I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, December 17, 2013

You might have expected a letdown after the Canucks’ big victory over the Boston Bruins in their last game, but the Canucks played very well. While it lacked the emotion of the Bruins game, the Canucks still dominated this game at times and it took some outstanding saves from Josh Harding to keep them from also dominating on the scoreboard.

Don’t get me wrong, the game itself was still a massive letdown. It was an exercise in tedium, built on a foundation of silence in the ironically named Xcel Energy Center. Apparently the “State of Hockey” is a state of quiet introspection, as this was one of the most muted hockey arenas I have ever seen and heard.

It was also a letdown in the sense that it wasn’t decided in regulation or overtime and the Canucks are less deadly in a shootout than Marty McFly. I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 3 Wild (SO)

***

  • This was Keith Ballard’s first game against the Canucks since his ignominious buyout. It didn’t go so well. Ballard took an early penalty and played less than 10 minutes, his lowest ice time of the season. He played on the third pairing and wasn’t trusted with a single start in the defensive zone, though he did get some time on the power play, so it wasn’t exactly like when he was a Canuck. Meanwhile, Ryan Suter played over 32 minutes. Why does Mike Yeo hate Ballard so much?
  • The Canucks opened the scoring for the 8th straight game, with Jannik Hansen scoring his third goal in four games. Don’t get too excited: his two previous goals were into an empty and a complete fluke from centre ice, respectively. This goal, however, was more legitimate than Fat Tony’s hideout, as he finished off a Daniel Sedin pass on a 3-on-2 with a perfectly placed wrist shot.
  • During their 7-game winning streak, the Canucks didn’t give up a single power play goal, but couldn’t keep the perfect kill alive. It took an absurd pass from Mikko Koivu to defeat the penalty kill, finding Zach Parise at the backdoor, where he was remotely accessing the Canucks mainframe thanks to a Trojan horse he had used to infiltrate their system previously. Also, he scored a goal.
  • Scary moment early in the second period, as Zenon Konopka and Ryan Stanton were racing to a puck, Konopka grabbed Stanton by the shoulder, and the defenceman lost his balance and went hard, feet-first, into the end boards. His left ankle bent awkwardly and he was clearly in pain as he limped his way to the bench. He came out for one more shift, 6 minutes later, but it was just 6 seconds long and he was seen in a walking boot after the game. That’s not ideal.
  • Konopka received a 2-minute minor for tripping, which infuriated both John Tortorella and the Wild fans. Tortorella ranted and raved at referee Tim Peel, demanding a 5-minute major (or possibly a public beheading; it’s hard to tell). The Wild fans, meanwhile, booed lustily upon seeing the replay, as it was blatantly obvious that whatever else Konopka did, he certainly didn’t trip Stanton. The truth is somewhere in the middle. It wasn’t a trip, sure, but it was a hold in a dangerous situation; that said, it looked like Stanton caught an edge as he was held, which played a large role in sending him careening into the boards. It’s hard to blame Konopka for that. As much as the injury stinks, a 2-minute minor was the right call.
  • Yannick Weber has been a major boon in a limited role, picking up a point in all three games he’s played since his call-up from Utica. David Booth, who now has a three-game point streak of his own, gained the blue line and Mike Santorelli, who has 7 points in 5 games, followed up, finding Weber for the one-timer. Josh Harding couldn’t corral the initial shot and Booth out-battled Suter to sweep in the rebound. He then turned to celebrate with his teammates, only to find that they were all behind him. Please insert your own “Booth can’t find his teammates on the ice” jokes here.
  • Harding was outstanding for the Wild, showing why he’s the league leader in goals against average. He kept the Wild in the game early in the third period, with his best save coming on Chris Higgins, getting a toe on his shot from just outside the crease off a Kesler rebound. The Canucks had a golden opportunity to extend their lead a little later, when Daniel Sedin broke in alone. He tried to go 5-hole, but Harding slammed the door like Daniel was a door-to-door murder salesman. Care to be murdered today, sir? *slams the door* No, thank you, I’m not interested.
  • While Luongo matched Harding save-for-save, finishing with 30 saves on 32 shots, he seemed a little extra scrambly in this game, as aptly demonstrated on the tying goal. When Koivu sent the pass across to Charlie Coyle on a 3-on-2, Luongo seemed to misjudge how far he needed to slide across, having to make two extra pushes with his right skate to shuffle across and get square. He arrived too late to get set and couldn’t get his right pad down in time after his last push and Coyle slid the puck home like it was Jackie Robinson.
  • This was a remarkably dull game, at least until overtime rolled around, at which point both teams went nuts, trading chances back and forth like they were Pokemon that only evolve through trading. There were 19 shot attempts between the two teams in the five minute overtime, an average of 3.8 per minute. The teams averaged 1.52 shot attempts per minute in regulation, so, according to math, the overtime was 2.5 times more exciting than regulation. Math!
  • I liked what I saw from Zack Kassian in this game, as he was passing the puck well and seemed more keyed in on the defensive end, but the highlight of his game came early in the third period. The puck came to the sideboards in the Wild zone, where Nino Niederreiter was waiting. He had ample time to get the puck and move it up the boards or make a pass. Instead, he saw Kassian coming and froze, simply allowing Kassian to pick up the puck unopposed and keep the play alive. To be fair to Niederreiter, Kassian did pop an Alka Seltzer in his mouth for intimidation just before jumping on the ice for that shift.
  • Despite playing well, Kassian was once again held out of the shootout. Instead, Tortorella went with Chris Higgins again, despite the fact that he had scored just 3 times in 15 attempts. He’s now 3-for-16, after his attempt was stopped easily by Harding. Since Higgins is good at everything else when it comes to hockey, it seems like Tortorella just assumes he’ll be good at the shootout too. Meanwhile, Kassian is a little haphazard and inconsistent at everything else in hockey, so when it comes time to the shootout, he’ll probably bite the puck and karate kick the ref.
  • Higgins couldn’t score and neither could Kesler. Meanwhile, Santorelli and Koivu both made solid moves, but nailed the crossbar. Luongo made an incredible toe save on Parise (lying on his belly like so many fans whine and moan about), but got beat cleanly by a nice wrist shot by Jason Pominville. It was dumb.
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14 comments

