmos
    December 10, 2013

    Tortorella has no confidence in Andrew Alberts. We know because he says so, which must really make the guy feel part of the team. So why does he even bother to play him? Alberts was benched after the first period, for — so far as I could tell — a couple of dodgy passes. I mean a short rope is one thing, but surely that’s ridiculous. If you don’t want him, let him go to someone who does. Keeping a player out of the team for months, then letting him out for a period or so in order to humiliate him, says more about the type of man our coach is than it does Alberts.

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    • JDM
      December 10, 2013

      I don’t know where he said he has no confidence in Alberts? After the game he said Alberts was in a “hell of a spot”, he’d been practicing but hadn’t seen game time and you could see rust as a result of lack of game time. He seems to like Alberts but feels that how they’ve used him as a press box guy isn’t fair to him.

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      • Amor
        December 10, 2013

        He’s also said that “[Alberts] scares the hell out of him.” And I don’t think he meant in a Jason Vorhees way.

        “He seems to like Alberts but feels that how they’ve used him as a press box guy isn’t fair to him.”

        Who’s “they?” Tortorella’s the coach, if he thinks Alberts hasn’t been used fairly — and I agree — then he’s the only one who can do anything about it.

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        • Amor de Cosmos
          December 10, 2013

          Hey, how’d you edit my name? That’s way presumptuous. And slightly weird.

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          • Harrison Mooney
            December 10, 2013

            We didn’t.

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            • Amor de Cosmos
              December 10, 2013

              Hmm. Spooky.

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        • cookiemonster
          December 10, 2013

          Torts once said of Anton Stralman, and I paraphase, “When I first saw him, I didn’t like him.” Yet, Stralsy worked himself into being a regular under Torts in New York. Point is, Torts apparently will tell you exactly where you stand and it’s up to you to prove him wrong. Leadership through conflict is his style.

          This is Alberts’ opportunity and he can choose to cry it’s not fair (which is really subjective really, on what team does a fringe player not have to earn his ice?) or he can try to make an impression in whatever ice time he’s given.

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          • Amor de Cosmos
            December 10, 2013

            What does “leadership through conflict” mean in this context though? To my knowledge hasn’t Alberts hasn’t chosen to cry. If he did that would surely represent conflict with his coach, and one he couldn’t win.

            Alberts is well used to being a six, or seventh, defenseman. That’s pretty much all he’s ever been with the Canucks, but under AV he’d get a run of games, then Aaron Rome would get a run, and so on. One game and a period doesn’t represent opportunity, it represents guaranteed failure through lack of ice-time.

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  4. jenny wren
    December 10, 2013

    Hansen into the empty net
    Insured the win that we would get
    Chris Tanev was the first to score
    Lack needed not that just one more
    That all game long we waited for
    He’ll beat the Bruins as well I bet

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  5. bluemoonjones
    December 10, 2013

    All Canuck fans hopefully feel grateful for having the two John’s to listen to when watching their Canuck games on the ol’ tellyvision.

    I watch a lot of hockey from all of the different markets (thanks to that neat center ice package that is offered here in the states; my wife used to hate it, but now she understands that it keeps me out of the bars, especially at playoff time – but I digress…); and year in and year out these two guys are by far and away the easiest on the ears in all of the land.
    It’s true. It’s not homer talk. They are the champs. Thanks for that, fellas.

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    • peanutflower
      December 10, 2013

      They are. Jim Robson will always be the standard to which all aspire, but Shorty is great. Anyone catch the sotto voce “he’s a flake”? Haha.

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    • charlie1,605,004
      December 10, 2013

      Stuck in Dallas again, I heartily concur. I go back to Jim R (all-time best radio guy) and Tom (all-time best homer) and I miss me some Johns.

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  6. Zach Morris
    December 10, 2013

    Back in 2003, I was enamored of Johan Hedberg. I believed he was clearly a better goalie than Dan “Beachball” Cloutier, and I even did a presentation for my Grade 4 English class about why this was so. Somehow, word of my masterful oration failed to reach the Canucks brass…

    Justin Peters & Eddie Lack, though, full value tonight.

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  7. DJ
    December 10, 2013

    “Like the spoons at a gelato place, this game is a small sample size.”

    Brilliant.

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  8. cathylu
    December 10, 2013

    Hahaha! I totally noticed Zack Attack’s very Sedin-like goatee.

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    • Andre
      December 10, 2013

      Honestly, Kass needs to channel an inner Kesler far more than a Sedin.

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  9. akidd
    December 10, 2013

    late night last night, eh daniel? but you made it for the morning traffic:)

    lack looks pretty comfortable back there. have the canucks gone from goalie graveyard to goalie factory? torts made an interesting comment, said he didn’t want to use the term ‘backup goalie’ for eddie but then quickly said “of course Lou is our guy.” which he is.

    combined with the talk of the cap going up 7 million next year(partly in thanks to all those loyal nhl viewers in canada) and how lou’s contract doesn’t look that bad at all anymore and one does wonder if this goaltender saga is truly over. for the time being it’s on hold but eddie sure seems likeable and popular. does lou still want out of dodge? he’s never said definitively that he’s here to stay. with the right return from the right team…you just never know.

    there seems to be a covert youth movement happening. add lack to tanev, stanton, corrado, shinkaruk, horvat and kassian and it’s almost like a slight of hand trick.

    speaking of the big guy, he did look good with the twins. i laughed as the puck bounced to him on the low right side at least three times during that one shift, allowing the canucks to keep it alive. it just kept coming back to him. kassian stay calm and kept dishing it off until finally he had to slap it hard just to get rid of it. more twins and kassian please.

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  10. dontpassjustshoot
    December 10, 2013

    When Torts said he didn’t want to use the words “backup goalie” for Storker, all I could think was, “Dude. Do it anyway.” You didn’t have to suffer through what we did, Torts.

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  11. Liz
    December 13, 2013

    I was at this game! (And I made it into the SportsNet highlights, which was super fun.) During warm-up, Manny Malhotra was bent over, with his back to the centre line. Henrik purposely backed up into him, then waited for Manny to get annoyed and turn around. He did, recognized who had bumped him, and they had a friendly chat before turning their backs on each other and getting focused. It was a nice little moment.

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