It would have been really easy for the Canucks to overlook this game. They’ve got the Boston Bruins in town gearing up for Saturday night’s big showdown, for one thing, and that’s a pretty big circle on the calendar – the sort of circle that strikes through the dates on either side of it. Plus Beyoncé released an album last night completely out of the blue. How can you think about anything else?
Fortunately, the Canucks didn’t overlook this one at all. Heck, if anyone did, it was the Oilers. At first I thought they, like many of the Rogers Arena faithful, had just been a little confused by the 6pm start. But they never showed up. Like Patrick Bateman, they were simply not there. They were far less menacing and murdery, however. Honestly, I think I posed a greater threat to the Canucks than the Oilers did tonight, and I watched this game.
Canucks 4 – 0 Oilers
- The Canucks dominated this one from the outset, outshooting the Oilers 14-4 and out-attempting them by a ratio of 4 to 1 in the first period. It was fun to watch, but it was even more fun to watch Canuck fans on Twitter freak out because the team wasn’t able to score. The nightmare homestand has conditioned the fanbase to be distrustful of elite possession play. Good luck winning our hearts now, advanced stats community. We’ve been hurt before.
- Midway through the second, the Canucks got on the board, courtesy of a Daniel Sedin slapshot from the point on a 4-on-3 powerplay. The puck went in off Nick Schultz’s ankle, although I like to think this wasn’t just an accidental deflection. I hypothesize that Daniel turned Schultz into a goal-scorer on purpose, thinking he was Justin Schultz and looking to give the kid that turned down playing for Vancouver a taste of what life would have been like if he hadn’t. It was very Wonderful Life, except Daniel was trying to make Schultz regret his choices.
- Much like they did versus the Avalanche, the Canucks took a 1-0 lead into the third, then alleviated any concern that they were going to blow it by scoring another one early in the final frame. Zack Kassian got the goal, redirecting a David Booth shot through Devan Dubnyk’s legs to make it 2-0. This one is played pretty terribly by the Schultzes. Nick gets caught flat-footed and has to grab Booth as he cuts in front of him, and after Booth throws a weak one on net, Kassian muscles Justin well out of position before spinning and tipping the puck home. It was the best spin tip since “engage your core”.
- But that’s probably not the Kassian moment most people will be talking about. Towards the end of the game, Sam Gagner, who probably isn’t a fan of Kassian, took the opportunity to chirp the guy that broke his jaw. Kassian chirped Gagner back… by mocking his broken jaw. “What’s this? What’s that?” Kassian says, gesturing to Gagner’s chin protection, and at the risk of sounding like an unimpressed parent, I think you know exactly what that is, Zack Adam Kassian.
- A few people suggested Kassian was actually mocking Luke Gazdic’s sucky neck-beard, perhaps because Kass has such a finely-cropped beard these days. Not so. Kassian’s not a beard connoisseur — just a bit of a sociopath. Gazdic was to his left, a few feet away from the bench. Kassian was talking to Gagner. But listen. While it’s a pretty crazy, scummy thing to say, it was far from the worst instance of face-protection mockery. Via Jeff Marek, this is just insane.
- How thorough a beatdown was this? Daniel and Henrik Sedin looked like relative tough guys. It was crazy. In the second period, Daniel absolutely steam-rolled Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with an open-ice hit. The last thing he hit that hard was a sale on Lacoste polo shirts.
- Maybe it was the absence of Tom Sestito, or maybe it was the presence of the Oilers, who defend about as well as Lionel Hutz, but the fourth line looked really good tonight. John Tortorella rewarded them for their strong play with powerplay time in the game’s dying seconds, and they cashed in, with Dale Weise getting it done from the doorstep like a group of carollers. After the goal, he looked Dubnyk right in the eyes and said, menacingly, “Now bring us a figgy pudding.”
- Chris Tanev may have gone up a level in this game. He was everywhere, breaking up Edmonton scoring chances with stunning ease. He’s tougher to beat these days than Oregon Trail and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out put together. Tanev finished with an unheard of, game-high even-strength corsi percentage of 78.1, and a game-high 22:54. You could argue his minutes were inflated because John Tortorella wanted to spread out the icetime so his guys would be well-rested for tomorrow. Or you could argue that Tortorella saw what Tanev was doing and decided to let him keep doing it. Either way, it was one of the best games a Canuck defenceman has played all year.
- Tanev was one reason for the Canucks’ incredible defensive effort in this game. Kesler was another. Tortorella matched him up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for most of the night, and Kesler chewed the Nuge up so throughly he could have fed the Oiler centre to a bunch of baby birds.
- This was the first game of the season where the Canucks have scored two powerplay goals. The team is only 23rd in the league in the category, and rising, so watch your back, New York Islanders.
- Finally, a word about Roberto Luongo, who didn’t see much harm in letting the Oilers go hungry and opted not to surrender the snack goal, giving the Canucks back to back shutouts from both their goalies for the first time since March of 2012. Luongo only had to make 19 saves for the goose egg, but some of them, like his glove save on David Perron, were spiffier than Spaceman Spiff.
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Harrison Mooney is the co-editor of Pass it to Bulis at The Vancouver Sun. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!
, I Watched This Game