  1. mac 'n cheese
    December 18, 2013

    I found this game somewhat excruciating to watch. Thank God for our announcers! A recommendation for Ranch dressing made things interesting. Also, they talked about a Wild player (Parise?) making all kinds of moves behind the net BY HIMSELF and mocked him a little.
    Highlights.

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  2. Brent
    December 18, 2013

    Ugghh! We needed the two points and no points for the wild. Damn HArding!

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  3. Chinook
    December 18, 2013

    The alka seltzer intimidation video is a good laugh, imagining Kassian with that look… hee hee hee.

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  4. pork 'n beans
    December 18, 2013

    It was excruciating to watch. And i had to watch it on the Wyld feed, which if you can imagine was very similar to the their play ..monotone, droning …terrific if you happen to be an insomniac. Also featured the bonus of assistant coach (go figure) Darby Hendrickson’s incoherent mutterings in the intermission, which were at least vaguely amusing. It doesn’t seem to matter how much offensive talent that team piles up, they still line up in the neurtal zone and kick the puck around like a frozen pizza. Blech, least favorite team to play by a MILE. Admittedly, whatever it was they were doing, they were the better team tonight…

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    • Bookie
      December 18, 2013

      What is this magical soccer-with-a-frozen-pizza sport you speak of?

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  5. Chinook
    December 18, 2013

    I disagree with your rationale that a rut in the ice should be a factor in considering the appropriate penalty to Konopka for his illegal takedown of Stanton. By analogy, if you are hurt when your car goes off the road and hits a tree, the tree has a share of the blame. In a sense it does, but not when attributing liability for the incident.

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  6. Ratatat
    December 18, 2013

    Revenge of the Torts whip-o-boys tonight with Hansen and Booth scoring our only goals. See ! Just poke people enough in the shoulder and they score ! Yawn.

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  7. Paul from YT
    December 18, 2013

    The close-up on the husband/wife (or bf/gf) in opposing jerseys summed this game up. Each wearing opposing jerseys, so while they knew the game would be as boring and slow as watching sap drip down a tree on a cold winters day, at least one of them will leave the game satisfied by a win by their supported team.
    And the looooong slowwwww yawwwwwnn from the wife (or gf). (you’re doing one right now reading while that aren’t you? I did in writing it.)

    Oh, and it’s ‘racing for the puck’, not ‘raising for the puck’. Although in a game that was this boring, raising might make more sense than ‘racing for’ anything as that would mean energy would have been spent.

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  8. chicken hawk
    December 18, 2013

    Another ho hum hockey game
    So many seem so much the same
    Some saves some goals a token fight
    It wasn’t Boston Tuesday night
    Just overtime with four on four
    Then an S O like those before

    There’s but to take the point and run
    Don’t dwell on what won’t be undone
    Accept those things you can’t control
    Merry Christmas from your local troll

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  9. Fruzenius
    December 18, 2013

    That announcer…”Canucks get in the zone Hansen scores”. “Minnesota GETS INTO THE ZONE THEY SKATE AROUND FOR A WHILE WITH THE PUCK SOMEONE PASSES IT THEY SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE”. Just a little bit one sided. I’m glad I didn’t have to listen to that all game

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  10. Shade of Blue
    December 18, 2013

    * Not the outcome I was hoping for, but pretty much the one I expected. Thank the hockey gods (’cause I won’t thank Bettman, even for things I like) we only play the Wild three times this year.

    * Why, why, _why_ was Sestito playing? The fourth line spent considerably more time scrambling in their own end, as they always do when he is out there. After their performances against EDM and BOS, I expected to see the Sestito-less fourth line.

    * And on the topic of fourth lines, holy hell, is that Danny Heatley on the Wild 4th line?! That’s $5 million dollars (and a $7.5 million cap hit) skating on the fourth line — and mostly sitting on the bench. Booth looks a bargain in comparison, especially if his much improved play of late continues.

    * After the hype (okay, a single post) about the possible ‘title match’ against the Bruins on Saturday based on a chain-of-custody, keep the cup until someone else beats you and takes it, no mention that we left that particular cup/belt in MIN? Need to at least point out that this game was proof positive why such a system would be stupid — nothing of value should be awarded for such a snooze fest, especially one decided by a shootout.

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  11. shoes
    December 18, 2013

    How the team comes out in Dallas on Thursday and Chitown on Friday will tell me a lot about how Torts system is geting to be 2nd nature instead of learning curve. The D is looking like it for the most part and so is the offense, but lapses cost the game in Minny.

    Luongo looked like he should have had the tying goal, but it was a fast play and he was not quite set.

    Amazing how taking 15 of 16 points has relegated the trolls to their caves. lol

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  12. cathylu
    December 18, 2013

    I think I really hate shoot-outs.

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  13. LaLou
    December 18, 2013

    You had one job on my birthday, Canucks. ONE JOB.

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